Sunday, 29 August 2010
The Brown government had a catchphrase that still resonates as an embodiment of political nonsense: it would boast repeatedly of its supposed triumph in “lifting people out of poverty”. There is an unmistakeable vision here of the hand of God, with the grateful masses gently cradled in its palm, raising the humble from their destitution.
But being “lifted out of poverty” by government action meant that benefit payments were nudged up by marginal increments so as to push the poor just above the statistical level of relative poverty. The boundary that they crossed might make little difference to their actual quality of life, but, on paper, they were “out of poverty” – at least until the next jump in the general standard of living put them arithmetically back into relative poverty, thus necessitating another increase in benefits to pull them once more across the magic line.
Putting an end to poverty by raising benefits was a statistical conjuring trick.
Daley further explains the ' litigious absurdity' of the Equality and Human Rights Commission pronouncing the Budget to be in breach of the 2010 Equality Act if it showed no regard for the possible impact on “social equality”.
This is tantamount to saying that no government may interfere with the right of people to be dependent on state benefits – and furthermore, that those benefits must be maintained at a level that guarantees the “equality” of recipients will not be damaged. The logical conclusion of this is that it is illegal to alter the tax and benefit system in any way that reduces welfare dependency and creates incentives for people to leave poverty behind.
Absurd or what?
Thursday, 26 August 2010
Monday, 23 August 2010
An increase in wages for everyone in the private sector to the level of theDizzy had an interesting take on it yesterday morning re welfare reform. Note the calculation involves 'everyone in the private sector' including SME's paying a lot less in corporation tax (21%) than larger enterprises (28%), with little consequent scope for tax reductions. But this is just the type of initiative the treasury needs to be looking at.
"living wage" (£7.85 in London and £7.60 in the rest of the UK) would lead to an increase in gross earnings of between £11.4 billion and £12.0 billion, of which about £4.5 to £4.9billion would accrue to the Government through higher income tax and employee national insurance payments and lower spending on benefits and tax credits. Employers would also pay about £1.4 to £1.5 billion more in Employers’ National Insurance. In total, the Treasury would gain between £5.9 billion to £6.3 billion.
The party of anger, hatred and deceit lost. Miserably. And the forces of terror that knew better than us how we should live left without contrition. A 'dumb waiter' deserving of extinction eh? Sounds about right Mr Milli-balls. Just be careful what you wish for...
Friday, 20 August 2010
No Mr Balls, they have always been selective. The only variable to change over that period has been the vast increase in spending on state education under your government.
Definitely an F grade for Mr Balls then. Not to mention the fact that the wonderful schools building program that achieved so little, was financed not out of current (New Labour) spending but by PFI.
So my children and grandchildren will still be paying for it in thirty years time. Double F Mr Balls.
Sunday, 15 August 2010
Saturday, 14 August 2010
Kampfner uses several examples of diverse and often contradictory policy solutions to prove his point - privatisation of BT (good) versus Network Rail (bad); PFI(bad) v public funding (good); Banking excesses (bad) v taxpayer bailouts (good).
His point? Its not about ideology. Its about fairness. And what works.
Friday, 13 August 2010
It coincides with the first 100 days of the coalition government with articles all over the media. A more radical opening is hard to imagine. And there's plenty more promised - a patient-led NHS (albeit through GP's), decentralisation of local government, a comprehensive defence review and voting reform of both houses, to mention just a few.
Thursday, 12 August 2010
Today I learnt the word Troll - Internet slang for someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community. I am currently looking at ways in which they - just like an annoying fly - can be controlled.
Apparently Trolls are all around. And especially within. They need to be guarded against fiercely and excluded immediately.
Not sure why, but just thinking about that reminded me of an amusing incident in a previous existence. Back when I was 16, I had a holiday job at Air Products in Bracknell, Berks. One of my duties - during a two week cold snap - was to keep a busy loading bay (where cryogenic tankers would re-load) free of ice.
