When Turkeys Vote For Christmas

September 24, 2013 at 7:47 pm

I’ve not been able to catch a great deal of the Labour Conference this weekend, mostly because I don’t really have any affection for these events whatsoever. It’s an annual get together for people of more or less the same political persuasion, where the leader or key ministers make faux-impassioned speeches written by somebody else. I did however manage to catch just a bit of Ed Miliband’s ‘Britain Can Do Better Than This’ speech, and I have to agree with him. Britain can do better than this. Whilst I agree with his new tagline, I probably won’t really agree with everything beneath it.

Having said that, I think Ed is actually heading in the right direction. Even if I don’t like his style, there does seem to be at least a bit of substance to his words. He has made some promising promises if you will, about defending the NHS, repealing the bedroom tax and now freezing energy prices. I don’t think he goes far enough if I’m being brutal, but I can understand why he doesn’t. If he goes too ‘radical’ too soon, he’ll be obliterated in the press and we’ll end up with a Balls vs Cameron election. So yes, he doesn’t go as far as I’d like but does seem to be showing that he is far more in touch with common people than Cameron. In recent polls energy prices haven’t been considered as a key factor at all, but that’s probably because it’s still summer-ish and the big energy companies have largely been out of the news for a while.

But as winter draws ever nearer, Miliband’s promise to freeze energy prices will suddenly seem far more appealing. Perhaps I’m in a minority here, but I’d rather Ed campaigned on issues that actually make a positive difference to individuals and the nation as a whole like stopping NHS privatisation, repealing a crippling ‘tax’ and making energy just a little less unaffordable than for him to campaign on an anti-immigration ticket. If he wants to show strength, he’ll tackle the real issues and confront the false issues that Cameron’s (admittedly capable) spin-machine has created. If he wants to be a genuine alternative to this draconian government full of privileged multi-millionaires instead of tackling issues that might make the people angry (rightly or wrongly) he’ll tackle the issues that cause people to struggle. The jury is still out on that one, but he appears to be headed in the right direction. I still feel that May 2015 will be about the lesser of two evils, I’m not even considering the Lib Dems as a potential candidate, and I actually feel that Cameron may win. It’s like the Mark Twain quote:

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

If Ed decides that tackling Cameron’s false issues is the best strategy for victory, he will be soundly beaten. Why? Because Cameron’s cronies invented them.

So going back just a little bit then to the energy price freeze, I noticed on the BBC website they had ‘Miliband Promises Energy Price Freeze’ as the heading for their story with the ever-so-comical sub-heading: ‘But Energy Firms Criticise the Plan’. If ever there was a ‘No Shit Sherlock’ moment, that was it. Can you imagine the conversation between the Journalist and the Spokesman?

Journalist: So Ed Miliband is promising to freeze energy prices for 20 months if he wins the election, what do you think about that?

Spokesman: Oh yes it’s great news. I mean, it will hit our profits, our shareholders will be unhappy and actually our share prices will also drop but apart from that it sounds great.

What the energy firms have actually said is a whole load of guff that shows that privatisation of such a basic need as gas and electricity was a truly awful idea. The retaliation was: ‘the policy could lead to power shortages, and jeopardise investment and jobs.’ Three things that Britons don’t really want to hear at the moment. Power shortages?? Job Losses?? No investment (ok well probably not immediately bothered by that) but the energy firms have indulged in a little bit of fear-mongering in an attempt to derail Ed’s plan. It will be interesting to monitor Ed’s stance on this leading up to the election, particularly as you can almost cast-iron guarantee that these energy firms will donate funds to the Conservatives in return for a promise of no such freeze.

Politicking and corruptive practices aside, the big firms that play host to profiteering exercises in Britain can donate to whoever the hell they like. At the end of the day, it is the general public who turn up at the ballot boxes and place their votes. It is our responsibility to ask ourselves two questions:

  1. Which party will make my life better?
  2. Will others need to suffer in order for that to happen?

If you genuinely think that having less people of colour in Britain (which is what Immigration is really about) is far more important than affordable gas, electricity, free healthcare, free schools and a fair society for all then I think you might need to evaluate your life. And if you think that privatisation of the NHS is a good idea, have a look at how much you pay for Gas, Water and Electricity currently. Have a look at the profits these companies make, and the amount of money they invest into greener, more sustainable energy sources. You may point to fracking potentially bringing in £billions into Britain, but realistically that isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference to you or I. We’ll see no savings, no investment and another surge in Energy firms’ profits.

So the Energy Firms quite obviously don’t like Ed’s policy, just as Turkeys quite obviously don’t like Christmas. Though you can at least have a little bit of sympathy for the Turkeys.

