Thursday, 23 February 2012


"British Gas would do better to focus more on being energy experts not experts in making a quick buck at the expense of the British people. We get gigantic gas and electric bills, they get gigantic profits, this has got to stop. We urgently need the Government to intervene and impose a levy on the big six energy firms to help people with their bills, coupled with an independent public inquiry into energy just like we've had for banking and the media." Gavin Hayes, General Secretary, Compass.  He's not really wrong, is he?

Mr Cameron has said Britain will find another £51m for aid to refugees fleeing from Somalia to Kenya and Ethiopia. Clearly he has become a great expert on Somalia (which is a relief as he seems to be expert at nothing else), because he is claiming that Somalia is 'within reach" of a new political process. Unlike some, I have no problem with us being generous to those who have it far harder than we can even begin to understand, but I wish the government were a little more understanding of the plight of some Britons. The trouble is that the world's press isn't showing any interest when we are talking about some of the welfare reforms. As for his analysis of the Somali situation? Any takers?

Oh dear, oh dear. Another of Cameron's close aids, Emma Harrison, has had to resign from her Tzar post, as her company, A4e, is being investigated for "systematically" defrauding the government (yes, the same government she was advising about family). And only a few weeks ago she happily boasted that she was "in and out" of Downing Street. Only 'out' now I'd think Emma sweetie. Pity. That seat in the HoL was only weeks away.
In yet more embarrassment for Cameron, the Royal College of Paediatricians and Health Care, one of the Royal Colleges that was in favour of his privatisation plans for the NHS in England, and as a result was invited to the "nodding heads" summit at Downing Street this week, has changed its mind partly as a result of that very summit. Cameron apparently made it clear to the attendees (all his buddies), that he will push ahead with the changes regardless of the opposition. The college's chairman, Professor Terence Stephenson, has explained that this is impracticable. For the changes to work, the government must take the clinicians along with them. That's not Cameron's style though. Another example of bully boy Flashman tactics when he thought he was among friends.
"Put a young person into college for a month's learning, unpaid – and it's hailed as a good thing. Put a young person into a supermarket for a month's learning, unpaid – and it's slammed as slave labour." So says Cameron. But you see, Mr Cameron, there is a difference. In a college there is a real chance they will learn something; whereas in Tesco's they will provide the company with cheap labour so that they can make more profit by not employing someone. Simples! And as Tesco are now offering paid placements in the same way as they were previously offering unpaid placements, I think we can call it "job done". Cameron says he is sick of the anti-business culture. I say, who the hell cares what he's sick of?
The Royal Bank has lost a fearsome £2 billion this year. It's staff are getting almost half of that (785 million) in bonuses. On the same day, the English have announced that there will be a pay freeze in council wages, for the third year running. Now, I can understand that there's no money for pay rises for council staff, but when your wage has been frozen for three years and inflation has been running at 3-6% according to official figures, then you have got seriously poorer in that time. Imagine then, if you will, that a company, almost entirely owned by the tax payer, which made £2 billion of a loss, is paying out getting on for a billion in bonuses, never mind the pay rises... well!!!! Add that to an international sporting competition costing £25 billion going down in the middle of the summer, and I'd say you were begging for BIG trouble.
Talking of Olympics, have you seen the stamps? There is just no way on Earth I will pay whatever it is to put an advertisement for this festival of wealth on my letters. I trust Scottish stamps will continue to be available for the duration.


  1. 'In a college there is a real chance they will learn something'

    I decided a few years back to change my trade from a joiner to an electrician and went back to college. At the college I was attending there were nearly 50 people on that course. Out of the fifty on the course I would say that 7-8 of those attending would make electricians. So what about the rest of them? After doing a little digging I found out [from staff at the college] that the government was paying for those course to get people off the dole to make the dole figures look better than what they were. The teaching staff knew this and were depressed that they knew they were wasting their time and government money teaching people they knew would never make it. I also chatted to the carpenter teachers and they gave me the same story. So, the Labour government was pouring government money [our taxes] into teaching people whom they knew would never get a job just to make the unemployment figures look better. The days when you would have to have the proper exam results to take a place in college for a trade were ignored for political purposes. The 80% on the courses who could never be employed would have been better used on free work related schemes with big companies like Tesco.

  2. I take your point about the college courses Ged, but I don't think that anyone should be working for a commercial concern for nothing.

    I agree with people getting work trials with charities, indeed I worked for a short time on a project that did that, although I have to say I hated it. In most cases it did no good at all.

    As in most cases the Jobcentre does no good:

  3. Work trials with charities, paying for colleges for peoples unable to work ...

    A depressing picture isn't it?

    But isn't a better solution to refocus our efforts across the board.

    1. Depression tends to have roots in yearly childhood, often going undiagnosed. So totally reorientate depression treatment priorities on the young - head off the problem at the source, at the bud, among the next generation.

    2. Relaunch the colleges, separating them off from 'universities'. Education needs to enable young people to choose a direction, and specialise. And not all specialisms need to be academic. What the heck is wrong with specialising at college to get a skill?

    3. Stop allowing governments to fix unemployment figures. By a) getting independent bodies to do the figures for government (and not civil servants in whitehall either!) and b) abandon the silly claimants count. That is so unrepresentative of the true figures its a joke.


    I just feel like we are constantly trying to remedy symptoms rather than deal with the diagnosis. And the diagnosis is telling us we're failing people at the start of their lives, not half way through!

  4. We pretty much fail them at every stage, Dean.

    Your points have merit, but I should doubt there is the money or the will to do any of it. (Mind you, depression treatment is a whole post on its own, and the only treatment is often something that no doctor can provide.)

    I've said for ages (as indeed hove many people, that tertiary education is a joke. Blair decided he wanted 50% of people to go to university... what a joke. Again, a post all of its own though, I think.

    As for the claimant counts. Absolutely pointless. They bear no resemblance to how many people ARE actually unemployed, and then they are fiddled to make them look less awful than they are.

    I remember some years ago, someone asked the French Minister for Employment why they had far more unemployed than the UK. He replied quite simply: Because we count them all.

    I don't believe most of the figures that governments produce, and that has nothing to do with the party politics.

  5. Not sure if it's just me tris but your sidebar is not loading.

  6. Oh lord CH.

    It's working OK here, but a couple of times recently Subrosa has let me know that on her Google Reader, my spacing is all to hell.

    It just has to be Blogger!

    Thanks for letting me know, Cynical. :)

  7. Cleared now thanks and not long to see what dark corners that the Sun can shed a light on.

  8. Ah yes. Who can wait...

    And what excitement there was in the land...


    I'm off for an early night, so I can be up bright and early to lay my hands on a copy.

  9. Here is a thought from the stump:

    cut out the opening ceremony for the englympics completely - invest the £80mill in social services.

    No? Or do we prefer to waste money on promoting London, England?

  10. Well, I think it's a brilliant idea, and to give him his due Old Haystack Boris seemed to think that too, but Dave wants the greatest show on earth...the most fabulous declaration to the world that Britain is bigger and better than China.

    Well, fine, but China wanted to be bigger and better than Australia, and Brazil will want to be bigger and better than England.

    It will be a disastrous waste of money, of course.

    People will miss days to watch the tv, others will be unable to get to work because the transport system will crash; there will be strikes and the beggars will be shown on tv screens everywhere.

    Probably there will be more riots; they will run out of water for the water canon and have to import it from France, and the French will rub their hands together in glee knowing that it could have been them...

    And in the end Tessa Jowell will get a knighthood and they will make Seb a Prince of the Royal House and heir to the throne.

    Yes, the money could be better spent.