Sarah Vine & Daily Mail land.

June 11, 2014

In the green pastures of Daily Mail land, where the year is perpetually 1950, Dvorak’s Symphony 9 plays on a loop, and everyone attends Church on a Sunday. Where someone with slightly darker skin in the village is a frightening novelty, morality and normality are defined by Christianity, gay folk are trying to destroy humanity, and someone with tattoos can only mean one thing; the decadent youth and their alien ways are throwing their lives away, destroying this once great country, and they don’t even know it. If only they’d suspend their critical faculties, and pick up the Daily Mail from time to time, the country could be great again!… Or something like that.

I woke up shocked this morning. Shocked that my life has been a lie. Thanks to Sarah Vine over at the ever illuminating and rational Daily Mail, I learnt this morning that my tattoos are simply a “hideous” form of self harm. This came as a shock, because up until now, I thought I had my tattoos as a form of self expression, that I chose them because I felt they represented me in a way that I wanted to represent myself, and that they had a certain meaning to me and me alone. I thought I was pretty happy when I had my tattoos. Of course, we all have our problems in life, but on the whole, I really fucking love me. At least, that’s what I thought. I thought I knew what my tattoos meant to me, because, well, I’m me. That all changed this morning when I read Sarah Vine’s column for The Mail (and Tory’s and the Mail are notoriously excellent at understanding young people) and discovered I have serious mental health issues that I address by harming myself with tattoos. I discovered my friends must be covering their intense inner sorrow, with outward displays of faux-happiness and joy. I discovered that the word “self-harm” can now be thrown around whenever we see someone doing something we personally wouldn’t do.

But then I thought, maybe it’s an ironic piece? I mean, there appears to be a noticeable irony in someone writing for the Daily Mail, and being married to Michael Gove having the nerve to refer to anything other than writing for the Daily Mail and being married to Michael Gove as “ghastly” and “self harm”. Perhaps it is Sarah Vine’s cry for help. I mean, she has her ears pierced; a needle pushed through the body, and a piece of metal shoved into the hole. Does this not also count as self harm? There can’t be much pleasure in writing for a newspaper famed for its tacit support for Fascism in the 1930s, and that recently hounded a transgender person – Lucy Meadows – to suicide, whilst married to a man universally hated by the profession he’s the Minister for. Perhaps at this point you’re thinking that I’m being incredibly judgmental in presuming that I get to tell someone else that their private life, their private loves, and the way they express themselves is “ghastly” or “self harm”. Yes… you’d be right. It’s pretty shitty and irrational of me, isn’t it?

There is a degree of irony in the article itself:

“Think of poor, frail Amy Winehouse, her emaciated limbs decorated like a navvy’s; think of the ethereal, fragile Peaches Geldof.”

– Yes. Think of the ‘poor, frail Amy Winehouse’, like The Mail did when they plastered unflattering pictures of Amy Winehouse all over a completely irrelevant article, whilst needlessly poking fun at her, despite this being in the middle of her health issues:

“At first glance it may seem she had forgotten to get dressed.
But bra, shorts and ballet slippers almost count as overdressed for Amy Winehouse these days.”

– Think of the ‘poor, frail Amy Winehouse’ like The Mail did with this article dedicated entirely to how ill she looked coming out of a restaurant:

“The Rehab singer looked worse for wear after dining at Balans restaurant in London and exposed a small pot belly after the meal.”

– Nothing says compassion and sensitivity for those suffering quite like having a gutter photographer selling you photos of every troubled moment, for a paper that gets a bizarre kick out of dehumanising those struggling. So yes, think of the ‘poor, frail Amy Winehouse’ and the grotesque rag of shit with a business model that relies on perpetuating the suffering and misery of others.

The article goes on:

“When I was Barkley’s age, tattoos were the preserve of sailors, Hell’s Angels and ex-cons.”

– When my grandfather was my age, in the 1940s, writing for (or owning) The Daily Mail was the preserve of Nazi supporters and the British far right. Some things change, some things remain remarkably similar.

The article goes on, still:

“Twenty-year-old Ross Barkley, by contrast, has used his to illustrate his more contemplative side. On the outside of his arm, in Chinese script, the word ‘fengxian’, meaning ‘to devote’. And at the base of his hand, a quotation from none other than the Greek philosopher Aristotle: ‘No notice is taken of little evil. But when it increases it strikes the eye.’
Wow. Who knew that beneath that rugged exterior lurked the sensitive soul of a classicist?”

– This came as a shock to me too, because I have a rose tattooed on my arm, and I haven’t even studied botany. There is absolutely no reason why Barkley would need to know the first thing about the classical period, to take away something meaningful from a pretty universal quote. Indeed, that is part of the timeless genius of Aristotle. You don’t have to be a connoisseur of classical Greek philosophy, to take something meaningful from a fifteen word quote. Similarly, Sarah Vine doesn’t have to be an expert in the art of jewelry making, to have a piece of metal shoved in her ear.

There is no single reason someone gets a tattoo. Do some people get tattoos as a form of self-harm? It’s a possibility, though I don’t know of anyone who has. For some, their bodies are a canvas for the art form. For others, a tattoo might commemorate a moment in time. For others, a tattoo might be a middle finger to a neat and tidy, soulless, and robotic business-defined culture they find to be so devoid of individuality. For me – as for all others – it is simply a form of self expression. I don’t care what someone else thinks of my tattoos. There is no hidden anguish in my choosing to be tattooed. Like the clothes I wear, the haircut (to an extent; though nature took away most of my hair) I have, the photographs I take, the words I write, the tattoos I have; all are forms of expressing myself, and myself alone. They mean something to me. We express ourselves in a variety of ways and what is important is that I decide what it is that represents expression to me. No one else. Certainly not a Tory journalist flippantly using the subject of mental health to explain away her personal dislike of tattoos, from the unbearably stagnant pastures of Daily Mail land.


The Cruelty of the Bedroom Tax

February 13, 2013

6072103It is my understanding, that civilised society should be judged on how it looks after its most vulnerable, rather than how big a tax break it can offer its wealthiest. Apparently the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party take the opposite view. I cannot fathom what kind of disturbed mind a person must have, to believe that threatening to kick people out of their homes, people who are already struggling horrendously, is a worthwhile or noble cause. It is cruel extremism, and nothing less.

As the Bedroom Tax takes vitally needed money out of the pockets of 400,000 families with disabled children; our wondrous government will at the same time be handing a tax cut to 8,000 millionaires, giving them an average £107,000 more. This, alongside the Welfare Uprating Bill; essentially a huge cut to Jobseeker’s Allowance, Maternity Pay, Child Benefit and Income Support; all to pay for huge tax breaks for the wealthiest, means that whilst parents of disabled children will miss meals, and be unable to heat their homes; the millionaire Cabinet will be able to go shopping for new Yachts.

Where was the moral outrage from Tory supporters who now yell “Putting your kids in two separate rooms is an insult to the tax payer!!!” before the Tory Party actually mentioned it? Feigned outrage again.

Kicking people out of their homes seems like an easy solution, to rich men pacing the corridors of Whitehall, or maybe it isn’t even a thought whilst the millionaire Prime Minister spends £680,000 of taxpayers money making Downing Street look a bit nicer inside, including refurbishing the kitchen. But to the people who are settled, who are part of the community, whose children play on the street with their friends (i’m fully aware that children leading happy lives, is not something Liberal Democrats or Tories are really too concerned about, given the horrifically increasing rates of child poverty they have created). They are destroying homes, and applying unnecessary pressure to families already struggling to cope. The Bedroom Tax can be described as nothing more than heartless.

The IFS estimated that 3.5 million children in the UK live in poverty. The also estimate that this is set to rise steeply. 14% of children in poverty go without a warm coat during winter. 26% of parents whose children are in poverty, skip meals through lack of money even though 61% of parents of children in poverty, have at least one person in work. And now, if those people also claim housing benefit to help make life even a little more bearable, they will lose more money, or be forced to move home.

As we know, the ‘Bedroom Tax’ refers to the reduction in housing benefits for anyone who has a spare room in their council house. The idea is, people will downsize to a smaller house, or have their housing benefit cut by 14 per cent for people seen to have one spare room and 25 per cent for those with two or more. The cruelty is intense.

Whilst the most vulnerable, with very little money, and living every day wondering if they’ll eat stand to lose their home or even more money, the Chancellor will be reflecting on his “tough decisions” from his 215 acre estate, given to him to live in, free of charge, in Dorneywood….. here:
dorney_1924910c

Then there is ‘Baron’ Freud (I know what you’re thinking, he’s sure to be in touch with common folk). He is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Freud is in control of Welfare Reform. All of this, is his doing. Here is where ‘Baron Freud’ lives:

PEOPLE+ONLY+COPYRIGHT+UNKNOWN+Lord+Freud's+Kent+Mansion
– I wonder how many rooms in this massive mansion are underused. Or, how much land accompanies it, on which homes, blocks of flats, shops, businesses could be built if ‘Baron’ (seriously, he’s a Baron) Freud downsized to a property that wasn’t too big for his needs.

These are the people who run your lives. Multi-millionaires, in mansions, unsurprisingly cutting taxes for multi-millionaires, in mansions. This is Versailles. The Court of King Louis XIV Cameron.

According to the Government’s figures, 660,000 households will be affected by the changes, and of that, 420,000 are households including someone with a disability. Low income households, who have faced a plethora of cuts since the start of this monstrous Coalition, now facing a huge cut to their welfare payments.

The point of this article is to get the Bedroom Tax down from numbers (Clegg justifies his support for this idea, with numbers), and back to individual cases. People.

ITV broadcast the story of Tony, Diann, their three year old daughter Shanice, and their 15 year old daughter Stephanie. Stephanie has 1p36 deletion syndrome, and a mental age of four. She struggles with words, and mobility. All three bedrooms in their house are currently occupied. Stephanie requires her own room, because she wakes up around 5am and can become loud and violent due to her illness. But under the rules of the ‘Bedroom Tax’, the two daughters will be required to share a bedroom, because they’re both under 16. That, or face a huge cut to their Housing benefit payment. They will be deemed to have a spare room. Tony and Diann say the cut would mean cutting down on meals.

