Monday, 9 August 2010


There are some words and phrases that governments use to evoke sympathy and understanding, even tolerance, from us. We have heard much about “pensioners” or “our boys” or “hard working British families” when the government is trying to paint a warm picture of the country.

On the other hand if the government wants to spread derision, all it needs to do is mention “the unemployed”, “immigrants” or “the EU”.

These words create a certain effect, often the one that was desired. We all naturally think well of pensioners or soldiers as a generality. Of course when we delve a little further we all know that there are some pensioners that are far from the cuddly granny type, and some soldiers that are drunken louts. Likewise the general impression of the family is warm and good. Add hard working and we are really cooking and just for the final touch sprinkle the word British and we have the perfect imagery, but then when we stop and think, we all know families from hell too.

Stop and think? That’s what the government never wants us to do.

The latest phrase designed to con us is “we are all in this together”. Not that it’s a new one. I’m sure they used it in the Second World War when there wasn’t much food to go round (but the Ritz was still open), and when there were clothes coupons, (but the then Queen reputedly managed to find different things to wear every time she ventured from the palace [and to be fair that was often]).

It’s much the same thing this time. We are not all in this together. Decisions being made in London by the coalition are going to be felt far more in the North of England and in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales where manufacturing and mining were the mainstay of the economy until the 1980s.

In post industrial Britain the public sector grew in these places. It was the government’s way of finding work for the vast numbers of unemployed. At the last count, public spending accounted for 62.7% of the GDP of Northern Ireland; in Wales 57.4%; in Scotland, 50.3%. The north-east of England 57.1%; the north-west 50.2%, and just like in the last Tory era, they will suffer as much of what they have built to replace manufacturing, is taken away.

In these places, taking a pruning knife to the state, far from boosting private enterprise (which is what the government seems to think will replace it), will weaken it. Surely this is self evident. Who on earth wants to start a business in an area where tens of thousands of people have been made redundant?

And it’s hard to see what industries are going to thrive in these places. When it comes to manufacturing of low cost goods we can’t compete with China and India; when it comes to quality goods we can’t compete with Germany or Japan which never lost all their high level skills as we did when we stopped apprenticeships (Thanks Thatcher!)

In London and the South East the financial sector has already recovered and bonuses are back to the pre-recession levels. Head offices of national and international companies together with tourism and the vast population (37 million people... around ¾ of the population of England) mean that a huge service industry exists. The public sector accounts for only 34.1% of GDP, and much of this is the high level pay of the Whitehall mandarins, who, doubtless will be cushioned from any payoffs.

So “all in this together “? I don’t think so. Do you?


  1. Tris, for the most part, I agree with you but...

    The Unions played as big a part as Thatcher in the decline of manufacturing - they thought they had the upper hand and they didn't. They pushed it too far.

    "London & the south-east financial sector" hasn't recovered. Banks may be paying bonuses in the City but that isn't the same thing - there's still abject poverty in the south-east and in London.

    Generalising wildly, I think it's true that after the eighties England, in particular, became a theme-park (grassed-over slag-heaps became 'Robin Hood Adventures' etc) and the rest of manufacturing (the North, Scotland?) a wasteland. But you can't blame Thatcher alone - we've been caught in a pincer movement.

    Now we're in the realms of global companies - you're nowhere if you're not global these days. Salmond and the SNP are no different to Cameron & Co as they encourage the EU and multi-nat corporatists to settle here.

  2. Interesting post Tris although I disagree that the majority think well of pensioners. I don't think they give one thought to pensioners unless it's some poor soul who was mugged for his or her pension. The days have gone when the elderly were given respect by younger generations. Part of that of course is that 65 isn't old these days and many 65+ year olds don't act as their predecessors.

    I'd agree with GV. The unions were just as responsible as Thatcher. Someone had to win.

    Life today is very different from 50 years ago. The people were treated with a bit of respect because governments knew it was only the people's taxes which would keep the country from bankruptcy.

    Now we don't matter. We'll pay up regardless and not protest. Governments are now interested in respecting the rest of the world where there's a likelihood of someone sticking money into the Treasury's coffers.

  3. Tris,

    Totally disagree with you on this one.

    Firstly, like Subrosa, I do not think that most people or the governments does think/want us to think of pensioners as a single block.

    Additionally, your being unfair on the Cameron policy programme.

    You ask how and what kind of industries will move into the North of England, Wales, Scotland etc once the public sector is scaled down. I tell you plenty.

    Why? Because Cameron and Osborne have announced major tax holidays and tax cuts for specific regions. This will have the effect of incentivising business to move out [and not into] the South East of England.

