It’s you, Conservative government. Please stop.

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It’s you, Conservative government.  Please stop.

By julijuxtaposed – first posted 7.10.15

Please, Conservative Government, stop putting Britain’s people down.  It is fatuous, unpatriotic and downright rude.  You are our government; our leaders and representatives.  You are privileged to hold the highest offices of public service.  Why do you disrespect us so easily?  Don’t you like us?  Are we embarrassing you?  Why do you keep speaking at us and about us as though we were the ones who are letting you down?

Stop selectively comparing us to other countries and other people to bully us and mask your inadequacies.  This inferiority complex is yours.  It is insulting and becoming tiresome to hear you carping on with your political envy.  If their peoples work longer, earn less and have fewer rights, then that is not a competition I wish to enter.  In fact, I would prefer that you openly disapproved of such economies.  But stop, too, this flippantly pitting of our regions, counties and cities against each other.  Stop expediently pointing generalised and judgemental fingers at people.  And, please, stop expecting us to be grateful for your mean-spirited crumbs.  It is our bread that you are eating.

And stop peddling paranoia to the xenophobes and stop perpetuating scarcity myths over resources that you are squandering.  We do not lack the means but that you lack the political will.  We do not lack compassion but you lack integrity.   We do not lack aspiration; we do not lack gumption and we do not lack self-respect but that you would strip us of dignity and decent opportunity.  We do not lack social cohesion but that you keep fostering fear, division and discontent.

Who is in charge of our country’s finances?  Who is formulating our country’s policies?  Who is devising our country’s laws?  YOU.  Who has been in charge for the last five years?  YOU.  Who, in that time, didn’t build enough housing; didn’t train sufficient doctors, nurses, teachers…?  Who has denigrated and undermined public service?  YOU.  Who has introduced welfare reforms without first creating an economy in which this is justifiable?  YOU.  Who perpetuates a socio-economic system that requires the exploitation of your own citizens?  YOU.  Who makes blanket policies based on simplistic and insulting stereotypes?  YOU.  Who is blithely building on and recreating the same conditions that got us into such a fix in the first place?  YOU.  Who has bent over backwards to accommodate the hyperbole of bigots and Chicken Littles?  YOU.  Who governs by dubious moral whim?  YOU.  Who gambols greedily around on the world stage like an oversized and untrained puppy, begging to join in, no matter the recklessness and disingenuousness of the cause?  YOU.

Who is ignorantly and wickedly cutting away at the very heart and soul of Britain?  YOU.

Who is the biggest threat to the security of our isles, our economy and our families?  YOU.

YOU.  YOU.  YOU.

You are the Government.  You are responsible for the tone, content and quality of your narrative and you are responsible for the consequences of your governance.  What we really lack is the practical wisdom, maturity and the competent service of an honourable leadership.  Change your attitude and behaviour.  Stop.  Turn around or get out of our way.

Cameron and Co

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Cameron and Co

by julijuxtaposed

First posted on January 1, 2013

We’re “heading in the right direction”

Satan’s minion will have tell;

His recipe for our correction

Knocking –

Hear the warning knell?

He leads the rack,

He is the pinion –

Will not countenance opinion

Self-interest is his dominion

Teeth set firm

Towards the Gates of Hell.

Destination by decree

Of fiat kings and corporations:

Hail to the Unholy See!

Might is Right!

Proclaim its agents.

New regime as old as Ancient

Orders subjugate the nation.

Pretender

To the Pillars of Necessity and Fate,

Masquerading as the Saviour

With division served as bait,

While his kin he is preserving

With his own collection plate.

Arise, good people

And give vent

To our ‘divine’ Establishment.

Our very blood is being lent

And sold and swapped

And spilled and spent.

This Call-me-Dave will us enslave

If we do not reclaim the State:

Rebuild our lives, our dreams, our nation

One we ALL can co-create.

He is no god, no king, no leader –

Just a well-connected bleeder.

Come ye forth while you’re still free –

We, The People: you and me.

Let’s show this crook, this tyrant traitor,

Petty despotic dictator

Where we’d really like to see

His nasty ‘Big Society’.

More by julijuxtaposed re-posted on Think Left:

Have You Drawn Your Curtains, Dearie?

Moving On

On No Good Authority

 

DEMOLITION COALITION: The Tiny State or the Big Society?

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DEMOLITION COALITION:

The Tiny State or The Big Society?

