Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Saturday, 19 March 2011

A short sharp shock for the Coalition at Barnsley

The success of Labour’s Dan Jarvis at yesterday’s Barnsley Central election was of little surprise, although their increased share of the vote [up 13.5% to 60.8%] was perhaps more than the Labour Party leadership had expected. However, from the point of view of those who wish us to withdraw from the EU, seeing UKIP’s candidate, Jane Collins, taking second place with a 12.2% of the vote [up nearly 8% to 12.2%] was heartening.

Clearly, the biggest losers of the night were the Liberal Democrats whose candidate, Dominic Carman, lost more than three quarters of his party’s share of the vote [down 13.1% to 4.2%]. This categoric rejection must leave their party’s leadership reflecting on their hasty decision to shift the Party from left, to right of center to accommodate the ambitions of Cameron and the Tory Party. It is likely that this shift offended more than half of the Party membership, who up until then, had considered themselves left wingers.

Not only did this shift create greater competition on the right, but also abandoned the left to the hugely discredited Labour Party, who, after their record in government and results at the General Election still less than a year ago, must be pinching themselves to make sure they are not dreaming that such an undeserved swing in fortune has occurred so soon.

The Tory Party’s candidate, James Hockney, lost more than half his Party’s share of the vote [down 9% to 8.3%] which might not concern Cameron too much as Barnsley is clearly not the Conservatives natural territory and the harsh cuts in government spending are seen more as their rather than the Lib/Dems. Nevertheless, he must be reflecting on the electorate’s short-term memory, who seem to have forgotten that it was Labour who left the Nation with record debts and the need for any cuts can be laid firmly at their door.

All-in-all a bad night for the Coalition who are aware that the impact of any cuts to date are meagre compared to what is ahead.

The full results were:

Dan Jarvis (Lab) 14,724 (60.80%, +13.53%)

Jane Collins (Ukip) 2,953 (12.19%, +7.53%)

James Hockney (C) 1,999 (8.25%, -9.01%)

Enis Dalton (BNP) 1,463 (6.04%, -2.90%)

Tony Devoy (Ind) 1,266 (5.23%, +3.58%)

Dominic Carman (LD) 1,012 (4.18%, -13.10%)

Kevin Riddiough (Eng Dem) 544 (2.25%)

Howling Laud Hope (Loony) 198 (0.82%)

Michael Val Davies (Ind) 60 (0.25%)

Friday, 18 March 2011


My initial reaction to BBC2’s Horizon: Science Under Attack was that, although the case for climate change was well made – the program had been edited in such a way so as not to allow the detractors a reasonable chance to state their case. It was a biased account of the subject – even if the evidence is strongly in favour of global warming being the result of man burning too much fossil fuel.

What the presenter, Sir Paul Nurse - President of the Royal Society, probably did not take fully into account is that, whereas most scientific research does not affect the majority’s lives significantly, the result of climate change research heavily impacts on virtually everyone’s life. Since the changes required to our lifestyles are very unwelcome, it is unsurprising that any suggestion that the science is wrong is eagerly seized by the many who do not want these changes.

I am inclined to believe that the detractors are aiming their sights at the wrong target - it is not the science that is to blame, but the way in which governments throughout the world use the data. The global consensus seems to be that it must be the people who should make these unwanted lifestyle changes, whereas they and the rest of the ruling elite will barely be effected.

The most glaring example of this is the, much favoured, global free market. Clearly, in order to save transportation, which almost exclusively uses fossil fuels, goods need to be produced as close to their point of use as possible. This of course, would disallow the giant corporations from finding the cheapest labour globally and oblige them to set up production units for everything from milk to iPads along with distribution outlets as close to the point of use of these goods as reasonably possible.

There is no doubt that these global giants would fight any legislation that obliged them to stop using cheap overseas labour tooth and nail – there are rich profit to be made. However, there is little doubt that such a move would significantly reduce unemployment in the UK and give hope to the many youngsters who have little or no hope of finding a job now or in the foreseeable future. Not only this – the opportunities for small and medium sized businesses, those required to get our economy moving, would be greatly increased through not having to compete with cheap imports.

Troubling Times

We live in troubling times, Richard North in his blog highlights how superficial the news has become despite the possibilities for dire outcomes on many fronts. Could it be because these dire threats are never resolved and look to be with us indefinitely, reporters in the MSM retreat into the human stories and avoid the real issues?

Until an obscure astronomer spots a sizeable asteroid hurtling towards us and destined to collide with Earth in ten years that, if not diverted, will wipe out all life on our planet - the enduring major concern is global warming. Although there are two schools of thought on this issue, that it is and it is not the case, since the establishment view is that it is so, for most of us who do not have the necessary scientific qualifications to know which argument is right – we are obliged to believe the threat is real. However, it is unlikely the issue will have been resolved by the time the next decade begins.

On Tuesday, Robert Preston, on BBC2, presented a disturbing story on the nation’s banks. As is well reported, the bankers are content that their businesses have returned to profit and share values have recovered from the previous lows of the mid-crisis a couple of years ago. So pleased are they, that they have awarded themselves huge bonuses, some of which are greater than the expected lifetime earnings of many of its owners – in the case of RBS.

