Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cable's hypocrisy over Wonga

The Archbishop of Canterbury said revelations that the Church of England has indirectly invested in Wonga were “very embarrassing”, coming just two days after he said he wanted to drive the payday lender out of business.

However, the Church was prepared to do something about Wonga. The government has so far done nothing. Why on earth should that be the case?

Well there is a curious co-incidence. According to The Telegraph, "...business executives were charged £1,250 for face-to-face meetings with ministers at which they were invited to help “develop” business-friendly policies. Wonga confirmed it had sent a representative to meetings with ministers from the Department for Business and the Treasury.

Wonga have done very well thank you from cuts in benefits which force people to take out payday loans.

Millionaire Vince Cable has said the government will support the efforts of the church to provide cheap credit for the poor. I suggest you withhold your admiration until he has actually done anything. Talk really is cheap.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

ATOS pockets the money but their assessments are flawed

My MP is Francis Maude. He recently sold a million and a half pound house. Nevertheless he needs a public handout to pay his travel costs, first class all the way for Francis.

It is galling that his government has the cheek to label disabled people, the unemployed and pensioners as "scroungers" and to seek to cut their benefits further.

The basis of the attack on the disabled, leading to headlines in the gutter press such as "80 percent of claimants are frauds" was the so-called assessments carried out by ATOS. ATOS were tasked with getting these fraudulent scroungers back to work. In some cases they succeeded in pushing them to commit suicide which was a "final solution" to the problem of disabled people. Disability campaigners have labelled ATOS "contract killers."

To be fair, ATOS were 'only obeying orders'. Their orders to harrass and stigmatise disabled people were carried out to the letter. The result of three years of their ministrations is that just under half of their assessments are regarded as "flawed." Not by disability campaigners but by the Department of Work and Pensions itself.

Does this spell the end to privatised assessments. Not a bit of it, the DWP are just going to look for other private companies to do their dirty work. Perhaps the ever-efficient G4S will fit the bill - assuming nothing comes of those pesky fraud claims against them.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

G4S licence to kill?

What to do with a 100 kg guard who fatally restrains a 40 kg boy?
Promote him to health and safety manager, G4S children's homes.

This story by investigative journalist Clare Sambrook makes shocking reading. One wonders whether our children are really safe in G4S's hands.
The link is here

In the same website, there is an article showing how G4S, aware of their poor public profile, are now trying to conceal their identity when taking on children's homes.

The link is here

Will this stop the political elite from privatising everything in sight to the enormous benefit of G4S? No. Only decisive action from the trade unions can do that.

The NSSN has announced that Ian Lawrence, the recently elected General Secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO) will be addressing their rally on September 8th. NAPO is currently engaged in a very serious dispute with the government over the privatisation of 70% of core probation services. You have three guesses who will benefit if this goes ahead.

There will be a lobby of TUC conference in Bournemouth on September 8th pushing for the TUC to name the date for a 24 hour general strike.

G4S have a reputation for "restraint" which can kill. 

Jimmy Mubenga died after G4S restrained him.




Monday, July 22, 2013

Cameron posturing over porn

Headlines like "Prime Minister to Act on Porn Video" were inevitable when this silly-season story broke. Experts such as Jim Gamble have asserted that paedophiles will laugh at Cameron's attempted crackdown and hinted that it is being used as a cover for real cuts in spending on child protection. Jim Gamble is former chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre. Last year the Police Federation warned that cuts to this service would place more children at risk.

On the one hand Cameron talks tough on child porn. On the other hand the cuts make it inevitable that more children will suffer.

Perhaps he should act on porn videos. He would be doing less harm.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fact and opinion Yadd Yadda Yadda

If the (non-zero) numerator and the denominator of a fraction are the same then the fraction is equal to 1. That is something Michael Gove might recognise as a fact. It will doubtless astound him and the Tory blowhards that I have been teaching that fact successfully to pupils for 33 years. He pretends to believe that lefty teachers don't teach facts.

On the other hand, if a pupil is reading a newspaper article the "facts" in the story are carefully chosen to accord with the underlying attitude of the writer.

