When the Party is ready!?!

IDs is at it again!

According to him, although the Cons have determined that welfare benefits are going to cut by £12 Billion, the Party hasn’t yet decided where the axe will fall.  Pardon?  Have I got this straight?  (Has IDS got it straight – did he ever get anything straight?)  The welfare budget will be cut by £12 Billion, but it hasn’t yet been decided where the axe will fall?

Of course he knows where the axe is intended to fall.  And no wonder you don’t want the electorate to know in advance of the ethnic (lower paid and state-dependent) cleansing you want to accelerate!  People, real persons, have no relevance on the Cons agenda, they get in the way of profiteering, asset-stripping, selling off Britain and lining off-shore accounts.

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Democracy in action? Or democracy inaction?

It is well-recorded in terms of votes at election time that, over recent times (the last 20 years or more), no Party forming a government has secured not less than 50% of the electorate’s vote for that government.  (For “government” read both national and local.) Beyond doubt, the consequence of our less-than-democratic “first past the post” voting system which certain (the two larger) Parties have a vested interest in not wanting to change.

But, so far as democracy goes, there is an even greater fault-line.  That fault-line relates to who chooses a Party’s candidate to stand for election in the first place.  Not unreasonably, such a choice is usually made ‘locally’ (‘local’ in terms of the electoral boundary – ward, district, council, parliamentary).  More completely, such a choice of candidate is made, not unreasonably, “locally” by Party members.

But that’s the rub!  Based on Party published accounts and related figures, and taking the current three major Parties as measured by number of MPs, the total of the number of people who are registered as subscribing members of these three Parties taken together is less than 1% of the eligible electorate.  Almost by definition, therefore, the people we vote for have been selected by less than half a percent of the electorate as a whole.

And that’s democracy?  And passing legislation which requires people to vote is not going to solve the underlying malaise of disinterest, disbelief, disengagement and wholesale disillusionment of the electorate towards a discredited political system and those with a vested interest in maintaining it.

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The political “standard” of double standards

For some long time as measured by parliaments, and regardless of which Party is in power, it is well-known that the Conservatives do not like unions.  The latest wheeze by them presents a more than ample example.  But, additionally, it also presents a more than ample illustration of that Party’s double standards.

The Conservatives have declared they will pass legislation to the effect that, for any form of industrial action (and strikes in particular) to be lawful following a ballot, not less than 40% of the union membership must vote in favour of such action.  At one level, this may not seem unreasonable, at 40%.  However …

The “however” is that the Conservatives (and other Parties too) would have notable problems so far as the election to Parliament of MPs is concerned if the same, not unreasonable, standard was applied to the minimum percentage of eligible voters voting for a specific candidate.  There is a good number of MPs who have been elected on far less than 40% in their favour.  As significantly, a given government would have difficulties in showing that, as a country, it has the support of not less than 40% of the electorate.

Double standards writ large.

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Isolation and Loneliness as brought on by the Government

Self IIIa A touch-stone of the DWP and recent governments (local as well as national) is the concept of “digital by default“.  All that paper, all those trees saved!  And near-enough instantaneous communication too.

But, for whose benefit?  Certainly not the now-privatised Post Office delivery services!  But, private enterprise, being now-privatised, sink or swim!

Along with this “digital by default” and in this more so-called modern communication age, the equally so-called “benefits” of on-line communication.  Skype, instant messaging, emails.  You name them, and others.  All of which, of course (or is it?), enabling ongoing and “real-time” communication.

What has not been addressed, however, and is carefully avoided is the extent to which this unfettered idolatry of the digital age has brought about an increase in social isolation.

Pardon?  Better communication has brought about an increase in social isolation?  That doesn’t follow, does it?

Think about it.  Over recent decades and, generally, as a direct result of industrialisation, nuclear families (as they used to be called), like nuclear physics, have been torn apart, split asunder, and examined closely in terms of the individual and, as portrayed, individual and separable parts.  But, backing up a little, are they genuinely and honestly individual or separable?  Could the individual atom and, theoretically at least, its separable component parts, exist in isolation?  Welcome to the atom/hydrogen bomb!  Not at all!  It explodes and causes wide-ranging and life-long lasting damage.

And so it is with the foundation, the bedrock, of families.  Nuclear families were those now anachronistic entities when “family” looked after family:  generations within hailing distance of one another (often under the same roof) and looking out for one another.  And then the concept of “on yer bike!”  No work?  Get mobile, move, and go to where the work is.  The appropriate word for the one-time family unit is ‘fragmented’.  These days, perhaps ‘dysfunctional’ is more appropriate.

Overall, and governmentally-ignored (knowingly governmentally-avoided?), “digital by default” has resulted in an increase in real-time isolation and more real-time, everyday loneliness than ever did industrialisation.  A slow-motion explosion of family, cultural and identity cohesion.

“Digital-by-default”?  To up-date the one-time film theme tune, “Hello, loneliness, my old friend!”  Oh, how the words of that song have so very, very much to say about and against our so-called “modern” society, and those who run it!

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Double standards?, Hypocrisy?, Left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing? Or just plain and simple Politics?

Self IVa Over recent weeks I have noticed a couple of particular publicity campaigns, both, beyond question, either directly supported by or otherwise encouraged by the current government.   I am sure I am not alone in having noticed the conflicting, contradictory even, message these two ‘campaigns’ espouse.

On the one “I am in“.  The television campaign to encourage people in employment to contribute into a works’ pension scheme.  (I have for very long felt discomforted with that word, “scheme”.  As in ‘scheming’ and underhand and a con or rip-off?  Unhelpful – or maybe not! – undertones as to meaning.)  Save for your retirement.  Good idea.  Who could argue against that?

