Six More Years of Tory Rule

by craig on March 20, 2014 11:45 am in Uncategorized

The raison d’etre of the Tories is to ensure the state runs smoothly in the interest of the 1% of the population who own 70% of the wealth. Blair made sure New Labour had the same objective, the only purpose of the party structures now being as career ladders for the likes of Blair to join the 1%.

The Tories have learnt the lesson of Thatcher, that if you keep 42% of the English happy and feeling economically secure, and advantaged over the rest, then you can stay in power through the first past the post system.  This needs an inflated housing market, a few tax cuts, and a rhetoric identifying and excluding the outsiders, be they immigrants, benefit claimants or other groups.  Osborne has this political truth down to a fine art, as his budget showed.  If you are a middle class family able to spend 10,000 a year on childcare, you can now in effect get 2,000 a year from the government.  It is complex to administer, but most of the families who benefit much will be the kind who have accountants.  Similarly the pensions plan liberalisation will not mean a great deal to the poorest in society, although not wrong in itself.  Meanwhile endless benefit cuts are the lot of the needy.

New Labour are left spluttering on the sidelines because the differences in what it would do are so marginal as to be pointless.  What the country needs is massive state intervention to extract funds from the financial services industry and from those with obscenely accrued capital, and put them in to infrastructure in transport, energy efficiency, renewables, housing and high tech manufacturing, areas in which economic benefits are broadly spread in society including through employment.  There are legitimate areas of debate about how you do that – I favour tax incentivisation, or rather heavy tax disincentivisation of non-productive use of capital, rather than direct state agency, although you would need a mix.

Anyway, there is no radical economic choice of any kind on offer to the electorate, and the Tory/Labour divide is one of  tribal adherence rather than real policy difference.  But for what it is worth, with New Labour only leading in the polls by 4% just a year before the election, all precedent suggests that the Tories will easily recover that within the final year and there will be at least six more years of Tory government.

I do hope that Scots are quite clear-eyed about that before September.  The choice on the ballot is simple: Scottish independence, or Tory rule from South East England for the forseeable future.  The rest is smoke and mirrors.

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152 Comments

  1. All very depressing then. If true, it will be the end of the NHS and the entry of compulsory health insurance.

    The latest poll is saying a 7% Labour lead but I suppose that is splitting hairs.

    Anyway it’s 13 months to May 2015.

    Q What about the UKIP factor in all of this?

  2. I can understand your pessimism about the referendum, and the next general election.

    The only thing I can see to upset the traditional expectations is a worldwide economic downturn, triggered by the Fed being no longer permitted to print money, and the holders of its debt being unwilling to just buy more in expectation of its bonds being paid off upon reaching maturity.

    If that happens, looks like the Liberal Democrat support could lose heavily in any poll, something that Thatcher never had to worry about.

  3. It doesn’t matter who wins the next UK GE, as the result will be the same.
    Six more years of Tory rule.

  4. “It doesn’t matter who wins the next UK GE, as the result will be the same.
    Six more years of Tory rule.”

    I agree. And that will also apply to the Scots should they vote for independence.

  5. There are some very good Liberal politicians like Norman Baker and, from what I know, Yardley millionaire John Hemming, for example, but as a political force the party died in the early twentieth century. For that reason it has to try and determine which of the two main Neo-Con parties it is most likely to get through the odd policy from power-sharing. Its share though represents the poor relative, scraps from the table of the master, and however hard individual MPs work their party can never become an overall government policy-maker. It is a sad but realistic truth. My grandfather was a Liberal and a good man. Although I am not a party Liberal I believe a lot of good was born from the political writings of John Stuart Mill.

    However Clegg’s smarminess has dragged the party’s credibility and image down further. The Labour Party no longer represents workers and underprivileged rights. In essence there is nobody to vote for any more. But six years more of Toryism is unthinkable unless you are one of the 1%. I hope you are wrong.

  6. Daniel,

    There is no doubt Scotland’s political ethos is more socially minded than England’s. Post independence the political spectrum will shake up and I have no doubt in the structures that emerge that more left wing attitude will be reflected. Already in Scotland there are properly left wing parties which have a realistic chance of being elected, although the inane useful idiots of the feminist movement keep doing their best to destroy them through monomaniacal obsession. I think your pessimism is uncalled for.

  7. John Goss,

    As I have often said, John Stuart Mill is an inspiration to me, as are others in the tradition like John Bright, William Hazlitt and J A Hobson. John Hemmings is a very good man, as is Norman Baker, and others including Charlie Kennedy. Unfortunately control of the party had been wrested by neo-con wankers, I fear irretrievably.

  8. Scotland isn’t shackled by the “first past the post” electoral system.

    (“First past the post” – what a misnomer! There isn’t even a post, unlike other systems where greater than 50% support is needed for a candidate to be elected.)

    The voting system for Westminster MPs prevents evolutionary change within government. Beyond swapping Tory for Labour and vice-versa, this antiquated voting system is restricted to revolutionary changes, which seem to occur somewhat less than twice per century.

    This point alone is reason enough for Scotland to choose independence.

  9. “John Stuart Mill of his own free will
    On half-a-pint of shandy was particularly ill”

    The Philosopher’s Song, Monty Python.

  10. Ba'al Zevul (Occam's Disposable Razor)

    20 Mar, 2014 - 1:18 pm

    “….heavy tax disincentivisation of non-productive use of capital….”

    But what could possibly be a more ‘productive’ use of capital than betting both ways on the derivatives market? I wasn’t expecting Osborne, or his SPAD, Harrison, or the money men, to turn into Oliver Cromwell, were you? And a Cromwell (pace the Scots, who suffered from him as badly as any) is what is wanted now.

  11. “There is no doubt Scotland’s political ethos is more socially minded than England’s. Post independence the political spectrum will shake up and I have no doubt in the structures that emerge that more left wing attitude will be reflected. Already in Scotland there are properly left wing parties which have a realistic chance of being elected, although the inane useful idiots of the feminist movement keep doing their best to destroy them through monomaniacal obsession. I think your pessimism is uncalled for.”

    I personally have a lot of time for the views of former Labour cabinet minister, the Rt. Hon. Brian Wilson.

  12. The upside down pyramid of tax burden is a further evolutionary manifestation of the bigger apes bullying the lesser monkeys and taking their food, and chattel for the sake of fun of it.

    The constant torrent of unconscious drivel spewed; “we must reduce the welfare bill” is in reality the continuation of the trends of shifting the tax burden onto the lower income majority, by taxing their income/deducting their earnings at source, ie taking away the services they need, the benefits they depend on, eliminating their sickness benefit payments, reducing the amounts of the state pensions they worked for.

    The relentless annexation of the public assets into private hands, through “privatisation” scams, further have created an opportunity for the privateers to form price fixing cartels, that in turn maintain the high prices of the essential commodities and energy, that in turn is encouraged by the gofer (the so called political elite/government sponsored by the owners/super-class/one-percenters whom are far less in numbers in reality). This is due to the increase of the indirect taxation revenue, ie the more the cartels can charge the higher the income from the value added tax and other indirect taxation.

    The financial noose is tightening around the necks of the 99 percenters and the Ponzi style money back schemes are only to appease the dyscalculic punters who can hardly identify their arse from their elbow, giving them the sense of well being, in perpetuation of the fraud that has been foisted upon them all as the “capitalist” doctrine.

