Margaret Thatcher

April 8, 2013

597px-Thatcher_reviews_troops_(cropped)“I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.”
Martin Luther King

It would be wrong to claim that a person is deserving of our unquestioning respect, simply because they’ve died. We do not have to respect Margaret Thatcher as a politician, or a person. I have very little respect for her as either. We should however consider the tone of our comments on her death, if only for the sake of her family. We do this, because we are decent people. The openly “dance on her grave” barrage of hate aimed at her today, for all to see, so publicly, is another legacy of her awful ‘no such thing as society‘ legacy.

It does no good to publicly celebrate the death of person, regardless of how divisive or even how evil they were (parading the body of Gaddafi around on TV was horrific). The person is dead. They are not going to see the comments. It is irrelevant to them. The only people who will notably suffer from the comments, are the family of the person who has died. She has family, and grandkids who shouldn’t have to be exposed to some outward display of public joy and declarations of “dancing on the grave” of their grandma. Gloating and demeaning, is giving up the moral high ground to the people who created a society based on suspicion, fear, greed, selfishness, human values replaced by commercial values, me-me-me, and uninformed vitriol in the first place.
It also feeds the right winged trolls. As we see with the insufferably irritating, and vacuous Louise “You shouldn’t drink coffee from Starbucks if you have ANY issue with modern Capitalism” Mensch:

ssss
– Apparently, subtly hinting that anyone on any sort of Welfare could be capable of murdering their family, is fine by Tories. Saying “I don’t like Thatcher” makes you Socialist scum.
It is worrying that dissent in any form, will be seen as a show of ‘disrespect‘, by ‘spiteful lefties‘. Anything short of portraying her as some great figure, putting ‘great‘ back into ‘Great Britain‘ or anything equally as meaningless and clearly contradictory to reality, will be seen as simply worthless vitriol from bitter socialists. This cannot happen.

There is a notable difference it seems to me, between demanding street parties and grave dancing, to openly criticising her and her shamefully awful legacy. The latter, should be just as open as it is for those who seem to be bombarding the airwaves with talk of how she was some sort of God-like saviour. She was a political figure, a public figure, a divisive figure, we cannot and should not shut off criticism, especially at a time when her legacy is up for grabs, and will most certainly be leaped on by the right winged media wishing to portray an angelic, hero of freedom.

I therefore find it equally as disrespectful for Downing Street to have released this horrendously provocative statement:

We have lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton.
As our first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher succeeded against all the odds, and the real thing about Margaret Thatcher is that she didn’t just lead our country, she saved our country, and I believe she’ll go down as the greatest British peacetime prime minister.
Her legacy will be the fact she served her country so well, she saved our country and that she showed immense courage in doing so. And people will be learning about what she did and her achievements in decades, probably for centuries to come

– This quote shows a complete lack of shame for the millions of people who suffered immensely because of her. It threads perfectly into the Tory-lack-of-shame-tapestry with how they have treated every minority in this country since 2010. The Downing Street statement is a right winged version of “We’ll dance on her grave” aimed at those they continue to despise, and punish every day. The unjustifiable needless rise in suicide rates, in homelessness, in child poverty, in poverty in general was horrifically high by the time she left office. The catastrophic nature of Thatcherite deregulated finance that Tories are now trying to “fix” by demonising the poorest and most vulnerable. To ignore this, to ignore the suffering inflicted upon the nation under the Thatcher government, simply to make a right winged point is as disrespectful to the families of those who suffered losses to suicide, the misery caused by the Hillsborough cover up, those who suffered through the nasty little Section 28, the dreadful poll tax concept that eventually brought her down, those who lost their homes and their livelihoods that she cruelly named “the enemy within“, those who will never be able to afford a home now, a huge inequality gap, those who died during her time supporting Pinochet; horribly disrespectful from Downing Street. People may well have benefited from her reforms. But a lot of people suffered horrendously, and they should be afforded respect also. They should also be freely entitled to speak out. Let’s not forget that whilst Thatcher spent the final months of her life in the expensive Ritz, many of the people left broken by her policies are now struggling to deal with the fact that they have a spare room tax to deal with. Judging a Prime Ministerial legacy should be based on how the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable were improved, not on how rich the richest were able to become. The Thatcher sycophants will inevitably demand uniformity of ‘respect‘ for her as a person. This is unnecessary, and is completely wrong to demand.
When the riots kicked off in London in 2010, A study by the business information group Experian found that inner city poorer areas are not equipped to deal with economic shocks like that of austerity, because they are still dealing with the after effects of the economic shocks of the 1980s. It found that Elmbridge in Surrey was the least likely to be affected by austerity, coincidentally, Elmbridge in Surrey was labelled as the town with the highest quality of life by a Halifax Estate Agency, and the “Beverly Hills of England” by the Daily Mail. Let’s not rewrite history to present her as a hero.

Let’s not dance to the death of a person. Save it, help to defeat her horrific ideology. Dance at the death of Thatcherism.

No one is denying that she changed Britain entirely. She was a towering figure. She climbed to the top of a male dominated profession, and for that, she is pretty special. I confess I have abandoned much of my socialist zeal from my younger days, however, my principles still lead me to stand firmly against everything she stood for. I have nothing but contempt for her politics.

But on the day of her death, I feel for her family. That’s about all.


The myth of the job creators

October 5, 2012

This is my second time in the US. I’m currently in a house in Michigan, reading a leaflet posted through the door from the Romney campaign. The right winged rhetoric is as poignant on every line of text as it has ever been. I’m not sure why we call it right winged. Prior to the Thatcherite revolution, the right were markedly more Keynesian than anything else. One nation conservatism was far closer to what Barack Obama is today, than the conservatism of Mitt Romney. Most one nation conservatives believed the rich had a moral duty to protect the poor. Disraeli passed a plethora of social reform; the Employers and Workmen Act made it possible for employees to sue their employers if the employer broke a contract. The Factory Act expanded regulation beyond anything seen before; it prevented children under 10 being employed, it set maximum working hours for women, and it set compulsory education for children up to 10 years old. The Public Health Act set minimum requirements for house building including running water and internal drainage. Disraeli was a Conservative Prime Minister. Can you imagine Mitt Romney proposing any sort of tough regulation on the extremities of Capitalism? In the eyes of the 21st century right wing; Disraeli was a terrible socialist. In the eyes of the 21st century right wing; every President pre-Reagan, was a terrible socialist.
The point being, Conservative governments have not always been addicted to horrendous free market anti-government dogma.

The leaflet posted through the door makes clear several times that Romney is committed to free market fundamentalism. His is simply an extension of new right thinking. He isn’t new, he isn’t presenting a credible plan for growth. He is rehashing the same tired old Friedman-ite economic philosophy that has dominated Western thought for the past thirty years, and has failed miserably every time. It fails, because it is ideology set apart from, and applied to a nation regardless of the contemporary economic or social context. We see the failure again in the UK. Since coming to power the epitome of new right economic thinking have forced through economic austerity leading necessarily to high unemployment, stagnating wages, rising poverty rates, increased gap between rich and poor, and most tellingly of all; the biggest double dip recession since the 1950s. That is the legacy of the myth of the job creators.

We have called it supply-side, we have called it trickle-down, now the rhetoric has moved on to labeling anyone with money as a ‘job creator’. This is a fallacious argument for several reasons…

I recently started up my own small business. As you’d expect, business isn’t exactly booming in the current climate. The reason for this lack of business isn’t the fact that I need a tax break. I really don’t. The reason for that is the fact that by cutting social programmes that helped those on low and middle incomes, the people and families affected no longer have enough, if any disposable income to spend on little luxuries. Instead, they work to survive and nothing else. Three years ago, a family with a teenager who went to college, could rely on the Educational Maintenance Allowance given to students who stay on into higher education for their food, and their travel. I know this, because I received EMA. It paid my petrol to and from college every day, as well as my food. I also worked part time in the evenings and at weekends, for extra money to spend on luxuries…. like the kind offered by my Photography business. Luxuries keep a consumer economy running. By taking away EMA, that little bit extra is lost from the pockets of the young. Which means they spend less. Which has a knock on effect in which businesses take less money, because there is less money. And so they lay off employees. Who are now on unemployment benefits. But unemployment benefits that have been cut. So they have less money again. And so the cycle continues.The point being, my business, whilst it is staying afloat, is struggling not because I need a tax cut, but because demand has been completely wiped out.

By giving me a tax cut, the new right is expecting me to help fill the employment gap created when it cuts ‘government’. The problem with this idea is again, related to demand. Why on earth would I employ somebody new? There is not enough demand currently for me to fill. The extra money i’d save in tax reductions would simply soon be lost, plus a little more, to the cost of employing someone, to help cope with demand that isn’t there. I am not going to ‘create jobs’ with saved tax money. Nor am I going to expand. It may give an advantage to large business, who by their very nature, don’t need a dose of corporate socialism. Employing new people, especially for small businesses, is a measure of last resort. A tax break for the lower and middle classes – the masses – will help to stimulate demand, as do effective governmental programmes aimed at elevating the burden of necessities – soaring gas and electric costs; education costs, petrol, healthcare costs (of which a universal system, is by far the most advantageous for a growing, civilised society). Taxing the wealthy, to pay for programmes that benefit the middle and lower classes, benefits everyone economically whilst building a compassionate society. It is the only possible way forward. We must not fall for the rhetoric of “all the best people will leave”. No they wont. It takes a lot to up and move country. Uprooting your children from schools, leaving your family and friends. It is a big life changing decision.

