31/03/2013

TAYLORS LAW



Having carried irrationality to new limits, one has grown so accustomed to hearing local councillors, and their camp followers saying such stupid things, that the sudden emergence of intelligent, common sensible points of view, revealed in an article by a local councillor who is more renowned for his left Labour bias and Tory bashing predictability, is indeed cause for astonishment and gratitude.
 
Last week, in an emollient article allegedly penned by Cllr John Taylor, I was so struck by the contrasting ideology, that one had to double check the source of its authorship.


The first part of his letter consisted of the usual politically predictable bluster, but eventually, the article found its way to logic and reason, as the author recognised the blatantly obvious; that the tackling of deep routed problems endemic within the current housing benefit system, should go much deeper than how many bedrooms are, or are not being used, and went on to admit that the planned changes to other parts of the welfare system, like ‘universal benefits’ do, in fact, have some merit!


Now, to give him the benefit of the doubt, it could well be that on that particular day he’d got out of bed on the wrong side, or boiled his breakfast-egg a minute too long; but whatever his reason, on reading his words, I couldn’t help thinking that councillor Taylor had newly discovered the merits of the original Beverage Report and by doing so, suggested that the Coalition Government give us a reformed benefit system similar to what was originally intended; - a welfare system that was a safety net, not a career choice!


Now I don’t know whether the councillor has somehow turned Liberal, and joined Andrew Bingham's fan club, but, if his words are to be believed, he must now know that it is politically impossible for changes of this magnitude to be made in isolation. And also, if he thinks a little deeper, they can only be made as part of a wider package of reforms, which includes the simplification of the tax system.


Now it’s not often I find myself agreeing with anything councillor Taylor says, but in this instance, he’s right. The basic problem these days is that the more people demand from society, the less they demand of themselves. It is therefore in this context that the decision to press ahead with reform and simplification of welfare benefits - notably the idea of the universal credit - is welcome and significant.


Unfortunately, he might find it difficult to explain his new found conclusions to our local MPs and his party leader, who, to date, has opposed all manner of suggested aspects of welfare reform! 


Now at my age, I am not so gullible to believe that one Swallow makes a summer, or that John Taylor has finally seen the light. Therefore I will continue voice my thoughts and demonstrate my despair at the demise of democracy, both nationally and locally and to continue my constant criticism of the policies of this Council; cynical realism, I have discovered, is the intelligent man's best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation.

28/03/2013

COUNCILLORS’ PRINCIPLES GO UP IN SMOKE


On reading the council’s advertisement and the usual self congratulatory, but prosaic ‘Press Release’ announcing the aims behind ‘The Party in the Park ‘where ‘council health chiefs’ launched a ‘Smokefree’ campaign; it reminded me of yet another council initiative that these duplicitous councillors launched last year.
 
According to the minutes of the ‘full council’ meeting held on 22 May 2012, councillor Lynn Travis, seconded by councillor Bowden; claiming that it was the responsibility of all levels of Government to try to ensure good public health, proposed, amongst other things, that the Chief Executive should write to the Secretary of State for Health, asking him to bring forward legislation to introduce standardised packaging of tobacco products in an effort to protect Tameside’s children and young people, from the evils of tobacco marketing.


This laudable submission, they said, was in order to promote good health in our borough, to support the reduction of local rates of smoking, and to protect children and adults from tobacco harm.


Now we all know that introducing policies in ‘the public interest’ can be a vague thing, which shifts under competing values, with each of us interpreting the message through our own moral standards. But in this case; according to the council’s own recorded minutes, the full council membership resolved to accept this substantive motion. 


Therefore, councillors, it falls on all of you, regardless of position or political persuasion, to demonstrate a degree of ethical leadership.


It’s all very well spouting ones ethical beliefs in public and erecting a tent and running a poster painting competition for local school children in order to garner a few column inches in the local paper, but the true test of ethical leadership is what transpires, when and if, those beliefs are fully applied. Belief is one thing; actions are another. While many councillors claim to be acting in the public interest, their inaction in areas that matter, shows they are not. In fact, in some cases, their behaviour shows them to be the very opposite of what they claim to be.


