Saturday, March 31, 2012

Power, arrogance and Bradford

George Galloway's triumph meant a kick in the nuts for Labour. But look at the childish Tory reaction to their own humiliation.

They lost 24% of the votes in less than two years and went from calling Bradford a "winnable seat" to scrambling a pathetic 8.4% in Thursday's byelection.

And now Baroness "cuh-ts" Warsi, one of the most grating politicians around, doesn't even have the dignity to do a bit of soul searching about the Tories' disastrous performance. Nah.

All she could manage was the childish: "This is a Labour seat, has been for many, many decades and last night they lost it in spectacular fashion". Which may be true, but she could do with at least acknowledging that the Tory vote in the area melted into diarrhea like never before.

Which is exactly the kind of petty, pointscoring arrogance that is making this Tory government more unpopular by the minute.

In the meantime, while this blog is no big fan of George Galloway, we say fair play to him. These are times of unprecedented attacks against ordinary people's living standards and workers' rights.

And, with his spectacular victory, Galloway in the Commons (if he does bother to turn up) is a better guarantee than yet another New Labour robot tiptoeing around the issues that matter.

To quote excellent blogger Madam Miaow, "if Labour doesn't like Galloway then the solution is easy. Start doing your job so Galloway doesn't have to". Wise words.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tax, cigarettes and government logic

The Tories' amazingly selective notion of "people taking much greater steps than anticipated to avoid paying the tax".

You may have heard the feeble and glaze-eyed argument from government ministers that the 50p tax is being abolished on the grounds that it raised "next to nothing".

Let's leave aside the semantics of defining £1.1bn as "next to nothing". And let's also forget the fact that in no other field would a government come up with such a sweeping judgement so prematurely, after just twelve months from introducing whatever measure.

Let's just concentrate on how crook-eyed this government can be.

On one side, Tory George Osborne is so cocksure about the 50p rate "not bringing in enough money" and "forcing" the wealthy away from Britain, so he gets rid of it. Fine.

Except that, on the other, he increases by 8% an already sky-high tobacco tax even though HMRC already said that "smuggling and crossborder shopping cost HM Treasury up to £3.6 billion in lost tax revenue in 2009/10".

How does it work?

How can they think that a tax that was at least bringing in £1.1bn can be scrapped on the basis that "some wealthy people took much greater steps than anticipated to avoid paying the tax", while another that is costing the government £3.6bn in lost revenues (that is to say, tons of people sidestepping it) gets jacked up even more?

How can the notion that "people taking much greater steps than anticipated to avoid paying the tax" be applied so selectively?

PS. Note that this blogger is not a smoker and that he's not discussing the merits of either tax. I actually agree that tobacco should be taxed given its direct burden on the NHS. The point is the ridiculousness of the Tories' illogic.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cliches of 2012 #2

"Our young people are too fussy when it comes to jobs".

...And the evidence for that would be...?

Jack, of course, because it's the typical sweeping generalisation that you hear with increasing frequency from the kind of people who 1) don't appreciate their luck and 2) have a tendency to hear one anecdote and generalise.

Like "media personality" Janet Street Porter, or Frank Field MP on last Thursday's BBC Question Time - the latter telling the story of some stroppy kids grunting that for less than £300 a week they wouldn't even consider a job.

And so the Daily Mailers of this world hear an anecdote or two like that, and voila'...the hundreds of thousands of young people toiling away for shit wages in assorted pubs, supermarkets, Greggs, Starbucks and the rest turn into ghosts.

And so does the increasing army of bogus "self-employed" people, many of them youngsters with no pension rights, sickpay or holiday pay (check out the hairdressers trade, for an idea), forced to call themselves "self-employed" just so that their employer can dodge national insurance and every other obligation.

Not to mention, the millions whose email inbox these days contains more job rejection messages than spam. Because, in case you didn't know, it's official news that in parts of Britain "[a]lmost 80 unemployed people are chasing each job".

Nah. You heard it. Janet Street Porter said it. "Our young people are too fussy when it comes to jobs". "They don't try hard enough". "They're picky". "They don't pull their finger out".

I don't know about you. But I don't know one single person who would accept a job only if strictly related to their dreams. That isn't to say that there's no fussy people out there. But, far from the cliche', most people are quite happy to shelve their dreams for bar work, call centre jobs, zero-hour contracts, or anything that comes their way. That's in the real world, especially these days.

And you can be sure Janet wouldn't like it if cliches were thrown about that people develop her kind of mindest from hanging around too many golf clubs or "dinner parties". And where, while munching on a canape or two, you hear anecdotes from some other media guru whose posh kid called Camilla, Rupert or Hubert is still travelling around the world while waiting for the perfect job offer to follow their successful degree in PR.

Generalisations: don't they just sound hateful?