October 13th 2012
The UK Conservative party is reverting to type: the nasty party intent on preying on the young and the vulnerable. Under 25? Struggling to make ends meet? Receiving housing benefit? You won't be much longer if David Cameron has his way. It's back to the parental home, if there is one, or onto the streets. The assumption by the Tories is always that any benefit recipient is not deserving of it, is somehow unworthy, not pulling their weight etc. They seem incapable of perceiving that some people are not able to take care of themselves, either wholly or in part, through no fault of their own and that one of the justifications of any taxation system is to enable society to care for those people.
September 27th 2012
So, some farmers are OK with badgers being shot, at night, with activists milling around to sabotage events. Would they be the same farmers a few years' back who said shooting foxes (in the daylight) was cruel, they may only be wounded and die a long lingering death; hunting them down with a pack of dogs over an hour or so was far more humane? Let us not forget that badgers unfortunately catch bovine TB from cattle, it is a disease of cattle and therefore of our desire to keep cattle for milk and for food. We are the root cause. Let us also not forget that there is a vaccination for badgers - it is just more costly to administer than shooting them. (Incidentally, the badgers shot may be the healthy ones and the diseased ones remain to infect others. Result: zero) The other even more important point is that any effect is temporary - even if badgers are totally eradicated in an area, others will then move in. The reality is that badger culling is inhumane, ineffective, costly and just a political ploy by the Tories to appease their friends.
September 19th 2012
I referred some days ago to the Michael Sandell book on the market society: that everything is measured in terms of money. Another example, which deeply offends my Quaker belief in equality, is the proposal that for £1,800, "high value" entrants into the UK can avoid the queues and sit in a VIP lounge whilst their security checks are carried out. One more step towards the kind of society which led to the French revolution.
September 17th 2012
"If he had known then what he now knows about the circumstances, everybody's movements and Mr Tomlinson's health, he would have used no force, let alone the force that he did use." - the man representing now ex-PC Simon Harwood at the disciplinary hearing. What a farcical statement. It implies that the police are expected to know of a person's medical history before they make a judgement on what level of force they use. Anyone, anyone, who was not in the police force would have been convicted of assault on Ian Tomlinson and may well have been convicted of manslaughter, depending upon motive, a murder charge may have been brought. So, having escaped disciplinary proceedings some years' back and rejoined the police, Simon Harwood is spared any official investigation into whether his actions led to Ian Tomlinson's death and walks away with his pension intact. It is left, as usual, for the victim's family to seek redress privately. The establishment as usual looks after its own. Something is indeed rotten in the state of the UK, it has been for many years and the establishment is yet to wake up to the scale of public outrage that has been building up over the years.
That there was a cover up about the Hillborough disaster was not a surprise or a shock. We have got used to cover ups, denials etc by the British establishment over the years and the police and Ministry of Defence are the two worst culprits. Deepcut, video of a woman being dragged and thrown about a police station, a naked unarmed man being shot dead in bed, the death in Iraq of Abd Al Jubba Mousa Ali, the list could go on, all reveal the basic outlook: regard the rest of the world as hostile and take care of your own, regardless of what needs to be done to achieve this.
The announcement that the South Yorkshire police are considering referring themselves to the Independent Police Complaints Commission would be farcical if it were not so tragic. This whole affair needs to be taken out of the hands of the police, any UK police force, and a judicial body set up that can refer any individual and corporate actions that seem culpable to the Crown Prosecution Service, with the proviso that the CPS would have no power to block prosecution. It may be unfair on some but the public, especially the relatives, need to know that no part of the establishment can block further the process of seeing that justice is done. Only then will any acquittals be seen to be just. I suspect few in the UK now believe in the integrity of any part of the UK establishment.
September 9th 2012
The UK Conservative government continues its remorseless "progress" towards the 19th century. This morning I heard a fatuous defence of the proposals to allow firms to dismiss staff with, effectively, no reason, so-called "no-fault" dismissals. Agreeing to part by negotiation is the intention of the proposals. Well, the Conservative party may not be aware than any half-decent firm has two processes already in place to cover the situation where an employer and a member of staff have difficulties in agreeing to a continuation of employment: a grievance procedure, when the employee is unhappy and a disciplinary procedure, when the employer is unhappy. When I was in management these processes generally worked ie the issue was resolved or the employee saw the case was valid and left voluntarily. Few cases actually go to an industrial tribunal and those that do are largely the fault of intransigent management, as I experienced in the NHS. On top of this the government proposes to ease/scrap health and safety regulations on organisations such as shops, clubs, pubs etc. Unless they are very careful this will end in tragedy for those involved and political damage to the government when the first club/pub fire kills people and the relaxation of health and safety regulations is implicated.