Since the government announced that public sector workers have to pay more into their pensions and for a longer period of time, it has left the country seething. Why should the ordinary folk have to suffer to bolster the already huge pay packets of the greedy fat cats, while they’re getting richer and richer and the poor are getting poorer and poorer?
Wednesday was the day that people went to the streets and protested over these changes. And according to the unions more than 2 million people joined in the protest. England hasn’t had a strike this big since the 1979 strikes.
Whilst most people would think that this, in turn, makes it a pretty powerful statement, David Cameron called it a “damp Squid” because it didn’t cause too much disruption. I think Mr Cameron you are missing the point.
It was not, necessarily, to wreak havoc on the nation, but rather to be a united voice, to stand and be counted. It was a way of demonstrating that people are not happy with all these austerity measures that this government are bringing in, whether it was Labour’s fault or not.
George Osborne’s autumn statement (his mid-way budget plan), which was announced a day before the strikes, is leaving the population in a worse position than it has been in since the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. A good time was definitely not had by all. I do believe that if more of the population even bothered watching the news there would have been more people on the streets.
I really do believe that a lot of people are going to be in for a shock. If you think that things will ‘pick up’ in a year or so, then you need to get your head out of the sand. We are all (apart from the fat cats), going to be suffering until, at least 2016. Well, mainly the people raising the next generation.
According to government statistics 79,000 NHS staff decided to support the strike actions, meaning that 85.5 percent of staff did go into work. Admittedly that is rather disappointing, but it’s harder to have your voice heard and go on strike, if there’s a real chance someone might die. That is why the NHS gets screwed over: the staff tries to cure people, not help them step into an early grave.
And, how did the Border Control Agency get on with the strikes? After their huge-scale gaff recently, you would have imagined that they wouldn’t have dared strike, but surprisingly, according to the Immigration Services Union they had 80 percent of their members go out on strike and the Public and Commercial Services Union, who are also involved with immigration, had 90 percent of its members strike.
Although, the government had contingency plans to minimise the risk of delays for travellers. I am left wondering how tight their security was on Wednesday. Did a surprise entity tell them to relax security checks again?
So, we are a country in massive debt and are feeling the full force of a recession, even though, technically, we’re not in one (to be classed as a recession we need to have two consecutive economic quarters where the economy decreases).
But, it seems this has surpassed the ex-border force chief, Brodie Clarke, who took it upon himself to relax the conditions on the pilot scheme, bought in by Theresa May, meaning that more people from outside the European Union (EU) were allowed to enter the UK without passing the stringent security checks.
He relaxed the security measures, which included the decline in fingerprint checks on people from the non-European Economic Area (EEA), during peak times on the grounds of Health and Safety.
Surely, with the increased threat of terrorism, this is still the UK’s biggest priority. We must make sure that our borders are working to their full capacity, to protect us from the terrible atrocities that these mindless, ignorant terrorists decide to inflict on us.
The acts themselves have the possibilities to kill, maim and cause lasting psychological damage, but the cost of compensation to the victims and the repair of structural damage is something we, as a country and as taxpayers, just cannot afford. This is why everyone working in a position to do so, needs to be extra vigilant.
The Immigration Minister, Damian Green, told the home affairs committee, who are responsible for the inquiry, that Mr Clarke failed to divulge the relaxation on the pilot scheme, even though they had met nine times (yes, nine times).
This sounds like a naughty school boy, who knows he’s done something wrong, but if he doesn’t say anything, nobody will ever find out. How wrong you were Mr. Clarke. Now, because you were deceitful, the whole country knows.
There is this nagging feeling in the back of my mind, that he’s being made the scapegoat. After all he’s had a distinguished career that has lasted over 40-years and last year, he had the honour of receiving a CBE for his commitment to border control.
This sounds like a man who knows what he’s doing. He said at the inquiry, that he had been a civil servant for 38-years, with a vast amount of these being in a senior position, which were ‘high risk and often dangerous.’
He continued to say: “Over 40 years I have built up a reputation and over two days that reputation has been destroyed and I believe that is largely because of the contribution made by the home secretary.”