  13. The whole country lives under ‘Tory rule’ from the South East.

  14. “As I have often said, John Stuart Mill is an inspiration to me, as are others in the tradition like John Bright, William Hazlitt and J A Hobson. John Hemmings is a very good man, as is Norman Baker, and others including Charlie Kennedy. Unfortunately control of the party had been wrested by neo-con wankers, I fear irretrievably.”

    I guess that is why you left the party. Some of the liberal Quakers embraced, absorbed and radiated similar political-liberal philosophies and social practice rather than theory, like the Rowntrees of York and the Cadburys of Birmingham as caring employers, and like Robert Owen with his New Lanark mills. Good pioneers. Where are the new philanthropic employers? Do they exist?

  15. Emigrate.

  16. YouKnowMyName

    20 Mar, 2014 - 1:48 pm

    Tonight, Britisch Prime Minister Ralph Fiennes (Alec Beasley) is on BBC2 at 9p.m.
    “Politics is just a function of business now, just a tributary of the great entrepreneurial capitalist system,”

  17. Ba'al Zevul (Occam's Disposable Razor)

    20 Mar, 2014 - 1:56 pm

    “I personally have a lot of time for the views of former Labour cabinet minister, the Rt. Hon. Brian Wilson.”

    Before or after he bailed out of the West Highland Free Press? As I recall he began to the left of Keir Hardie, but wound up as a Tory in all but name…

    this guy seems to have seen what was not vouchsafed to Wilson’s supporters;

    http://wingsoverscotland.com/softening-up/

  18. From the Medialens Message Board

    ‘We no longer have a government, we have a mafia’ –
    Posted by marknadim on March 20, 2014, 1:50 pm

    Scriptonite Daily:
    While scrolling through twitter this morning, I was met with the words “We no longer have a Government, we have a Mafia”, tweeted by Kanjin Tor. The words didn’t leave my mind all day. This government, with unprecedented audacity and speed, are transforming our nation run on laws and institutions, into one run on patronage and privilege – more like a mafia of the 1%, than a government of the people.

    contd
    http://www.scriptonitedaily.com/2014/03/12/we-no-longer-have-a-government-we-have-a-mafia/

  19. “Politics is just a function of business now, just a tributary of the great entrepreneurial capitalist system,”

    This is the crux of the matter. It underscores my view that we will all remain under tory rule for another 6 years – even the Scots – irrespective of whether they vote for independence or not.

  20. Yes well said Passerby.

    btw I had to look up dyscalculic for confirmation of the meaning!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyscalculia

  21. “Before or after he bailed out of the West Highland Free Press? As I recall he began to the left of Keir Hardie, but wound up as a Tory in all but name…”

    I’m particularly referring to his views on Scottish independence.

  22. “Meanwhile endless benefit cuts are the lot of the needy.”

    The lot of the feckless in most cases, Craig. I’d opt for far more drastic cuts, whilst ensuring a safety net is in place for the genuinely needy.

    Also, there’s the £65 billion a year up for grabs from leaving your beloved EU.

  23. I was reminded of this great song Stand Up Now Diggers All (the Levellers and the Diggers movement)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJYUz31i_Go

    when reading of this redistribution of capital!
    http://news.sky.com/story/1229111/salford-cash-machine-thieves-dig-50ft-tunnel

    I don’t think that the old time diggers would have approved though.

  24. “The lot of the feckless in most cases, Craig. I’d opt for far more drastic cuts, whilst ensuring a safety net is in place for the genuinely needy.”

    The problem is there is no method that I’m aware of which would enable the weeding out of the feckless that doesn’t already adversely impact upon those who are in genuine need. The application of generic cuts across the board as the justification for the former is a zero-sum game.

  25. Ba'al Zevul Such a Parcel of Rogues)

    20 Mar, 2014 - 2:26 pm

    “I’m particularly referring to his views on Scottish independence.”

    Thought so. Just checking. When he was a lad he was an SNP member, btw. Ah, well, at least he isn’t a Rangers man. Yet.

  26. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    20 Mar, 2014 - 2:26 pm

    Mary, looking into her crystal ball, predicts

    “All very depressing then. If true, it will be the end of the NHS and the entry of compulsory health insurance.”
    ____________________

    Would that be such a tragedy? Most continental European healthcare systems work on the compulsory insurance principle and I think you’d have to be a particularly insular and blinkered Brit to claim that healthcare in France, Germany, Belgiumn, Switzerland and so on is works worse than healthcare in the UK. Or that outcomes are worse.

  27. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    20 Mar, 2014 - 2:28 pm

    “You Gov’s president is Peter Kellner the husband of the EU’s Ashton.”
    ___________________

    Here we go again – “guilt” by association, even irrelevant association. Egregiously silly.

  28. A wry smile here.

    HM gives her permission for Tony Benn’s body to rest in the parliamentary chapel overnight.

    Cleggover leads the tributes.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26664023

    Enough to make Tony Benn revolve in his grave if he was in one.

  29. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    20 Mar, 2014 - 2:32 pm

    Mr Goss says

    “The Labour Party no longer represents workers”

    _________________

    Given that even investment bankers work – many of them putting in longer hours than, for example, local govt officials or nurses – how would Mr Goss define a “worker”?

  30. doug scorgie

    20 Mar, 2014 - 2:33 pm

    “Regulators have fined a trader more than £660,000 for deliberately manipulating the UK bond market.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26665974

    This is of course fraud and involved £1.2billion but no jail, not even a criminal charge.

    The same happened with the Libor fraudsters.

    The 1% always seem to get away with their crimes.

  31. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    20 Mar, 2014 - 2:42 pm

    Daniel

    “The problem is there is no method that I’m aware of which would enable the weeding out of the feckless that doesn’t already adversely impact upon those who are in genuine need.”
    ______________________-

    You raise a good question. But I find it difficult to believe that it couldn’t be done (albeit imperfectly). A first step in that direction might be to get away from the hysteria that’s generated the moment people go public with the idea that although many are in genuine need, the feckless do also exist.

  32. “When he was a lad he was an SNP member btw…..”

    I’m glad that he has finally grown up.

  33. Little Chloe Smith, Con MP Norwich North and CFoI, has just been piping up in the HoC giving her full support to Gideon’s budget proposals. It is called ‘Budget 2014 Debate’, a misnomer if ever there was one. They are all reading partei set pieces and are being time limited.

  34. Ba'al Zevul (Such a Parcel of Rogues)

    20 Mar, 2014 - 3:08 pm

    “…how would Mr Goss define a “worker”?”

    That’s actually not a bad question – no doubt John has his own answer. But doesn’t someone cease to be a worker when his or her wage is replaced by a salary?? Ok, nurses are paid ‘salaries’. The term certainly needs redefinition or abandonment. How about, say, for the sake of discussion, an income of £25K? Or the entry point to the 40% tax bracket, which defines where the government agrees that someone has a bit more money than they need, as opposed to just enough after losing 20%?

    Maybe, after wondering whether I would rather a nurse or an investment banker came to my aid after being knocked down by a car/macho cyclist, I’d define a worker as someone who does something of actual value for someone who actually needs it. The low pay goes with the definition, I think.

