Saturday, 4 October 2014

What it means to be poor in the UK

First, some facts from a major research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, which in turn is largely government funded. In other words this is official.

About 5.5 million adults go without essential clothing. 

About 2.5 million children live in homes that are damp.

Around 1.5 million children live in homes that cannot afford to heat their homes.

More than one in five adults have had to borrow in the last year to pay for day-to-day needs. 

Reading Alan Johnson’s autobiography, ‘About a Boy, which describes appalling poverty growing up in inner city London slums in the 50’s, it seems that very little has changed. The great leaps forward which began with the wholesale slum clearance schemes of the 60’s and a massive expansion in rented - council owned - property, meant that for many of our poorest, things began to improve. 

Then came Thatcher and (among many similar wheezes) the right to buy scheme where home ownership was a popular policy but it had a fatal flaw. The money raised should have been used to fund the building of further rental accommodation. This did not happen. 

The same greed-driven party then came up with the bedroom tax wheeze when they knew there were nowhere near enough smaller properties for people to downsize to. Result, a further attack on the poor and the needy by a  deeply nasty party. 

Gideot’s latest announcement to his smug, self-serving audience that he would freeze benefits for the poorest and extract a further £22 billion from the most vulnerable in our society while simultaneously rewarding the very rich with even more tax cuts. Compare and contrast with Scandinavian countries, where fair (and that means income) tax is higher but people accept it as part of a social contract. The vast majority of citizens in the region are happy to pay for essential public services. Norway and Sweden came out first and second respectively in a recent survey of the happiest places to live in the world. 
The UK came in at number 11. This signifies that in the UK there are still a lot of people comfortably off even if they are not downright loaded. However the gap between the very richest in our society and the poorest has widened considerably under this government. Sadly, New Labour (aka Tories with red ties) also cozied up to the mega-wealthy and did their bit to widen the gap. Keir Hardy, Nye Bevan et al would have been appalled. 

To be poor in the UK is difficult. Bragging claims that unemployment is going down made by smug millionaires is so much bullshit. Lots of desperate people are on zero hours contracts working every now and then and never knowing when they will next be used. Many work less than 10 hours a week yet they are not included in the unemployment figures. There are other similar wheezes to obfuscate the figures to the extent they stretch belief. As far as the nasties are concerned this is a result. Largely unchallenged by a supine opposition it is left to decent citizens to fund food banks and shelters. 

Time for a radical solution to our problems.

Tax the Rich.

Scrap Trident.

Make Corporations pay their share.

Those simple measures will more than pay off the deficit. Now why wouldn’t the tories do this?

Because it would upset 90% of their major backers - Russian Oligarchs, Financial Spivs and greedy bankers, not forgetting the arms industry........!


Friday, 3 October 2014

The Human Rights Act

Never underestimate the depths to which Tory politicians will sink in order to boost their flagging election chances. Having continued their attack on the poor with the slimy slithery Osborne promising many more billions of cuts to come targeting the most vulnerable in our society while at the same time giving even more cash to the rich fair takes the breath away. 
This was followed by Theresa May laying into the Human Rights Act - something which has been followed by the egregious Grayling this morning. Dominic Grieve and Ken Clarke have already condemned the proposal to scrap our commitment to the Act and withdraw from the European Court.
On the same day Craig Murray had this to say about the non-too fragrant May. 
“There was never any doubt that the accusation of terrorism against Moazzam Begg was, once again, a tissue of politically motivated lies. What is still more appalling, I am told by a Home Office source that the decision to arrest and detain him was taken by Theresa May herself. This involvement of politicians in the abuse of individuals by the state is appalling….
….Theresa May was lording it at the Tory party conference with a ludicrous speech about combating the “terrorist menace” which we are bombing Iraq to enhance, not decrease. At the same time as being acclaimed for further attacks on civil liberties, she was responsible for the completely unjustified imprisonment of the Muslim community’s most elegant spokesman against abuses, including torture, of state power against Muslims.
The other disgusting aspect of this case is the complicity of the judicial system with the state in the abuse of liberty by right wing politicians. There are no longer any effective checks on executive power in the British state. To cap this cycle of total power, Sky News last night were suggesting (and I understand behind the Murdoch paywall it is being propagated today) that Moazzam really is a terrorist and had been released as an appeasement to aid Islamic State British hostages. This total lie is a further snide attack by the terror state.
The truth of the persecution of Begg, who was detained to stop him researching British complicity in extraordinary rendition to Syria by Blair and Straw, is evidently something the Establishment does not want to enter a wider public consciousness.
In any decent society, Theresa May would have to resign over her involvement in the appalling mistreatment of Moazzam Begg. Instead she is touted as a future Prime Minister for the toughness on “terrorism”. That tells you everything about what a stinking, corrupt society the United Kingdom now has become.”
Shameful and deeply rotten as ever. As Nye Bevan said all those years ago, 
No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.”

His judgement was correct then and is even more so today.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Bombs or Ebola?

Politics is all about choices...
Back in the dark days of 1940 when France had been overrun, the RAF was seen by Churchill as the main method of taking the war to Germany. He authorised an increase in allocation of funding to Bomber Command - much to the disgust of rival service chiefs. Although good for morale, the raids were spectacularly useless. There is the true story of a bomber crew heading off for a raid on Germany when they met an electrical storm over the Channel. Their navigation instruments went haywire so they relied on visual observation to find the target. They found a huge river, flew up it until they saw the target - an airfield. Bombs duly dropped they turned and headed back to England. Some hours later, the navigator called on the intercom that he believed they were flying over Liverpool. The awful realisation dawned that they had flown up the Thames and attacked a British airfield. Worse was to follow as it became clear they had done very little damage. A fighter pilot shortly afterwards flew low across the home airfield of the bomber and dropped a German Iron Cross in ‘celebration’ of their achievement. 

