Friday’s Metro had two letters from readers, both supporting David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ but both fail, rather like Mr. Cameron, to detail what the ‘Big Society’ actually is. Volunteers work all over Britain every day of the week in hospitals, charity shops, as special constables and many other situations. There is nothing wrong with the Prime Minister’s idea in principle, but shouldn’t he be concentrating on helping to create paid employment first? Surely increasing the variety of voluntary work necessarily decreases paid employment?
The lower income families simply cannot afford to work even one day a week on a voluntary basis. The Institute for Fiscal Studies still shows the lowest income strata of society as losing the most in terms of cutbacks to reduce the Public Sector Net Borrowing. This borrowing was largely created in 2008 (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=206) by rescuing financial institutions from bankruptcy and introducing ‘Quantitative Easing’, hardly situations created by the less well off. This government should be looking at the revenue losses that are being incurred by Corporation Tax avoidance schemes (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/feb/02/tax-gap-avoidance) that were around £10bn – £12bn in 2009 but now stand much higher, and losses to Income Tax revenue by avoidance through foreign domicile. This is evidenced by companies such as Google with £6bn of UK revenue but only £8m in corporation tax (http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/markets/article-23950352-googles-pound-6bn-of-uk-revenue-but-only-pound-8m-in-corporation-tax.do) and Arcadia plc – owners of Top Shop, Burtons, Dorothy Perkins and other high street multiples – run by Sir Philip Green, whose wife Tina is the direct owner of Arcadia, and she is officially a resident of Monaco. This enabled her to gain a tax-free £1.2bn dividend in 2005 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12027256). As Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: “It will be hard to maintain public support for tax when it looks increasingly optional for big companies and the super-rich, who increasingly float free from the network of mutual obligations that underpin any civilised society.” (ibid guardian.co.uk). That brings us back to society, or the ‘Big’ one as it happens – it is a matter of priorities and Mr. Cameron is wrong to champion voluntary work when the unemployed are already being squeezed. He should be chasing the tax avoidance losses that are predicted to top £100bn over the next four years.
When asked about her thoughts on same-sex marriage, Brigitte Bareges, President and international ambassadress of Nicolas Sarkozy’s Union pour un Mouvement Populaire party replied “‘So, in that case, why not unions with animals?’ She later explained her comment by saying “I meant it as a joke”.
The only joke is that Madame Bareges can occupy such an exalted office when she clearly has a grossly offensive prejudice against those simply wishing to live their lives without being harangued by people like her. The sooner the French people ditch this bitch, the better in my view.
In terms of responsibility, Sharon Shoesmith seems to be doing her best to proffer every possible ‘get out clause’ for her former department’s failure to prevent Peter Connelly’s death. She told the BBC she was not into the “blame game” and “you cannot stop the death of children”. I take it that the referral to the blame game means that she doesn’t feel that she was responsible for what happened to Peter. Ms. Shoesmith, you were the Director of the statutory service that had primary responsibility for preventing child abuse. Notwithstanding that, whilst you were the principal executive of Haringey Children’s Services, baby Peter Connelly was seen 60 times by the authorities and was found dead with over 50 injuries. Like it or not, the failure is yours.
Then, having said you don’t “do blame”, you then promptly launch into a blistering attack on Ed Balls as the Minister of State responsible at the time for being “staggeringly irresponsible” and [that] his actions had left children’s social care in “complete disarray”. Sorry? I thought she didn’t do the blame game? Oh, I see, that’s only when it suits her argument. Ms. Shoesmith deserved sacking, even the judges to her appeal described the unlawfulness as a “procedural error”. While Ms. Shoesmith is busy re-writing the facts behind her own lamentable failure as a Children’s Services Director, the rest of us are grimacing at the though of her being handed hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money whilst being a key figure bearing responsibility for what happened to Peter Connelly.
Ex-Children’s Services director Sharon Shoesmith has said she was motivated by “justice not money” after winning a legal battle over Baby Peter’s death. Well, there’s an easy one to resolve from both ends of the Shoesmith compensation conundrum. As the director of a Children’s Services department that failed so badly that an infant child died with 50 injuries despite being visited innumerable times by her social workers, she could give all of the compensation that she receives to charity. The FULL STOP campaign run by the NSPCC would be appropriate as it seeks to eradicate the type of child abuse that little Peter Connelly died from while being overseen by Ms. Shoesmith’s former Children’s Department.
Having won her legal action to have her dismissal declared unlawful by the Appeal Court, Sharon Shoesmith’s case has acquired even more of a similar stench to the equally lamentable Sir Fred Goodwin, who was jettisoned as the CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland for bringing it to the verge of bankruptcy. Ms. Smith, in a similar vein, reacts with the statement “Making a public sacrifice of an individual will not prevent further tragedies”. Ms. Shoesmith seems to know no bounds where bare-faced-cheek is concerned. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13570959
Now the media is suggesting that Ms. Shoesmith could “receive as much as £1 million, if the court’s decision is not overturned”. http://uk.news.yahoo.com/shoesmith-wins-baby-p-sacking-case-092306715.html. This would not just be humiliating to Haringey Council but would be a slap in the face to those who have worked hard to protect children for a tiny fraction of Ms. Shoesmith’s possible compensation. Her department failed a toddler so monumentally that he died with around 50 injuries sustained over an 8 month period during which he had been seen no less than 60 times by social workers: Is Ms. Shoesmith trying to tell us that she doesn’t deserve the sack for such a grossly negligent failure in her department? I’m shocked at the gall this woman has.
Two situations in the news this week further demonstrate the damaging effects of religion on the human mind. The first is the ordination of a child sex offender – I eschew the epithet ‘paedophile’ as it is about as useful as the medieval word ‘witch’ – where the Church of England appointed Roy Cotton as a priest in East Sussex knowing that he had a conviction for child sex offences that should have caused a greater caution regarding his appointment.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-13560976. The other is the four Muslim men that beat a teacher from a school with an iron bar and bricks with such ferocity that he is now unable to work. They carried out this vicious assault simply because they disagreed with a non-Muslim teaching Muslim girls religious education as set out by the National Curriculum.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-13566526
When are we going to realise the dreadfully detrimental effect that religion can have on the human mind? There are two sides to this erosion of human autonomy and decision-making: one is the violence and mayhem as given in the examples above and the other is the warped belief that everything is controlled by some merciful super-being who once believed in will protect you eternally. Suicide bombers and Jesus-freaks are obsessed with the latter!
The evangelist whose followers were left in shock by his failed prediction that the end of the earth would arrive last Saturday says he didn’t get his sums right. If his followers expect to avoid hell after life, the hapless pastor is giving them a taste of it here on earth as many liquidated all of their assets and even gave away their possessions. Houses sold and school funds spent on advertising the return of Christ, countless people are completely penniless now as a result of his ‘error’. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-13516796
Since Christ’s failure to arrive on Saturday, Harold Camping has reputedly said that he now realises that God would spare humankind “hell on Earth for five months”. The pastor has now rescheduled Armageddon for the 21 October this year. He has admitted to “feeling terrible” about his mistake, but personally I cannot see why: God made mistakes at almost every stage of the ‘creation’ process. From creating Lucifer with bat-like wings to forgetting to make a female companion for Adam until he complained about it, God has continued to show ‘Camping-like’ attributes. At one stage he even had to nearly zero the animal (inc. human) population of earth because he had made such a mess of creation! Churches should have a huge sign hung over their door: Join us and watch God slaughter the billions who don’t accept Jesus as their saviour!