Posts Tagged ‘Resentment’
Today is said to be the hottest October day since Eve offered Adam a Tesco apple, and it feels that way. Sounds daft I know but in such heat we feel resentment at the hens which stand around like people in the Post office queue whilst we old geezers scuttle and sweat. We were a man short this morning for Alan has headed off early for the Conservative Party Conference, something he has attended as regularly as others do Wimbledon or Raymond’s Review Bar. His advance press release told him that he was in for a treat, top feature will be “modern compassionate Conservatism”. Frankly I would rather lie in a cesspit but everyone to his own.
We did point out to our departed delusionist a poll published only yesterday which showed only 27% believing that the Tories are “on the side of ordinary people”. Mind you, only 45% say the same of Labour so there are 28% out there who think neither of them is. We fogeys identify with them!
Apparently George Osborne is going to speak out for people who create wealth, hardly surprising perhaps since he has created quite a pile of his own. But we’ve no quarrel with poeple who work hard and succeed, however we do baulk at those who rake it in at our expense thanks to some rather handsome hand-outs from their friends at the top.
If you fancy making a fortune you could do worse than have a go at making electronic tags. We have learned that the companies handed this lucrative task charge the taxpayer £1,100 for a 90 day version. The cost to them is £400 to £500 depending on the number of call-outs to the offender. Not a bad little earner for G4S and Serco, the current suppliers. The contract is due out for tender again shortly and it seems probable that donations to the Conservative Party are climbing rapidly right now. Why? Because not only is the profit margin enormous but the number required is about to go through the roof!
Ministers are preparing for a massive expansion in electronic tagging of offenders, with private security companies being invited to tender for more than £1 billion. That’s right, a billion quids worth. This is part of Kenneth Clarke’s campaign to close down prisons and monitor criminals in the community. His sentencing and punishment bill, which is now before parliament, will give the courts powers to extend the tag curfew limit from 12 hours per day to 16 and will double the length of sentence to a full year. So from now on most villains will suffer no geater punishment than staying with ‘er indoors for longer periods that they would normally envisage. I guess Fletcher and the other inmates of Slade Prison would have settled for this.
Such prisons as survive are being handed to private companies to manage. Yes, you’ve guessed it, G4S and Serco are again the chosen. The former is about to take over the Victorian inner city prison in Birmingham, and Serco is about to start “payments by results” services at Doncaster prison with similar schemes to follow at eight more prisons. Hot on the heels of all this will be invitations to tender for nine more major prisons.
It seems that this is likely to be just as lucrative as making tags. Private companies pay much lower wages (and presumably employ much lower quality warders) and earn huge bonuses for preventing escapes. Presumably they achieve this by making life inside so comfortable that no one even contemplates leaving early.
If Ed Miliband ever gets around to understanding all this he would be ill-advised to claim that we are not only going soft on crime but are dishing out fortunes to private companies into the bargain. Should he do so the media will have even bigger headlines about ‘Red Ed’.
And quite right too. Only a rabid left-winger could suggest that violent criminals should actually be punished, or that their soft treatment should not provide rich pickings for entrepeneurs!
YOUR WEEKEND GENERAL KNOWLEDGE QUIZ; 1. In the music world what did NKOTB stand for? 2. Hartley was the fictional town setting for which TV police serial? 3. Variola is the proper name for which killer disease 4. Who competed against Messala in a literary chariot race? 5. Where did Laika, the first dog in space, die? 6. In which musical did “Pop Idol’s” Darius Danesh win a coveted prize? 7. Which sheriff killed Billy the Kid? 8. What was the first Madonna hit not to mention an item of food? 9. Which Liverpool top scorer in 2004-2005 was rewraded with a transfer? 10. Is a piri-piri sauce sweet, or hot and spicy?
ANSWERS WILL BE INCLUDED WITH TOMORROW’S BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The rain in Spain may fall mainly in the plain, here it teems down everywhere. As we spread grit over the mud this morning our mood was not helped by the front age of Tom’s Daily Express. If that is to be believed we are facing weeks of gales and torrential wet stuff followed by the biggest freeze for many a year. Ye Gods, stop the world we chicken-men want to get off! For good measure the article reports that we have endured the coldest summer for twenty years. All, it seems, the result of global warming – no, I don’t understand that either.
Meantime the economy is grinding to a halt. We think we understand that, you don’t have to be a disciple of Keynes to grasp that if no one is spending every business in the land will head into recession. The dashing Osborne clearly believes that squeezing until the pips pop out is the only way, hopefully someone has pointed out to him that it just ain’t working! Every now and again he trots out his punchline about times being hard but we are all in this together. If that was really the case the mood of despair and resentment building everywhere might abate. But it is pure fiction. Never has the them-and-us syndrome so gripped our crowded island.
I say this having read a survey covering the pensions of the directors of the largest 100 British companies. It seems that they are in line for average pension payments of £224,000 each. 362 top directors have built up final salary pensions worth £568 million and the average pension pot transfer is at an all-time high at £3.91 million. And the common age for retirement is set at 60, while for staff it is 65 and rising.
