Marching Season

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The DUP “confidence and supply” deal to keep the Conservatives in government has not only seen the votes of their 10 MPs become more influential that they’d ever dreamed, but the marching season, traditionally synonymous with Northern Irish politics, has also spread across the UK, though instead of commemorating the Battle of the Boyne and the Siege of Derry, in England the cause célèbres are cuts and austerity.  Actually the recent fad for marches can, in part, be put down to what is being called “The Corbyn Effect”.

Since Jeremy Corbyn, who for all the allegations of links to and sympathising with terrorists organisations including the IRA, became leader of the Labour Party he has attended rallies across the country, whipping up crowds of enthused supporters seemingly ignorant of the disaster that befell the country – and the Labour Party – the last time they were in power with a genuinely socialist leader.

The “Not One Day More” march on Parliament Square on July 1st neatly illustrates the problem with socialism, which is an unearned sense of entitlement.  Even though the Labour Party clearly lost the recent General Election, protestors feel that because Theresa May is relying on the DUP to maintain a government majority then she doesn’t have a mandate to govern whereas Labour, who lost by around a million votes and fifty-odd seats, does.

People attending the march feel that austerity has gone too far and that cuts – real or perceived – to spending on the NHS, schools, police and housing are causing suffering and insecurity.  They say that the disabled are being cruelly treated and yet many joined in with the protests which led me to start what could politely be described as “a heated debate” on Twitter.  I dared to suggest that if somebody who had convinced the Department for Work and Pensions, via a Work Capability Assessment (WCA), that they were unfit for work, then they really shouldn’t be at the march. “What about mental health?” and “What about those in wheelchairs?” were just two of the many (and repeatable) responses, and my answer is this:

If someone, anyone, is mentally and physically capable of leaving the safety and sanctuary of their own home to attend or participate in a march where they are interacting with, and moving around and along with thousands of strangers, and sustaining this over several hours then they are surely capable of some kind of work, in which case if they’ve fluked or conned their way through their WCA in order to avoid work and therefore do not contribute to the NHS, schools, police and housing then they have forfeited their right to complain.  Not only that, but if these people actually had any dignity, showed some responsibility and instead of indulging in left wing circle jerkery actually went out to work to earn the money to pay the taxes to fund the NHS, schools, police and housing, then there wouldn’t need to be any cuts to march about.

 

Bashing the Bishop

Another year, another cumfest of bitterness as The Guardian panders to what the The Right Reverend Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley describes as the “middle-class Est­abl­­ishment bandwagon of outrage and horror” with another circle jerk biscuit of dreck about Brexit.

One of the central objections of the result of last year’s EU referendum is that Brexiteers were predominantly the elderly (and racists, workers, Northerners, plus anyone who hasn’t tongued Owen Jones’ ring-piece). Indeed, Dan Rebellato – who styles himself as “world-renowned playwright” and who was recently profiled in The Guardian (where else?) has recently produced on Twitter an “alt-right bingo card” of truly horrendous graphic design, which sought to generalise what he saw as typical pro-Brexiteer insults, including “libtard” and “snowflake” while using “truly horrendous graphic design”.

So here’s 78-year-old former BBC economics advisor, libtard and snowflake (HOUSE!) William Keegan, feeding his colostomy bag in The Guardian:

“This is the year when our politicians and the so-called ‘people’ – all 28% of the population who voted to leave the European Union – will reap what they have sown. Unfortunately, unless sense prevails, the rest of us will also suffer the product of their wild oats.”

Britain leaving the EU allows for the development of trade relations with all counties of the world, not just the elite couple of dozen members of the regulation and canapés EU. The Leave side (colloquially known as “Brexiteers”) won by over a million votes, with one Guardian reader crying:

“The tragedy is that the neolithic system of simple-majority-voting has given the generally less-well educated Brexiteers a colossal boost to their egos.”

