Thatchers Dead – Anything changed?

Maggie Thatcher is Dead and I for one will not be mourning. In my opinion she is responsible for todays need for greed, a society of must haves, where the ownership of material items says more about an individual that that persons character. There are currently hundreds of articles, statements and eulogies on the net and I encourage anyone who is under the age of 35 to go and read them and form their own opinion.

My observation is one on todays politics, particularly as I have stated in previous posts that there are huge similarities in todays governments policies and those from the Thatcher era. The major difference is that society as it was in Thatchers days is no longer relevant today – as she destroyed it.

In her day the enemy of government were the Unions, and in my opinion the unions were too powerful, run by people who were content to take rather than compromise, with leaders who seemed to revel in their TV exposure and infamy…..a bit like a certain Mr Rotten J. However the manner in which she defeated them was to close their industries down, affecting not just a few activists but entire communities and the other surrounding businesses that relied on income from their local mine/steelworks/factory. She was ruthless.

So while she was raping the militants instead of managing them she appeased the rest of the country by allowing them to buy shares in British Gas and British Telecom. The great sell off began and those lucky enough to have enough cash to buy shares started to make money. More and more businesses got sold and more and more people were put on the dole queues. That didn’t matter because we were buying our social housing, our new imported cars and our shares. We made so much money through the profit made selling our council house that the fact that interest rates were between 6.5 and 17% during her reign didn’t matter…unless you were less well off of course.

Thatcher once said –

“They are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. ” – in an interview in Women’s Own in 1987

This ‘people must look after themselves first’ philosophy was the driver to the self promotion we have in society today. This is the philosophy that drives us to the race to the top, to the endless need for greed, for self promotion and the complete disregard for others. In the 70’s there were no injurylawyersforU, suburban ghetto’s or big brother reality TV. But this is its legacy.

Todays Tories –

“The Big Society was the flagship policy idea of the 2010 UK Conservative Party general election manifesto. It now forms part of the legislative programme of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement. The stated aim is to create a climate that empowers local people and communities, building a “big society” that will take power away from politicians and give it to people. While some have responded to the policy favourably, its aims have been queried and disputed by other commentators”. – wikipedia

It would appear through the above statement that todays Tories are the opposite of the Tories of Thatchers day, but reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Its true that the unions are no longer a soft target, and there are no nationalised industries to sell off or close down, so how do they become the voice of the nation once more? By proclaiming that we need a Big Society where people have more power – while at the same time support the Bankers and attack the only people left that they can, those on benefits and public sector workers, oh, and while we’re at it we’ll blame the immigrants.

It is likely that if the Tories manage to stay in power then the NHS, all council services, emergency services and maybe even the Armed Forces will be privatised in one form or another. It is also highly likely that those in powerful positions will prosper in financial and status terms, and the poorer people in society will go back 100 years to the days of landlords and slums. Not the squalid twenty people in one room with no running water slums, but an expansion of the modern day equivalent of tower blocks, rubbish strewn streets and gangs of youths on every corner.

So where is this Big Society? How much money is being spent to encourage it, how much resource is being provided, exactly what is happening? ….. Ah yes, its up to the people not the government as Thatcher said ‘people must look after themselves first’. Thatcher may be dead but her legacy lives on.

1% Benefits Cap

So it looks like the government is going to cap any rises in working age benefits at 1%, where historically it has been at the rate of inflation. For me, and for many others, it won’t make any difference to our pockets because we are ‘middle class’ and have jobs, mortgages etc.

We are also probably the ones who hold the power when it comes to casting our vote in any election and I feel that this is what the government believe – that this is a no issue. I have certainly seen in the popular media swathes of people who are happy to see the ‘scroungers’ losing out in some way. And this is where I have an issue. I am one of the lucky ones who profited from the disasterous decision by Thatchers government to sell off social housing on the cheap. This has led to a whole new generation of 40 – 60 year olds making huge somes of money as the housing market boomed, living in large houses on designer estates and forgetting that there are others that have not been so fortunate.

We are now back at the point where we have a huge divide between the have and have nots. I live not far from where I was born and brought up but I don’t feel comfortable wandering that estate, particularly at night. I look at the demographic of the people and although this may be a stereotypical description, they are either young family’s with little money, poor clothing, smoking, drinking and out of work or the older generations who did not manage to jump on the bandwagon when housing was cheap.

We have managed to create our own version of ghetto’s because those that can’t afford private housing are packed into the few areas where a council house is available. Again, this is very stereotypical, but a lot of these people haven’t been to college or university, their peers are exactly the same and their children are following in their footsteps.

When social housing was at its peak there was a complete mix of working, educated and socially aware residents which leads to greater understanding of others needs and social responsibilities. And I’m not saying that this is absent everywhere there is a council estate…its just that I haven’t witnessed it yet.