The survey came just days after one covering pay. According to the High Pay Commission, the average pay deal for a FTSE 100 boss soared from £3.09 million to £4.45 million last year. Meantime the take-home pay of staff fell in real terms.
For me the most amazing statistic of all is the one showing that Directors at the top now receive 23 times more than the average worker. Each year the gap widens. In my day the gap was 5 times and I was regularly criticised by the trades unions. I defended the gap on the basis of hours and responsibility but I still felt guilty. Now the gap is a chasm.
Top dog of all this year is Shell’s Jeroen Van der Veer. He has just retired with an annual company pension of £1.25 million. The pension pot he amassed totalled £21.6 million. On his retirement he declared that pay had little impact on performance, saying; “If I had been paid 50% more, I would not have done it better. If I had been paid 50 % less I would not have done it worse”. So why the huge increase in the income gap? Hot on the heels of the Shell boss comes Barclays John Varley with a pension pot of £18,256 million and BG Group’s Frank Chapman who will have to mange on a mere £16, 574 million.
The answer to the huge gap increase perhaps is that successive governments have been obsessed with tycoons and have encouraged the view that great riches are the only status symbols that count. Alistair Campbell has remarked that Murdoch was the “24th member of Blair’s cabinet”. The same could be said for many others. In the present government the situation is even more bizaare for most of the senior cabinet members are themselves multi-millionaires. When they talk of we all being in this together they talk to us and exclude, without realising it, the elite group to which they and their tax-evading tycoon friends belong.
Nothing will change but it would irritate the rest of us less if they were to substitute the word you for we!
TRY YOUR SKILL WITH THE MIDWEEK QUIZ; 1. Who formed the famous dance troupe the Bluebell Girls? 2. Whose CDs include “Seven Year Itch” and “Stickin’ to my Guns? 3. What would you do with a futon? 4. Which play is performed every ten years at Oberammagau? 5. Which wood was mainly used by Thomas Chippendale? 6. In which London area is The Royal Hospital? 7. In Nov. 2006, a Cardiff get together was organised for people with which surname? 8. Bruce Willis destroyed a plane with his cigarette lighter in which film? 9. What does a blue flag on a beach mean? 10. Which carbohydrate cause jam to gel?
It would be nice to be one of those people whose disposition never changes. But I have to confess that the moods on the allotments fluctuate in line with the weather. Yesterday felt positively Spring like and the hens were treated to being carried about and given a large area on which to roam. This morning it was tipping it down from dark skies and our feathered friends were catered for but ignored as we achieved clean-out times that would have inpressed a Time and Motion expert. We were back in the warmth of the shed before anyone could shout Leyton Orient.
It is on days like this that one notices the difference between those who have sufficient cash to equip themselves in all-weather kit and those, like Albert and yours truly, who resemble tramps on a losing streak. Even here the oft repeated claim by our less than esteemed national leaders that we are equal and all in it together don’t ring true. Of course it doesn’t matter here but the growing evidence that across the nation the gap between those who have and those who haven’t is widening rapidly is rather more serious.
Only this morning I read of David Cameron’s umpteenth exhortation to volunteer to take over everything from brain surgery to road sweeping. We need a Dunkirk spirit, he cries. It is at best an irritating analogy for whilst the vast army trapped on those long-remembered beaches truly were all in the same predicament, the population of today is in a very different situation. We all know of the Banks with their thousands of millionaires and the cabinet with its host of the even richer, but to an extent they have little effect on the general morale. In fact they provide a useful outlet for our pent up rage!
It is the enormous gap opening up in communities everywhere that is fuelling resentment at policies that hit hardest those least able to cope. And anyone not entirely aware of the trend – a visitor from Mars perhaps – will now be able to learn from the report by the Institute of Public Policy Research the fact that in London, for example, the richest fifth of people earn an average of £686 per week more than those on the bottom fifth of earnings. In the South East the gap is £508 and in the North the gap is rapidly reaching the same astronomic levels.
The report goes on to stress that the places where workers are most unequal appear to have less social cohesion. There have always been ‘posher areas’ in every community but now it is more pronounced than ever before. The old joke about the man who became a Foreman and invited the working class to kiss his a…e no longer rings true for the residential areas of the better-off are still way out of reach of his pay packet.
The statistics reinforce the case of the critics of the all-in-it-together brigade. It is hard to imagine how such a belief will ever become reality for, as the cuts bite ever harder, the victims will not have far to look to spot people for whom they represent mere inconvenience rather than true hardship. All the ingredients for public unrest rather than shared sacrifices are in the air.
No one can reasonably place the blame for the astronomic gap on the coalition. It is the product of a decade in which every tin-pot council decided to pay mega-bucks to its leading lights, an act which inevitably dragged up those next in line. Every Primary Care Trust followed suit and many larger companies, having decided to pay its leaders in millions, felt obliged to pay more to its senior people to provide a cloak of respectability. And over the whole scene, bankers and footballers stoked the fires of expectations by regarding one million as a starting point for negotiations. In my day, as head of a large concern, the unwritten rule was that the person at the top should not be seen to earn more that four times that of the shop-floor worker. Now the ratio is in the hundreds.