During the Iraq War in 2003 we were shown on a nightly basis ‘missile porn’ as an excited Pentagon spokesbod would eagerly describe how these things could turn right angles and head down chimneys or through windows, such was their phenomenal accuracy. One remarkable account was followed by another news item that the US had apologised to Syria for hitting it with two cruise missiles intended for Iraq. Forget windows and chimneys - how about hitting the right country?.

The unmentioned dark side of all this machismo is the fact that these are high explosive devices that kill lots of people and injure horrifically many many more. Bits of flying metal eviscerate human flesh creating terrible injuries. The people in the region are very used to being shot at, bombed and blown up having had eleven years of chaos and conflict thanks to Blair and Bush. 

Despite knowing this, the Commons voted overwhelmingly to restart bombing attacks on the IS (ISIL/ISIS) terrorists. No end game. No exit strategy. No real sense of what the consequences will be. A blank cheque for the security state. The same state that uses GCHQ and NSA to listen in to its citizens without checks or balances. The state that spends billions of our pounds on the ‘security’ industry while at the same time hammering the poor and vulnerable in the name of austerity. 

Last night on C4 ‘Unreported World’ there was an eyewitness account of the Ebola crisis in Africa. The programme came from Sierra Leone and was moving and concerning. The virus is highly contagious, so much so that medical workers have to protect themselves in total body protection. These are effective but scare the locals. Over 3,000 are known to have died and the disease is spreading. There is no known cure. Patients are isolated and treated with palliative care and given fluids etc in the hope that their immune system will overcome the disease. This works in some cases. 

Obama has at least sent a lot of troops to build urgently needed hospitals and similar facilities. Unless this disease is contained and eventually overcome it presents a real and present danger to our society. Far more so than the terrorist threat. It is a great sadness that the UK government can always find money for bombs and struggles to help those in our country who are in the greatest need. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

West Lothian Question and a venal PM

Moments after the result of the Scottish Referendum was announced, our deeply shallow (an oxymoron, but apposite) Prime Minister could have behaved like a statesman rather than a party political hack. He could have accepted the result and confirmed the pledge which had done enough to persuade 5/100 voters to change their minds. Matthew Norman, writing in the Independent, was singularly unimpressed. 

“What he told us, with the most venal political manoeuvre in memory, is that he loves leading his party more than he loves his country. “Beware of men who cry,” said Nora Ephron. “It’s true that men who cry are sensitive to and in touch with feelings, but the only feelings they tend to be sensitive to and in touch with are their own.” In this case, the feeling with which he was in touch was the fear of losing his job.
To ingratiate himself with Mr Redwood, Bernard Jenkin and other far-right brethren in the phalanx of Poor Little Englanders who might have sought to oust him for devolving more power to Scotland, he has wilfully and knowingly unleashed forces that will, if unchecked, render the Union a mirthless and meaningless joke.
Yet it is the petty partisanship of David Cameron that is so despicable. At a moment when decency demanded that he douse the post-referendum rancour and bring the Union together, he did the opposite. He disgraced himself and his office by seeking to yoke (albeit he has drawn back) the timetables for Scottish “home rule”  and English Votes For English Laws,  even though the former was a solemn promise and the latter had never been hinted at until then. (my emphasis)
He never fails to disappoint, this Prime Minister, with his smallness. He could have said that while the West Lothian question must be addressed, constitutional change on such an epic scale cannot be rushed; that this was a moment to celebrate the survival of the Union and a time to bring “our United Kingdom” together rather than entrench the divisions. Instead of being the statesman he affects to be, he dipped into his heir-to-Blair trust fund to pluck out the fool’s gold of short-term tactical gain.

Months of nationalistic bickering might leave Labour paralysed, and partially neutralise Ukip, to help him win next May. But it will leave the Scots asking themselves why they chickened out of ridding themselves of the English, and England more diminished than ever. If David Cameron is re-elected on a shrill platform of falsely imagined victimhood, poor little England indeed.”24/9/14

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Bombing our way to peace…..or not!

The political commentator on Channel 4 News had an interesting observation tonight. He gave the reason that the ‘Heir to Blair’ had delayed getting involved in the latest assault on the Middle East ‘because it would have reminded Scots of the Iraq War,’ so he preferred to get the Referendum out of the way first. How cynical is that?

Has anyone else noticed how the media are all in favour with a near unanimous view that we will be joining in after the Commons vote on Friday? Where are the voices representing the large mass of this country who are sick of war and the lies we are told? The vote to begin killing lots of people  will take place after MPs have looked duly solemn and mouthed sufficient platitudes. None of the slimy bastards will stand up and say something like this. “Mr Speaker, I am in favour of us bombing hell out of even more parts of Iraq because I have another nice little earner with a security company - who are a subdivision of a large arms manufacturer - and I, and they, will make lots of lovely money.” 

In a local council meeting people have to declare an interest. Doesn’t happen in Parliament. The worst recent example was over 200 MPs and Lords voting through the catastrophic Bill preparing the NHS for privatisation. Not one of them mentioned they had received big bucks from private medical companies. 

Why should our elite behave differently when it comes to killing people? 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Open letter to my MP Andrew Bingham re bombing

Andrew Bingham MP
20 Broad Walk
SK17 6JR
23rd September 2014.

