Archive for the ‘This is the Voice of Lefty Reason’ Category

Sixty. Seven. Thousand. Pounds. Do you, dear reader, earn that much? Half as much? Nowhere near that much? The figure is the current salary for a sitting Member of Parliament. It would certainly be enough to look after me and my family, I’m guessing it would be for you as well. For two quite well known politicians however that sum seems not to cut the mustard. Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind have, like many before them, been caught (hook, line and sinker) with their grubby mitts out in the hope of trousering several thousand pounds more in yet another “cash for access” sting. Both were filmed offering their services to fictitious firms in exchange for large payments. In their defence the default terms have been bandied about again; “I have done nothing wrong”, “it was all within the rules” and the absolute classic “it was a simple error of judgement”. This last excuse crops up every time a public figure is caught with his trousers down or his hands in the till. Errors of judgement occur in the heat of the moment when one is perhaps caught off guard. These misdemeanours are not EoJs; they are calculated, planned, financially rewarding attempts to take advantage of their elected positions. Shameful behaviour.

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Aye or Naw? Scotland will soon go to the polls in a referendum on full (well…ish) independence. The vote may well result in Scotland leaving the United Kingdom and going it alone. The Oily Salmond likes to quote the fact that the North Sea oil reserves would belong to Scotland in the event of a split but often forgets that The New Scotland would have to take a portion of the huge national debt with it if the Scotties vote for a Mel-Gibson-Braveheart-Era type future. Then there are the UK nuclear submarine bases to consider; they may be needed to protect the oil fields if the UK is running out. I am not sure the average Glaswegian man in the street has actually thought this through. It is so easy to fall for the Hollywood driven Scottish-legend guff; men with big swords ‘n skirts, blue painted faces, hiding in the heather, defeating (or dying gloriously at the hands of) the Imperialist English invaders, the shameful Highland Clearances and Mel Gibson’s arse. As Oscar Wilde said “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”, Salmond is calling for self-determination and a rabble rousing “Flower of Scotland” to unite the masses. The polls seem to suggest that Scots would vote Aye if they were an ipad buying £500 per year better off but that they would respond Naw if there was any suggestion that they would be financially worsened by the split. It’s a strange state of affairs when a sexist, racist, drunken Aussie actor could well be the difference between staying or going.

Here we go again. Uncle Woy’s lads are off to sunnier climes to contest the World Cup. In a refreshing change they travel with very little expectation atop their expensive shoulders. I can’t think of any pundit who gives our boys so much as a punchers chance. We don’t even have a BMUF to pin our hopes on. Woy has seemingly dropped the BMUF idea and attempted to turn the team into a tiki-taki tippy-tappy English version of those pesky continentals. As we laboured in beating Peru the other night the old failings were to the fore. Big Engined English Pros harrying and hustling, box to box maestros, long hopeful balls over the top to the overweight, snarling Wayne Rooney. According to the Internet the moment of the game came when some punter launched a paper aeroplane from the gods and struck a Peru player on the pitch many miles down below. Have we found a new pastime in which we could take on the world? Competitive paper aeroplane flinging? Could it be that the utter lack of public expectation will result in the boys throwing off the shackles and returning home with the trophy? Arise Sir Woy, Sir Wayne and Sir Stevie? Stranger things have happened. On balance though, probably not. Three desperate group games followed by an early departure, returning home to massive indifference I reckon. Oh, for a Big Man Up Front!

The eagerly awaited Sunday Times Rich List was published last week. A thick, glossy magazine full of super-yachts, country piles and unpronounceable surnames. Somewhat remarkably only one Briton makes it into the top ten, the (Grand Old) Duke of Westminster who leads the indigenous charge by scraping into tenth. Above him are the global elite, Russian oligarchs, Indian steel magnates and tetra-pak heirs. The underlying theme seems to be that the rich are getting richer as they control more and more of the wealth in the UK; the top 65 people have as much as the bottom 30% of the entire population. How do they do it? Accidents of birth account for much of it, being born into rich families is still the major determinant of adult wealth. Then there are the self made johnnies who peddle the rags to riches story. The King of the self mades must be the walnut faced computer purveyor Lord / Sir Alan Sugar. Sugar and his fawning cronies love a good humble beginnings story and view themselves as geniuses that prospered because of their “vision, drive and determination”. Have they really got something the rest of us haven’t? Is it not just that they were in the right place at the right time and for every one of them there are many others who, for one reason or another, didn’t quite get the breaks? As for the fabled “trickle-down” effect, the tide has turned and wealth is no longer trickling its way down, it is making a mad, LibCon fuelled, dash to the top.