  35. “You raise a good question. But I find it difficult to believe that it couldn’t be done (albeit imperfectly). A first step in that direction might be to get away from the hysteria that’s generated the moment people go public with the idea that although many are in genuine need, the feckless do also exist.”

    Removing the debate away from the hysteria you claim exists at the mere mention of of fecklessness, is essentially moot.

    What the debate ought to be about is offering potential policy solutions that relate to the underlying problematic culture associated with welfare dependency that fecklessness implies.

    The most effective way to deal with this problem is to root it out at source through the augmentation of specific target related policies as opposed to adopting the broad brush approach of welfare cutting.

    It is my view that benefit fraud is a major contributory factor in the creation of fecklessness and it’s this that first and foremost needs to be tackled.

    In their attempts to undercut fraud, the government would be better redirecting resources to front-line operations.

    Instead, in their crude attempts to appease middle England, politicians’ of all shades cynically grandstand against those on benefits for electoral gain.

    We should instead be arguing for a two-pronged approach – the consolidation of existing benefits on the one hand, and increased resources on the ground to tackle fraud on the other.

  36. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    20 Mar, 2014 - 3:28 pm

    Ba’ar Zevul

    “That’s actually not a bad question – no doubt John has his own answer.”
    ____________________

    But I doubt he’ll be giving it – too difficult, I suspect.

    But I’ll take yours as offered in loco parentis, so to speak, and say the following.

    1/. Agree with you about “salary” needing refinement.

    2/. As an illustration of the difficulty of basing it on a given amount of money, and re your last para:

    Let’s take the example of someone working on an oil-rig (quite a topical example, actually, since this blog is also discussing the economics of Scottish independence). Even if he was a non-specialist, he would probably be earning a lot more than £25.000. Probably more than the entry point to the higher incpme tax bracket. So – is he a “worker” or not?

    Re your last para: that para seems to base itself on the notion of “proximity” – “doing something of actual value for someone who actually needs it”. The results of the oil-rig person’s work are not proximate, but is he not doing something of value (ie, ensuring the availability of oil) for someone who needs it (given that we all need oil, directly and indirectly)?

    So the definition is difficult and I would still – despite your kind intervention – be interested to hear MR Goss on the subject. He could pretend he’s replying to you. :)

  37. Where have all the school deeds gone?

    To the …… every one.

    http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/gove-nicked-our-schools-and-handed-them.html?spref=tw

    ‘Now the reality is Michael Gove has set up Southern Cross For Education – where
    Academy companies have the title deeds for schools – they can sell them – and then sign extortionate leases to rent them (and the money goes offshore to the Cayman Islands as “excess funds”)

    Now Gove changed the law to say Academy’s (sic) don’t have to publish their accounts publicly – unlike every other charity in the country.

    And Gove changed the law to say No Academy trustee can be held liable for any losses

    And Gove is currently trying to change the Academies bill to say instead of the title deeds going to ” the proprietor of the school” – to “someone associated with the school”.’

    What crooks. What thievery.

  38. Brian Wilson – now I had a lot of time for him thirty years ago. That was before he became addicted to the dirty cash from the nuclear power industry.

  39. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    20 Mar, 2014 - 3:34 pm

    Daniel

    “What the debate ought to be about is offering potential policy solutions that relate to the underlying problematic culture associated with welfare dependency that fecklessness implies.

    The most effective way to deal with this problem is to root it out at source through the augmentation of specific target related policies as opposed to adopting the broad brush approach of welfare cutting.

    It is my view that benefit fraud is a major contributory factor in the creation of fecklessness and it’s this that first and foremost needs to be tackled.”
    ____________________

    As a quick first reaction, I’d probably agree with most of that. Of course the “how” – or better “through which concrete actions” – is more difficult.

    I should also apply your idea to the other group, ie those in genuine need. And therefore say that ensuring that our young people are better educated (formal, moral and civic education) should be one of the concrete actions.

  40. Ba'al Zevul (Such a Parcel of Rogues)

    20 Mar, 2014 - 3:41 pm

    I can agree with the oil rig worker. Throw in long hours and hazardous conditions to provide an essential product with actual value – his wage is determined by a fairly free market, and I’m not saying that a fixed value for workerdom is necessarily the way to go.

    But the investment banker is simply manipulating the market, with money freshly printed by a bank, to ensure that his client (on the client’s yacht) receives a cut from the oil rig. Without him, the actual producers could well be paid more…and without him, the oil would still be produced. In any case, he would be deeply offended to be called a worker.

    I see, incidentally, that derivatives traders are still in demand. As are static data analysts, whatever they are. Whose average wage has doubled in the last year.

  41. What a sensible and far seeing man Michael Rosen, the children’s author, is. He has Gove’s number.

    Sunday, 16 March 2014

    Big push to make education the next big market.

    Because of the way education has become a matter of what any Secretary of State for Education wants, it’s become very hard to keep up with what’s really going on.

    So, think back to NewLab who bustled into power shouting, ‘Education, education, education’ and turned this commitment into a parody of nineteenth century hospital, asylum, prison and school regimes, with every minute of every day laid down. Whether this was good for children or good for teachers doesn’t seem to have been debated. It was, in truth, an electoral ruse, cooked up by David Blunkett. He thought that it out-Toried the Tories with its authoritarian, prescriptive and ‘disciplined’ way of going on, thereby leaving NewLab untouchable, unimpeachable by the Daily Mail (NewLab’s criterion of success). That was the theory.

    Bit by bit, we figured out that this method and this model wasn’t based on any educational principles but was a direct transfer across to education of a business model of training and production. The child was to be ‘produced’ by the same systems that were being used to produce the labour-power (‘skills’) of a ‘trained’ labour force or indeed the same systems used to produce a mass produced car or biscuit: in a sequence of tiny, separate processes enacted on to the trainee or raw material. The fact that human beings (ie the children and school students) are not ‘raw material’ and that learning doesn’t proceed in this tiny step by tiny step way, was irrelevant. It was, supposedly, Daily-Mail proof.

    /..
    http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/big-push-to-make-education-next-big.html

    ~~

    He has an anti-Zionist stand and is onside for the Palestinians.

    http://www.thejc.com/lifestyle/the-simon-round-interview/interview-michael-rosen

  42. Ba'al Zevul (Such a Parcel of Rogues)

    20 Mar, 2014 - 3:53 pm

    “Brian Wilson – now I had a lot of time for him thirty years ago. That was before he became addicted to the dirty cash from the nuclear power industry.”

    Even then (1974 election) he was a shifty little sod. Despite all the Gaelic noises, no Highland constituency would have him.

  43. Ba'al Zevul (Such a Parcel of Rogues)

    20 Mar, 2014 - 3:55 pm

    (I’ll give him the credit he deserves for founding the WHFP, but even that moved on from its original principles, and was frequently his free publicist)

  44. No, there is no choice, economic or other wise on offer to the electorate. When was the last time anything actually changed? No, I can’t think of when it was either. Yet governments come and go, so though “they’re all alike” is an irritating cliché, it is nonetheless true.

    I’m not too sure about “the rest” being smoke and mirrors, though. I would have thought that it was pretty much all smoke and mirrors. I’m a Unionist by instinct, but I really wouldn’t really put my trust in any of them, whatever dogma or ideology they pay lip-service to.

