Archive for the ‘politics’ Tag

A Good Friend Of Mine

I have had this friend essentially all my life.  We go back a long way, I’m a bit younger.  We both have Welsh roots.  Our paths have crossed in a variety of ways over the years but we’ve never for example worked together.

In my early years, my friend was always there for me, even on occasions when I wasn’t aware of the fact.  As I grew older, went through school, ‘O’ levels, ‘A’ levels, moved away for my degree, I did as every teenager did – became more independent, more self-absorbed and took things for granted.  My friend didn’t mind.  Still there in the wings, Mum and Dad and my friend got together frequently as my friend was eminently suited to bridging the generation gap.

I started off in work and visited my friend more frequently.  I became more reliant on my friend, suffering a loss of confidence and culture shock that my friend guided me through, supported me and was ultimately responsible for my improvement.  I am aware of that reliance, of the support I was given and of the unstinting loyalty of my friend throughout that period.

In the last decade, my friend and I have spent a lot of time together.  I have two children and both have been introduced to my friend, blissfully unaware of how much they actually owe my friend.  I hope that one day they get to know my friend, not in the way I did, but in a way that although my friend is there, my friend is a friend to them as well and that they need a friend like that from cradle to grave, free at point of contact and according to need.

My friend is the NHS and I would be lying if I were to say that I am not in tears once again at the thought of what my friend, my NHS, has done for me and mine, older, younger, in need or not.

My friend, my NHS now needs our support and help.  Under attack from the self-interest and greed of millionaires who think we should have different friends and we should pay them for the introduction and privilege, the knives are out to see off my friend, my NHS.

We can’t let that happen.  Everyone needs that friend, even when they don’t.

Spot The Difference

Paul Chambers and Jeremy Clarkson.  What’s the difference?

I’m going to guess “the unrelenting privilege of wealth”.  Here’s where we are.

Clarkson, with his Panini ’82 perm and his obnoxious racist twisted mug (he won’t be wintering in Cancún, kids), said this:

“I’d have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.”

He was talking about a couple of million public sector workers who, on 30 November 2011, said “enough” and took unified industrial action on a scale never before seen in this country.  Personally, he can try.  Bring a gun, I’ll get my kids and we’ll see how we go.  You’d best have an awful lot of bullets, though, because there will be two million behind me and I reckon they’d see you die screaming for that murder you’re espousing.  And if you don’t kill me quickly I’ll be at the front of that queue for what you tried to do to before my kids.

Extreme?  Beyond the pale?  Well, it depends.  You see, Clarkson’s abuse was written off as a joke (despite the man having less laughter about him than Shakespeare) and Ofcom accepted it.  They had 736 complaints. 

The BBC, that second-to-last bastion of Oxbridge privilege, received 31,000 complaints.  That’s enough people behind it to give solid support and revenue to a Premier League football team.  The BBC failed to take any action against him save for arranging an apology that the imbecile will never mean. 

The Prime Minister took one look at his bank balance, saw how he voted, rang the newsdesk at the BBC, spoke to the Oxbridge editor and came up with the word “silly” to describe him.  That last sentence may not be true, but frankly, given Clarkson can issue death threats at will but not mean it, what is truth?

“But you’re over-reacting, it was a jape, a gag, he doesn’t really hate those people who allow him to fart around daily in a non-job on an obscene salary” I hear you say?  No.  I’m not.  See Paul Chambers.

Paul Chambers was the man who found himself subject of the TwitterJoke trial.  He lost his job after a prosecution because of a tweet he made when he was about to fly to see his new girlfriend in Northern Ireland and Robin Hood airport in the Midlands was closed because of snow. 

On Twitter, he has an audience of 690 followers – Clarkson, although on the failure that is The One Show, had considerable more viewing his assault on British family life.  Chambers tweeted the following – “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

One week later he was arrested by five police officers.  He was questioned for eight hours.  His computers and telephones were seized and in a conclusion worthy of Keystone, was charged and convicted of causing a menace under the Communications Act 2003.  He sent the tweet in January 2010 while the country was snow- and ice-bound.  He was convicted in May 2010, 18 months before Clarkson went for his rifle.  His clear incitement to terrorism meant that he was… fined £385.  Meanwhile, of the 4,000 twitterers who when they heard, retweeted his message and as such, published it themselves, not a one suffered arrest or sanction.  Serious stuff, obviously.  That’ll hit terrorism where it hurts – a week’s wages (according to the national average, not John Terry’s stack).

Even the law didn’t take this conviction seriously.  Common sense decreed he should appeal – all that time and effort wasted on 5 of the police force, 8 hours of questions and however much they went into when they investigated his PC and phones for a fine that wouldn’t buy you a decent TVNot content with the absurdity of the case so far, the court of appeal upheld the conviction.  No, really, they weren’t content with the law looking the ass it was already.  They wanted more.

And so having had Doncaster Magistrates’ and Doncaster Crown Courts have a play, it went to the High Court in February 2012, two years after the incident.  And judgement was reserved.  Clarkson walks free and uncharged, while Paul Chambers continues to wait for exoneration.

The difference?  BBC, government and the filthy stink of the overpaid, undertalented, untouchable celebrity gets one case laughed off.  Paul Chambers had none of that backing. 

No coincidence.

Control The Language, Control The People

I have a languages background.  One of the intriguing points that comes out of that is how language is used as a tool of suppression and suggestion, often to induce opinions.