The myth of the job creators is as evident in the US as it is in the UK. Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan once stated:

The other thing, in the tax side is permanent tax increases on job creators doesn’t work to grow the economy. It’s actually fueling the uncertainty that is hurting job growth right now. And don’t forget the fact that most small businesses file taxes as individuals. So, when you are raising these top tax rates, you’re raising taxes on these job creators where more than half of Americans get their jobs from in this country.

– The key to this quote is “when you’re raising these top tax rates”….. Top tax rates.
Similarly, over at Romney/Ryan headquarters, Fox News said of the proposed Obama top rate of tax hike to 39.6%:

….a clear majority of all small business profits face taxation at this top marginal income tax rate.

– It simply isn’t true.
According to the non-partisan ‘Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ and backed up by ‘Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center’, only 1.9% of small businesses make enough profit to fall into either of the top two income tax brackets. Visually, it looks like this:

So, let’s move my small business to the US. If suddenly, I am making $300,000 a year, by raising my rate by 4%, I will be paying about $6000 a year more. I’m not sure that would prevent me from hiring someone new, given that demand is high enough for me to be earning so much in the first place. Raising the top rate of tax, does not affect job creation. If it were the case that lower taxes on the wealthy lead necessarily to job creation, and higher taxes killed jobs, as suggested by Ryan and Fox, then we would today be absolutely fine for jobs. The opposite is true. Here is the evidence:

– Note how low the top rate of tax will STILL be, after the President’s proposed tax rise in 2013. Note also, that between 1993, and 2000, the top rate of tax was …. 39.6%… exactly as the President has proposed for 2013. The period between 1993 and 2000 was the largest period of US growth in history. Note also just how high the top rate was under Reagan. Prior to Reagan, in order to be eligible for a tax cut, a company would be required to use a portion of its profits to reinvest. Reagan put a stop to that, and gave a tax break up front. The companies thus invested elsewhere (offshore) and got the tax cut in the US. Isn’t ‘freedom’ wonderful?

The irrational phobia of ‘big government’ is a jobs killer. The Romney leaflet makes clear that government does not create wealth. This is disingenuous at best, and horribly dismissive of the millions of Americans that help drive the economy forward from the public sector. Schools create inquisitive minds and help to create an equipped workforce that both intellectually and materially drives the economy. Road building, property protection (being a policeman, is a job), fire protection and so on, all help to create an environment for which capitalism can flourish. It is true that the Government should not be the main force for economic growth. But they help, they protect, and they foster private growth. Without the government, we would belong to a Hobbesian hell hole. Libertarianism is as dangerous as Communism.

Evidence suggests that when the top rate of tax is higher, so is growth. When it is lower, economic inequality grows, not the economy.

Romney has pledged to reduce tax rates by 20%. It is no surprised that whilst market fundamentalists hail this as the beginning of an economic miracle, those who rely on evidence and analysis paint a different picture. According to a report by The Brookings Institution, the Romney tax plan would see taxpayers who earn over $1,000,000 given an extra 8.3% after tax; an average tax cut of $175,000, whilst taxpayers earning less than $30,000 would see a tax rise of about 0.9%; an average rise of $130. They go further:

“Offsetting the $360 billion in revenue losses necessitates a reduction of roughly 65 percent of available tax expenditures. Such a reduction by itself would be unprecedented, and would require deep reductions in many popular tax benefits ranging from the mortgage interest deduction, the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance, the deduction for charitable contributions, and benefits for low- and middle-income families and children like the EITC
and child tax credit.”

– The Romney/Ryan tax plan, is based on fundamentalist dogma devoid of all context, and based on an even more extreme form of failed economics. We see market fundamentalism, and austerity programmes failing all across Europe. Romney seems to be ignorant to the plight of those living under deep austerity, choosing instead to emulate it in America. It doesn’t work.

It is more evident to me being here, that the Right-leaning US electorate ignore evidence of what actually works, and instead choose to cling to outdated dogma – government bad/private business great – borne out of the fear of the big bad tyrannical government. Government is portrayed as the enemy, out to destroy your freedom, maliciously rubbing their hands whilst the country burns. It is the reason the US has resisted universal healthcare, despite the FACT that nations with universal healthcare continuously – as I noted here – out-perform the US in all healthcare league tables. To the US, Disraeli inspired conservatism is apparently Marxism. Any form of government help, is Marxism. They have chosen to ignore what actually works, in order to fight a misplaced war on what they perceive as Marxism. It is terrifyingly inaccurate and ignorant, as well as fundamentalist.

It is simply not true that those who enjoy profits that place them in the top rate of tax bracket, are job creators. They ride the tide of demand. The term ‘job creator’ is a deliberate attempt to create an almost moral argument for extending and perpetuating economic privileges for the very wealthy, without providing any evidence that it is beneficial for the rest of us. Manipulative language apparently negates the necessity for a reasoned argument. For free market fundamentalists; manipulative language is all they have ever had.

Demand creates jobs. Not tax cuts for the wealthy.


There’s nothing for us here.

August 12, 2012

The majesty of the Olympics really has struck a chord with the UK over the past two weeks. This has to be down to the fact that we as a nation have absolutely no confidence in our sports stars. With good reason. Every year The Sun would ask “Can Tim win?” when it came to Henman at Wimbledon and every year the answer a firm “no”. Every four years we drape ourselves in red and white and pray to God that England don’t end up going to a penalty shoot out. And every time, our overpaid, over valued, and under achieving footballers let us all down. I get caught up in this myself. So, on the rare occasion that our sportsmen and women actually out perform even our most positive of expectations, a cynical nation suddenly takes notice. And so it was. Jessica Ennis’s utterly spectacular performance at the Heptathlon. Greg Rutherford came from nowhere to take the Men’s Long Jump Gold. Mo Farah became a national treasure for his outstanding performances to take the double Gold in the 10,000 and 5,000 metres. Team GB is third in the rankings, the highest we have achieved since 1920. Our sports stars have a lot to be proud of, and i’m sure they will lives in the celebrity spot light are just beginning.

The organisation, the happy faces, the atmosphere in the country has been buzzing after months and months of grim economic news on a daily basis. And yet, through all the delight at the success of the Games, I cannot help but feel slightly uneasy at the comparisons between the riots in London last year, and the Olympics this year. There are of course comparisons that can be made arbitrarily if we must; both the success of Team GB, and the riots last year caught everyone off guard……. and that’s about it. Comparisons shouldn’t be made between the two.

I keep hearing phrases like: “London needed this, after last year“. As if it is simply a matter of good vs evil. As if the Olympics has neatly patched over the problems that inevitably lead to social unrest; of which there are many. It seems as if the Olympics is being used as a tool to deflect attention away from what will always result in violence. The economic destruction of the country by the current government and a complete lack of opportunity is a wound that cannot be dressed so weakly by a sporting event.

According to the DWP, the poverty rate in London is 6% higher than the average for the rest of England, at 28%. And it’s rising. 220,000 people live in overcrowded accommodation; 60,000 more than 10 years ago. Housing benefit changes mean people are struggling to stay in their homes. And whilst the outer boroughs are cheaper, they have even bigger funding problems; 35% of primary schools in the outer boroughs are overcrowded; 8 of the 10 primary care trusts with the fewest GPs per population are in Outer London, the unemployment rate in the poorest areas are at their highest levels in decades, and The poorest 50% have less than 5% of financial or property wealth whilst the richest 10% have 40% of income wealth, 45% of property wealth and 65% of financial wealth. – According to London’s Poverty Profile. And here is the most telling fact on poverty and inequality in the Capital: Babies born in Southwark, Croydon, Haringey and Harrow are twice as likely to die before their 1st birthday than those born in Bromley, Kingston and Richmond.
So how is the government dealing with this? Well, whilst the riots were taking place, the Mayor was on holiday in the US. The Chancellor was on holiday. The Deputy Prime Minister was on holiday. The Prime Minister was in Tuscany having tennis lessons in his rented villa. And what we have now, is a situation where the government have insisted that it is for our own good, that the poorest areas lose housing benefit, Sure Start, youth clubs, libraries, and all hope that maybe the education system might provide opportunity (the end of EMA for example). All of this during an atmosphere of rising inflation, rising unemployment, a broken NHS, and the biggest double dip recession in 50 years. Any lasting hope has been cruelly ripped out of the communities that are the most economically vulnerable, and replaced by fear of losing everything, and we act surprised when this results in social violence? The riots may have appeared on the surface to be a bunch of opportunistic thugs. But the underlying issue, the social deprivation, high unemployment, high VAT rates, the end of EMA, rising inflation, the mass of cuts to youth services, and the unfair and shock economic violence by a government that has grown up enjoying the benefits of a strong public service, only to loot it when they came to power, thus burning the ladder up which they themselves climbed, is an obvious precursor to social violence from communities that feel ever more excluded.

It is no wonder that riots appeared in London as government cuts began to hit. Islington, Hackney, Westminster and Camden all hit the top ten list of worst areas for child poverty in the entire country. And top of the list? Tower Hamlets. With this damning conclusion to the report by The Campaign to End Child Poverty:

‘The poverty line means that, after housing costs, all the household bills and family’s spending needs will need to be met by around £12 or less per family member per day.
‘For many families, especially those reliant on out of work benefits, it can be substantially less.’

I’m pretty sure schools in Tower Hamlets don’t offer Archery as a subject.

