Archive for February, 2012

Tories trying to woo underclass?

February 29, 2012

One of the charges aimed at Labour, by the Conservatives, was that they had created an underclass, in order to keep themselves in power.

It would seem that The Conservatives are now trying to adopt the same tactics, despite the fact that the majority of those people, operating at the point of delivery, will be Labour supporters and the majority of recipients will also be Labour supporters (through historical association).

This is, therefore, a doomed and counter-productive policy.

The freezing of pay, along with wholesale redundancies in the public sector, whilst simultaneously raising benefit payments will not increase the Tory voter base.

The Conservatives seem intent on self-destruction, alienating working women (child support) and commuters (fuel surcharges/rail pricing) by their various cost-cutting and revenue-raising schemes.

There does not seem to be a coherent, inter-departmental strategy in place. Policies being enacted seem fine, when considered in isolation but seem crass when taken as part of an overall lack of strategy.

The one theme, maintained throughout the last election, was that of the “poverty trap”. I.e. if your income is a few pound over a set level, you do not qualify for benefits.

However, if you do qualify for benefits then you are automatically in line for:

exemption from Income Tax,

NHS prescriptions

NHS dental treatment

NHS sight tests

NHS wigs and fabric supports

You and you partner also get: a voucher towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses

refunds of necessary travel costs to receive NHS treatment.  (This also applies to any dependent children, or young people under 20, included in your Income Support claim.)

Housing and council tax benefit

legal aid

Vocational funding

Council “leisure savings etc.”

waste disposal concessions.

There are no doubt other concessions, depending on locale, such as local charitable groups and the dispositions of local merchants.

In a sense, you are even immune to the Law, since Gov’t has come to rely increasingly heavily on fines, which can’t really be extracted from someone on benefits.

Recently, these “concessions” have been extended, because of the present Gov’t’s wish to appear socially aware.

I.e. energy saving grants, Social tariffs, for fuel and, soon, for water etc. While, the Post Office has now announced cheaper postage for those on benefits.

I have no problem with providing extra help for those in need but this deepening of the “Poverty Trap” by all political parties seems to be aimed at destabilising Society and alienating anyone with any measure of a work ethic, at the bottom end of the Social ladder.

One might even believe that there was a degree of social engineering going on, to re-establish the Them and Us culture of Victorian Britain.

‘Twas ever thus from ungrateful Rulers towards the soldiery.

February 28, 2012

A straight copy from The Daily Express’s John Ingham and a bit of Kipling:

DEFENCE chiefs came under. fire yesterday over plans to strip married soldiers of the, right to military accommodation. They were also criticised for refusing to review the way they help the families of personnel lost in action. The criticisms come amid swingeing cuts in the Armed Forces after overspending by Labour left a £38billion :black hole in the a” Ministry of Defence budget. The MoD is close to balancing its books but further cuts are under way, particularly in the Army where regiments will merge.

The MoD is considering plans to end a right to married quarters for soldiers with eight to 10 years’ service. The move is on the table despite the Army Families Federation having described service accommodation a “staunch pillar” of the Military Covenant which David’ Cameron has pledged to safeguard. Former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, said yesterday: “I am horrified by this suggestion. It is an erosion of the safety net for military personnel. Soldiers are on very low wages… but that has in part been compensated for in the past by benefits such a school allowances, private medical care and military housing.” The MoD said no decision had been made on married quarters and changes were not likely before 2020. Personnel could be given money to help them get a foot on the property ladder. A spokesman said any option “would maintain the importance of publicly-provided accommodation”. MPs on the defence select committee also said, they were disappointed by the Government’s refusal to review support for bereaved families. Chairman James Arbuthnot said: “The medical care provided to injured personnel is excellent. “However, we are disappointed that the MoD does not intend to review its support to the families of deployed and injured personnel.” The MoD said: “We have taken action to enhance the care and support given as lessons are identified.” (translation: “bugger off. we’ll do what we have to, only when we have to”)

On the lines of “The Labourer is worthy of his hire”, the last line from Kipling’s “Tommy Atkins”

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all: We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational. Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!” But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot; An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please; An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

‘Twas ever thus. Elizabeth I, “Good Queen Bess”, is always lauded, even in Hollywood screenplays.