  45. Re benefit fraud, fecklessness etc. An interesting summary here …

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/apr/06/welfare-britain-facts-myths

    and lots of analysis on the Rowntree Foundation site. Not quite the same picture as Benefits Street is it?

  46. The ordinary people have no choice when it comes to elections and who to vote for; they are all the same. A lot of people don’t bother to vote. This makes no difference. The only real choice we have is to vote but spoil the ballot. If enough people do this then it will have some effect. The problem with this is that most people are so badly brain-washed that they will consider such an option sacriligious.

  47. “Would that be such a tragedy? Most continental European healthcare systems work on the compulsory insurance principle and I think you’d have to be a particularly insular and blinkered Brit to claim that healthcare in France, Germany, Belgiumn, Switzerland and so on is works worse than healthcare in the UK. Or that outcomes are worse.”

    Fukin dribble – Remember AQP – Any Qualified Provider. New legislation means businesses can bid to run all but the remaining cherry picked ‘core’ services your GP currently offers. And if a proposed EU US Free Trade Agreement is ratified this year, these providers could be UK, EU or US healthcare companies. American health companies, running NHS services, for profit.

    Profit destroys hearts and minds, period.

  48. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    20 Mar, 2014 - 4:10 pm

    From Mary

    “What a sensible and far seeing man Michael Rosen, the children’s author, is. He has Gove’s number.”
    _________________

    Michael Rosen read English at Oxford at the end of the 60s. Active in student journalism (Isis and Cherwell).

  49. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    20 Mar, 2014 - 4:20 pm

    Mark Golding

    ““Would that be such a tragedy? Most continental European healthcare systems work on the compulsory insurance principle and I think you’d have to be a particularly insular and blinkered Brit to claim that healthcare in France, Germany, Belgiumn, Switzerland and so on is works worse than healthcare in the UK. Or that outcomes are worse.”

    Fukin dribble – Remember AQP – Any Qualified Provider. New legislation means businesses can bid to run all but the remaining cherry picked ‘core’ services your GP currently offers. And if a proposed EU US Free Trade Agreement is ratified this year, these providers could be UK, EU or US healthcare companies. American health companies, running NHS services, for profit.”
    _____________________

    Is that supposed to be an answer?

    The various elements of healthcare on the Continent are run by both public and private providers and doesn’t seem to suffer from that. And, by the way, who provides healthcare services is not the same point as the one we started with, which was how health care is funded (compulsory health insurance systems)

    ****************

    At the risk of pulling a “John Goss” on you, I’m not sure it’s very profitable to engage with someone who starts his reply with “fukin dribble”. Try to do better.

  50. Statistically across the board benefit fraud by claimants is insignificant. Serious fraud and tax evasion, theft and worse by the wealthy add up to staggering sums. I think New Labour’s child Daniel’s silly buzzword two-pronged approach could be simplified and rationalised, surely such an extravagance of prongs must be wasteful. I think that this ‘first and foremost’ we need to tackle with an economical efficient and particularly sharp one-pronged approach. You’ll find that one such prong requires substantially less force applied than any two. You two-prongers lack any scientific basis for your wildly inaccurate mis-targeted ‘pronging’ of the sick and the unemployed the elderly and the poor, the excluded and the disenfranchised the generationally poor who’ve never shared and never desired to share in the spoils of the looting and self-enrichment carried on by a nasty selfish sharp-elbowed treacherous few, the stealing from the common wealth of the nation which has characterised this country’s descent into utter corruption and ruin.

    Your view that benefit fraud is a major contributory factor in the creation of fecklessness is informed by what exactly, it certainly isn’t facts as we know them. You offer -indeed have no definition of fecklessness, but you’ve plucked it out some tabloid rag non-story, spun from some Tory or Labour attack dog’s slavering lips over an expensive taxpayer expenses-paid lunch, with their journo chums as honoured guests only too glad to pay the heavy price of their self-respect to clutch at the coat-tails of such egotistical maniacs consolidating their illegitimate hold on power and stolen wealth. Together they plot their joint savaging and wounding of the most vulnerable but also most talented, most creative, most intelligent in our society who’ve opted out of the spectacle of the rat race and left it to the rats just described and those who emulate them or sadder still, dream they just might if they lick enough arse. It’s hilarious to see right here attempts to scapegoat these economic out-castes, born to lose, but not born losers for the spectacle of this country’s political dysfunction and for each wave of economic collapse that predictably results from such criminal misrule. Few left now defending the indefensible, just you now Daniel, a child of Thatcher no doubt, never known, never imagined anything else.

    Go home to your constituencies and prepare your panic rooms. You’ll need them.

  51. Here’s an outline of the four main types of healthcare provision.

    Take your pick.

    You can be sure though that the Tories will be looking to one which provides most profit to its corporate friends.

    That’s why all are agreed that the US system is such an expensive nonsense.

    “The United States is unlike every other country because it maintains so many separate systems for separate classes of people. All the other countries have settled on one model for everybody. This is much simpler than the U.S. system; it’s fairer and cheaper, too.”

    http://www.pnhp.org/single_payer_resources/health_care_systems_four_basic_models.php

  52. As a quick first reaction, I’d probably agree with most of that. Of course the “how” – or better “through which concrete actions” – is more difficult.

    I should also apply your idea to the other group, ie those in genuine need. And therefore say that ensuring that our young people are better educated (formal, moral and civic education) should be one of the concrete actions.

    Many voters – mainly those from the tory heartlands – who argue for cuts to welfare, do so on the misguided premise that benefits are too high. But when questioned, these mainly tory voters often grossly overestimate the amount of benefits recipients receive. This, I think, is rather telling.

    To be able to live on around £70 a week for any sustained period – particularly in London and the south east – is virtually impossible. This suggests that fraud is widespread, albeit far from being endemic.

    Essentially, many of the poorest in our nation – both the working and non-working poor – are faced with three choices/eventualities: working legally within the system for poverty wages supplemented through working tax credits, remaining idle in return for poverty benefits or working illegally cash in hand while claiming benefits.

    Given the objective available choices, many of the poor are rationally choosing the latter for pragmatic reasons.

    So what’s the potential answer to this unsustainable problem?

    One could limit the approach to the kind I previously outlined. Or alternatively, one could combine it through government intervention by way of the introduction of new and radical socioeconomic policy initiatives that create non-punitive incentives.

    The introduction of a national minimum living wage set at around £10 an hour is one example. Specific policies designed to curtail the overblown property market is another. A massive affordable house-building programme akin to the post-war period is a third.

  53. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    20 Mar, 2014 - 4:39 pm

    Ba’al Zevul (15h41)

    If course, but I only threw in the investment banker – who is a worker in the sense that he works a certain (or even uncertain) numbers of hours a week)- to illustrate, perhaps too indirectly? – the difficulty of defining a “worker”. I wasn’t commenting on his usefulness or otherwise – although I suppose you could say that since the job exists, in a free market, there must by definition be some utility in it.

    Let’s leave him aside if you like, and also the aristocrats in the world of essentially manual/physical work (the oil rig worker, if you like). You mentioned nurses – as examples of workers. Is a junior hospital doctor a worker? Or a GP? How about the manager of your local high street bank or an estate agent? A teacher or a headmaster?

    BTW, your post hovers at the edge of a discussion on pay relativities and what different jobs are worth, doesn’t it. That would be an interesting discussion.

