Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

UK Political weblog

Archive for the tag “government”

Open Letter to Older Voters

As an ‘older voter’ myself I feel qualified to write this open letter to my contemporaries many of whom, it seems, tend to become more right wing and vote Tory in elections. Why this should be is somewhat puzzling and the purpose of this missive.

Older people it is generally recognised tend to be more set in their ways but political leanings fly in the face of this generalisation. Could it be that as life expectancy diminishes resistance to change increases along with a desire for security as represented by continuity, money and assets? If so and I can think of no other reason, this is illusory.

People of my generation, those born in the 40’s 50’s and early 60’s were indeed very fortunate in that during their early and middle years they had security of housing, they bought houses or were more or less assured of a Council house for life. They had good ongoing health care from the newly formed NHS, good and free education up to and beyond a university degree and perhaps most importantly, employment was all but guaranteed as soon as ceasing formal education. For those who trod the craft or trade route apprenticeships were long, meaningful, detailed and effective training with a long experienced time served craftsman leading to a worthwhile and life long well paid career.

In the early 1980s under Tory Prime Minister Thatcher, the big con trick of the Right to Buy Scheme was started, not because she thought it would be ‘nice’ but because of the ideology that people with a mortgage are de facto in debt, heavily in debt and that means over a 25 plus year period they will be handing over a huge amount of their earnings to Tory friends, the bankers. In addition people whose home may be at risk if they fail to make the repayments become servile and compliant and unless pushed to the limit will not go on strike for better pay or conditions; in fact will even accept a cut in income without much dissent. As more and more of the social housing was sold off, much of it incidentally ending up in the hands of Tory landlords, an obvious shortage of homes was created leading to ever increasing house prices that is unabated to this day.

Much has been written about housing, including some of my blogs here, so I wont go deeper into it except that the dash for home ownership resulted in and was encouraged by not only the Tories but also the Blair government, a slight feeling of superiority by owners over renters. It was interesting at the time to see some of my friends who had voted Labour all their life until getting a mortgage, almost overnight becoming Tories. Little did they know that they would be working harder, longer, for less and that it would eventually require two of them to work to pay the one debt. Mortgages today can now stretch beyond a lifetime into the next generation; the transfer of wealth from ordinary people to the rich elite gathers pace.

No one likes to be proved wrong or admit to being duped and so it is natural for most to close their minds to even that possibility, to cling to that superior feeling that brings comfort which by default means a resistance to change. This is how older voters come to be more right wing and how they come to vote for a Tory government and their ‘austerity’ that only applies to the working and middle classes but not them.

Wait a minute though my older voting friends! Most of you will have children and grandchildren perhaps even great grandchildren, what of them?  Perhaps you are thinking you can leave them your house albeit split between however many offspring you have, less tax and fees etc. so they’ll still need a mortgage and a big one with prices increasing way above inflation. The same people that made you pay roughly twice the sale price for your home will happily do the same for your descendants. These same people also want the destruction of our NHS for their profit, do you want your descendants to have to pay for private health care or go without and do you want them to be denied the education they would like on the grounds of cost? Of course you don’t but to ensure their safety you have to admit to yourself, no one else, that you were duped and make the changes necessary in the polling booth.

 

 

 

 

 

Knife Crime in UK

Knife Crime! Government and not just this one, are frequently banging on about knife crime, the latest being anyone caught for a second time carrying a knife will be imprisoned for six months, where of course they can learn to use them more effectively.

I have been to a France a few times and there they have shops that specialise in selling knives. The following is from global knife statistics: “France has seen no equivalent of the wave of fatal stabbings in Britain, and newspaper reports on the so-called “culture du poignard” (knife culture) reigning in London and other big cities are read with universal horror.”

It follows then that knives are not the problem so there must be some other underlying cause; would it not therefore be better to research this rather than banging up more people in crime academies?

Petitions

Being just a tad politically active 😉 I get to sign an awful lot of petitions and I’ve been giving them some thought of late.

In pre Internet days they were a good way of expressing complaint or desires to those who had the power to make changes. Thousands of signatures on paper meant people actually stopped, took time to think about the issue and physically make the effort to sign and consequently it said to governments or whatever, look out, listen to us or you could lose the power you have.

Now it’s so easy to just click a link, click ‘sign’, feel good about yourself for a couple of seconds and that’s it ’til the next one. Along with the huge proliferation of petitions, the meaning and effect of on-line petitions has been reduced to almost zero. The recipient never sees detail of the numbers signing just a total, maybe issues a meaningless response and presses the delete button.

