…But are you worth it?

European Commission; trade agreements; environmental impact; employment rights; democracy, London Life

Every now and then a headline comes up that becomes the basis of government policy, if it’s appropriate. The headline this week is how much are people paid, in particular academics, and whether this pay is justified, and whether they, or indeed anyone else, ought to be paid more than the prime minister. The argument is one that is being used to justify the row caused by the chancellor, Philip Hammond, that public sector workers are overpaid.

Academics of universities are paid as much as they are worth, their pay is set by government or independent bodies and a quick look on the website of any university will show that lecturers and professors are paid well below anything the Prime Minister is paid. A few years ago the same argument was levelled at doctors. Again, their pay is largely set by government.

The Tory government have subscribed to the church of the “free market” and “privatisation” of anything that moves or can be traded, bought or sold. Pay is set by what can be afforded and the level of skill required to perform the tasks required of any particular job. Therefore it is absolutely correct that an engineer, architect, highly skilled construction workers, doctors, lawyers and lecturers should be paid a premium as the level of training, skill undergone by individuals and the level of responsibility not just to their colleagues but also to society as a whole. This is regardless of whether they work in the private or public sectors. After all, I don’t see many government ministers moaning about how much bankers and insurers get paid. Even the governor of the Bank of England earns more than the prime minister and, apart from a few cusory questions asked as to why he commanded such a high salary when Mark Carney took office, his appointment went without a murmur. Does anyone think he should take a pay cut?

Other jobs ranging from nursing, building trades, fire officers, police, teachers, health professionals right down to sales people are paid according to their levels of qualifications, skill and levels of responsibilities they are given. Teachers and academics are important as they train up the next generations of workers and, if the UK still wishes to sit on its laurels and pretend it has good schools that turn out highly education young people and in turn, lecturers and professors that turn out highly educated people ready to take their places in the world of work then they had better pay them properly and give them the means to do this without let or hindrance or the UK will sink as certainly as the Titanic did when she ran aground over 100 years ago. If the UK wants to maintain and grow the great public services that have been fought for by our grandparents and so badly let down by this shambles of a government then it needs to pay them better money and allow them to do their jobs.

By contrast let’s take a look at the skills needed to become prime minister, or indeed a government minister. The UK is supposed to be a country where anyone who has the ability can stand for parliament regardless of their background or where they went to school. However, there are obstacles in doing so. If you come from a wealthy family or are in one of the professions then it is easier to do so. If you are in a trades union they will give you the skills you will need to debate your point, will put you forward to be chosen by the Labour party (the Labour party is the only party of the working people and was originally set up and funded by the trades unions to give a voice for working people across the UK, and continues to do so). As an MP you will need to be able to make your point succinctly in argument and, at least, know what you’re talking about. If you have other qualifications such as a degree or masters in economics then that may help if you’re put in a position where you can use this knowledge. However, the most important thing is to be able to toe the party line at all costs and lie through your teeth even when you know what you’re saying will do more harm than good. Slavishly following the party doctrine in the face of evidence to the contrary is more important than having a conscience or working for the good of the country, although working for the good of your constituents is always to be lauded, after all, those are the voters who got you your job and who can vote you out if you go too far.

Becoming Prime Minister is a matter of luck, being in the right place at the right time and having enough people who will back you. Thereafter any skill there is, is to be able to do the job well. I cannot recall a time when a real visionary was an MP or even PM. There are those who will cite Margaret Thatcher, however, her “vision” was myopic and totally ruined this country for decades afterwards The current bunch of incompetent fools are only trying to complete the job she set out to do and in the process are coming apart at the seams.  I wholeheartedly wish they would go away and do it in private without subjecting the rest of the country to such a painful process. If government ministers truly wish to continue the fruitless discussion of who gets paid more than the PM they need to take a good long look at themselves and take a pay cut, because they are overpaid and woefully under performing in every aspect of their collective offices.

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The Death of Politics?

democracy, democratic rights, European Commission; trade agreements; environmental impact; employment rights; democracy, London Life

The death of British MP Jo Cox this week was a cause for concern and disbelief that anyone could be so violent towards another human being. By all accounts she was a talented, principled young woman who achieved a lot in her first year of being elected to office. However, there are a couple of issues that trouble me.