    Finally, since the originator of all this was Mr Goss, with his talk about “workers”, I remain interested in knowing how he would define a worker. Failure to do so could just lay him open to the charge of being someone who “posts and runs”.

  54. Mark. I do not reply so why bother. On a different planet. Has nothing in common with most here but disrupts, diverts and wastes people’s time. Out of touch with the reality. No visits to food banks or job centres. No worrying about the bedroom tax. No worries about paying for gas and electricity. No worries about health or getting a sick child seen by a doctor. etc etc. It’s just more of the ‘them and us’ divide.

    http://www.keepournhspublic.com/index.php

    John Lister – one of the founders of KONP – Health Policy Reform:Global Health vs. Private Profit

    Much has changed since John Lister’s first book was published, but the pressure for the introduction of market-based approaches has remained undiminished.

    Now, in a revised and restructured analysis, Health Policy Reform: Global Health versus Private Profit, John Lister brings his critique of health policy up-to-date. He continues to question whether the major ‘reforms’ which have been, and are still being, introduced are driven primarily by the health needs of the wider population or, in fact, by the financial and political concerns of governments and global institutions. The global economic recession at the end of the first decade of this century adds even more urgency to the need to understand the implications of these trends.In Global Health vs. Private Profit, asks if the ‘reforms’ which are being introduced are driven by health needs or by financial and political concerns of governments and global institutions …

  55. Them and us

    An Oxfam report released today, reveals the scale of growing inequality in Britain. The wealthiest five families in Britain hold the same amount of wealth as the poorest 12.6 million. As Osborne prepares for another ‘budget for business’ this week, isn’t it about time we had a budget for the people?

    Mind the Wealth Gap

    Incomes of the top 0.1% of Britons are rising four times faster than those of the lower 90%, according to Oxfam’s report ‘A Tale of Two Britains’.

    The richest families in Britain are:

    • Duke of Westminster, Grosvenors (Wealth: £7.9bn)
    • Reuben brothers (£6.9bn)
    • Hinduja brothers (£6bn)
    • Cadogan family (£4bn)
    • Mike Ashley (£3.3bn)

    And here is how their wealth compares to the rest of the country:

    • The poorest 20% have on average £2230 each
    • Top 0.1% have seen incomes increase by £24,000/year since mid 90′s
    • Bottom 0.1% have seen an increase of £147/year since mid 90′s
    • 95% of Britains have seen a 12% drop in disposable income since 2003; top 5% have seen income increase.
    • The Grosvenors have as much wealth as the poorest 10% of the population.

    Britain is becoming a tale of two nations – a wealthy elite, and a cash strapped majority – and it is mostly the hard work of the latter group that is generating the wealth the former enjoys. But, who cares?

    /..

    http://www.scriptonitedaily.com/2014/03/17/britains-5-wealthiest-families-richer-than-poorest-12-6-million-its-time-for-a-peoples-budget/

    Remember Gerald Grosvenor 6th Duke of Westminster – the recent host for the two princes’ blood sports in Spain?

  56. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    20 Mar, 2014 - 4:48 pm

    Daniel

    Thanks for that and I promise to come back to you just a little later. Interesting discussion, also the one with Ba’ar Zevul on workers.

    (I wouldn’t be Habbabkuk, would I, if I resisted the temptation to tell Herbie that I shan’t be responding to his posts on either of these two topics. He would be wiser not to intervene, and to confine himself to the subject he’s an expert on, ie Russia/Crimea/Ukraine/West-bashing. So it is in the spirit of fraternal affection that I say to Herbie : bugger off from this thread, boyo! :)

  57. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    20 Mar, 2014 - 4:50 pm

    Mary (16h41)

    You don’t actually know what I worry about, so I’ll break my own golden rule and ask you, very politely, to fuck off.

  58. Tony M

    I think you underestimate the extent to which benefit claimants work for cash in hand wages. It’s often a pragmatic choice and I certainly don’t blame people for taking this option.

  59. Thanks for the invitation, habby.

    Regrettably, I must decline.

    Learnt the difference yet?

  60. Mark, I’m with Mary on this, responding will just bring subsequent nonsense. I stopped responding when he tacitly admitted he believed in torture. But I have in recent days discovered that ESLO and Resident Dissident are one and the same yet they praise one another to the heights, in other words they praise themselves. How shameful! And how shameful they (it) could call question me having no shame. But I guess when you have few friends you have to create some. Resident Dissident has already been revealed sock-puppeting ‘Mary’s Love Child’ and I wonder how many others there are. Like you I comment under my own name. We do not know who any of those who disrupt are. So leave it alone. Do not feed the trolls. You will find your name mentioned all the time. Consider that a compliment. But don’t respond.

  61. The American health system where millions go bankrupt each year because of medical bills. How complicated it sounds.

    A Fatal Loophole?
    Too Poor to Qualify for Obamacare? Yes

    by ERIC ZEUSS

    Some people in some Republican-governed states are too poor to qualify for subsidies to buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

    You get that right: too poor to qualify for subsidies.

    Here is how I discovered this remarkable fact:

    There was a Reuters article at Huffington Post on January 22nd, “Target Cuts Health Coverage For Part-Time Workers, Citing Obamacare,” and it reported that Target, “like Home Depot, said it was shifting medical coverage for part-time workers to new public marketplace exchanges,” in order to cut costs.

    One of the reader-comments to that news-report came from “Kate,” who said, ”In Alaska, where we have to rely on the federal Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace, a single person has to make at least $14,350 per year and a family of 4 has to bring in a minimum of $29,440 to qualify for tax subsidies to help pay ACA premiums.”

    /..
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/20/too-poor-to-qualify-for-obamacare-yes/

    PS Target, discount retailing, second after Walmart. Revenue $72 billion pa.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Target_Corporation

  62. Regarding fecklessness and benefits I am with Tony M.

    I was a frontline social worker for 28 years, which means I worked with clients all that time, was not a manager at all for most of it and I worked with a variety of client groups. I can therefore claim a fair knowledge of the benefit system up until about five years ago when I retired, as intervening in it on behalf of my clients occupied a fair degree of my time.

    First of all the amount of cash lost to benefit fraud by poor people is tiny compared to the amount lost to legal and illegal fraud by the wealthy and by big business.

    The emphasis on ‘feckless’ scroungers is a primitive smokescreen put up by governments to enable them to save money at the expense of those who need it. I am very surprised that so many here seem to be taken in by this fraud.

    Finally the benefit system has been deliberately made extremely inefficient and full of red tape which means it is a nightmare to be on benefits – I speak from fairly recent personal experience. No-one in their right mind would choose to be on benefits.

    In my view the inefficiency and callous nature of the benefits system and the way it is run contributes significantly to the poor mental health of many claimants, quite apart from their material poverty.

  63. Regarding the NHS – do people really think it is efficient? I am not an expert in this field but when I have made efforts to understand the British system as against say the French system of health insurance the results I have found suggest the French system is far more efficient and better value for money.

    Again speaking as a social worker in what is known as a ‘deprived’ area I have heard dozens of frightening stories about care on the NHS.

  64. And why forget the second most important point of all.

    Much more money remains unclaimed than is lost to fraud.