Maria Brabiner has lived in her home since 1978. It is indescribably cruel of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to wish to see her kicked out of the security of the house she has made a home, all because of a spare room. Do you know why she now has a spare room? It is because her mother, whom lived in the room, died recently. Miss Brabiner said:

“I’m scared of what’s going to happen to me, I’m worried about whether my electric will be cut off, whether my gas will be cut off.

– This economic violence, by perhaps the two nastiest Parties we have seen in the UK, is being forced upon a woman whose mother has recently died, and whose house is more than just a house; it is a home. Worse still, it is being forced on her, by a Cabinet of multi-millionaires, with multiple houses that remain unoccupied and included acres of land that could be used to build new houses on.

Terry Avery is unable to use the left side of his body, after a severe stroke left him needing a wheelchair. He sleeps in a separate room from his wife, because of his situation. Under the ‘Bedroom Tax’, the room Terry sleeps in, is considered ‘spare’. Which means, he and his wife either move out, or not eat. Or a third choice; Karen, Terry’s wife would have to sleep on the floor, in absolutely no room. Karen says:

“With the hospital bed, lift, chest of drawers and turning space for his wheelchair there is no space for a wardrobe which is kept in my bedroom. There is not even room for me to sleep on the floor comfortably, which I would have to do as there is no room for a second bed or mattress.”

Julia Jones is 59, and has worked since she was 15. Her husband David contracted bowel cancer four years ago. Six months after having a irreversible colostomy he returned to work. Two years later, he contracted brain cancer and sadly passed away seven weeks later. Julia is now alone. During David’s illness, Julia rejected care allowance, and spent all of her time and money looking after him. They were given the home she now lives in, because it was easy for David to get around in. David’s ashes are buried in the garden, under a rose bush planted especially for his. Here is Julia’s plea to the millionaire Prime Minister:

“The most powerful men in the country imply we are scum so we must be scum.
Do you not consider that I would give everything for my husband to be alive, me to not have incapacitating pain and we could both be the hard workers we once were? I live in small 1 1/2 bed bungalow that was built for older people. It is supported elderly living so I feel safe. It could not house a family as under 55s are not allowed.
You now want to take my home from me. The home that literally made my fingers bleed cleaning as it had been neglected for 20 years when we moved here. You want me to leave my husband’s ashes, my neighbours who take me shopping and give me some form of social life? I have no family, we could not have children.
I am living without heating at present so how can I pay what I do not have to stay in my home?”

– This is the cost, when we bring it down to a human level, of the Tory and Lib Dem Bedroom Tax. The entire debate should be framed around the most vulnerable cases, those who stand to lose the most, not just in terms of money, but in living standard, and the brutality of stripping someone, a family, children away from the home that they call their own, and the community that they love.

In the Chancellor’s own Constituency, Tim Pinder, chief executive at Cheshire Peaks and Plains Housing Trust – a housing association said:

“Many of our customers are determined to stay in their homes despite the changes, but we fear this may lead to significant financial hardship. For some households this could mean having to choose between feeding their families and heating their homes.”

– It is just another ill thought out, nasty policy, from an incompetent and nasty government.

Over two thirds of those affected, have a household income of less than £150 a week. Apparently The Liberal Democrats feel that’s too much money. They should have less. 72% of those affected, have a member of the household with a disability of major health concern. 5% of those affected, have a spare bedroom for the carer who occasionally has to stay over. 9% use the spare room to store equipment for a disability. These people are all affected by the cruelty of the Bedroom Tax.

The human cost of cruel Conservative and Liberal Democrat policies, is heart breaking. It follows the narrative that has sprung to the front of political discourse since 2010; that the poor, the most vulnerable, the disabled must be stigmatised and demonised. It is a horrid tactic that takes the focus away from the people who caused the economic mess in the first place; very very wealthy individuals and friends of the Tory Party. We note this week, that Anthony Jenkins, the boss of Barclays, was paid more than 80 times the salary of the lowest paid. Whilst Jenkins makes £1,100,000 basic salary, alongside £4,400,000 share award, and £363,000 pension contribution, the lowest paid makes just £13,500 a year. Couple that, with the announcement that Barclays intends to cut 3700 jobs, and you start to see a bit of a problem.

This is what Tories do. We shouldn’t be surprised. They are a modern day nobility. The most vulnerable will always suffer under the nobility. When we elect a Conservative government, we must expect heartless policies, rising child poverty, a distinct lack of empathy, and a woefully underfunded NHS. That’s just what Conservatives do. So Progressives must focus their anger at the Liberal Democrats. It is shameful for a ‘progressive’ party to have so utterly abused the votes of those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 by supporting policies that I would take a confident bet that less than 1% of Lib Dem voters would ever have supported. They cannot be allowed to forget the scale of the betrayal they have inflicted. This week really does sum up exactly what the Liberal Democrat Party has become, the moment Nick Clegg showed vigorous support for the Bedroom Tax.

For a party that apparently bases itself on getting government out of the lives of the individual; in a few months we’ve had Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke wishing to tell Welfare claimants where they can spend their money (whilst himself, claiming tax payer funded expenses to pay for his licence fee, a bunch of Tory MPs telling you that you don’t deserve the same Rights as them if you happen to be gay and now a Tory coming into your home, checking who’s in the bedrooms, forcing your disabled partner with all his/her equipment to move back to one room with you, and telling you to pack up and move out if you dislike it. These people thrive on government interference. These are very wealthy, very privileged people and with that, has come the most cruel government the UK has seen in a very long time. When we speak of the nasty party, we must include the Liberal Democrats in that.


“Question with boldness even the existence of God” – America as a Christian Nation.

August 24, 2012

The often quoted claim that the United States of America is a “Christian nation” is not an attempt to link the percentage of the population who identify themselves as Christian, with how the Country should be governed; but is in fact a suggestion that the Country was founded by devout Christians, developing a country on the Christian system of belief and values.
This simply isn’t true.

The true genius of America’s Founding Fathers lies in their commitment to the separation of Church and State. It is impossible to quantify how huge an experiment this was. Church and State had been intrinsically linked without question for at least a thousand years. The merging of the two, was based on religious authority. To question that, was to question the legitimacy of religious rule itself. A truly revolutionary concept.

It is true that none of the Founders were Atheists, many were deists and highly critical of Christianity, and few were devout Christians. None were Theocrats. Christianity cannot claim the Founders as their own, nor can they claim the intention of a Nation built on Christianity. We Atheists, similarly cannot claim the Founders as our own. Neither have a strong case. To understand the brilliance of the Founders barrier between Church and State we must examine the context of the period in which they lived. We must not view them through 21st Century Atheism/Christian Right tinted specs.

1776 was a time far before Darwin produced the greatest scientific discovery of all time, the greatest story ever told; The Origin of Species. It was a time when, up until very recently, to question Church doctrine was punishable by torture, imprisonment, or even death. For over a thousand years the basis of government was questioned very periodically and with very little acknowledgement of the fusion of Church and State. The two were the same thing. Kings and Queens derived their ‘right’ to rule from God. That they were the middle men between God and humanity, and so they were not accountable to anyone other than God. Powerful barons at times tried to overthrow the Monarchy; Simon De Montfort (power hungry, had no intention of popular rule), Oliver Cromwell (Puritan; as fundamental as Christianity gets). But the logic that the Monarch derives their power from God was left unchallenged, and was still at the heart of the understanding of how Government works by 1776.

The Church was at the centre of the community. Education was predominantly Christian by nature. And Capitalism was developing in the Northern States whilst the Southern States seemed poised to hold onto an economic system built on slavery; the two systems would one day clash violently, resulting in the triumph of Capitalism. We almost instinctively link the birth of modern Capitalism to the United States. But Capitalism has its roots in Christian thinking. Weber once argued that the type of Protestantism that made its way to the United States in the 17th Century differed vastly from the old Catholic powers, in that it exhalted the importance of the individual and his/her duty to improve the materialistic needs of those around them. Before the Constitution officially separated Church and State we can see that the new Protestant work ethic surrounding the materialistic desires of the individual was helping to foster the atmosphere of a nation built around the individual. In this respect, Christianity played a pivotal role in the building of America.

During their schooling the Founders would have attended Catechism classes, sang hymns, and made to learn and recite Bible passages as was the norm for the education system at the time. The majority of the population would have been subjected to Christian literature, and not much else. And this is where the Founders differ.

They were all, without exception, members of the upper classes. Their education would have been mixed. It would certainly have included the necessary Catechism classes and hymns and Biblical recitals, but it would also have been mixed with new Enlightenment ideas coming out of Europe around the time. It is important to note that Thomas Jefferson was schooled in Latin, Greek and Classical Literature. His Philosophy teacher was a man named Professor William Small; himself a child of Enlightenment ideals. Jefferson’s philosophy lessons covered morality, ethics, and the study of early Greek atheist writers.
Benjamin Franklin was a student of the Socratic method, and idolised the Ancient Greek Atheist. Franklin himself states quite openly:

“I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies.”

Franklin exemplifies Socratic reasoning with:

“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”

– We may call Franklin a Deist, but I’m pretty convinced he’s as close to Atheist as the 18th Century could ever produce, given the lack of scientific understanding for much of how the World, and human biology worked.

It would seem that the United States of America, as a political entity is wholly secular. The Constitution itself is a beautiful piece of Enlightenment literature. It unequivocally states the end of the Divine right to rule. A 1000+ year old settlement that not even the Magna Carta could break. It gives power to the people in a way that had never been considered before. But whilst the political resolution was indeed secular, the majority of the American public in the 1780s, were Christian. But that is largely irrelevant to our understanding of what America “is”. For that, we have to understanding the Constitution, and the people who framed it. As already noted Franklin was pretty much an Atheist. Jefferson on the other hand, was simply anti-Christian. He was Deist:

“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.”

“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”

“Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.”