Firstly, I’m glad that MPs across the country marked their respect for Ms Cox by attending their weekly advice surgeries across the country. This is as it should be. MPs in the UK are accessible to their local constituents so that they do not entirely forget why they are there and who put them there. MPs are there to answer and resolve grievances of the people who elected them to office, as well as to be reminded that ordinary people with ordinary problems are what connects us all.

Secondly, I’m glad and hope that MPs will not resort to having superstar-type security around them. This is not the USA but the UK and as mentioned previously MPs should be accessible to all their constituents.

Thirdly, what is absolutely reprehensible is that the media are trying to turn around what is a rare and tragic act of violence by someone of a weak, impressionable and disturbed mentality into an act of heroism that MPs go through in their jobs in the same manner as staff in A&E units or as beat police officers across the UK do. This is not the case and in no way justifies what the media (and in turn certain MPs) are trying to draw parallels with.

MPs not only court publicity they revel in it. Whether their constituency is a small cluster of villages (or even one) or large town.  MPs need publicity as part of their job and in order to put their ideas and proposals into the public domain. This is how it should be.

However in recent years MPs have tried to shut themselves away from the outside world and put themselves in a place above and beyond the reaches of common decency, politeness and fairness that many people outside of Westminster abide by.

Indeed only last week George Osborn actually threatened voters with more cuts to public services and cuts to benefits if voters dared to vote to leave Europe. The voting public in the UK have been subjected to outright lies, smears, manipulation, personal insults and the kind of behaviour no doubt seen in public schools or in bars by rugby teams that are shameful and an utter disgrace to the office they hold. This was evident not only in the 2010 election but also in last years election in May, previously in the Scottish Referendum and again in the London Mayoral election and also in the last few months in the EU Referendum. If nothing else it is an insult to the intelligence of the average British voter if they honestly believe we’re that stupid to believe them. It also betrays the contempt many MPs hold the average person in. If MPs want a fight then they only need to continue as they have been doing in the last 6 or more years and remember this, the EU Referendum is also a vote of confidence in how well or otherwise we, those same people who have been treated with such contempt by these rich politicians, think Dave and the rest of the Tories have done. A vote to leave the EU will also be a vote of no confidence in Dave’s negotiating abilities.

Politics is a long time in …..

democracy, democratic rights

At the present time I seem to be concentrating on British politics as there is a lot going on, quite a bit of it not very pretty, or has the potential to be not very pretty that I feel needs commenting on, as it seems to be a symptom or response to what is going on elsewhere in the world, such as the EU Referendum currently taking place.

However, I’d like to talk about the debate that will be taking place this week about the place and abilities of the House of Lords to be a tempering effect on the legislature that the House of Commons is pushing through at any particular time.

Over many years the Lords have maintained and exercised the right to question, scrutinise and hold the government to account which has worked very well. However the newly elected Tory government had a good many of its proposed laws sent back for review last year and Tories do not like being told they can’t do whatever they want. It is an arrogance that stems from a privileged background and being told from an early age that it is your right to do as you please, when you please and to whom you please. At no point has any tory minister thought that perhaps quite a lot of the proposed legislation being put forward was badly thought through, misconceived and that it would hurt more people than benefit them.

That, surely is what the House of Lords’ function is there for.

The main point is that a great deal of the legislation being put forward by the tories stems from pure spite, which is why it is being sent back in a civilised, polite manner, and the arrogant pigs that currently form the tory government are being asked to think (yes, engage the grey matter between the ears) about what they are trying to achieve and how they are hoping to achieve it.

Curtailing any information about, opposition to the prevailing government during an election would also prevent smaller parties being formed, trades unions putting forward their own candidates and parties, charities funding newer parties. On the other hand it could also be read that despite “call me Dave” has said he supports Britain being part of the EU, the mainstay of campaigning to remain within the EU has been from those who support a British Exit from the EU (or Brexit as it’s become known). This means that Dave is being his usual two-faced self, telling us one thing but doing completely the opposite, but I digress.

Despite spending the first five years of the Coalition government trying to drive wedges into the British population to divide and conquer, he is actually uniting us against the small-minded, enviousness, petty, overbearing, presumptuous spitefulness of his government and himself. If ever there were a lame-duck prime minister it is David Cameron and the entire Tory Government.