Dear Mr Bingham,
Back in 2003, I was among the millions who marched against the Iraq War. We were ignored and chaos ensued. It was the worst foreign policy decision of my lifetime. Estimates vary - principally because the invaders did not deem counting dead Iraqis as necessary - but at least 500,000 were killed. Since then, things have gone from bad to worse in the region. 

There is something quite staggering about the aftermath of that debacle. One of the principal architects was the then PM, Tony Blair. The fact that he is the current ‘Middle East Peace Envoy’ beggars belief. If anything shows just how out of touch our political elite are, it is encapsulated in the appointment of a man who has done nothing to promote peace and everything to promote disharmony and war. 

The US troops were finally pulled out of Iraq three years ago. Now, thanks to their reaction to the egregious IS jihadists, the US are bombing again. Sadly, the government of which you are a member, are considering joining in, not just in Iraq, but also in the horrific mess that is Syria. I would urge you to consider the following serious questions.

How will bombing bring peace? For several years the US have launched drone attacks on Al Qaida suspects across Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan. For every confirmed ‘kill’ of a terrorist there are sometimes hundreds of innocent ‘collaterals’ who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The drone attacks have been a superb recruiting agent for Al Qaida and their ilk. A look at the current chaos in Libya shows just how counter-productive such action can be.  

What can we reasonably expect to be the outcome of a bombing campaign - and what are the dangers of it all going horribly wrong? 

Where do we stand legally? It is quite clear that the UN Security Council would not support such action. 

IS are an abomination who have taken a course of action guaranteed to provoke the west into action. The beheading of the hostages quite rightly caused outrage. Saudi Arabia has been beheading roughly 20 people a month, some for the most spurious of reasons to our eyes. Without any western outrage. The answer to IS is to attack their funding and their funders. Saudi (again)  has been identified as a principal backer of this group. Cut off their weapons and supplies, work with local forces to improve their effectiveness and massively increase aid to the poor sods who are the principal victims in this affair - the refugees and innocents in the way. Support Turkey and Jordan as they deal with hundreds of thousands of refugees. Above all, do not help their recruitment campaigns by providing them with thousands of vengeful young men. 

The Iraq War has produced a terrible situation. We should do all we can not to exacerbate the problems in the region. Bombing is not the answer. 

Please do not support the siren songs of the armchair generals. C.E. Montague was a war hero in the First World War. In 1922 he said “War hath no fury like a non-combatant.”

Millions of us were right to oppose the Iraq War. We also opposed the proposed Syrian intervention as you did last year. Please use your position to oppose this latest call to arms.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Privatisation of Schools

First they came for the NHS - Now they want the schools.

At the last General Election, 22% of the electorate were either daft enough, nasty enough or self-servingly greedy enough to vote Conservative. 

Barely 1 in 5 of those entitled to vote. 

In no way was this a mandate to privatise the juicier profitable parts of the NHS - especially as this was not in their manifesto. Neither was it a mandate to privatise the Royal Mail which has been done to the great financial benefit of their chums and backers in the City. Now they are turning their attention to schools. 

“The largest academy chain in the country is seeking to outsource all non-teaching posts in its 77 schools, from librarians to caretakers, to a for-profit organisation within the next month.
In a step that critics fear is a major step to putting profit-making at the heart of the state school system, the Academy Enterprise Trust has selected PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the world's largest auditors, with a specialism in tax accountancy, as a partner in the plan.
The controversial proposal, which AET admits is entirely new to academy trusts, is being reviewed by the government. AET wants to set up a limited liability partnership with PwC, which would be paid up to £400m of taxpayers' money over 10 years for its role.” Guardian 20/9/14
Someone calling themselves ‘defragmentation’ had this to say about the idea. 
“Brilliant--not. Having been involved in many outsourcing projects I can tell you they all follow more or less the same trajectory. Reduction of existing costs by employing newer, cheaper staff (some staff will be TUPEd but will get stuffed in the medium term). Management look good in the short term as they have reduced costs. Staff have no loyalty to school/organisation so will provide sub-standard service. Customers/parents/teachers start to notice that things aren't quite what they were. Management who made outsourcing decision move on to pastures new and no doubt more outsourcing projects. New management pick up the pieces. Decision is made to 'in source' i.e. to go back to the original situation. PWC pick up large consultancy fee for collaborating in crap decision making process essentially they tell their paymasters (what they want to hear).
Completely and utterly bonkers--every body involved in the process will know it is the wrong thing to do, they will know that quality should trump cost, they will know that staff will be demotivated, they will know that this is being done to make a few people look good-----but once the decision has been made they will continue regardless of the inevitable consequences.”

“The only thing that can happen here is that managers and shareholders enrich themselves by paying the people doing the jobs less than they were getting before, or by reducing the services given to pupils.
In the event the company gets into financial trouble, or is doing such a poor job that it becomes a media story, the local authority will have to step in and pick up the tab.
I guarantee that in 5 years time, librarians will be getting paid less, and the managers will be getting paid more. Happens every single bloody time.” DubaiTiger

“No doubt PwC will ensure a significant portion of AET's income suddenly, miraculously, becomes offshore for tax purposes…”HarryDecca


Friday, 19 September 2014

Referendum result - later the same day…..

Well that wheeze lasted barely 12 hours before unravelling. The hastily cobbled together “Broon Plan,” where a  series of toys and baubles were offered to the rebellious Scots to persuade them not to vote ‘Yes,’ has already unravelled. By 7-05 am Call Me Lucky was outside Downing Street mouthing platitudes undiscussed with the other members of the pact. 