Stories about the abuse of white girls by Asian men are factual for the most part. Stories about the abuse of youngsters by Jimmy Saville and Stuart Hall have also been published.

The first set of articles have been used to foster a myth that the religious attitudes of Asian men in general and muslims in particular cause them to prey on white girls. It is a myth which fails to take into account the millions of Asian men and muslims who do no such thing.

The second set of articles have not been used by the Daily Mail to suggest that the attitudes of white men cause them to prey on children.

Studying that is not a matter of "facts". It is a matter of process. It involves looking at the facts which are included and thinking about the facts which are excluded. It involves looking at how the story is constructed and how that leads the reader to a conclusion.

And that kind of education has been eloquently described by the Secretary of State for education as "yadda yadda yadda."

Monday, July 15, 2013

White Cliffs of Beachy Head update

I would like to know why the Beachy Head Countryside Shop sells golliwogs. Irrespective of whether you find them offensive (and most people do) I wonder about the Beachy Head connection. Are the seagulls all white supremacists? Have the sheep joined the EDL?


There has been an article in the Eastbourne Herald on this issue. The comments from Eastbourne readers are entirely white supremacist.

The response from the shop is:

Firstly, we appreciate that a few do get upset by these dollies, but an
awful lot more like them, and we have sold large numbers over the last six
or seven years.

The firm who supply them tell us that these dollies are one of their most
popular items which they sell to shops all over the country.

We respect the right of everyone to their views but the vast majority of
comments we get are favourable.

We are a small charity which relies for our funding on goods sold in the
shop and these dollies continue to make a useful contribution to our funds.

Yours sincerely

On Behalf of the Committee

Their address is info@beachyhead.org if you have any comments. The reply does not tell us the Beachy Head connection for these gratuitously offensive dolls.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Privatisation = corruption

G4S and Serco, beloved of the Conservative Party, are tasked with delivering public services better and cheaper than the public sector. What they do manage to deliver is millions of pounds of public money into private pockets.

The Olympics Fiasco did not prevent the Con-Dem government from blindly pushing ahead with privatisation projects. The Serious Fraud Office has been called in by the justice secretary to investigate G4S for overcharging tens of millions of pounds on electronic tagging contracts for offenders.

This is unlikely to stop the political elite's love affair with privatisation but it does expose to the public the disgusting corruption underlying the privatisation process. Privatisation does not demonstrate the vitality of capitalism but its rapacious nature. No political party opposes privatisation. The trade unions do oppose privatisation. It is no accident that "One Nation Labour" (the heirs of Disraeli) want to demonise the trade unions.

The trade unions created the Labour Party but the political elite have moved a long way from Labour's roots. MPs are too busy being creative with their expenses to care about the mere working classes. And soon the political elite will be wallowing in their 11 percent pay rise because the poor things cannot possibly make ends meet on a mere £65,738.

A party which opposes the whole corrupt capitalist system is long overdue.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Dave Nellist on Miliband

Dave Nellist, the chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Labour MP 1983-92, and Socialist Party councillor 1998-2012, looks at Labour leader Ed Miliband's attack on Unite the Union.
The article is in The Socialist
Inter Alia it says, 

"In April 1990, Labour was 24 points ahead in the opinion polls (substantially further ahead than now). Instead of attacking the Tories in government it attacked the leaders of the anti-poll tax campaign and the socialists who supported the Militant newspaper (the Socialist's forerunner).

"Labour expelled many socialists, including myself, but the Tory press wasn't satisfied. They came back for more, with papers such as the Evening Standard demanding that dozens of left supporting MPs face a similar end. Miliband attacking Unite over Falkirk will have a comparable result. And Labour lost the 1992 election!"

Dave Nellist is a living example of the fact that Labour MPs don't have to be corrupt lickspittles of the rich - he worked as an MP for an average worker's wage. The rest of the political elite could never forgive him for that.


Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Dear Francis Maude,

There is a debate in parliament tomorrow on the plight of disabled people in the UK thanks to the government's cuts.

I am sure you will agree that the degree of absenteeism in the House of Commons is unacceptable for public servants and I expect you will want to attend this debate.