What has the Mayor, or the Government done to change the fact that over 53% of children in the borough of Tower Hamlets live below the poverty line? It is the worst area in the UK for child poverty, and one of the rioting boroughs…… The Government have scrapped community-based youth projects. Despite almost 3000 signatures demanding the service not be touched, by residents. Local community-based services were there to help the youth in those particular areas. They knew they area. The staff often lived in the area and had struggled themselves. And the government scrap it. Youth services; gone. Educational Maintenance Allowance to help young people stay at school; gone. Tuition Fees; tripled. Employment; non-existent. The UK now has the biggest gap between rich and poor than three quarters of the OECD nations. Reuters interviewed a man during the riots, who said:

“There’s two worlds in this borough. More and more upper middle classes are coming and we’re being pushed out. The shops are pricing stuff like it’s the West End, we can’t afford the rents. We’re the outcasts, we’re not wanted any more.
“There’s nothing for us.”

– This is the economic backdrop that leads to social unrest. Jumping in front of the problem holding an Olympic banner is not the answer. Nor is it a way to deal with the problem.

“London needed this”.
Yeah, there’s nothing more that those whose youth clubs have been closed, schools underfunded for decades, welfare all but scrapped and jobs with regressing wages, struggling to pay for their homes love more than a government who spent the entire riots last year, in private Tuscan villas telling them that the wealthy man who had his own stables growing up, should be held up as their aspirational hero. “We know you can’t afford to live….. but at least we won the Dressage!”

We see the the crowds, and the British flags, our Royals, and the wonderful music that this country has produced, and the athletes, and the spectacle at we can put on, and we rightfully feel privileged to be a part of such a great country. The Olympics has its place in the history of London. We should be proud of our athletes. They have done us proud in the sports arena. But it isn’t a bandage for the massive problems we currently face. The deep underlying social and economic issues that lead to unrest can only be sorted via real investment, and a strong support system in the most affected areas. The Olympics cannot do that. It is sport. It does not even begin to deal with the problems caused by an ideology that benefit those who can afford to live in a World where dressage appears frequently in every day vocabulary, and so destroyed the World of those who now insist “there’s nothing for us here“.


Thank heavens for the private sector!

September 16, 2011

Now that the awful public sector has rid itself of thousands of jobs, isn’t it great to see such a thriving private sector?

Well. No.

There are now more unemployed women, than in 1988. Overall unemployment is at its highest since 2009 – the middle of a recession. One in five people between 19 and 24 is unemployed. Average wages rose 2.8% since 2010, whilst RPI (inflation) rose 5.2%, which means wages actually fell by 2.4%.

So we were told that the private sector would take up the jobs lost in the public sector. George Osborne, back in November 2010, told the House of Commons in November that jobs created in the Private Sector, would:

Far outweigh

– the loss of jobs in the Public Sector.

Remember those “35 leading businessmen” that the Chancellor quoted, as some sort of economic demi-gods (I have always wondered why businessmen are considered economic experts. They are not economists. They have an agenda). They sent a letter to the Telegraph, in support of Osborne’s claim. They wrote:

“The private sector should be more than capable of generating additional jobs to replace those lost in the public sector.”

Here’s the letter in full. Tories loved to point to it, last year. I’m guessing they will be less forward in pointing to it, this year.

At its most optimistic, we we under the impression that someone who had spent their life in the public sector employed in a job they love, would now get a nice new job working the tills at McDonalds. Even that, failed to materialise. From April to June public sector job losses reached 111,000. The private sector jobs grew by 41,000. The problem is, the Government insisted in March, that only 20,000 (I say only, because it appears I have caught the bug of treating people and their jobs, as mere statistics – Am I becoming Tory? Dear God, I hope not) would lose their jobs. Unemployment rose by 80,000 in June.

Apparently, when you make people unemployed, and you devalue wages, it becomes impossible to kick start the demand needed for the private sector to thrive. WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT!

EDF have just announced energy prices are to raise by 15%, despite profits of Euro1.2bn last year. Last month HSBC announced 30,000 jobs would be cut. They must be struggling right? Again….well. No. The first six months of the year saw their profits raise 3% on the previous six months, to $11.5bn. Seriously. We are now only concerned, as a World, with profit. This is emphasised in the fact that the moment HSBC announced it was kicking 30,000 people out of their livelihoods, their shares rose 3.4%. Rich people absolutely love to hear that they can make even more money now that there isn’t the annoying factor of having to pay 30,000 people.

It is clear that demand creates jobs. Not wealthy businessmen. Referring to them as “job creators” is a falsity of epic proportions. When you take money out of peoples pockets with a VAT rise, with the removal of universal services, with housing benefit cuts; you cut demand in the process. Giving the wealthiest few a tax break isn’t going to change that.

When growth is downgraded, almost on a daily basis, they insist it is Labour’s fault, Europe’s fault, the snow’s fault. No, it is the fault of holding dear to the heart a dangerous Freidman-ite economic philosophy. As with HSBC mentioned above; the epitome of the thought process that leads to this kind of system, is that the abstract concept of the “market” is deemed to be improving, regardless of how many jobs are lost. Shares in HSBC increase, as 30,000 jobs are cut. There is a dramatic evil in that process.

Labour MPs and Shadow Ministers on Twitter insist on questioning whether Strike action is necessary. They should be ashamed to refer to themselves as ‘Labour’. A Labour party, who have seemingly made absolutely no impact on the political landscape since 2010, are quietly licking their wounds as a Tory party who have no legitimate mandate to carry out the ideological attacks they are inflicting, get away with it. If we don’t have the support of a half arsed Labour Party unsure of where its allegiances lie, given it’s past thirteen years of total capitulation to the financial sector, nor do we have the support of a weak Lib Dem party who cowardly abstain when they disagree with Tory policy, then Unions are the only other way to go. There is no other option. A very radical government, requires a very radical opposition. Instead, Labour seem to be constantly worried about their ties to the Union movement, rather than pro-actively and jointly making the case against deep and vicious austerity. The Tories have cleverly managed to set the political discourse in favour of a mythical, broken public sector, and away from the real broken sector; the financial sector.

Yesterday we saw that same Financial Sector produce a rogue trader responsible for UBS losing $2bn on unauthorised dodgy dealings. Have they learnt nothing? UBS was also responsible in 2009, for helping wealthy Americans set up offshore accounts to avoid tax. Growth for the sake of the wealthy, is not real growth. The banks have been let off the hook, by having the support of government like ours, who shift the blame from them, to the constantly demonised public sector.

If anything, we are finding out, for the second time in thirty years, that harsh and forced Neoliberalism is a dangerous dogma. Monetary policy does not pull Nations out of sovereign debt crises. It never has.

Unemployment – Done.
Dismantled NHS – Done.
Bend over to be fucked by the banks – Done.
Stagnating wages – Done.
Provoke riots – Done.
VAT rise – Done.
Pull any support for poorer children (EMA) – Done.
Close as many youth centres as possible – Done.
Close libraries – Done.
Make people work until they’re basically dead, before giving them a pension – Done.
Demonise disabled people – Done.
Rising inflation – Done.
Threaten Unions – Done.
Burden of debt created by wealthy, slammed onto the shoulders of Nation’s 18 year olds – Done.
Tax cuts for the wealthy – Done.
All within 15 months.

It makes Thatcher look like a Socialist in comparison.


Panic on the streets of London

August 9, 2011

Theresa May: We can cut police budget without risking violent unrest
– Home Secretary Theresa May, September 2010.

I love London.
There is no city on Earth like it. I miss living there, every day. There is an odd sort of pride and even serenity in the crowds of people coming to experience such a great history. Watching it burn is saddening, but not surprising.

The riots have spread across London. Tottenham was first, Croydon and Hackney were hit. Brixton rioted. Reports that Camden High Street took a battering; the electric ballroom was smashed to pieces and the stretch between Camden Town and Chalk Farm Underground Station has been blocked by police. Peckham is under siege. Oxford Circus – a group of 50 people throwing rocks at shops. Bethnal Green Road has a youtube video showing the extent of the violence. BBC reporting that Canning Town in East London was hit, with cars smashed on Portabello Road. A five minute walk away from my old place in Southwark, Old Kent Road was attacked. An horrendous fire has been lit at a Sony Distribution Centre in Waltham Abbey. It isn’t just London either. A police station in Handsworth, in Birmingham was set alight tonight, with 87 people in the city being arrested. Bristol is experiencing riots. Police in Liverpool are advising people to keep away from Upper Parliament Street, after violence erupted in the North. It is utter madness.

The motives are of course opportunistic. There appears to be no political motive. It has purely brought out the violent and senseless mob who are achieving nothing but the destruction of their communities. But the social and economic situation in relation to these riots cannot be ignored. We must accept that when one person commits a crime, it is an individual problem. When thousands commit the same crime, on the same day, there is a deep social problem. Certain tweeters have said they watched people looting supermarkets of nappies and milk. The underlying issues need addressing. Many of the Greek rioters last year, were opportunistic in nature. But the economic pressures created an atmosphere where rioting was essentially inevitable. A government who go out of their way to initiate a shock to the system that forces unemployment up deliberately, whilst living cost and rising inflation also rise purposely, is a government that is committing economic criminality. It is similar in the UK. A study by the business information group Experian found that inner city poorer areas are not equipped to deal with economic shocks like that of austerity, because they are still dealing with the after affects of the economic shocks of the 1980s. It found that Elmbridge in Surrey was the least likely to be affected by austerity, coincidentally, Elmbridge in Surrey was labelled as the town with the highest quality of life by a Halifax Estate Agency, and the “Beverly Hills of England” by the Daily Mail. The looting of the public services and economic violence from the Government, will absolutely always lead to social violence and criminality.

Bringing business to poor areas doesn’t always help. This is where the public sector, can and should step in to fill the gap. The study by Experian showed that:

areas such as Islington and Tower Hamlets in London have relatively high business resilience compared to their people, place and community scores.