When someone comes jangling their tins of coppers, supposedly on the precept of collecting for some charity or other, I am always left feeling uncomfortable and questioning. I ponder what sort of society or world we live in, if sick, poor, and vulnerable people need to depend on these various charities. This contrasts as I look a round the streets where all eyes can see flash cars, bright lights advertising ever more expensive gadgets, and expensive holidays. With all the resources, why is there insufficient food, housing, clothing or medicines for everyone? Why do we need charities? How else can we achieve a world where everyone feels his or her life is worth living?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have every admiration for the caring people who give their time to charity, for example the MacMillan nurses, the Alzheimer’s Society which supports carers and sufferers, and ChildLine.

I see it a matter of funding and access to human rights. The Coalition came to power spouting confidence in The Big Society. Has society grown? Has it grown taller? Fatter? What do they mean?

THE BIGGER SOCIETY

The Cabinet Office (1) states that “The Big Society is about helping people to come together to improve their own lives. It’s about putting more power in people’s hands – a massive transfer of power from Whitehall to local communities.

The Office for Civil Society, part of the Cabinet Office, works across government departments to translate the Big Society agenda into practical policies, provides support to voluntary and community organisations and is responsible for delivering a number of key Big Society programmes.

Support for local communities? What is the role of the democratically elected local councils? If power is being devolved from Whitehall to the people, why do we see cuts to local council budgets, closure of public libraries, cuts to budgets for parks and local amenities? Why are services and jobs being cut? Why are people losing jobs to be replaced by volunteers?

Shortly after the election in 2010, the National Citizen Service was announced, an example of the Big Society. 2) It has now been announced that Serco the multinational security and workfare company have acquired the largest share of contacts to expand this scheme, 6 out of a possible 19 lucrative contracts 3).

The NCS Network is biggest winner among the 19 deals, with the Challenge Network also successful. A consortium that includes Serco, the private sector services firm, has won the largest number of regional contracts to deliver the government’s National Citizen Service in 2013 and 2014.

The NCS Network, which includes Serco and the youth charities Catch 22, the National Youth Agency, vinspired and UK Youth, won six of the 19 regional contracts available.

The other successful bidders for the £200m worth of contracts were: the Football League Trust; the Cumbria-based social enterprise Inspira; Lincolnshire & Rutland Education Business Partnership; New College Nottingham; the Devon-based college Petroc; the employment and skills firm Reed in Partnership; and the Challenge Network.

The purpose of government is to serve the people. If there is to be a real transfer of power to the people, then it would be a good start for politicians to be open and honest about their intentions. The irony is that the power has not been given back to the people but that we live in a plutocracy where power remains with the big corporations.

The Big Society idea was nothing more than the government washing its hands of responsibility, tantamount to abandoning citizens to poverty and destitution.. throwing them in workhouses, mirroring the Victorian era, when Cameron and Osborne believe everyone was living a life of comfort and cleanliness, seemingly unaware of the dirty, diseased and destitution of those living in Victorian inner cities.

Anne Power writes in the Guardian: 4)

In my new report for the British Academy Policy Centre, The ‘Big Society’ and concentrated neighbourhood problems, I draw on extensive research to chart the history of community-centred activity in the USA and the UK, showing the big society idea as part of a long tradition of community organisation and social movement. There is little evidence that the big society, as opposed to the big state, will on its own carry us through the difficult challenges we face.

We need government action too

“The state cannot withdraw from its overarching responsibility towards society as a whole, and neither can private interests, at whatever level, adequately fill those roles, particularly in poor communities. The tortuous American reform of health care, the sub-prime mortgage and banking crises, the eurozone crisis and steep energy price rises have shown just how vulnerable weaker members of society are, and how much we rely on co-operative action at government level as well as in communities. “

Isn’t this really just depending on the goodwill of a few individuals? What if they tire of volunteering, run out of funds?

Involving people to be active in their communities, to feel ownership of their towns, parks and villages does seem like a good idea, but individual volunteers cannot replace the responsibility of our governments to ensure protection and care. People came forward to volunteer at the Olympics 5) this summer. It is very different to providing services on a permanent basis. That is an entirely different matter, for example if we were to consider a primary school, it is the difference between helping out at the school Summer Fayre to teaching children with special needs .

While entrusted with taxes, the duty of our government is to ensure well-trained, skilled individuals, provide the best quality services possible. Public money is not intended to give opportunities for speculators, to win a packet on the horses, the stock market, to make personal profit, to buy off favours or to silence the press.

