Tight-lipped on the truth …


David Cameron, the prime minister, urged us all today to return to first principles and think about what the welfare state should be. For many people the welfare state should provide the mechanism by which the state seeks universal and wider social justice. On the other hand, for many it should be a medium through which the state endeavours to promote individual morals.

Mr Cameron’s outline for a national debate resembles a paradigm shift in his thinking and tactics within the coalition and  is his way of cranking up the pressure for the General Election that must take place by May 2015. He imagines a welfare system fine-tuned by ministers in Whitehall, who make policies that will encourage people towards the Conservative ideals of hard work, saving, marriage and, when you can be financially responsible for them, having children. To the seasoned bystander this looks remarkably like John Major’s ‘Back to Basics’ campaign that backfired on him so badly. For example, Cameron seems to be creating a myth that all housing benefit goes to the unemployed when in reality nothing could be further from the truth according to George Eaton, writing for the New Statesman: “The truth is that just one in eight claimants is out of work (not a statistic that you’ll find reported in most papers). The majority of those who claim housing benefit, including the under-25s, do so to compensate for substandard wages and extortionate rents”  Extortionate private-sector rents is one of the subjects much discussed before here, where greedy landlords are abetted by the government, creating a bloated and profitable alternative to social housing, that has shrunk year-on-year since 1980. Blair was no friend to the poor.

The prime minister is asserting that there is now a divisive gap in Britain between those who are sheltered from economic reality inside the welfare system and those resentfully paying for it and struggling whilst working. This is just not a argument that is grounded in reality. Of course there are problem families, including those who are long term unemployed, but imperilling the stability of young people who work hardly seems fair. It undoubtedly sounds the death-knell for Cameron’s unpopular flirtation with compassionate conservatism, so despised by the selfish right-wing of his party; more like it will hasten his own death knell at the hands of the electorate. By way of strengthening his argument, Mr. Cameron describes what he feels is a divided society, of a welfare gap between “those living long-term in the welfare system and those outside it.”  The prime minister’s attempts to reason that state benefits are not so much about need but are, to a far greater extent, about what he considers to be social responsibility. From his speech today it is clear that he seeks to end what he perceives as a culture of entitlement and focus on those “who have no other means of support, or who have fallen on hard times”.

His argument plays only to the rabid right of the nasty party, who else may well abandon the Conservatives at the next election and vote UKIP.

“Designed to conceal a deeply damaging withdrawal of the state from its responsibilities to the most vulnerable”


Aerial view of Cameron’s home in Oxfordshire

The Archbishop of Canterbury launched a stinging attack on David Cameron’s “big society” in his new book, saying it comes across as “aspirational waffle”. Rowan Williams says the prime minister’s flagship policy, one that was promoted with the stated aim of empowering communities and  local people, masks “a deeply damaging withdrawal of the state from its responsibilities to the most vulnerable”.

Now the coalition government intends to cut Housing Benefit for those under 25 years old. The impact of this measure could be nothing short of disastrous. There seems to be a belief from those putting this idea forward that the targets for this measure, those aged between 18 and 25 years, can simply stay at home with mum and dad. That may well be possible in some cases, but what of those where it isn’t possible, where the Housing Benefit claimant has several younger siblings and there is no room? What of those who have no parents? Or those whose parents have divorced and don’t have the living space to accommodate their adult child? What about young people suffering from mental health issues? What about offenders released from prison who find they cannot return home; that they are unwanted? What about those who get pregnant and are kicked out by their families? What about gay youths who have to leave their family home because their parents don’t agree with their sexuality? To be honest I could go on, but I won’t as you get the idea.

The impact of this measure will almost certainly: 1. Cause a huge rise in crime such as burglary, robbery and fraud. 2. Send 18 – 25 sex worker levels through the roof. 3. Cause  considerable civil unrest and swell activism. 4. Will see youth homelessness rise to unprecedented levels.

UK population growth since 1960

Only the Bullingdon Club clan could come up with such a nasty idea. Having spent their ‘Hooray Henry’ years throwing food around various dining halls whilst their multi-millionaire parents doled out their ‘allowances’, these miserable, multi-millionaire ministers now seek to place tens if not hundreds of thousands of youths at risk by not allowing them to have their own roof over their head. Is the Housing Benefit crisis caused by claimants or by profiteering private landlords who charge double the average social housing rent?