And, I think most importantly of all Jefferson’s writings…. a letter he penned to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”

– In fact, the Christian Right in Jefferson’s time attempted to block his Presidency based on the belief that he was an Atheist. Jefferson is a deist. He believed in a creator, but not the God of Christianity. He believed more strongly in the principles of the Enlightenment; individual freedom, the supremacy of human reason, and a binding separation between the Church’s ethical positions, and the State. He believed in certain teachings of Jesus (but denied his divinity) that supported the golden rule seen throughout the World and not limited to Christianity; treat others as you wish to be treated. This is where the new Christian Right and the Founding Fathers part ways.

The 1950s saw a new strand of Christian thought, moulded to political agenda with the Christian Right. This took on three branches:

  • Anti-Communism.
  • Hayekian Free Market Principles.
  • Opposition to social liberalism; values that appeared to be incompatible with traditional Christian thought.
    In short, it was a response to the massive changes economically, socially and politically taking place during the middle of the 20th Century. Science and technology were becoming ever more necessary and sophisticated. Darwinism was being taken seriously. Women were ever more liberated, working and forging careers. Immigrants from non-Christian backgrounds were arriving. Communism was supposedly threatening property and individual freedoms. The Christian Right could vastly broaden their appeal, if they aligned themselves with a political and economic view point that Government = bad, Corporations = great. Suddenly poorer people struggling to put food on their tables will vote Republican to uphold traditional Christian values, not realising that economically their neighbourhoods will be ignored, investment dried up, and any sort of Welfare help cut to within an inch of its life…. all for the benefit of a few wealthy tax cuts under the almost hilarious – if it weren’t so curiously dangerous – rhetoric of “Well, they’re wealth creators”. So, the Christian Right has a broader appeal.

    This merging of Christian fundamentalism with the Right Wing can be most clearly seen with its most revered members. Billy Graham managed to link Christian dogma with anti-communism and as a result, ranks a record 41 times between 1948 and 1998 on Gallup’s poll of Most Admired Men in America. The agenda seems obvious; align Christian Right Winged thinking with the National identity; make America a Christian-Right country, and claim it has always been so. And it’s had its successes….

    In 1979 Ronald Reagan appointed a man named Paul Laxalt as his campaign manager. Among the campaign team, and later the White House staff, Laxalt was known as the “First Friend” for his close relationship to the President. Laxalt, in 1979, whilst Senator for Nevada, introduced a Bill called the ‘Family Protection Act’. Note the naming of the Bill. Point three on my list above, points to opposition to social liberalism. This Bill is a prime example of that. ‘Family Protection’ is worded to suggest there is an imminent attack on YOUR family. Be afraid. Where does this attack come from? Well, according to the Bill; pretty much everywhere that isn’t fundamentally Christian. It restricted access to abortion, restricted gay rights, and offered tax incentives to stay at home moms. It is a curious paradox of the Right Wing; they claim to be anti-big government, yet enact very anti-Constitutional, anti-separation of Church and State, anti-individual rights, where ever those individual rights don’t suit their very narrow vision of what being an ‘American’ truly means; (Christian, white, rich, male).

    Like the rest of the Right Wing, Christian America holds Reagan up as a great President. The perfect Christian Conservative. It seems Christian voters are happy to overlook his disastrous Presidency (truly one of the worst in history – as I have noted in a previous blog), simply because his values were Christian by nature. Reagan’s legacy was one of homelessness, selfishness, arrogance, lack of compassion or empathy, hate, Corporate greed, death, and misery. All in the name of an economic policy disastrously known as “trickle down”. History will remember both him and Thatcher as little beacons of horror and misery for the majority. That’s all.

    Thankfully Laxalt’s Bill never made it past Committee stage, but the fact is that as small Christian Right pressure groups popped up during the 1960s as a way to counter the social liberalism of the day…. by the 1980s, they had members in both Houses of Congress, and very close to the President. This says three things to me about the nature of the American identity by the 1980s; people are willing to vote based on religious conviction, ignoring the economic implications of their vote. Two, most people in the US considered their faith to be of great importance. Three, those who do vote based on religious conviction, are anti-Constitutional in their belief that religion should play a part in the legislative process, and not simply be kept between the individual and their ‘God’. And Reagan was the ideal candidate to play on this anti-Constitutional religious dogmatic approach to politics. He was quite willing to break down the wall that was so brilliantly erected between Church and State some 200 years previous. In 1984, Reagan gave a speech the National Religious Broadcasters. The only President up until that point to agree to give a speech to them, in which he states:

    “Let’s begin at the beginning. God is the center of our lives; the human family stands at the center of society; and our greatest hope for the future is in the faces of our children. Seven thousand Poles recently came to the christening of Maria Victoria Walesa, daughter of Danuta and Lech Walesa, to express their belief that solidarity of the family remains the foundation of freedom.”

    – This irritatingly nasty little manipulative quote stands to try to define what it means to be a human being. God must be the centre of our existence. The family, can only possibly be a religious concept. To a Christian public angry at the social liberalism and apparent moral relativism born out of the 1960s, this must have sounded wondrous. It is also, of course, nonsense. The entire paragraph, utter garbage. Let us not forget that whilst Reagan stresses the importance of ‘our children’ for the future of the Nation, he was busy cutting away all social programs, oversaw the closing of schools and libraries on a huge scale, creating a legacy of child poverty that still hasn’t been fixed, ensuring that the gap between rich and poor widened beyond anyone’s expectations. This wasn’t a man who cared about humanity, or “our children”. But he believed in God, and so the public warmed to him.

    In 1988 Reagan completely destroyed any trace of Enlightenment thinking that brought around the creation of the secular United States of America with his State of the Union address, in which he states:

    Well now, we come to a family issue that we must have the courage to confront. Tonight, I call America — a good nation, a moral people — to charitable but realistic consideration of the terrible cost of abortion on demand. To those who say this violates a woman’s right to control of her own body — can they deny that now medical evidence confirms the unborn child is a living human being entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Let us unite as a nation and protect the unborn with legislation that would stop all federal funding for abortion — and with a human life amendment making, of course, an exception where the unborn child threatens the life of the mother. Our Judeo-Christian tradition recognizes the right of taking a life in self-defense.

    And let me add here: so many of our greatest statesmen have reminded us that spiritual values alone are essential to our nation’s health and vigor. The Congress opens its proceedings each day, as does the Supreme Court, with an acknowledgment of the Supreme Being — yet we are denied the right to set aside in our schools a moment each day for those who wish to pray. I believe Congress should pass our school prayer amendment.

    – Here, he completely reasserts the link between Church and State. He includes the famous phrase from the Declaration. He appears to be trying to link himself to the Founders. Suddenly political America has a “Judeo-Christian tradition”. This is a Theocratic President, not a secular, democratic, constitutional President. This is a Christian that the Founders specifically wanted to keep away from Government.

    The rewriting of history to suit Christian America is a regular occurrence from the 1950s until the present day. Somehow, it has managed to convince a Nation that “One Nation, under God” was always a part of the Pledge, or that “In God We Trust” always appeared on the dollar bill. Both of which are a product of the rise of the Christian Right in the 1950s. Jefferson and Franklin would have reacted with anger at the inclusion of “One Nation, under God” on any public institution.
    The rewriting of history doesn’t stop there. The Christian Right are experts at rewriting the Bible to appear to support their prejudices. As noted above, anti-social liberalism is a key ingredient in the making of the Christian Right, and this social liberalism extends to homosexuality. We see the influence of the Christian Right in the passing of the ‘Defence of Marriage Act’ – again… using ‘defence’ to hide the fact that they are slowly breaking down the barrier between Church and State, slowly eroding individual rights, replacing them with Christian theocratic ‘values’. The ‘Defence of Marriage Act’ states:

    “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

    -If this isn’t a restriction of human rights, by a bunch of homophobic anti-constitutional theocrats, I don’t know what is. This is the ultimate in Government power over individual rights. It is a restriction on ‘love’. Which on the surface, appears to be based on Biblical principles, but underneath it is clearly a case of prejudice making its way into law. I say this, because if marriage were in fact based on Biblical principles, we could all marry our sister’s as advocated in Genesis 20:1-14. Or we could, by law, have a right to take concubines as advocated in 2 Sam 5:13
    and 2 Chron 11:21. Or that we’d be forced to shave our wife’s head as advocated by Deut. 21:11-13. Or a wife would be banned from offering an opinion of her own, especially in Church as advocated in I Corinthians 14:34-35. Or if a man rapes a virgin, as long as he pays, he is entitled to marry her as advocated in Deut. 22:28. Or we may take a child of a foreigner, and marry her, because by law she’d be our property, as advocated by Leviticus 25:44-46. And so it goes on. The ‘Defence of Marriage Act’ is simply a Bill of prejudice, and nothing else.

    What The ‘Defence of Marriage Act’ shows is how vast the Theocratic Christian Right has managed to penetrate a Government that was built on anti-Theocratic, Enlightenment principles. Language like “Defence” and “Freedom” and “Individual” when linked to Christian-inspired changes to the law, are an attempt to provide a direct link using secular language, to the nature of the Founding documents and the people who penned it, whilst being vastly incompatible with the ideals set out by the Founding Fathers as they seek to limit the rights of anyone who doesn’t fit the narrow band of “Christian” that they attempt to perpetuate. It is within this context that it isn’t surprising that the Republican Party requires the Christian vote to be electorally successful, and so with that need comes deeply anti-constitutional, anti-freedom policies designed to placate Christian extremists with regard to abortion, homosexuality,and the teaching of evolution above creationism (I refuse to call it ‘intelligent design’).

    The growth of the Christian Right seems to be a reaction to a perceived ‘threat’ to their understanding of how a moral society should work. It is true that Protestantism, as noted by Weber, set the ball rolling for the freedoms that would paradoxically come to shatter the grip that the religion had on the Country. The attempts by Reagan, and later by Presidential candidates like Santorum to make sure the wall between Church and State be forever knocked down have had their successes when trying to define the United States as a ‘Christian Nation’, but luckily the principles of the Enlightenment and the atmosphere created by the Constitution seem almost always likely to prevail, unfortunately the Christian Right will always have an incalculable affect on the nature of National identity within the very secular United States. It is the nature of a secular Constitution, a secular system of Government, contrasting with a majority Christian population.

