Birthday #1 Meme

Phil at A Very Public Sociologist: Birthday Song Meme is asking what was the #1 single when you were born.

So here’s mine, Gerry & The Pacemakers – How do you do you do it?


Child Trust Funds

So Osborne and Laws, the dynamic duo at the Treasury have announced plans to knock Child Trust Funds (CTF) on the head.

For those who don’t know CTF are savings accounts set up to provide a cash fund when a child reaches 18. The Government puts in £250 when a child is born. When the child reaches 7 then the Government shells out some more cash. Parents and relatives are encouraged to add money when they can afford it.

For some it seems a good deal – providing a handy nest egg for University or house buying. Others deride it as giving money away to the poor and undeserving.

Ian Cowie in the Telegraph is certain that pulling the plug on the CTF was the right thing to do.

Here and now, unpopular though it may be to scrap the CTF, it is undoubtedly the right thing to do at this stage of the credit crisis. The reason is that these payments were gifts from a government up to its neck in debt. This scheme was an egregious example of Gordon Brown’s Great Debt Delusion.

And Kate Green MP, a chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group explains the vindictive nature of the cut in Child Trust Funds.

This is just the sort of mean-spirited, below the radar cut we can expect to get used to now. Young people wouldn’t actually have received the money in their Child Trust Fund till they reach age 18 – so today even the first potential recipients won’t yet have reached their teens. By the time families notice what they’ve lost, the blame that attaches to George Osborne for this ungenerous decision will have been long forgotten. But for two parties that have made such play of improving social mobility, this is a cynical step.

As for me I’m with George Osborne! Although not for the same reasons.

About 20% of the UK population is below 18. Over that 18 years stretch the Government will be pumping in £500 a child, plus whatever other voluntary contributions the parents and relatives can afford. In Government giving it will be about £330M a year.

That’s £330M+ a year that’s going to the banking system, the very same system that treats the working man as nothing more than a trust fund to allow them to play super casinos. We’ve seen how they’ve raided the working man’s pension funds, reducing the benefits yet maintaining their fees. On the basis that we’re funding a wretched, corrupt and immoral financial capitalist system should be enough for it never to have got off the ground. These bankers will be benefiting more from this influx of cash more then our children ever will.

Why we can’t create a world where everyone has the same opportunities, where everyone is equal, where the state is a servant of the people, where greed is frowned upon, where a harm to a neighbour is a harm to all? A world where your potential isn’t engrained by where you live, what your parents do or what school you went to! I despair when I see our Government buying into this capitalist system and entrenching it into our daily lives.

A new world is possible.

Bollocks to the Big Society

Just been reading the paper on the ‘Big Society’ put out by the Government of all the talentless. It’s not pretty reading.

Running through it all is the theme of offloading services from local and national government to so called ‘local’ initiatives. It doesn’t take a genius to understand why. Take people’s taxes and instead of redistributing them via local councils and national initiatives you pass the loot over to local organisations. And of course all these local organisations will need ‘managing’. From Secretaries to Treasurers to Committees, all posts that will undoubtedly come at a price and can be filled by men and women of good upstanding, of course. ‘Jobs for the boys’, the ‘old school tie network’, it’s not what you know it’s who you know. Unelected as well, no doubt.

There’s talk of local people being able to start up their own schools if enough people consider that local ones are failing in some way. Fantastic news to the middle-class pushy parents – take the money from the local comp and set up up a school in your own image. Result! Poor kids in the local school get starved of funds and undoubtedly the new school will have some from of admissions policy. How jolly it will be to lord it over the riff-raff on the estates!

Another by-product will be the marginalisation of trades unions, I mean if the employees ‘own’ the company then it’s bleeding obvious that the potential for strike action diminishes. That’ll be a poke in the eye for the red menace!

And how long before this expands to the provision of what we now see as rights – unemployment benefit, housing benefit and the rest. Imagine all this being put into the hands of an organisation who can dish the pittances out at their own whim! I shall have to buy a cap, else what else will I have to doff with?

There’s a favourite quote of mine from a book written by Clem Attlee in the 1920s. It goes thus:

‘In a civilised community, although it may be composed of self-reliant individuals, there will be some persons who will be unable at some period of their lives to look after themselves, and the question of what is to happen to them may be solved in three ways – they may be neglected, they may be cared for by the organised community as of right, or they may be left to the goodwill of individuals in the community. The first way is intolerable, and as for the third: Charity is only possible without loss of dignity between equals. A right established by law, such as that to an old age pension, is less galling than an allowance made by a rich man to a poor one, dependent on his view of the recipient’s character, and terminable at his caprice’.

