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Over the last couple of days, we really have hit a new low as far as UK government’s incompetence in face of flagrant demonstration of corporate greed goes. I am, of course, talking about the scandalous pension due to be paid to Sir Fred Goodwin, previously the CEO of RBS, and the way the government has been handling this debacle.

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When will this government at last start cutting its wasteful spending, the money it has been squandering for years, and money that – surely – it is now seeing it cannot afford to throw around any longer?

We are now finally hearing admissions about the mammoth scale of government debt UK’s accumulated over the recent years and especially in the aftermath of the financial sector fiasco, and that Britain will be saddled with this debt for 20 years or more. Debt that both us and the next generation will have to shoulder and pay for through higher taxes whilst the government is stuggling to balance its books and finds that its income is lower than its expenditure. None of these forecasts make pretty reading, but let’s face it, we were all aware something of this magnitude was about to start unfolding.

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The Labour Government is making a move to shift its focus onto fighting class discrimination in the UK.

What exactly does this mean? At the core of this new initiative, outlined in a new white paper, sits a noble aim, which is for “every individual to realise their potential, no matter what their background”. And that is a very good ideal to aspire to, don’t get me wrong. Equal opportunities matter at all ages, but especially for younger people still in education whose personalities and perceptions are still being shaped. People who are worse-off don’t always achieve (from the education or career point of view) as much as people from more affluent backgrounds, with notable exceptions of course, so the society as a whole is missing out if talent goes unnoticed or undeveloped.   Read the rest of this entry »

The Labour government is making another attempt at welfare reforms. This week, a white paper is being published by James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary, for discussion proposing a new approach. If effective, this should result in people living on benefits starting to look for work – or risk benefits being slashed, and should be implemented around 2010/ 2011.

I’ve long since felt a sense of bitter outrage that so many people in the UK get a free ride as “tax consumers” living – and some quite comfortably – at the expense of the rest of us. The system is notoriously inefficient and open to abuse. The case of a man who claimed benefits several times over, clocked up a “salary” in excess of £40K per year and only got caught because he carelessly drove to collect his “dues” in a brand new BMW springs to mind – and there are many other cases of blatant fraud.

In total, UK’s welfare bill tops £20bn. That’s pretty shocking in itself.  

What’s much worse is that many of these people bring up their children to believe that it is absolutely OK not to work as the state will provide. And these families can tend to have many kids (which in itself, I feel, is socially irresponsible) – often many more than the national average. That’s a new fast growing brood of brats, many intending to live off us in future. Great – we’ve created a system in the UK that actually encourages people and their offspring to become long-term and life-long shirkers. That surely was not the original intention of creating a welfare state in this country.

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Yesterday’s Queens speech was notable for its omission of the Communications Data bill, the extremely controversial Big-Brother-esque piece of legislation which received a huge amount of opposition in the UK and against which a number of blogs, including this one, have opposed.

Another public consultation on the bill will take place early next year and will aim to discuss problems the government sees in our national security, and proposed ways to tackle these problems.

Back in October, Jacqui Smith “clarified” what the Bill would and would not do:

“There are no plans for an enormous database which will contain the content of your e-mails, the texts that you send or the chats you have on the phone or online. Nor are we going to give local authorities the power to trawl through such a database in the interest of investigating lower-level criminality under the spurious cover of counter-terrorist legislation.” (quote from ComputerWeekly.com)

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It would have been a bombshell for many, but in good old British tradition details of this annoucement were leaked this weekend, so here we are picking this apart before Alistair Darling has made his speech due later on today.

The jist of it: Labour want to spend their way out of this unprecedented recession. And we are all seriously concerned that the numbers behind the justification of the intention to spend our way out of the recession just does not seem to add up.

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In the few days, the UK Government has published its plans to collect more data on people’s phone, e-mail and web-browsing habits under the generic umbrella of measures to fight global terrorism.

This will be included in the innocuously sounding ”Communications Data Bill”, due to be introduced in the Queen’s Speech in November.

We do not oppose the fight against global terrorism. But we don’t want to have constant police presence everywhere in my house.

Frankly, many people are outraged by this further intrusion into our civil liberties. A growing number of people want oppose the increasing Big Brother intervention of the present government. Alongside many bloggers, I am voicing my opposition to plans for further spying on our affairs and private lives.

The general sentiments are very well expressed and illustrated in the following post by the Power to the People website and I thank the author for allowing (in fact positively encouraging) the article to be reprinted here, something I would not do normally: Link to article.

