Wednesday, 28 December 2011

You cannot trust the tories with the NHS
A little bit of small print emerged blinking into the light. Among the details of the revised NHS Bill there is the fact that all NHS Trusts will have the chance to raise up to 49% of their funding from private medicine. This is a huge increase on the current 1-2%. 
The consequences are the drift to a two-tier system with the wealthy and the comfortable having instant access to the best treatment. The poor and less comfortable will have to trust to luck and the leftovers. 
People who make themselves wealthy on others misfortune are among the lowest of the low. 
Ministers who facilitate such people are beneath contempt. 

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

State Funeral for Thatcher
There are many tories who worship at the shrine of Thatcher. There are many, many other, more rational beings in the UK, who hold a very different view. One such appeared in the Independent yesterday.
“The fact that a state funeral for Margaret Thatcher has even been contemplated (report, 21 December) is a slap in the face for the millions of people whose lives she ruined.
She destroyed the British manufacturing base, destroyed the coal industry and destroyed the steel and ship-building industries as well as destroying whole communities which are still suffering from her legacy today. She ruled a land where an estimated five million were unemployed, forming the basis of today's multi-generational benefit-dependent families. She waged a war which could have been avoided.
She allowed Nigel Lawson, her chancellor, to begin the ruination of pensions by allowing employers to take a "pensions holiday". She created a nation reliant on financial services and service industries (and look where that has landed us) and changed a cohesive society to one which was and is selfish, self-serving and hypocritical, and this has led to a divided nation.
Her premiership started and ended with nationwide riots and protests. All this came from her fanatical ideology and it came to a point where even her own colleagues decided to get rid of her.
Today's austerity was born from her ideology, so why should taxpayers' money be wasted on a divisive state funeral?”  Letter from S. Silgram, Blackburn Lancs.
It would probably be best all round if she were to be buried at sea. That would at least stop people dancing on her grave.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Man in posh frock condemns glitter
Wearing a cream and gold creation, an elderly man urged his followers to, ‘see through the superficial glitter of this season.’ He was speaking in a place decorated with gold-leaf and full of ornate statuary. As the CEO of one of the wealthiest organisations in the world, his remarks on poverty had a special resonance, particularly with non-believers.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Compare and Contrast 2
Take a look at the way the taxman treats MegaCorps like Vodaphone and Goldman Sachs. Consider how the head of HMRC goes for regular private lunches with Vodaphone’s cheeses. See how other similar giants are caressed into paying a bit of tax for the nuisance of making a vast fortune in the UK. We are told that the Revenue are doing a good job getting something out of these corporate fat cats as the alternative is worse. 
Oh what an unfair world we live in. As Simon Jenkins made clear yesterday.
“Why the hell should people be expected to lose their jobs, their houses, their lifestyles, when the government is a soft touch for the rich and powerful? This is not a matter of left or right, socialist or capitalist. Britons are now embarking on a journey into a dark night of economic gloom. Nothing will make them less inclined to co-operate than the sight of a lucky few rowing to safety in gold-plated lifeboats.”
“Today's report on the tax leniency shown by the Revenue towards big corporations indicates that toughness towards the poor is not replicated by toughness towards the rich. The estimate was of some £25bn in taxes gone missing, the bulk of it concealed by an insistence on "commercial confidentiality", otherwise known as incompetent secrecy.”
Simon Jenkins, Guardian 20/12/11
By way of contrast have a listen to the distress a self-employed person was put through by the same Revenue. He spoke at length on the excellent Victoria Derbyshire show yesterday. How he had to spend £58,000 to prove that he had done nothing wrong. A process which crippled his business and left him in a psychological mess. He was not alone. Thousands and thousands of British Citizens can relate their stories of Revenue Hell. But they are not giant mega corps with tricksy lawyers.
Dave Hartnett, the incompetent, supine, stupid (or corrupt) head of the Revenue struggled to justify his systematic groveling to the powerful when he was hauled before the Commons Public Accounts Committee recently. 