But, on the other, the contradictory and very recent publicity of the relaxation of the pre-retirement ‘cashing-in’ rules enabling a pension-saver to withdraw cash from their “pension pot”.

Save for your retirement and build up a ‘pension pot’?  Cash in your ‘pension pot’ savings before you retire?   Same source telling you to do both?

Personally, I am left thinking that this current government is desperate to give a boost to consumer spending and, like so much else of the asset-stripping it is actively encouraging and permitting, looking well outside the two-dimensional box to release non-governmental, non-interest-bearing ‘loan’-type, locked-in cash.  Good for the government.  But good for you?  Look out for the rash of Lamborghinis on our over-congested and pot-hole strewn, ill-maintained roads!

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TV Debate and Absence of PM

There is much that is and has been said, and Party-partisan dismissed, about Cameron’s stance that he will submit himself to only one TV debate.

To date, however, no-one has offered what amounts to a rational explanation for this purported act of cowardice.  “Purported”?  Read on!

Whatever else may be behind all of this and whatever else others may think, the one thing which has not been registered is the presence of the Cameron/Conservative spin-doctorisation as bought by him/them from America.  Of one thing above all else that anyone should note is that Cameron’s stance would not have been allowed unless this American spin witch-doctor had not approved it.  This close to the election?  This close to Cameron?  Be real!

Which beggars the question, if this was, in effect, Party policy, Why?  Why only one debate?  Why ignore the inevitable negative jibes?  Why surrender the chance to put forward the Conservative record of achievement?  Why would Cameron and the Conservatives want to avoid the limelight?

Answer:  because it is a minefield!  All of it.  The negative jibes, the Conservative record of achievement, the risk of national ridicule and dénoument?  Absolute self-inflicted minefield.

The sole logical conclusion is that, by contemptuously deigning to present himself to a single debate (when there may be as many as six other Party leaders present), Cameron can do his usual side-stepping dissembling and double-talking, and, in order to ensure there is equal time for the other leaders, avoid hogging the limelight when his Party’s abject failings would be publicly scrutinised.

If not, why else avoid the opportunity of facing the country?  Why else avoid a God-sent opportunity of putting the record straight?  Why else duck and dive and dissemble?

They made a film the title of which epitomises his craven capitulation:  “Despicable me!”

That’s politics for you!

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“Wrong Button Pressed”

According to the Scottish Police (‘Police Scotland’ to be precise) just over 200,000 stop-and-search records were removed from that Force’s database because someone pressed the wrong button.

A policeman fires a Taser gun.    At the end of January (2015) the Police Federation advocated that all police officers should be armed with tasers.  “Wrong button” – a euphemism for gung-ho trigger-happy?  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

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IDS – The Successful Failure!

Election time approaches and, true to form, IDS is doing his utmost to mislead and distort.  According to him, the Universal Credit scheme is working well and not only is it all going according to plan, but it is under budget too!  “You can fool some of the people …” comes to mind!

The truth is closer to IDs’ track record of failures.  Let’s face it, he is very successful at failing!

A failed military career (resigned his commission after eight years in the Army and still only a lieutenant – clearly, he was going nowhere).

A failed academic – remember his false declaration that he had a university degree?  Not merely a failed academic history (I do not know how he got on with his ‘O’ levels), but a failed fraud too.

A failed Party leader – even his own Party wanted no more of him after an embarrassingly short two years.

And, of course, an on-going failure as Secretary of State at the DWP.

Without doubt, an enviable and wide-ranging success – as a Failure!

Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary.

Best place for him? – Behind bars?

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The Ageing Crisis – The Disingenuousness of Government

Self IIIaIt cannot have escaped the notice of anyone interested in or involved with the “later life agenda” that government – and the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health in particular – is bleating about the financial crisis being inflicted upon the exchequer because of the current and projected increasing costs of caring for those in later life.  (“Care” in this context meaning ensuring that older people have enough to live on – in a word, pensions, and also have the personal care and attention they need as time takes its toll and recourse has to be had to health and associated welfare support.)

The title of this posting refers to the disingenuousness of government.  I use this term because, if one reads what certain government ministers want you to start believing, this pension and care crisis is the blame of the elderly!  And, from time-to-time, one can almost read into some government or ministerial comment that they have been caught by surprise by the implications and the finanical implications of it in particular.  But one thing governments, every one of them since the 1939-45 war, cannot deny, every one of them regardless of colour, hue or tendency cannot deny is that, today, 2014, they have had over 60 years notice that this “problem” was coming!  Remember the “baby boom” and the “baby boomers”?

Every government since the war has known that this problem was backing up and, as we are now seeing, the floodgates would no longer be able to resist the pressure and they would be opened.  In short, and the disingenuousness of it all, to the extent that the government has been caught with its pants down by all of this, it is government itself which is to blame.

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April 2014 – Forum Election Results

It is said that the electorate gets the government it deserves.  We have just followed through an election process for a Vice-Chair of the Forum.  Without casting aspersions on anyone, it was disappointing to note that there was but one person who put themselves forward for this elected office.  Hence, and by default, that person was deemed elected. 

This West Midlands Later Life Forum is fortunate in that its Planning Committee (the “executive committee” of the Forum) has within it some conscientious and, by experience and knowledge, valuable and valued members.  It is to be hoped that the new “blend” within the Planning Group will continue to serve the Forum as well as it has done in the past.  It hasn’t been easy and, as has been said by one of the business management gurus, the only constant is change – there is a constantly changing background of change and flux and consequent uncertainty. 

There will be the country-wide parliamentary election coming up soon enough.  I am left to wonder at what it is we, the electorate, will deserve this time!

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