Originally an aid to more open and accountable governance and a useful feedback to Ministers or CEO’s of Multi Nationals they are now barely an irritant. A possible consequence of this is a growing feeling of impotence that could then lead to more direct action which would lead to more repression leading towards riots in an escalating spiral.

The now five yearly General Elections when none of us get the government we thought we had voted for is not sufficient for the maintenance of peaceful democracy and freedom. We are at an impasse, what should or could be done? What do you think?

More Military Deaths For What?

Four young UK soldiers die in Afghanistan in one day and the total rises to 157. Speaking of one of the men, Brigadier-General Richard Blanchette said he  had made the “ultimate sacrifice to bring hope and peace to the people of Afghanistan”. It’s time the lying stopped!

This soldier didn’t die ‘to bring hope and peace to the people of Afghanistan’ he died because he was ordered there to fight by his officers who in turn obeyed the Government who are acting on behalf of the City of London. Not one politician has even tried to explain the nonsense they speak, about terrorism being rampant in the UK if we didn’t fight in Afghanistan because it’s obvious rubbish. Plans for terrorism in the UK are more likely to be made here not in Afghanistan and even if the impossible were to happen and that country was completely under the control of the West then plans would be made in Pakistan, Somalia, the USA, anywhere at all.

So why fight the unwinable war there? Energy! Plans exist to build huge pipelines for oil and gas right across Afghanistan but cannot be laid if the Taliban are going to blow them up on a regular basis.

Our politicians tell us these lies and treat us like fools and you know what, most of us swallow them while our young men die for them. Wake up UK, enough is enough.

It Could Have Been Better

So the pre-Budget announcements are over and quite obviously the 2.5% reduction in VAT costing around £12.5billion will be largely wasted. It will do little if anything to stimulate the economy that’s even if traders pass it on and don’t simply raise their prices slightly to boost flagging profit margins.

It could have been better spent. We have around a million people who are homeless or living in sub standard housing. Freeing up Government owned land for social housing and giving local councils perhaps more compulsory purchase powers it would be possible to easily build a home for £100,000 which means that 125,000 additional houses could be built. The employment derived from this would be enormous and not just builders but all the manufacturing of materials, most of which would be British made. Add to this all the carpets, curtains, white goods, garden equipment etc purchased as people moved in and the stimulus to our economy would be huge.

The important part of the above is ‘social housing,’ houses for rent and permanently for rent thus replenishing the housing stock following the disastrous ‘Right to Buy’ policy of Thatcher and continued by successive governments. It would have the added bonus of helping house prices to stabilise at a more sensible level and help to prevent a future credit binge based on ever increasing property prices.

Who’s To Blame

The system under which we live, Capitalism, may not be at all desirable for many of us but it is the system at present and so there is no alternative but to deal with the problems as they arise. The Government has, I believe, acted responsibly and decisively over the past few weeks in dealing with this financial crisis and was faced with little room for manouver.

The bankers and dealers and short term profit makers have rightly come in for huge critisism and public condemnation. However, we should not apportion all the blame to them. People taking out mortgages bigger than they could realistically pay are to blame, people who self certified over inflated salary’s to get a mortgage are to blame, people who took out multiple credit cards and ran up debts they couldn’t in the end pay, are to blame, people using the expected future equity in their homes to buy another home to rent out, are to blame. Spending bonus’s on luxury items and exotic holidays instead of putting it by for the rainy day that just had to come sometime, are to blame.

In short, you, me and most of us, are to blame and we should remember that, not just now but in the future when this crisis is finally over.

Nuclear Power – The Big Debate?

So, there we have it, Britain’s nuclear power industry handed over to France with EDF already planning to build four more reactors.

The cost of this takeover is £12.5bn to EDF but didn’t I hear a short while ago that the cost of disposing of the radioactive waste that we already have (if anywhere can be found to put it) will be £76bn and rising? Isn’t it usually the case that when one company takes over another it takes over not just the assets but also the liabilities? Who is going to pay for future waste as we have yet to see the small print, indeed, if we ever do see it. Obvious of course that it will be us, the British taxpayer.

EDF is 86% owned by the French State so what the hell is our Government doing by giving control of our energy to a albeit benign, foreign power. As a matter of passing interest freethinkeruk’s electricity is supplied by EDF with around a 25% increase in cost so far this year. In France EDF was told by their government that 2% increase was the maximum allowed. Put another way we subsidise French electricity users.

