School report for citizenship – could do better.

What a nice break that was (although adding another child to my family could/should hardly be considered a break).

I’ve worked nearly every day I can since the age of 16. I worked so I could put myself through college; I worked so I could put myself through university; I worked so I could experience all the trappings of ‘Old London Town’, recently I have worked to keep a roof over my family’s head. Cards on the table time….I’m a teacher, a nurse, a diplomat…I’m a public servant. I, like most public servants, pay taxes. I also pay student loan repayments and pension contributions. I don’t have a credit card or an overdraft, in fact, apart from my student loan I’m totally debt free. I have never been arrested…I am a public servant. However, I am the only bread winner in my beautiful family of four. By 2013 I will earn just above the cut off limit for child benefit. Since May I have seen my pay frozen for the next two years, my children’s child benefit taken away and now I face the prospect of a de-facto pay cut if the findings from the Hutton report are implemented. I am a public servant.

I am told that in order to be a good citizen it takes more than just, raising a family, paying taxes, abiding by the law and teaching the leaders of tomorrow. I’m told that I have to do more…my country needs me. I, like most citizens of this country, work extremely hard. Since September I have worked an average of 55 hours a week (this includes Sunday)…I am most definitely not on my own and there so many more people that work harder and longer, and for less. I am a public servant. I guess my point is, what more can I do?

I didn’t go into teaching for the holidays or the generous pension at retirement; I went into teaching because I wanted to offer children a better standard of education than I received…I wanted to make a small difference to the country in which I grew up in. I don’t feel that I should be bribed into doing it and I don’t feel that I should be bullied into leaving. I am a public servant.

We were told today by Emma Boon, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance: ‘It is not right for taxpayers to be subsidising million-pound retirement benefits for the public sector elite while seeing the value of their own pensions plummet’. I look forward to announcing to my colleagues tomorrow morning that we no longer pay tax, not only that, we also each get a million-pound on retirement. Now I’m not saying that being the campaign manager for the TaxPayer’s Alliance isn’t a proper job but Ms Booth is clearly not good in her current role as she has failed to understand, recognise that public servants also pay tax.

I’m sure that when the coalition have finished demonising the unemployed, public servants, the north, local councils, the police, the NHS, Europe, immigrants then I’m sure they will get around to the tax evaders and the bonkers bank bonuses. The coalition are some what correct in their approach to citizens that choose not to seek work or undertake work if they believe it beneath them. However, the proportion of those that fiddle the benefits system doesn’t come close to the proportion of those that fiddle the tax system. The top 10% of this country own 90% of it’s wealth, this leaves 10% of wealth to 90% of the country.

So to sum up, I need to work longer for less money, I have no right to financial assistance through the taxes that I pay and I have to work for free during the only time that I get to spend with my family. I am a public servant…is this fair?

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Top Trumps – Labour Leadership 2010

September 1st 2010 is a significant date in the diary for many reasons. For most schools in Britain it heralds the start of the new academic year. It marks the 25th anniversary of the wreckage of the Titanic being discovered. Uzbekistanis celebrate the 19th year of independence from the former Soviet Union. For Ed, Ed, Dave, Andy and Diane the 1st of September takes on a special significance as it marks the day in which the Labour leadership ballot begins to drop. Throughout the month, Labour party members will be voting in their thousands until the 25th when the results are announced.

Regular readers of the blog will know that this isn’t the first time I’ve strayed from the subject of the coalition. As I’ve stated before you can’t separate the coalition from the Labour leadership election because the winner will have a direct impact on the success or failure of the Con-Dems. If the correct candidate is elected, then they will have the challenge of trying to form a credible opposition.

When I was growing up, my friends and I used to argue about who would win in a fight…who would win between Optimus Prime & Megatron; Dalglish & Kendall; Stallone & Schwarzenegger; Thatcher & Kinnock (ok I made that last one up). Optimus was a truck but Megatron was a plane; Kendall had Sharp but Dalglish had Rush; Stallone had Rocky but Schwarzenegger had The Terminator; Kinnock had Hattersly but Thatcher had Tebbit. We loved nothing more than debating the minute details of each opponent. Sometimes we would fall onto the statistical debating cards, Top Trumps, to assist us.