Ha!!  The usual argument against the tried and tested voting system used for the referendum – by the losing side – was that Brexiteers didn’t win a clear majority, because babies, children and the mentally ill weren’t allowed to vote, which the Remain side thinks would’ve given them millions of extra votes, something which writes its own punchline. Keegan went on:

“It would be good if the majority of members of parliament could recall and act upon Edmund Burke’s 1774 address to the electors of Bristol: they should summon up the courage to act as representatives, not delegates of constituencies where they fear the threat from the xenophobic forces conjured up by the likes of Nigel Farage.”

“Lord King [former Governor of the Bank of England] has come out as a Brexiteer, which is not very helpful to his successor, who can sense a prospective train crash and was quite right to warn about the impact on the pound of a Leave vote – and who, with the help of his colleagues at the Bank, has been doing his best to keep the show on the road since.”

“He [King] was, of course, speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, which ever since the beginning of the referendum campaign seems to have gone out of its way to give prominence to Monsieur Farage and his ilk.”

“They were at it again last week, with the shameless Michael Gove heavily revising his castigation of ‘experts’, seemingly narrowing the field of the accused to the category of economic forecasters.”

“Anyway, while wishing readers as happy a new year as events allow, I should like to end with this wonderful quote from Jan Kamieniecki in a letter to the Financial Times: ‘I suspect that what Michael Gove meant to say was that the people in this country have had enough of exports.’”

Ho ho fucking ho.  In one article packed with bile, invective and a cream pie of generalisations, Keegan has not only accused the BBC of being a mouthpiece for those well-known neo-Nazis Michael Gove, Nigel Farage “and his ilk”, he’s simply highlighted the cancer that increasingly possesses the Left and mainstream media as a whole, particularly the Guardian and the BBC, whereby if you disagree with their point of view, you’re inevitably and invariably something-ist or whatever-ophobic. Taken to its extreme, one Guardianista, commenting on Keegan’s article, even went so far as to suggest Brexiteers were homophobic:

“Given their liking for framing the EU debate in macho terms, I’m sure there’s a fare [sic] few Brexiteers will be uncomfortable with the idea that the UK is ”Coming Out'”.

It is possible that Brexiteers are more aspirational than their Remain counterparts. Maybe they want to better themselves, try something other than a system that has served them badly, that has not allowed them to flourish. Maybe instead of sneering at those who want to achieve, want to get on, maybe instead of whinging and whining and crying into their own glasses of milk while wanking over Jeremy Kyle AND GET SOME FUCKING WORK DONE.

More tea, vicar?  The middle-class outrage has also infested the Church of England, Britain’s largest landowner and so middle class dominated it can barely see beyond its arguments over issues such as sexuality even to notice the concerns of the poor it should be serving, says Bishop Philip North, who claimed that the Church had largely been taken by surprise by the result of the Brexit referendum in June because it had become out of touch with life in deprived areas.

In the Church Times, Bishop North characterised clergy as increasingly embarrassed by ideas once promoted by the Church such as patriotism, family values and the virtues of hard work.

He said the referendum result was less of a backlash against immigration than a “patriotic vote from people who were fed up with having pride in their nation, its flag, and its armed forces misrepresented as intolerance or racism”.

He said that despite, uniquely for any organisation, having a presence in every community in England, the Church is no longer “adequately present” in areas of deprivation and “so discon­nected from many of these communities that it no longer hears what they are saying”.

He went on: “The Church’s agenda is being set not by the poor, but by academia, the moneyed elites, and certain sections of the secular media. It is their preoccupations that dictate the terms of the Church’s debate, and that pose the questions that it expends its energy on answering.

Indeed.  A twenty-something friend from a part of England known as “down South” set up a public transport business in his late teens.  He made mistakes, some more serious than others, some having a greater and wider impact than others, but he was learning.  And despite the doom-mongers and “enthusiasts” (self-proclaimed experts in the field of public transport who enthuse about nothing except late 1970s clothing and cheese sandwiches) who, as I wrote in a New Year message to him – “…whether it be TV, restaurants, books, food, wine, hotels, whatever – all industries where people make a living as critics without a) actually having produced ANYTHING in their chosen field and b) have no professional qualification or experience on which to base their judgements.  Basically they’re small, bitter and often jealous people who contribute nothing to society and think a visit to their local cottage is a posh first date” – he has flourished, exploring new markets and new opportunities proving, after a little guidance, the doubters wrong.