That is what is happening in the UK., and beyond. Our democracy has been handed over to a few individuals – a self-serving plutocracy.

Handing over public services for our care, our safety , our health and education to privatized companies who serve shareholders and not the electorate will lead to poorer or non-existent services. It is a myth that privatized corporations provide better. Their priority is profit. It is that simple. When the profits are made, there is nothing to stop them getting out and leaving the rot behind.

CHARITIES AT HOME AND AWAY:

Some may say that charities will provide care at basic cost, and they are not profit making yet strive to provide the best care possible. I have no doubt that many have the very best intentions, which is both admirable and commendable.

It is well known that donating to charities is tax deductible. Undoubtedly, some use this in order to avoid paying taxes. Therefore, the money going to the charity would be less than that which would be available to the government to provide for the needy. We could justify diverting funds from public services to charities, if the services provided are necessary, and of a high quality, and there is transparency about accounts.

CHARITY or TAX?

There is something quite different about the images those two words evoke.

TAX is money collected to provide funding for services and structures. In democratic societies, people have some influence about how to prioritise how this is spent. The beauty of tax is that it can be structured so that those who are well off pay proportionally more than those who are less well off. People with specific needs can be supported. There are sufficient funds available for all as long as this is done fairly. Other taxes such as VAT proportionally hit the poor. Fiscal policies of the Coalition government have shifted the burden onto the poorest in our society. Ever since the days of Herod, the word
tax has had a negative association. This has arisen because of policies like these. A fair tax system is the best way to ensure that everyone has enough for their needs. Indeed, if tax evasion/avoidance was eliminated there would be sufficient funds available for all.

CHARITY on the other hand has a nice warm, cosy feel to it. It makes us feel as if we are helping others, that we are good Samaritans of the modern world.

Philanthropists get to choose who/what is deserving, just as Coalition international aid programme can be used to mould behaviour of recipient countries for the benefit of corporations’ profits. Let us consider Bill Gates. Having made millions from Microsoft he set up the Gates Foundation 6) famously contributing to worthy causes. Who chooses which charities are worthy?

Java Films have produced a video, The Benefactor 7) (see clip) and write:

Bill Gates is the richest man on the planet due to his revolutionary creation: Microsoft. Today he and his wife dedicate their lives to their foundation ’The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’. It is the most powerful foundation in the world investing 3 billion dollars or 95% of the Gates fortune a year into philanthropic causes. Calling themselves “impatient optimists”, the foundation sets out to change the world, aiming to find a cure for malaria and develop a vaccination against HIV within the couple’s lifetime.

However there may be a darker side to this miraculous foundation. Gates was considered a brutal capitalist in the 90s and some suspect that the foundation is simply a means of boosting his image by reinventing himself as a great do-gooder. However this is only a minor complaint…research into the foundation’s investments shows that some of them, notably into the development of GMOs at Monsanto, contradict their philanthropic work and are just a way boosting income.

More powerful than those without his wealth , he has disproportionate power. The distortion of the wishes of the world’s people is clear.

Is this a democracy? However well-meaning this sounds, in reality , this is an example of more power being given to those with money. Yes, some wealth may be being redistributed, but not by fair, or democratic means. In the neoliberal world, it is a plutocracy, those with wealth choose how the world’s wealth is spent.

The recent scandal with Jimmy Savile, BBC’s Saint of Charity, now points a finger of corruption. We must ask who knew of the child abuse and corruption? Is it possible that his involvement with charities could facilitate cuts to state services? The closeness to Thatcher arouses suspicion and certainly warrants investigation. Labour is right to insist on further investigation (8).

We all may salve our consciences by sharing with charities because we feel we cannot change the injustices of this neoliberal world. The President of Uruguay donates 90% of his salary to charities, and lives a fairly frugal lifestyle. 9)

In a recent interview, Mujica told Spain’s El Mundo that he earns a salary of $12,500 a month, but only keeps $1,250 for himself, donating the rest to charity.

The president said that the only big item he owns is his VW car, valued at $1,945 dollars. The farmhouse in which he lives in Montevideo is under his wife’s name, Lucía Topolansky, a Senator, who also donates part of her salary.

“I do fine with that amount; I have to do fine because there are many Uruguayans who live with much less,” the president told El Mund.

This contrasts somewhat with “charitable’ behaviour of Bill Gates and Jimmy Savile. If someone has massive sums of wealth,, and chooses to share a small portion with others, while retaining conditions and control, isn’t that also some kind of abuse?