Unions and Labour

The Conservative Party have always had a dislike of the trade unionists interfering in the concerns of their betters. This dislike has now been taken up with enthusiasm by Miliband. It is not permitted for trade unionists to have a view on political matters. Politics is a rather dirty game for gentlemen and the working classes should know their place and keep out of it.

Of course the payments of large sums of money by private companies - i.e. companies which make a lot of money out of the public - that is quite OK.

Can I assume that next time I reach the checkout at Sainsbury's I will be asked to opt in or opt out of the hundreds of thousands they give to the Conservative Party? Mmm thought not.

However if the Labour Party wants to distance itself from the Trade Unions, the unions could do worse than stand anti-cuts candidates against New Labour in the next election. They offer us nothing, they deserve nothing.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Euthanasia machine

In the Science Museum there is a lovely array of fascinating displays. However at one end of the gallery they laud Nazi scientist Werner Von Braun.

Older readers may remember Tom Lehrer's comment on this scientist.
"Some have harsh words for this man of renown
But some think our attitude
Should be one of gratitude.
Like the widows and cripples of Old London Town
Who owe their large pensions to Werner Von Braun.

"Don't say that he's hypocritical.
Say rather that he's apolitical.
'When the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
 That's not my department!' says Werner Von Braun."

Continuing this theme, at the other end of the gallery they show a euthanasia machine to help useless old people out of this world. An example of the moral neutrality of science?

I agree with Richard Reiser. We need more emphasis on people who want to keep us alive!

Friday, July 05, 2013

Greedy MPs

As a means of setting a cat among the pigeons, the i newspaper published a tongue in cheek article by Chris Blackhurst suggesting MPs should be paid £200,000 a year as a way to make them less corrupt.

This led to an explosive response from readers as you can imagine. Suggestions included:

* This is no better than Danegeld - if you pay criminals fabulous sums, they will just come back for more.

* The bankers are a case in point. Allowing them to walk off with million pound bonuses has not decreased their appetite for more, more, more.

* a vicar pointed out that the stipend of a C of E vicar is around £24,000 plus a fully-funded house in the "constituency" however to get the money they have to do useful work.

* the market values espoused by all three parties suggest that where supply exceeds demand the price does not go up. Plenty of people want to become MPs. Three applicants for every job. A case for a wage cut for most employers.

* If MPs were on Performance Related Pay they would be paying us, not the other way round. The rate of absenteeism in the Commons chamber is appalling.

Well done, Chris Blackhurst :) MPs like Dave Nellist managed on a skilled worker's wage. It helps to keep them in touch with reality.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Tory MP's sick doctrine of hatred

In blaring front page headline today the Daily Mail blames the problems of the NHS not on privatisation or cuts in funding. That would be naive. No it is all the fault of immigrants.

In an article from Chris Skidmore MP, who wants to don the mantle of Enoch Powell, the paper uses fake statistics to blame the problems in healthcare on immigrants.

"It cannot be a coincidence that 2004 — the year in which A&E attendance jumped so noticeably — was the year that Labour changed GPs' contracts to let them opt out of out-of-hours care, and also the year that East European countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic acceded to the EU, allowing their people free migration to the UK."

And the figure Skidmore ignores is that 50 percent of nurses and 25 percent of doctors were born overseas. Kick out the immigrants and the NHS would collapse.

The Daily Mail is no stranger to stirring up race hatred. It's "Hurrah for the Blackshirts" attitude in the 1930s is a template for Chris Skidmore's sick doctrine of hatred.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

MPs snouts in the trough

In Brighton the rubbish is piling up because the Greenies sought to impose cuts of up to £4000 on the dustbin workers. But it's not all doom and gloom. MPs are set for pay rises in excess of £4000 on top of their more than generous and imaginative expenses. Some reports suggest £10000 and a few red faces in Westminster.

The red faces may be the result of shame or the result of expense-account lunches paid for by people like the Brighton dustmen. When they cut the pay of dustmen you can see the results. If the MPs were getting the average wage of a skilled worker (as Dave Nellist did when he was an MP for Coventy) we would probably see an improvement in productivity.

If one of the little piggies asks you for your vote, ask them how much it is going to cost you this time.