Bedford Burrow & Other Curious Stuff

Strange little town, strange little site.

A lot of people are involved before the victim feels the pain.

CDMYmNnW0AAP2txAusterity is an institutional thing. We all know it’s a Tory policy, a cover for cutting public services, wages and social support for the vulnerable. It’s also about redistributing the savings to the better off . But it’s not just the Tory Government. It’s the Tory Parliamentary MPs. It’s the Tory local councillors. It’s Tory Party supporters.

It gets worse. All the managers involved in implementing the cuts have signed up to the Austerity ideology. Those managers are the ones who have to make the cuts. OK, they may only be doing their job. It starts at the very top. But then it goes through lots of people before it reaches the victim.

It’s so easy to put all the blame on the Government. But there are millions conscientiously doing their duty, implementing the cuts, even more ignoring the cuts, and a few enthusiastically supporting cuts. Just doing their job. If you work in the public services you cannot help but be complicit in implementing cuts.

You can argue. You can protest. You can strike. But if you do nothing, sooner or later you are going to be working with the cuts.Even worse if you are a senior manager in a public service. You are making the decisions on where, and on who, the cuts will fall.

School heads, NHS Managers, Job Centre Staff, Social Care Managers, the list goes on. And you will also be responsible for the erosion of pay for millions of workers, particularly if you are an elected local government Councillor or Officer.

When Sir Ivan Rogers resigned, his email was leaked.

The message to the staff who worked for him was clear. He said, “For my part, I hope that in my day-to-day dealings with you I have demonstrated the values which I have always espoused as a public servant. I hope you will continue to challenge ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking and that you will never be afraid to speak the truth to those in power”.

We should all challenge power, whatever level that power operates at. We are all complicit to a greater or lesser degree in the evil of the Tory Austerity Policy.

What are we going to do about that? Follow instructions or fight back? We have a choice just like the Tories.




13 Mar 2017 Posted by | Austerity | | Leave a comment

With pensioners now disproportionately unlikely to be in poverty, is it time to vilify them like other groups?

I hear David Willetts, the Executive Chair of The Resolution Think Tank, on the radio this morning. He’s talking about pensioners and their incomes.

Apparently pensioners now typically have higher incomes than those of typical working age. Typically.

I got the impression that this has been identified as a problem by the said Willetts, or “Two Brains” as he was known in the 1990’s when he was a Tory Minister.

In previous lives he identified a number of problems. Feminism was identified as problem in 2011. Women who otherwise would have stayed at home as housewives were now going to university and taking jobs away from men. He made a few other dubious conclusions based on this theory, mainly about well educated men breeding with well educated women.

In 2013, “Two Brains” sold off student loan debts to Erudio Student Loans. He ignored the implications for students, leaving it debt collectors Arrow Global and private equity group CarVal Investors to deal with the students. All “Two Brains” was interested in was transferring public debt to ordinary citizens and creating an income stream for his Tory friends. So back to the pensioners.

The idea that pensioners might not be living in poverty seems to rankle in some quarters. And the possible solution to this problem, typically, might not be to increase the incomes of those of typical working age, but to look at how we typically might reduce the incomes of typical pensioners. And get them back into the poverty club like all the other plebs.

fat catAt this point it is worth making the distinction between the really “typically” rich pensioners, like retired bank executives, and the more “typical” ordinary pensioner, who is less well off.

Employment income has been an important component of pensioner income growth – particularly for younger and richer pensioners – but growth in private pension incomes and public benefits have nonetheless been the most important factors and to varying degrees have helped deliver growth for all age and income groups of pensioners“, says the Resolution Think Tank, typically.

Typically The Resolution Think Tank go on to say they will, “look in more detail at the policies and economic changes that have helped shift the age profile of UK incomes and at how the intergenerational contract might be strengthened and the prospects of all generations improved.”

o-violent-crowd-facebookI would expect that, typically, to lead to policies aimed at reducing the incomes of pensioners because, “with pensioners now disproportionately unlikely to be in poverty“, it’s time to conduct a sustained attack on these ageing “Enemies of The People”. Bravo for all Think Tanks.