We were also promised a ‘Big Debate’ on nuclear power, full public consultation; well at least they didn’t waste money on consultation when they had already made their minds up. Nuclear power is expensive, hugely risky and releases a lot of carbon in the process of getting the uranium out of the ground. Even while planning on more reactors it is still not known where to store the waste for the next 5000 years or more or how it’s ‘safety’ can be guaranteed by generations as yet unborn. On top of all this, safe, green alternatives exist and are getting more efficient all the time and together with energy conservation these dangerous reactors are not needed.

Housing Mania Continues

There is a saying that “if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got”.

It seems that the Government hasn’t noticed that we are in a financial mess brought about in the main by our borrowing money mostly to buy houses that we can’t afford. So what do they do? They make it easier to buy homes and build up more debt. The mind boggles, well mine does anyway.

House prices on average have fallen by around 10% over the last year. If you bought a house in the expectation that it’s value would increase above inflation indefinitely you’re in trouble or could be. If you bought your house as a home to live in then apart from a likely rise in the mortgage rate, you’re OK. Housing values falling back to a more realistic level is a good thing bringing some sanity back into the market. Today’s announcements of stopping Stamp Duty for twelve months, interest free loans for five years on new houses will indeed stimulate in some degree the building industry and the housing market. It will also reinvigorate the rise in house prices and back on the treadmill we go. In addition ‘rescuing’ defaulting home buyers by local authorities part buying their homes and renting that part back to them only serves to trap the occupants in debt.

Yes people need homes and yes, the building industry needs stimulation particularly as so many other industries depend on it’s activity. The huge sums of money that Government is about spend is a short term, short sighted, fix and will, in the long term be largley wasted. This money should be spent by building homes for rent (see) and thus adding the same stimulation to the builders, providing homes and thereby avoiding yet another debt spiral resulting in yet another ‘credit crunch.’

Green Energy Scam?

It has come to the attention of freethinkeruk that the Government has not been slow in wasting money out of reducing our carbon footprint. No surprise there then.

A so called ‘Charitable Trust’ BRE Global Ltd which used to be the Building Research Establishment and once state owned, has set itself up as the arbiter of standards in renewable energy supply such as solar panels. Who gave them this authority and how come that government grants are dependant on certification by this Trust?

A solar panel installer wishing to enable his customers to take advantage of a grant must first be certified by BRE. This will cost the installer £1800 initially and £1000 per year thereafter so what does he get for it? He gets a certificate after just ONE of his installations has been inspected, without poof that he even did it himself and gets his name put on the website. What a rip off and these costs must, of course, be passed on to the customer. Parts used in the installation must also be certificated by BRE at enormous cost to the manufacturer even though they already conform to EU standards. These charges too will find their way to the customer.

The whole green-energy business seems to be a mine field of interconnecting websites. Take The Energy Saving Trust for example yes, yet another Trust which though, actually calls itself an ‘Independant Company.’ This ‘independant’ company is funded by wait for it:- The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; the Department for Transport; the Department for Trade and Industry and the Scottish Executive plus a whole string of the major energy producers such as BP Oil, EDF Energy, none of whom any sane person would call independent.

Back to the minefield so stick with it! If we go from the Energy Saving Trust Grants link we get to BERR which is The Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (freethinkeruk hadn’t even heard of that one!) Click on Apply for grant/Householders/type/certified installers. Pick one installer website at random (or anywhere else in the country) and checking out certification you’ll get to Green Book Live. What is this you may wonder? Well it’s part funded by The Energy Trust and is another BRE website!!

So there you have it, a little effort and we’ve come full circle. A circle of interconnecting websites and companies, dubious sounding charitable trusts and the Government. All of them with a board of directors, staff to be paid and doubtless very good expense accounts, all contributing to the global warming that they profess to reduce. All being paid for ultimately by the poor concerned buggers who want to do their bit to reduce carbon emissions.

Just a little extra regarding the BRE Charitable Trust. Taken from last year’s accounts which show the salaries of the highest paid employees including the Directors. The names of directors or how many there are does not appear to be on their website, freethinkeruk continues the search.

Number earning £60,000 – £69,999   13

£70,000 – £79,999        4

£80,000 – £89,999        1

£100,000 – £109,999    2

£110,000 – £119,999    1

£120,000 – £129,999    2

£200,000 – £209,999    2

Local government costs

It was reported in my local paper that a disabled woman applied to the Council for a designated parking space outside her home. Her request was initially turned down on the grounds of cost at £3000. It was admitted that most of the cost was for administration!

Now, by designated parking space we are talking some yellow rubberised paint and a guy to paint it on. Let’s go wild and say £100 for the paint and £100 for the guy, that leaves £2800 for admin. I wont say anymore because like you, I suspect, I’m speechless.

Post Navigation