    But you didn't mention that. It is perhaps to inconvient for the kind of reaction you are trying to get out of your readers.

    Additionally, you complain about the coalition making decisions which impacts on the UK regions. But I would suggest that you exaggerate, after all in the Scots dynamic the Tory led government has bent over backwards to suit the SNP executive, and Scots economic needs - thats why Osborne gave Swinney the powers to suspend any cuts till next year [when Scotland can come out of recession].

  4. I detect a much more thoughtful mood among bloggers post Snotty and the 13 years of waste and gerrymandering. I agree with Tris on the manner in which we are conned daily. I place much of the blame here on the "Yes Minister" Mandarin class. Labour tried to seduce them and failed.As did Maggie. However they are a greater constant and therefore bigger influence on the state we are in. Their single agenda is the ever greater growth of bureaucracy and potential increase in influence and power. The EU is their Utopian gravy train.

  5. GV....

    Nice to see you here. It’s not often we have that pleasure. 

    I agree with you that the unions had gone far too far with their strikes over soft toilet paper and smoke breaks.... and I would imagine that the country was ready for Thatcher and her union busting after a decade of Harold Wilson and Old Father Callaghan having them round for beer and sandwiches at Number 10.

    If you go a bit further back though these unions were made up of guys who’d been in teh war and come back to their green and pleasant land for which they had fought such a gruelling war, some of them in Asia, only for things to go back to how they were before; dreadful housing, subsistence wages and tugging forelocks to bosses, so there is a deal of sympathy I think for the way they pushed to get conditions that were suitable for human beings, never mind heroes, which some of them were.

    Of course they went too far. They got silly. They got greedy, but of course no greedier than the bosses (and it seems our House of Lords). Mrs Thatcher went too far with their emasculation too. It seems to be a British trait. On jette le bébé avec le bain.

    I agree too that there is poverty in the South East and I’ve certainly seen it in London. Dreadful poverty with people, particularly working in the catering and hospitality business working for minimum wage in one of the most expensive cities in the world. There are however figure that show that the average household income in that area is twice the average household income in Scotland (hugely influenced by the billionaires and millionaires I know) (OK it’s from the Guardian, so that means it’s dubious, but it does rely on figures from the NOS and it does back up what you say about London.)

    I wish that we could encourage small business start-ups rather than rely on multinationals coming in... and then leaving when someone else offers a better deal. Perhaps governments just think that the cost of small business set up, in the hands of amateurs is less cost effective and more risky than getting Nestlé to open a factory with 500 jobs....

  6. I think what I meant about pensioners was that whilst if tomorrow DC announced a 20% reduction in Job Seekers’ Allowance, no one would cut up, except those on JSA. In short people think despite the very obvious evidence to the contrary that, if you are unemployed it’s your own fault. Now I know that if they think about it they realise that that’s not true, but none the less it is a knee jerk perception.

    On the other hand if DC announced that he was reducing pensions by 20% then I’m sure that many more than pensioners would kick off about it.

    I’ve often wondered about the “respect” that is shown to pensioners and why that has changed. In many ways of course because there is a perception of pensioners as being poor, very old and frail and sitting alone in their houses having fought in the war... and as you point out, that’s not really teh way that pensioners are any more. Almost none were in the war; a good number of them are anything but poor, because they got lucky and took early retirement when the going was good. They live in Spain or P and come home tanned and fit looking for a couple of months in teh summer so that they can let their houses in the sun...

    They don’t behave like pensioners at all. Often they take up hobbies, drive new cars and dress in trendy clothes.... No more black frocks and M+S beige!!

    That’s a good thing surely... growing old disgracefully is a damned good idea. As I said to GV, I agree that the unions have to take equal responsibility with Thatcher, but as you know I never miss an opportunity to belt the patronizing old cow over the head (metaphorically of course).

  7. Tris

    I disagree(no surprise there) we are all in this together'

    Its just our experience of and outcome will be as unequal as ever......with the low waged,unemployed,disabled, and females bearing the brunt of Cameron and Cleggys cuts.

    I only hope the Fawcett society wins their case and an impact assessment has to take place red faces all round for the Torys and their quislings.

    you would think seeing as the south east has all the jobs most of the public service cuts should be based in the south east.

    But as the milk fiasco shows when it comes to any decisions the political fall out will determine the Torys response hence the north will burn once again and a bloody big bonfire that will be.

  8. Dean:

    Just because I don’t mention every single thing that could be mentioned in a post doesn’t mean that I leave it out because it does not fit my argument. You seem to say that every time. It’s unkind and untrue, and you know it.