    Nevertheless, it is within the atmosphere of an almost entirely Christian Nation, in 1776, before Darwin, before Einstein attempted to provide a theory of everything, before anyone had even suggested the model for the Big Bang; that a few men came together, and questioned the prevailing notion that a society should be based on religious values. People who insisted that reason and inquiry were key to progress, and who told us all to question everything, including the existence of a God. Were they influenced by Christianity? Of course. It would have been impossible not to be. But breaking the chains that Christianity had forced upon its subjects for so long, was an act of great rebellion. To build a country around these new principles was ground breaking, and without any precedent. To them, they were not building another Christian nation. They were building something that transcended religious belief. It is something the Christian Right have attempted to destroy time and time again over the past sixty years. For my part, I am with the Founders. Religion should be kept as far away from the public sphere as notably possible.


  • The November 30th Strikes

    November 23, 2011

    Conservative Party hypocrisy reached a new high today, when The Sun published an article in which David Cameron calls on public sector workers to defy their unions, by not going on strike on November 30th. The phrase the Prime Minister used, which really quite sums up the sort of post-modern irony that seems to run the veins of the Coalition, was a beautiful:

    “most did not vote for this”

    He is of course referring to the vote for public sector strike action on the 30th November over pension reform.

    Unison vote: 245,358 voted in favour, 70,253 against.
    National Association of Probation Officers Union: 80% vote for strike action.
    The National Union of Teachers: 92% in favour.
    The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union: 4 to 1 in favour.
    Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP): 86% In favour.
    Society of Radiographers (SOR): 84% in favour.
    Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP): 64% in favour.
    Among others.
    Over three million will strike. The Prime Minister believes it is illegitimate to strike, because most public sector workers didn’t vote in the ballot. This of course, simply adds to the breathtaking level of hypocrisy in the Prime Minister’s already weak argument.

    It is true that most public sector workers didn’t vote. Even so, the unions that did have a huge turnout, were almost identical in respect to results, as those with low turnouts. For example, whilst Unite only managed a 31% turnout with a result of 75% in favour; the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) managed to get 66% turnout with a result of 86% in favour. Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) managed a turnout of 66.3% and a vote of 79.19% in favour. I’d say it’s pretty conclusive. But it strikes me as insanely ironic that Cameron would even have the nerve to bring up democratic legitimacy. The irony is beautiful. The turnout for the public sector strike vote among unions was around 27%. Pretty small overall. That being said, only about 2% actually voted against strikes. A stark contrast to the 67.6% of people who voted for any Party other than the Conservative Party in 2010. If we’re talking legitimacy after a vote, I’m pretty sure I know which is truly illegitimate, given the scale of reform since 2010.Let’s apply Cameron’s wording to the election and its aftermath:

    The tripling of Tuition fees.

    “most did not vote for this”

    The abolition of 150 PCTs/Control of budget handed over to GP consortiums.

    “most did not vote for this”

    Rise in VAT, which the Tories said “We have no plans for” and the Lib Dems described as a “Tory bombshell waiting to be dropped”.

    “most did not vote for this”

    Radical pension changes.

    “most did not vote for this”

    On the last point, the radical pension changes can not in any light be considered ‘fair’. If we look at what the Government is saying; that a teacher retiring on £37,000 will now get a pension of £25,000, as opposed to £19,100 under the current scheme… sounds like a pretty good deal. But here’s the problem; for a pension of £25,000, the NUT says a teacher would have to work to 68, rather than 60 for the pension of £19000. What this means is if a teacher were to retire at 60 under the new proposals, he/she would receive £13,800…… £5300. Work for eight years longer, pay more, get less. That’s the new scheme.

    Danny Alexander told the House of Commons on the 2nd November:

    “Yes, we are asking public service workers to contribute more. Yes, we are asking them to work longer, along with the rest of society, but we are offering the chance of a significantly better pension at the end of it for many low and middle income earners.”

    – Interestingly, this is nonsense. The document that Alexander is referring to, is the ‘Public Sector Pensions: good pensions that last’ (what a vomit-inducing title), in it we are given the example of a 40 year old male civil servant with 18 years of service, and would only have to work 18 months more – to the age of 61 years and 6 months – to get his existing pension deal. If he were to retire at 67, he’d have £3700 more than under the current scheme. Here’s where it is nonsense. Channel 4 pointed out that if you use the calculator on the Civil Service website, that man would actually only take home £2,567 more. 30% less than Alexander suggested. To even get near to the same pension as they’re currently due, the average civil service worker would have to work close to five years more than now. In contrast, Downing Street has been redecorated to the tune of £680,000 of public money, since May 2010. Just saying….

    Baroness Warsi warned:

    “Millions of public sector workers could be forced to strike against their will.”

    – Oh the hypocrisy. Thousands of students will now face crippling debts, against their will. A report on Radio Leicester this morning highlighted the problem caused by deep austerity (remember, MOST voted against deep austerity in 2010) by showing that since this time last year, homeless rates have tripled in Leicester. Libraries have closed against their will. By June, 240,000 public sector workers had lost their jobs, against their will. GPs are being handed 80% of an NHS budget, against their will. Baroness Warsi really is a disaster.

    Overall, the government intends to increase public sector pension contributions by 3.5% by 2015. The TUC says that this amounts to a 3% wage cut. They call it, a tax on working in the public sector. It essentially raises around £3bn a year. Coincidentally, the Chancellor ruled out a tax on bankers bonuses, that would have raised £2bn a year.

    It would appear that the Coalition don’t understand. The High Pay Commission this week found that Executive pay is astronomically high, rising hugely even during recession, whilst the rest of the Country had to deal with rising inflation and flatlining wages, followed now by public sector pension attacks and the burden of the nation’s debt placed onto the shoulders of the Nation’s 18 year olds. Barclay’s bank saw its Chief Executive pay increase 5000% in 30 years, whilst its average employee saw his/her pay increase just 3 fold. In 1980, the average pay of the man at the top was 13 times more than the average employee…. now, it’s 169 times more. Collective, The report ends with:

    “Stratospheric increases in pay are damaging the economy – distorting markets, draining talent from key sectors and rewarding failure. There appears to be little truth in the myth that pay must escalate to halt a talent drain in executives.”

    – Executive pay is in no way linked to company performance. For example, as share index of FTSE 100 companies rose just 7%, average pay for bosses rose 32%, average pay for their employees rose just 2%. Renumeration committees are sordid little greed affairs, and it all remains very very private. It is wrong. So, given that Chief Execs. of financial institutions; a sector that caused the entire globe to become engulfed in the flames of sovereign debt crises, have been given massive tax breaks, and have seen their pay increase beyond anyone’s idea of a reasonable level whilst they ride the tide of consumer demand calling themselves, quite amusingly, “job creators” at every possible turn to defend their obscene life styles, knowing full well they have a plethora of multi-millionaires in the Cabinet to defend them…… the rest of the working World is expected to sit down, shut up, and take the Tory-led economic raping like a good little bitch.

    The 0.1% at the very top, are taking even more, funded by cuts to wages like that of the public sector pension reforms. Teachers and nurses are funding the luxurious lifestyles of Britain’s banking chiefs. The Government absolutely fully supports this.

    This is why I fully support the strikes next week.


    What Tories Say

    August 19, 2011

    “Our members are the most socially-engaged, the most civic-minded, the most neighbourly bunch of people in Britain.”
    David Cameron, 2010.

    It wasn’t long after not winning the election (or before actually), that the Tories who had clearly been told to keep quiet for the past few years whilst Cameron built up his “progressive, green Conservative” persona, managed to make it known just how much contempt they have for anyone who isn’t them. I thought i’d provide a definitive list of the things Tories say:

    “You might ask how all the single mothers congregating with their push-chaired spawn are able to afford both their beer and their tattoos – I have a horrible idea I am paying for both.”

    – Recently suspended for calling the rioters “jungle bunnies”, Tory Councillor on Dover District Council, Bob Frost.

    “Good candidate, shame he’s black.”

    – Tory Councillor John Major (not ex-Prime Minister) on an interviewee for a position as Chief Exec. of Monmouth County Council.

    “half a wog.”

    – Tory Councillor John Major (not ex-Prime Minister) on a slightly tanned work colleague.

    “I think I have behaved impeccably. I’ve done nothing criminal. Do you know what this is about? Jealousy. I’ve got a very, very large house. Some people say it looks like Balmoral, but it’s a 19th century merchant’s house. It’s not particularly attractive, but it just does me nicely and it’s got room to actually plant a few trees. I still don’t know what all the fuss is about. What right does the public have to interfere in my private life? None! It reminds me of an episode of Coronation Street.”

    – Tory MP for Totnes in Devon, Anthony Steen when questioned about his expenses claims, of which he claimed £87,000, for servicing his stately home, including 500 trees.

    “There is a real danger that the abolition of section 28 will lead to the promotion of a homosexual lifestyle as morally equivalent to marriage.“

    Theresa May, the Equalities Minister. Seriously.

    “Evidence is quite clearly emerging that man is not having the impact on the climate that the EU climate alarmists claim.“

    The website of “Freedom Association“, of which Tory MEP Roger Helmer is a key member. He is our East Midlands MEP. We received his campaign leaflet, of which it said:

    “Conservatives played a key role in making new laws to cut carbon emissions and promote renewable energy“.

    This part of the leaflet, was a major factor for the campaign, given that it had an entire section dedicated to:

    “tackling climate change”

    – We can always trust the Tories to have a public agenda that soon gets trumped by their private agenda. The leaflet then tells us just how busy and relevant their work in the European Parliament has been!

    “You can still buy your fruit and vegetables in pounds and ounces thanks to Conservative MEPs“

    – No more sleepless nights for me!

    “Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan’t tell Amnesty if you don’t. It would be a blessing, really.”