A numpty from No. 10 yesterday disputed the findings of the report. He claimed that it was not like that. As No. 10 has very close relationships with many of these tax avoiders it was not exactly a surprise. Many of them pay good money into Tory party coffers. They do not do this out of the goodness of their hearts or the purity of their morals. They do it from the depths of their wallets. 
So Mr No.10 Spokesman. What you said was bollocks. Not just ordinary bollocks, but complete and utter bollocks. It was also deeply unfair and very revealing. But not a surprise.
Here is Mark Steel writing in The Independent with the final word.
This is all for our benefit, because we have to be prepared to pay the global market rate for thieving bastards, otherwise they’ll leave the country and thieve from somewhere else, and THEN where would we be?”

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Compare and contrast
What do the Harry Hardnoses and Phil Spaces who churn their living writing celebrity drivel for the tabloids feel when they read about the killing of yet another Russian journalist?
Do they consider themselves members of the same profession? Do they feel an ounce of empathy? Do they reflect on how far they have slid from their idealistic beginnings?
As The Independent reported on Saturday, “In a brazen attack that again highlights the danger many Russian journalists face for attempting to report the truth, the founder of an independent newspaper was shot dead in what appears to have been an ordered killing.
An assailant shot Khadzhimurad Kamalov 14 times late on Thursday night as he left the offices of Chernovik, the newspaper he founded and one of the few independent media voices in the troubled southern republic of Dagestan. The killer fled in a Lada, and Mr Kamalov died on the way to hospital.
He is the latest in a long line of journalists to be killed in Russia, in crimes that are rarely solved.“
‘Killed for attempting to report the truth.” Not ‘the truth’ about who is having an affair or going into rehab, but ‘the truth’ about the actions and skullduggery of people in power. 
All the time the tabloids concentrate on celebrity, royalty and sexual shenanigans, they leave the political class free and unmonitored. Free to continue doing harm. Free to continue feathering their nests. Free to take us into illegal wars. Free to collude with torture and rendition.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Kim Jung il? No, Kim Jung dead. Weep for your lives!
Pity the poor souls of North Korea. They live in the most benighted country on the planet. It is totalitarian in the extreme. Starvation and lack of heating are commonplace. The military rule with an iron fist. The cult of the supreme leader prevails. It is like living through a never-ending Stalinist purge of the 1930’s. 
Desperately poor, malnourished and hypothermic, the North Korean citizen must nevertheless appear cheerful. To appear sad would normally indicate knowledge of reality to the authorities and lead to one being taken away to a correction camp. 

Today the situation has suddenly changed. The Dear Leader has died. It is a time for mass outpouring of simulated grief. Weeping, wailing and mourning must be done - and seen to be done. Anyone not weeping and showing extreme grief will be regarded as an enemy of the state and sent away. Some to be shot. 
The people are weeping as if their very lives depend on it. Which they do.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

£4.5 million pay-off
Yet another scandal from the NHS. This time it is a Doctor hounded and bullied by the senior management at Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust. The tribunal who awarded the massive payout  delivered a scathing assessment of the senior managers at the hospital. They were, “Positively outraged by the way this employer has behaved.”
So will heads roll? Only if enough folks are equally outraged. The payout is money that should have gone into patient care. 
The problem unfortunately goes much deeper. It is symptomatic that NHS Managers’ first reaction to a problem is to deny it. The next step is to pillory the person who pointed out the problem. This is tackled in one of two ways: the first is to buy them off with a good payout including a ‘confidentiality agreement.’ These are supposed to be illegal in the NHS......Oh yeah.
The second method is to identify the whistleblower as the problem. “Cannot be a team player,” “untrustworthy”, “unreliable,” “bully” and ‘troublemaker” are all used to belittle, denigrate and humiliate someone who is acting on behalf of patients. Sackings and disciplinary action are common. The outrageous happenings in Mid Yorkshire are not unusual. There are far too many instances of this treatment for it not to be systematic. Anyone unconvinced should read Private Eye which has devoted considerable, unchallenged column inches to the issue.
Bad as all this is, there is an even bigger problem. The recent shocking revelations of how the elderly, those suffering from dementia and too many ‘average’ patients are being appallingly treated in too many hospitals brings disgrace onto a national institution. It also must be so dispiriting to work with people who are abusers or uncaring.
One of the solutions to this mess is to promote whistleblowers. It needs to be enshrined in contracts and conditions of service that within the NHS there is a duty to report wrongdoing and malpractice. To say nothing is to collude with the sinners. To not act should be a disciplinary matter.
Another simple and easily implemented improvement is to empower a matron-like figure at every level who has as their sole function the duty of patient care. Any nurse or carer falling below acceptable standards should have the opportunity for some re-training. A second similar offence would result in immediate dismissal. Some of the recent revelations would qualify for instant dismissal. This to apply at all levels.
The NHS is one of the greatest creations of our time. The principle of care being available to all, no matter what their means is brilliant. It is a principle which the Tory party and, to their eternal shame, NewLabour undermined. Lansley is so far in bed with sleazy private medicine that only the tip of his snout is visible. These shocking revelations play into the Tory’s hands. 
Anyone thinking that we would be better off under private medicine should take a look across the Atlantic. 40 million American citizens do not have access to medical care. The man who took home the biggest wage last year in the States ($175 million) was the chief exec of a private medicine company. Enough said.
Reform = yes. Privatisation = no! 