– Business may pick up, but the affects of austerity on a place like Tower Hamlets and its community, are far deeper and widespread. Unsurprisingly, rioters struck less than a mile away from the Tower Hamlets border. It highlights the importance of the State to provide better educational opportunities rather than taking away EMA. Bringing more low paid jobs to an area like Tower Hamlets, does not increase the overall feeling of worth and belonging. Making opportunities to better oneself through the education process is the key. And it begins with absolutely key programs like Sure Start.

The riots are quite simply, the culmination of an aggressive and regressive social engineering project.

There were warning signs:

Pre-election Nick Clegg warned of Greek style rioting, if a Tory government was elected and pushed through deep austerity. In October last year, the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that the austerity measures would hit the poorest areas of England the hardest. On the earlier point of looters looting for nappies, it is no coincidence that the IFS said that the poorest people, with children, would be the hardest hit of all.

A teacher posted on Twitter:

“Taught in E17 10 years ago- clear this was going to happen- kids have been made to feel like nothing for so long.”

– If people are surprised that a growing inequality gap between the poorest and the richest, increasing under Labour, exploited and increase further still by the Tories has resulted in widespread riots in low socio-economic areas, they are incredibly naive.

We are a nation that condemns. If you’re homeless, if you’re on benefits, if you’re taking drugs. if you’re foreign, if you’re Muslim, if you’re Gypsy, if you’re poor. We condemn, without trying to understand, and yet we feel alienated when people don’t understand our problems. It is true that the rioters are a disgrace to the Country; but the issues that lead, and have always led to riots and rebellions are still not being addressed. It is all economic.

Earlier this year, The Government had planned to cap housing benefit to £290 for a two bedroom flat. Though that is slightly misleading, because before the cap – the Local Housing Allowance was based on the median average of rents in that area (known as the 50th Percentile), now it is based on the 30th Percentile. Which means the £290 is the absolute maximum, and not many will be able to claim that. Couple that with LHA being cut for people on jobseekers for more than a year, and people are suddenly able to claim pretty much nothing. Poorer people absolutely will lose their homes. Meaning, whilst business is down, unemployment is inevitably high, government austerity means people cannot afford to now pay their rent. Social exclusion of the worst kind, during the most troubled of economic times. Piling the pressure on the shoulders of the most vulnerable, is a disastrous policy from a nasty party. If Tories thought that this wouldn’t culminate in social unrest, they are living on another planet; or a Villa in Tuscany.

Labour pointed out rightly, that cuts to the Sure Start program for poorer areas (specifically mentioning Hackney) would deprive a family of around £100 per child. Whereas, in an affluent town like Richmond, it was only £30 per child. A massive discrepancy.

This video accurately defines the mentality of kids from deprived areas, after having been further deprived, of their youth facilities due to government enforced cuts. A girl on the video says that the council didn’t alert the young people or prepare them for mass youth service closures, and that one moment the youth services are there, the next they’re gone.

The Guardian article from 2009, highlighting the apparent inherent racism of the Met was spot on in its opening paragraph:

Murder and racism, indifferent and incompetent policing combined with continuing injustice, make for a toxic mix.

– The Met’s record these past three years has been disastrous, and sooner or later was going to push the situation one step too far. From the killing of Ian Tomlinson, to the kettling of kids, they get it wrong every time, and then proceed to lie their way out of trouble. We have no idea what happened to Mark Duggan. But the silence from the Met is slightly suspicious. The leaking of Duggan’s death to the press, before even informing his next of kin, was in sensationally poor taste. In fact, it then took hours for the family to get any sort of explanation from the police. The Met are shameful. The pressure from the community became volatile. It was always going to happen.

An entire generation has been told that we must own stuff. That the purpose of life is to consume. We are given easy credit to fuel the debt needed to sustain an economy and a prevailing social wisdom built around consuming. People who have very little, who are told they will always have very little, living in areas where the opportunities are bleak at best and non-existent at worst, are still encouraged to consume. The materialist mindset that has dominated all other thought processes for far too long, must not be ignored as a contributing factor to the unrest; this can be seen quite evidently with the looting of non-essential, luxury goods. We are what we buy. And that is a problem. A generation of young people have had luxuries dangled infront of their faces by incessant advertising, only to be told they would never be able to afford them; well that temptation exploded and now they can get those desirable consumer items for free.

Whilst London burns, the Mayor is on holiday. The Chancellor is on holiday. The Deputy Prime Minister didn’t return early, but is now in London following the natural end of his holiday. The Prime Minister is in Tuscany having tennis lessons in his rented villa, and the only person to come home so far is Theresa May, the Home Secretary, whom during the outbreak of the News Corp phone hacking scandal, was being tipped as a possible challenger for the leadership of the Tory Party if the scandal brought David Cameron down. One suspects she is still positioning herself as an eventual successor, given that she’s the only one to bother coming home from an apparent government-wide holiday, to deal with these problems. I cannot imagine the public – especially those hit the hardest by austerity – would happily get on with their lives as they become more impoverished, with the knowledge that the people who have forced this on them, are holidaying around the World and indulging in tennis lessons in the sunset of Tuscany. Though I fully expect Cameron to give a speech in which he states “lessons must be learnt”, without recognising the irony in his statement.

Cameron is proving to be weak. First, his cabinet start announcing ridiculous initiatives without his knowledge; selling the trees for example. Then his Chancellor blamed the snow for poor growth figures. Then he has to backtrack on NHS reform. And now his long refusal to leave the comfort of privileged life in Tuscany, to come home and deal with the mess that the Country is in, after spending the past four years telling us only he could fix “broken Britain” is telling. Britain was fine. The Tories broke it. And now they wish to wash their hands of it. I very much doubt he will recognise the underlying economic issues that led to this crises.

There can be no mistaking that the rioting, vandalism and violence are motivated by and large, by opportunism. For many, the idea that one could get a free iPod by storming an Apple store in an area of London where police are no where to be seen because they’re dealing with the same shit elsewhere, is too great an opportunity to miss. It has no political motivation on the surface. But the underlying issue, the social deprivation, high unemployment, high VAT rates, the end of EMA, rising inflation, the mass of cuts to youth services, and the unfair and shock economic violence by a government that has grown up enjoying the benefits of a strong public service, only to loot it when they came to power, thus burning the ladder up which they themselves climbed, is an obvious precursor to social violence from communities that feel ever more excluded.


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?


Bobby Kennedy

June 5, 2011

Forty-three years ago today, Robert Kennedy was shot and killed as he campaigned at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

Languishing in hindsight and speculation, I will say that I believe Bobby Kennedy would have been one of the greatest President’s the United States has ever had, had he not been cut short on the campaign trail in 1968. If he’d have lived, there may have been no President Nixon, No President Ford, and maybe even no President Reagan. If his ideas and sentiments not been crushed in the following years by a vicious right winged neoliberal elite, and less eloquent and less popular and far less charismatic liberal politicians made to sound like the ramblings of archaic socialists, the World might not have had to endure thirty years plus, of the rise of the Hayekian New Right. The spirit of the ’60s was firmly shot down in 1968.

I wanted a short blog today on RFK, and a quote that I felt summed up his political philosophy, and why he remains one of my political heroes.

“Our gross national product … if we should judge America by that – counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”

Perfect quote.


Racism in America: Today

April 13, 2011

When the United States was beginning to form, there was a hierarchy of oppression that kept everyone subservient to someone above them. The King of England demanded goods from the Jamestown white elite who exploited and controlled the white frontiersman who, in order to appease the elite with money and land, slaughtered Indigenous people and brutalized African slaves. Many whites joined Indigenous and African rebellions. The white elite worked to stop this because they knew such an alliance would become too powerful and would succeed at overthrowing the control that the elite and the King had. So in order to separate the whites from everyone else, they started giving more privileges (land and better treatment) to the white servants. This worked. The working class whites effectively abandoned the movements for change and to this day these groups have problems working together.
– Howard Zinn, 1980.

46% of American Republicans in the State of Mississippi believe that interracial marriage should be illegal. I will elaborate on and explain this later.

After my blog on the racism of Abraham Lincoln, I wondered whether race is still a divisive issue today as it has always been, in America. In the UK, race is still an issue, though it is far more subtle and much less noticeable, but it exists nonetheless. There isn’t this notion of white supremacy, nor do we have the history of the “founders” being slave owners or massive racial segregation up until very recently. We don’t have a KKK equivalent and we didn’t fight a civil war to protect the rights of States to own slaves. Race is certainly a problem in the UK though. We tend to become far more Nationalist during times of economic hardship and the need to blame immigrants or anyone who doesn’t happen to fit the narrow band of what it means to be “British” becomes an almost accepted narrative. Political parties push immigration reform to the top of their agendas, giving credit to such racial tension. Race is used as a divisive mechanism to subvert attention away from a failing class system.

Here in the UK, with talk of economic austerity, it was only a matter of time before the issue of race was introduced into the equation. We know that poorer areas like inner city Liverpool, Manchester, and Hackney are going to face the toughest council cuts. Low socio-economic areas are predominantly mixed race or black and Asian. So it was only a matter of time before David Cameron would bring race into the mix. He then suddenly made a speech against multiculturalism, in which he mentions the words “islam” and “muslim” 36 times, and “Christianity” once. Race is yet again being used as a divisive wedge.

Back to the USA, and the 19th Century, before the Civil War. It has long been argued by the rather hermetic Southern America that the Civil war was a war between the States (the South) and the big bad Federal Government (the North). Yes. The States rights to own and perpetuate slavery. The charge against a big bad Federal Government invading the lives of its citizens does not hold up when you look at the evidence, and is actually rather rudimentary.