    The most important point of course is, as some have said, that the focus on benefits is to distract from corporate tax evasion, the billions wasted on shoddy procurement and the selling off cheaply of national infrastructure to corporate vultures.

    And let’s not forget the way they collude in privatising profits whilst socialising losses.

    There’s the real problem.

  65. Daniel it might apply to the fit, young and healthy, who might occasionally exceptionally offer their services opportunely for a few pounds cash in hand, but which as often as not barely covers their own outlay, travel, food and wear and tear on clothing, footwear etc. It is symptomatic of their desire to do something, to gain experience, socialise cheaply or simply get out of the house or vary the monotony, payment often simply goods-in-kind, necessities of life to eke out the household budget.

    Again too as in all, there is a South-East of England/Rest of Britain divide and the circumstances of the ‘great wen’, which by design sucks all wealth unto itself from the rest of the country are in no way found anywhere else and policies to address the ‘special’ problems created by that one region’s distressing concentration of wealth and boundless sense of entitlement would be inapplicable unjust and wrong if applied elsewhere.

    I think you grossly overstate from no evidence the extent to which benefits claimants work whilst claiming benefits. I know someone who was carrying out ‘voluntary’ unpaid work gardening at a Buddhist retreat, at the insistence of the Jobcentre and who was repeatedly and maliciously reported to the DWP for working there.

    You also fail over and over to distinguish one type of benefit from another, lumping all together as cheats and liars. I’m sure the chronically sick, the disabled, and the greatest recipients of benefits -pensioners are not milking the system but instead are simply scraping by, excluded from participation in their communities and in society by insurmountable economic barriers, condemned to the worst housing the worst food, the worst health, spurned by a society which has become so alien to their experience of existence, that a virtual apartheid exists.

  66. Conjunction,

    Tony M attempted to knock down a series of straw men. For instance, I don’t disagree with the assertion that “the amount of cash lost to benefit fraud by poor people is tiny compared to the amount lost to legal and illegal fraud by the wealthy and by big business.”

    Also, I agree with your statement that the “emphasis on ‘feckless’ scroungers is a primitive smokescreen put up by governments to enable them to save money at the expense of those who need it.”

    I, myself, am certainly not taken in by the fraud and have alluded to this above.

    However, I put it to you that welfare fraud is more prevalent than you perhaps think. I too can speak from personal experience. The system is, as you say, a nightmare of red tape and inefficiency.

    The governments jobmatch website, for example, is full of duplicate jobs, many of which are non-existent. This kind of callousness is bound to have detrimental impacts on the mental health of claimants.

    I agree with you that many people don’t choose to be on benefits. But faced with the kind of objective choices I outlined previously, there is a large swath of people who do. It’s disingenuous to claim otherwise. People do so because they make rational and informed choices.

  67. “What the country needs is massive state intervention to extract funds from the financial services industry”

    The removal of the requirement to buy an annuity takes business away from the financial services industry, hence why their share prices fell after the announcement. People who take their pension savings as a lump sum will pay at least 23 per cent of it in tax straightaway, and possibly 40 per cent if a higher rate taxpayer, depending on what the income tax rate is when it happens.

  68. [John Goss please post a link re. your 17:00 comment.]

    I presume you mean the sock-puppeting. It began with this comment.

    http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2014/03/the-wrong-referendum-the-wrong-saviour/comment-page-2/#comment-446625

    [Resident Dissident responded]

    http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2014/03/the-wrong-referendum-the-wrong-saviour/comment-page-2/#comment-446708

    http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2014/03/the-wrong-referendum-the-wrong-saviour/comment-page-2/#comment-446710

    http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2014/03/the-wrong-referendum-the-wrong-saviour/comment-page-2/#comment-446826

    [The discussion was between me and Resident Dissident but ESLO or RD forgot to change the sock. No idea which is the sock and which the puppeteer]

    ESLO
    18 Mar, 2014 – 2:03 pm
    John Goss
    I was talking about Russia – on every sensible measure of left vs right it is pretty clear where your heroes stand. You have no shame whatsoever.

  69. Not sure what’s worse. Being disappointed by Labour or vindicated by how vicious the Tories become in power.
    Those creepy Libz give me the willies.

  70. Daniel

    I agree with your last paragraph. There is a small proportion of people who ‘work the system’ no doubt. But they are a very long way from being a major problem when you look at the economics of society as a whole.

    What got me going were some things you said earlier at 3.23, I quote:

    “It is my view that benefit fraud is a major contributory factor in the creation of fecklessness and it’s this that first and foremost needs to be tackled.

    In their attempts to undercut fraud, the government would be better redirecting resources to front-line operations.

    Instead, in their crude attempts to appease middle England, politicians’ of all shades cynically grandstand against those on benefits for electoral gain.

    We should instead be arguing for a two-pronged approach – the consolidation of existing benefits on the one hand, and increased resources on the ground to tackle fraud on the other.”

    I have got nothing against attempts to combat fraud per se although I think many fraudsters are cool customers who work the system quite cleverly, no doubt having learnt from the cynical ones in government and business that that is the way of the world. I am not defending this approach just suggesting that its a smaller crime than the way the government approaches the benefit system.

    And in case anyone thinks I am a woolly Labourite, it was New Labour who trashed the benefit system first, not the Tories.

  71. Thanks Mary and John for your advice. Stick and carrot; I dangled ‘profit’ and received free space that filled my intention.

  72. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    20 Mar, 2014 - 6:30 pm

    Tovarish Goss

    “…when he tacitly admitted he believed in torture.”

    ___________________

    So now it’s “tacitly”, eh? You’re improving. Carry on like that and you’ll soon be admitting that you made it all up as an excuse to not defend your views. At least you would if you weren’t entirely shameless.

  73. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    20 Mar, 2014 - 6:42 pm

    Conjunction

    “Regarding the NHS – do people really think it is efficient? I am not an expert in this field but when I have made efforts to understand the British system as against say the French system of health insurance the results I have found suggest the French system is far more efficient and better value for money.”
    ________________

    Thank you for that post, Conjunction. You will know – and perhaps Mary will please note – that the French system is based on compulsory health insurance.

  74. Sir Gerald Kaufman to the PM

    >

    Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton, Labour)

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this week I received from a Palestinian friend an e-mail telling me that the Israelis assassinated a friend in his house and that

    “another brother of a friend has been shot dead by the army. So we spent our time from one funeral to another”?

    When the right hon. Gentleman was in Israel last week, did he raise with Netanyahu this constant stream of killing of innocent Palestinians by the Israelis, and what is he going to do about it?

    19 March 2014, c773)

    David Cameron (The Prime Minister; Witney, Conservative)

    I did not raise that specific case, which the right hon. Gentleman quite rightly raises in the House today, but I did raise with the Israeli Prime Minister the importance of how the Israelis behave in the west bank and elsewhere, and I raised the issue of settlements, which I believe are unacceptable and need to stop.

    I also strongly supported both the Israeli Prime Minister and the Palestinian President in their efforts to find a peace. There is a prospect and an opportunity now, because the Americans are leading a set of talks that could lead to a framework document being agreed, and it is in everyone’s interest to put all the pressure we can on both the participants to take part and to get on with these negotiations, which I believe would mean so much to ordinary Israelis, ordinary Palestinians and, indeed, the rest of us.