By bringing up the West Lothian Question - a problem which has perplexed Parliament for many years - Call Me Lucky has put the Labour party in a corner. Pact ripped up. Blame game on the way - oh - there is also the small matter of the bitterest, nastiest general election ever on the horizon. 

All you nay sayers in Scotland are advised to batten down the hatches as angry yessers tell you were used as convenient doormats for the corporate elite. Some of you may well have been turned away from the path of Yes by Gordie McBroon’s impassioned speeches. 

If he succeeded in persuading just over 5 in every hundred to stay with the union then he swung the vote. On a false promise. Which will not be delivered. As he probably knew….

Ever been had? Well you have now. 


(to be sung to the tune ‘We’re in the money’

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Scottish Referendum and Solidarnosc

Scottish Referendum and Solidarnosc

Craig Murray has passionately supported the ‘Yes’ campaign. He has been going round Scotland these last few days speaking at many public meetings. As an ex-ambassador who fell out with the egregious Jack Straw over the UK’s collusion with torture, he has an insight into our establishment. He has posted several blogs on his site about the referendum and the way the media have covered it. Among them was this little nugget yesterday.

Wisdom From Poland
“A Polish gentleman told me something profound last night. He said he had for months been determined to vote No, because he thought the United Kingdom had welcomed him in. Then he started to notice something very important indeed.
He had supported Solidarnosc as a young man, and he had lived through the overwhelming barrage of state media propaganda against it. All the newspapers, radio and TV had broadcast for month after month that if Poland left the Soviet orbit the economy would be destroyed, trading links would be severed, everybody would lose their pensions and housing, they would be invaded, the currency would collapse. Democracy campaigners were branded as right wing nationalist thugs. The people had no access to a fair hearing on the media, and communities had to organise alternatively through social networks.
A few weeks ago he had suddenly realised that precisely the same thing was happening in Scotland that he had witnessed in Soviet controlled Poland. A monolithic and all-pervading media was pumping out the same propaganda on a permanent basis, and even the arguments they were making were precisely the same arguments the Soviets had made. He had suddenly realised that democracy in the UK was an illusion – the apparatchiks of the main political parties and the entire media, both state and private, in fact belonged to and promoted the same ruling establishment. Only the methodologies were different, and raw power slightly better hidden in the UK than in the old Soviet bloc. But the truth was of hard rich men wielding power, in both cases, and keeping the people down.”
Craig was clearly a busy man yesterday as he also posted another blog containing a remarkable rebuttal by Brian Docherty, Chairman of the Scottish Police Federation. This was in response to the discovery that 
“George Robertson has been designated by the Labour Party to lead a campaign to have a Yes vote nullified, on the grounds of campaign irregularities, intimidation and overspending. This has been agreed by Miliband’s office. One of the great advantages of being a small country like Scotland is that you very easily discover what is happening through family and social connections.
The media propaganda about “violent nationalists” is designed both to try to sway undecided voters to No (along with the disgraceful Gordon Brown “if you don’t know, vote No” slogan), and to provide ammunition to question the validity of the decision when they lose.
As I said, the great thing about a small country is it is very hard to keep secrets. People know what is happening, including the police. The Police Federation have put out a remarkable statement to contradict the media propaganda of violence and intimidation. Do not expect to see this featured prominently in the mainstream:
In response to increased press reports and comment implying increased crime and disorder as a consequence of the Independence Referendum Brian Docherty, Chairman of the Scottish Police Federation said;
“The Police Service of Scotland and the men and women who work in it should not be used as a political football at any time and especially so in these last few hours of the referendum campaign.
As I have previously stated the referendum debate has been robust but overwhelmingly good natured.
It was inevitable that the closer we came to the 18th of September passions would increase but that does not justify the exaggerated rhetoric that is being deployed with increased frequency. Any neutral observer could be led to believe Scotland is on the verge of societal disintegration yet nothing could be further from the truth.
Scotland’s citizens are overwhelmingly law abiding and tolerant and it is preposterous to imply that by placing a cross in a box, our citizens will suddenly abandon the personal virtues and values held dear to them all.
At this time it is more important than ever that individuals be they politicians, journalists or whoever should carefully consider their words, maintain level heads and act with respect. Respect is not demonstrated by suggesting a minority of mindless idiots are representative of anything. One of the many joys of this campaign has been how it has awakened political awareness across almost every single section of society. The success enjoyed by the many should not be sullied by the actions of the few.

Police officers must be kept free from the distractions of rhetoric better suited to the playground that the political stump. If crime has been committed it will be investigated and dealt with appropriately but quite simply police officers have better things to do than officiate in spats on social media and respond to baseless speculation of the potential for disorder on and following polling day”

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Apocalypse Now

As the end of the world draws nigh, be prepared to see the four horsemen of the apocalypse ride across the northern shires on their way to Scotland. Famine, Death, War and Conquest will be unleashed upon the rebellious Picts. Or so we are led to believe. 

How so?

The metropolitan media were slow to understand the depth of feeling in many parts of the UK and so crystallised in Scotland. It was taken for granted that the oiks would do as they were told and obediently put their mark on the ‘No’ side of the ballot. And then some ten days ago a single opinion poll gave the astonishing chance of a ‘Yes’ victory. 

Cue multiple visits to the bile and fear factory.

George Monbiot has selected some of the choicer offerings from our commentariat. 