THE TINY STATE:

The Coalition government seeks to relinquish its duty and responsibility far beyond the expectations of the majority. Far from moving to a Big Society, it is true that we are moving towards a Tiny State. This is because of deception and lies presented in 2010 The NHS cuts, planned well before the general election, plans for privatization have gone ahead under the pretext of increase in parental choice, cuts to welfare pass because of demonization of the poor and vulnerable in our society. The Conservatives planned their Big Society with the idea of more local involvement and devolution from Whitehall, and appeal to the emotions of the people under the cover-word of “charity”.

Cameron and the Shrinking State

Aditya Chakrabortty: 10) Cameron wants a Shrinking State: Drawing on IMF figures published last week, this graph, published in CiF in the Guardian compares what will happen to government spending in Britain up to 2017 with the outlook for Germany and the US. And what it shows is that the UK will plunge from public spending on a par with Germany in 2009, to spending less than the US by 2017. Had France, Sweden or Canada been included on this graph, the UK would still come bottom. If George Osborne gets his way, within the next five years, Britain will have a smaller public sector than any other major developed nation.

THE COURAGEOUS STATE Richard Murphy’s Courageous State (11) proposes to rethink the system by which we obtain funding. The Courageous State would release the funds to which the people are morally entitled to – their labour having produced the wealth. These funds, illicitly and immorally stashed away in hidden in tax havens would be sufficient to ensure that there would be homes, employment, health care, quality education and life-long learning. There would be care and dignity for our elderly, and activities and hope for our young. I have a feeling that is what the electorate is waiting for.

References and Further reading

1) The Cabinet Office: The Big Society

2) Johnny Void Blog: The Big Society

3) The Third Sector: Serco wins Contracts

4) Guardian: Big Society: Neighbourhood Problems

5) Guardian Big Society and Olympics.

6.) The Gates Foundation

7) Java Films : Bill Gates, The Benefactor

8. Uruguayan President donates 90% of income to charity

9.) Labour asks for further investigation into Savile scandal

10 . The Guardian: Cameron wants a Shrinking State (Aditya Chakrabortty) 10:

11: The Courageous State: Richard Murphy

The Charity Commission for England and Wales

Charity Commision registering Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs from January 2013)

Charitable Status of Religious Groups: The Secular Society

Richard Murphy: The Courageous State

THE TORY SMOKE-SCREEN, THAT IS THE BIG-SOCIETY!

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The Tory Smoke-Screen, That Is The Big-Society! by David Harney

 First posted on http://the67missingpages.blogspot.co.uk/

                                                 

                                      How The `Big Society` Is Perceived By Many.


Today, the Conservative led Coalition launches it`s £600m `Big-Society` fund for charities, & voluntary groups. It`s called the Big Society Fund, or BSF, but what does it all actually mean, & what benefits will it all provide?


Firstly, it has to be stated here, that a huge slice, £400m in fact, will come from dead bank accounts. Many of these dead bank accounts belong to either people who have themselves died, or from those people who have gone missing. These bank accounts have to have been `dead` for 15 years. This alone raises questions as to why, those hundreds of millions of pounds were not returned to the account owners relatives, during that decade & a half. However, for now, i leave these questions as an interesting aside.


When David Cameron moved into No. 10, he wasted no time in telling us all of his big bright idea, of a `Big-Society`. His vision was of an army of good people, taking a leading role in charitable & community work. Free of charge, & in the interests of all. A `Dunkirk-Spirit`, that would sweep the nation. Or in other words, a `where all in this together` Churchilian attitude of unity & endeavour. Certainly, that`s how I understood his meaning, as perhaps many of us did. His intention was, & still is, to shrink state involvement in local affairs, & hand power to the people. This, he says, will give us all a real feeling of owning our communities. Playing a vital role in community destiny. Genuine democracy in action!


Sounds great doesn`t it? One could say, it sounds very much like a Labour idea, with its left-wing soundbites, & implications. Yes, here was a Conservative Prime Minister, bestowing the virtues of a peoples state. A unified people with the power to make decisions, & influence direction. A free social bonding that was to replace the tight constraints of central government. So what`s the problem? & why are we not all casting off our chains, & throwing ourselves wholeheartedly into Mr Cameron`s ambitious vision of the future, & becoming his `Big-Society`?