So following my rant, and back to the point, if the government cap benefit rises this is another wedge in the divide. If you are sat in your nice house on your nice estate then you can afford to see cuts elsewhere, other than those aimed at the least well off in our society, and you also have the power to do something about it at every single election…..

The Guardian – First squatter jailed under new law

The following is taken from todays Guardian…..a sad reflection on todays society…..

A 21-year-old man arrested at a flat in Pimlico, central London, has become the first person to be jailed under the government’s anti-squatting legislation.

Alex Haigh, originally from Plymouth, has been sentenced to 12 weeks in prison after pleading guilty to occupying a housing association flat without permission.

The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that Haigh was the first person to be given a custodial sentence under section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, which came into force on the first day of September.

West London magistrates heard that police officers had gone to the flat in Cumberland Street on 2 September in search of another man. They arrested three people, one of whom was Haigh, on suspicion of squatting and all three have been convicted; the other two are awaiting sentence.

The law criminalises squatting in residential premises. Housing charities have warned that it may trigger a surge in homelessness as squatters are forced on to the streets in order to avoid a criminal record.

The squatters’ rights group Squash (Squatters’ Action for Secure Homes), which campaigned against criminalisation, condemned the sentencing as “deeply disproportionate and unjust”. It said the building the men were occupying had been empty for more than a year.

Haigh’s father, Hugh, told the Evening Standard newspaper that his son, an apprentice bricklayer, had come to London in July seeking work. “They have made an example of him. To put him in that prison environment, I don’t understand it. If he broke the law, he should be dealt with, but it is like putting someone who has not paid their taxes into Dartmoor prison.”

Rueben Taylor, from Squash, said: “This marks a dark day for our country, as a young vulnerable person is being sent to prison simply for trying to keep a roof over his head.

“The real crime is the 930,000 properties sitting empty across the UK, not the people who are bringing these back into use. This crazy law is aggressively punishing the victims of our housing crisis, at massive cost to the taxpayer.”

Under section 144, squatting in England and Wales is punishable by up to six months’ jail and fines of up to £5,000. The change in the law does not affect commercial premises.

In a circular sent to judges, courts and the police, the Ministry of Justice confirmed that what were previously known as “squatters’ rights” – preventing forcible entry to an occupied building – would become redundant in relation to residential premises.

Squash claims the cost of criminalising squatting will be as high as £790m over the next five years.

This is Wrong

I was trawling through my usual websites and came across the below article on the Restarts site. Its about how the authorities in Indonesia are taking street kids who follow Punk and ‘re-educate’ them by shaving their heads and moving them out of town for brainwashing. Read the article, watch the video and sign the petition…this is wrong. Please copy and paste this and send it to all your contacts……

This is in response to the humiliating stifling of freedom of expression going on in Aceh, Indonesia! Punk is a state of mind, it is not embodied in a hairstyle or a piece of clothing, you cannot extinguish an idea with a set of hair clippers. The punks who attended the orphan benefit in Aceh have been stripped of all human rights, robbed of their identity in a humiliiting and degrading manner. Punk is about creating change and – WANTING TO CHANGE THINGS THAT ARE SHIT IN THIS WORLD! What the Aceh Police have inadvertantly done is create a call to arms for all punk rockers and believers of freedom to unite in solidarity against oppression! From the Arab Spring to the oppression in Syria THE WORLD IS WATCHING! Humans WILL NOT get away with oppressing other humans, we are rapidly evolving passed that stage.



sign the petition
BBC report
Video about Indonesia punk scene

Political Rant – Part 2

If you read my first political rant you will note that I am a white middle aged, mortgage/kids/holiday kind of guy. I just want new readers to understand that before I rant once more on the subject of todays politics.

David Cameron today stated:

We will soon publish a White Paper setting out our approach to public service reform. It will put in place principles that will signal the decisive end of the old-fashioned, top-down, take-what-you’re-given model of public services. And it is a vital part of our mission to dismantle Big Government and build the Big Society in its place.

Am I missing the point or are public services not the responsibility of our government? In my workplace this practice would be management by abdication and the abondonment of responsibility. This is abandonment of those not wealthy or intelligent enough to live in a decent house, or send their kids to a decent school.

Our demacracy allows us to freely elect the government who should be making the correct decisions for all of society, and not handing over the responsibility to private companies who will make profits, or charitys who are underfunded, and run in the most by unqualified volunteers.

Once there is nothing left to privatise will this mean the abolition of Governement itself? What else are they going to do? Freely elected goverment should nurture its people, allow them to realise dreams, live in a safe home, go to work and contribute to society. It will allow for children go to a school near where they live and receive the same standard of education that everyone else has irrespective of which town they live in. Instead we are creating a postcode society where the address you live will determin your education, health care and even if your bin gets emptied.

Just because successive governments have failed to provide the perfect system for all, does that mean they should give up? By privatising everything they are abandoning their responsibilies, the responsibilities we give them by voting. This should not be allowed to happen.

I would ask you all, at the next available opportunity let them know they are letting their people down – the real people.