Friday, 20 February 2015

Thatcher's Children Live & Kicking On Question Time



I watched the 19th February 2015 edition of Question Time on the BBC mouth literally agog.

I normally don’t watch anything on the BBC; an institution proven by University study to be biased against Scotland and in particular Scottish independence.




However, this edition was to be broadcast from Stockton-on-Tees in the North East of England; one of many working class areas to be ravaged by Thatcher.

The most left-wing politician to be on the panel was Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister and leader of the SNP. The SNP are marginally to the left of centre in political terms.




So, I sat with the metaphorical ‘popcorn’ ready to watch the working class of the North East get ripped in aboot them:

·       Duncan Bannatyne self-confessed uneducated successful businessman (ex-Tory supporter who switched to the so-called ‘Tory-Lite’ of Tony Blair)
·       Michael Heseltine,’Lord’ and Tory dinosaur who has been quoted in the past saying ‘I keep telling my Tory colleagues: don't have any policies. A manifesto that has policies alienates people. In 1979 the manifesto said nothing which was brilliant.’
·       Norman Lamb, Minister for Care & Support (No, seriously!) from the LibDems
·       Caroline Flint, Labour’s Shadow Energy Secretary


What I heard could be summed up thus:

·       18 to 21 year olds should have to work 30 hours a week for their £58 per week ‘benefits’.
·       Nuclear weapons are just super-duper and spending over £130 Billion over the next 30 years is a worthwhile idea.
·       Putin is bad (didn’t David Cameron phone him to get him to speak out against Scottish Independence? – anyway, now he’s bad).
·       Tax Avoidance is not as important an issue as getting ‘lazy’ teens out of their beds and working for less than £2 an hour. This apparently will mean that out of work youngsters will earn some self-respect.

I’ll just say that again; getting 18-21 year olds (remember, according to the Government’s own Office of National Statistics, 1.91 million people officially unemployed, 9.1 million officially ‘economically inactive’ with only 740,000 vacancies) to work for less than £2 an hour, 30 hours a week will ‘help them back into full-time work and give them self-respect’.
This, a more pressing issue for the Question Time panelists and audience than Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion. What do you mean HSBC scandal?

·       SNP MPs being sent to Westminster in larger numbers than the current six and possibly holding the balance of power – very, VERY BAD. Better Together? ‘Don’t leave us Scotland!’ ‘We love you’, Now get back in your fuckin box!



 



The biggest and most disappointing and depressing thing about the whole show was the realisation that the media driven, right wing agenda of corporate greed, ‘me first’, rich get richer/poor get poorer, demonisation of the poor, unemployed, disabled and vulnerable really has become commonplace.

That anyone thinks spending billions of money on nuclear weapons should come before job creation, the NHS or, frankly, anything else is beyond my ken. People are starving! People are dying due to Government ‘workfare’ policy and benefit sanctions! 






I truly despair at what the UK has become; a country of selfish, right-wing pricks walking in the footsteps of the evil Thatcher and doing so without the slightest comprehension of what they are doing or the monsters they have become.



Time is running out for Scotland; we have to save ourselves from too, becoming monsters.


Switching off the BBC would be a start. 


***

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Cameron Shouts 'Squirrel'



Valentine’s Day 2015 – Sky News report that ‘David Cameron proposes that those refusing help on obesity, drug addiction and alcoholism will risk losing up to £100 per week’.


 Are you feeling the love yet?



Given that Job Seeker’s Allowance is currently around £72 per week and Employment Support Allowance is around £123 per week that’s some going.

The report claimed that Cameron said that there were 100,000 people with ‘treatable’ issues. Could this not be said of any mental or physical illness; that it is at the very least ‘treatable’. Whether the circumstances are right for treatment, whether the money is there for treatment or whether the right resources are there for treatment is entirely a different issue.

Cameron’s ongoing demonization of the poor, weak and vulnerable aided by a willing right-wing media and carried out by the odious Iain Duncan-Smith is only to be expected by an Establishment Party that fails in its duty to enforce almost any rules on the rich. 


But let’s leave tax avoidance and tax evasion for another day.






The Westminster Parties (Blue & Red Tory) are seemingly perfectly happy to have sick, disabled (physical or mental) and vulnerable people die once they have been wrongly assessed ‘fit for work’.

Benefit fraud amounts to 0.7% of claims. But what of the fraudulent few? And what of those who are sick now deemed (usually against own GP advice) fit to work?