And that, folks, is Brexit. A bumpy ride but an fascinating and enjoyable journey.

Entitlement instead of responsibility? No deal

Whether it was tapping his foot to his music, or under a public toilet cubicle divide, George Michael made his name performing in public.  But since his death there have been many tales of his anonymous philanthropy, doling out cash to members of the public whose causes he deemed worthy of his largesse, including giving tens of thousands of pounds to people who couldn’t afford medical treatments, while trying to keep his actions away from a ravenous media. One way or another, he enjoyed discreetly pleasuring anonymous strangers.

One of the recipients of Michael’s hand-outs was a leg-up for a lady who’d appeared on Deal Or No Deal, the luck-based game show where people reveal the contents of their boxes, hosted by Noel Edmonds who has recently launched ‘Positively Pets’, a radio station for pussies.  After George Michael’s death the shows producer, Richard Osman tweeted: “A woman on ‘Deal Or No Deal’ told us she needed £15k for IVF treatment.  George Michael secretly phoned the next day and gave her the £15k.”

Whether it was through being horrified at the thought of someone shooting their load up a woman rather than through a gloryhole, or genuine compassion, our hero’s donation will mean that, subject to complications (multiple births, spread of disease and birth defects) the victim (everything has to be somebody’s fault, see) will have been able to make the same lifestyle choice as those who can conceive naturally (subject, of course, to the less than 1 in 3 chance of success).  The thing is, although GM (appropriately enough) will have donated £15,000 for the IVF treatment, the “mother” will receive almost double that in child benefit and tax credits.  And guess who’ll be paying for that?  Yeah, YOU, hardworking plebs.

YOU.

This raises two issues: the first is that with over 5,000 children awaiting adoption placements, it would have perhaps been more ethically and morally responsible for the “mother” to have adopted a child who needs a mother and a stable family to help with their life chances and mental wellbeing, rather than the mother undergoing unreliable and costly treatment because she “needs” a child like her next fix.  A child which would be statistically more likely to develop mental illnesses including autism, ADHD, clinical depression and hypertension, to fill the gaping, empty hole in her life (and not the one between her legs) without a thought for the child (should it materialise) or anyone else.

Secondly and more generally, should people have children – naturally or not – and have that child financially supported by other taxpayers to the tune of almost £30,000 in benefits and tax credits alone? Having children is a lifestyle choice: holidays, cars, a dog or a new iPhone are all lifestyle choices, and a common sense principle of “if you can’t afford to have it, don’t” is not unreasonable.  So why do people think this shouldn’t apply to having children?  Let’s look at the history of state-sponsored spunkery.

After a brief spell in the late 18th century, child tax allowances were introduced in 1909 and were paid only to taxpaying, working people.  In 1942, when you’d be forgiven for thinking there was something more pressing, an additional Family Allowance (FA) was introduced, but there was disagreement among Labour and Conservative politicians about the way it should be implemented.

The Beveridge Report, written by the civil servant William Beveridge, proposed an allowance of eight shillings per week for all children, which graduated according to age, to be non-contributory and funded by general taxation.  After some debate, the Family Allowances Bill was enacted in June 1945, which provided for a flat rate payment funded directly from taxation. The recommended eight shillings a week was reduced to five and the FA was introduced in August 1946.  In an arse-over-tit move which seemingly encouraged frequent rather than limited unprotected irresponsible fuckkery, it was only paid for the second child onwards.

After some Tory-tinkering in the 1950s, in 1966 the Labour Government considered the respective merits of an increase in the existing family allowance, or a new means-tested family supplement that was supported by then Chancellor, James Callaghan, but it took the Conservative electoral victory in 1970, when Sir Keith Joseph introduced Family Income Supplement (FIS), designed to replace further increases in family allowance with a means-tested supplement for the poorest families, to see the implementation of a scheme similar to that devised by Callaghan under Labour.

