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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The war mongers still want to bomb Syria

 Alistair Burt reveals anger over Syria vote at Westminster

Alistair Burt: whinging war monger

It really is nauseating when the war mongers like Alistair Burt, bleat on with their whinging spurious garbage about how Parliament has somehow become undermined and impotent because those itching to become involved in the Syrian Civil war, (for whatever reasons their hidden agenda demands), have been defeated in their desires to kill people in someone else's country and someone else's war.
It appears that they would have no qualms or shame in using other peoples lives in their desire to demonstrate their macho images with the specious justification of "supporting the Syrian opposition forces" regardless of the fact that they are unable to specify which of the 1001 opposition groups they would actually be supporting.
Parliamentary democracy often involves not getting your own way on every issue. Burt and the war mongers lost the vote and have been moaning about it ever since

Monday, 30 December 2013

CBI Chief says "Pay workers more" !

Pay workers more, CBI chief tells thriving firms

Director General of CBI: John Cridland.

John Cridland, director-general of the CBI, is either living on some planet millions of miles away from reality, or he is treating us all to a "tongue in cheek" piece of New Year nonsense.
Companies exist on a simple premise. Charge their customers the maximum price that they possibly can, and at the same time pay their workers the absolute minimum that they can get away with. Should the workers protest, then scream "Holding the country to ransom" and rely on the divisions within society, the prejudice of bias within the press such as the Mail or Sky News, the support and encouragement of many MP's (who have their own agenda in any case) and the fear of working people generally that they may find themselves without jobs.
There is no incentive for any employer  "benefiting from the economic recovery" to "pay their long-suffering workers more next year" as the Director General suggests. They are all too busy improving their "bottom lines" and worrying about how much dividend they should declare for their institutional investors and how they can secure another 12 months of "pay restraint" for their employes

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Satire touching a raw political nerve.


 David Blunkett Says Satirical TV Shows Need Tighter Regulation

The Rt Hon David Blunkett MP

Blunkett seeks to put the self interests of politicians above criticism and comment. On a daily basis, politicians of all parties, leave themselves open to ridicule and mockery, with their pomposity, arrogance and hypocrisy. Were it not for Satirical TV Shows, people like Blunkett (who is probably not the worst of a poor bunch) would have carte blanche, to trot out their prejudices without any possibility of widely circulated public comment.
To propose, as Blunkett does, that such television shows "Need Tighter Regulation" suggests a desperate desire to stifle any form of criticism of politicians actions, behavior or  proposals. There are already sufficient laws which could be invoked against television panel members should the target of the satirical comment consider that the panelist has gone too far. Further laws or restrictions would be a very unhealthy move towards state control.
Perhaps Blunkett and others are fearful of the aphorism  "first make people laugh, and then make them think".

Saturday, 28 December 2013

More like a noisy farmyard than the "Senate" of the United Kingdom.

Is it time to bring rowdy MPs into line and reform PMQs? 



Controlling the mob?

I have long been critical of the weekly circus of "Yaboo" politics so loved and commented upon by the media pundits of television and press. "The Prime minister was clearly left reeling after heavy blows were landed from the opposition benches" or some other cliche ridden rubbish from BBC News or Sky News or some other media commentators, frequently dominate the political news "reports", and are as meaningless as they are banal.

It is not only during Questions to the Prime Minister that this playground behaviour of trading insults and shouting banalities across the chamber of the House of Commons is put on public display by the cameras and microphones. Many, perhaps the majority of debates, on matters far too important to be left to the hysterical rantings of people behaving more like spoilt children than serious politicians,degenerate into farce and are resolved only by the usual troop through the lobbies of members pre programmed to record their votes in a particular way, as they are nothing more than lobby fodder for the whips and leadership of their respective parties.
If there are to be reforms in the way in which PMQ's and indeed all debates in the Commons are conducted, then such changes should be welcomed. It may go some way towards alleviating the growing disgust, resentment and hostility that many people in this country feel towards politicians and the way in which they behave and how they conduct themselves.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

The morning after the night before

Boxing Day !