In the meantime, lets hear it for the Filthy Rich, typically, the only group who deserve not to be at risk of poverty, however relative or marginal, even though they have, typically, been unaffected by seven years of Tory Austerity Ideology.

And for all those who think it’s unfair that they may be worse off than the previous generation I say take a look around. Economies have grown, profits have grown, the rich are richer now than they have ever been. So where is your share?

If you think the older generation have taken it think again. All that economic growth, all that profit, all those bonuses, that’s where your share is. In someone’s offshore bank account, someone’s tax haven. You are going to have to fight for it.

ProductsIf you fight the pensioners you’ll get £10, if you’re lucky. If you fight for a fair share of profits, fair taxation, fair wages, an end to tax havens and a fair voting system you’ll get £Billions.

If you think mum and dad nicked your share, think again. Your share was nicked by the usual culprits. You know who they are, and you know where your share is.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and if “the pensioners” become the new “enemies of the people”.

Finally, I feel for the retired, disabled, remain voting, ex-trade union leader, from immigrant stock, your time may be coming.


BBC News

Resolution Think Tank

13 Feb 2017 Posted by | Austerity, Politics, Tory | , | 1 Comment

A vote for a Westminster Politician is a vote for more failure, cunningly disguised as progress.

I listen to Jeremy Hunt talking on the radio about the NHS. He is calm, softly spoken, subdued. It s Friday 12th February.

Jeremy does not make wild claims about how many £billions the Government is investing in hospitals. He seems to accept that there is very little he and his Government can do. Accepts that things are happening in hospitals that are unacceptable. Jeremy doesn’t know what to do.

There is so much wrong that Jeremy does not know where to start. He could start with money. But it would probably just disappear in the same way that the £billions already going into the NHS disappears, caring for sick, injured, aging people.

Money might help, but the NHS project has been messed around so much, it’s now a dysfunctional organisation. Just like so much of our so-called society.

After 40 years of policies propelling us in a particular direction, following an orthodoxy of how services should be provided, how the  country, the world, should run, there is very little chance of changing that direction.

enhanced-5828-1422376459-41Poor Jeremy Hunt. He is the beneficiary of 40 years of chopping, changing, cuts, re-investment and re-organisation. Now no one knows what the hell to do with the NHS. Likewise social care. Soon to be followed by education.

Parents will soon find their local school suffering in exactly the same way  their local hospital suffers. And just like nurses are not to blame, so the teachers are not to blame. Nor the care-workers.

In fact the workers in every industry, every sector, are not to blame for what is wrong with so many things in our country. It’s not the fault of the jobless. Or the immigrants. Or the disabled. Or the unions. Or the young. Or the old.

image-20170103-18644-18y94b1Remember when you were told it was the trade unions who were dragging us down. It was the trade unions and their militant members who were to blame for our economic woes. We needed to tame the unions and take away their power. We did that, and look what happened.

Bedford Station

Bedford Station

Remember when the nationalised industries were the problem. Wasting money. Inefficient. Poor service. The solution was privatisation.

Privatise rail, energy, water, everything, and all the problems would disappear. And today the railways are in the news doing their best to rip-off passengers. Energy companies with their confusing tariffs. And how the hell the water companies compete I have no idea.

Action for rail campaigners

Action for rail campaigners

Remember when we built millions of homes. Mostly council homes, with long tenancies and affordable rents. And then we sold them and did not build any replacements. And said the private sector would provide all the homes we’d need.

And then we sat back and waited …….. until the free market sorted it all out.

And now there are no homes to rent, and those that are for rent are unaffordable. And those who want to buy a home can’t afford a mortgage. And house prices are astronomical, and wages are low, and you never get a pay rise. And we found out the big builder’s five-star quality ratings are in decline, and house build quality is in decline.