    I seriously didn’t know about the grants and tax holidays, and I apologise for having excluded them. However I doubt that they will make a lot of difference. People are being made redundant, and will continue to be for a long time, unless Mr Cameron’s threat to reduce the size of the state is just a bluff to keep the markets happy. (Always a possibility: we tell you it will be hell, you are prepared for it, the markets like it then we don’t do it and you guys think we are wonderful and the markets have improved anyway.)

    So everywhere there will be redundant civil servants with no money to spend, you wanna set up a small business amongst a pile of redundant people? Best make it a pub.... or an undertakers!

  9. Aye OR... as usual you've fairly much nailed it in fairly few words...

    Governments come and governments go but they go on forever to paraphrase the incomparable Alfred Tennyson. Policies may be tweaked to the right and the left, and of course strong personalities and egos of ministers must be satisfied. They are (or think themselves) important people.... although when you think of some of them you really do wonder why they would ever think that. But in the end the mandarins are the ones that count. I believe that even Thatcher, immensely strong and determined though she was was treated in the same way as the rest. Ie...”Yes Minister”... now let’s get on with it the way WE see it... but first let us have a glass of sherry.

    And yes, the EU is the ultimate gravy train. It's high time we made it less so.

  10. Niko:

    You be in it together if you want to, the boy's not for being into paraphrase some old goat.

    Aye the milk snatching went down a treat didn't it? Who on earth came up with that and thought it was a smart idea? Another person with no idea about history maybe. Did they go to Eton too?

    Was this a policy made on the hoof by some idiot junior minister without checking with either their civil servants or Dave?

    The south east doesn't have all the government jobs. There was a huge effort made to take jobs out of London and give them to the regions (I suppose that includes Scotlandshire) when unemployment in these regions got out of control. You know, close a steel works and open a benefits office (as they did in Sheffield) Steelworkers being naturals for working out people’s benefits! The head offices of all the English and federal ministries are in London, but the bulk of the staff there are senior and doubtless they will not be affected by the cuts. They will be the ones doing the cutting!

    I'm hurt you're not agreeing with me btw!

  11. Tris,

    I deo not think it is unfair of me to conclude that you have an anti-Tory bias. Indeed, many people do.

    Your article here has demonstrated this - you didn't mention a single one of our policies in this area - instead painting a picture that we don't care, and haven't bothered.

    That is deeplu hurtful and unfair.

  12. In 2001 at the G20 there were 3 countries who warned of the impending catastropy that lay ahead by unregulating the financial cronies/crooks. These countries were Sweden, Australia and Norway to a lesser degree the two countries who blocked this were the countries of UK and the US as it suited there individual political agenda not their respective countries wellbeing.

    Cameron will as Brown take the gains but spread the loses keeping the fatcats to a living standard that they are accustemed (wait for dumbed) whilst reducing the rest to whats left.

    This is the way the UK is heading except space has run out over here as chasing the monetary fairy gave one political status.

  13. Tris what Niko can't/wont understand is that this downturn was made severely worse by that numpty Brown who the BBC made out to be some wonder man.

  14. Well Dean. Forgive me if I don't include all the things you'd like me to include... of course if I did you wouldn't have anything to say in your comments... and then I'd miss you!!!

    I've already siad I haven't heard of a single policy which is designed to improve job prospects. All I've heard is how you are going to cut the state and get rid of layer upon layer of civil servants, local governmemt officers, police, etc.

    I'm delighted, if somewhat mystified that there are plans to help business. You should blog on that. Then I would know.

  15. CH...

    I could write a book about what Niko doesn't understand. LOL

    He's being deliberatley obtuse because it would stick in his craw to say he agreed with me about something... anything.

    How anyone, even Niko, can have any time for Brown is beyond believable. He didn't just contribute to the mess, he almost single handedly was the mess.

  16. dumbed down BritainAugust 09, 2010 10:49 pm

    The Tories destroyed manufacturing and mining in Scotland when they were last in power. It looks like the public sector will be destroyed this time. They also sold anything worth selling to foreigners.

  17. Yes DDB... LOL. That's pretty good. They don't mucgh like foreigners (Dean excluded) and they ended up selling off the family silver to them.

    But it is fair to say that the unions had the country in such a mess that it let the Tories in.

    Thatcher was a smoothie too. She bigged up the war over the Falklands so that she could smoke a cigar and pretend that she WAS Winston, then when she won (single handed) she went directly to the country bursting with jingoistic fever having pelted Johnny Foreigner and won a HUGE majority so she could go to town.