“That’s not me” you say, but the odds are you’ll be wrong.  As an example, all who have used the phrase “the taxpayer” at all in recent months in particular, check out now.  The shadowy “taxpayer” is a paragon of virtue, a source of social inspiration on whom we all rely, to the point that if something is perceived as slightly ignoble, well, it’s a waste of “taxpayer’s money”.  And you swallow it, hook, line and sinker, despite it being the rallying cry of an increasingly dark government.

“Oh, government” you say, rolling your eyes at me because you fancy I’m going to go cabinet-bashing against those socially responsible millionaires in the hotseats doing a wonderful job for “the taxpayer”.  Well, no.  Suppression and misdirection of language goes back forever – the Spanish Inquisition burned books, French postal authorities would not deliver to an address in Breton, Franco suppressed Catalan, Basque, Gallego under pain of sanction and imprisonment.  There’s many other occasions but ultimately, since the Inquisition was not repealed until the 1830s, these are not going back to the days of the Dark Ages – this is a consistent modern history.

Well, you can judge a government by the language it uses.  “The taxpayer” we’ve already covered, but you can all but play “blackshirt bingo” with successive governments.  Here’s a few examples

  • “Affordable” – this is an almost mythical get-out for any claim on anything that incurs cost.  “Pensions need to be affordable” is the cry.  That they arealready affordable is not addressed because their response will state that
  • “Comparable with the private sector” – is cited as a benchmark.  Public sector pensions are of course an element of pay and plundering pensions is little more than a pay cut you didn’t have the balls to do on salary.  That and the pension in the already-affordable format is so unattractive to privatisation as although affordable, a private company will want to tear into that.  Maxwell, anyone?
  • “Choice”.  Choice in the market place might be sold to you as a positive idea but is it?  I don’t want choice in my health provider, I want treatment from someone who will look after me and try to make me well.  Any private provider has the vested interest of keeping me well enough not to die but sick enough to generate revenue.  That’s what “choice” means in healthcare – the government turns you into a tradable commodity while selling Nye Bevan down the river.
  • “Growth”.  No-one in government has ever explained the principles of “growth”.  The reason is because no-one knows what it actually means.  It’s a vague number that has even vaguer implications and will not impact on your buying milk for breakfast.  Very important in telling you that everything is peachy, even when it isn’t.
  • “Revision”.  Means “increase”.  Fares and fees, charges and tariffs have not been increased in thirty years but they are “revised” twice a year minimum.  And they never go down.
  • “Reform.”  The antithesis of “revision”.  Reform will involve job cuts, reduced funding or worse conditions for users and providers alike.  Reform’s ultimate goal is one single unit of industry providing everything (whether it be a machine or a human machine) for an increasing board of directors and shareholders while surviving on recycled air.

There is one that falls out of the frame.  That is “scrounger”.  The reason “scrounger” fails is because a scrounger is deemed to be someone who provides nothing, who merely takes without putting in any effort in creation of items or wealth.  The trouble with that definition, however, is that it is entirely interchangeable with “shareholder”.

The recent “argument” that has begun to surface is that “1% are providing 28% of the country’s tax” and they should somehow get thanks or relief for that.  This taxation is somehow seen as a blight on the 1%. 

The clear implication from that to me is that if in excess of one quarter of the nation’s tax is produced by one hundredth of the population, then there is a clear problem with salary and distribution of wealth.  I will quite happily see that reduced if it means that the telephone number salaries that allow such a taxation disparity are suitably addressed.  You don’t see that argument, though.  You get told “we’re earning to keep you, you ingrates, we should be allowed to keep more of our filthy lucre”.

The control of the people in presenting this anti-majority rhetoric then produces a remarkable example of brass neck.  The amazing “we’re all in this together” is used to strip every penny and more from those who need it the most.  Under the yoke of the words “contribution”, “equality” and “taxation”, “benefit” as if it is owned by someone else rather than it being an “allowance” to which your circumstances entitle you, the poor get the unrelenting privilege of becoming poorer out of some sort of sense of community.

The same sense of community allows MPs to make up their own salaries, run up expenses for their job in the way that you and I cannot and also court and be courted by business interests whose concern, when everyone else has to contribute more, suffer pay freezes and lose out through loss of tax credits, cuts in entitlement and increased pension payments, is in arranging a 10% tax cut.

We pay more, they pay less.  How does that work?  Well, it will stimulate growth (see above) and increase jobs, production, demand… 

No, what you are saying is it will stimulate profit for investment which you may then choose to invest.  Really?  Sorry in the face of the language, then, that I don’t trust you.  I’m not interested in your profit.  Your own arguments show your profit is “the taxpayer’s” expenditure and as such all profits should go to “the taxpayer”.  In those terms, I would retain current levels and demand you invest your profit now – or we’ll increase your taxation level. 

It surely follows that if tax breaks increase profits through investment, then it is investment that creates profits.  Invest now, therefore, from existing profit.  You’re a private concern, raise your funds privately.  Speculate to accumulate, as the saying goes.  Don’t try and take my country’s taxation to offset yours and stop thieving from the “scrounger” to pay the shareholder.

That’s such an appalling attempt at robbing the poor to line the wealthy coffers with silk that you’d have to subvert the language, subvert the people to try and wear it.

You end up believing your own propaganda while the great unwashed don’t and for some reason you all look surprised when people riot and loot.