    – Tory Councillor Gareth Compton of Birmingham County Council, talking about writer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. You can bet if she’d have said the same thing about him, most Tories would be up in arms about the disrespect a Muslim is showing to England.

    15 hours in Council today. Very hard hitting day and the usual collection of retards in the public gallery spoiling it for real people.

    – Leader of Kingston Upon Hull County Council. The “retards” being protesters, angry that the 15 hour day he had to so horribly endure, ended by him and his councilors making 1300 people redundant. They must have spoiled the joy on the faces of the miserable Tories who take such delight in instant job destruction.

    “I personally always took the view that, if you look at the case of should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from a hotel, I took the view that if it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home.”

    – Tory MP Chris Grayling. By his logic, businesses should be allowed to turn away anyone they don’t like the look of. If you’re Black, Grayling’s logic says that if a shop owner doesn’t want you in their shop, for being black, tough. A Gay couple shouldn’t have to worry that they might get turned away, for no other reason that the B&B owners religious bigotry. Same old Tories.

    “Given some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, cannot be as productive in their work as somebody who has not got a disability of that nature, then it was inevitable given the employer was going to have to pay them both the same they were going to take on the person who was going to be more productive, less of a risk.
    If those people who consider it is being a hindrance to them, and in my view that’s some of the most vulnerable people in society, if they feel that for a short period of time, taking a lower rate of pay to help them get on their first rung of the jobs ladder, if they judge that that is a good thing, I don’t see why we should be standing in their way.””

    – Tory MP Philip Davies cloaking his apparent desire to see disabled people in the UK treated as a source of cheap labour, in bubble wrapped manipulative, like-he-gives-a-shit language.

    “if there’s anybody who should fuck off it’s the Muslims who do this sort of thing.”

    – Tory MP Philip Davies, after an act of vandalism which was later proven to have not involved any Muslims at all.

    “Why it is so offensive to black up your face, as I have never understood this?”

    – Tory MP Philip Davies.

    “I can understand how it looks, but it is being a bit too politically correct.”

    – Tory Councilor for Bolton, Bob Allen’s half arsed apology, in which, like every Right Winger when they’ve said spewed some deeply offensive moronic bullshit, blaming political correctness, after he posted a photo of a gorilla next to comments about an Asian colleague.

    “IF YOU DON’T PASS THIS ON TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS YOU WILL RECEIVE 3 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ABSOLUTELY FREE.”

    BNP Tory Councillor Simon Farnsworth for Ribble Valley council, at the end of a racist email joke sent to Tory colleagues. Then forwarded by Councilor Ken Hind. My favourite, is Hind’s apology:

    “I am privileged to name amongst my friends and associates many who are of Asian or African origin.”

    – He can’t be racist! He knows a black person!

    “I object to being required to embrace an agenda that actively supports and positively discriminates in favour of people who I consider to be sexual deviants and who engage in practices contrary to my religious beliefs.”

    – Tory Councillor for Derbyshire County Council, Patrick Clark, on Homosexuality. Another brilliant excuse:

    “The term deviant just means different, it was not derogatory.”

    Conservativehome.com, quick to distance themselves from Clark’s comments, went full force with their attack on his 1950s style homophobia and dogmatic religious nonsense:

    The “sexual deviants” reference was pretty unfortunate

    – YEAH! That told him!

    “All women should be sterilised”

    Tory Candidate Ross Coates offering his gem of wisdom on the “problem” of women getting pregnant at work.

    “close to the minimum wage”

    – Tory MP David Wilshire, describing his £64,000 a year salary.

    “Recruiting ethnic people into key public sector organisations— in place to protect us—is a risk.

    – Tory MP, and ex-Shadow Minister for Homeland Security, Patrick Mercer, on revelations, which not surprisingly turned out to be entirely false, from the Daily Mail that the police force had been infiltrated by Muslim Extremists working for Al Qaeda.

    “I came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless.”

    – Tory MP and ex-Shadow Minister for Homeland Security, Patrick Mercer, on his time in the Armed Forces.

    “The witch hunt against MPs in general will undermine democracy. It will weaken parliament – handing yet more power to governments. Branding a whole group of people as undesirables led to Hitler’s gas chambers.”

    – Tory MP David Wilshire, comparing MPs during the expenses scandal, to Hitler’s Nazi Germany. This is a few weeks after it was revealed he had claimed over £100,000 for the running of his own company. Apparently, we should be proud of that essential democratic tradition of profiting from public funds during economic downturns.

    “Should rioters also lose benefits? I approach this question with a belief that loss of benefits for a significant period might be a deterrent to some rioters, irrespective of whatever other punishments the courts may rightly impose.”

    – This beautiful statement was made, as I was writing this. Tory MP James Clappison calling for rioters to have their benefits cut. Interesting moral crusade, given that Clappison claimed over £100,000 despite owning 24 houses, a cricket club, 75 acres of land and a farm. His claims include TV licence, a cleaner, and Sky TV. The hypocrisy is outstanding. Actually, it makes my head want to explode. I cannot comprehend the upper class stupidity at this level. They are oblivious to the real World. To be fair to Clappison, he is trying to join the 21s….actually, the 20th Century, by claiming £295 in 2007….. for a VCR.

    “Yes, if you can believe it, homosexuality will be on the curriculum for students studying maths, geography and science.
    This plan is ludicrous and pushes political correctness to new bounds
    I would have thought raising educational standards and teaching our children to read, write and add up is far more important than imposing questionable sexual standards on those too young to understand their equality czars.”

    – Apparently Tory MP Richard Drax (full name: Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax) doesn’t think teaching children the importance of social acceptance is a reasonable idea. He seems to believe we either teach kids that homosexuality is not a great taboo, or we teach them how to read. Apparently we can’t have both. He then claimed he had meant that kids just wouldn’t understand teaching homosexual issues. Meanwhile, Tory Schools Minister Michael Gove said that our history class rooms should:

    “celebrate the distinguished role of these islands in the history of the world, a beacon of liberty for others to emulate”.

    – If that isn’t propaganda of the worst type, I’m not sure what is. I wonder if children will understand that?

    Cameron’s morality machine 2011, is in full swing!


    The curse of Letwin

    August 1, 2011

    The Conservative Government REALLY need an Alastair Campbell. Desperately. They attempted to secure a Campbell figure to head their PR team, with the [sarcarm] brilliantly managed and executed appointment of Andy Coulson.[/sarcasm] It would take a top PR team most of the day, every day, to ensure Oliver Letwin, the Minister of State for Policy, keeps his grotesque mouth closed whenever someone from the press is around, because he betrays the idea that the Tories have change, or modernised, since, well, around the 19th Century. Letwin is a left over from a group of Etonians who clearly and misguidedly believe they have a right to rule by way of their heritage. It is an arrogance that the Cameron Government will never shake, because they are the living embodiment of that privileged arrogance. They have disastrously inter-breeded this mentality with a Thatcherite economic mentality that is as dangerous as it is out-dated. His disastrous face, screams contempt for anyone who isn’t Oliver Letwin. He is a PR disaster. It is one of the many reasons (another being massive incompetence and dishonesty – which we’ll come to later) that he was overlooked when the Tories were searching for a leader. Hell, they even chose Iain Duncan Smith, does anyone remember him?

    With a face looking as if someone had created him out of the concept of pompous twat, Oliver Letwin has once more allowed the Conservative Party mask it currently shrouds itself in, to fall, revealing a Thatcherite brigade just as frightening and dangerous as their 1980s counterparts.

    Letwin had told a consultancy firm, that his proposals for public sector reform should instill:

    “some real discipline and some fear”

    He said this, because he believes the productivity of the public sector has failed. It is a strange comment and angle to take, given that the private sector has spent the past four years creating sovereign debt crises’ everywhere it goes. Productivity is very difficult to measure in the public sector, because the public sector is not about creating anything. Investment in the public sector has seen waiting lists for operations down year on year since the last Tory administration. Teaching standards are also up. The public sector does not “make” things. So talk of productivity in comparison to the private sector, is futile and misleading. It strikes me as wholly patronising that a man such as Oliver Letwin has the balls to lecture public sector workers – teachers, doctors, nurses, firemen – on what “real discipline” is. They are not children. They also did not claim public money for ludicrous items like mortgage interest payments. Also, the public sector hasn’t spent twenty five years creating a system of easy credit to boost the excessive pay of CEOs and Managing Directors, whilst the average worker saw overall increase in wages? And then when the company or bank failed miserably, the “fear” was THAT pertinent that the CEOs are given massive pay offs and lovely big bonuses. All this, whilst the public sector is told constantly, and has been told constantly, from Thatcher, to Major, to Blair, to Brown and now to Cameron, that it is not good enough, that it must be modelled on a failing private sector built on squeezing productivity out through long hours, a mountain of stress, and all for less pay whilst the big boss is compensated for his little contribution to overall productivity with huge salary and bonuses; and that their jobs are always on the line. A private sector model should be as far away from inflicting misery on the public sector, as possible.

    It isn’t the first time Letwin has revealed his hostility to those less fortunate. Earlier this year, he surprised and disgusted the most posh of Tories, Boris Johnson, by telling Johnson:

    “We don’t want more people from Sheffield flying away on cheap holidays.”

    – At least he recognises that the North suffered horrifically with the gutting of jobs and thus wealth during the Thatcher years. Though he seems to have suggested that it is perfectly okay for the wealthy Southerners to pay for expensive holidays and that holidaying abroad should be based on wealth. I expect he thought he was at home with Boris, and could reveal his true feelings, but sometimes posh Tory twats seriously misjudge the situation, and regret the fact that their well crafted public self has been set on fire by their real self. This seems to happen a lot with Letwin. And now on to why I referred to his as a hypocrite:

    In 2005 Letwin used the phrase “Wealth Distribution” in a positive light! I know! I was shocked too when I first read it. A Tory, interested and supportive of wealth distribution? Surely not! Well, actually, not. 2005 was the year Cameron was trying to pose as being a “progressive conservative“, deeply contradictory term yet one he managed seemingly to work. Letwin clearly took on that contradictory term, by trying to fill out a left wing term with right winged substance in the hope that no one would scratch below the service. He said:

    …….not by trying to do down those with most but by enabling those who have least to share an increasing part of an enlarging cake.