According to the Government’s own Office For National Statistics (so figures should be taken with a pinch of salt but it’s all we have to work with):

1.    Nov 2014 saw 9.09 million people NOT seeking or available for work (the disgustingly sterile and dehumanising term for this group is ‘economically inactive’) which is 41,000 more Year-on-Year. ‘Hey folks! I’m not homeless, I’m economically inactive!’






2.    Nov 2014 – 1.91 million unemployed


3.    Oct-Dec 2014 – 700,000 vacancies



So, according to the Government’s OWN figures (which no doubt don’t count people on ‘workfare’or sanctions and many of the other spiffing ways of excluding them from official figures) there are not enough jobs to go around – 0.3 of a job for each person ‘unemployed’ (Number from 2. above) and 0.06 of a job each (Number from adding 1. & 2. Above).



 But, you will be sanctioned/lose money if you don’t find a job!



This is what we’re dealing with here people; an almost impossible task, and just how many of those jobs are zero-contract, part-time, minimum wage, and the like?



Add to this the desire to punish the addicted into work and you get an idea of the immorality of the people in Government.



According to magazine Psychology Today in an article entitled ‘5 Myths about addiction that undermine recovery’ the top two myths are:
1.    Addicts are bad people who deserve to be punished.
2.    Addiction is a choice.





The UK Government conveniently ignore these two facts and continue on their quest of demonization and dehumanization.



More treatment centres? Yes please. More money for organizations helping addicts recover that actually recognise the disease of addiction? Yes please. More literature helping people understand the condition? Yep. Addiction education for nurses and Doctors? Aye. More healthcare professionals? Aye.

Can you see the funds being released to achieve any of this? No.

Would the NHS cope with its current underfunding? No.



Threatening people into recovery? Won’t work.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Dehumanisation? Aye, Robot

Here is a copy of an email I sent to Fife Council (Council of the Year 2014 - no, really) last year.


Dear Sir/Madam/Robot,

I am writing to confirm receipt of your recent letter entitled 'Notification of Summary
Warrant' dated 10 September 2014 which appears to have no reference number but
does include the following identification codes: Involvement ID 794946,
Account Number: 152207071, Holder ID 520643.

This, I received from your FARS (Finance & Procurement Service) of an office.
I notice your latest threat to me notes that due to being unable to pay regular payments
of say, ten or twenty pounds you now want me to cough up the full £129.55 in one go.
Interestingly, and somewhat bewilderingly, but due to some bureaucratic goobledygook
(which obviously has the full backing of the Law via various 'Finance' Acts, Legalese,
and the Sheriff Court etcetera, blah, blah) you have added a 'Statutory Penalty' of £12.96
to the total of the bill which I have been struggling but attempting to pay. 

Obviously, this is 'just the way it is' or 'that's the rules Guv' and you can't do anything about
that; robots have not the power of empathy which makes it all the easier to threaten people.

This added bonus fine constitutes more than I have available weekly for food being
unemployed but I guess that serves me right for being such a lazy, scrounging, parasite
(Copyright - Daily Mail).
You will notice I made a midnightesque-type payment as soon as my Unemployment Benefit
money was paid into my Platinum American Express Millionaires Club Bank Account as the
full moon waned on Sunday night/Monday morning.

You will no doubt tell by the early time (well 11am is early for us doleys isn't it?)
of this email that your letter not only informed me of the oncoming financial doom
and possibility of Sheriff's Officers kicking my door in but has succeeded now in
giving me sleepless nights.

Once I have clicked 'send' on this email I shall Google 'Organ Prices' and get back to you
as soon as possible assuming my phone and internet don't get cut off in the meantime.
I would post a letter to you but often the new front door you installed doesn't unlock
from the inside and I'm not sure I'll catch the post on time if I can't get out.
Mind you, I could always jump out the window which I have considered before;
however that is not such a good idea as I would probably go missing in the jungle
of a 'lawn' outside. My Council Tax doesn't cover the council mowing the lawn like
other properties because, as I'm told by your 'Canny Be Ersed Givin A Decent
Explanation Department' 'We just dinnae do that'.

I was thinking that I could perhaps get around £142.51 for a kidney which would
cover this bill. My liver should be pretty good as I no longer drink although as you
will appreciate I can't guarantee that given I have to deal with Fife Council.
That would be next year's bill covered at the same time.

