The lie of this government that Labour caused the deficit crisis is now exposed for what it is. With the failure and bailing out of banks in Ireland: Allied Irish Bank (AIB), Bank of Ireland (BoI), Germany: Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW) Deutchse Bank (DZ) and Deutsche Indusriebank (IKB) … I won’t continue the individual list but France is spending in excess of €360 billion, Spain may have to spend €35 billion … the EU estimates that the total cost of bailing out effectively insovent banks in Europe alone could be €19 trillion; reading facts like that focuses attention to the true cause of our problems.

It is farcical of this government to go on with tawdry mantra that the previous government is responsible for the woes in the UK. Governments are NOT in the business of micro-managing financial institutions but have rightly financially supported them during this crisis. The biggest bank shake-out in decades was largely caused by banks over-extending themselves on lending, and hedge funds that actively sought to seek advantage of the distortion between actual share prices and true value, which were considerably lower.

The fact that those on lower incomes are destined to pay the most to ease the deficit burden in the UK says more about the shabby ideology of the Conservatives, with the Lib Dems supporting them, than it does about who is actually to blame for the fiscal fiasco in the first place.

As the Americans say … “it sucks”

France’s former justice minister Rachida Dati mixed up the words “inflation” and “fellatio”, which sound similar in French, whilst giving a television interview. The words are very similar in French, as the word for fellatio is “fellation”, which sounds similar to the word “inflation”.

Am I to take it that she has blown her job saying this?


Hammering the poor

The real reason that the government has said that there will be no revaluation of Council Tax for the next 5 years is done for the same reason as their announcement that combat troops will be out of Afghanistan by 2015 … that is to put themselves in a better position to win the next election. This government is playing politics with our troops and letting off the middle-classes whilst hammering the poor.

Rich man, poor man …

Frightened of spawning their own ‘poll tax’ rebellion, the government has ruled out a revaluation of council tax bands in England during this parliament, thereby saving householders an average of £320 a year, or just over £6 per week. The government had no such qualms about hitting the poorest in our society by reforming housing benefit which will see average losses of £17 per week in 2011 and possibly a great deal more in the following year. The Lib Dems should hang their heads in shame at letting off the better off whilst hammering those on benefits. The poor expect the Tories to be nasty to them.

Hair today, gone tommorow …

Once in a while you hear a funny story. Here’s one I heard this evening: Margaret Thatcher, in an aircraft on her way to a state visit in Moscow, asked one of her aides if she could see what gift had been purchased for her to present to Mikhail Gorbachev, the President of the USSR. The aide scurried away and returned with two sterling silver-handled hairbrushes. Thatcher, looking aghast, exclaimed “What good is that? He’s bald!”. Apparently a hurried arrangement was made to find more suitable gifts and have them flown out on the next plane! Heard on Gift Horses and Gaffes on BBC Radio 4 at 20.45 hours, September 22, 2010.

“… like turkeys voting for Christmas”

The coalition government is unhappy – shocked even – at the cost to the Exchequer of Housing Benefit nationally. That concern is quite proper as the annual bill now exceeds £20 billion. Housing Benefit expenditure has risen exponentially in the past 10 years, from £11 billion in 1999/2000 to £20 billion in 2009/10. Clearly something has to be done about the cost to the taxpayer as this is unsustainable in the long-term. But what has caused rents to rise so dramatically? It isn’t rocket science: a shortage of affordable home schemes, such as Local Authority and Housing Association stocks, has meant that more and more people have had to look to the private rental sector to find a home. Within the same street, private landlords charge almost double that which Housing Associations and Local Authorities charge. Landlords realised that the Local Housing Allowance system worked in their favour, they read the newspapers, found out what other landlords were charging for similar properties and did the same. Fortunes have been made from the public purse in this way.

Now the government is cutting expenditure on affordable housing. When you view this act in relation to the above situation it is hard not to draw the conclusion that this is like turkeys voting for Christmas. Until we have a sensible, national strategy for housing people in an affordable framework –  that is a provision that is affordable to those renting homes and government expenditure too – we will have ever-increasing chaos and uncertainty, leading to ever-greater homelessness, leading to a situation that will be more and more shameful in a modernised western democracy.