    – In practice what this means is, a desire to scrap the top rate of tax for the richest, a desire to lower the Corporation tax rate to the lowest recorded level, a desire to allow companies like Vodaphone a get out of jail free card by writing off their tax debt, whilst at the same time cutting allowance for the disabled, the elderly, according to a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary Letwin must be talking about the 16000 less police Britain will have after this Parliament; according to the leaks that the Guardian currently has; the Tory’s new director of policy Steve Hilton, suggesting abolishing maternity leave whilst also abolishing ALL consumer rights legislation. Just to reiterate….. this man, is the Nation’s DIRECTOR OF POLICY. Now i’m not saying these idiotic and deeply right winged ideas of Hilton’s are likely to become a reality. To suggest so would put me on the same wavelength as the manic Right Wingers who would constantly suggest that New Labour were about to ban England shirts and change the name of Christmas, or ban you from being white. Letwin must believe Hilton’s ideas will “enable” those with the least to a share of an increasingly large cake. Tories consider Hilton a genius…… not just because of his ideas (which aren’t in any sense a spark of genius) but also because he doesn’t wear shoes in Downing Street and they consider this “wacky”. In their defence, it is as wacky as most Tories are likely to see, given that they are born wearing business suits, slick back hair, and spend the next twenty years trying to hide the fact that their schooling experience is a plethora of homoeroticism cunningly disguised as a love of “Rugger“. It can’t have been too many years ago when gay and black people were described by most Tories as “wacky“. Hilton, like Letwin, is politically dangerous.

    The reason why Letwin is hypocritical in his desire to do away with the idea that public money can actually do good, is because he used public money to claim over £80,000 for his Cottage in Somerset, in order to heat the place, empty the septic tank, £1000 in mortgage interest and most beautifully of all…… over £2000 to repair a leaking pipe underneath his tennis court. So much for “real discipline and fear“.

    Either the Tory Party spend some time searching and investing in a decent PR figure, or they sew Oliver Letwin’s mouth closed, he is a liability to the Conservatives, and a liability to humanity.


    Phone Hacking, The BBC, Left Wing Conspiracies and Boris!

    July 20, 2011

    There are a lot of blogs and articles surrounding the staggering resignations, deaths, arrests and revelations surrounding the Met and its Press Office run almost entirely by ex-News Corp journalists and their incompetent handling of two investigations; the utterly absurd judgement and ignorance of the Prime Minister; the shameful opportunism of Ed Milliband; with regard to the News Corp hacking issue. There are hundreds of articles and new revelations popping up every day. So I wanted to a somewhat different angle to this, and run down a tangent.

    Though first, it seems that the Prime Minister is on the very brink of being dragged underwater and his Premiership drowned (I say that, with a lasting smirk on my face) as it emerged that not only was Coulson brought into Tory Party HQ, but also Ex-News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis, who is one of the people who have been arrested so far, was an adviser to Coulson after Coulson began work for the Tories. This is particularly toxic for Number 10, because Wallis has already brought down Met Chief Sir Paul Steve Stephenson and Deputy Met Chief John Yates after it was revealed that the Met had employed Wallis as a PR consultant. This will be worth following, because even Tory blogger Iain Dale makes the extraordinary suggestion that Cameron could be brought down by this scandal. This is echoed with Tory blogger Mark Thompson offering up Theresa May as a replacement for Cameron, after betting agencies were taking 6-1 bets on Cameron being brought down, down from 100-1 two weeks ago.

    Anyway. Onto the main point.

    At Prime Minister’s questions last week, Tory MP for Beverley and Holderness, Graham Stuart asked the Prime Minister if the police would also be investigating what he refers to as a “criminal conspiracy” at the heart of the previous Labour Government and the Murdoch Empire, into the desire to undermine Tory Peer Lord Ashcroft in the run up to the General Election.

    I think it necessary to evaluate the character of Graham Stuart MP directly, as to discern whether his little outburst is worthy of our attention.

    When Graham Stuart was at Cambridge, he was the Chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association. His term also coincided with a scandal, in which voting for his election was seen as suspicious and irregularities in the outcome meant that eight of his colleagues in the CUCA resigned in protest. Eight!

    As well as having a face you just want to slap, and being a little bit untrustworthy at election time, he also managed to acquire the services of the repair men to resurface his private road leading up to his luxury mansion, at a usual cost of £2,500….. for free. There are potholes on the public roads around the town that he lives, but instead the resurfacing was used for his private estate.

    But even if he had to pay for the road (which he didn’t), he would be able to, with the money he saves on his fortune, through his expense claims, which he thinks are perfectly legitimate. According to his forms, that I have spent the past couple hours of my apparently boring life reading through, he claimed half the electricity bill, half the rent on the flat which comes to £1400 a month, half the council tax, food, internet, phone, mobile phone, digital camera, tripod, an Egyptian cotton satin sheet worth £40, £240 on bed linen from John Lewis which he says represented “good value for money“, four £86 pillow cases, £8,500 on food between 2005-2009, he claimed £85 from a company called “Freestye Design” whom design company logos. I wondered why he’d be using a company like that. When his expenses were released, he said:

    “if anyone has any questions or queries about individual claims they are more than welcome to email me or contact my office and I will do my best to answer them.”

    So that’s exactly what I did.
    He didn’t reply.

    So, given that this man has a bit of a dodgy typical Tory character, one has to examine his question. The point he was trying to raise, was that Tom Baldwin, Head of communications for Ed Miliband, had obtained information about the Tory Lord’s tax affairs illegally. It’s an odd charge to make, given that no one is likely to feel all that sympathetic toward a Lord, worth over £1bn at the heart of a Government (who, indeed, is the largest donor to the Tory government) whose mantra is “save save save!!” Money must be saved everywhere, disabled people must lose out, children must lose out, everyone who isn’t rich must lose out…….. except for Lord Ashcroft, who isn’t contributing to the save save save mantra, because the “illegally obtained information” showed that he is classified as a non-dom, which means he doesn’t pay any UK tax on his fortune made abroad. Yet, he is part of a legislature, that insists the UK is on the “brink of bankruptcy“. He is hardly likely to foster the sympathy of a public, in the same way that the hacking of Millie Dowler’s phone gained. The Tories are actively trying to divert attention away from themselves, because not only did David Cameron appoint Andy Coulson (they clearly want, and desperately need an Alistair Campbell), but Boris Johnson, the Tory Mayor of London referred to the hacking scandal last year, as a Left Wing conspiracy. Whenever a Right Winger uses the term “left wing conspiracy” to refer to something they do not like (it happens alot in America, who, any time a gay guy says he wishes to get married to the love of his life, some lunatic Republican insists it’s all part of the “gay agenda“), I often want to bang my face against a wall and weep for the sanity of that particular section of humanity. Take Janet Daley writing in the Telegraph yesterday:

    …..that great edifice of self-regarding, mutually affirming soft-Left orthodoxy which determines the limits of acceptable public discourse – of which the BBC is the indispensable spiritual centre.

    Firstly, she does what most right wingers do, and suggests the BBC has a horrid left wing bias. She will no doubt point to some illogical evidence to back up her point, whilst ignoring all evidence to the contrary. The BBC, to me, has no real bias. It is almost impossible for a media organisation to be objective when objectivity itself is impossible with regard to politics. For example, whilst Daley will claim that Euroscepticism doesn’t get treated as a legitimate political view on the BBC, it is equally as important to point out (which she doesn’t) that the BBC personality who presents all their Westminster shows, is Andrew Neil, a man who was in the Conservative Club at the University of Glasgow, was a Conservative Party Research Assistant, and stood side by side with his former boss; Rupert Murdoch at the launch of Sky in the 1980s, before becoming a writer for the Daily Mail. It is almost impossible to become more right winged, before morphing into Margaret Thatcher. And he presents all of the BBCs Westminster coverage. The Daily Politics, sees Andrew Neil flanked by Labour MP for Hackney, Diane Abbott (never been a minister, or taken particularly seriously in politics) and Michael Portillo, a former Tory Defence Secretary, Shadow Chancellor, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Employment, and potential leadership candidate. The balance is tipped very much in the direction of the Right on this one.
    The political editor at the BBC is Nick Robinson. One quick google search shows that Robinson, during his time at Oxford, was not just a member, but President of the Oxford University Conservative Association. He was National Chairman of the Young Conservatives. Before the 2010 election he compared Cameron to Disraeli. After the election when the coalition agreements were being debated and drawn up, he referred to a Lib/Lab coalition as a “Coalition of losers“. And contrary to the views of the those of us on the Left, on his blog Robinson says of Cameron:

    David Cameron prides himself on being bold when big moments occur – challenging for the Tory leadership in 2005, calling on Gordon Brown to have a snap election in 2007 and that “big, bold and generous” offer to form the Coalition in 2010.

    What Robinson has done there, has metaphorically kissed and caressed a photo of David Cameron.

    Daley is so blissfully ignorant to the fact that the past two years has seen the political discourse dominated by the desire to see deep public sector cuts rather than tax hikes for the wealthy; it has seen the emergence of the desire to revert back to the Capitalism that indeed failed and brought the World crashing down with it from both Labour and the Tories, and it has seen the discourse in the media and from the mouths of politicians everywhere throw spear after vicious spear at the hearts of anyone on benefits or in a Union. The NHS has been attacked, the Welfare state has been attacked, Universities have been attacked, the public purse has been attacked, and yet the very people who caused the mess in the first place have been given vast pensions and allowed to go free. A Guardian poll yesterday showed the Tories ahead of Labour, which all suggests that the public discourse and its limits are very firmly in the court of the Right Wing. A left wing discourse would, above all, launch a sustained attack on the very need for public sector cuts in the first place, it would be calling for a complete reinvention of the economic system as opposed to ignoring the inherent flaws which WILL lead to another crash, it would be unequivocally supportive of the Unions and public sector workers rather than painting them as out of touch, greedy, and overpaid, it would be constantly presenting the information surrounding Corporate tax avoidance and the obscenely high cost to the taxpayer rather than attacking the single mum who claims a few quid more than she perhaps should. As a left winger, it is an insult to hear the discourse of the political landscape in this country referred to as left wing. But that is the superb nature of right winged discourse, unless we’re throwing anyone with an Asian complexion out of the country, privatising the NHS, and shooting the families of Union leaders in the face, they will insist the Country is too left wing. Boris Johnson did that when he claimed the coverage of Phone hacking was all part of a left wing conspiracy. The same Boris Johnson who will now, in his short term as Mayor of London, see the arrival of the third Met Commissioner on his watch. Not a great record. So that’s Boris, Cameron, The Met, Lord Ashcroft (who we are now supposed to feel sympathetic toward) and Graham Stuart MP, who have not had the greatest of records pertaining to the phone hacking scandal.