Why, because, 99% of us are living in the real world. Cameron`s idea is deeply, deeply flawed. The whole idea is indeed a social one, or progressive one, call it what you will. The problem however, is the idea is being attempted by a right-wing, regressive, & divisive government. A government that since May 2010, has systematically cut funding to all charities & voluntary groups, to the tune of a massive £5billion. £5bn, in less than 2 years. This has left these vital groups gasping for air. Being forced to close down. Or simply not having the resources to help the people they are there to help. The poor, the sick, the disabled, & the elderly. All these facts, makes the £600m BSF appear small change. Further than that, an absolute insult. An insult made by a government so out of touch with reality, they wouldn`t know a pasty from a bag of chips!

 
99% of us have felt our living standards drop dramatically, to an all time low since May 2010. Thousands upon thousands of us have lost our jobs, made redundant, & thrown on the dole. Those not made redundant, have seen the pay cut or frozen, & live in daily fear of being made unemployed.  Many more thousands have seen their benefits cut to a level that quite literally leaves them unable to afford to feed themselves properly. Unable to buy clothes. Even unable to afford the bus fair to the social security office, to sign on once a fortnight. All of us, have seen food prices rocket, fuel bills sore, & public services hacked & chopped in a manner more befitting of a master butcher, than of a government of a civilized nation.  How foolhardy, & out of touch this government are. To imagine for one second, you can hit & hammer a nation`s people in this manner, whilst asking them to `all pull together & help their communities`! You could not write it could you?


This government is one that is steeped in an ideology of division. An ideology that gives birth to policies which set poor against rich, and rich against poor. Black against white, & white against black. Policies which make some despise those unfortunate enough to live on state benefit. The disabled are questioned & tested to prove to the state, they are unable to hold a cup, or to walk above 10 yards without being in total agony. The middle class are united with the working class in despising the rich. This government rewards the rich, with further perks like reducing the 50p rate of duty to 45p, whilst hitting the hardest hit. Pensioners. Children. & the disadvantaged.


In the real world. The world where I live, & I`m sure you live too, this is society. This is our community. These are our people. The very people Mr Cameron wants in his good hearted, giving, all volunteering, Big-Society. You see the problem?

 
If you own a company, & you are astute, & appreciate good practice, you nurture your staff. You inspire them, & help them overcome difficulties. You value your staff, & you demonstrate that value by praising them for their work. Why? Because you know that by doing so, you will achieve better performance. Better co-operation. You will foster an atmosphere of progress. All of which, equals bigger profit, & greater success. Mistreat your staff, & deny them support, or help. You are making a huge rod for both yourself, & your company. You staff will turn their backs, & work to rule. They will withdraw all co-operation. Eventually, your staff may well remove their labour altogether. Leaving your company losing money, & struggling to operate. Simple basic common sense. But yet, as simple as it is, still Mr Cameron cannot understand, why his big idea of a Big-Society, is not cheered from the rooftops. Perhaps someone, some day, will talk him through it.

 
Mrs Thatcher once said, there was no such thing as society. But yet, she was implementing `Cameron`s idea` even then. The difference, & only difference, was that Margaret Thatcher never gave it a name. However, her non-society did give it a name. It was called `paddle your own canoe`. What `paddle your own canoe` involved was, due to her government`s removal of state aid, & cutting public services, if you wanted anything doing, then do it yourself. Who could forget Norman Tebbit, advising the 3 million unemployed to, `get on your bike, & look for work`. A government abdication of responsibility, on a monumental scale. Sounds familiar? For those of us old enough to have lived through Mrs Thatcher`s rule, David Cameron`s `Big-Society` idea is merely his way of implementing Thatcherism, whilst dressing it up as an idea of his government caring & helping society. Me & you in other words. Let us not be fooled, this government, or ANY right-wing government does not care about society in the least, or it`s well-being. It cares for money. Capitalism is king. People are pawns. Society is nothing more than an inconvenience. An inconvenience, that matters only at election time, when their votes are vital.

 
Please do not misunderstand me, the idea of a Big Society, is good. In fact, it`s superb. However, in order for it to succeed, it must be implemented by a progressive, left of centre government. Why? Because, the whole concept of a Big Society, must be implemented as part of a social thinking government, with ideology, traditions, & policies which match. The Big Society idea will always fail, as a stand-alone policy fighting it`s way through a mass of policies which have an anti-social effect. Then, & only then, will we ever see the genuine social benefits of a community pulling together. Until then, we have Mr Cameron, & the smokescreen for cuts, he calls the `Big-Society`!


Thank you for reading!
David Harney.