Tag Archives: Benefits


Some while ago I was asked to define my political thoughts and I came up with the following aspirations. That needs a bit of explaining. I think the problem with politics today is that parties think in terms of policies in such a way as to suggest that they have lost sight of what they are there to do. I think that if we thought about what we wanted to achieve first and foremost and then looked at ways and means as to how they should be achieved, we would find two things. The first is that most people actually agree on the ‘whats’ (usually much to their surprise) and secondly you find people from all parts of the political spectrum talking to each other in a generally constructive rather than destructive way.

Here are my ten top aspirations. Please let me know if you disagree with any of them.

No 1: To create an educational, training and employment culture in which all have the opportunity to fulfill their potential no matter how great or small that potential may be.

No 2: To create an economic model where stability, sustainability and the mental and emotional well being of the people are as important as growth.

No 3: To create a culture in which small businesses (the key to the provision of employment) can flourish and so become the real engine rooms we need as the old ways of earning a living become redundant.

No 4: To reduce dependence on imported energy to a minimum. If there should be a serious energy crisis on the mainland, it would good if it made no difference to the UK.

No 5: To reduce dependence on imported foodstuffs to a minimum. It seems silly to be importing food while we have underused farmland and people without jobs.

No 6: To create a social culture in which communities thrive on self-help and reduce their reliance on centralised state benefits. Here I expect to see some controversy but the present system where all in need no matter where have to meet the same criteria to receive the same benefits or care seems to cumbersome to ever achieve very much. Decisions based n thinking about people’s needs and the available local support etc. seems a better option.

No 7: To reduce the gap in the living standards between the richest and the poorest. Reduce not eliminate: it can never be eliminated but that gap is too wide today.

No 8: To ensure that the weak and vulnerable are cared for in a proper and fitting manner. This is now rather personal (for obvious reasons).

No 9: To ensure that the nation’s assets (natural and man-made) are properly maintained and improved.

No 10: To ensure that our defence forces are sufficient for the calls made on them and that we learn (or relearn as we have had to so many times in the past) that it is men that matter (and women too, of course) more than material. You cannot pull trained people out of a bag when you need them. Obviously the hardware is important too but we seem to spend huge sums on ‘stuff’ for which there seems to be no real purpose.

There you have it. No policies just a map for thinking straight.

Dickensian Britain

My good friend Pat Cox put up a wonderful blog which I hope you will read. Here is the link: http://madkentdragon.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/welcome-to-the-new-dickensian-era/

As always, Pat’s heart is in exactly the right place and I can feel her pain as she writes about those who are suffering most as a result of this recession. Why is it, she is asking (I think) that it is always the poor that have to be made to suffer when things go wrong and not the rich? I suppose the answer is because human beings aren’t very nice to each other. I also feel that the political answers are far from easy and that there is no political party that is really “fir for purpose” but then, I would say that,. wouldn’t I?

Anyway, I put the following comment under Pat’s blog. I think what I said is right (even if it is impossible to put it all in a quick comment) but I have a horrid feeling that things will have to get a lot worse before people will unite in trying to put matters right again. That will, I fear, mean being reasonable content with what we need and to turn our backs on what we want. There was a time when only a very very few could afford to have what they wanted and the rest of us were lucky if we got what we needed. Now the vast majority of us can afford a few “wants” (even if we have to borrow to get them) and somehow that means we are less caring about ensuring that everyone gets what they need. Even so, we have come a long way since Dicken’s time.

Here is that comment:

If only it were as simple as you suggest, Pat. The problem started when we decided to stand up against the Germans and entered into a costly war. We scraped through because we had the wealth of our empire (although some of what we took from them is now considered to be unethical) and because we were able to borrow from the USA – borrow such a lot that we took about 60 years to pay it back. And the country was on its knees. There weren’t enough jobs, there wasn’t enough food. So the government came up with the idea that they needed to create employment (which was basically right, I suppose) and that the only way to do that was for people to be allowed to borrow so that they could buy things that we were making – like vacuum cleaners and washing machines and cars – with the help of Hire Purchase (not a new idea but then pushed by the government). 

The government also borrowed (mainly from savers here in the UK in those days) in order to build things – including houses. 

At the same time we were able to benefit because there were parts of the world where people were prepared to work for a pittance. 

And then borrowing became the norm and people stopped “needing” and started “wanting” and “wants” became “needs” and we could no longer pay our debts (we being us as individuals and as a nation) and clever people thought of clever things to do with money and global industries and banks became more powerful than the government (and other governments, too) and then some of these bright ideas turned out to be not quite so bright and nobody really knew what to do. 

Then people who had been working for next to nothing started to say, “hey – what about us” and some of the cheap labour disappeared as did the cheap materials. 

And still we do not know what to do. Was QE the way to cope with the crash? Should we borrow more to get out of the position we are in? How do we control what is going on? And then we hit the worst problem of all. 

The government cannot control the borrowing and the wants of those with decent incomes and they have their hands tied by those with big incomes because they generate the wealth we all need. The only place the government has control is over the less well off. 

That is why we need (but do not want) a huge rethink. It is easy to blame the government and they do some things that seem wrong and stupid but there is actually so little they can do. All of us need to pull in our horns a bit and that bit should go to help those who need it most. That is why I would go for quite a high minimum wage, and a tax threshold of about £15,000 and I would scrap much of the regulation that holds back the creation of new businesses but it would all take time – and time is what we do not have.