When back in power, Labour had originally intended to merge family allowances and child tax allowances in a new benefit called Child Benefit (CB) in the mid 1970s, but under financial pressure decided to abandon these plans.  Following inevitable pressure from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) amongst others, Labour succumbed and in 1975 the Child Benefit Bill was born, which replaced FA with a benefit for each child, paid to the mothers, phased in from 1977.

In 1984, there was a major social security review, announced by the Conservative government and leading to a Social Security Act in 1986, with a new system being introduced in 1988.  Many supporters of CB believed that it might be abolished (correct), means-tested (a start) or taxed (meh).  CPAG was the catalyst behind the formation in 1985 of ‘Save Child Benefit’, a grouping of something-for-nothing-ists who don’t understand that “free” actually means “paid for by those who work harder than those who’ll benefit”.  This mixed bag of worthier-than-thou slackers and spongers ranged from women’s groups to trades unions and from churches to children’s charities. In the event CB was retained.

Many proposals were put forward to restructure, reduce or radically change child benefit, but in 1990 then Prime Minister and Syd Little doppelgänger John Major declared that child benefit “is and will remain a strong element in our policies for family support”. I never really liked him, and his overbearing fat sidekick was rubbish.  Major restructured child benefit to introduce a higher rate for the first or eldest eligible child which at least reversed the most irresponsible of the Beveridge scheme introduced almost half a century previously.

In July 1998, the Labour government under then pre-war mongering Tony Blair abolished One Parent Benefit (yes another one, yet more money for lone parents originally introduced in 1976). They did this by incorporating One Parent Benefit into the main CB. It was abolished for new claimants and existing claims were frozen. Between April 1997 and April 2003 the rate of CB for the first child increased by a staggering 25% in real terms.

In 2010 neither the Conservative nor the Liberal Democrat General Election manifestos mentioned CB. The country was in the middle of a huge recession. Austerity and cuts were the wankfodder of choice for the feckless and left-whingers everywhere, but somehow CB was to survive, cone what may. In his Budget speech on 22 June 2010, then Chancellor George Osborne said that the Government had had to take a “difficult decision” about CB:

“I have received many proposals about this benefit. Some have suggested that we means-test it; others that we tax it.  All these proposals involve issues of fairness. The benefit is usually claimed by the mother. To tax it would mean that working mothers received less than the non-working partner of higher earners. To means test it, we would have to create a massively complex new system to assess household incomes. I do not propose to do those things. I know that many working people feel that their child benefit is the one thing that they get without asking from the state. So instead, to control costs, we have decided to freeze child benefit for the next three years. This is a tough decision, but I believe that it strikes the right balance between keeping intact this popular universal benefit, while ensuring that everyone across the income scale makes a contribution to helping our country reduce its debts.”

All benefits are popular, particularly with those receiving them. But they are being given to people who have made a particular lifestyle choice. It is funding frivolity, more so in cases where people choose to have many children. In his speech to the Conservative Party conference on 4 October, Osborne did little to put this right when he announced that CB would continue to be paid for all children, but that it would be withdrawn from higher rate taxpayers:

“We still pay over a billion pounds a year in child benefit to higher rate taxpayers. Believe me, I understand that most higher rate taxpayers are not the super-rich. But a system that taxes working people at high rates only to give it back in child benefit is very difficult to justify at a time like this. And it’s very difficult to justify taxing people on low incomes to pay for the child benefit of those earning so much more than them. These days we’ve really got to focus the resources where they are most needed. We’ve got to be tough but fair. That’s why we will withdraw child benefit from households with a higher rate taxpayer.”

I find it impossible to justify taxing hardworking people on any income to pay for the CB (and the various tax credits) of those making a lifestyle choice to have children.  Undoubtedly there will be people saying that it is their right to have children, and I would never question that. It is my right to go on holiday, own a car, a dog and an iPhone. But if I can’t afford them, I don’t scrounge off others. I go without.