On the first morning the Manager stood next to me explaining what needed to be done. He showed me where the bags of road salt were kept, and in one huge sweep of the shovel, how to cover a swathe of iced tarmac, keeping the precious tankers firmly grounded.
And as he demonstrated, he told me about a 'stupid namby-pamby little boy' they had employed the previous winter, who had 'pranced around' delicately sprinkling little handfuls of salt here and there as if he were some 'poncey ice skater'.
Naturally I agreed with the Manager, laughing animatedly at his amusing characterisation. All the while realising that the boy he was talking about, was me.
Thursday, 5 August 2010
He points out a growing number of reform programs the coalition has surprised us with, confirming their revolutionary fervour - shelving the prison building program, welfare dependency reform and the NHS re-organisation of strategic and area health authorities. Reforms to schools, policing and local government were well anticipated.
But it is the personal that for me features so prominently in Tim's assessment. The courage so evident in constructing a 'change alliance'. The deep and seamless bonding of two distinct political traditions, expressed through the prism of David Laws resignation. And the sheer delight that appears to accompany every decision the coalition makes. In one word, trust.
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
For me, Heffer represents everything that is wrong and unacceptable with the Conservative party. He and his followers are the reason why - until Cameron became leader in 2005 - I had been unable to vote in a general election since John Major in 1997. The last honest and decent politician who handed over a golden legacy for the incoming Labour administration to destroy.
Heffer it seemed to me, delighted in attacking Cameron - and particularly shadow Chancellor George Osborne - for daring to question the old orthodoxy of Thatcherite shibboleths that the electorate had so convincingly rejected many years before.
Even in today's paper, Heffer claims Cameron "...believes in nothing except remaining Prime Minister" despite initiating the most fundamental reforms to education, health, voting, policing, prisons and welfare for a generation. All within the first 11 weeks of a coalition government which is additionally committed to more than halving the deficit during its lifetime, left by Labour for future generations to pay.
He suggests the only people with anything important to say "...are to be found on the Right of the Conservative Party and the Left of the Liberal Democrats." Well, they may form an audience for Mr Heffer - though I doubt Simon Hughes would agree - but they hardly seem a willing coalition with which to win elections.
It just seems to me that Mr Heffer's attitude - like that of the European Union - is that the electorate seems to have got it wrong. And they need to be made to vote again and again and again. Until they get it right. Or should that be Right.
Even now - and without so much as an apology - some of them are standing for the Labour leadership. The remainder of course, were unable to find the courage to put the British people before personal gain and ideology and stop the terror.
Its not a great choice. And the one man who stood up to the bully and put his moral convictions first is missing. James Purnell was oppointed Chairman of the ippr thinktank on 20th July. I shall read their output with a great deal more enthusiasm from September.
Often such characteristics in a politician suggest little or no thoughts of their own; a lack of strength in moral conviction or being vacuously described as 'all things to all men'.
In fact, exactly what they accused Cameron of being during his recent travels to Obamaland, Turkey and India - telling each what they wanted to hear.
Strange then that the very same party should be looking to elect exactly the characteristics they find so objectionable in the Prime Minister as their new leader.
Personally I'm amazed at the plummeting electoral fortunes of a junior partner which has managed to introduce quite so many manifesto commitments within weeks of coming to power - far more than Blair's 1997 steroidally obsessed regime. An electoral pact may well become necessary.
But probably only once a referendum on AV has been lost...
Sunday, 1 August 2010
'Sorting welfare comes at a political cost – and for what? Helping a bunch of people who tend not to vote. Far easier to shovel money at the poor, and leave them in decaying council estates.'
And that's exactly what they did. But as we all know, it's how you look after those you do not need that defines you. The piece ends 'how serious is he (Cameron) about fixing this broken society? In the next few months, we’ll see.'
Iain Duncan Smith and welfare reform is fast becoming the totemic issue for this coalition. And not before time.