At the inquiry, UK Border Agency chief executive, Rob Whiteman, acted like a petulant child, by refusing to acknowledge Mr. Clarkes distinguished career. Surely, if you are honoured by the Queen for your work, you can safely say you’ve had a distinguished career.
Rob Whiteman also refused to show evidence, in the form of emails, sent between himself and Mr Clarke. The emails show what happened when he suspended Mr Clarke. What is the point in the government having an inquiry into the fiasco if people aren’t going to co-operate fully. How can you pass judgement without all the facts?
This all seems very strange to me. Mr Whiteman said that no paperwork would be divulged before the end of the inquiry, in line with Theresa May’s insistence on the matter. Keith Vaz had to warn Mr Whiteman of the powers invested in the committee to recall such information.
If there is to be an inquiry, then everything needs to be laid on the table to be scrutinised, not brushed under the carpet and kept secret. Theresa May is increasingly becoming the single most under-handed person in UK politics. This is her department; she needs to take responsibility and resign, either by herself or with a nudge from the Prime Minister.
Sunday marked the 90th anniversary of the first Remembrance Day Parade, started by the British Legion. It is symbolic. It marks the one day of the year that we pay thanks to the many lives lost in both the World Wars, Afghanistan, Iraq and all the other conflicts Britain has been involved in.
It is a time to remember all our military members that have died serving this country, normally for poor pay and having to put up with disgusting conditions. The bonuses definitely don’t out weight the minuses. Today, we wear our Poppies with pride.
I was amazed, even flabbergasted, when I heard of an English group that had intended to burn the Poppy and on Remembrance Day. Yes, that’s right, English. The Muslim group, Muslims Against Crusades, had decided to embark on a protest of hate in London and while the parade was happening. Seriously, what is wrong with these people?
Everyone when they were at school learnt about the wars, and most of us had a family member who was part of either World War one or two. My Great-Grandfather had the arduous job of collecting the body parts, needless to say after the war he was an alcoholic. After he had been drinking he would lie in his cart and his horse would bring him all the way home.
My Grandfather was in World War 2; he was in logistics and drove a Captain around the different countries they went to, or someone of a position. It was an unwritten rule that we never spoke of my Granddad’s time serving his country and it was some time until I found out that he had been to Belsen. He had seen the starving bodies walking round, he had seen the British army try to help and feed them up, and he had seen them die because they needed food to be re-introduced slowly.
To live with those sights that both my Grandparents had to see, do I want them? Do I want to live with those for the rest of my life? Do I think that the Muslims Against Crusade want these images etched in their memory forever? No, I don’t, but these groups of people never think past their noses, they’re ignorant.
My Grandfathers fought for their right to a free life and quite frankly I think that they would be spinning in their graves. That’s not entirely true, my Grandfather was a very strong Christian and would have prayed for them, but I personally am DISGUSTED.
Do I think that our government are correct for banning this group? Yes I do, this group don’t have a political stance, they’re just a bunch of people angry at the hand they’ve been dealt in life. Well, here’s a bit of advice, rather than taking it out on the brilliant jobs our service men and women are doing why don’t you do something productive?
Not only have they angered servicemen and women, the family member’s of the dead, the government and pretty much most of the UK; they have upset the Islamic Society of Britain.
Julie Siddiqui said: “In one sweep, Muslims Against Crusades display an unspeakable disregard for the feelings and common bond of our countrymen and women, a contempt and rejection of our hard-earned democracy and its institutions, a disdain for the majority of British Muslims - who do not share their views - and a violation of the example of the Prophet Muhammad.”
The more these types of groups try to stand in our way, the stronger we will become.
Out from the shadows…
Finally it’s what we’ve all been waiting for, Nick Clegg to come out of the shadows and be heard, rather than bending over and saying yes please to David Cameron!
When it was first announced that the Liberal Democrats had decided to join forces with the Conservatives, there was shock around the country. Who would have thought these two political parties, who had opposing views on pretty much everything, could work alongside each other and form a working government.
At least Nick Clegg would ensure that the Tory’s don’t have complete run over the country. He’ll stand up for the ordinary, working people; he’s our man, right? Wrong.
Nick Clegg and his trusty party, well some of them, got into Downing Street on the promise of not spending £20 billion on replacing Trident. Instead the heads of the government have decided to postpone a decision (they don’t want to quarrel) which in turn is costing us, the taxpayer, a whopping £1.4bn.