    Back to Ashcroft. In 2005, he commissioned two polls by YouGov and Populus. The polls were huge, and were set up to help the Tories target marginal seats, therefore it is most certainly in the public interest. He commissioned them and paid for them through his company which is based in Belize, which means he didn’t pay any VAT on them. The Guardian estimated that he owed £40,000 in unpaid VAT. Ironically, Vince Cable, now part of the Tory government funded by Ashcroft, said at the time:

    “This is quite serious. We are now not talking just about Ashcroft’s non-dom status, but about systematic tax avoidance in funding Conservative party activities such as polling.”

    – So why on Earth should I care that a man who sort to keep his tax details private whilst funding a Party who would almost certainly allow his abuses to continue as they gutted the public purse, had his details extracted illegally? There are levels of poor conduct within the journalist arena, and those conducted by Brooks and Coulson and the Met (the Chief of the Met had a meeting with the Guardian to urge them to drop the phone hacking investigation last year) and in-directly, David Cameron, is far far worse than those by Tom Baldwin.

    Graham Stuart MP should quit his ramblings and just go back to his mansion, and lay on his Egyptian Satin tax payer funded sheets.

    The saga continues…


    A Neoliberal Attack…

    July 13, 2011

    Religious people are far more likely to engage in conversation about religion with me, after I mention that I have studied Philosophy and take an interest in Theology. I think they presume I will agree with their thoughts and perhaps provide reasoning to their illogical beliefs. I think they imagine that one can only speak with conviction on matters of religion, if one is religious in an academic sense. The same is true of many walks of life, not least the public sector in England. Because Tory MPs are essentially a part of the public sector, they seem to believe they have the right to talk of all public sector workers, as if they’re the official spokespeople for the public sector.

    On Question Time last week, John Redwood, Tory MP for Wokingham appeared delighted as he informed the audience that as a public sector worker, he would be working longer and putting more money into his pension pot as a result of his Government’s reforms, and he was proud of it. The reason John Redwood can seem so pleased with himself that he is accepting the changes to his pension and retirement age, is because on top of the £65,000 a year he earns as an MP, he also claimed a hell of a lot of money, that regular public sector workers could only dream of. Yet, Mr Redwood seems to think his claims were perfectly reasonable, as suggested on his own personal blog:

    In 2007-8 I claimed a total of £105,917. This made me the 19th cheapest MP, claiming around £40,000 less than the average. One fifth of that claim was the mortgage interest costs, the Council Tax and service charge and maintenance on a bedsit flat in Pimlico. It is entirely used to enable me to work longer days in London when there is important Parliamentary business. During my ownership it has only been slept in by myself. I do not need it for any other purpose. The deposit and repayments of capital are of course paid for out of my taxed income.

    – We should be thanking him, for claiming in one year, more than a teacher is likely to earn in five years. We should be happy that tax payers money is going to fund the “maintenance” on his Pimlico flat. We should be grateful that the money spent on his mortgage interest (tax payers money) will go to buying a flat he can then sell when he retires, making a handsome profit, and giving nothing back to the public, whilst his party continue to force harsh austerity. One does wonder what the purpose of his 2004/5 claim of £13,305 for his luxurious house in Berkshire (a £1,000,000 estate which he fully owns), including £168 and £112 for his lawn to be reseeded, and how that is “entirely used to enable me to work longer days in London when there is important Parliamentary business” was needed for, but nevertheless, i’m sure it’s just as noble as the necessity of “maintenance” claims on the MILLIONAIRE’S flat in London. Thank you John “Jesus Christ” Redwood. You are a hero.

    A man in the audience pointed out that the Private Sector has forced through harsh pension reforms, and so the Public Sector should do the same and “modernise”. The audience were alive with cheer! But it got me thinking; why is it always the public sector that is made to look as though it is in the wrong, like a Soviet leftover, trailing behind the private sector. People seem happy to accept the notion that if the private sector is screwing people over, then so should the public sector! Why is no one arguing that the private sector should be actively forced to lift itself up to the level of the public sector? As far as I can discern, over the past twenty five years it has been an out of control short-term wealth obsessed private sector that has been so majestically out of control, that when the bubble finally cracked, the public sector had to take the hit.

    Let’s look at examples of the private sector providing a “modernising” model that the public sector ought to apparently follow:

    Lloyds TSB is currently 43.4% owned by the taxpayer. Yet, its new Chief Executive, Antonio Horta-Osorio received a signing on fee of £4.1mn in shares, £516,000 in money, and an annual salary of £1.6mn with a yearly bonus of £2.5mn.

    A wonderful company named Trafigura, in 2010 leased a ship called the Probo Koala to a company called Compagnie Tommy, with the intent to dump toxic waste at a waste disposal sight in Amsterdam. The site raised their prices by 20 times that quoted, because the toxic waste was deemed to be far more dangerous that Compagnie Tommy and Trafigura first suggested. So, a new company set up on the Ivory Coast agreed to take the waste, for a very cheap sum. Trafigura did not investigate just why this new company was offering to take the waste for such a cheap price. After the waste was dumped, ten people died from poisoning, and over 100,000 became ill. Trafigura said they’d tested the waste, and it wasn’t toxic, and that they had no idea why so many people became ill. The Dutch tested the waste and found it contained two tonnes of Hydrogen Sulfide. A killer gas. Trafigura spent three years publicly denying the waste they dumped in a poverty stricken area of Africa, was not enough to kill people. Suddenly, Trafigura offered to pay a massive amount of compensation of Euro152,000,000 to the Ivory Coast (which didn’t go to the victims) with the instruction that on acceptance of the compensation, they couldn’t be prosecuted or causing death in the courts. The reason they did this, is because The Guardian obtained – through Wikileaks – private company emails from Trafigura in which they quite plainly accept, as early as 2006 before they’d even chosen the Ivory Coast to dump the waste, that the waste was indeed dangerous.

    According to the Guardian, Diageo PLC, the company that makes Guiness, in 2009 paid as little as 2% tax on its profits, despite racking in £2bn in profits. Diageo pays its Chief Executive £3.6mn salary. To fill this gap, it takes 20,000 ordinary British households per year.

    The term “Modernising” has come to mean subtle privatising of key services in recent years. An economic laissez faire that apparently promised to solve all of our problems. The outsourcing of cleaning from NHS to private companies with £94mn worth of contacts, led to such declining standards between ’83-’00, that an extra emergency £31mn was injected into cleaning in the NHS, with the a Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT), set up to visit hospitals to ensure standards were being met; the Private sector had failed. By 2000, only 20% of NHS Trusts had achieved an acceptable level of cleanliness.

    The banks aren’t the only sector that have required government bail outs in recent history. In 2002, British Energy (privatised under the Tories) had to approach the government for a £410mn bail out to finance its debts.

    News of the World. I believe this doesn’t need elaborating on.

    Private sector bonuses and high CEO pay, is more harmful to you and I, than highly paid private sector bosses. When money accumulates in the hands of very few people within the private sector (we spend more in the private sector, than on taxes), the cost gets passed on to us. The Bush tax cuts, along with the deregulation of the financial sector didn’t go toward greater investment, it went to increasing the pay and bonuses of those at the top, and the cost was passed on to us, through the creation of a very easy credit system. We all know how that turned out.

    British Airways, under the incompetent management of Willie Walsh faced massive fines (record breaking fine actually) for price fixing, long drawn out industrial disputes with the cabin crew which the media helped by describing the cabin crew as greedy, despite 2000 of their workmates being laid off, the company making huge losses, and Willie Walsh taking in a 6% inflation busting pay rise, taking it to £743,000 and £1.1mn in deferred share bonuses. Enough to keep at least ten people on at BA, who otherwise lost their job. The media will never paint the boss as the greedy incompetent bastard in this kind of dispute. It will always find a child at Heathrow, crying, because the cabin crew strike means he wont see his mummy this Christmas. The media do not tend to side with the unions, they never will, and so neither will the ill-informed public.

    Do we need to even mention the banking system? A particularly ironic take on this whole new “private good public bad” era of austerity we are living in.

    Thankfully we have the Government’s new corporate team, who will help him “stand up to business”. On the panel, inevitably, is Philip Green, Topshop mogul who owns Taveta Investments, which he put in his wife’s name, who happens to live in Monaco, thus avoiding £285mn in tax. He also paid his family £1.2bn, taken from a loan in the name of his company, thus cutting Corporation tax because the loan’s interest charges were offset against profit. Oh and he also uses sweatshops in Mauritius, whilst claiming his obscene bonuses are justified because he “takes risks”. Another on the panel, is Justin King, Chairman of Sainsbury’s. In his first year, he received free shares worth over £500,000, whilst axing the £120 christmas bonus for his staff. After his staff didn’t receive their christmas bonus, King awarded his wealthy finance director £357,000 worth of shares. King was also offered 1,000,000 free shares, if he met specific targets the year before. He didn’t meet the targets, the company’s profits fell 2.9% and yet he still took home 86% of the promised shares. He will be given the same year on year, on top of his £500,000+ a year salary.