So now the Government is going to sort this terrible problem faced by the people. By getting the private sector to build a million homes in double-quick time. But they’re going to need thousands of builders, mainly from the EU.

Remember when we you were told that the next car you buy should have a diesel engine because ………… And now you can’t breathe the air because of the nitrogen oxides. And you were conned by the big diesel car manufacturers. And you can’t sell your diesel car because suddenly no one wants a diesel engine vehicle. The price of diesel has risen and it’s the cause of God knows how many deaths by air pollution.

Fat cat pay rise funded by Public Sector pay cutAnd here we are, with all our public services sliding into chaos and collapse. A work force that is totally subjugated. Wages falling. Not enough homes. And even if we build more homes,  people cannot afford to rent or buy them. And air pollution kills thousands every year.workers

But we have a few very wealthy people. And they are getting richer. And the Government doesn’t seem to mind, they even try to make them richer, whilst making the poor worker who can’t afford their rent, a lot poorer.

Not to mention taking away the worker’s right to fight for a share of the wealth. So who is to blame?

The people who decide the policies? The people who make the decisions? The people who can’t see the problem? The people who ignore the problem? The people who have the power to change things but don’t, or wont? The electorate?

When I listened to Jeremy Hunt, he sounded like a man who had run out of ideas. He sounded like a man who realised that everything that had been tried for the last forty years, not only had not worked, it had made everything a lot worse. He sounded like a man who didn’t know what to do.11219680_10206840782682590_7514362104973947762_n

And Jeremy Hunt is not the only one who doesn’t know what to do. Westminster is full of people who don’t know what to do. Especially about the things that matter.

There is only one thing the politicians in Westminster know how to do , that’s bullshit, trick, con and persuade the electorate to vote for the same set of failed people, with their failed ideas and their failed policies.

The last forty years may have worked for a few. The last forty years have not worked for that majority of the electorate. Whatever happens next has to be really thought through, and the chance of Westminster doing that is pretty remote.

If we make judgements based on our emotional response to the last forty years we will elect more extreme versions of what has gone before. Our policies were not tough enough. We were soft on the groups who we blamed. Maybe it’s time we sorted these problems once and for all.

But if, instead, we think about the policies, we just might think those policies were wrong, and those who proposed the policies were wrong. It may well be time to look for an alternative that works for the majority.

The ground is prepared. The seeds have been sown. What will flourish in our pleasant land?

11 Feb 2017 Posted by | Economy, Labour, LibDem, Politics, privatisation, Tory, Westminster | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#Bedford – The reality of budget cuts in schools – survey | Teacher Network | The Guardian

Bedford schools will be hit by severe budget cuts. The redundancies have already started and will continue. The only question is how many people will lose their job.

Cash-strapped schools are facing redundancies, reduced subject choices and even running out of paper

Source: The reality of budget cuts in schools – survey | Teacher Network | The Guardian

5 Feb 2017 Posted by | Austerity, Bedford, Education | , , | Leave a comment

Government for the people or wealth and opulence for the few?

Theresa May has not been in the job long but she has quickly established a reputation. Unfortunately for her it’s a reputation for doing nothing.

The NHS has been falling apart for a while. There are daily stories of the service in crisis, of patients not being treated. Even patients dying on trolleys in corridors after hours of being ignored. Someone has to take responsibility, but it will not be May and her Ministers. That will fall to those on the front line.

After years of austerity, and real cuts by Government, May blames those who are struggling with the impact of Tory policies. And Theresa May is a Tory. She talks of increasing funding, but does nothing. She and her ministers even claim the NHS is in the best shape it has been in for years. She denies the NHS is crisis, which means that in May’s world, the NHS is not in crisis.

junior docs 3As NHS staff struggle to keep services functioning, it’s clear to them that there is a crisis. As services to patients collapse, it ‘s clear to patients there is a crisis. As hospital reviews show that services will close, it’s clear there is a crisis.