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Shame on you Obama
The treatment of Bradley Manning has been nothing short of disgraceful. The man is about to be tried for leaking secret information to Wikileaks. He has been held in solitary confinement for months. During that time he has had his sleep regularly and routinely interrupted. He has been subjected to degradation and humiliation from a military that clearly believes Law and  Order does not apply to the mightiest military machine on earth. The military’s deeds in this case appear to contradict the wishes of the founding fathers, who worried about their armed forces becoming too powerful. So much so they enshrined the need for the military to be subordinate to Congress in the Constitution. Remember all this has taken place before his trial. He is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.
One of the items allegedly released was disgraceful and shocking video footage of the crew of a helicopter gunship. They casually gunned down several innocent civilians in Iraq including two journalists and children. One of the reporters had a camera. The gung-ho murderers masquerading as highly trained soldiers thought the camera was a rocket launcher. What was worst of all was the casual disregard the killers displayed towards the lives of the people they were slaughtering from their safe place in the sky. The dialogue accompanying the film clips was chilling.
Manning is charged with breaches of secrecy and bringing the good ole U S of A into disrepute around the world.
Not so. 
It is the actions of ill-trained numbskulls murdering innocent people from gunships. And it is the routine covering-up of such events.
It is the use of similar numbskulls to launch drone attacks on men, women and children in Afghanistan or Pakistan, putting an end to any chance of a  ‘hearts and minds’ approach.
It is the abomination of Guantanamo. 
It is the disgrace of Abu Graibh. 
It is the trillions of dollars spent killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis so that Big Oil can get its greedy mitts on their oil. 
It is spending trillions of dollars on illegal wars when the country back home is broke.
It is the collusion with all of the above by a President who promised to make things so much better after the reign of the Bush Gang. 
Shame on you Obama. Shame on you America.
Even more dismaying is seeing current Republican candidates who are far, far worse.