    If the unions hadn't been so damned greedy; if they hadn't wanted more and more... and of course if Sunny Jim hadn't been such an appalling prime minister, rolling over whenever Len Murray told him to, then maybe she wouldn't have ever got in.

    But that’s history. I believe Maggie was a huge fan of Churchill and referred to him by his first name, as though she knew him. I believe that the closest she got to knowing him was being in the same room once. It’s amusing to think what he would have thought of her. I expect it would have depended on the quality of the tea she brewed!

  18. dumbed down BritainAugust 09, 2010 11:09 pm

    Churchill wouldn't have liked Maggie. Her support for the mass murderer Pinochet and her failure to protect the Falkland Islands from invasion would have angered him.
    I suspect the coalition will be dead and buried in a year. A General Strike will see to that. The chinless wonders cast iron and Cleggie haven't got a pair between them.

  19. ddb...

    I imagine that Churchill would have been of the mind that she was a pretty little filly (well she was a long time ago)who should run along and leave the serious business of government to the men...

    I anticipate that if it hurts as much as they say it is going to people will take to the streets.

    But then, British governments don't pay much attention to people on the streets. Estimates suggest that the rally against the Iraq war was attended by over a million people and Blair ignored them completely.

    She didn't want to protect the Falklands from invasion. That is why they withdrew the warship. They gave Galtieri the signal that they didn't care, so that she could have her war, win, go to the country.... and come back with an increased majority.

    She didn't get a double first at Oxford for nothing. She didn't get in because daddy could fund a new refectory... she got in because she was clever!

  20. she got in because she was clever!

    Devious and corrupt = Westmidden and the red benches.

    I lost two posts about Brown and the US at the G20 in 2001 who resist any financial controls on the money markets as it suited their political agendas. The vulnerable will always be vulnerable when the nincompoops rule.

  21. dumbed down BritainAugust 10, 2010 1:04 am


    That Iraq rally involved people marching peacefully. Where's the danger there ?
    Just wait until there are no bin collections, burials, job centres, meals on wheels, power, water etc... It finished off Labour in the 70's ( winter of discontent )and will finish off the coalition.
    They're calling in the bounty hunters now...

  22. Clever people find it easy to be devious and corrupt.

    The vulnerable will always be vulnerable, I fear, full stop CH.

  23. "They also sold anything worth selling to foreigners."

    While I don't like the selling of the family silver much myself ddb, I do not like the overtones here. Besides we are all Europeans now, hardly foreigners, more comrades embarking in a revolutionary venture through the corridors of the EU.

    This is a transnational world, you can't objection to transnational ownership. Its foreign money and ownership after all that developed the north sea oil industry and may develop the oil deposits elswhere in Scots waters.

  24. dumbed down BritainAugust 10, 2010 10:18 am

    Dean said..

    " Its foreign money and ownership after all that developed the north sea oil industry "

    No it was British actually. BP developed the 'Forties' field back in the 70's.
    It's only the UK which allows it's vital utilities to be sold abroad. Not just to our " comrades" in Europe but to China and the US.
    No European " comrade" would sell their essential utilities to another country.

  25. ddb,

    The North Sea has and shall continue to depend upon foreign direct investment. Especially as oil extraction becomes more expensive, trying to tap the oil pockets still under there.

    You hold foreign capital and ownership in contempt, I welcome it if it can benefit the Scottish people.

    And foreign ownership is the norm in a transnational and globalised economy. The nation-state is nothing more than a mere conveyor belt for international capitalism. Face facts ddb, the era of fully planned economies, and running everything through nationalised industry is over, it died years and years ago.

    But hey, feel free to rant on about those damn 'foreigners' coming over here, and investing in our economic base if you wish

  26. dumbed down BritainAugust 10, 2010 11:44 am


    I'm happy with foreign investment into the UK. I just want a level playing field. If foreign companies can buy up our assets and use them as cash cows ( the Spanish company 'Scottish Power 'for example) then we should have the same chance to buy abroad. The EU laws seem to get ignored when British companies are rebuffed and told by German and French power companies 'hands off our essential utilities'

    " The nation-state is nothing more than a mere conveyor belt for international capitalism"

    Get a grip of yourself man. Don't be fooled by all the rubbish you're being taught. Learn about our history and culture and the centuries of struggle that made us what we are today.
    Are we no better than Afghanistan or Liberia ?
    They're nation states.

  27. Whilst I don't much mind if foreign money is invested in Scotland, and it is certainly preferable to something being closed down, I do worry that usually when there is a downturn, the parent company closes its foreign branches first.