If that was not the case, perhaps those fine upstanding moralists could tell us why the council are still investing millions of pounds of their pension funds, in tobacco companies? Where is the ethical leadership recommending the exclusion of these toxic companies from the fund’s investment portfolio? Where are the examples of social responsibility that councillors tell us exists in Tameside?



Despite the fact that smoking is now widely accepted as a severe and potentially fatal health risk, why hasn’t the managers of the MBC/GMPF changed its investment practices and divested themselves of their unethical stocks?
 
Surely, if Tameside council claim that they have a moral duty to try to help cut smoking rates across the borough, how can it be ethical to spend taxpayers money running a ‘Smokefree’ event, if at the same time, they are sinking over £45million of their pension fund, in tobacco companies like, Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris, BAT, and Japan Tobacco, to name but a few? 


Why haven’t these councillors lobbied the Council Leaders to change their investment practices? 

As is becoming habitual for this duplicitous council and its leaders, they show a great ability talk a good social justice talk, but, when it comes to doing something about it, their commitment to a social, moral or environmentally responsible agenda, is often found severely lacking.


There also appears to be a similar story concerning the acceptable levels of air pollution, and the councils monitoring standards.


It’s really not acceptable Tameside council declaring that improving healthy life expectancy, reducing the burden of chronic disease, promoting a healthy start in life and tackling the determinants of health deaths from heart disease and respiratory disease, as their priority, whilst, simultaneously they continue to invest and promote in unethical companies, purely to boost their dividends. 


But there again, what would today's 'Champagne Socialists' know about the Labour party’s political ethos of “putting people before profits?”


To say that these investments are subjective, (a word that Tameside bosses use to avoid answering criticism) simply isn't good enough. We expect our council to invest our money responsibly, in companies which make the world a better place rather than a worse one. 


"Cig's are bad for you, but good for me"
So, whilst Cllr Lynn Travis publicly tells us, “It’s a really positive step towards protecting the health of our children.” In private, she is in full support of a council who are damaging our children, by investing their money in the purveyors of cancer!


Perhaps Cllr Travis and those other holier than thou individuals who publicly stated their unfaltering ethical beliefs regarding the tobacco industry and its effect on public health; should now, 11 months after delivering their steadfast resolution; tell us specifically just what they have done to protect Tameside’s children and adults from tobacco harm, and explain why they have not followed up on their adherence to their ethical beliefs; published a copy of the CEO’s letter and any response they may have had from The Secretary of State for Health.

Alternatively, in the light of inaction (other than arranging face-painting and giving away a few balloons) being members of a council who controls; and year on year directs millions of pounds in investments into an industry that thrives on nicotine addiction and human weakness; should now offer to do the honourable thing and resign on principle?

However, when one is pulling in over £32k in councillor allowances, it really doesn't seem likely, does it? 

DUKINFIELD POST OFFICE


That's the trouble with bandwagon, nothing, then several come at once!

There was an interesting article in this week’s Reporter, regarding the closure of the Post Office on King Street, Dukinfield.
 
Naturally, I can understand local councillors having their say on the matter, after all, that is exactly what they have been elected to do. But what confused me was why the MP for Denton & Reddish, Andrew Gwynne had to ‘poke’ his nose in?

He was quoted as saying, “I am very concerned about the closure of this vital community Post Office, which is causing a great deal of inconvenience to many of my constituents!”
Now I can understand the inconvenience to people who live in and around King Street, but just how this closure impacts the lives of those living in Denton & Reddish, totally stumps me! – It must be at least a good 4 to 6 miles away!

Another point that struck me, was, if this Post Office closure is such a ‘vital asset to the community’ why then, in 2008, when the Labour Government voted to close 2500 Post Offices, as part of Peter Mandelson’s sell-off deal, did Mr Gwynne not vote, like over 100 of his Labour colleagues, to keep those local Post Offices, which, presumably 'vitally affected their constituents, open?

If he’d shown his new found principled stance at that juncture and put those long gone vital communal assets before conforming to party pressures, perhaps the Post Offices’ at Market Street PO, Moorside Street, Droylsden; West End PO, Katherine Street, Ashton; Denton Road PO, Audenshaw; Cheetham Fold PO, Cheetham Fold Road, Hyde; Mottram Road PO, Mottram Road, Stalybridge would still be serving their communities!