Friday, 16 December 2011

LibDem Turkeys

It has just been announced on the PM programme that Nick Clegg has phoned the French Government to complain about the tone of recent comments attacking the UK and the City. 
Stand by for waves of laughter washing across the channel. As Ian Bell wrote in yesterdays Herald:
“Mr Clegg is in a ludicrous position. The leader of the most explicitly Europhile Westminster party has been complicit in the most reckless of eurosceptic gestures. The party that supposedly wants Britain at the heart of Europe, as a matter of principle, has allowed Britain to be pushed to the margins.
Subsequent LibDem "protests" have been laboured or preposterous. If Mr Clegg thought he could satisfy anyone by going into hiding while Mr Cameron faced the Commons he truly does believe voters are dummies. His colleagues have been equally fatuous. They can huff and puff: everyone knows they will not quit the Coalition. No price is now too high.
Their choice is simple: shut up and play along with the Tory script or face annihilation at the polls. That being so, however, it is no longer enough to say that the Lib Dems have exhausted every last reason they ever had for being in government. That was true, in every important respect, before the veto row. Mr Clegg's only real remaining role in political life is to make Mr Cameron's brand of Conservatism possible.
How is that defined as the national interest from any conceivable Liberal Democrat perspective? The claim that Mr Clegg and his colleagues would exploit their positions in Government to restrain the Tories has been exposed, once and for all, as nonsense. One by one, the "worst excesses", the excesses the Liberal Democrats were supposed to prevent, are happening.
There is no way back for Mr Clegg. He can stagger on to the next General Election, but his fate, and his party's fate, is sealed. He has no more crumbs of comfort to offer even to the most blindly loyal of his remaining supporters.
Ed Miliband and Labour would be well advised, then, to have nothing to do with this toxic brand. Flirting with the Liberal Democrats will not be well received by the mass of voters who have seen enough and heard enough”.Ian Bell Herald 15/12/11
There is one hope for the LibDem turkeys trying to avoid Christmas. It is that something will turn up.........
Telling off the French  from a positively puny position is not it.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Peel back a layer
Sometimes a stone is lifted and what lies buried underneath emerges into the light. Such a moment came over the weekend when news of a Tory MP and a stag party came out. The right wing of the Tory party are pretty unappealing at the best of times but given the boost they think they have had by Cameron’s veto, they are even more repugnant than usual. Fortunately, one of their redeeming features is that they are mainly quite thick. 
That is one explanation of why the chants of ‘Hitler, Hitler, Hitler’ with folk (or should that be volk?) dressed up as SS officers was thought to be so amusing. 
Another possibility is that they are fascists masquerading as democrats. 

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Right Honourable David Blunkett
Before the NewLabour landslide of 1997, Blunkett had built a well-deserved reputation as a man of good sense and strong values. 
Oh how the mighty have fallen.
Following on from his ‘unfortunate’ imbroglios in government, when he achieved the unusual distinction of having to resign twice, he sought alternative employment to boost his paltry MPs salary. One of his nice little earners was to accept a £50,000 per year contract with News International (file under ‘You couldn’t make it up - Private Eye) to act as an advisor for corporate social responsibility. Bearing in mind what happened subsequently, it appears Murdoch wasted his money. 
He also has an occasional column for The Times, worth £5000 pa and before October 2009 he wrote a column for the Sun worth around £45,000 pa.
He is reputedly one of the highest earning MPs reportedly on nearly a million a year. He represents Sheffield Brightside, one of the poorest constituencies in the country. He is less than candid about his financial affairs. 
He has recently threatened the Observer with m’learned friends and reported them to the Leveson Inquiry for having the temerity to question him about a reported pay-off from the self-same News International of £300,000 in the phone hacking saga. 
Aren’t these confidentiality agreements brilliant? He probably will not have to declare it on the MPs Register of Interests. Why the hell not?
He has become a lot less candid about all sorts of things, including his role in changing the advice to British agents about the use of torture in the ‘war on terror’. He even maintained it was potentially libellous even to ask him questions about the matter.
What a hero of the people. What a bastion of democracy. What a defender of civil liberties. 
What a hypocritical bastard.
Yet another who has tasted the sweet life and taken the devil’s shilling.
Like so many of his NewLabour cronies, Blunkett wrote an autobiography. It did not sell well. In it he had the following priceless observation about his venal chum, Mandy. Peter Mandelson was "in love with himself". "His tragedy", explained David, was that he "lacked self-awareness".

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Whose Interest?
Cameron claimed he was acting in the national interest when he vetoed our involvement in the EU Treaty early on Friday morning. Much is still to emerge from the spinning and counter-spinning. One fact is clear. The deeply unattractive europhobic wing of his party are happy. That to any rational being must be a cause for concern. Dinner with 30 of his backbenchers last night reinforces the impression that the veto was done on their behalf. Cameron cited protecting the City as a major reason for his objection.
As Nicholas Faith, writing in today’s Independent makes clear, the City is not a friendly or effective bedmate.
“Let us hope that the City – and above all the hedge funds which contributed so generously to the Tory war chest – are happy.
For in the early hours of yesterday, David Cameron made it clear that the well-being of London's financial community was a vital element in Britain's economic well-being. So crucial, in fact, that it formed the key reason – or was it just a convenient excuse? – for the decision to ruin our relationship with the European Union, and above all with its dominant forces, France and Germany.
Cameron's veto of the EU treaty change needed to save the euro could prove an exceedingly expensive gamble, politically and economically for him – and indeed for the whole country. It also turns the spotlight on what the City can do in return for the Prime Minister's loyalty. In theory, it should lead the City to help the rest of a country that has taken such a risk on its behalf. But this would set a historic precedent in 2,000 years which, unfortunately, show that London has always been a selfish, insular place invariably independent from the rest of the country, looking abroad for its living, and perfectly capable of ignoring the wishes of successive governments up-river in distant Whitehall, let alone the needs of the wider economy by providing funds for industrial development.
The City's neglect is based on a fundamental inability to think long term, for the Square Mile has always been a home for traders rather than investors.