The American lawyer and journalist William Walker, in 1854, after a failed attempt to set up a Republic of Sonora in Mexico, with the intention of it becoming a State of the Union; invaded Nicaragua for control of a vital trade route between New York and San Francisco. He succeeded in his efforts, and took control of Nicaragua, renaming it “Walkeragua” (seriously, i’m not making this up). In 1856, President Franklin Pierce, officially recognised Walker’s regime in Walkeragua as legitimate. His regime began to Americanise Walkeragua, by instating slavery, using American currency, and making English the official language. He advertised his new Country to American Southern businessmen by advertising the fact that his new quasi-State was pro-slavery and would remain so. By the time Walker revoked Nicaragua’s 1824 Emancipation Act, the rest of Latin America took note, and invaded. He fled and was bought back to the U.S where he was welcomed as a hero of the South. As “States rights” go, invading another sovereign nation and revoking its anti-slavery laws, is about as big and as bad as a Federal Government can get. He died before the Civil War kicked off, but the South referred to him throughout the Civil War as “General Walker“. The South did not just fight to preserve the institution of slavery, they wanted to expand it, on a grand scale, to the point where Senator John Crittenden of Kentucky proposed that the 36°30′ parallel north be a line that separates the northern free states, and the southern slave states, all the way down to the tip of South America. American racism has always been rife.

In 2011, membership of white supremacist organisations has increased tremendously. According the the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks white supremacist organisations in the US, the number of members is up by 48% since 2000. Jeff Schoep, head of the National Socialist Movement (the Nazi Movement) in America, who the FBI classify as terrorists, said:

“The immigration issue is the biggest problem we’re facing because it’s changing the face of our country. We see stuff in England and Spain like this. … They are turning those countries into a Third World ghetto.”

Well, I live in England, and he’s right!!! Here is the River Thames in Central London a few years back:

Here is the River Thames in Central London today:

Sad times.

The largest white supremacist group in America; Stormfront have a website with a forum, which includes systematic attacks on white jewish people. They appear to use “Jew” as a term of race. White, black, Jew. On a discussion about the economic crises, a member called “Crowstorm” whose nationality he has set as “Jewnited States of America” says this:

The problem is, Jews look White so when people see a Jew do evil, they don’t say “look at the evil Jew”… no, they say “look at that evil White man.

– It is an odd statement to make for a variety of reasons. First, a Jewish person is not the colour “Jewish“. It isn’t white, black, jew. If he’s a white man and Jewish, then he’s a white Jew. Jewish is not a race. But not just that, but race itself is not biological. It doesn’t exist. It is a fantasy. An abstraction. Like Nationality and Religion. All man made abstractions, meaningless nothingness used to create tension between low socio-economic groups to ensure disunity. If poor white people are blaming poor black people for all the trouble in New Orleans after Katrina hit, then their attention is on each other, and not on the very rich folk in Washington (both white and black) who washed their hands of the plight of anyone who isn’t a very wealthy lobbyist decades ago. And lastly, no one says “look at the evil white man”, because for the vast majority of people, race isn’t an issue; if you’re evil, I don’t care what colour you are.

Another quite extraordinary post on Stormfront was from a school teacher who taught apparently in black schools. Here are some of the quotes from it:

I was away about two minutes but when I got back, the black girls had lined up at the front of the classroom and were convulsing to the delight of the boys.

Many black people, especially women, are enormously fat.

Blacks, on average, are the most directly critical people I have ever met: “Dat shirt stupid. Yo’ kid a bastard. Yo’ lips big.” Unlike whites, who tread gingerly around the subject of race, they can be brutally to the point.

When a black wants to ask, “Where is the bathroom?” he may actually say “Whar da badroom be?”

Many black girls are perfectly happy to be welfare queens.

There is something else that is striking about blacks. They seem to have no sense of romance, of falling in love.

Pregnancy was common among the blacks, though many black girls were so fat I could not tell the difference.

My white students came back with generally “conservative” ideas. “We need to cut off people who don’t work,” was the most common suggestion. Nearly every black gave a variation on the theme of “We need more government services.” One black girl was exhorting the class on the need for more social services and I kept trying to explain that people, real live people, are taxed for the money to pay for those services. “Yeah, it come from whites,” she finally said. “They stingy anyway.”

It is impossible to get them to care about such abstractions as property rights or democratic citizenship.

– The “teacher” goes on to say he doesn’t understand why his black students think he his a racist. Surely it isn’t racist to think that black students are inherently lazy, fat, illiterate, racist, anti-democratic, communist sluts who just don’t understand why being indoctrinated in Conservative ideology is a wonderful learning experience and are incapable of love?

The days of burning crosses and wearing silly costumes are over. White supremacists tend now to fight their cause with mainstream language like “We just want to protect our children and live in a safe environment“, the language is manipulative because they are simply masking the fact that they blame anyone with slightly darken skin for why their neighborhood isn’t safe.

A study by the American economic review between July 2001 and May 2002 entitled “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.

Institutional racism is particularly subtle, and so less noticeable. If you are black, you are three times more likely to be pulled over in your car and searched for drugs than if you’re white, despite the fact that if you’re white, on the few occasions when you are pulled over you are four times more likely to have drugs on you. If you are white and you drive past the police without them pulling you over, you are experiencing the privilege of being white. The war on drugs then, is not a war on drugs, if it were, those statistics would be a hell of a lot different. The war on drugs would go where the drugs actually are, not where the people with dark skin are. It is a racist institution.

Christopher Columbus is hailed as the founder of America. He has a day named after him. It is not taught in any history class at American schools the true horror that started the day that Columbus found an island in the Lucayan Archipelago in the Bahamas that he named San Salvador, though it was actually already named, by the population who lived there, as Guanahani. Within years, Spanish adventurers had captured thousands of the native Taino population, enslaved them, and took their women captive as wives/sex slaves. The Spanish had utterly devastated the Taino population by the turn of the 16th Century. Epidemic disease brought by the Europeans was bad enough, but the Spanish settlers placed too much strain on local crop farmers, and the survival of the Spanish was considered more important than the survival of the Taino’s and so the food naturally ended up in the hands of the Spanish. Columbus when he landed, wrote of the natives:

“We can send from here, in the name of the Holy Trinity, all the slaves and Brazil wood which could be sold.”

– We know what he had planned. Nicolas Ovando, the governor of the Indies from 1501 to 1509, decided he needed to ensure the Taino’s knew their place once and for all. He did this by inviting the much loved Taino queen Anacoana and local tribal chiefs to a dinner to celebrate his governorship. When they were all in the room, the Spaniards set it on fire, killing most of those inside. The ones who got out, were tortured for days on end and then killed. Queen Anacoana was tortured and hung. By 1510, the Taino’s were virtually extinct.

To be honest, there really isn’t much you can celebrate about Columbus. Apart from bringing with him the biggest genocide in history, he was a rather simple man. He believed Cuba was in Asia, that he hadn’t discovered a new land, that the entire continent of South America was an Island, and to pay his debt to the Spanish crown he raped his way across Central America taking as many as 1200 women and children slaves for Europe; children who had, without a second thought, been stripped away from their families. But don’t take my word for, take it from the man himself:

“We shall take you and your wives, and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault .”

I cannot think of a worse man to idolise.

Back to the present day, as if Stormfront and institutional racism and selective history aren’t enough to convince a person that racism is deeply ingrained in the American psyche, certain lovely little advertisements have deep racist connotations, still.

Aunt Jemima, a trademark for breakfast food owned by Quaker Oats is still going today. Aunt Jemima represents the notion of a good little black ex-slave girl who just loves her servile role as servant to a white middle class consumer.

Equally as subtle, is Uncle Ben’s rice. It would be ridiculous for a company now, to have as its fictional spokesperson, a black man using the name “Uncle” which was a term used by the children of white slave owners to refer to their slaves. If a newly formed rice company were to say “Well, you know that we white people used to ship Africans in to farm our rice fields, as slaves? Well why don’t we make our spokesmen black?” they would be lambasted as a hugely racist company. But Uncle Ben is a tradition, and so it appears acceptable, though the stereotype behind it perpetuates the racist sentiments it subtly encourages. This kind of subtle cultural racism has not gone unnoticed. In an episode of the Sopranos (the greatest show on TV) Tony warns a black guy away from his daughter. Tony then has an anxiety attack when he sees a packet of Uncle Ben’s.

Public Policy Polling of Raleigh North Carolina, found that 46% of Republican voters in Mississippi think interracial marriage should be illegal. 14% said they weren’t sure. I cannot comprehend that number. It does indeed show that race is an issue, and especially with Republican voters. There is still the essence that the white race is superior and should be protected. This sentiment has found its outlet with the Tea Party movement of recent months. Whilst Glenn Beck spews his bullshit, insisting on top rated “news” channel that Obama has a deep seated hatred for the white race, his equally as vacant and mind numbingly moronic viewers stalk the streets with signs like this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

Now I wouldn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that the Tea Party is an inherently racist organisation, it is mainly a vehicle to promote the incoherent ramblings of an uneducated economically far right puritanical Republican group wholly run by Corporate America to advance its interest at the behest of even the idiots who indirectly fight for the rights of Corporate America, now slowly morphed to include racism as part of their base.

It is sad to see notion of race being such an issue in 21st Century America. One would have hoped that the social wedge of racism, placed to draw attention away from class and a deeply unequal wealth system would have crumbled away, or intellectually and politically dismembered for the disease that it is. Race is not real. Class is.


