Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

UK Political weblog

Archive for the tag “Thatcher”

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Only 10% Cut So Far and still in Recession

It’s not good is it? Officially back into the recession that we’ve barely left for two years, despite the Con?Dems austerity program. A program I might add that has so far only implemented just 10% of their planned cuts to expenditure.

This government, with no real mandate from the people is the most vicious I can ever recall, yes, worse even than Margaret Thatcher and particularly bad because they are utterly incompetent, arrogant, out of touch with reality and unable to listen. They were warned, not just by me and assorted other bloggers, but by many financial experts, that their plans pointed towards disaster. Not of course, disaster for them personally as most are millionaires well cushioned with their tax havens and trust funds but disaster for countless citizens of our lands.

Unemployment and fear thereof in the millions and rising including huge numbers of our young people who now may never get a job, hospital waiting lists getting longer, home repossessions on the increase and poorer tenants being compulsory moved from London and South East to the North, leading towards a North/South divide like never before. Thatcher left little public assets untouched but now even the jewel in the crown, our NHS, is being sold off for private profit along with our schools. It didn’t take a genius to predict all this would happen so it has to be assumed that these are deliberate policies conjured up for the sole benefit of those who have manipulated themselves into power.

The current situation tends to lead the electorate into a depressed condition whereby apathy takes over along with a feeling of individual isolation which in turn leads to a sense of powerlessness. We are not though powerless if we collectively recognise that the power is ours and we can take it back from those to whom we unwittingly lent it. We can demand change and change we will get but only if we work together for the benefit of us all. We must remind those who say they can’t be bothered with politics that politics is health, employment, education, social services, the cost of fuel, pensions or whether your sons or daughters are going to war.

Poverty… Why?

A report out recently shows that the gap between the richest in Britain and the poorest has widened. I can’t say that it surprised me. In the usual and expected politician double speak Gordon Brown said “The report illustrates starkly that despite a levelling-off of inequality in the last decade we still have much further to go.” No Gordon, it didn’t say a ‘levelling off’ it said ‘widened’. We have indeed got further to go, in fact we actually need to make a start.

Those that know me often say that I lay the blame for almost all of the ills in this country at the feet of Margaret Thatcher, including this severe winter. Well, she did waste the windfall of North Sea oil and closed down 300 years supply of coal but that’s another story. What Thatcher did, very cleverly, was to break the strength of the Trade Unions and at the same time make the working population believe that this was a good thing. She then set about selling off most of our publicly owned assets such as our gas (remember ‘Tell Sid?), electricity, water and railways. She knew perfectly well that shares would largely end up with the financial institutions but fooled many into believing that they were ‘part of a share holding democracy’. Above all she put the notion of individualism, get what you can for yourself and the devil take the hindmost into the national psyche.  In 1997 the nation with a collective sigh of relief elected New Labour with most not realising that Tony Blair was but a toned down Thatcher with a smiling face. The result being that the inequality gap has widened still further.

The Labour Party was originally brought into being by the Trade Unions to fight for the rights of it’s members and to bring about a more equal and fair society and forced through enormous benefits, the National Health Service being just one example. The (New) Labour Party of today has morphed into just another wing of the capitalist system that lies at the root of all our ills. The budget of yesterday, despite the crying need to balance the books, made it easier to buy a house and saddle the working population with a life long mortgage around their necks and thus restricting their ability to dissent.  In addition this reliance on house prices ever increasing, played a large part in the recent economic crash and yet the Chancellor encourages more of the same.

So is it ‘Time for Change’ and bring back the Tories? Definitely not, New Labour is still the lessor of the evils but an evil non-the-less and although it’s perhaps worth voting for Lib Dems where they have a chance, real change will only come about when the people accept the hardest thing of all and realise that they have been duped for several generations and rise up with one voice and demand a new way.

Working for Nothing

A report out today by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) shows that more and more employees are working more and more hours for nothing. Some workers are giving over £5000 a year in lost overtime payments to their employers.

It is understandable that during the current financial crisis some may wish to do a little extra to perhaps help keep their company going and so secure their jobs but working long hours be it paid or unpaid is not good for health in the long run. In addition long hours inevitably reduces the productivity capability and so is counter productive.

Union members fought for over a hundred years to achieve employment rights and better conditions so it is sad to see so many employees throwing away these hard won benefits. Many workers of course don’t even join a Union having swallowed the ‘Thatcher’ line of divide and rule, got a mortgage around their necks and too scared to protest as they work longer hours for less remuneration.

Housing, it’s not all bad news.

House prices continue to fall in the UK with London showing it’s first fall in over eight years. Bad news if you’ve bought a house expecting it to increase in value, above the rate of inflation, indefinitely. If though, you bought a house to be your home to live in, which is what they are really for, what difference does it make? If you need to move then the cost of the house you wish to buy will also have gone down by approximately the same percentage rate as yours. If the current financial crisis continues and it looks set to do so for a year or two at least, then house prices may stabilise at a sensible and sustainable level. It’s not likely, unfortunately, that the current government will accept my suggestion and nationalise all land (see).

Perhaps and I won’t hold my breath, regulations will be brought in requiring a hefty deposit to be put down when buying a home and a limit on lending of say, three times annual income. In the case of a couple buying, based on the highest single earner only, thus removing the financial block on having babies. These regulations would have the added benefit of keeping prices on a more even keel.

The talks currently still under way in the USA, as to how to prop up the banks with how many $billions are going to do little for mortgaged to the hilt buyers in the US and in the wider world. ‘Trickle down’ has never worked as we all know too well after the Thatcher years. How about at least some of these now almost countless billions going to the mortgage payers who are in trouble, by way of installment interest relief. It would help them and help the wider economy and if the greedy bankers could possibly learn the lesson it would help to stabilise the banks as well.

Oh well, dream on.

UK’s Housing & Land

The Housing shortage & Land.

The problem is that houses are seen as investments to make a profit in the future rather than homes to live in. The cost of the land on which they are built is a major factor particularly in the exceptionally high demand and therefore high priced areas of the country in, for example, the South East of England. The selling off of Council Housing in the Thatcher era contributed greatly to the present crisis. Radical measures are needed.

Suppose that ALL land became the property of the State i.e. held in trust for all of the people, then land for building on could be released at NO charge and the occupier of the building would pay an annual lease for the land based only on the amount of land and not the building on it. This would be fair to all. Following the death of the principle occupants the building then becomes the property of the State with the local authority acting as agent and becomes available for renting. This would achieve three main objectives; houses would revert to being homes rather than investments, the cost of building a new home would plummet and eventually all homes would be rented rather than bought leading to greater availability, affordability and fairness. Additionally, considerable income would be generated through the lease payments for the needs of the population. Moving to a new area or to a larger or indeed to a smaller house would, if anything, become easier. This change could be achieved in little more than a generation. As all land and property would be held in trust for the people by the State but administered locally the system would be democratically accountable.

The same principle would be applied to current landowners and businesses. On the death of the current occupiers of land or the collapse of a business, buildings would become the property of the State and a rent paid by the new tenants. Farmers for example could still pass the business on to their children thus ensuring continuity but the land would be held in common.

Of course none of this is likely to happen due to electoral resistance by the current home owners who will cling to the notion that property values will rise above inflation for ever. This cannot be as like capitalism, of which housing and land ownership is a part, depend on ever increasing production and consumerism. It is better for our future generations to seek a new way now.

Post Navigation