Its December 26th, Boxing Day 2013. The wind seems to have died down and it is not raining at the moment. Hopefully you are all well this morning and not suffering too much from yesterdays celebrations. No doubt however, some people may be regretting that final slice of turkey in the sandwich before going to bed, or the "just one more" chocolate from the box of Quality Street, or even that "this is definitely my lot" glass of Scotch or vodka or what ever your favourite tipple may be. What ever your condition may be this morning, I do sincerely hope that you had a wonderful day and are having a great Christmas holiday.
Sadly, there are those in our society, who will not be of the same disposition as the majority of us as we nod gently over the breakfast table contemplating whether we do actually want that slice of toast and marmalade (rather that the usual scrambled egg, bacon, sausage and tomato and perhaps even a slice of fried bread), not because we cant chose it, but to put it simply we do not feel inclined to face it.
There are others however, who do not have the same problems of choice. In many households around the country this morning, breakfast may consist of a bowl of "Value" cornflakes with a little milk and perhaps sugar, with lunch and dinner following the same basic menus as the usual food choices throughout the previous months and for the foreseeable future. Yesterday may have been a bit special but today marks the return to the normality so familiar to many.
There are also many thousand who's Christmas has been ruined by floods, weather related power cuts, travel delays, and other associated trauma's widely reported in the media and on television over this Christmas holiday and it is right that we should spare a thought for these people also. However, it is to those who on a daily, monthly or even yearly basis are faced with hardship. The sick, the disabled, the unemployed and those even in work  forced into claiming benefits because of low wages. These are ordinary people who, usually through no fault of their own, have been marginalised and in many cases abandoned by successive governments.
Many benefit claimants, more than 30,000 people in fact, did not receive their benefits on Christmas Eve after a Government error, thus scuppering any budgeted expenditure for their Christmas outlay. Added to this comes the news that the number of people reliant on the Foodbank charities over this Christmas period, has more than tripled in the 12 months since last Christmas. No matter what Iain Duncan Smith may say about "scaremongering" or any of the other ConDem coalition politicians may say in their mutterings demeaning foodbanks, and demonising the people reliant on the Trussell trust and other such charities, the fact remains that the food banks provide the only barrier between hundreds of thousands of people and complete destitution. It is to the eternal shame of numerous politicians across the political spectrum, that this situation is allowed to continue. We too should accept a share of responsibility for allowing them to continually shirk any liability for such a scandal to continue, a scandal which is reminiscent of Victorian Britain with the work houses and the Poor laws.
As the year of our civilisation 2013 draws to a close, it is already predicted that  close to 1million people will be reliant on food bank charities before the end of 2014. When, in December of 2012 I predicted a figure of  200,000 people regularly visiting foodbanks in this country, I was wrong. By the end of this month, December 2013, it is close to 700,000.
There is no indication or prospect of any reduction in these scandalous figure anytime soon, in fact this situation will become worse over the next 12 months.
Please enjoy the rest of this festive season, but please do not loose sight of the other side of the coin.

The Egyptian people are the losers.

Egypt's military-backed interim government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, criminalising all its activities, its financing and even membership to the group from which the country's ousted president hails.

President Mohammed Morsi

Whether you support the Muslim Brotherhood or not, the Egyptian people as a nation have finally lost. Egypt has returned to the "bad old days" prior to the "Egyptian Spring" of 2011 and the removal of the SCAF puppet Mubarak and Field Marshall Tantawi, and descended to a new dark age of military oppression perhaps even more sinister than that which existed until 2 years ago. .
The new military junta, headed by Abdel Fatah al-Sisi hiding behind the facade of respectability after the July coup with the title of "Interim government" issues a statement that ""The cabinet has declared the Muslim Brotherhood group and its organisation as a terrorist organisation." and with those 15 words expects to silence any opposition or resistance to the military dictatorship.
No doubt, resistance and criticism will continue in the bars and cafes' of Cairo, Alexandria and other places around the country, but the new junta has demonstrated over the past few months since July that they are an oppressive and ruthless regime, who deserve the title of "terrorists"  perhaps more than any political party, movement or group within the country at this time.

 "Interim President" Adly Mansour with coup leader Abdel Fatah al-Sisi

 The show trials of President Morsi and hundreds of other people, members of or associated with those groups and individuals supporting the legitimate elected President of Egypt, the closure of the Raffah crossings into Gaza, the distancing of Egypt from Palestinian aspirations and protests, the movement of Egypt closer to Tel Aviv and the suppression of any criticism or protests from within, are indicative of a militarily controlled nation now covertly supported by America to an even greater extent than previously, The losers in this sad and at the same time sinister development are of course the Egyptian people. Naturally there are some, perhaps many people who supported Mubarak and consider that the military coup of earlier this year was a good thing and that al-Sisi is restoring order to the country. However, the millions of people who overthrew the Mubarak/Tantawi regime two years ago, and thought that they were establishing some form of democracy in their country have been betrayed and their Egyptian spring has been cancelled  to be replaced by the very corruption, greed and military excesses that they thought, through their sacrifices and demonstrations in Tahrir square and a thousand other places throughout Egypt, had gone.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Within the Conservative party, insult and derision is normal.