Pig Society Part III

February 19, 2011

David
Cameron took a break today from trying to convince a very very
unconvinced public that the Big Society idea is such a wondrous
agenda, to work for a No vote for AV. So whilst he’s doing that, I
thought i’d continue my series of blogs on the Big Society, by
going one by one through the Tory/Lib Cabinet, and letting you all
know what it is each is doing for the Big Society; what they
volunteer for. Which ones run their public libraries, which ones
have found the time, like the rest of us must do, to run their
local school. I’m almost certain they practice what they preach. It
would be terribly pathetic if they didn’t.

  • Prime Minister David Cameron, Tory: No
    voluntary work declared.

  • Deputy Prime
    Minister Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat:
    No voluntary
    work declared.

  • Secretary of State for
    Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague,
    Tory:
    No voluntary work declared.

  • Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne,
    Tory:
    No voluntary work declared

  • Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander,
    Liberal Democrat
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for the Home
    Department; and Minister for Women and Equalities Theresa May,
    Tory:
    No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and
    Skills, and President of the Board of Trade Vince Cable, Liberal
    Democrat:
    No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan
    Smith, Tory
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
    Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat
    : No voluntary work
    declared.

  • Secretary of State for Health
    Andrew Lansley, Tory
    : No voluntary work declared.
    Far too busy selling the NHS to American Private health firms.

  • Secretary of State for Education Michael
    Gove, Tory
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for Communities and Local
    Government Eric Pickles
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for Environment, Food
    and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman Tory:
    “I have
    been chair of two local charities MABL and Welcome although in my
    new role as a cabinet minister I have had to step back to be a
    patron but the first of these has hit a very difficult patch
    financially so I have had to spend a lot of time trying to help
    secure sustainable funding for MABL which helps the victims of
    domestic violence. We are not out of the woods yet and I have yet
    more meetings planned this week to try and save it. I have to be in
    the department in Whitehall even when parliament is not sitting so
    it is not easy to schedule the time but I come home every Friday
    and help also at the weekend.” – I fully salute Spelman for this.
    Not so much for trying to privatise trees.

  • Secretary of State for Transport Phillip Hammond,
    Tory
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for International Development
    Andrew Mitchell, Tory
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics,
    Media and Sport Jeremy C….Hunt, Tory
    : No voluntary
    work declared.

  • Secretary of State for
    Northern Ireland Owen Paterson, Tory
    : No voluntary
    work declared

  • Secretary of State for
    Scotland Michael Moore, Liberal Democrat
    : No
    voluntary work declared.

  • Secretary of
    State for Wales Cheryl Gillan, Tory
    : No voluntary
    work declared.

  • Leader of the House of
    Commons, Lord Privy Seal Francis Maude, Tory
    : No
    voluntary work declared.

  • Attorney General
    Dominic Grieve, Tory
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Solicitor General Edward Garnier,
    Tory
    : No voluntary work declared.

  • Chief Whip Patrick McLoughlin, Tory:
    No voluntary work declared. So that’s one out of 23. I’m not too
    good at maths, never have been, but I believe that’s about 4%. Just
    saying…..


  • The Pig Society Part II

    February 16, 2011

    The Big Society grows ever stronger, and support grows ever wider, charity bosses and workers applaud it and sing its praises, because it is a wonderful plan that is definitely not a cover for a mass of Corporate tax cuts.

    That is what delusional Conservatives believe.
    Except, it’s bullshit.
    The voluntary sector is being absolutely gutted of funding.
    As the previous post pointed out. But to make it clear, the Guardian today featured a story of a lady named Denise Marshall. She is Director of Eaves and also the Poppy Project. These charities work with victims of domestic abuse and sex trafficking. She has dedicated her life to this cause. She has fought some pretty high powered members of the criminal underworld across Europe. Eaves provides housing and counselling for victims of abuse. They offer up to 35% savings on gas and electricity and other necessities for vulnerable women. In short, Denise Marshall is a heroine. She was recognised for this in 2008 by being given an OBE. She is one of the very few who actually deserve the honour.

    Denise is now handing back the OBE, to David Cameron personally, because she has said that the extreme and needless cuts to funding for charities and organisations like Eaves, means she will no longer be able to support and fight criminal gangs who traffic women for the sex trade. She feels that she would be hypocritical and unworthy of an OBE when she can no longer protect the women she has the award for protecting.

    Marshall said:

    “I received the OBE in 2007 specifically for providing services to disadvantaged women. It was great to get it; it felt like recognition for the work the organisation has done.

    But recently it has been keeping me awake at night. I feel like it would be dishonourable and wrong to keep it. I’m facing a future where I can’t give women who come to my organisation the services they deserve – I won’t be able to provide the services for which I got the OBE.”

    “If you run a refuge where you don’t have the support staff it just becomes a production line, where you move people on as quickly as possible to meet the targets. You’re not helping women to escape the broader problems they face. They may get a bed, but no help with changing their lives and moving out of situations of danger.”

    “I’ve worked in this sector for almost 30 years. I don’t want to sound melodramatic but I don’t think I have ever felt as depressed and desperate as I do now,”

    How then, do the Big Society advocates justify the fact that on the same day as a true heroine feels she can no longer protect very very vulnerable women in her care, the Tories are trying to stop an EU law on the banning of naked short selling (which I shall try to explain as much as possible shortly)? The EU law, if the Tories get their way, will not affect the UK on naked short selling. Germany have banned it, the U.S have banned it, Australia have banned it, Hong Kong have banned it, Japan have banned it. We have kept it. It makes a very small elite group of speculators very rich, whilst risking money that is not theirs. How are these people protected, yet the vulnerable women like those that Denise Marshall represents have their funds slashed. The Government and its banking friends and business associates are sitting sipping champagne, whilst Rome burns. Nero would be in awe.

    Short Selling (not naked short selling) is a little confusing, and utterly absurd. It has no social use. It is not to the benefit of any of us. It is dangerous and it should be banned. When you buy shares, you buy them in the hope that the price will rise and you can sell them some time in the future, to make a nice bit of money. It is all to do with how you obtain shares. You and I would buy shares. Naked short sellers borrow shares in the hope that the price will fall. So, if for instance I was to borrow 5000 shares from Broker A. I will then sell them at £1 a share, so £5000, hoping the price falls. Say the price falls by half. I now buy back all the shares, at £2500. I have netted myself a nice little £2500 and I give the 5000 shares back to the Broker A.

    Naked Short Selling is different, because you don’t even borrow the shares you’re selling. You don’t have them. You’re selling a promise that you will obtain the shares that you’ve just sold, at some point in the future. You may as well walk into a bank, take all of their money, and promise to give it back at some point in the future. There is then an incentive for short sellers to wreck companies, because the share price has to fall for them to meet their promise. On a grand scale, this can lead to massive crashes.

    This little practice lead necessarily to the 1997 Asian Financial Crises, that left millions in poverty. This wasn’t the fault of too much Government interference in people’s lives, or too many people on the dole. It was a direct result of unproductive short sellers and a massively deregulated financial sector.

    The law looks to ban naked short selling in the EU. The UK will be trying to exempt itself from that banning.

    This of course comes days after the announcement that there would be vast changes to the offshore tax laws, which mean that large and medium sized businesses who offshore their profits and then move them back to the UK, no longer have to pay the difference between the tax they paid in their tax haven and the tax they pay in the UK. They no longer have to pay any tax on profits that are made outside the country and brought back to the UK. Not only that, but they can claim expenses against tax they pay in the UK, to fund their overseas departments. That represents one of the biggest changes to Corporate tax law, and a massive shift of wealth from the poorest due to cuts, to the very wealthiest on a level far beyond anything Margaret Thatcher could have dreamed of. Suddenly the veil of an omni-benevolent Tory government is falling off, to be replaced by a face stamped with the logos of Diageo and Barclays.

    On the 9th February, George Osborne told the House of Commons:

    Those entrusted by us to regulate those bankers and run our economy washed their hands.
    Meanwhile the rest of the country is left paying every day for their failures.
    The government has to pick up the pieces.

    It would seem that what Osborne believes is “picking up the pieces” entails giving away massive tax cuts, destroying the voluntary sector, and inviting the World’s naked short sellers to come and set up home in Britain.

    Welcome to the Pig Society.


    Welcome to Corporate England…

    February 9, 2011

    It was an exceptionally busy day in British politics yesterday.
    First, the dirtiest and most destructive years of the past half a century in Britain is being made into a film, staring Meryl Streep as Satan Baroness Thatcher……..

    How scary is that?
    To research the role, Meryl will be spitting on a few homeless people, and giving your money to her friends in the City.
    I hope it explains the situation of the Thatcher years accurately. I hope they don’t presume to tell the World she created a wondrous property and share owning society. I hope they explain that her deregulation of the banking sector lead to the biggest financial mess we’ve ever had; that her selling off the council houses lead to numerous housing market crises and a lack of affordable homes for the next generation; that selling a few shares in British Gas (which hasn’t improved British Gas as a service) is not an adequate substitute for stagnating wages and the destruction of pensions; that passing power from the unions to finance capital has not been a great achievement leading to wondrous trickle down economics like her dirty ideology promised.
    That would be nice.

    Secondly, the BBC announced that the Banking sector was FURIOUS at the Treasury for the increase on the bank levy. They are apparently “livid”. It reminds me of the first episode of The Royle Family where Nana rings Barbara just to tell her that the post office wont accept her voucher because it’s a couple of days out of date. Barbara tells Jim. Jim doesn’t care. Barbara says “I’ve told Jim……… oooo he’s livid“. It is a similar situation. The increase on the bank levy of an extra £800mn more is minuscule. The bankers are not “livid”, they are simply saying so, to make it seem as if the Government is being tough of banks. It is a joint effort, and it probably wont work, because people aren’t stupid. The banks will then announce that they have come to an agreement to start lending again (even though that’s what they’re supposed to do anyway), they will presume we will all be grateful to them for doing what they’re supposed to do as opposed to just extravagantly rewarding themselves for breaking things, and the Chancellor will seem like a hero who tamed the banks. The reality, is quite the opposite.