What we have here is a totally shameless politician seeking a little bit more media coverage by joining in any new cause that he hopes will appeal to the electorate to get his party back in the trough.

Its well worth noting just how many of our local politicians and councillors love jumping on passing bandwagons. They'll ride along for a while until a subject dies down, and then, if it's controversial and does not give them sufficient ground for advancement, they quietly get off again ready to jump on the next one.

He and his Party really don't have any firm convictions; they seek policies that will get them elected.

When will these career politicians learn that we are not all gullible sheep and until they dump their childish party politics and simply look for what is good and beneficial to society, no matter what silly label or colour the party wears, we're doomed to go nowhere!

Orwell brilliantly said 'You couldn't tell the humans from the pigs or the pigs from the humans' 

Sums up the current left and right brilliantly! ...Both hypocrites; both as much part of the problem!

25/03/2013

SPRING CONFERENCE TIME...



"Hello, my name's Ed' can I rely on your vote please?"
When we have quotes in the paper from Blair and Mandelson supporting the current government we know there must be something wrong with the Tory leadership and their policies.


On the other hand, speaking at the ‘spring conference’ we have Ed (Wallace) Miliband insisting at Labour was the "only alternative" to the coalition! 

He must be joking! – You only have to listen to the screenplay at the despatch box matinĂ©e performance;to know he’s far too scripted with chunky sound-bites to have any real gravamen!


All he says seems to show that he is very much for old-style Capitalism just like the Coalition Government except he would manage it slightly differently; maybe not so quickly.


And as for giving the country back to the junior Miliband and Balls, so that they can 're-build Britain' ... What?  ...when the country’s finally beginning to recover from their last disastrous time in office!...No, way! - The British people may love complaining but that doesn't mean they are suicidal. 

Let’s not forget that Labour's very existence was founded on poverty... that's why they have always ensured, when running the country, (either consciously or unconsciously) that there is plenty of it in the UK.


Labour have had 13 years to prove their worth and failed miserably, and until they can show that they are committed to full offering employment at a living wage, by announcing policies that are designed to work in  a manufacturing economy, then and only then will we know they are serious. Until then it is all spin and bluster.


If this country is stupid enough to vote Labour back in, we deserve everything we get. One more bout of financial mismanagement and this country will see poverty on a level unseen for hundreds of years.


And please, can we see the end of the phrase "Hard working families"?

23/03/2013

UKIP - THE AUTOMATIC CHOICE FOR VOTERS




I wonder how many countries in the Eurozone, now wished that they had never agreed to join the EU? – Portugal? Ireland? Greece? Spain? Italy? and now Cyprus?
 
Try as I might, I really can’t imagine a more profound and irreversible betrayal of trust between the state and its people. To even consider to reach, uninvited into their bank accounts and steal their savings is nothing more than barefaced theft and should serve as a warning to us all. 

This move in Cyprus is a clear signal that not only are the ordinary people of Europe unimportant when measured against the EU political project, but also that their hard earned savings is now considered the state’s to control and spend at will.

This readers, is the true underbelly of the EU beast.

What the eventual outcome will be in Cyprus is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain; the European financial crisis, which has lurched from one country to another for most of the past five years, is apparently coming to a rather sudden head.

Surely, even our strongest pro-European MPs must see that rules and due process mean nothing to the Eurocrats when the gravy train is threatened. It is therefore very difficult to make any rational forecast of what these unelected bureaucrats will do next to preserve their sacred cow, the Euro!

Here in the UK, it should serve as a prime example of just how many these Eurocrat politicians 'care' about the peoples of Europe, unfortunately, it would appear to be about as much as scraping excrement off the soles of their shoes.

The only silver lining on the horizon, is, with this financial crisis raging in Cyprus over the Euro bail out, a crap Coalition budget and a Muppet trying to rebuild Britain - who is now running around the country, apologising for the Banking Crisis, Immigration, Falling living standards, the looming energy crisis, illegal wars and the general loss of democracy, that he and the past Labour Government presided over,  it would appear that Christmas is coming early for UKIP.