 Liam Walker claims families use food banks so they can spend cash in the pub

A young sidekick of David Cameron has claimed hard-up families are turning to food banks because they’ve wasted their money on booze.

Liam Walker and David Cameron


A vile and despicable comment demonstrating yet again, how out of touch and insensitive the hierarchy of the Conservative party actually are.  Liam Walker, Chair of the Conservative Future, Witney, joins Iain Duncan-Smith, Nadhim Zahawi, Rupert Charles Ponsonby, David Anthony Freud and numerous other Tory ministers and MPs' who have consistently belittled the work of Foodbanks and demonised the people who, due to ConDem coalition government policies, are now reliant on the charities for food to feed their families.
In this first quarter of the 21st Century, it is an outrage that there is a need for such charities and it is to the eternal shame to the government that such circumstances are allowed to continue. To heap insult upon injury by pouring scorn upon those sections of society least able to defend themselves, and on the work of the Trussell Trust and other charities operating foodbanks around the country, this government and those such as Liam walker,  to seek solicit the prejudice and bias of some people and to demonise those forced to use foodbanks by appealing to the lowest common denominator of public opinion.
As Liam Walker, Iain Duncan-Smith, David Cameron and the rest of the Tory "leadership" assemble for their family food and festivities, they will not give even a passing thought for those who collected their Christmas dinner (and other meals over the past year) from the local charity.
The politics of insult and derision, is normal and apparently expected, within the Conservative party.

Ruth Fox speaks about her frirst year as a Food bank organiser.

My first year as a food bank organiser

Ruth Fox at the food bank East Cleveland Baptist Church in Redcar
'I love the work' … Ruth Fox at the food bank at East Cleveland Baptist Church in Redcar.

The following text is from today's (23rd December 2013) Guardian and is reproduced in full: 

"I resisted getting involved with the food bank at first. The minister at my church kept asking me, but I had managed a charity for homeless young people and was looking for something with a little less responsibility. Finally, at the end of last year, I said yes. We opened on 30 January, and it's the best thing I've ever done.
When we started, we knew there was a need, but had no idea how much. We quickly realised we needed more distribution centres, because people were walking nine, 10, 11 miles for their food parcel, then home, struggling with the bags. That's not just people wanting free food, is it? It's desperation.
We now have five distribution centres in the Redcar and Cleveland area, and three more opening next year. Half of the people referred to us are facing benefit delays, and others are struggling with debt, domestic violence or low income. A few weeks back we had a lady in who was living with her teenage daughter, working three part-time jobs, and she just couldn't afford to buy food once everything else was paid for. We've had people say they can't afford the gas or electric, so we try to put in extra tins of fruit for them, food they can eat cold. One man told me he'd borrowed a camping stove from his next door neighbour because he couldn't afford the energy meters.
There was a definite increase in demand in April, when benefit changes came in, then again in the school summer holidays – we fed as many people in those eight weeks as we had in the first five months of the year. You realise how much families rely on free school lunches. A school phoned me one day, because a child had been sent in with a letter from his dad, saying: "Please make sure my child eats all the school dinner today, because that's the only meal he's going to get."
I have parents phoning me directly. I explain that an agency has to refer them to the food bank, and I tell them where they can go for help. One option is social services, and they say: "No, I'm not going to go to social services, because they might take the children off me." And I'm saying: "No, they really don't want to take the children off you, they want to help." But that's the perception people have.
People don't want to come to the food bank – it's humiliating, degrading. People don't even want to take their red voucher out of their pocket, because it shows they're a food bank client. We've been putting extras in to the parcels, coming up to Christmas – advent calendars and selection boxes – just so there's a treat this year.
The bedroom tax has also brought a lot of people in. I saw one guy recently who won custody when his son was about four or five, and gave up work to look after him. His son is now grown up, and has just joined the army, and this man is finding it hard to get work. Then he was hit by the bedroom tax. By the time he has paid his rent, council tax, the extra bedroom tax, put a fiver each on gas and electric, he has no money left. He's been told he has to move to a one-bedroom house, but when his son comes back on leave he wants to stay with his dad, obviously. I just think: "This young lad's gone off to serve his country, and he's being penalised for it. His father now volunteers in our warehouse – and his main reason for doing that is so he doesn't have to put gas and electricity on at home during the day.
Working at the food bank has changed my view of the UK, negatively and positively. It's horrendous that people are in this situation. We're the seventh richest country in the world, and since we opened at the end of January, just in this area, we've fed over 2,000 people. I did the job on a volunteer basis until November. I was doing 60 hours a week, on top of my part-time job, and since then I've been paid for about 21 hours a week – while still working 60 hours. I love the work. Each day is different, but if someone turned around and said: "Right, you're out of a job – we don't need food banks any more," that would be lovely.
On the positive side, people's generosity is incredible. We've got more than 100 volunteers working for us, and when we do collections at Tesco, people give so much. One guy took a shopping list, and we asked him to buy one or two items for us, and when he came back, he took a carrier bag out of the trolley. I thought that was what he was going to give us, and he said, "No, no, no, that's my shopping – that lot is yours". A whole trolley load.