According to Preston’s report, the banks have returned to their previous practices which leaves them as vulnerable to collapse as they were prior to the crisis. However, now, the UK could not afford to bail them out if this should occur. Failure, of course, is what commercial ventures always risk – it is their very essence, however, these monsters have grown so large and complex that should they fail, the whole web of commerce is likely to grind to a halt – with the obvious dire consequences. The Government would like to reduce the danger, but threats by the banks to take the businesses abroad to a country with less regulation, scare ministers who tremble at the thought of losing the revenue these gamblers bring. So once again we have a threat, which according to Preston will materialize at some time, is likely to be with us at the beginning of the next decade – either that or the economic chaos their collapse will bring.

Whilst cuts do not significantly affect us individually, there is general support for the Government’s austerity program. In the three months to November unemployment rose by 49,000 with one fifth of 16 to 24 year olds without jobs. The Government's program is only just at its beginning – it is known that thousands of public servants will lose their jobs in the coming year, and there is little sign, presently, that the private sector will be able to take up many of those made redundant. This must lead us to expect unemployment to rising above 3 million and beyond by the end of the year. Although Cameron appears confident – there is no certainty the measures aimed at making UK plc ‘open for business’ will have the desired affect and the threat of recession continues to loom large. With the current size of UK debts, it is unlikely this threat will not be with us in ten years time.

Despite the majority's wish to leave the EU, it appears the Coalition is determined not to give the electorate a referendum on our membership, although this possibility is slightly greater now than it was under Blair & Brown. Although the troubles caused to the Eurozone EU members should not affect the UK, we know Osborne has already contributed to the fund required to bail out Ireland. Should other economies within the Eurozone follow Ireland, as it seems they will – the EU will come calling again for a contribution from the UK, Cameron might be talking tough at the moment, but few will be surprised if he does cave in as he did with the EU budget. Quite why the EU project is so dear to the leaders of all of the main parties, with its potential to do so much damage to the economies of the nations included, remains a mystery – one which is unlikely to be solved during the next decade.

Yesterday, when the November unemployment figures were announced it emerged that 2 in every 3 new jobs created go to migrants. As with our membership of the EU, the Government do not appear to wish to bow to the public’s desire to halt immigration and to use unemployed UK citizens in new jobs. In a nation which, at a time of increasing food shortages, can only feed between 50 and 60% of its population and when housing and public services are under severe pressure, it is yet another mystery as to why each of the three main parties support such an open door policy on immigration. It seems certain that unless UKIP or one of the other small parties can make rapid gains over the next decade, this too will remain an enduring problem.

Is it any wonder that reporters in the MSM do retreat into the comfort of ‘human stories’ when the underlying problems of the nation seem so intractable? Their only real alternative is to ask the obvious question – why is it that the big three parties do not conform to the wishes of the people? Either that or start recommending revolution, but they are unlikely to keep their jobs for long if they take either of these courses.

Rule Britannia?

Isn't it time we stopped singing this song as it is so embarrassingly out of date? If it must be sung, at least let's change the words so that it fits with today's circumstances. I suggest:

Rule Britannia? Britannia no longer rules the waves. Britons are already mostly slaves.

Few, if any, will claim we rule the waves as it is clearly untrue and the previous government's decision to order aircraft carriers for which we have no planes to land on, turned the impressive naval tradition of Nelson and others into a naval joke.

Although, apart from our politicians, most would acknowledge that we are no longer a major naval or military power most would not see themselves as slaves. Perhaps slaves is something of an overstatement, but with the growth in the reach of the giant corporations, both global and national, the opportunities for individuals to be 'freemen' has steadily reduced. However, to choose to live more meagerly to provide more time for other activities apart from making money is not an unreasonable choice to make.

As Napoleon observed 'England is a nation of shopkeepers', however, as shopkeepers they were freemen to conduct business on the terms which they chose. Some may have been poor at their chosen business and lived meagerly, others excelled and presumably went on to found today's chains of supermarkets. Today, because of their size and ability to bulk buy, those who have developed out-of-town shopping centers have devastated our town high streets which has often reduced them to virtual ghost towns and left with few opportunities for 'freemen'.

As these multinationals and national corporations have spread their reach into the provision of virtually all goods and services, the opportunity to become a freeman by being 'self employed' has fallen alarmingly. Alarmingly, because if you cannot be a freeman you must be a servant of these corporations, which means you cannot choose when you will work - you are obliged, as the servant of the corporation, to agree to work at certain times and a certain length of time. If you fail to satisfy this agreement, you lose all of your work - not just, perhaps, one customer as you would as a 'self employed' freeman.

So as you travel to your out of town supermarket or even use those which remain 'in town' reflect that in doing so you are hastening the day when there will be few, if any, opportunities left for freemen and you and your family and friends will have no choice but to be servants of these ever growing, coldly ruthless, monsters who have no feelings whatsoever towards their employees. This contrasts to small businesses, where the numbers employed allow personal relationships to develop between all of those involved and a degree of consideration beyond cold profit is not only possible but actual.