So deciding not to make a decision is costing us, but it’s ok, Nicky said he wouldn’t agree to putting up tuition fees, (Oh yeah, there he goes bending over again). That happened too. Surely, not all Universities have increased their fees from the usual £3,500, that’s what we were told, only some: Looks like they all have.
Nick said that he had regretted signing a petition opposing a policy that they couldn’t deliver. But maybe it was the protesters burning effigies that had made him say that, rather than put it down to, we didn’t think we had a chance in hell of getting in and we only signed it to look good.
It started so bad for Nick, he needed a voice and he needed to stand out from behind David Cameron’s shadow. The public, us, wanted to hear him, but we only got a few mutterings that no-body took any notice of.
Even a report stated that Nick needed to grow a pair, (obviously, not quite in those words) and get David Cameron to bend over and take one.
Well it seems that, finally, Nick has decided to start opposing these Tory party policies. First it was the humiliating defeat for David Cameron over the referendum, which saw the use of the three-lined whip (this is when all party members have to be present to vote, for what their party wants and any deviation should result in the person’s resignation) and he still managed to lose.
And as the country heats up over the pension’s row, he has decided that now is another good time to show public support. George Osborne, the (young) Chancellor, is deciding whether to break the government’s policy, to try and save £10bn.
The government’s policy is to increase most benefits every April (the beginning of the financial year) in line with the consumer price index (CPI), which was 5.2 per cent in September. The plan for pensions was to increase the state pension (something I doubt I will get) by whichever is higher of three figures: Either 2.5 per cent, the rise in average earnings or the CPI.
Nick has said that any decision the young Chancellor comes to needs to be approved by the Coalition group.
Well done Nick, it looks like you’re starting to get into your stride.
In the past couple of days Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has put forward plans to restructure the sentencing laws in England and Wales. Sounds like a good plan, I can already hear the cheers around the country.
This has been too long coming. People who commit the crime should expect to pay for the crime and not just a slap on the wrist or a certificate branding them with an anti social behaviour order (ASBO) that they can hang on their walls as some strange achievement.
So why am I disheartened?
Ken Clarke is proposing that anyone over the age of 18-years that is convicted of a serious sexual assault or who commits a violent crime would get an automatic life sentence. All 16-17-year-olds who are committed of threatening with a knife would get a mandatory custodial sentence: So far, so good?
Ken (that’s what I’ve decided to call him, my mate Ken) is proposing to get rid of Labour’s indeterminate sentences, which lets the parole board decide when a prisoner is reformed and no longer poses a threat to you or me. He says it is a “failed” system and we need to have “more certain sentences.” Well, yes and no. Surely if someone is deemed to be a threat to society, whether their sentence is up or not, they should not be released. It’s unfair to us the public.
Speaking to the BBC’s Radio 4 programme Ken said that “we’ve got 6,000 people languishing in prison, 3,000 of whom have gone beyond the tariff and we haven’t the faintest idea when they are going to be released.” Admittedly, it sounds like a majority of the theory behind the sentencing proposals is to make room in the already overcrowded and overstretched prisons and let’s be honest, something is drastically needed to deal with our prison service.
But, according to Frances Crooke, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, there are nearly 12,000 life sentence prisoners, which amounts to more than Russia, Germany, Poland and France added together. That is alarmingly worrying.
When you take these figures into account, maybe the government need to deal with why these are happening in first place and try to implement some change in the country to cut these horrific crimes from taking place.
Ken also said that mandatory prison sentences were not the British way, well actually Ken; I think that it would be imperative to set precise conditions for specific crimes. This country is too lenient on certain crimes; there should be a minimum set term, which is realistic for the crime that has been committed.
Obviously Judges need power and need to take into consideration all the information provided to them so they can ascertain that they administer justice. I am not on my own in thinking this way either. Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said, “What’s wrong with allowing the courts to make sure that the sentence fits the crime?”
I was under the impression that our Judges were highly intellectual and educated individuals that have undertaken years of training to get them to the positions that they currently hold. If we don’t trust them to make the right decisions, who do we trust, the politicians?