Category Archives: Rant

Labour, Inequality and a Rant.

Please please let us have a referendum on electoral reform. No matter who wins the next General Election, we desperately need to broaden the choice. You may risk giving representation to the BNP but the closed shop of Labour and Conservative is strangling ideas and suffocating change.  There is nowhere left to turn and if we needed any further proof then it came in the form of last week’s report, An Anatomy of Economic Inequality from the National Equality Panel.   The report shows that the current Labour government has presided over not only the maintenance but the widening of a vast inequality gap.  So an unprecedented three Labour governments have overseen a rise in inequality? It should stand as a matter of disgrace. It makes me despondent. Either I vote for Labour again or face the unavoidable alternative of David Cameron – he’s not exactly a One Nation Disraelite. Tories promising spending cuts don’t usually herald great eras of social justice. Margaret Thatcher anyone? Thatcherism is precisely why this gap first appeared.

But before Labour supporters blame another problem on MT I want to say I’m sick of hearing it. Thirteen years is a long time – especially when ten of those years were boom time.  Labour’s tactics? The deregulation of the financial sector, the slashing of capital gains tax, the abolishment of the lowest tax band – none exactly strike me as redistributive, inequality addressing measures. This once proud socialist party presided over a long – although ultimately flawed – period of economic growth and prosperity and yet just a few of the rich got filthy stinking rich whilst child poverty will remain a concern in Britain for the foreseeable future.

Not only that but Britain also face damaging university funding cuts. £500m is to be cut across higher education. There is a real concern that this will affect quality of teaching – student leaders have called the cuts ‘self-harm’ – but the potential impact on inequality is nightmarish. The gaps caused in education budgets will surely give rise to increased tuition fees. As fees increase the number of students from disadvantaged homes entering higher education is sure to drop as the prospect of huge debt becomes that mental bridge too far. Then universities across England edge toward being playgrounds for the rich and so social mobility lessens and we enter a vicious circle of inequality.

This announcement also comes hot on the heels of the green paper which has confirmed the Labour government’s intention to renew Trident and build two new aircraft carriers. The initial cost of these measures has been given as £25billion but it has been reported that additional costs, including equipping the carriers with up-to-date fighter jets, could mean the total bill rises to £130 billion. That’s two hundred and sixty times the amount which is about to blow a hole in university funding across the country. Wonderful, I live in a society that values the potential destruction of millions over the education of thousands.

p.s Oh, from which socio-economic group do the British Armed Forces get most of their recruits? Those on the wrong side of the inequality gap of course.

You must be impeccably dressed for the firing squad

I keep reading about this dandy recently. Firstly here and then in an old copy of  Le Gun in the new coffee shop on Wilton Way. Now you get to watch him. ‘Success is a matter of luck, ask any failure’ – just one of the gems buried inside.

Myths of the Near Future

I have recently come by this incredibly revealing article by George Monbiot. I am not ashamed to admit that I used to assume that an ever-increasing population was putting a strain on the planet’s resources and contributing to global warming. I can now see that this equates to the flabby West blaming the world’s poor for our own extravagances. The premise for Monbiot’s argument – and my apostasy – seem eminently valid: the richer you are the less you breed and the more you consume. Simple when you stop to think.

Having my beliefs challenged is like an affirmation of vitality, a cleansing of the spirit; the internal debate and cognitive dissonance that precedes forming new opinions makes me feel young and human.

If this is all a little serious then please enjoy this clip from South Park (play the top video), which serves to sum up some of what George is saying, only with more cartoon.

A 4-1 defeat amongst hints of nightmares.

My beloved Recreativo Hackney were away to second-placed Llamas FC yesterday afternoon. We ended up on the wrong end of a 4-1 scoreline. That’s the same end that normally makes you whinge about all the day’s knocks about 19% more. But as Joe and I cycled gingerly back from the park, I felt great. Yes we’d been exposed by younger, slicker opponents whose star is on the rise. Yes we were shattered, but only because we’d given everything we had. We’d raged against the dying of the light. After going in 2-0 down at half-time we came out strong and had their heads ringing. It wasn’t glossy stuff but there was blood pumping in our veins. We pegged them back to 2-1. Yet we couldn’t keep up the intensity. One silly mistake later and the game was lost.

This week, in exposing one nightmarish aspect of modern society and then giving a platform to another, the wizened print media have managed to prove both a continuing relevance and a peculiar ability to self-destruct.  The thread running through both cases has been increasingly important role played by the new kid on the block, social networking. Forgive the stretch but I wonder if the print media feel slightly like I do today? Battered, bruised and beaten by the yoot, but still a contender.

The case of oil company Trafigura and it’s legal firm Carter-Ruck, highlighted by the Guardian, exposed the Orwellian world of the super-injunction and the truly frightening prospect of other unknown-unknowns. I reckon the shape-shifting lizards that David Icke claims rule the world probably have a super-injunction against their existence being reported. We should all feel proud that the print media are still fulfilling their role as the ‘Fourth Estate’. It’s not all seasonal recipes and wall charts; the black heart of an arrogant and greedy oil company was well and truly exposed. That Tweeters also helped to turn up the lights on the media black-out means that the Trafigura scandal stands as a great example of how social networking can help journalists get to the bottom of a story.

This pride quickly gave way to revulsion with the publication of Jan Moir’s abhorrent piece of, fingers crossed, career suicide. Linking the untimely death of Stephen Gately to his sexual habits through a heady mix of insinuation and innuendo is simply pathetic. I must say it is strange to be in the righteous moral orthodoxy on this one. This must be the kind of moral outrage that Mail readers feel when they hear about politically correct immigrants getting over-paid jobs at the BBC and making prank phone-calls to old actresses from the Good Life in their native tongue.

It is easy to joke about the editorial policy at the Daily Mail but this is a low. That a record-breaking number of complaints were made to the Press Complaints Commission and several big-hitting companies demanded the removal of their ads from the on-line article was remarkable. That this was in response to what Moir has complained of as, ‘heavily orchestrated internet campaign’, is even more exciting. Too bloody right there was an orchestrated internet campaign! Why does she say this as if it is some kind of technological liberal conspiracy against her? Oh those bloody lefties with their bloody internet, did you know, thanks to this Twitter, there are some kids out there who can only concentrate long enough to understand 140-characters of bigoted rant before they think about knife crime?

The co-ordinated response excites as it underlines the potential power of social networking. The instantaneous connectivity on offer saw the offending article, and info on how to formally complain, disseminated with lightning speed securing a harmoniously loud response. It is a little depressing that the editors at the Mail will ultimately respond quicker to the loss of advertising revenue than any potential PCC action…but nevertheless, thanks to Pied Piper’s like Stephen Fry and Derren Brown they will surely think twice about printing such unmitigated bollocks.