Well, in a throwback to those salad days, my friends and I were in the pub the other day sharing stories of our complicated lives. During one of our discussions, two of my more troubled friends started to debate the leadership election. As the debate grew to include all of the table, it became clear that we all seemed to share different views of the candidates.  One area where we were all in agreement was on the importance this election has on the country. We just couldn’t agree on how best to judge the candidates…who would win? David has more support from MPs but his brother has the overwhelming support of the Unions; Diane is a woman, the rest all look the same; Well, just for fun, I’ve made these cards to help me choose and I hope they help you decide…the Cameron card is also included in the pack. (Cards not to be used for serious debate…watch out for the ‘special’ election reform referendum pack soon).

Ed 'I'm not David' Miliband

Ed 'I almost lost my seat' Balls

Diane 'I'm a woman' Abbott

Andy 'I'm northern' Burnham

David 'I'm not Tony but by god I want to be' Cameron

David 'I'm not Tony or Gordon' Miliband

Lasting moment of change?

So it’s all change at the top…yesterday saw the start of something special, something very special. That’s right yesterday saw the start of Junior Apprentice…over the next few weeks we get to see ‘Lord’ Alan beat the shit out of little, annoying teenagers, most probably because they are little, annoying teenagers. Ironic really that as we see the birth of a new government, a government rooted in the Thatcherite policies of old, that we also see on our screens the birth of the next generation of ‘Loads-A-Monies’.

So we ask the question, has this new Con-Dem government really brought the change in politics that they proclaim so loudly? Nick Clegg has spent the past 4 weeks trying to convince everyone, which he has done to some degree, that he is the 2nd coming (the first of course is his new friend Dave Cameron). He has told us repeatedly that he wants to change the way that Westminster works, that “the only choice you have is between the two old parties who’ve been taking it in turns to run things for years.”, hitting us with his campaign mantra of ‘Change that works for you, building a fairer Britain’. We all know where ‘Dave’ stands on change, its change this, change that, vote for change. Well how well do Con-Dem stand up to this idea of change? Lets look at some figures (Courtesy of Newsnight);

  • 65% of the the new cabinet went to either Oxford or Cambridge (15% of Tony Blair’s first cabinet were Oxbridge)
  • 61% of the new cabinet were educated at private schools
  • 4 members of the cabinet are women (would we even have Theresa May in the cabinet if Chris Grayling, ironically, hadn’t come out as a raving homophobe (the word ‘change’ once again rings loudly in the ears. Their were 8 women in Blair’s & 5 in Brown’s first cabinet)
  • 1 cabinet member is from an ethnic minority (she’s also a woman)
  • There are no ethnic minority MPs within the Parliamentary Lib Dem party.

Surely if you want to sell a different type of politics then you need a different type of face? What we see is that the change that they offered was a change from a progressive, representative cabinet to a change back to a government that now once again looks very white, very male, very upper middle class and very elitist. At least the Tory party from the 70’s and 80’s had a woman that was there simply not to make up the numbers.

Where does that leave them on the ‘change’ front? Well after 3 years of rebranding from ‘Dave’ and all the trumpeted ‘change’ nonsense from ‘Nick’ we see very little change in the look of the government. How about the ‘change’ to their policies? Lets take the ‘Big Society’ that Dave offered us.

When Cameron stated in his first speech as PM that he wanted to ‘change’ Britain from ‘One where we don’t just ask what are my entitlements, but what are my responsibilities’, he was selling his vision of change to the country. 23 years earlier Maggie stated that ‘People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations’. The words may have changed but the sentiment hasn’t – its worth noting that Maggie also said in the same speech that ‘there was no such thing as society’ – we all know what happened next – society itself crumbled…we are still suffering the hang-over from that 80’s party.

So in the same week that the budding ‘Loads-a-monies’ of the early 21st century launch their quest for loads of money, the old ‘Loads-of-monies’ of the late 20th century launch their quest for change…the only problem is, they haven’t!

The government of change. Source BBC