God help us in our hour of need that relief comes in the form of charity when we have a perfectly good welfare state that can deal with all of these matters.

Then there’s the plan for a ‘National Citizen Service’. When we have all these unemployed what the chuff are we doing cobbling together a pool of the young whose labour can be harnessed for free. Another nail in the coffin for the Minimum Wage. I smell the Hitler Youth!

I don’t think I can write anymore, getting too angry. I’m normally reserved in my wording but I have to say to this ConDem government. You’re a bunch of cunts.

E. ON call centre workers suffer from pay cut

Call centre workers at one of Britain’s biggest energy companies, E. ON, have had their pay slashed while their bosses have escaped from any wage cuts.At least 2,500 of the lowest paid staff at the gas and electricity firm have been told their pay will be cut by about £2,000.

The announcement comes just a day after the business, which is owned by a German company, had increased its profits six fold in Britain thanks to keeping customer bills high, despite enjoying substantial falls in wholesale prices.

It comes to something when a Tory paper like the Telegraph posts a damning item on corporate greed yet the party that claims to represent the workers is woefully complicit in this sort of activity by refusing to repeal the repressive anti-union laws brought in by the Tories. Any party with balls would have been vociferously condemning this sort of industrial activity. I can only conclude that the Labour Party is for all intents and purposes defunct. To be honest it has ever since it crowned Kinnock.

I hope you are satisfied

That’s what I’ll be asking my local Lib Dem councillor should I have the misfortune to bump into him. Mind you, the way the Lib Dem councillors have behaved in the past I don’t expect to hear a peep from him until the next council elections.

I put my hands up and admit to voting for Lib Dems in the national poll. There was no chance of them getting elected in Aldershot, even less of Labour but there was hope, however miniscule that Howarth could be given the heave-ho. I mean, could it be so bad? After all, the Lib Dems are a progressive party with some policies to the left of Labour. In the end Howarth increased his percentage of the vote. So I suppose I can wear the badge that says “I voted Lib Dem but all I got was a stinking Tory/Lib Dem Coalition Government”.

Now Clegg must be old enough to remember the last Tory administrations under Thatcher and Major, how the poor, the weak, the disenfranchised, the minorities were treated, how unemployment was a “price worth paying”. Yet he still got into bed with Cameron and his continuation of Thatcher policies.

Clegg, you and your party have betrayed a generation, you have betrayed the progressives in your party, you have betrayed the voters. I will never, ever consider voting for the Lib Dems until my dying day. You have aligned with the enemy, dropped the mask and shown your true colours. At least we can be thankful that the charade of playing up as a progressive party has been shattered. Orange Tories.

I hope you are satisfied.

A defeat for who?

So the UK is in a state of flux because of the situation of being in a hung Parliament. Good and bad news for those on the left. But bad news for the Tories and the Lib Dems.

The Tories have failed to capitalise on 13 years of right-wing Labour government which has given us 3 foreign wars of dubious legality,  a massive encroachment onto civil liberties with calls for 90 days detention without trial, ID cards and trial without jury on the mainland. Even with the Cashcroft coffers they just can’t muster the support of the people. We’ve seen numerous business talking heads talking bullshit with no sign of the media bringing on board the trades union leaders to give a balance. But still the Tories flopped.

The Lib Dems were given a totally unjustified equal platform with TV debates amongst the leaders yet we see no increase in the number of MPs. What a farce, pure media hype to try and spin some viewer interest.

On the left the good news is that left leaning Labour MPs have bucked the trend and been re-elected, many with increased majorities (congratulations to John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbin and others!). And Labour has made huge inroads into local government at the expense of the Tories and Lib Dems.

Now what to do?

I would let the Tories and Lib Dems join in marriage and let them carry the can for the pain and hurt that the British people will be seeing, along with the Greeks, Portugese, Italians, Germans and others. For there is nothing that national sovereign governments can do within the capitalist framework. The real power lies with the middle-aged white men controlling international finance. This worldwide crisis in capital is merely the system being re-jigged to ensure that the system is optimised for continuing profits off the back of the working class and the world’s resources.

So whoever’s in charge it’s going to hurt. I spent three years unemployed during the last Tory administration and I really fear for the future. But this is a fantastic opportunity for the left to rally and to educate the voters about the disgusting system that capitalism is.

Let’s use the next couple of years to really highlight where the blame lies.