    The bank levy is still less, even with this extra £800mn, than it was under Labour. The banks are being asked to pay less than is required of them for destroying the entire system in the first place. Barclays Chief Bob Diamond will take home a bonus (not salary) of £8mn this year. Correct me if i’m wrong, but this is the exact same situation we were in before the crises. It will happen again and again. It is inherent to the excessive power of finance capital. The unions may have had too much power in the 1970s, but finance capital, backed by the forces of Conservatism has an even greater hold on power now.

    Thirdly, as the bank levy was made public yesterday, the Tories knew it would take up much of the coverage in the Press. So this gave them a chance to spill the beans on a horrid little change to the Corporate tax laws. When I say “little change“, I mean, the biggest change to Corporate tax laws in decades. It is the greatest transfer of wealth from a gutted public sector, from services to children, to the elderly and to the disabled – to big business, I think I’ve ever known and it is massively unjustifiable.

    The change is this;
    The corporate tax rules used to say that if you paid 10% on your overseas profits, and the rate here is 28%, you’d have to pay 18% when you shift your profits back here, to make up the difference. Which is sane.
    Now, under the new Tory rules; companies pay nothing on money made by their overseas branches.
    When the money gets here, through tax havens, they will have paid nothing on it. But, this rule change only applies to “large and medium firms“. Small businesses still have to pay.
    And here’s the icing on the feces cake…. the “large company” that now have even higher profits because it doesn’t have to pay tax on it, can still claim expenses for funding its overseas branches, against the tax it pays here. They don’t pay the tax on that overseas branch, but they can still claim expenses to run it.
    Oh and by 2014, the 28% rate will be dropped to 24%.

    The point of doing this, is obviously ideological. It is an ideology that says a lower corporate tax rate is better for us all, the extra money will trickle down to us from those philanthropists of the business World, and whilst the rest of us have to deal with mass unemployment, no police, cuts to any form of social service, privatised health care, child care cuts, fear of job and house loss, extra funding for school sports being abolished, the selling off of forests and our libraries closing; we should be thanking the Government for allowing our richest companies to get even richer. Because they will provide the jobs that will kick start the economy apparently. Like they definitely fucking didn’t did in Ireland.

    Welcome to Corporate England. Welcome to Wednesday afternoon, brought to you by Starbucks. Enjoy the air you’re breathing, sponsored by Nike. Indulge in some conversation, promoted by Walmart (Disclaimer: At the end of every sentence, you must use the phrase: this sentence was brought to you by Walmart).

    It is of course no surprise that the Tories are bending over the kitchen table and winking provocatively at the City. It was revealed in the Guardian yesterday, that over 50% of Tory funds come from the City. One of my favourites is Peter Hall, an Australian Fund Manager, who in 2008 told the Sydney Morning Herald that the oceans should be sold off as property. If privatising the sea wasn’t enough, David Rowland, the multimillionaire worth an estimate £700mn donated over £4mn to the Tory Party. Hedge Fund manager Stanley Fink donated £1.9mn. He was then made Tory Treasurer. The money is astounding. For all the talk of Labour being in the pockets of Unions, it is no better that that Tories are in the pockets of the richest and most powerful men on the planet. Actually, that’s a lie. It is worse than being in the pockets of Unions. Unions represented average men and women, thousands upon thousands of people. The City represents the most narrow of elites, whose main concern is increasing their own power and wealth.

    It is no wonder that Corporate Tax cuts and a banking tax cut is being masked as a great coup against a greedy banking sector. Who do our public servants work for? What a funny, blinded little World we live in, when we claim we’re a liberal and free democracy. We are too cowardly to fight back. The Egyptians are showing us how it should be done. The public face of Finance Capital, is the Tory Party, and that is not a good thing.

    I seem to remember there were Liberal Democrats in this Coalition at some point? Are they still calling themselves Progressives? Is that still what they insist on going with? Can a massive delusion really last this long?


    …wouldn’t you just eat a salad?

    January 26, 2011

    “we are always asked
    to understand the other person’s
    viewpoint
    no matter how
    out-dated
    foolish or
    obnoxious”

    In my Politics class, we sit and have a rather tedious discussion most weeks. There is a bin in the corner, about 3 metres from where I sit. I sit with a bottle of water most weeks and finish it by the time the class is over. I wonder if I throw the empty bottle in the direction of the bin, if I will get it on target. I position myself by swinging slightly backward on my chair. I always decide against it. It is tedious because there is no control over the class. People talk on one table about subjects that are absolutely nothing to do with the original topic of debate. Others frequently don’t understand the point of the arguments made by specific political philosophers, and end up rambling on for a moment or two about nothing. They would say more, if they didn’t speak. The day previous, at the gym, in the changing room, a man was in the toilet cubicle. He obviously thought no one was in the toilet and randomly said “Oh fuck it’s a big one!!!!” I am not sure how to respond to that. It’s obviously a sentence of genius. Do I edge slowly toward the door and leave quietly? Or do I bow down in front of the cubicle and worship this legend as he comes out of his castle? Two Christian girls in our class, during a rather slow discussion on Nietzsche attempted to link the entire concept of democracy (not just modern democracy, democracy in general) to Christianity. Christians often narrow mindedly take credit for concepts they simply didn’t create; usually in the subject of art, as if without Christianity there would never have been a Leonardo. But I’ve never seen such a terrible argument presented as to why democracy is a loving gift bestowed upon the World by that beacon of democracy; Christianity.

    I pointed out that forms of democracy (quite different to democracy today, I accept) appeared long before Christianity stamped its ugly, overbearing foot on the progress of humanity. One of the two girls looked at me as if I was an utter idiot. She told me, in a naturally patronising voice that democracy came long after Christianity and was a product of it. I mentioned Rome to her, and the election of Tribunes of the People’s assembly, the Senate, and that after around 300bc the lower classes were allowed to stand for office, and that although Rome’s democracy was massively flawed; it was still democratic by the standards of that particular time. The Roman people idolised their Republic. They were scared of absolute power. The Ancient Greeks, long before Jesus Christ wasn’t born, invented Constitutions and in some respects, invented Democracy. She said “no“.

    Then more talking ensued…

    One person talking louder to make themselves known after the last person. About eight different conversations in the same small room is too much even for my confidence and ego to try to fight over. I dropped my argument. I stared around the room and out of the window. My Kindle holds thousands of books. I have downloaded at least 200 so far, and have only started reading one. Tony Blair’s most recent book. It’s very self serving and has an air of utter arrogance about it. He describes himself as a rebel at heart. He was certainly a great statesman and I have a lot of time for much of what he achieved. But the fact remains, his “modernising” turned the Labour Party into a Tory-Lite Party, capitulating to the excessive power of finance capital. I am reading poems by Bukowski too. As you can tell by the start of this blog. I wish I had more time, and a quiet room. That way, I would have spent the next thirty minutes destroying the argument of massively misinformed, delusional Christians. I get a kind of sadistic enjoyment out of it. I don’t respect or understand their view, when their view is ridiculous, and just outright bullshit.

    Democracy, previous to Rome can be traced back as far as pre-historic civilisation. Tribes working as a unit would presume to work together far more democratically, for the common good, than any system forced upon humanity during Christianities harsh hold over Europe. In fact, Christian Europe resembled a system far closer to the that advocated in the Old Testament. The first Pope, in the Bible, says:

    Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
    -1 Peter 2:13-17

    I think that’s pretty conclusive. Firstly, I take issue with ‘live as God’s slaves’. No. The Christian God disgusts me. I cannot think of anyone worse, to be the ‘slave’ of.  Secondly, it is evident that the first Catholic Pope demanded that his contempories submit to the sovereign authority, whom at the time, was an Emperor, far removed from any democratic principles. St Peter’s role in the Church spanned four Roman Emperors; Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and eventually being crucified under the despotic lunatic Nero. We don’t know who he was writing about when he demanded we all submit to Caesar. I doubt it was Nero, given that Nero really didn’t like Christians. But even if St Peter had demanded that the Caligula, Claudius or Tiberius were to be submitted to entirely, the nature of those first three Emperors after Augustus should be examined. Perhaps they were deep down, democratic?

    Tiberius was massively disliked, especially before he died. He spent far more money on the Imperial palaces than on the people. Although the area that St Peter would have lived for much of his life; Israel, has a town named “Tiberias” after the Emperor………. created by…….. King Herod. Executions for small crime went up under Tiberius. He was a bit of a maniac. In fact, he was so anti-democratic, he had his main opponent in the Senate; Gaius Asinius, executed for treason, simply for opposing the Emperor. Why would a loving God desire his faithful subjects to give themselves up to such tyranny? Why didn’t he demand the overthrow of such evil, for a far more democratic model? Why wasn’t that God preaching democratic values, if democracy truly is the product of Christian logic?

    Caligula was no better. He had absolutely every Senator who opposed the Emperor investigated, and if he deemed it necessary, executed. This sent a stark warning to the Senate and the final remnant of the old Republic; submit entirely to the Emperor, or die. He then started dressing as a God in public, he called himself Jupiter in documents, and he made Senators who he distrusted, run by the side of his chariot to show their inferiority. Two temples were created and funded by Caligula, for the sake of worshipping…. Caligula. Perhaps this is the beacon of democracy and rule by the people that St Peter was obviously referring to when he demanded people ‘honor the emperor’.