 

Iain Duncan Smith And The Budget Of Life

April 1, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Sounds a bit like a fun 80s archeology-based action-adventure movie, doesn’t it? Well it isn’t. Against the backdrop of savage cuts affecting the UK’s poorest residents, the so-called ‘shirkers’, all of which have been instigated and delivered by IDS he now has the gall to claim that he himself could live on £53 per week.

My initial thoughts were of course that IDS was being ridiculous. I mean, how could a Cabinet Minister live on just £53 per week? Then my train of thought took me to ‘Offensive’, after all it’s downright outrageous that someone in the position of IDS could even hint at the possibility of such a paltry amount sustaining a family or even an individual for an entire week. Iain doesn’t share the same definition of struggle as those nearer the bottom of society’s cruel ladder.

Then I got thinking, could anyone actually live on £53 a week? Or do they merely exist. If a family is saving for a rare holiday or deposit on a house they can tighten their belts significantly for a month or two but what would happen beyond that? Would you still be ‘living’ or would you just be ‘getting by’? In order to survive on such a budget, life effectively gets thrown out of the window, you submit yourself to a routine of dull food, entertainment begins to become repetitive and monotonous, friends begin to exclude you as you can no longer afford the social outings. You enter into a rut.

Then the postman arrives. Overdue Water, Gas, Electricity, Credit card bills reminding you of better times long since passed. How can you afford these? Your clothes are beginning to age, shoes falling into a severe state of disrepair, what do you do about that? Sure you can show some of that ‘British Spirit’ Cameron & Co bang on about, and repair them with a sewing kit but how long can you maintain that? You’ve applied for eight jobs (along with 2,000 others), you’ve managed to get 6 interviews. They’re spread out across the city, you can’t drive remember you sold your car for £300 to get a new washing machine & fridge-freezer, you’ll have to get the bus. How much will that cost?

You get turned down by those 6 jobs because you didn’t have the right ‘experience’. You can’t just go on to the Internet to search for more, you cancelled that three months ago along with your Sky subscription. It was too expensive. The free paper comes on a Thursday and you spent your last few quid on bus fares last week. You’ll have to walk three miles in the rain to the job centre. No umbrella either, that broke last month.

You’re in the job centre, the advisor is nice enough but they look at the state of you and it’s clear they don’t hold out much hope. You’ve applied for another 5 jobs, one of them is manual labour on a farm at minimum wage. Your degree in Finance won’t do you much good out there, but all the Finance jobs have either vanished in this recession or have 1000s of better qualified, more experienced candidates applying for them. You’re walking home, soaked. The icy wind of this extended winter is slicing through your bones, the thought of a nice warm home to return to flicks into your mind briefly before being cast out by reality: Heating is too expensive.

You walk by a newsagent and read how George Osborne thinks austerity is the best way to resolve this mess, how Ian Duncan Smith thinks there are too many people scrounging and living the good life on benefits, how Michael Gove is ruining our education system and how David Cameron is overseeing this all with a big, plastic, smug grin. You see how we should all be proud of the Olympics and the fucking Jubilee and Will & Kate and their little fucking baby.

You carry on home, thinking about dinner. Will it be Super Noodles and Tesco Value Sausages today (which you read causes people to die younger) or Tesco Value beans on Tesco value toast with a bit of Tesco Value paprika to spice it up a little. Then you remember the paprika’s nearly finished. Your thoughts are interrupted by the sight of an old school friend driving by in his white Audi with blacked-out windows, the smell of weed billowing out of them. It’s so tempting. Either the weed to briefly forget about your problems or the crime to get some money.

You get home, plump for the Super Noodles and sit down in front of the TV. It’s a 20” colour CRT, you don’t have Sky anymore so you’re pretty much forced to watch inane drivel like ‘The One Show’. Mercifully your nasty old Nokia 3310 rings, saving you from the banality of free-to-air television. It’s the bank. You haven’t kept up the payments on the five grand loan you used to buy that car you sold. You’ve defaulted on it now, you owe them six grand. They want it within two weeks, otherwise they’ll hand it over to a debt collector. You think of your friend in the Audi. No.

You go to the cupboard, pull out the bottle of own-brand vodka and pour a double measure into a tumbler. You look in the fridge for a mixer, there’s nothing. You down it. And another. You turn back to the TV, boring. You drift off, awakening just in time to see that smug little bastard in the news boasting of some Tory policy that’s working down there in London. Well that’s fucking lovely isn’t it? Your head drops into your hands, how did it get this bad?

Does Iain Duncan Smith really think he could handle a ‘life’ like that? Regardless of whether you think he can, sign this: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/iain-duncan-smith-iain-duncan-smith-to-live-on-53-a-week and let’s see if he’ll put his money where his mouth is.

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