Friday, October 29, 2010

Cameron's 'Extravagant' Arrogance Needs Cuts

In politics, there is a very fine line between arrogance and leadership and today, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, came close to proving my point.

He has told opponents of his coalition’s housing benefits caps to “think again” describing the benefits as “extravagant”

He also said:

"Paying over £20,000 a year for the housing benefit of some families is too high. I do not think taxpayers who pay their taxes will understand why we are being so extravagant,"

(I note, however, he failed to mention those in his cabinet who take measures to avoid paying their taxes)


"There are many people who earn less than £20,000 - their whole income is less than £20,000 - who are paying taxes to house people who are getting rents of £25,000, £30,000, £35,000, £40,000. They don't see that as fair and neither do I."

However, it seems he has completely missed a very large point.

Many families, particularly in parts of London, have been living in the same accommodation for many years. They originally moved into areas that, at the time, were seen as being deprived and populated by low income communities.

As the economy has grown over the years, many of those areas have been developed becoming ‘trendy’ with the wealthier bonus culture ‘city types’ splashing their cash and changing the locality into a fashionable and desirable address to have. They have invested their money wisely and as a consequence have raised the rents.

That is not the fault of the tenants who now find themselves living in such desirable abodes. They do not negotiate the rents with the landlords. They should not be demonised as being “extravagant” or “scroungers”

It is, also, worth remembering that Margaret Thatcher sold off much of the available social housing to buy votes and raise capital but then failed to invest into providing more modern, affordable properties, to replace it - she was the Tory leader that Cameron aspires to be.

I guess the real question, though, is will our national conscience (is there still one?) remain dormant, if thousands of long term tenants are moved out of their ‘high price’ rented accommodation and shipped many miles to areas where the rents are more ‘affordable’.

For that matter, do we really want to see a capital city, that is known for its diverse and colourful population, turned into an overpriced and arrogant ‘ghetto’ of monied bankers and lawyers.

I am guessing this will not be an easy ride for Cameron or his coalition partners.

I am also thinking he is arrogant and not yet, at least, a great leader

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Boris Johnson's Ethnically Cleansed TV On The Radio!

London Mayor, Boris Johnson's widely reported remarks, criticising the coalition government for their proposed draconian housing benefit reforms, appeared at first sight to be spontaneous.

But, I wonder, if they were that spontaneous, why did he have a television crew filming what was supposed to be a regular radio interview with broadcaster Vanessa Feltz.

It seems his comments might not have been so 'off the cuff' after all!

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He's A Liar Liar

Whether you agree or not, a lot of work must have gone into this!

Try singing along....

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Friday, October 22, 2010

How To Demonstrate EU Style!

With a high probability we will be seeing mass demonstrations against the cuts announced in our coalition government's spending review, I thought it would be interesting to compare our technique with our European neighbours:

How we demonstrate here in the UK
How they demonstrate in France
How they show their displeasure in Germany

All things considered, I think it advisable to wait on the weather forecast before we follow their lead!

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Poorer And Not Really The Wiser!

One day on from Chancellor George Osborne's spending review, aiming to save the nation from the consequences of our profligacy, we are, apparently, still all in this together (although, depending which newspaper you read, some of us seem to be more 'in it' than others).

Overall, I was not as depressed last night as I thought I would be, but I was disappointed that some opportunities were missed and others were clearly misguided.

Whether I am right or wrong about the big things, there is one thing of which I am certain: I am going to feel worse off, I will probably have to work another year and I probably won't have the pension to enjoy the time I do have left!

Oh Happy Days!

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

World Statistics Day

Today is United Nations World Statistics Day and to enter into the spirit of things, our own Office For National Statistics has released the following information about the average Briton:

The ‘average’ British woman is 40 years and seven months old and has 42 years left to live. If she works full time, she works 34 hours a week, earns £22,151 a year, and is educated up to GCSE A*-C level. If she lives in England or Wales, she will have 1.96 children during her lifetime. If she lives in England, she is 161.6cm tall and weighs 70.2kg

The ‘average’ British man is 38 years and 4 months old and has 41 years left to live. If he works full time, he works 39 hours per week and earns £28,270 a year. He is educated up to A-Level standard. If he lives in England, he is 175.3cm tall and weighs 83.6kg

When a British family goes shopping, the five items most likely to be put in the typical weekly grocery shopping basket are a two-pint carton of semi-skimmed milk, pre-packed sliced ham, unsweetened breakfast cereal, bacon and a bar of milk chocolate

It will be interesting to see how the average Briton today, will compare to the average Briton in five years time.

Let's hope it is not out of work, out of hope and out of food!

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Ins And Outs Of The Economy - It's Simple!

OK. so here’s my theory...

Our country is in a fiscal mess because there is not enough coming in through taxes to cover the amount going out via government spending.