A Small Chink of Light at the End of the Tunnel

democratic rights, European Commission, European Commission; trade agreements; environmental impact; employment rights; democracy, trade agreement

I know I don’t have a great many readers but find it uncanny that shortly after my plea for EU ministers to grow a spine and stand up to US bullying, the French foreign tradee minister Mattias Fekl has called a halt to any further negotiations with America on TTIP. I cannot tell you how happy that makes me. Now that the suspicions of so many ordinary people have been shown to be true, that it is a bad deal for the ordinary people of Europe and bad for European businesses, I can only hope that this lone voice is one of many that will spread across the European continent and across Brussels.

This is one area we cannot and should not be bullied into. This is nothing less than the utter subjugation of people who have been borne free and lived lives as honestly as they and their circumstances permitted, for this abomination of an “agreement” to be foisted on us by unscrupulous politicians only interested in feathering their own nests and profiting from ordinary citizens’ misery is beyond the pale. Angela Merkel should be ashamed of herself. It is quite clear that the EU is the pet project of Germany and they seem to think they will run Europe as they see fit.

There is nothing of any value to Europe or Europeans in TTIP. Everything our fathers and grandfathers fought for in the last century is being dismantled in the name of greed and profit and under TTIP this would be eradicated from our history, our lives would become to resemble something from the 17th Century, if not worse.

There has been a disconnect between politicians and voters in recent years, with quite a few displaying psychopathic tendencies where they don’t care about the impact on ordinary people, only how it affects them, the image they are projecting. It is taking a Frenchman to show some steel and say there is something very wrong with TTIP. Thank you Mr Fekl, your honesty is appreciated and applauded. Please continue your work and garner support across Europe so that other politicians can also come to this common-sense approach that Europe is in danger of being wiped out, not by war or sickness, but by treaty from a country thousands of miles away who is not a friend to us anymore.

We must reinstate relations with Russia at the earliest opportunity to ensure our future economic well being and also that we can continue to mutually benefit each other. We must also align ourselves more closely with the BRICS countries as this is the future. Only by doing this can we be sure of ensuring our way of life as Europeans is maintained and improved.

TTIP and all it stands for must be resisted as it does not serve small and medium businesses and it certainly does not serve ordinary people. If America wants to have a scorched earth policy it can do so inside its own borders, but it does not have the right to violate the earth everywhere else.

Observation Confused as Prejudice

democracy, democratic rights

There is a small, local incident in the Palace of Westminster that is being blown up out of all proportion and I’d like to add my twopenny worth. Naz Khan has been expelled from the Labour Party for comments she made before she became an MP saying she thought Israel ought to be relocated to the USA. A couple of prominent jews called the comments anti-semetic. The comments were about how US foreign policy is not just guided by, but directed by Israel. That Benjamin Netanyahu was confident enough to address US Senators in Capitol Hill while standing for election in 2015 in order to reiterate the close ties between Israel and the US is a matter of fact, not an anti-jewish accusation.

That the USA has pursued a policy of systematically destabilising the Middle East for many years which has directly led to the influx of Muslim refugees flooding into Europe is a matter of fact. Having caused such a situation both Obama and Clinton have declared that Europe should clean up the mess caused by the US policy have decided they will not allow too many to their country. In fact the US should take many, many more Muslim refugees waiting to enter Europe as they seem to have such an affinity with them, having bombed the living daylights out of them in their own countries.

Really, the Jewish community needs to be a lot less sensitive about name calling than it is. The observation was no more anti-semetic than describing someone as a black person is racist.

The Labour Party also needs to understand they are being played by the Tories who are desperate to deflect attention away from their nefarious off-shore tax avoiding issues. Jeremy Corbyn needs to push back on this really hard and not let the Tories get away with such disgraceful behaviour.

UPDATE:

The timing of this so-called “scandal” could not be more timely.  There is no real scandal, there were no comments that were “anti-semetic”.  However there is an election for a new London Mayor and local county council elections in 2 days time and the Tories are absolutely crapping themselves that they are not going to get any seats that could bolster their grip on established thieving, downright thuggery and complete dishonesty, having being exposed for tax dodging and supporting tax dodgers.  By getting Jeremy Corbyn to suspend MPs, particularly those who happen to be closer to his way of doing things rather than the Blairites who are Tory-lites, JC will be more isolated and it would be harder for him to get his policies across and implemented.   My advice is the same, push back and don’t be bullied by Tory thugs, whichever side of the chamber they sit in.