    ~~~~
    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2014-03-19a.770.4&s=speaker%3A10327#g773.09

  75. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    20 Mar, 2014 - 6:50 pm

    John Goss / Moderator

    “[John Goss please post a link re. your 17:00 comment.]

    I presume you mean the sock-puppeting.”
    ______________________

    NOT NECESSARILY. You’re being slippery. Please provide the link to back up your claim that I support torture (your new word “implicitly” backtracks and provides you with an escape route).

  76. On the cheater known as IDS who aims to defeat the benefits cheaters. He was claiming £18,000 pa for non existent secretarial services said to be provided by his wife Betsy.

    Written statement by Dr Vanessa Gearson, 16 October 2003
    [See also Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 9]

    In the matter of the investigation into the employment of Betsy Duncan Smith

    Introduction

    It is with great reluctance that I find myself having to set out the following facts, as I understand them, after what has been an extraordinarily difficult period in my professional life. I set out in this document everything I can recall to be relevant to the remit of your investigation in the interests of openness and transparency.

    From the time I assumed the role of Head of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in August 2002 my primary concern was to impose an effective, professional and transparent organisation and structure on the Leader’s Private Office that would serve his needs, while meeting the rules set out by the House of Commons Fees Office and the internal audit requirements set by Conservative Central Office (CCO). In an attempt to promote greater vigilance and respect for budgetary procedures, financial control and the requirements for financial record keeping within the Leader’s Office, I repeatedly sought to raise these and other matters with the Leader through his Parliamentary Private Secretary and subsequently, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, the Chief Executive, the Deputy Chief Executive and the Treasurer of the Conservative Party. My job was to protect the Leader.

    /..
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmstnprv/476/476we17.htm

  77. Who is this who has made at least half a dozen posts immediately prior to its 6:55pm one, which are themselves wildly off-topic. I would like to thank Mary for that post objected to and express my admiration for the principled Gerald Kaufman in skewering (just one prong) this David Cameron fellow who goes kow-towing to an objectively objectionable rogue state and terrorist regime and dares speak of peace, the two-faced insincere upstart and villain. What did we the people ever do to have the likes of Cameron foisted upon us by a shower of bankers. I don’t know if it was here or elsewhere I seen this link, but others too might be interested in further cases of Israeli inhuman viciousness -the shooting in the legs and feet and crippling of young Palestinian athletes. Truly awful the evil bred in the peaceful, abundant paradise that was once proud Palestine. Since renamed Israel/Sellafield.

    http://www.commondreams.org/further/2014/03/13-0

    Six more years of Cameron-Milliband PLC. I’d suffer it for the Palestinian families to have just six minutes of bliss and respite from the ceaseless horror that was visited upon that thriving bountiful land and beautiful people in 1948. Thank you Mary, incalculable thanks go too to Mr. Kaufman, it is rare to find an Englishman of stature and note, of courage and of irrepresible humanitarian instincts in public life.

  78. Andrew Whitchurch

    20 Mar, 2014 - 7:38 pm

    Of course, the 42% had to be conditioned first and Thatcher saw to that. The big giveaways to the unskilled lower middle class in the 1980s (notice how people with a complete lack of skill started to earn more in back offices and estate agencies than those with skills to mine coal, build cars, administer health care etc.) ensured there were a lot of people with a lot to be grateful to Thatcherite economics. I reserve the right to not call it free market.

    That has created a glut of people who are now over 50 who like to think that they worked hard for what they got (they didn’t) who rather like the status quo and will keep this kind of politics in power for many years to come. George Osborne’s budget directly targeted this group of feckless, unskilled homeowners.

  79. craigmurray.org.uk

    20 Mar, 2014 - 7:50 pm

    [Thanks for the links John Goss.

    Some personal comments without political content from Habbabkuk have been deleted.]

  80. Mary – do you know the outcome of Lord MacGregor’s inquiry?

    Vanessa Gearson and Mark MacGregor have not responded to an email requesting some unclear details that remain.

  81. You’re welcome. I wouldn’t have noticed, because they are so alike, and it was the next morning I found ESLO’s response had it not been for his comment:

    “ESLO 18 Mar, 2014 – 4:48 pm

    PS Goss

    I’m not upset by the referendum – it was a foregone conclusion that anyone could see after the invasion took place – but I suppose you think the population of the Crimea were won over after a vigorous democratic debate or whatever guff RT are pushing at the moment.”

    [To which my response was]

    “John Goss 18 Mar, 2014 – 5:01 pm

    “PS Goss

    I’m not upset by the referendum ”

    When you’re upset you always call me Goss.”

    Then when I checked I found it had been RD who last addressed me Goss.

    [Thanks. Results of investigation inconclusive. Craig has been notified.]

  82. Resident Dissident

    20 Mar, 2014 - 8:23 pm

    John Goss

    I have no idea whatsoever why ESLO appeared to be replying in my name – perhaps he just typed “I” rather than “he” or something else – but rest assured we are not the same person – I am sure Craig can at least confirm that I don’t share an IP address – not sure how else I can prove I am not ESLO. As for Mary’s Love Child – guilty as charged, and if I hadn’t outed myself, I would have hapilly confessed if challenged. Just a poor attempt to parody Sofia who I’m afraid is beyond parody.

  83. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3578323.stm

    All smoothed over Mark by Sir Philip Mawer after which IDS and Betsy did their ‘poor us’ routine.

    The committee report
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmstnprv/476/476.pdf

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betsygate

    btw I don’t think it was ‘Lord’ McGregor. It was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_MacGregor

  84. Resident Dissident,

    I would not have expected you to have the same IP address. If sock-puppeting is taking place I expect each computer to be marked by the name of the puppet, in case you forget who you are supposed to be.

    Anyway, you sing from the same hymn-book. If you are different people, as you claim, perhaps you might try attacking me in a more individual manner. I am not as convinced as the moderator of your innocence. But hey, the moderator has the last say, and I am happy to go along with what he/she decides.

    I accept what you say about Mary’s Love Child and agree that Sofia is beyond parody.

  85. If the Scottish vote for independence (which I hope doesn’t happen), I predict that Ed Milliband will reinstate the principles of socialism more fully as party ideology. He will have no choice. Without clear water between him and the Tories, his party will have nothing different to offer voters.

  86. technicolour

    20 Mar, 2014 - 9:08 pm

    Benefits:

    Polling carried out by the TUC in January, showed that on average people think that 27 per cent of the welfare budget is claimed fraudulently. The government’s own figure is 0.7 per cent.

    http://www.tuc.org.uk/economic-issues/benefit-fraud-just-07-cent-welfare-budget-official-figures-show

    NHS: one of the best healthcare systems in the world

    The Commonwealth Fund survey consistently ranks the NHS highly on a range of measures looking at how health systems deal with people with chronic and serious illness.

    It finds people in Britain have among the fastest access to GPs, the best co-ordinated care, and suffer from the among the fewest medical errors, of 11 high income countries surveyed.

    The countries examined were: the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8877412/NHS-among-best-health-care-systems-in-the-world.html

  87. Resident Dissident

    20 Mar, 2014 - 9:25 pm

    John

    You really are quite paranoid – no wonder you fall for conspiracy theories so easily. I’m really not too bothered as to your views on my innocence or otherwise, but I certainly have better things to spend my money on than multiple computers and ISPs and I do a little thing called work during the day so I very much doubt that I would be posting at 2 o clock in the afternoon.