....For centuries, the greed and short-sightedness of the City's denizens have made them a target: in the 18th century, Jonathan Swift described the jobbers as "traders waiting for shipwrecks in order to strip the dead". Alexander Pope was just as sharp: "There's London's voice, 'get money, get money'." The industrial revolution emphasised that the rest of the country lacked any real business connection with London. In the 19th century, great manufacturing cities – Birmingham, Manchester, Middlesbrough – boomed thanks to local finance. The biggest absorbers of capital, the railways, were originally financed by Quakers in the north east and by what was called the "Liverpool interest". As soon as the City got involved, there was the usual pattern of recurrent financial crises. For most of London's company promoters were crooked. During the 19th century, the London markets became steadily less connected with commercial reality. As the great Nathan Meyer Rothschild put it: "I am no trader in goods." By the end of century, the City was investing money everywhere from US railroads to the railway networks of Argentina, often with disastrous results, rather than at home.” 
Judging by recent events, nothing has changed. Greedy chancers who are little better than the gamblers found at a racetrack brought the world to its knees. It is these self-same chancers that Cameron is in hock to. 
This ConDem coalition has talked a lot about putting curbs on excessive bonuses and salaries. 
It has done bugger-all.
National interest?

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Hen Harriers - another casualty of the rich
A spokesman from the RSPB was on R4 this morning telling us that these magnificent birds are in danger of going extinct in England. They were reduced to four breeding pairs last year. Having been lucky enough to see them in Islay it is bad news. Many more people should have the opportunity to see these wonderful creatures quartering the ground as they hunt for prey. 
What makes this far worse is that their reduction in numbers has not been brought about by natural forces. The decline is down to unscrupulous keepers working for shooting estates. The RSPB man kept his mouth shut on this point - why? There is a long history of persecution because Hen Harriers do take grouse chicks. Experiments have been tried on a couple of estates which offer the Harriers alternative food at bird tables near their nests. It works well. The Harriers do not take Grouse chicks.  
Many of the shooting estates manage their estates in a way that gives their clients ‘a total experience’. Accommodation, fishing and shooting are all relatively labour intensive. It is perfectly normal to pay £15,000 for a pair of shotguns. A days shooting can set you back £1500, it is not a cheap sport. 
This is probably why it is the haunt of men with willies the size of a peanut and brains to match. Whether inherited or acquired ‘through the city’ they have money to burn. To prove their manhood they slaughter lots of red grouse, which have been specially reared and protected to meet the demand. Hence the persecution of the Hen Harrier. Unseen and unknown - apart from the keeper - nests are trampled on and eggs destroyed. Why bother using poison (which some have and been caught) when a size ten welly can do the job?
These estates benefit enormously from the EU cash cow that is the CAP. One of the criteria to get these handouts is that estates are supposed to ensure the protection and preservation of endangered species. The figures speak. There should be 300+ pairs of Hen Harriers in England. There are 4.
Unless and until the estate owners end up in court for having Harriers killed, very little will change. 
Don’t hold your breath. Cameron is a friend of the landed gentry. And so are many of his chums.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Welcome to Dystopia
Shortly after switching off the very dark Black Mirror last night reality burst in. The C4 programme entitled “National Anthem,” set up the situation where a Royal Princess (think Kate Middleton) had been kidnapped. The person holding her hostage has a weird ransom demand. The Prime Minister, (think David Cameron), very credibly played by Rory Kinnear, has to have intercourse with a pig, live on tv at 4-00pm. The assessment of our media, the internet, politicians and ‘the public interest’ was provocative, well acted and credible. Billed as a satire it was a bleak reflection of the way our society operates. Hence the ‘Black Mirror.’
A few minutes later an online website reported on the following case from Kent.  A one month old baby boy had been raped and seriously injured - all his ribs had been broken and he was seriously ill in hospital. Yes, horrible but true, a one month old baby boy had been raped. Two adults had been arrested and then released on bail. A vigil had been held outside the baby’s home when the cry had gone up that the adults involved were at a house nearby. What had been a vigil swiftly became a mob. Windows were broken and the police were called to quell the violence. 
A grimly powerful drama had been overtaken by an even grimmer reality. 
Dystopia = an imaginary place where everything is as bad as it possibly can be; the opposite of utopia.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