There is no short term solution to the outcome of so much greed and reckless extravagence. But it really is ridiculous for ministers to bang on about sharing the pain until they can at least trigger a reduction in the gap between those who scarcely blink at the current massive hike in power bills and those for whom turning the fire off is the only option.
Maybe they could encourage a start by local authorities. Before any reduction in people employed is sanctioned the pay of senior executives could be pinned back to a maximum of, say £80,000. The very act of doing that would trigger a reaction down the line.
And pigs might fly for the culture of me first has been allowed to grow deep roots during a decade that has taken our society to the edge of a very nasty precipice!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; ” I don’t know what all this fuss about losing weight is. My wife lost two stones swimming. I don’t know how. I tied them round her neck tight enough”…Les Dawson ” Liquid diets; the powder is mixed with water and tastes exactly like powder mixed with water”….Art Buchwald ” You know why fish are so thin? They eat fish”….Jerry Seinfeld “My only regret in life is that I am not someone else”….Woody Allen “I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it”….Jack Handley “If you look like your passport photo you are too ill to travel”…..Will Kommen “When you give a child a hammer everything becomes a nail”……Leo Kaplan “Once you start buying first-aid kits you start having accidents”…..George Mikes “Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children. Life is the other way round”….David Lodge
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Petrol coupons 2. May Day
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which sport is associated with The Crucible? 2 Which tennis star became known as ‘Superbrat’?
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?
A leading politician recently referred to the need for a national ‘Dunkirk spirit’ to tackle the potentially ruinous situation enveloping our economy. No one already suffering redundancy or insecurity, severe cut in income on pensions or savings or difficulties in meeting power bills will disagree. Neither will the millions fearing the worst for the value of their properties or those simply too uncertain to book holidays or even a night out.
But the so-called Dunkirk spirit arose from a sense of common suffering and danger. From Churchill down everyone faced one threat and everyone threw their weight behind a single objective. This time everyone is not sharing the nightmare. The so-called fat cats are far removed from the common burden and there is huge resentment in the national air.
The new government is to be applauded for lifting the veil on public sector pay. Unfortunately the revelations are introducing a sense of national unfairness. Of course the flip side of that is that, if Ministers are brave enough, they can at a stroke make huge savings and inspire the rest of us to accept a heavy bout of belt-tightening. What on earth the outgoing government was thinking of in allowing such a scandalous situation to come about is right now beside the point but it has to be said the Brown/Darling reputaion for financial prudence has taken a severe retrospective blow.
We had scarcely recovered from the shock of learning that large numbers of senior civil servants earn fortunes plus gold-plated pensions before yesterday’s further revelations hit us. We now learn that the head of a housing association is pocketing almost £400,000 per year. Based on figures from last year John Belcher, chief executive of Anchor (which provides affordable homes for the elderly) was paid £391,000. David Cowans at Places for People was paid £297,000 and at least six other bosses of housing associations pocketed more than £200,000.
Although independent, housing associations are largely funded by the taxpayer, receiving millions of pounds each year to provide housing for those unable to fend for themselves. Little did we realise that a good deal of the funding was being used to grossly overpay those in charge.This latest bombshell was uncovered by Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, who described the pay packages as unacceptable. How right!
The published list is a long one. Even the lowest paid of the 51 executives named is paid £142,000 and the situation has clearly gone completely out of control. Mr Shapps said yesterday that there is no reason why housing charities who receive public money should be excempt from scrutiny. Vince Cable indicated that high earning public officials may have to accept pay cuts. Let us hope that he means it for an example is needed.
Predictably some have leapt to the defence of the pouring out of public money. The housing associations say that the salaries are necessary to attract executives of the highest calibre. Clearly they have drifted into fantasy land. Just where in the private sector would all these people go to earn such generous treatment? And the defenders of Civil Service fat cats are even more bizarre. Jonathan Baume, leader of the First Division Association, which represents senior civil servants, pointed out that ‘you have to remember that the Prime Minister’s salary has been held down for political reasons and David Cameron is a millionnaire’. What on earth does that have to do with anything, the rate for a job should not be based on the holders wealth or lack of it. As the Chief Executive of the UK the PM’s salary must surely be the highest paid.
The ferret breeders are usually somewhat isolated from the rest of the community. Suddenly even they are coming together in common cause with many who are looking for leadership. And they include many who work in public bodies and are paid very poorly!
Anger levels are rising.According to Spanish scientists who recently carried out tests on the effect of anger on the human body, a spot of rage is good for us. It stimulates that part of the brain associated with positive feelings, the left hemisphere. Thank heavens for that!
We in the allotment shed are becoming so outraged that I feared there would soon be orphaned ferrets galore!