“In the Spectator, Simon Heffer maintains that: “addicted to welfare ... Scots embraced the something for nothing society”, objecting to the poll tax “because many of them felt that paying taxes ought to be the responsibility of someone else”.
Here is the condescension with which the dominant classes have always treated those they regard as inferior: their serfs, the poor, the Irish, Africans, anyone with whom they disagree. “What spoilt, selfish, childlike fools those Scots are ... They simply don’t have a clue how lucky they are,” sneered Melanie Reid in the Times. Here is the chronic inability to distinguish between a cause and a person: the referendum is widely portrayed as a vote about Alex Salmond, who is then monstered beyond recognition (a Telegraph editorial compared him to Robert Mugabe).”Guardian 17/9/14
Monbiot also pointed out what a closed tight world these establishment lackeys occupy. 
“The problem with the media is exemplified by Dominic Lawson’s column for the Daily Mail last week. He began with Scotland, comparing the “threat” of independence with that presented by Hitler (the article was helpfully illustrated with a picture of the F├╝hrer – unaccompanied, in this case, by the Mail’s former proprietor). Then he turned to the momentous issue of how he almost wrote something inaccurate about David Attenborough, which was narrowly averted because “as it happens, last weekend we had staying with us another of the BBC’s great figures, its world affairs editor John Simpson”, who happily corrected Lawson’s mistake. This was just as well because “the next day I went to the Royal Albert Hall as one of a small number of guests invited by the Proms director for that night’s performance. And who should I see as soon as I entered the little room set aside for our group’s pre-concert drinks? Sir David Attenborough.”
Those who are supposed to hold power to account live in a rarefied, self-referential world of power, circulating among people as exalted as themselves, the “small number of guests” who receive the most charming invitations. That a senior journalist at the BBC should be the house guest of a columnist for the Daily Mail surprises me not one iota.
In June the BBC’s economics editor, Robert Peston, complained that BBC news “is completely obsessed by the agenda set by newspapers … If we think the Mail and Telegraph will lead with this, we should. It’s part of the culture.” This might help to explain why the BBC has attracted so many complaints of bias in favour of the no campaign.
Living within their tiny circle of light, most senior journalists seem unable to comprehend a desire for change. If they notice it at all, they perceive it as a mortal threat, comparable perhaps to Hitler. They know as little of the lives of the 64 million inhabiting the outer darkness as they do of the Andaman islanders. Yet, lecturing the poor from under the wisteria, they claim to speak for the nation.” ibid. 
It was not just the media who had a wobbly. The panic and desperate reaction from all three main parties exemplify precisely why they do not connect with the bulk of the people any more. They are seen as corporate whores who penalise the poor to help the rich. Mobilising captains of industry and high financiers to ratchet up the fear factor backfired on the sentient Scots. 

Whatever the outcome on Friday morning, we have had an emperors new clothes moment, showing up our political class as inadequate, out of touch and not fit for purpose.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Unemployment Scam

Fiddling the figures

Michael Wilshaw, the clownish head of Ofsted, launched an attack on the young unemployed because they do not dress properly or have little sense of time-keeping. Young people eh? Nothing like an overpaid, over-risen, over-publicised tosser for making sweeping generalisations about the victims of our biased economy. He says nothing about the employers who expect their young workers to work for nothing ('internships' ) or to be available at all hours on zero hours contracts which forbid the worker from seeking back up work elsewhere. 

Among the comments following the article was this statistic from the EU.
“It is still too high but youth unemployment in the UK (approx 20%) is actually below the EU average of approx 24%.” 
A commentator calling themselves CocotheClown produced this breakdown of how the figures are arrived at. 
All UK unemployment statistics are blatantly fiddled to look better than they actually are ... There are other Eurostat statistics that measure the low % number of hours worked (as a ratio of hours available) .. in which the UK usually ranks very near the bottom in the EU, alongside industrial power economies like Bulgaria. In particular we rank by far the worst in households with under 18 year olds that are in severe penury due to low access to work hours (12%).
Our numbers treat only in terms of whole people head counts.. if you get a few hours work, you are not unemployed. Most other EU statistics departments ridicule the UK figures that ONS put out ... the EU measure more in terms of whole weeks equivalent unemployed as a % of all people capable of work.
The UK start out by classifying 7 million plus as economically inactive if they haven't actually applied for work in the last few weeks.... (apart from full time students, carers, and long term disabled) so we have three classes.. employed full or part time or unpaid, inactive, 100% unemployed ... whereas others measure employed hours divided by 37, deducted from total work age pool headcount, the rest, who are then counted as unemployed
In 2012 a report from Eurostat reckoned that the UK had very high real unemployment, including all the hidden stuff, almost as bad as the very worst ...Greece, Romania and Bulgaria.(30% plus).. and a very similar % to Spain and Italy (24%). We report 6% to 7% !
Raising school leaving age by two years at a stroke removed about 1 million formerly counted as unemployed.
Disabled unemployed are not counted at all, with the younger age groups mental health disability is very high. Older disabled people tend to eventually get enough experience and training to get work, albeit at low hourly rate.
Those on pretend apprenticeships, which are often a two days a week course for six months, in something useless, or even playing football, are not counted.
Those staying on in education up to their twenties to get access to cheap meals, families too wealthy to get means tested JSA, constantly applying for jobs, and willing and able to start work tomorrow, are not counted.
Many seasonal workers such as summer fairs used to count as unemployed in Winter, now are treated as employed all year, but claiming Working Tax Credit. Those tempted to become vanity self-employed, but have maybe 16 hours a week involvement in work connected activities, but on average only 3 hours paid employment are not counted
Agency temps, working maybe 12 hours a week on average are not counted.
Single mothers available for work, who now have a child old enough to be child minded are not counted.
Interns and charity volunteers on zero pay work experience are not counted.
Those on zero hour contracts are not counted.
Many jobs are split between two people, 18 hours a week ... both count as employed.