On the night of December 2-3 in 1984, a poisonous gas leak from Union Carbide India Ltd's pesticide plant in Bhopal killed more than 15,000 people and maimed half a million more. Though the Indian government initially demanded $3.3 billion as compensation, it scaled it down to $500 million and ultimately agreed to Supreme Court supervised settlement for receiving $ 470 million in 1989 as full and final compensation from UCC. Times of India 3/12/11 
This sum has been seen as derisory in the circumstances. There has been a long-running campaign to get the 2nd biggest chemical company in the world to pay more towards the victims and to clean up the toxic nightmare that is the legacy of the incident. The Indian Supreme Court weighed in on the side of campaigners. However, efforts  to make Dow Chemicals pay more have been met with contempt. The Company issued a terse statement last week saying it does not recognise the Supreme Court of India as it has no jurisdiction over Dow. It also maintains the incident happened a long time before they took over Union Carbide so ‘nowt to do with us, squire’.
This is a company with form. During the Vietnam War, the good ole USA sprayed thousands of gallons of highly toxic defoliant on the jungles in Vietnam. It was known as Agent Orange. Not only did this cause an environmental disaster it also seriously affected any person coming into contact with it including military personnel who worked with the chemicals. And who made this lethal toxic spray? Step forward Dow Chemical and Monsanto. 
A series of class action suits on behalf of Vietnam veterans and more recently, Vietnamese  people damaged by their contact with Agent Orange, have struggled to get anywhere against the might and wealth of these companies. 
It has not stopped the company being deemed ‘fit and proper’ to sponsor the wrap - a series of panels which will go completely round the Dowlympic stadium. The company relishes the opportunity to associate itself with healthy, fit athletes. You betcha!
“Yesterday Coe and the London organising committee board rejected a call from a fellow board member and mayor of the Borough of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, to cancel Dow Chemical's sponsorship of the Olympic wrap.
Following their meeting, the Locog board said in a statement to Telegraph Sport that it had awarded Dow the sponsorship after a "rigorous procurement process with due consideration of its financial and reputational standing and its ability to deliver the best sustainable solution for the wrap". Telegraph 3/12/11
“Now his Olympic committee is facing a threat that would horrify any event manager. If it doesn't cut ties with Dow, protesters have vowed to hold their own "Bhopal Olympics" during the London games - an event contested by children with congenital disabilities attributed to the Bhopal gas leak.” Sports Illustrated 2/12/11
Dow’s mission statement: ‘To passionately innovate what is essential to human progress by providing sustainable solutions to our customers" with the vision: "To be the most profitable and respected science-driven chemical company in the world".

Friday, 2 December 2011

Afghan woman jailed for being raped to be freed - if she marries her attacker
“An Afghan woman jailed for adultery after she was raped by a relative is set to be freed – but only after agreeing to marry the man who attacked her.” Guardian 2/12/11 President Karzai ordered her to be released on condition she become the second wife of her rapist.
It is good to know our boys are dying for such a noble cause.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