There’s a disturbing sense of entitlement that’s crept into society, particularly in the last ten ears, often taking the place of responsibility.  It has become far too easy for people to live their lives – often to the full – on the back of the hard work of others, where working harder and longer to earn more money has been replaced by working out how many hours you can work without jeopardising tax credits.  Stories of people on benefits having children, often more than one and sometimes half a dozen or more are commonplace, as is the expectation not only from the claimants themselves but from a left-leaning media that “free” stuff should be paid for by “those who can afford it”.  In other words, if you think of society as a chicken, what benefit claimants contribute would be represented by the Parson’s Nose, and at the same time they’d happily ravish the bird down to its carcass.

In spite of well-meaning gestures from well-intentioned celebrities, from the philanthropy of anonymous chequebook cottager George Michael, to the socialist students’ Metropolitan Manc pin-up and professional publicist and poverty campaigner Owen Jones, who swallows £40,000 a year from The Guardian for writing Twitter-baiting pieces on the back of the poor plus, according to Media Guido, Jones has also generated around £1.35 million in book sales which, based on conservative royalties of 35% means he will have earned almost half a million pounds), at the end of the day it is hardworking taxpayers who have to pick up the £25 BILLION a year tab for child benefit and tax credits, the cost of the lifestyle choices of others.

No deal.

Google caused my mid-life crisis

A year ago almost to the day I was browsing the Internet, looking for an excuse to explain a life of missed opportunities, when I stumbled upon a very interesting piece about ambition and confidence. My problem is that despite having oodles of the former it has just about always been stifled by a distinct lack of the latter, and that the balance between self-belief and can’t-be-arsedness has been constantly tipped in favour of underachievement. Even more thought-provoking as the article itself was, for me, it’s author. I immediately recognised his quite distinctive name as being the person three positions above me on our school register some 25 years ago. After some toe-dipping we exchanged a series of emails detailing each other’s life choices and career paths. He was and remains tremendously likeable and highly intelligent without a modicum of bombast. In terms of schooling, we started from the same point: both in the top set for maths and English, both got a raft of a-grade GCSEs, but then we diverged spectacularly. He, via sixth form and (Oxford) University, is now an Editor at The Economist whereas I, via IT support and starting an ill-fated small bus company which could be best described by a quote from Denis Norden (“it was a bit like making love in a hammock – an interesting experience but of uncertain duration”), am a bus driver in the Peak District.

My father was a coal miner and was made redundant in 1986. A hefty redundancy lump sum was soon whittled down by his partner who he met a year after my mother died in 1983. This meant that by the time I reached school leaving age in 1990, every penny counted, and so my desire to take the sixth form and university path came a tearful second to the need to go out and pay my way.

As it happens I’ve largely enjoyed the work I’ve done and running a bus company was something I’d wanted to do since having a toy box full of them, but now after hitting 40 and having spent almost a third of that time driving without any intellectual stimulus whatsoever for the same firm on the same routes and seeing the same people I’ve decided that much more of this will tip my current human-to-cabbage genome ratio so far that my veins will take on a distinct hue of chlorophyll and any phallic representation by means of a cucumber/courgette/gherkin (delete as appropriate) would take on a greater reality. It comes to something when one of my primary school teachers, Mrs de Chiro, quite by chance boarded my bus a couple of years ago and said with a look of genuine despair: “It’s such a shame, you were a very bright child, I thought you’d be doing something much better than this.”

Over the last year I’ve been Googling the rest of that school register. Contemporaries who messed around in class and showed little potential have gone on to great things: one is Head of Creativity at an advertising agency in Edinburgh, another is Executive Finance Director at an NHS trust. A football manager, Head of Business Development at a District Council and Engineers various. And here I am, stuck behind a wheel.

So what did they do that I didn’t? They followed that Economist guy down the sixth form and university route. Am I jealous? Definitely. Am I bitter? Slightly. Don’t get me wrong, where I currently earn my corn is a cracking place to work and I’ve had this conversation with my boss several times, but realistically nothing is going to change unless I put more weight on the self-belief side of the scales. I have to do what all my former classmates did and take a different path.

And so this is part of that. Finding a creative outlet, a whimsical whinge, call it what you will. But for the first time and every fortnight I can say these two words with sincerity:

Welcome aboard.