Trivialities, such as how the “common” sailors, who fought off the Spanish Armada were turned loose to die in poverty, many of starvation, don’t get mentioned much.

 

@number10gov Business needs to watch Channel 4’s “undercover boss”

February 28, 2012

Just finished watching “Undercover Boss” on Channel 4.

A lot more relevant than the the US progenitor, which reflects a culture of boss subservience and thankfulness for rich man’s scraps.

Boss appeared to be public school type (may not have been), who had stepped straight into management, without working at shopfloor level.

He was shocked by some of what he found but was at least open-minded and without any prejudice’s that one expects from public school culture.

He learned lessons and applied them to what was a badly managed concern.

First comment is that as a graduate recruit myself, I think the use of Graduate’s without life experience has caused a lot of the problems within British management today.

I can excuse myself from this criticism, as I held numerous part-time jobs whilst a school-boy and my degree was a thick sandwich (I.e. 3 x 6-month periods in different Industries).

But look at our political leaders as examples of this public (for our US readers a public school is actually a private, fee-paying school) school to Oxford to intern to top job.

They have grand idea’s and concentrate on the World stage, without having any appreciation of how things work, or, more importantly, how badly things can be mismanaged.

Big lesson is “insist that all graduates prove that they have worked at lowest levels (hands-on) within a company/s, for at least two years”.

The second point I took note of was that the one success was where the lady in charge of the cleaners had taken it on herself to pay twice the minimum wage. This produced greater dedication by the staff but not just because of the money but because it showed that they were prized by management. That they weren’t just ciphers for a bunch of suits, somewhere in London. A subsidiary aspect was that to pay these wages, the manageress had cut the number of inspectors, showing that not only was micro-management not needed but that the trust shown was also valued and returned by the staff.

Sir Keith Joseph’s philosophy of carrots for management and the stick for the workers, has poisoned British Society and The ethics of its Business’s, for too long. I wish a few more would take these programs on board.

A last comment. My Dad always told me that a good workman looks after his tools, undercover boss didn’t learn this until he checked his tool box.

For management, your employee’s are your tools.

Apply some soft soap to the teeth of your saw and you won’t have push so hard.

Apply some oil to your chisel edges and they’re less likely to rust, or need a hammer to drive them.

If you’re a graduate, you’re supposed to have brains and imagination, use them.

Life lessons from My Dad.

February 28, 2012

My father, a time served cabinet-maker and a Shop-steward left me with some epigrams that have stuck with me.

A job worth doing, is worth doing well

The Labourer is worthy of his hire

A good workman looks after his tools.

A bad workman blames his tools

Following on from a previous blog, I would offer these thoughts to Management.

People are the tools you work with. Look after them, treat them with respect and they’ll provide good service.

This is a lesson from biblical times.

The phrase that “the labourer is worthy of his hire” means more than just paying minimum wage for maximum abuse.

Try a sabbatical, working at shop floor level, to see why your business is declining

@number10gov Business and Gov’t squandered North Sea Oil revenue. what will they do with Shale gas?

February 28, 2012

Extract from Fullermoney newsletter:

Shale gas most certainly is a ‘game changer’, evidenced by a cost for natural gas in the US which is approximately one-quarter of European prices. Moreover, shale gas is extremely plentiful as Martin Wolf also points out. So are reserves of shale oil which is also recovered by similar fracking techniques. ”

Like it, or not, Shale gas looks critical for the future of The World.

We had a chance in Britain to exploit North Sea Oil to lay in alternative energy schemes against the day that North Sea Oil was depleted. The Businesses, beloved by David Cameron, and his Tory (I include Tony) predecessors, squandered that opportunity filling their boots and posturing on the world stage.

Shale gas offers them a second chance to get things right but I doubt that they will.

The 1% consists of too many greedy, or  sociopathic, or just plain thick individuals, who with their political puppets, will just squander this new bounty.

If World leaders want a bright future pout the money, spent at Cern, into fusion power research. Both J.E.T and U.S. Laser ignition. (I, personally think last offers best option.)

@Daily_Express why we can’t implement laws as fast as The Greeks.