Cutting the number of people claiming benefits from the state and telling them to get jobs will, theoretically, save a large part of our 'overdraft'. The only problem is: there are not enough jobs available for everyone who is currently out of work, let alone those who will come off benefits to seek work.

A recent survey by the Federation of Small Businesses revealed that almost 11% of business owners expect to decrease employment over the next few months, due to weak business confidence in future prospects and revenue growth. Even more workers will, therefore, become unemployed, stop paying tax and start claiming benefits. Result: the country slips into an even worse mess.

For business owners to regain confidence in the economy, we all have to spend money buying their products which in turn allows them to take on more staff, who then pay more tax and increase the government’s revenue, thereby reducing the deficit. Simple isn't it? Errr well not really!

An alternative option is to increase the rate of tax paid by those who are in work and in indirect taxation like VAT. But then, we will all have less disposable income to buy the goods which in turn create the jobs. Companies then collapse, more people are unemployed and the taxes raised decrease yet again

Of course, the experts would tell you it is more complicated than my simple view.

Our coalition government is about to announce a blanket 'cuts all round' programme to immediately claw back some of its losses. For the reasons given above, though, it is likely to be a lose, lose situation.

Whatever the Chancellor decides to do tomorrow, it is certain to cause massive hardship for those who are already struggling.

I am becoming increasingly convinced, we are in danger of causing more problems than we are ever going to solve.

But then.....what the heck do I know?

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Monday, October 18, 2010

The Benefits Of The Chancellor's New Voice!

Chancellor George Osborne, in his latest headline grabbing attempt to demonise anyone on benefits, has quite rightly declared a war on those who cheat the system.

He is reported as saying:

"Frankly, a welfare cheat is no different from someone who comes up and robs you in the street. It's your money.”


"This money is paid through our taxes which is meant to be going to the most vulnerable in our society, not into the pockets of criminals."

All very admirable words, until you remember he appeared to have lost his voice at the time of the parliamentary expenses scandal.

Pots and Kettles Mr Osborne!

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Lib Dems - What A Difference A May Makes!!

"If we have learnt one thing from the economic crisis, it is that you can’t build a future on debt."
The words of the Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, on 28th April 2010.

So, how come he is now agreeing to anyone who has aspirations for a better education, leading to a better future, to saddle themselves with debts of up to £40,000 before they even start trying to find a job, in a marketplace where jobs are becoming rarer than hen’s teeth?

What a difference the events of the month of May have made to the credibility of the Liberal Democrats!

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Forecast Of Failure In A Big Society

In her article for the Daily Telegraph “We should be bashing bankers not the young, poor and disabled” Mary Riddell wrote:

“Yesterday the Equality and Human Rights Commission's report How Fair Is Britain? showed a widening wealth gap, with the top 10 per cent of households worth an average £853,000 – 100 times higher than the poorest decile. Obviously, rewards cannot be equal, but nor is it fair that those on lower incomes suffer more crime, worse health and die up to seven years sooner.”

They seem refreshingly honest words in a paper that has been traditionally supportive of the Conservatives. They also demonstrate why our prime minister David Cameron’s theory of a Big Society will probably never reach fruition; in reality, some people will always be more equal than others.

The most worrying words in the article, though, are probably these:

Even the cuts announced so far may stunt the hopes of a generation and test the social compact to destruction. It is far from certain that the young – traditionally the future carers for the elders who created a better life for them – will be emotionally inclined or financially equipped to nurture the ageing population that betrayed them.
I hope for all our sakes that time does not prove Ms. Riddell to be a better prophet than she already is a journalist.

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Monday, October 04, 2010

The Benefits Of A Fairly Unfair System!

I doubt there is anyone who can dispute we are in a financial mess and something needs to be done to control the enormous interest payments we are making to foreign institutions and governments for our borrowing.

The most obvious and headline grabbing saving, is to reform the vastly complicated and financially draining benefits and welfare system. It is a system that many voters regard with contempt, mainly due to the negative stories in the press of benefit cheats and scroungers, so it is a reform that few will oppose. After all, it is rare we get to hear of the majority, who have only survived because of the help they receive from the system.

Chancellor George Osborne, has today announced a total restructure to bring fairness for all, while making the system cheaper to administer and easier to understand.

In the interim, he announced that universal child benefit, payable to all families whatever their income, is to be stopped for those who earn around £44k per year.

At the other end of the scale, no family will be able to claim a total benefit greater than the national average wage received by a family in full-time work - thought to be around £25k per year.

On the face of it, this does seem like a fairer system, as those who can afford it lose a freebie and those who can’t don’t gain financially by remaining out of work.

However, when looking at the figures supplied by the BBC, it seems that those at the top end will only lose around £1.7k for a family with 2 children while a family receiving full benefits will lose anything from £4.5k to £15k per year.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith told the BBC: “I don’t love the idea of this, you know”

Neither will those who are genuinely unable to find work and who are about to be hit the hardest!

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