If Theresa May gets to be Tory leader she is going to have a hard time defending this interview ...
Evening Standard March 2010 (Just before 2010 election)
Just eight countries of the EU's 27 member states have a worse rate of male unemployment than Britain, a study has showed.
Only Estonia, Latvia, Italy, Austria and Poland had higher rates of economic inactivity, and Britain's total — which the CIPD said showed the number of jobless who are missed in official figures — accounted for one in seven of Europe's entire figure.
Shadow Work and Pensions secretary Theresa May today accused the Government of failing to tackle the issue of hidden unemployment.
She said it would miss its target of getting one million people off incapacity benefit by 2015 by 700,000.
"There are 2.3 million people in this country who want to work who are not in work and who are not counted in the unemployment figures," she said.” CocotheClown

Like so many politicians, Theresa May knew then what was going on and has done nothing whatsoever to change the situation once in power. The coalition has made things worse. Labour, to their shame, cannot make too much fuss, because they were at it too. 


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Gordon Brown - Saviour of the Union

Complacent, smug and stupid, the Better Together campaign which has been run on a diet of fear and paternalistic ‘there, there my pretties, you go a worryin’ your fluffy little heads over these matters - just leave it to us experienced world statesmen to handle everything.' Which ignores the establishment's record in bringing the country to its knees. Unless, of course, if you are rich. 
The poll showing a slight lead for ‘Yes’ shattered the complacency and replaced it with panic. Send for Gordon ‘son of the Manse’ Broon. Not everyone is convinced.
“So now Better Together has brought in Gordon Brown, scattering bribes in a desperate, last-ditch effort at containment. They must hope the Scots have forgotten that he boasted of setting “the lowest rate in the history of British corporation tax, the lowest rate of any major country in Europe and the lowest rate of any major industrialised country anywhere”. That he pledged to the City of London “in budget after budget, I want us to do even more to encourage the risk takers”. That, after 13 years of Labour government, the UK had higher levels of inequality than after 18 years of Tory government. That his government colluded in kidnapping and torture. That he helped cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands through his support for the illegal war on Iraq.
He roams through Scotland, still badged with blood, promising what he never delivered when he had the chance, this man who helped unravel the social safety net his predecessors wove; who marketised and dismembered public services; who enriched the wealthy and shafted the poor; who pledged money for Trident but failed to reverse the loss of social housing; whose private finance initiative planted a series of timebombs now exploding throughout the NHS and other public services; who greased and wheedled and slavered his way into the company of bankers and oligarchs while trampling over the working people he was elected to represent. This is the progressive Prester John who will ride to the rescue of the no campaign?
Where, in Scotland’s Labour party, are the Keir Hardies and Jimmy Reids of our time? Where is the vision, the inspiration, the hope? The shuffling, spineless little men who replaced these titans offer nothing but fear. Through fear, they seek to shove Scotland back into its box, as its people rebel against the dreary, closed future mapped out for them – and the rest of us – by the three main Westminster parties.” Monbiot, Guardian 10/9/14
Some saviour eh!
Today the ‘Three Amigos’ head north to shore up a faltering campaign. What an uninspirational trio of lightweight cyborgs in suits. They dare not make one false move so the whole thing will be choreographed to within an inch of its life. No chance of genuine engagement - a series of photo opportunities - hopefully avoiding Milibeans bacon butty fiasco. 
The paucity of talent on show representing our governance and which has been responsible for so much that is wrong with our society, it is little wonder that so many Scots are heading for the exit.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

F that - What About The Royal Baby!

Latest polls show Scotland could vote for independence next week…….. ………..FUCK THAT — WHAT ABOUT THE ROYAL BABY?    (FT – WATRB)

England win a football match…….. FT – WATRB?

Freedom of Information request confirms Crosby lied about lobbying against plain packaging on cigs…… FT – WATRB?

Blatter confirms he will stand again as FIFA boss despite previously saying he wouldn’t………. FT – WATRB?

Strange respiratory disease affecting hundreds of children in US …….. ……FT – WATRB?

Ebola virus set to spread rapidly says World Health boss…… FT – WATRB?

Chaotic, cruel and un-monitored badger cull re-starts in Somerset and Gloucester…… FT – WATRB?

Back in March ……Parliamentary Labour Party voted for the Coalition government's benefits spending cap. Not just any cap, or even the principle of a cap, but George Osborne's precise, £119.5 billion punitive limit covering most things save pensions and Jobseeker's Allowance. Only 13 Labour MPs refused to follow their leadership.
Ed Miliband took this course despite warnings from Save the Children and others that the £3bn in "savings" sought by Osborne would throw 345,000 children into poverty over the space of four years.  …………FT — WATRB?
Ukraine - ISIS - Syria - Returning Jihadists…........ FT — WATRB?

Independence debate latest - news of royal pregnancy puts ‘bootees on the ground’ …….. FT — WATRB  ………...Oh!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Transfer Deadline Day


The annual feeding frenzy continued yesterday. A time when rational human beings leave their brains at the door and contribute to a collective madness. £835 million has been spent in the UK on summer transfer deals culminating in the dash for cash last night. We are told that Falcao, the latest saviour of the mighty reds, will be paid nearly £300,000 per week. Ex-pros and chicken-bone analysts debate whether his signing will be enough to restore United to their former glory. No-one – and this takes some believing – no-one has the bottle or nous to stand back and simply ask whether or not this is a wise use of money in an austerity strapped country. Grass-roots football is struggling as we become more and more a nation of watchers and drinkers. 

