Posts Tagged ‘Exhortations’
We will remember yesterday for some time to come. We constantly hear ministers banging on about all being in it together, about this country or that being in an even more parlous state than us. And of course we know that there is no ‘us’, ours has become a deeply divided society, split into segments by enormous differences in wealth – or lack of it -and by race. Yesterday we suddenly experienced a total ‘usness’. It appeared at Lords.
The scenes at the home of cricket were almost unique. I say almost, having in mind similar scenes some years ago at Old Trafford when the last day of a Test match against the Aussies drew a similar response. At Lords the authorities for once deserve a pat on the back for setting low prices (plus free entry for kids), and opening those hallowed gates to all prepared to turn up. In the event 25,227 did, some queuing through the night.
There were no elitist corporate groups, no mob of obscene singers, no activities other than watching an enthralling day’s play. Here was living proof of two things. Those who say that Test cricket is dying are totally wrong, those who say that ‘ordinary’ folk have fallen out of love with the great game even more so. The packed house represented a total cross-section of society and, although loyalties were divided (but despite that everyone wanted to see Tendulkar), it responded to all that happened as one. Just for a day the old days in which sport brought together people from all walks of life and race returned. And by way of a bonus England performed magnificently. At the end the crowd as one saluted both teams.
Sadly it was a mere oasis in a desert of division which grows by the day. Today we learn that the Osborne plan for growth isn’t working, today we hear more exhortations to pull in our belts. Benchmark GDP statistics which compare us with other economies say nothing useful about ‘us’ because ‘we’ are not all in this together. In fact some are swelling like pumpkins, others shrivel, especially the ever growing number of young unemployed. Last week’s 2010 ONS figures show that the City paid £14 billion in bonuses. Bob Diamond of Barclays received £6.5 million, Stuart Gulliver of HSBC took £9 million. In fact, wherever you look, the richest became even richer last year.
A well timed report from the Resolution Foundation yesterday laid bare the raw figures. Of every £100 rise in national income since 1977, the half of the population on average or below average income received just £12. For much of the past 30 years the bottom half did see their income rise slightly, so they didn’t notice they were falling badly behind the rest. Now the cuts are leading to near-crisis financial conditions for many families, and the signs are that the now apparent inequality is creating a politically unsustainable situation. Our social elastic is heading for breaking point.
More and more ‘ordinary’ people are becoming aware of the huge differences in reward, in fact many are already in punishment mode. Jonathan Portes, head of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research has underlined where we are; “The top 1% has taken a hugely disproportionate share of growth while the middle and below have stagnated or fallen”.
Osborne’s purloining of “We’re all in this together”seems to recognise the political embarrassment of a future where half the population falls further behind while the top tenth vanishes into a realm unrecognisable to the 90% of basic-rate taxpayers. Yet he simply doesn’t seem to grasp where he is leading us. In fact he is now talking of the abolition of the 50% tax rate, only paid by the already very rich.
If he makes that move at a time when food, gas, electricity and petrol prices are rising, pay frozen, cuts in benefits, high inflation, he may well find that for the first time in decades half of the population will cry enough is enough. At the very least that one act will make people more aware than they have ever been of the fact that ‘us’ has become ‘them and us’. And even in a pragmatic society like ours it may prove the final straw. Ever the opportunist, Ed Milband is talking of the ‘squeezed middle’. He is right although why he fails to mention those at the bottom is hard to fathom.
To an extent we have always been a divided society but it is only now, as the cuts begin to bite hard, that people bother about it. Lying awake worrying about mortgages, jobs , bills greater than income and a sharp fall in living standards whilst knowing that the rich are getting richer by the day does funny things to people!
But it was good to recapture the feeling of oneness, if only for a day!
TODAY’S SPECIAL QUIZ ON THE SUBJECT OF FESTIVALS; 1. What type of festival has become associated with Reading? 2. In which country is an Eisteddfod celebrated? 3. What is the season leading up to Christmas known as? 4. Which Scottish city hosts what is claimed to be the world’s largest arts festival? 5. Yom Kippur is the Day of what? 6. Which Hall is the centre for the BBC Proms? 7. Which religion celebrates the festival of Passover? 8. Since the 1940s, Cannes has hosted what type of Festival? 9. The Buddhist festival of Parinirvana is also kmown as which Day? 10. The celebrated Spalding Flower Festival takes place in which county?