I hope this email covers the section (Section 5: What will happen if I ignore this notice?)
which details the following: Bank Arrestment (good idea - throw some of those bankers
in the clink), Benefit Deduction (Hello? Blood/Stone), Earnings Arrestment (does this
include my organs if sold?), Inhibition (the pyschological definition is apt isn't it?
Try a dictionary), Sequestration (sorry I don't compete in any horsey sports),
Four Horseman (already being visited by Famine thank you very much;
they're not as bad as they're made out really. Bad press and all that), and Sticks & Stones.

Please be assured that now you have changed the online payment system from a bank
to Fife Council's own vaults I shall make another payment as soon as able to (as explained
before). However, full payment is unlikely at the moment as I'm getting a little old to
sell my body sexually and organ sales sound like they could be a 'long' process
(obviously not in the 'Fife Council' sense of the word) and a bit painful.

In the meantime, I shall keep an eye out for the bruisers you are sending round (tell them
to bring their own coffee and milk, oh... and perhaps a few quid for the electricity meter).


Yours in humble deference,

Number *********

PS: My friends call me Geoff

PPS: I'm told I should be on Tax Band A (not Band B) for a 1 bedroom flat
(do I get any Brownie points for that?)



Perhaps unsurprisingly, I received an automated response (albeit, this was a courtesey one; the real one came about a week later).





The serious point to all this is that 'society' has reduced (customers, clients, tenants, the unemployed, disabled, etc) people to be 'numbers'; inconveniences that can be easily 'dealt with' by using answer machines dictating 'press one for...', 'press two for', or automated email responses.

 I even get phone calls from robots now. I mean, some organisations value my custom or potential custom so much that they have a computer phone me. And, when I don't get the message (because I refuse to listen to automated telephone calls) and eventually speak to a human they will say 'but we called you'.

 Of course, once you have reduced a human being to a number (the Nazis gave Jews an I.D. number as part of the dehumanising process remember) it becomes far easier to apply a sanction (if on benefits) that will stop a family from being able to buy food, gas or electricity, to threaten with a Court Order (if in debt) or make any negative decision that would perhaps not be made if face-to-face contact were in place or dehumanisation had not taken place. 


It is hard to empathise with a 'number'; even harder if you are a robot..





Sunday, 12 October 2014

When Is A Con Not A Con?



Answer: When it is carried out by a politician.


After the ‘No’ vote in the Scottish referendum there has been much talk of a rigged ballot outcome; suspicious looking videos, eye-witness testimonies & other claims. I do not intend to dwell on the legitimacy of any of these (although would not entirely dismiss them) but, for me, there is another far more important ‘elephant in the room’.

And frankly I am staggered that no-one seems to have either noticed it or is talking about it. It concerns democracy; it concerns trickery. Or, if you like to call a spade a spade, it concerns lies and misinformation.

Please let me start to explain my concerns by introducing a paragraph from Age Scotland (Age UK):

Factsheet 102s, Page 5/20 March 2014

Section - Elder Abuse, Point 2
‘Action on Elder Abuse uses the definition: a single or repeated action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person’.






Indeed the scammers at the doorstep and phone-calling conmen are taken very seriously by the Police and offenders can receive jail terms. 






So, given that we have a duty of care to our pensioners and laws to protect them I would like to ask this: Why do politicians get away with ‘conning’ pensioners into voting a particular way with downright lies or misinformation? I would suggest that being able to vote is one of the precious rights of a ‘democracy’, perhaps THE most important right. Our forefathers fought for the right to vote. And yet, many in Scotland voted 'No' because of a perceived threat to their pensions from a man with whom they had 'an expectation of trust'.


So, I ask, when Gordon Brown was talking to ‘invite only’ audiences of pensioners and told them their pension was under threat if Scotland were to be independent was he not, too, just tricking them in the same way as an uninvited ‘doorstepping conman’?





'Vote No or your pensions get this'


In the end around 73% of Scotland’s over 65s voted No – by far the largest sector of society to do so – compared to the 71% of 16 and 17 year olds who voted Yes for their future. It has been suggested, rightly in my view, that this sector of the voting population 'swung the vote in favour of the Better Together campaign.' Let me be clear pensioners are not to blame here, after all they believed they could trust Gordon Brown. I know people who told elderly relatives that their pensions would be safe but were unable to nullify what these elderly people had been told by the 'Better Together, the BBC & Gordon Brown'.




But they weren't.



However, here’s what the UK Government Minister for Pensions (Steve Webb) said to the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster prior to the Referendum when asked if Scottish pensioners’ pensions would not be adversely affected by independence:

‘They have accumulated rights into the UK system under the UK rules to a pension, at the age we would have paid it to them, not at which the Scottish Government would.’