    We all know that the private sector has the potential to deliver fantastic opportunities, despite the fact that its raison d’etre is unjustifiable power and wealth in the hands of people who simply injected the first dose of capital required to kick start the specific business, as if that initial injection of capital somehow creates a universal, unbreakable law, like gravity, that requires the majority of the subsequent profit and the decisions required to move the business forward, be placed in the hands of the person who injected that capital. It’s a bit of a flawed and odd concept that people just tend to accept. But, it does create opportunity (though it doesn’t necessarily have to be the only way of creating opportunity). The downside, is unregulated greed. The public sector is a constant target of abuse from the source of that greed, and the politicians that the greed of the private sector can buy. Corportocracy at its finest and most dangerous.

    Isn’t it about time a Politician had the balls to stand up and say the Private Sector over the past thirty years has spiraled disastrously out of control, and perhaps needs to be able to pay people a decent living wage, as opposed to bringing the public sector down to the unacceptable level of the private sector?


    The wisdom of Philip Davies, MP

    June 22, 2011

    Twitter Philip Davies MP

    A couple of nights ago, Twitter was alive with the news that Tory MP for Shipley, Philip Davies had stood up in the House of Commons and said this:

    “If an employer is looking at two candidates, one who has got disabilities and one who hasn’t, and they have got to pay them both the same rate, I invite you to guess which one the employer is more likely to take on.

    “Given that some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, cannot be as productive in their work as somebody who has not got a disability of that nature, then it was inevitable that, given the employer was going to have to pay them both the same, they were going to take on the person who was going to be more productive, less of a risk.

    “My view is that for some people the national minimum wage may be more of a hindrance than a help.

    “If those people who consider it is being a hindrance to them, and in my view that’s some of the most vulnerable people in society, if they feel that for a short period of time, taking a lower rate of pay to help them get on their first rung of the jobs ladder, if they judge that that is a good thing, I don’t see why we should be standing in their way.”

    Philip Davies ideal England is one in which sweatshops, full of people with disabilities create cheap goods for the overly privileged Tory benches to feed from, whilst the sweatshop bosses drive up to the gates of Downing Street in their brand new Mercs, accompanied by a lovely big donation for the Tory Party.

    Perhaps we could use the £161,300 in expenses he claimed rather dubiously in 2009, on top of his £65,000 a year salary, to pay people a better salary? On the subject of his expense claims, he claimed the most of all Bradford MPs, and claimed £10,000 more on his second home allowance than Bradford North MP Terry Rooney. I am not entirely sure how that’s warranted, or helps him does his job to a greater degree. Incidentally, claimed for more in second home allowances than my dad makes in a year. Unsurprisingly, he clings onto this gravy train by opposing much needed Parliamentary reform. The lobby for Parliamentary reform, Power 10 label Philip Davies as one of the six MPs who will happily block reform of Parliament. This isn’t surprising, given just how much he has financially benefited from the current corrupt nature of Parliament.

    Nevertheless, there is an unnerving essence to a member of our national legislature, insinuating that a person’s worth should be based solely on their physical or mental capability, and then using defensive rhetoric, heartfelt sentiment, to sound as if he only wishes to help disabled people, rather than line the pockets of his Party’s donors, and make it easy for employers to exploit without worry. It is equally as unnerving for a politician to tacitly suggest that wage discrimination is not only acceptable, but entirely the fault of those who are being discriminated against. His words sound as if he is suggesting being disabled is a lifestyle choice, that requires a bit of a punishment. That punishment should apparently be an agreement to work for less money that one needs in order to live, along with the added expense that comes with certain disabilities.

    It would be right to point out that those with disabilities, who Davies wants to be paid less, did not cause the financial problems we’re now in. Ironically, for Davies, it was the private sector’s excessive greed (of which he clearly has no problem in promoting) that caused the mess, through unproductive excess profit being used – not to pay people better even when it had accumulated enough to easily manage paying more – but on dodgy asset deals. The problem in 2007 wasn’t that there appeared to be a lack of capital caused by the need to pay disabled people, or anybody a national minimum wage, but by the fact that there was an abundance of concentrated excess capital that wasn’t being put to good and productive use. Wages were stagnating for the majority of people, whilst wages at the very top climbed higher and higher. That, is entirely the fault of the private sector. Is Davies saying that if we dropped the minimum wage, wages would flourish, failed Tory economics would be proven right, and disabled people would be working shorter hours, for a loyal boss, who paid wonderfully? Because I foresee a bunch of employers driving even bigger Porsche’s whilst their £2 an hour disabled employees can no longer afford adequate care. Davies certainly didn’t offer any added benefits that some disabled people may require due to being paid below minimum wage. Grants for specialised equipment? Incomes and the ability to pay for necessary care and equipment cannot always be planned for even on a week to week basis, for those suffering certain disabilities. To promote the idea of wage discrimination against those with disabilities, at the same time as cuts to Disability Living Allowance take hold

    It is a minimum wage for a reason. Do we really believe employers wouldn’t use an “opt-out” for their own advantage? Wages at the top are already obscenely high in the private sector. In 2009, for example, the chief executive of the Anchor Trust, which provides home for the elderly, took home £391,000. Anchor Trust is a charity! Whilst donations are down and employees are facing redundancy it is ludicrous for a CEO of an organisation that so many people rely on, to take home almost £400,000 a year.

    I continue to be of the opinion that if an employer cannot afford to pay somebody a decent enough wage to live on, he/she shouldn’t be running a business. They are a danger to the public. £5.89 is not a lot of money, and to suggest that the rest of us are entitled to at least that, whilst a disabled person is entitled to less, purely because of a natural affliction is sensationally regressive.

    The far right narrative is the problem, not minimum wage legislation. Philip Davis is attempting to remove responsibility for fair pay away from the employer, and onto the employee. Citizens UK found that of the companies in London willing to sign up to paying their lowest paid members of staff a “National living wage” rather than a “National minimum wage”, of £8.30 an hour, they managed to lift 3500 families out of poverty in 2009. It didn’t have an adverse affect on prices, in the same way as the minimum wage introduction in the late 1990s didn’t have an adverse affect as many Tories claimed it would. Campaigners for a National Living Wage are screaming out at Tesco, who have failed to ensure their cleaning staff are paid a fair living wage, despite the company making £3.8bn profit last year. Employers do not, ever, take paying their staff a respectable wage seriously. Ever. Surely if they were made to pay more, of which they can definitely afford, the money would be divided among a workforce who would pay more tax, and use the added disposable income on goods and services from businesses across the Country, rather than wasting it on the very very small band of wealthy elites?

    A study in America called “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination.” , found that job applicants with a white sounding name are 50% more likely to be asked back than an applicant with a white sounding name. The researches sent out 5000 applications in sales, marketing, clerical and customer service positions. The names they used were a mix of white sounding names, and black sounding names. The report showed that white applicants with stronger resumes than other white applicants received 30% more callbacks, whereas black applicants with stronger resumes than other black applicants received just 9% more callbacks. It proved that regardless of credentials, black applicants were 50% less likely to get a callback than a white applicant. I wonder if Philip Davis thinks black Americans should agree to work for less money than their white counterparts, purely because they are black? What about a black person with a disability? Back to slavery?

    We should though, not be surprised by the ignorance that Philip Davis displayed. Here is an MP who voted against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, which state that it is unlawful to discriminate when selling goods or services, education or facilities based on sexuality. Davies therefore thinks it is acceptable for a school to expel a gay student. Or for a shop to ban a lesbian lady purely for her sexuality. He also voted against removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords. So, he wants more freedom for shop owners to ban people based on sexual orientation (individualism and all that Libertarian bollocks) yet that same individualism, he doesn’t extend to the most privileged of people passing that privilege onto their children, who may or may not have worked or produced anything worthwhile in their entire lives? Oh the hypocrisy.

    In 2011 he even invented his own logic based on a lie, when it comes to making cigarette packaging plain:

    “I believe that the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes is gesture politics of the worst kind. It would not have any basis in evidence and it would simply be a triumph for the nanny state and an absurd one at that.”

    – The objection I have with the line “it would not have any basis in evidence” is that it does have basis in evidence. Cigarette companies spend millions on their packaging, and over the last couple of decades, they have used the idea of “light” packaging to sell products to people who believe smoking “light” fags, means less danger. A 2004 British Medical Journal research article found that:

    The increase in lung cancer risk is similar in people who smoke medium tar cigarettes (15-21 mg), low tar cigarettes (8-14 mg), or very low tar cigarettes (≤ 7 mg)

    – So smoking a cigarette from a package that claims to be “ultra light” means nothing. But do people really believe “ultra light” means they are at less of a risk of developing lung cancer? Does the advertisement on the packaging work? If it does, then Davis is either a liar, or a massive idiot. Well, surprisingly……. he’s a liar or a massive idiot. A University of Toronto research paper, titled “‘Light’ and ‘mild’ cigarettes: who smokes them? Are they being misled?” published in 2002 found that:

    In 1996 and 2000, respectively, 44% and 27% smoked L/M (light and mild cigarettes) to reduce health risks, 41% and 40% smoked them as a step toward quitting, and 41% in both years said they would be more likely to quit if they learned L/M could provide the same tar and nicotine as regular cigarettes. These data provide empirical support for banning ‘light’ and ‘mild’ on cigarette packaging.

    – The policy of plain packaging is absolutely based on evidence. It is time we started to ignore the “nanny state” hysterical screams from manic, misinformed, ignorant right wingers.

    Not only that, but in 2006, after an act of vandalism was initially blamed on a group of Muslim men, Davies said:

    “if there’s anybody who should fuck off it’s the Muslims who do this sort of thing.”

    – It later turned out that the act of vandalism was caused by white men. Davies did not apologise, nor did he take the same tough far-right, BNP-esque line with the white vandals as he had done when he imagined the vandals were all muslim.

    You might think the incessant stupidity stops there. You’d be wrong. In 2009 Davies asked:

    “Is it offensive to black up or not, particularly if you are impersonating a black person? Why it is so offensive to black up your face, as I have never understood this?

    Maybe he would be happy for black people to take a pay cut after all.