In the term of the Thatcher/Major governments, social housing stock dropped from 5.3  million units to 3.7 million (30% decrease) currently. In the same period the UK population has risen from 56.1m to 62.3m (11% increase).  People like Cameron and Osborne are highly unlikely to understand the pressures of housing where ordinary people are concerned. Still why trouble yourself with the facts when you have a nice plush house to live in?

Which man is more Christ-like?


 

Which person most resembles the ethos of Christ?

 

The recent gay parade in Tbilisi – a brave move indeed by gay activists in Georgia – was marred by attacks from Christians (yes, you read that correctly, they were attacked by Christians) but as the media were on hand the images that have been published are more powerful than the Christians could ever be.

Look closely at the photo relating to this article and ask yourself one question: Which person looks most like Christ – not physically, but in spirit. I would argue that the gay activist being assaulted conveys a visual embodiment of what Christians believed Christ to be like. The activist is being persecuted and is in pain, he appears barely to be retaliating and has a pose that is close to that of crucifixion.

Think of the images of Jesus pulling the cross on the way to his execution and you may well understand why I make this point – not that I believe in any of it, I speak only of imagery.

Europe really is growing up …


Forty years ago I went to spain and it was very conservative. To put this into perspective, the Generalissimo, Franco, was still clinging to power, the streets of Spanish cities were, in the times of las fiestas, full of families that were inevitably headed up by the patriarch of the family, a moustachioed grandad, who would pose horribly with hands clenched together around his crutch, his face contorted in the stiffness that in those days and in those parts conveyed seriousness and respectability. The rest of the family would assemble around him hardly daring to smile.

Cut to contemporary Spain and this is what you get:

Hordes of young Spaniards in their underwear storming a shop in an organised ‘panty party’ because in doing so they were given free clothes in a promotion by the Desigual clothing chain.

What on earth would grandad have said, or even Franco for that matter?

Something of a pogrom in Israel


Israel’s interior minister Eli Yishai, in a recent interview outlining the Israeli government’s view of African migrants, said Israel “belongs to the white man”.

There are an estimated 700 South Sudanese refugees in Israel. On Sunday, the Israeli immigration authorities began arresting South Sudanese migrants in preparation for deporting them from the country. According to the Israeli press, eight people have been arrested in Eilat and central Israel so far.

The Israeli government has also resorted to overt racist statements when referring to African refugees. Eli Yishai, the interior minister, said recently that he would use “all the tools to expel the foreigners,”
Until earlier this year, the South Sudanese were given unofficial group protection in Israel, which entitled them to remain in the country and protected them against detention. But the Israeli government argued that since South Sudan achieved independence in July 2011, the refugees could safely return home.

Critics of the move however, argue that many refugees will likely face violence should they return. Certainly Yishai, and also Netanyahu with equally concerning language have made clear in no uncertain terms, exactly how they view Africans. The move by the Israeli government follows scenes of violence in Tel Aviv and elsewhere that erupted following inflammatory speeches by some including Israeli cabinet members recently. Some of the violence saw property and residences belonging to Africans being vandalised and on Monday some of the refugees were taken to Juba South Sudan. More flights are scheduled for next Monday.

Given that there is somewhere in the region of 60,000 African migrants living in Israel, one could be forgiven for thinking that by targeting a relatively small group of refugees, is political point scoring. The Israeli government cannot deport the remaining migrants who are largely from Sudan and Eritrea due to its international obligations, but recent events must have had the effect of terrorising African communities living in Israel. Undoubtedly, as a weapon to accompany government policy, it will prove successful, and the spate of attacks against Africans was aimed at sending out a message. It is hard to imagine why, given these revelations and the wider policy toward the Palestinian people, anyone would argue that the state of Israel is not an apartheid state.

The continual persecution of the Palestinians, politically and ideologically, the military court system, and now the emerging negative view of non-white people should outline clearly what the overriding Israeli government consensus is. The superior race theory is one that we’ve seen in the past, and is the hallmark of theories centered on a perspective viewed through the prism of eugenics. Those theories are dangerous and they need to be relegated to the past-along with Zionism.

Yishai and his ilk are quick to seek to democratically enforce the new rules of Israel’s immigration policy. But I wonder then on that basis, how they feel about the right of the Palestinian refugees to return home to the land that was stolen from them? Are they going to welcome them with open arms because they have the right to return as afforded under international law?