    Claudius, likewise, was not elected by popular democratic means. He was the grandson of the sister of Augustus; Octavia. So he believed, through his bloodline, that he was entitled to the Imperial throne. Inherited public power is about as far removed from democracy as it is possible to get.  He pronounced himself the Judge and Jury in many trials during his reign. Absolutely less democratic than even the hardly democratic Republican era of Rome.

    So, that leaves us with the notion that St Peter, when asking his people to submit as slaves to God and as subject to Caesar, did not care one bit for democracy, or for personal and intellectual freedom, or the plight of the Imperial subjects and the injustices within the Empire. And so we must conclude, that early Christianity has more in common with its Middle Ages history, than it does with a couple of Christian students’ warped interpretation of democratic history.

    Christianity during the Middle Ages was most certainly responsible for the most cruel period of human history in Europe. It was also used as the basis for Monarchy. Kings and Queens did not use Christianity in a manipulative sense just to hold on to power, they genuinely believed, as did their subjects, that they had a divine right to rule, laid out by God. They had inherited the throne of David. That was the justification for Monarchy ruled by ruthless, violent Christianity. Henry VIII was so worried about how he was to be viewed as a King by God, that he divorced Catherine of Aragon, on the pretence that God had punished him by giving him no male heir with Catherine, because she was his dead brother’s wife first.

    The Pope arguably had the most power in Europe during the Middle Ages. English people did not consider themselves English first. They considered themselves loyal to the Pope. They did not elect the Pope and they had no say over the policies coming out of Rome. They merely had to accept what the Vatican was telling them. Thomas More (who, quite comically, is now a Saint) advocated the burning to death of anyone who dared to own a Bible in English. Catholics believed only the Vatican and those who were scholarly and rich enough to read Latin, should have the right to interpret the Bible for the rest of the Catholic World. That couldn’t be less democratic if it tried. It wasn’t until Henry broke with Rome in 1534, that England as a culture and a united people started to take some shape. But even then, the despotic power of Rome was merely transfered to the despotic power of the King. No form of democracy was created. The beginnings of Protestantism were not democratic. Americas beginnings were not democratic. The Athens system in the centuries preceding the apparent birth of Jesus included a system that did not allow women or slaves the right to vote. America, similarly started off, for a very long time actually, not allowing women or slaves or anyone whose skin colour was slightly darker than their own, the right to vote.

    Skip a couple of Centuries to America, and some would argue that Christianity was responsible for the birth of the nation. Not true. The historian Robert T Handy argues that:

    “No more than 10 percent– probably less– of Americans in 1800 were members of congregations.”

    Most of the Founding Fathers were Freemasons and Deists. They were, as was America, products of the Enlightenment. Freemasonry and the thinking of the Enlightenment, the moving away from strict Christian dogma, is far more important to the development of early America. George Washington, the first President of the United States of America, and the man who was essentially the pillar on which the early Republic stood and managed to survive the early years, was a devout Freemason from the early 1750s, until the day he died. He became a master mason at the end of the 1590s.

    Thomas Jefferson famously despised the dogma of organised religion, stating:

    “Question with boldness even the existence of a god.”

    Jefferson received a letter from the third President, John Adams, stating:

    “I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved — the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!”

    It is thus evident that the United States was not the product of some new found Christian love and appreciation for democratic principles. The Constitution specifically states that there shall be no religious oppression. It does not mention the wondrous contribution Christianity has made to the onset of democracy.

    Democracy, like Capitalism, like falls of Kingdoms and Republics and Empires is the result of social evolution and the collective cultural mind of a population rebelling to meet the challenges of major shifts in consciousness and technology and economics. It is not the result of Christian dogma.

    The historical reality is almost always, on every issue, entirely at odds with Christian delusion. They never accept it. They invent history. Just like the two girls invented history, and invented their own special brand of logic in my politics class. It was however, one of the only times that my mind hasn’t wandered in that class. Usually we talk about one particular philosopher and it just gets too crowded with the sounds of unrecognisable voices blurred together. It all just sounds like a constant irritating ringing in my ear. There was a man sat out a chip shop in Leicester yesterday. It was 11am. The chip shop must have only just opened. He had a huge bowl of chips. He had his legs wide open, to accommodate the mass of draping fat that swung down below his knees as he sat. At that point, wouldn’t you just accept you may have been wrong all those years? Wouldn’t you just eat a salad?


    On this day…

    January 21, 2011

    I am 25 today.
    It’s rather old.
    A quarter of a century.
    I dropped Ash off at Gatwick this morning and have just got home.
    She has now gone home.
    I have to wait five and a half months to have her back.
    I don’t like that at all.
    Up until about an hour ago my day was particularly dull.
    I bought a lovely Redbull at Watford Gap.
    That was a little bit of an up point.
    Can you imagine the up point of your day being a can of Redbull?
    It’s been a pretty average January 21st.
    Not the worse ever.
    I think King Louis XVI off of France had the worst January 21st given that he had his head cut off.
    George Orwell’s January 21st wasn’t too much fun either back in 1950, given that he died.
    Emma Bunton, Baby Spice has to live with the fact that she was in the Spice Girls, her entire life.
    It’s a cross I wouldn’t like to bear.
    She was born on January 21st too.
    I have managed to reach 25, in Leicester, without yet having at least three kids by three different women, and without having stabbed anyone or contracted a nasty drug habit.
    I am impressed by my record.
    But still, the day was starting off very boring indeed.

    So imagine my joy when my entirely dull day turned to brightness when I turned on my TV screen to see that Tory Director of Communications and ex-News of the World editor/King of illegal Phone Hacking Andy Coulson has “resigned”. It’s certainly not a surprise. What is a surprise is that he still insists he knew nothing of phone hacking whilst he was editor of the News of the World. Which means one of two things…. 1) He’s lying (I suspect this is the case) or 2) He was an incredibly bad and out of touch editor. He resigned from the N.O.T.W because he claimed he knew nothing about any wrongdoing and insisted he’d done nothing wrong, and now he’s resigned from the Government….. because he claims he knew nothing about any wrongdoing and insisted he’d done no wrong. How odd. He also claimed he was not a despicable bully. He insisted it. And yet, in 2008 he was taken to an Employment Tribunal and the claim of bullying, against him, was upheld. The defendant was awarded £800,000 as a result. Which begs the question, if Coulson was involved in bullying, and was editor of a Paper in the middle of a phone hacking scandal, why would the Prime Minister employ him? Why is tax money (££140,000 a year as of May 2010) going to pay his wages whilst local council care budgets are being slashed?

    Coulson’s resignation comes a day after Labour’s massively incompetent and useless leader Ed Miliband announced that Alan Johnson, the shadow Chancellor was to resign for family reasons. It was a little bit of a media blunder for Johnson to have resigned on January 20th, because the papers and the TV news were bound to run with it, rather than the story that was grabbing headlines on January 19th, suggesting that David Cameron’s latest target is set on severely disabled children. The media repainting the Tories as the Nasty Party is exactly the wake up call people need. The harsh and unnecessary cuts to services like those that support the families of severely disabled children, whilst Vodafone have a tax bill written off by the Treasury, of close to £6bn. It could have lingered in the media and put pressure on the Government.

    The mainstream media reported that David Cameron, pre-election, promised to protect the rules for Councils providing care for disabled children. He made that promise to the parents of Holly Vincent, whom suffers from quadriplegia, has severe cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and is blind.

    They applied for respite care to Gloucestershire County Council. They were denied. This is because the wondrous Big-Society, We’re all in this together brigade of selfish rich economic thugs have not ringfenced spending for respite care. They have provided £800mn over four years to the County Council but it isn’t ringfenced. They have lifted the rules. Councils now are not obliged, legally, to spend funds protecting the most vulnerable. Cameron, pre-election told the parents of Holly Vincent that he “would never do anything that would hurt disabled children”.

    As a result of the lack of funds spent on Holly Vincent, her parents have signalled their intention to put her into a care home, because they simply cannot afford to look after her any more. They currently only get five to six hours respite a week.

    Riven Vincent, Holly’s mum said:

    “…..there’s nothing to stop cash-strapped local authorities from using the money elsewhere. I have no wish to put my daughter into a home. We want to look after her, all I am asking for is a little more support.
    Without this, we simply cannot cope and nor can families up and down the country just like ours. We are crumbling

    I don’t want her in a residential care home – it would destroy me. But without extra help, I find it hard to see how we can meet her needs at home.”

    If a politician had promised to help my struggling family, if we had a child who was so severely disabled and getting worse as she gets older, and then he cut the funding to the local authority and didn’t ring fence the remaining funds…… I’d get all the publicity possible to make that politician out to be the absolute scum bag liar hellbent on destroying hard pressed families up and down the Country for the sake of tax cuts for the wealthiest. The Prime Minister is a disgrace. The Tory Party and all of their heartless supporters, are a disagrace.

    Alan Johnson should have let this story linger for a while, so it has a chance to sink into the minds of the British Public that we have elected Thatcher-on-speed. Absolutely every promise they made, they appear to be backing down on. No one voted for backdoor privatisation of the NHS. No one voted for such a massive Tuition fee rise. No one voted for the releasing of rules surrounding respite care ringfencing. I can’t imagine many people would have voted for such a shit Party, had they expressed their desire to be the bringers of Neoliberal hell to Britain.

    Although, the Tories were kind enough to give me the birthday present of Coulson’s resignation. Perhaps next year they will try and top it by sacking Cameron, Osborne and Clegg.
    That would be amazing.