February 26, 2012

Crossbencher in The Sunday Express comments on how Greece, despite its woe’s has managed to legislate against the use of circus animals but we seem incapable of doing the same.

He forgets that it is easy for the Greeks. They say “no circus animals” andthe the police take the offenders to court.

We would have to first set up a select committee to consider the problem.

Then we’d need to draw up legislation.

Find time for a debate.

Design a Quango to oversee the implementation.

Find suitable premises in the heart of London.

Chose a suitable placeman to pocket the director’s salary, (£300k, at least).

Advertise for and appoint an inspectorate. Design and implement a system of licensing.

Decide on a suitable means of castigating offenders. I.e. calculate a level of fine that would be commercially sustainable.

Finally, we’d have to find out if there were any circuses in the country.

@number10gov Stephen Hester attempts to justify bonus culture in Andrew Marr propaganda piece

February 26, 2012

Hester (he of the RBS farce) was trotted out on the Andrew Marr show, to justify the bonus culture.

He sounded like a nice, reasonable guy but he must be thick if he genuinely believes that his incentives are comparable to the bonuses issued to car dealers.

Starting from from point of a bonus (Latin: means “good”) being meant to reflect that the recipient is being rewarded for doing something which has benefitted the company, above and beyond their basic pay.

Car dealers get a low basic pay, even if they are the best in the Land. They rely on their bonuses to make a decent living.

Bankers get paid an exceptionally high basic, because they have been deemed by someone as being exceptionally able.

But a car dealer has to be good at making money. He gets a percentage of the profit from each sale.

A banker gets a bonus, which may be more than his basic salary, even if he sells services at below cost price. I.e. even if he loses his employer’s money.

If a car dealer sold a car at less than cost, he would not only be sacked, he might well be sued.

To be fair to Hester, he did promise that the Tax-payer would get back the full amount that was paid for this millstone around our collective necks.

But can we believe him?  Is he duplicitous as any politician? Is he naive? Or, is he a(n) honest man, who will prove that he, at least was deserving of his “bonus”?

The sale of Northern Rock to Virgin at a huge loss doesn’t inspire confidence.

The stated hope, by Robert Peston, that ” taxpayers’ 82% stake in the bank can be privatised at something more than 51p per share we paid for it” suggests that this is the view being aired in Government circles (probably licking their lips, whilst voicing it). Again, not very encouraging.

TV-AM destroyed Breakfast News programs

February 26, 2012

TV-AM destroyed Breakfast News  programs.

There’s no doubt that TV-Am did brighten up the breakfast news, especially with the likes of a young Anne Diamond to focus on.

Unfortunately, Producers always go dashing off after the latest “View, Halloo”.

We are now left with quarter hour repeats of the same desolate souls standing alongside some dreary by-pass, the same dreary politician trotting out the latest bit of Government propaganda (BBC, mainly), the same brief newsdesk, all held together by mixed couples trying to sound bright and cheery and eagerly interested in some saddo, trying to plug a book, their latest release, a new BBC series, a deserving cause etc.

O.K. I get it. It’s a magazine format trying to disguise the fact that there’s only so much News available. But, really! Do I have to suffer through a seemingly endless conveyor belt of how gushingly, wonderfully, brave someone has been?

I’d rather watch the Potter’s wheel.

The whole idea is that people, dashing off to join the 1 hour crush journey to work want a quick up-date on what’s going on in the world, particularly at the local level. E.g. should I leave earlier, change my route, stay at home.

In between, chewing at some toast whilst putting on their coat, then a little light music or some other undemanding distraction might be worthwhile.

The need to cater for those not trying to dash out the door, no longer exists. Those staying at home, now have other TV channels to entertain them, if, for some reason, they have had to get up that early. They can even watch that soap episode that they missed the previous night.

A new format please.

@LevesonInquiry. License the editors through panel of journalists.

February 26, 2012

Watching The Andrew Marr show this morning, I was slapped in the face by a truth, which I consider to be a major ill in Society:  One, which might be easily cured.

Kate Adie and Kelvin McKenzie were discussing the deployment of journalists in danger zones such as Homs(Syria).

Both agreed that the recent deaths were detracting from the real story of the atrocities. Kate Adie made the valid point that despots were seeing the significance of media coverage and were therefore, targetting journalists.