Indeed the website Wings Over Scotland had an excellent article on the implications of pensions in an independent Scotland.





What Mr Brown also 'forgot' to reveal is that in the 2012 Budget pension ages were increased meaning we all have to work longer anyway under Westminster rule.





 The Daily Mail (sorry) in 2012



We all tend to say 'you can't believe politicians' in a 'well, what can you do about it' sort of way, but lets face it this flies in the face of democracy. If you are unable to make a decision because facts are misrepresented or make a decision about your vote due to a twisting of the truth is this not a serious matter; a flaw in the system? Well, obviously yes it is. And that's how they (the Westminster politicians) want it and how they survive. Surely this is scandalous!

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Yes Scotland won the argument which is why Better Together spoke mainly at closed meetings, constantly refused to debate in the village halls, kirks and community centres and used a compliant media to get their message out. That message was not a 'positive case for the Union'; there is none. We would have had it rammed down our throats had there been one.


The referendum was won by obfuscation, misinformation and scare stories. It was the only way it could be won; hide the truth and scare the electorate. Unfortunately, it worked. This time. But we can rely on these self-serving, duplicitous, Unionist politicians to fall on their own swords soon.


As a wise man once told me 'at the end of the day there are only two things that come out; one is the moon, the other is the truth.'



Saturday, 20 September 2014

Scotland Dies Of Old Age



19.09.2014 is a date I will never forget; the date Scotland died. In fact, if truth be known it is the date Scotland committed suicide. Fear won over hope as the mainstream media gave full backing to the self-diagnosed Project Fear campaign of Better Together/No Thanks.



Brown's Pension Raid 

The despicable Gordon Brown succeeded in scaring the elderly into voting ‘No’ by lying to them that their pensions would be under threat (around 73% of Scotland’s over 65s voted No – by far the largest sector of society to do so – compared to 71% of 16 and 17 year olds 71% of whom voted Yes for their future). Of course, they never were under threat as it is the system that you have paid your pension contributions to that has the responsibility to pay out. Hence, some pensioners are able to retire in sunnier climes, for example, to Spain or Australia and still be paid by the UK system they paid into. Incidentally, this is the same Gordon Brown who, in 1997, raided our pension pots to the tune of £100 Billion-£150 Billion.



 Voting Patterns By Age


Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) once wrote that ‘to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive’.* Well, we have arrived; we as a people (55% of us anyway) have decided that it is not worth trying to change the fact that 1 in 5 (1 in 4 in some areas) children in Scotland are born into poverty. The demonization of the poor (incl working poor), the unemployed and the elderly, weak, infirm and disabled will continue unabated. Hope lost. There is no hope once you know that this is where your travels terminate.



Robert Louis Stevenson


Robert Louis Stevenson was a giant. He was a giant of literature and a giant of humanity. He was not a poor man, coming from the wealthy ‘Lighthouse Stevensons’ family, however when he travelled to the States he did so describing events in steerage along with the poor, sick and stowaways. He was keen to find out how others lived and in this case the ‘other half’. Imagine the rich or a politician doing that today?

Today we live in a Post-Thatcher era where greed is good and an attitude of ‘I’m alright Jack’ prevails.

1.6 million ‘Scots’ voted for independence; these are the people who would not be cowed by fear. They became self-educated spurning the newspapers and media of the rich and rebelling against the State run BBC. The internet played a huge part in this education and whilst some people moaned about not being given ‘enough information’ these trailblazers trawled through sites like Wings Over Scotland, Newsnet Scotland, Wee Ginger Dug, Bella Caledonia, National Collective, Business For Scotland, Craig Murray and dozens more. Each site in its own special way exposed the lies in a way that shamed ‘real’ journalists. Facts, figures, statistics, links, and comparisons detailed a system desperate and prepared to maintain a dysfunctional Union. But despite these courageous and informative sites it wasn’t enough; for some the truth hurts and it is much easier to continue life awkwardly rather than seek and face the truth which deep down you know will challenge your core beliefs.


So, the UK Government’s legal advice (see previous post) that Scotland ceased to exist in 1707 and was subsumed into an enlarged or renamed England although erroneous has been given validation in 2014.


The proud country of Scotland ceased to exist this day. 1.6 million people will mourn and over 2 million won’t even know what they have done. The biggest irony of all is that it was the fear of the majority of our pensioners that have crushed the hopes of our young.




*Travels With A Donkey In The CĂ©vennes (1887)