Christmas 2013 in austerity Britain.

Christmas Shoppers Flock To High Streets Across Britain 


Christmas in the high street


Austerity Britain.
We should wonder how much of this "Christmas Shoppers Flock To High Streets" is being funded by Barclaycard and/or the usury companies of the "Payday loan" industry.
We might also consider that this Christmas, more than 1 million people will be taking payday loans to put food on their table on December 25th and countless others will be collecting their Christmas day meals from the local Foodbank.

Wallingford Food Bank
Preparing Christmas dinner?

It will be interesting to learn sometime early next year, how many of these high street stores will be proudly announcing "record sales over the holidays" with increased profits !
If these companies can discount prices by 50% or even more and still make profit, then why are their prices so high for the rest of the year? 

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Trussell Trust predicts up to one million Britons will turn to food banks next year

In Cameron's Cotswolds in the PM's own constituency, a food bank is alarmingly busy

A local Food bank.

In December of 2012, I wrote in this Blog under the heading of, “In 2013, Foodbanks will feed more than 200,000 people in the UK”. I was wrong. 
Before the end of April of this year, 2013, the figure had already reached 300,000 and now as we draw to the end of 2013, the figure is close to 700,000, who are regularly reliant on Foodbank charities. The Trussell Trust , the biggest of the Food Bank providers, reports that their charity alone is now feeding more than 300,000. The number of smaller providers, operating in towns and villages around the country, has more than doubled in the past 12 months and make a valuable contribution to the growing struggle against hunger and hardship.
However, the projection for next year, predicts that by the end of 2014, more than 1 million people will have been referred to the Trussell Trust for help. The thousands of people who will visit the other charities will clearly push this figure close to 1.5 million, who but for the compassion of others would be destitute.
The Trussell trust alone has launched more than 400 Food Banks since 2004 and during the course of next year plans to open another 100 outlets in the UK. This, coupled with other providers opening new units, will help with the problem, but the prospect of a growing need for assistance is evident.
The “think tank” the New Economics Foundation, reports that living standards in Britain, have seen the biggest drop since Victorian times.This is clearly a significant fator in the growth of Food Bank referals and no doubt, the rise in the number of loan shark “Payday loan” companies all reporting huge increases in their business activities and of course their profits. Usury provides good returns on the desperation of people.
Successive governments, but in particular this present ConDem coalition, must accept responsibility and blame for this current crisis in our society. The policies in Welfare reforms and cuts in government expenditure, coupled with years of pay “restraint” while prices of food, energy, essential communities and other household costs have been allowed to rip ahead, have resulted in conditions, unprecedented in this country.
Next Wednesday, it will be Christmas day and no doubt many will be enjoying the seasonal mixture of turkey, roast potato, cranberry sauce and all the usual trappings associated with the festivities followed by further indulgences during the remainder of the holiday.
Other, less fortunate families will be having their meals as a result of the charity of others, contributing food and essentials at collection points in supermarkets, shops and hundreds of other locations in towns and villages around the country.
We should all spare a thought for this situation, and remember how it has come about and how it is continuing to grow.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

The shortest day of 2013

 The Winter Solstice.

21st December

Today is the 21st day of December or the 355th day of 2013.

It is also the winter solstice, the longest night of the year or to be more accurate the shortest day. As from today the nights begin to get shorter an event which we have looked forward to for over six months. I have always found the long winter nights very disturbing. The fog and mists of winter together with the rain and wind and the cold is not something which I really enjoy. When the clocks go back in October of every year I am immediately thrown into a state of gloom, looking forward to the time when the clocks can go forward again.
Apart from the festivities of Christmas and the New Year winter is one long drag. At least now as the days get longer, albeit by only a few minutes each day or week, we can look forward to that day in March, the 29th in fact, when the clocks will be put forward by one hour and normality will return. It would of course be better if they left the clocks alone and didn't subject our bodies to an annual change in sleeping patterns and behaviour.
One can always hope.

Merry Christmas 2013

No matter where you are at this festive time, I wish you all a very Happy Christmas.

John Yates

Merry Christmas to everyone.