    I worry too about utilities being in the hands of foreign companies, but then I worry about utilities being in any commercial hands. I prefer to see essential services in the hands of the state, but few people would agree I suspect. I’d get angry about a company making a profit and directors taking a bonus for providing me with water for example.

    It’s certainly not because I consider that "foreigners" can't run things as well as Scots... au contraire... but I watch French companies do here things that they would not be allowed to do at home because of government controls.

    I tend not to think of us as being “better” than Afghanistan or Liberia. Just different.

  28. ddb,

    The problem is that the nation-state has become largely irrelevent. The UK is like any other nation-state in so far that its open to the worst exploitation by inregulated and unrestrained capitalism.

    Take a look at financial services for example. The nation-state has become so powerless in the face of wholesale transnational business operations that its forced to seek intergovernmental cooperation [Bretton woods II for example].

    But even that isn't enough to regulate, restrain and direct free markets [which are entirely amoral, which is why we must regulate them]. Thus supranational integration must take place.

    Given thats the case [to my mind] I don't worry about 'foreigners' owning industry and services in the UK - this is an increasingly small world after all. The key is not to draw back into a 10th century form of nationalism, but to link hands with our fellow Europeans, to achieve the human supremacy over free markets and capitalism.

  29. * thats meant to be 19th Century nationalism! Sorry ;)

  30. Tris,

    I rathe think the answer is for the UK to stand up for our 'essential public utilities' perhaps.

    But as I say I have no problem with the principle of foreign ownership, as a general rule.

    Yet naturally it is a sad state of affairs when something as basic as water is bottled and sold for profit. For sure.

  31. dumbed down BritainAugust 10, 2010 2:27 pm


    Like I said I have no problem with foreign companies investing in the UK but only if there's a level playing field. UK companies wouldn't be allowed to buy up French or German utilities like power and water.

    " the nation-state has become largely irrelevent" ...

    Due to people like yourself who have no loyalty to their country and are happy to belong to a collection of different countries with different cultures and values held together by a Treaty that we didn't get the chance to vote for.

  32. ddb,

    Your a nationalist, and I am a patriot.

    Let me tell you the difference there, a nationalist hates everyone else country, and a patriot loves his own.

    I advocate the only solutions to enable us to control rampant capitalism, you however choose not to address the realities of globalisation.

  33. dumbed down BritainAugust 10, 2010 4:35 pm


    I just ask you to keep an open mind. Don't go down this 'hate' route. It makes you look bad accusing people and you said you had good manners so try to behave yourself.
    It's possible to be involved in globalisation yet maintain your own identity. Canada has escaped the recession relatively unscathed as it made laws to protect it's banks and natural resources from overseas predators. Switzerland trades freely with the rest of Europe and the world without seeing the need to join the EU.
    The EU project ignores history. No empire can force people together and expect to last. The last empire , the USSR, failed trying this. Like numerous previous empires.
    Don't believe everything your tutor tells you. Try to improve your grammar and spelling and make your decisions based on your own research. The Common Purpose , one world government of your tutors will fail. Not in the next year but in a few years from now.
    Sadly with horrendous upheaval in our society.

  34. Well ddb I dont like being accused of being a Quisling or Petain. But you are right, comments made in anger are not fair, thus I apologize, however - traitor is a tad strong an accusation no?

    And I do do my own research, and I'd like to take issue with some of your argument.

    For a start a European Union wouldn't risk our losing identity, it would be a multicultural concept; where we would all be free to endulge in each others cultures, cities and countries free from the medievalism of borders. I'd rather fancy being able to leave my passport at home and jumping on a eurostar to Berlin, Paris Cracow or Budapest!

    Additionally it isn't an 'empire' and it owes no resemblance to the USSR, that is utterly unfair. Some of the Unions key concepts include equality, freedom, civil rights, free trade zone - hardly a hair on the USSR comparison.

    Plus, Jean Monnet tells us that there is no previous history to compare the EU ideal to. We are at the cutting edge of history, for the first time ever [yes ever] the free states of the European continent are volunteering to integrate - free from aggression, or any other sort of pressure. A willing bond drawing us all closer together - this is radical, revolutionary and never seen before. Thus, your comparisions to 'evil empires' of the past is utterly irrelevent.

  35. dumbed down BritainAugust 10, 2010 9:52 pm


    Well all I ask is that you keep an open mind and when the whole EU scam collapses you will remember what I've told you.

    " the free states of the European continent are volunteering to integrate - free from aggression, or any other sort of pressure."

    I feel there's nothing else to say if you really believe that nonsense.

  36. I see you still hold to calling me a Quisling - well screw you mate. I am certainly just as proud of my origin as anyone; and will not be deemed a traitor by a little Englander.