All in this together....?
The Autumn Statement laid that lie to rest. The Toxic Tories are back. And how. 
Strip away the rhetoric and guff and what remains? An attack on the poorest in our society to help pay for the excesses of the richest. There was much talk of austerity and the need for belt-tightening......but not for the rich. Austerity and belt-tightening are for the poor and the powerless. 
Search through the small print and there is nothing about the rich paying their share. Tax avoidance and evasion? Nothing - apart from the fact that a further 12,000 tax inspectors are being laid off. Tax on property over £1m? Nothing - again despite stamp duty on such properties being routinely avoided by the use of offshore havens. Bankers still pay themselves obscene bonuses. They can relax. Nothing further will go to the victims of their excesses. The footsie top 100 companies paid their directors an average 49% more and also increased their pensions too. The boss of Barclays pays himself 75 times the amount an average Barclays worker earns but can have peace of mind that the tax system is firmly on his side. The Tobin tax on financial transactions has been ruled out.
Meanwhile back in austerity land.......
Osborne angered the public sector by holding down pay rises to 1% over the next two years when inflation is currently over 5% and rising. This follows two years of zero pay rises. Many public sector workers are among the lowest paid and 73% are women. A further 700,000 are expected to lose their jobs in the next couple of years.
Then there are the children.
Barnardo’s described the statement as, “A desperate state of affairs when the government’s own analysis shows that a further 100,000 children will be pushed into poverty as a result of tax and benefit changes announced today.” There are already 300,000 children in poverty as a result of Osborne’s previous cuts.
Disgraceful and shaming.
Polly Toynbee summed up the situation in The Guardian yesterday:
“The gap between what they say and do is now exposed. The injustice of how the pain has been shared is breath-taking. A windfall taking just one year's bank bonuses would pay for all the cuts in youth services and the EMA for the next 23 years. That's just one example. Osborne is fatally wrong on the economy, as his deficit target slips by two years in just the past eight months. But even if his straitjacket were necessary, the pain would be politically acceptable only if justly shared. The Bullingdon budget tears the last veil of deceit, leaving the nasty party naked for all to see. But every school will get its King James Bible with Michael Gove's presumptuous foreword: is prayer all that's left?”
Meanwhile, what about the Liberals? What are they doing about this attack on the poor? How do they feel about the lack of commitment to tackling tax evasion? 
“The parties agree that tackling tax avoidance is essential for the new government, and that all efforts will be made to do so, including detailed development of Liberal Democrat proposals.” Coalition Agreement, May 2010
As the Autumn Statement makes clear - that is just so much bollocks.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Pensions and the rich
There has never been a public sector pension fund. It is a 'notional' fund run by a government actuary who is supposed to weigh up the figures and then make recommendations. It was really an extra tax on the public sector when private pension schemes were still well run and not robbed by thieves like Maxwell. For example, the then British rail pension fund paid for itself. So many had contributed for so long and it had been well invested, the workers no longer needed to pay any more into it to get their pension. Now whatever happened to all that lovely money when the railways were privatised......?
Now that many private pensions have been shafted and fallen below the level of some (not all by any means) public schemes there are howls of outrage stoked up by a compliant media who 
a) should say how much they are on before they comment
b) Scumbag tories who love a bit of union bashing - a very easy target. 
c) Scumbag tories and their illiberal chums who seek to divide and rule. It takes the heat off the real villains...........
.............the bankers and financiers who caused the mess - and who should be paying towards the clear up - but have you seen any moves? No? Odd that. It could not have anything to do with who pays the bulk of the Scumbag party’s funds.....could it?  

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Expenses Cheat Gove and Maude the Fraud
Is there no limit to the amount of brass neck these two miscreants display? Millionaire Maude moved his second home 300 yards away his London property so he could claim even more cash from the taxpayer. Gove had to pay back £7.5 k in wrongly claimed expenses. 
They both lecture the poor in our society about how they should behave and can be heard currently urging public sector workers ‘to act responsibly.’ What a wonderful example of responsible behaviour they displayed. Shame our supine media do not prefix any announcement from these two paragons with the above reminder of what they are. 
Before they utter any more hypocritical nonsense, they should take a good look in the mirror. 
Raspberries all round.