  88. Craig wrote: “[…] with New Labour only leading in the polls by 4% just a year before the election, all precedent suggests that the Tories will easily recover that within the final year and there will be at least six more years of Tory government.”

    I think you are right that the governing party tends to recover support as the general election (“GE”) nears – but under FPTP Labour will probably only need a 35% share of the vote. In the February 1974 GE, Labour won fewer votes than the Tories but Harold Wilson became PM.

  89. “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

    On the day, I wonder how many in favour of maintaining the Union will baulk at ticking the ‘No’ box? Or perhaps find an excuse not to attend the polling station.

  90. Abe Rene: The Scottish vote for independence will happen, sometime this September I believe, I’m not sure of the date, though there are Scottish local council elections as well as some EU charade in May to give Nulab, any hold-out Tories and the creepy Liberal-Tories a foretaste of the impending doom of their parties and their personal political ambitions. The UK that was thought deludedly like you of Miliband that Gordon Brown would introduce a scintilla of socialism into New Labour after Blair scurried out of town and out of the country with his loot and his all too apparent teeth. The Labour party is not what you thought it was and never was, never will be. Democracy requires a plurality of not party-brands, but choices, without which along with a free press, freedom of association, assembly, speech -government by the people for the people etcetera, you have instead a quaint and ruthless but not invulnerable dictatorship. From Scotland’s steady climb to a lofty vantage from the pit Thatcher and her successors cast it into, the chink in the beast’s armour is all too evident, it can be slain, but where is St George or will we have to undaunted tackle it for you? Until then as constituted the soon-to-be extinct UK and then greater economic basket case residual-UK has none of these pre-requisites of democracy, Scotland WILL ever have them at last, no question.

    Sorry to shatter your illusions and hopes, it ain’t going to happen not with this Miliband, that Brown or some other equivalent wretch. If residing outside Scotland I would look for some other truly left party to effect necessary change but for the long term go Green once the current Westminster clique are terminally down and hung out to dry.

  91. Sjb

    But from memory the Lib Dems under Thorpe got about 18%. I don’t think Clegg will get above 12%. Labour could probably get a majority with about 37-38%. Can’t see them getting that.

  92. On another thread I raised a point which nobody answered.

    In Edinburgh the rich get their prescriptions for free while in the Highlands young mothers have to travel over a hundred miles to give birth because there isn’t enough money left in the health budget to keep their maternity unit staffed.

    http://www.scotsman.com/news/health/caithness-women-travelling-100-miles-to-give-birth-1-3269872

    Looks to me like the SNP is more right wing than the Tories.

  93. But Fred what is your point exactly, we’ve seen this already, and though the source is suspect I get a feeling engaging with you will be not productive and end in such swear words as would sully my virgin ears. Who firstly do you blame for this: the SNP?

    It’s not just the rich in Edinburgh getting free prescriptions. Are you against universality of free prescriptions, are you suggesting Highland young mothers don’t get free prescriptions, are you desirous of new maternal facilities nearer these locations, with more and more qualified staff. It’s the same everywhere people in the Borders are having to travel to Livingston for cancer surgery, to Edinburgh for chemo or radiotherapy, there are lots of such cases. There’s no doubt health authority regions are too large, but so is the territory to cover. Imagine yourself with a magic wand, making the necessary decisions what would you do to resolve this instead of recycling predictable Hootsmon/Johnston Press probably groundless smears. Do you personally or anyone you know personally know anyone affected, has this actually happened or is predicted to happen if …

    Go on, out with it lad.

    “Looks to me like the SNP is more right wing than the Tories.”
    Ah the old Tartan Tories jibe, wake me up before you go-go, it’s the 80s all over again at Fred’s Place.

  94. I will gladly support the lifestyle of the so-called ‘feckless’ population if it means the much larger ‘genuinely needy’ group is being cared for. Past time to once again begin squeezing the rich until the pips squeak.

  95. @Tony M

    It’s simple enough.

    In England, under the Tories, the less well off get free prescriptions, those on benefits, child tax credits etc.

    In Scotland, under the SNP, even the rich get free prescriptions while maternity units have to go without doctors. But not in Edinburgh of course which is why this situation doesn’t bother those in the south of Scotland much. Even less those in the south of England.

    Now if you would like to discuss the issue sensibly I would be happy to oblige and if you want to continue name calling then I’ll quite happily flame you to hell and back.

  96. But surely a guy who went to the university of Perugia wouldn’t be so poor that he had to fiddle his office expenses?

  97. Fred

    So you are arguing that all benefits should be means tested to make sure that only the rich get them. Well, it is a reasonable argument, but it is not true that everyone who disagrees is a Tory.

    Under the system in England for prescriptions, even if you are a very poor working person and can’t afford it, you still have to pay about 7.50 for each prescription. I pay nearly 40 pounds a month for five prescriptions, every month. The Duke of Westminster also pays just 7.50 for each prescription. How on earth is that better?

    Your hatred of independence appears often to affect your reasoning, which on other subjects is often very good. Are Tory governments in London going to improve the funding of the NHS in the Highlands? As someone who has lived in both Aviemore and Incheswood, I am entitled to say that I understand a suspicion of the Central Belt, but if you honestly believe that Witney and Basildon care more for the Highlands than even Morningside and Bearsden, you are really not thinking straight.

  98. Administration of means-tested benefits is an extra cost. The ‘rich’ – by your definition anyone outside the benefits system – though statistics suggest they enjoy far better health, are not immune to illness, indeed ill-health can drop a person down the economic and social scale quicker than anything I can imagine. When a person is ill, pretensions of class should and do drop away, in patients and in medical personnel, though it could be demonstrated middle-class medical professional look with disdain upon their poorer patients, but in serious health crises all patients are equally frail and scared, even the toughest and I dare say wealthier too, they need and should get every help available without prying into their private and financial affairs at such times of need, that is flip-side of universality and it is the better and the only just solution. Relatedly the free bus travel scheme for pensioners should be extended to the trains too.
    Central (Central London!) government – Westminster – have cruelly squeezed Scotland’s spending pool, as they have across the UK -in the interim before independence take the matter of such miserly inadequate allocations, up with your Westminster MP, also consider making a donation to the WRVS and possibly other volunteer organisations who are driving critically ill patients in private cars from home to hospitals and back.

    I sense too you’re trying to enunciate or hint at some bogus anti-Edinburgh ill-feeling, just a glowering look or some crack that you hope to widen between north and south, Highlands and Lowlands, some imagined disparity magnified for devious ends. We’re one Scotland, together and welcoming anyone to join us. Personally I don’t have much time for Edinburgh myself, one day as the dark canyons of smoke-belching buses are being banished from Auld Reekie’s main thouroughfare, I’ll give Edinburgh a second chance to grow in my affection. Scotland’s soul resides in Glasgow, may its London dealt wounds still bitter and raw, one day heal fully and also those brooding frightful wicked nuclear weapons depart from there for all time for dismantling and disposal.

  99. “Brian Wilson – now I had a lot of time for him thirty years ago. That was before he became addicted to the dirty cash from the nuclear power industry.”

    I thought he was addicted to cocaine. Still, he was an iconic musician. Don’t hold grudges against the Beach Boys over nuclear politics Craig.

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