Facilities at local level are so much poorer than their equivalent on the continent. As the base of the pyramid shrinks so the pinnacle gets smaller. We are told that fans in this country care much more for their club team than the national side. This contrasts with current world cup winners Germany, whose fans put the national team first. Fans here are also concerned at the price they are being asked to pay to watch a Premiership match. There have been marches and demonstrations complaining about being ripped off. Again, the comparison with Germany is instructive. Ticket prices are strictly controlled with attendances for the Bundesliga being on average significantly higher than the Premiership. Any suggestion of price rises in Germany are met with organised resistance. A boycott of two or three matches would quickly bring sense to the oligarchs and money-launderers who run big football.

The crazy money swilling about in the Premiership has produced a product based around greed. The days when Derby County, Aston Villa, Notts Forest could even dream of winning the title are long gone. Four teams have won the Premiership. City won the title last year with one regular England player in the team and another couple in the squad. Everything about our football is short-term. And nothing reflects that position better than the transfer deadline. Will Wenger buy a replacement for an injured star striker? Yes. Will Harry do his usual and bring in several old lags to boost his squad? Yes. Will Chelsea continue to farm out lots of players to other clubs on loan? Yes - 23 are out on loan to rival clubs. Think about that a while. Anyone for fairness or probity? 

As the numbers using food banks continue to rise, will any more highly paid footballers follow in Steven Naismith’s footsteps? He is the Everton player who has paid for 4 season tickets to be used by unemployed supporters at Everton. Hats off to him. 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Mark Simmonds - another rotten MP.

There were some sheltered souls who, when they first heard of the resignation of another Minister from the Foreign Office, felt that 'principle' had been involved. It soon became clear that was a long way from the actuality.

‘Resigning minister Mark Simmonds ‘earnt' 417 pounds an hour for his “consultancy” work for Circle Healthcare, a group looking to profit from the massive privatisation of NHS services and functions. He had to give it up during his time as Minister, but presumably can now go back to it. Simmonds gets 50,000 a year from Circle, broken down into 12,500 payments once a quarter, for ten hours a month. That is 417 pounds an hour.
This is blatant corruption. Simmonds has no great expertise worth that money, it is simply that the private healthcare industry is buying the MPs who will vote to privatise areas of the NHS to them. New Labour are just as bad as the Tories. Alistair Darling received 12,000 pounds for one after dinner speech to Cinven Ltd, a firm which does nothing but benefit from privatisation of NHS services. Was it because Alistair Darling is just the entertainment people want after a good dinner? No, they were buying his vote. New Labour and Tory MPs are both up to their eyeballs in NHS privatisation money….
…..Simmonds has come into the spotlight by resigning on the pretext that his total salary and expenses as an MP in 2012-13 of 271,000 pounds – including a 25,000 for his “secretary” wife and 32,500 in rental allowance – were not enough for him to be able to live a family life in London. This man voted for the benefit cap that limits the total income of families on benefits to 26,000 pounds – that is under ten per cent of the amount which is inadequate for his family to live on. These bastards really do live in another world.’ Craig Murray blog.
Compare and contrast with the following:
‘This weekend, a group of Mums from Darlington will begin a March from Jarrow to Parliament, to send a message of outrage at the attacks this Government are making to our National Health Service.
Over three weeks, joined by other campaigners on the way, they’ll march more than 300 miles – because they, like so many of us, believe that our NHS is precious, and that we have to fight for it……
…..One of those supporting the People's March is Labour MP Clive Efford. This Autumn, he's putting forward a Bill in Parliament to stop the sell off, and give us our health service back.  
David Cameron is selling off our NHS, piece by piece and we're all paying the price. It’s getting harder to see a GP, staff have been cut and waiting lists are going up.

Add your name to back the Bill to put public health - not private profit - back at the heart of our NHS.’ NHS Condition Critical Campaign