Monday, 28 November 2011

A view from Scotland
“It was revealed that more than 50,000 people in Glasgow will struggle to put food on the table this Christmas, having been fleeced by unscrupulous lenders. The banks won't touch these people and so they are driven into the hands of loan sharks or finance companies which our governments allow to charge obscene interest rates.
The banks' values are now solely underpinned by the values of greed and avarice. They sell us a lie that they must continue to pay Luciferean bonuses so that they can attract "the world's best financiers". It is as if the knowledge of working the markets is known only to a few anointed necromancers who have studied at the feet of the Father of Lies to gain aptitude at their fell art. Total pish. It's easy to take risks on the markets with a half-decent economics higher and billions of other people's money, secure in the knowledge that you'll never be penalised or prosecuted when you fail, as fail you must.
In Scotland today, more than 100,000 young people are unemployed, more than ever before. This evil is not even deemed worthy of comment by the Bullingdon Club chancers English voters put in Downing Street. As this was announced, George Osborne, a man you can imagine in a Beefeater's hat and a redcoat demanding tithes and a night with your wife, warns companies to stay away from Scotland over uncertainties about independence. He just added another few thousand to the unemployment figures in Scotland. And another few thousand who will now vote yes in the independence referendum.
Don't kid yourself that all this misery facing the poor is an unfortunate but unavoidable byproduct of the "recession". In large parts of Britain, recessions don't occur. In the past 30 years, which, by my calculations, have witnessed three economic recessions, top executive pay has increased by 4,000%. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of low-paid workers have lost their jobs, not because their firms were in trouble, but because they had only made £5m that year instead of £7m. The "recession" is something "top executives" invent when they want to take your job and increase their pensions.
Wednesday's strike action by public sector workers is long overdue. It will not, as David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Osborne claim, cost the country millions. It will inconvenience some of us for a day or so. We won't lose our jobs and be prevented from putting a turkey on the table because of it. That's already happened because of the greed, corruption and negligence of bankers and the governments which turned a blind eye to it all. The right to strike is a noble and dignified tool that workers can use when bosses and the government have taken the piss once too often. I'll be backing the public sector workers. The government ought to be thankful that they will endure a mere day of peaceful protest and not the violent uprising they probably deserve.” Kevin McKenna Observer 27/11/11

Friday, 25 November 2011

Colluding with Madness
There are times in a persons life when difficult decisions have to be made - often in a moment. The consequences either way can be devastating. For instance, there is a momentum gathering about a deeply shaming episode from the Iraq invasion. More and more stones are being turned over and the scale of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners continues to grow. The MOD and the Army stand accused at best of being ignorant of what some troops were getting up to - and therefore incompetent. At worst, willfully blind eyes were turned and warnings ignored all the way to the top of Government. This means you, Blair, Hoon and Straw. The mistreatment of prisoners is in breach of the Geneva Convention and the Human Rights Act. Not difficult to comprehend. 
Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Mercer was the army’s chief legal adviser in Iraq. His warnings about the way prisoners were being treated were not only ignored, he was warned that he would be reported to the Law Society by his then boss. Shortly afterwards he was ‘sent into the wilderness.’ 
Whistleblowers from the NHS would recognise this situation as they too are frequently blamed as being ‘not one of us’ and therefore the problem. Patients lives are secondary to the culture. Warning about unsafe practices or dangerous doctors puts the person doing the warning in danger of losing their job. Or they are bought off with a large payment and a ‘confidentiality agreement.’ A most unsatisfactory way to run a public service.
Iraqi prisoners were not protected and the ethical ambivalence at the top of the MOD/Government meant troops operated in a moral vacuum. Now the reckoning has begun and all those who sat on their hands and kept their mouths shut are busily engaged in an arse covering exercise. 
Whether it is Baha Moussa or Stafford General the process is similar. Bad Practice, Collusion, Cover up, Report and....... Lessons Learned. Oh Yeah.  Whistleblowers or warners are ostracised or sacked. Those who establish the culture emerge unscathed and unaccountable. Hundreds of others inhabiting the same culture are demeaned and maligned by implication.
What damage is done to those who knew what was going on was wrong yet did nothing? For every person prepared to put their head above the parapet there are nine others who keep their heads down. How do those silent ones live with themselves? What does it do to their psyche?
Governments of all persuasions mouth platitudes about supporting whistleblowers but do nothing to establish it as a  necessary part of every job. To not report something should be the offence. The emphasis needs shifting. 
Collusion with madness should be unusual, not the norm.