As many will be aware, Britain already has the highest amount of surveillance cameras watching over its citizens. City dwellers are typically filmed dozens of times per day – something that has not actually reduced violent crime statistics under the present government! We seem to be heading for – if not there already – a police state. And this is scary, because once a government acquires certain powers, it does not typically ever give them up. So there will unlikely be a relaxation on the current policing techniques employed. And I am not sure police can even use their newly acquired powers to get us the degree of protection they claim they will offer.

The initiative to indicate our common outrage at this most recent government measure has in fact come from a blog at shrewdmammal.com – the author is urging people to include the tagRESIST‘ in all like minded posts and has included a logo which I have included on the front of my own blog.

If you share our views, and think the government is beginning to enjoy too much intrusive power over Britain, please feel free to reprint this article in your own blog.

Thank you.

In this morning’s speech, David Cameron laid blame for the current state of the UK economy at Gordon Brown’s feet.

Labour a failure: Cameron stated that the Labour government was responsible for the “complete and utter failure” of economic policy and that it has been an “irresponsible government” presiding over a period of “irresponsible capitalism”.

The implication is that the nation is now reaping the results of this policy as we slide into a recession, our financial sectors in tatters – and that this could have been prevented.

Cease support: In the recent days, Conservatives have been seemingly supporting Labour especially in the latter’s bid to work out a bailout package. So much so that one was wondering if the Conversatives have had any of their own thoughts about the economic policy. And, whilst Cameron is now effectlively making a statement that he is ending Conversatives’ support of the current government’s economic measures, one still wonders what exactly is he going to propose that amounts to a solid economic platform that is actually different from the current course.

General noises are being made about tougher regulations, “new measures to rebalance the economy”, and changes to laws. Whilst this is all good and fine, none of these appear novel measures that have not been mentioned before by someone else.

Are Conservatives still struggling to pull it together? On the evidence I see (or shall I say, do not see) today – yes. But so is Labour, really, although at least they have some sort of action plan for now.

Silly Political games: What seems to be happening on both sides is a lot of posturing. Whilst Gordon Brown is savouring the role of the saviour of the world’s financial system, his opponent David Cameron is the homegrown oracle who had seen it all coming and can see right through the incompetencies of the present government – yeah, right. How easy is it to throw stones about, say “I told you so” and then duck for cover – as really you have nothing new to say, Mr Cameron. Come up with some really smart proposal that will tell you apart from other government policymakers, then maybe we’ll put more trust in the Conservatives.

Until then – the usual charade of ceremonial policital repartee continues. Yawn…  

 

Copyright 2008 by CuriouslyInspired

Gordon Brown decided to bring Peter Mendelson back to join the Government as business secretary. Oh dear. Quoting John McDonnel, a left wing Labour MP:

This is an extraordinary step backwards into the worst elements of the Blair era, to reinstate possibly the most divisive figure in Labour’s recent history 

So an interesting choice from Mr Brown. Apparently the move to bring Mr Mendelson back is expected to unite the Labour party stopping the division into Blairites and Brownites. We can see that this is bound to work, right?!

As the BBC reminds us, Mr Mendelson already left the government twice before in disgrace – “once over a loan from his ministerial colleague Geoffrey Robinson” (failure to disclose a £373K loan from another minister) “and once over allegations of misconduct over a passport application for the Hinduja brothers. An inquiry later cleared him of wrongdoing over the Hinduja affair”.

So Mr Mendelson, the corrupt-but-rehabilitated-by-Blair former spinmaster of Labour, is here again. One only wonders that Mr Brown does not care for public opinion on his newly appointed cabinet figures. Or is he on a self-destruct course?

Tried and tested and squeaky clean politicians, anyone?

Had a very heated argument around the dinner table the other night about politics when parents came to visit. Bad idea, I know – we talk politics and religion with them but mercifully, sex is off-limits. Let’s keep it that way too.

Anyhow what got people wound up that evening was a question whether OAPs (Old age pensioners, to you and I) should be entitled to free bus passes. It’s not a new thing, of course, free bus passes have been around for a bit.

Essence of the dispute: I argue that it’s a populist measure by the government to secure a vote from a large electorate.  The older generation of course thinks it’s a brilliant idea coz they get something for nothing.

What’s the problem with that? Not all OAPs actually do need a free bus pass. Many don’t travel. Some cannot even be bothered to go and get the bus pass (I personally know of some). So, whilst the government is saying they are offering this package free of charge, at the cost of £m to them, in reality the take-up is smaller and costs them less. And it’s a great vote winner. So all in the name of spin, as ever with Labour. Read the rest of this entry »

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