Monday, 11 August 2014

Craig Murray exposes the Guardian as stooges

“On 2 August the Guardian published a piece by Jamie Doward and Ian Cobain which, on the face of it, exposed the British Foreign Office for lobbying against the publication of the US Senate report on extraordinary rendition, lest details of British complicity become public.
On the face of it, a worthy piece of journalism exposing deeply shady government behaviour.
Except that I had published precisely the same story a full 15 weeks earlier, on April 14 2014, having been urgently contacted by a whistleblower.
What is more, immediately I heard from the whistleblower I made several urgent phone calls to Ian Cobain. He neither took nor returned my calls. I therefore left detailed messages, referring to the story which I had now published on my website.
In fact, the Guardian only published this story after William Hague had written to Reprieve to confirm that this lobbying had happened. In other words the Guardian published only after disclosure had been authorised by Government.
Furthermore, in publishing the government authorised story, the Guardian omitted the absolutely key point – that the purpose of the UK lobbying was to affect court cases under way and in prospect in the UK. Both in civil cases of compensation for victims, and in potential criminal cases for complicity in torture against Blair, Straw et al, British judges have (disgracefully) accepted the argument that evidence of the torture cannot be used because the American do not want it revealed, and may curtail future intelligence sharing. Obviously, if the Americans publish the material themselves, this defence falls.
As this defence is the major factor keeping Blair, Straw and numerous still senior civil servants out of the dock, this sparked the crucial British lobbying to suppress the Feinstein report – which has indeed succeeded in causing a huge amount of redaction by the White House.
My mole was absolutely adamant this was what was happening, and it is what I published. Yet Cobain in publishing the government authorised version does not refer to the impact on trials at all – despite the fact that this was 100% the subject of the letter from Reprieve to which Hague was replying, and that the letter from Reprieve mentioned me and my blog by name.
Instead of giving the true story, the government authorised version published by Cobain misdirects the entire subject towards Diego Garcia. The truth is that Diego Garcia is pretty incidental in the whole rendition story. On UK soil there was actually a great deal more done at Wick airport (yes, I do mean Wick, not Prestwick). That is something the government is still keeping tight closed, so don’t expect a mention from Cobain.”
Here is Craig Murray's earlier blog comment from April 15th:
“From a British diplomatic source I learn that Britain has lobbied the United States against the publication of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture and extraordinary rendition.  The lobbying has been carried out “at all levels” – White House, State Department and CIA.  The British have argued that at the very least the report must be emasculated before publication.
The British argument is that in a number of court cases including the Belhadj case, the British government has successfully blocked legal action by victims on the grounds that this would weaken the US/UK intelligence relationship and thus vitally damage national security, by revealing facts the American intelligence service wish hidden.  [We will leave aside for the moment the utter shame of our servile groveling judges accepting such an argument].  The British Government are now pointing out to the Americans that this argument could be fatally weakened if major detail of the full horror and scope of torture and extraordinary rendition is revealed by the Senate Intelligence Committee.  The argument runs that this could in turn lead to further revelations in the courts and block the major defence against prosecutions of Blair, Straw and Dearlove, among others, potentially unleashing a transatlantic wave of judicial activism.
The unabashed collusion of two torturing security states in concealing the truth of their despicable acts – including complicity in the torture of women and minors – and blocking criminal prosecution of the guilty is a sign of how low public ethics have sunk.  Fortunately there are still a few people in the British Foreign Office disgusted enough to leak it.”

There are no depths to which our despicable government (of all colours) will not sink. 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Israel and Anti-Semitism

Hadley Freeman wrote an article in the Guardian explaining how she felt under pressure to denounce the actions of Israel in Gaza. She roused a fair few hackles, including this from Craig Murray.
Israel is a state openly founded on racist and theocratic grounds, in which Jews have an absolute right to live in Israel, wherever in the world they were born and their families have been for centuries, and nobody else does. The unfortunate pre-1946 occupants of the land have been mostly driven out into refugee camps, including in Gaza, while religiously motivated settlers continue apace to grab the best Palestinian land and water. The state does this for them precisely and explicitly because they are Jewish. Those non-Jews who remained in Israel proper are subject to a whole raft of apartheid style legislation, even governing whom they may marry, and the quantity of this legislation is increasing. 140 Israeli laws specify treatment by race.
Israel is as a state entirely based and run on a racist premise. Its very foundation is racist. But while the Israeli state may steal land specifically for Jews, make provision for Jews, and make life difficult for non-Jews, anybody else who mentions Jews in the context of Israeli behaviour is a vicious racist and anti-Semite. This warped and ludicrous logic is enforced by political orthodoxy and the mainstream media.
It is as though, in opposing apartheid, it was taboo to mention it had been invented for the benefit of white people.”
Murray concluded:
“You are right, Hadley. Just because you are Jewish does not mean you should be under special pressure to condemn Israel’s actions. But if you take it upon yourself to write a long article on the subject, we are entitled to expect you – as a human being – to condemn the massacre. And as in the article you write about nothing but your own angst and the evils of anti-Semitism, and manage not a single word of sympathy or regret for the victims of the terrible massacre in Gaza, we are entitled to form our own opinion.
And my opinion is that you are a wholly self-centred and self-regarding little person with an abject lack of moral perspective, who seems to think the murder of 1500 people is about the impact on your feelings.”

It is deeply sad that the very people who experienced the worst persecution at the hands of the Nazis seem incapable of recognising Israel's behaviour in wiping out women and children in Gaza as a war crime. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Cash for Corruption

Judge them by what they do (continued)....

We are told that we have the ‘Mother of all Parliaments’ and that a revising second chamber is an essential part of the democratic process. So how come peerages are given by party leaders to people who have given their party lots of money? In what way is any of this ‘democratic?’ 

Folks who think this is trivial should cast their minds back to when the egregious Health Service Act passed through both houses with the open support of over 200 members of the Commons and the Lords who were on the private medicine payroll. They did not have to declare an interest and withdraw. Oh no. They got to reward their paymasters by voting through measures which will adversely affect the bulk of the populace. 

There is more, much more. A little taste……

Osborne rewarded hedge fund Tory donors with  £145million of tax cuts. Not bad for a £4million donation. 

Cameron hosts secret parties of oligarchs and tax avoiders to stump up cash for his corrupt party. 
At these dinners the tax avoiders sit alongside the men responsible for tax and deregulation - Gauke and Fallon. 

Cable chooses a bunch of sharks to help him flog off the Royal Mail and is ‘surprised’ when they break their word and rip-off the country. 

Our system is deeply corrupt and rotten at the top. Give the masses celeb game shows and let them snooze on while national assets are plundered. 

“Is this what Cameron meant by 'transparency'? They don't even bother to hide it anymore, when so many people with vested interests in private healthcare are allowed to march through the lobbies to vote to enrich themselves, when people who donate billions are openly rewarded with peerages, then they've given up the pretence, our system is openly corrupt.Sickbag commenting online Guardian.