Kelvin McKenzie seemed to suddenly see a Gordian knot moment and declared that we didn’t need to send in these journalists. We should just give locals, some decent video gear and rely on them.

He figuratively leaned back to receive the plaudits for this gem of wisdom, much as any blogger or bar room pundit might, only to have his moment of glory ripped away by Kate Adie’s quiet and reasonable insertion of the unpleasant truth that the locals could not be relied on.

As Kelvin M began to mount a blustering rebuttal, he was caught amidships by the revelation that one piece of video footage that had been received had turned out to be 20 years old scenes from Beirut.

If Marr hadn’t quickly changed topic, we’d have had to witness K.M go into melt down, the way only an ex-Editor of The Sun could.

The main point that I gleaned from this little interaction was a clue to what has gone wrong with British Journalism… ……………Murdoch.

When Murdoch took over The Sun, he took the stance that he would cater for the bar-room pundits and appointed editors, who had the same mentality. I.e. people quick to see a sensationalist angle on any story and run with it.

Running with it, as hard as he could, using chequebook and Press Power to bludgeon down opposition.

After all the greater the controversy, the greater the sales and the greater the profit.

Unfortunately, in doing this, Murdoch dragged much of Fleet Street along with him.

If you want a more balanced view of the News, you had to go to the Broadsheets.

The problem with the broadsheets and with the tabloid versions that have sprung out of them, is that they are written by the intellectuals and the pseudo-intellectuals.

They are dry, dreary, full of reviews (books, restaurants, plays, ballets, opera, business deals) and managed by the sort of people, who, I would imagine. would tut at you for eating a pie, in public.

The nearest that we have to newspapers for the general public are two right-wing rags, despised (supposedly) by most stand-up comics.

I read The Daily Express, despite its “we’re not racist but here’s another story about……” and front page stories that alternate between the bewailings of Cassandra and stories of mawkish sentimentality.  In fact I was put onto it by my father, a strong Trade Unionist, who would immediately turn to the racing pages.His main reason for purchasing it.

The old red banners (pre-Murdoch) might have carried attention grabbing headlines but they would have been overseen by an editor with an eye to truth and integrity.

Instead of a Press complaints Commission, try licensing The Editors, on a three year basis.

Force the likes of Murdoch to try and hire an editor, who only wants a three-year long career.

Perhaps the likes of Kate Adie might be prepared to become editor of a tabloid, or at least sit on the Licensing Committee made up of experienced and respected journalists, with proven credentials.

 

#occupy. maintain the momentum, by advertising even minor victories.

February 24, 2012

One respondent on Taxtherich (on facebook) mentioned how some workers had changed their management’s decision in favour of their protest.

This caused me to think that there should be some way to keep posting any little local successes, or even larger scale minor successes.

The point being that if people only see protest and a failure to cause change, then Occupy etc. will lose headway, as people turn to thoughts of “eat, drink and be merry….”.

Apathy is what Gov’t’s rely on.

Apathy is why we have a two (three?) party system, with only 25% of the electorate bothering to vote.

We need to give people hope that things can change.

We need to do that before the situation becomes so bad that we face the oppression being meted out to the Greeks.

The tighter the noose placed on the Demos, the more explosive the final revolt against it.

We escaped the worst excesses, because our revolt came in the 1600’s.

The excesses in France lasted longer and, so, grew worse, culminating in “The Terrors”

Russia didn’t do too well, nor did China.

The rise of Hitler, in Post-War Germany, was a consequence of France doing to Germany, what both are now doing to Greece. It is happening now in N. Africa, not because of Islamic fundamentalism but because of external and internal exploitation.

If we wish to create a peaceful world for our children, we must restrain the corruption permeating our political system and those members of the 1%, who are corrupting them.

Protests about the  Tory version of Workfare have caused quite a few firms to withdraw and offer their own fairer conditions. Protests about bonuses to RBS chief have caused him to surrender his bonus, although Cameron has come out swinging at protestors, complaining of an anti-business culture, this has rebounded on him to an extent, because of RBS bonus payments (http://news.sky.com/home/business/article/16175452) .

Keep advertising even the smallest successes; because it’s a certainty that the Media and, through it, The Government will want to play down any increase in Democracy.