When The Red Cross says there is a Humanitarian Crisis the Government denies it. As NHS leaders say there is a crisis, Theresa May says that there have been a few unfortunate incidents.

No Prime Minister. The NHS is in crisis. Again. Exactly as it was during previous years of Tory Government. A Tory Government always brings with it an NHS crisis.

Not since the last Tory administration have we seen so many homeless on UK streets.

Not since the last Tory administration have we seen so many homeless on UK streets.

Linked with the NHS crisis is another crisis, the Social Care crisis. The collapse of social care leaves the NHS to deal with the fallout. Theresa May talks of increased funding for social care, but nothing changes because she does nothing. More words and no action from May.

Years of failure on housing policy has dealt May a poor hand. We can’t build enough homes, and young people cannot afford the homes we do build. May talks about affordable housing but nothing happens. Her talk is not translated into action.  And everyday the number of homeless citizens increases. Not since the height of the last Tory administration have we seen so many people sleeping on the streets of UK towns and cities.

Schools across England are having to face a looming funding crisis. Not content with driving thousands of teachers out of their chosen profession and creating a recruitment and retention crisis, the Tories are now creating a funding crisis that will see schools unable to function on a daily basis.

Some head teachers have already talked of only being able to open their schools for three or four days a week. Imagine that. School budgets are being cut in real terms, yet Theresa May and her Government continue to insist that budgets are increasing. The talk and the reality do not add up. And all the while Theresa May seems unable to understand that it’s action that is needed not empty rhetoric.

action-for-rail-1Parts of the rail system are in crisis. Staff and passengers have had enough of incompetent management and piss-poor service. Ministers can only offer one solution, legislation against trade unions and their members.

The idea that increases in rail fares and incompetent management can be remedied by banning strikes shows a paucity of thinking that is the hallmark of Theresa May and her Government. Maybe we will see a ban on passengers protesting about fare increases soon.

The Prime Minister is fond of rhetoric but she never quite delivers it in a convincing way. We’ve had an economy that works for everyone. We’ve had the party of the worker. We now have the shared society. But we still have the excessive pay, the creamed off profits, the million pound bonus, the tax havens and attacks on worker’s rights. Again, words and no action to change anything.

The top pay is protected, and any worker who has the guts to stand with their trade union colleagues against the inequity of pay and conditions faces legislation to remove their right to strike. The Tories are determined to create a workforce at the mercy of unscrupulous bosses. Subjugated workers, ready for exploitation, in their brave new Britain  as a tax haven. The Downing Street speech of June has faded from the memory, never to be mentioned again.

But Brexit remains. Brexit. The will of the people. The people will get what they voted for. The best deal for Britain. But whose Britain will it be?

Will it be the Britain of the worker? Will it be the Britain of the family? Will it be the green and pleasant Britain? Will it be a Britain for the people? The Britain that Brexit voters demand?

pigs_finalOr will it be the Britain of the Boardroom? Will it be the Britain of the Bankers Bonus? Will it be the Britain of the exploited worker? Will it be the Britain of the tax avoider? Will it be the Britain of the tax evader? Will it be the Britain of the off-shore account? Will it be the Britain of the subjugated workforce and poverty wages? Will it be the brave new Britain that is a Tax Haven?

revolutionTheresa May is fast being overwhelmed by crisis upon crisis. Each new crisis building on the chaos of the last crisis. And each crisis is blamed on the newest group of scapegoats. And with each new scapegoat the truth is dawning, that we have a Prime Minister who is incapable of thinking and acting in the interests of the citizens she governs.

Is it the role of Government to work for improvement so that all citizens can at least hope, and look forward to, improving living conditions?

Or is it the role of Government to increase the wealth and opulence of a small minority,  wealth that the majority cannot even  imagine?

I think we know the answer.

15 Jan 2017 Posted by | Austerity, Politics, Westminster | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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