I cannot remember the allotment having been such a muddy mess before. This morning we stood under lowering skies around the hen runs in a mood of near despair. Inches of mud everywhere brought a mood of rebellion and no one seemed prepared to do anything. Up stepped Albert who, with a barrow of gravel and a fork, began to tackle the nearest swamp. For the purpose of establishing the metaphor I seek I shouldn’t perhaps mention that he ended up on his backside in the process but even that broke the sullen mood. He now has fashionable spikey hair born of free gel. But he did set an example.
Back in 1796 Edmund Burke wrote that ” Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other” and his words ring true today. The country is in a serious financial state and there will be no escape unless everyone accepts the need for thrift and sacrifice. Right now the national mood is one of sullen resentment and the supposed leadership of the good ship UK is making things worse with its message of don’t do what we do but what we tell you.
I spotted a perfect illustration of this in a local newspaper yesterday. Someone called Francis Fitzgerald wrote a letter bemoaning the axing of PCSOs, police support workers who have been helpful in controlling what he calls “the yob element”. He contrasts that with a decison to provide the chief constable with a Jaguar car costing in total up to £90,000. Of course the reduction in the specification of one car would not fund many PCSOs, but the lack of an example is appalling.
Many years ago a company I was running hit a sticky financial patch. It was clear that unless reductions were made to our consumable costs we would be in trouble. I swapped my car for a Mini and took a pay cut. Only then did I begin my exhortations to economise. It is not what people do when you are present, far more important is their true attitude and unobserved actions. My gesture gave me a pulpit and staff rallied round.
Sadly it isn’t only chief constables who are failing to set a lead today. Lloyds, one of the banks to be rescued by the taxpayer, has announced the appointment of a new chief executive. Antonio Horta-Osborio is undounbtedly a star but how can anyone justify the awarding of an annual total pay package of £8million? Small wonder that a spokesman for the Unite union lashed out. “How can this be right when thousands of people are losing their jobs at Lloyds?” seems a reasonable question.
Never slow to find a sinecure for his pals, David Cameron added to the general sense of injustice yesterday by appointing Andrew Parsons and Nicky Woodhouse into Civil Service jobs that were not advertised. Both made Conservative films featuring Cameron during the election campaign. Small wonder that Ed Miliband questionned the judgement behind such extravagence when ” he (Mr Cameron) is telling everyone to tighten their belts”.
The worrying aspect of all this is that even if leaders do set an example the followers must believe in their sincerity and integrity. Right now there is widespread cynicism about politicians in general and one group in particular. An opinion poll in today’s Sun shows the Lib Dems on an astonishing 9 per cent. No political party has experienced a fall of this magnitude in recent political history. It seems that the decision of the likes of Clegg and Cable to unashamedly break their (signed) word on tuition fees has shocked even their most loyal supporters.
It may be pure fantasy to imagine the present establishment operating in World War 2 but one cannot help wondering how they would have fared. Churchill inspired by example. As the bombs rained down on London he stayed there and continually walked the streets. When he demanded that everyone fight to the end they responded because they saw his commitment to doing just that. Our present day pack of politicians, chief constables, bankers and all, would probably have headed off to Canada and exhorted us from there! Self understanding tells me that I would have been frightened witless by doing what Churchill did but would have recognised that action speaks louder than words.
YouTube HAS A LOT TO ANSWER FOR!
Roshonara Choudry, a gifted student who watched over 100 hours of sermons by the extremist cleric Anwar al Awlaki, was yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment for the attempted murder of MP Stephen Timms.
Surprisingly the police have released the transcript of the initial interview conducted with her by Simon Dobinson, a detective sergeant, and Syed Hussain, a constable. It makes chilling reading. It seems that Choudry had no contact with anyone else on the subject of terrorism but became convinced by the YouTube films. She started listening to the inflammatory lectures last year and “really got into it”. She came to believe that “as Muslims we’re all brothers and sisters and should look out for each other and shouldn’t sit back and do nothing while others suffer. We shouldn’t allow the people who oppress us to get away with it and to think that they can do whatever they want to us and we’re just gonna lie down and take it”.
And so she decided to kill those MP’s who supported the war against Iraq. The one attempt mercifully failed but Choudry, who refused to accept the authority of the court, is unrepentant. “I’ve fulfilled my obligation, my Islaamic duty, to stand up for the people of Iraq and to punish someone who wanted to make war with them” were her final remarks to the interviewers.
Yesterday the video sharing site said that it is taking down hundreds of hours of the poisonous lectures. Sadly, for one talented but brainwashed young lady, it is too little, too late!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Brazil 2. Punk rock
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who married Kathy Silva on stage in New York in 1974? 2. ‘We don’t talk anymore’ was a 1979 hit for who?