Morecambe & Wise, The Chuckle Brothers, Abbot & Costello, Mike & Bernie Winters, Cam & Cleggy, Milibean & Milibean; the list of comedic duos goes on and on. But, hold on, there’s a new pair of comedy types on the block! Yep, ladies and gentleman, may I introduce you to the new mirth inducing fascist-funsters, “Nick ‘n Nige”! Every time I turn on the TV I seem to catch sight of those lovable rougues, Farage and Griffin. They’re bloody everywhere! With their side splitting hatred, poorly thought out bile and deep desire to attack anyone who doesn’t fit in with their ridiculous rantings. I imagine them in bed together of an evening like Eric and Ernie, bickering like an old married couple as they ponder where the next (imagined) threat will come from. Were we not supposed to be completely overrun by Bulgarians now? Or was it Romanians? Can’t quite remember. Unlike the best comedy twosomes however, this pair of clowns don’t appear to follow the “straight man / funny man” historical example. I can’t decide who is the funnier, the utterly ridiculous Griffin and his gang of lager swilling, football hooly, tattooed skinheads or Grinner-Farage with his home county tweed jacketed retired Major nonsense. Hopefully the polls will send these two back to the seventies comedy graveyard where they can peddle their hatred without bothering the rest of us.

…statistics. News this week of a fall in the unemployment rate. Hurrah, you cry, if you’re a coalitionist; yah boo sucks if you’re in opposition. Getting to the bottom of the UK labour market statistics is an almost impossible task. It does definitely appear as if the number without work is falling but the number of real (i.e. decently paid, full time with employee benefits) jobs seems not to be increasing. Labour politicians are convinced the figures have been spun through various loopholes ending in paradoxical data that can be interpreted however you wish dependent on your political agenda. I reckon the rise and rise of the despicable zero hour contracts coupled with increasingly draconian JSA eligibility rules have massaged the headline figure downwards but have done little to help those in real need. The elephant in the room is Incapacity Benefit. IB numbers continue to rise even though the hated ATOS capability Czars hound and harass the disabled (or, as ATOS view them, the feckless and workshy) into accepting Mac-Jobs or zero hour contracts. The truth regarding unemployment is indeed probably out there but wading through the murky world of spin, politics and statistics make it virtually impossible to find.

Aye or Naw?  Scotland will soon go to the polls in a  referendum on full (well…ish) independence.  The vote may well result in Scotland leaving the United Kingdom and going it alone.  The Oily Salmond likes to quote the fact that the North Sea oil reserves would belong to Scotland in the event of a split but often forgets that The New Scotland would have to take a portion of the huge national debt with it if the Scotties vote for a Mel-Gibson-Braveheart-Era type future.  Then there are  the UK nuclear submarine bases to consider; they may be needed to protect the oil fields if the UK is running out.  I am not sure the average Glaswegian man in the street has actually thought this through.  It is so easy to fall for the Hollywood driven Scottish-legend guff; men with big swords ‘n skirts, blue painted faces, hiding in the heather, defeating (or dying gloriously at the hands of) the Imperialist English invaders, the shameful Highland Clearances and Mel Gibson’s arse.  As Oscar Wilde said “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”, Salmond is calling for self-determination and a rabble rousing “Flower of Scotland” to unite the masses.  The polls seem to suggest that Scots would vote Aye if they were an ipad buying £500 per year better off but that they would respond Naw if there was any suggestion that they would be financially worsened by the split.  It’s a strange state of affairs when a sexist, racist, drunken Aussie actor could well be the difference between staying or going.