David Cameron should buy lottery tickets. I cannot imagine the gobsmacked looks on the faces of the Conservative elite one balmy May evening last year when against all the odds they were returned to power with a majority. It must have been one helluva party.
A lot has happened since then, and it goes on. There seems to be a sinister arrogance pervading British politics these days. A cockiness not seen for a long time. Libraries will close never to return ,with all the social context that that entails. Bricks in the wall – walls are built by tiny bricks…..tiny bricks ……
Recent wall building shows no sign of let-up. Councils in England and Wales will now be breaking the law if they choose to boycott an agreement on political grounds if a different agreement has been agreed by central government. For instance, a Labour council may choose to boycott Israeli produce for use in their school kitchens but if they choose to do this they will be breaking the law.
…………Under the plan all publicly funded institutions will lose the freedom to refuse to buy goods and services from companies involved in the arms trade, fossil fuels, tobacco products or Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank…………… (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/israel-boycott-local-councils-public-bodies-and-student-unions-to-be-banned-from-shunning-israeli-a6874006.html)
This seems like an anomaly for a party that openly states its aim to shrink the State and champion localism. What it actually says is that local voices, probably those who vote anything other than Conservative, will have their decisions negated by central Government. This appears to me to be blatant attack on local democracy. ( Remember, we are bastions of democracy around the world !)
Quietly beavering away in the draughty corridors of Westminster are civil servants carving up constituency boundaries with a view to reducing the number of MP’s in Parliament. Which parties will be most affected ? Do I have to tell you ? Add to that the proposed reduction in Short Money, that money set aside to assist opposition parties in conducting their business in Parliament, and we have two more attacks on democracy. Or rather, attacks on those who don’t vote Conservative.
But the Tories are now emboldened. The stigmatisation of the Poor, the Have-nots in society, runs apace, and Conservative contempt for this sector of society is barely concealable with the news that calls to the Universal Credit Helpline will be charged at 45p per minute.
………..The Department for Work and Pensions said it would not set up an 0800 freephone landline for Universal Credit and said people should claim online.
The benefits helpline will be an 0345 number – meaning calls from mobiles will cost up to 45p and landlines 12p a minute. The DWP had pledged to phase out premium rate numbers altogether after an outcry over a similar existing service in 2013.
Mr Duncan Smith’s department however has however decided to charge a premium rate for the new service.
Rates per minute are particularly high for ‘Pay as You Go’ mobile phones used by people who cannot afford contracts.
A typical 40 minute call at 45p a minute costs £18 – about a third of the youth rate of Jobseekers’ Allowance supposed, which is supposed to last a whole week……….. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/claim-benefits-helpline-number-dwp-universal-credit-45p-a-minute-premium-rate-iain-duncan-smith-a6881441.html)
A premium rate. There is, of course, no need for this. This is purely vindictive. And don’t forget that Universal Credit will be the main source of welfare assistance.
There is good news, of course. Every silver lining has a cloud. We apparently have more people in work than ever before. However, productivity figures appear to be down and the economy, such as those who understand it will say, is slowing. What are these extra people in work doing ? Or are they on zero hours contracts, earning the minimum wage, producing little, but off the unemployment roster so that the numbers look good?
The Google corporation tax bill caused quite a stir. Just £130m on UK sales of £17bn over the last 10 years. This though, should be no surprise, since Google were amongst the companies advising the Chancellor on the Corporation Tax system in the first place. Should we be surprised then that the family firm of our own Chancellor, Osbourne and Little, haven’t paid Corporation Tax at all for 7 years.
So how does the principle sit when a Government insists on slashing NHS spending, an essential service for the ill and less well-off in society, whilst the members of that Government actively avoid paying their share into the pot that would go towards covering these expenses?
I wonder how they sleep sometimes.
And it’s not just the underprivileged sectors of our own society who feel the brunt of rejection and submission. Just when there is an opportunity to show humanity and leadership Cameron et al flunk it. Our Governments reaction to the refugee crisis has been nothing short of shameful.
We have agreed to take up to 20,000 refugees over a 5 year period. Firstly, ” up to” can mean any figure below that and still meet the commitment and secondly, there’s that hypocracy again that we saw over tax. Do you remember 6 years ago Mr.Hague saying that the Government would arm the rebels ? We seem to have kept something of a low profile since that moment of lucidity, stooped in a sort of diplomatic “Ooops” position.
Is this all good governance or is it subtle oppression? Of those eligible to vote only 24% of the population voted Conservative. Of those who did vote only 37% voted Conservative.
Leadership is more than standing at the front and spouting an opinion. It is about engaging, showing compassion and vision. Governance demands responsibility. Unfortunately, I see too many other subtle parallels.