This question, the right of return, cuts to the heart of the so-called conflict between Israel and Palestine, and it is one that is continually and conveniently avoided. The perception of an emerging Israeli ethnic cleansing to ensure that it remains ‘For the white man’ will evidently continue.

More on this story 

When is a legislator not a legislator? When he’s a moraliser …


The Jimmy Carr brouhaha, now in it’s third day, may at last abate with the news that Mr. Carr has repented his sins and decided to abandon his 1% tax liability scheme. The comedian said today that he had made a “terrible error of judgment” over his tax arrangements.
He was rounded on by David Cameron yesterday, who said “I think some of these schemes – and I think particularly of the Jimmy Carr scheme – I have had time to read about and I just think this is completely wrong. People work hard, they pay their taxes, they save up to go to one of his shows. They buy the tickets. He is taking the money from those tickets and he, as far as I can see, is putting all of that into some very dodgy tax avoiding schemes. That is wrong. There is nothing wrong with people planning their tax affairs to invest in their pension and plan for their retirement – that sort of tax management is fine. But some of these schemes we have seen are quite frankly morally wrong.”
Cameron has every right as an individual to moralise over such issues, but that is not what we pay him for. If there is a problem with tax avoidance – for example, that it is becoming too aggressive – then legislate. The danger with moralising is that the immoral will take no notice. Jimmy Carr was a high-profile target and one who was easy to make an example of, embarrassing him into corrective action by extracting himself from the scheme and begging for forgiveness – but will the fat cat unknown investors in these schemes do likewise? I doubt it.
Legislation is what is needed. There must be a shake up of the revenue system, especially where personal taxation is concerned. Schemes such as K2 are widespread. Footballers have their own variety of tax avoidance, where they invest their image rights in a company and borrow against it, thereby avoiding tax. Surely it must be possible for this government to legislate against circular borrowing of this kind?

A nasty case of ‘Camnesia’


 

David Cameron’s evidence at the Leveson Inquiry was reminiscent of his absent-mindedness at leaving his eight year old daughter Nancy at the pub after a family lunch. 

Here are the 22 key events and conversations,  going to the heart of the Government’s relationship with the Murdoch empire, that Mr. Cameron couldn’t remember…

1. How he ended up on Rupert Murdoch’s yacht in Santorini in 2008 and what he spoke about with Rebekah Brooks

2. Whether or not he and James Murdoch discussed the BBC and Ofcom over lunch in 2009

3. Whether he and The Sun’s editor Dominic Mohan discussed supporting the Tories over lunch in 2009

4. What was discussed at dinner with James Murdoch in September 2009

5. Anything that he and Rupert Murdoch discussed when meeting in December 2009

6. When it was that Rebekah Brooks began backing the Conservatives

7. Whether or not Rebekah Brooks asked him to order the review of the Madeleine McCann case

8. Whether or not George Osborne obtained assurances from Andy Coulson about phone hacking before hiring him for the Conservative Party

9. Whether he spoke to Rebekah Brooks about Andy Coulson before his Downing Street appointment

10. How many conversations he had with Rebekah Brooks about Andy Coulson

11. Whether he raised the issue of phone hacking with Coulson in Westminster or over the phone while on holiday

12. Where and how Coulson repeated his assurances about phone hacking

13. What Nick Clegg said to him about Andy Coulson

14. Who else raised concerns about Coulson with him

15. Whether or not any Tory MPs expressed concerns about Coulson

16. Whether he discussed Coulson and phone hacking with Rupert Murdoch

17. Whether he sought direct assurances on hacking from Andy Coulson on 1 December 2010, when revelations appeared in the New York Times

18. Whether he and George Osborne discussed the BSkyB bid before Vince Cable was stripped of responsibility for it

19. Whether he spoke with Jeremy Hunt about the BSkyB bid at any stage

20. Whether he had any conversations with the Murdochs or Rebekah Brooks about the BSkyB bid before it was adjudicated

21. Whether there was a conversation about BSkyB – or “much of a conversation at all” – at the Boxing Day 2010 party at Charlie Brooks’ sister’s house

22. Whether or not he discussed the report into unlawful data access over dinner with Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre in 2006