The 2016 Budget didn’t hold many surprises. Cuts to disability benefits, neglect of the North of England, and perks for big corporations seem to be commonplace when it comes to this heartless Tory government. But how does the budget affect you personally? Here is a fun device that the BBC has come up with. Enter a few details in the Budget Calculator and it will tell you if you’re better or worse off:
I stumbled across this article, and it seems relevant considering Donald Trump has gone on record as saying: “My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy”. The piece tells the story of how Woody Guthrie, a personal hero of mine, was raging against the Trump Empire way back when. Well worth a read!
There is a vast gap in the UK when it comes to health, as a recent study by National Statistics highlights. Unsurprisingly, affluent locations in the south of England are much better off than areas in the north, such as Manchester, Blackpool, Bradford, Birmingham, the North East & Lincolnshire etc.
Men in Kensington & Chelsea can expect 80.2 years of good health in their lifetime, while men in Salford can expect 46.3 years of good health (and, in reality, wouldn’t expect to live 80.2 years in total). Women in Westminster can expect 78.3 years of good health, while women in Birmingham can expect a paltry 46.1.
The reasons given in the article for this ‘sickness divide’ by Dr Ann Marie Connolly are ‘smoking’ and ‘lack of activity’. But this only scratches the surface. It is lifestyle as a whole that contributes to this sort of vast gap in health.
- Pollution (poor people can only afford to live downwind of industrial areas, and so have to breathe in crappy air on a daily basis. Not an ideal environment for exercising).
- Diet (the minimum wage cannot sustain a balanced, healthy diet)
- Working environment (breaking your back every day is bound to cause health issues. Also, when you get home after a horrible day at work, how likely are you to want to exercise or take time to cook a balanced meal?)
- Cigarettes, alcohol, drugs (the poor in society want escapism, and therefore turn to substances that can aid that).
- Stress (when you’re constantly worrying about feeding and housing your family you are going to experience mental/physical health issues).
- Education (in poor areas the schools aren’t as good, causing an endless cycle)
- Environment (it is fact that just being able to see a nice, green setting improves physical as well as mental health)
- The list could keep going on…
If the government was serious about investing in the North, and creating their ‘Northern Powerhouse’, these are basic discrepancies that they should be focussing on correcting instead of tokenistic HS2 railway plans that or neither here nor there.
On the Daily Mirror website, there is a section HERE where you can type in your postcode to find out how many years of good health you can expect. I can expect to live 77.3 years (62.4 of that being good health) … but I live on a bus route, so that’s assuming my road safety is up to scratch. Give it a go yourself!
It is common knowledge to anyone who has seen The Terminator that robots are going to take over the world and rule us with an iron fist. They are probably already monitoring what we’re saying on the internet. At this point I want to say that I am in favour of the robot invasion, and i’d like to pledge my allegiance to the mighty robot overlords!
We will all be replaced eventually, but some of us are in more imminent danger than others. The following is a BBC production, which allows you to search your job role (or something close to it) and check out the likelihood of you being replaced by a robot in the next 20 years.
If it looks like bad news, you might want to consider joining your union, unless David Cameron completely outlaws unions in the next five years, which he seems to be working towards. Come to think of it, the job role of “Prime Minister” and “Politician” are not on the list. Does that mean the role of Prime Minister is already occupied by a robot? Is Big Dave crippling the unions to make it easier for the rest of his robot brethren to invade the UK? He certainly seems eager to stop human beings entering our borders.
On a more serious note, the job role I was most interested in looking at, Soldier, was not on the list. Maybe that topic’s a bit too risque for the BBC to delve into. Unmanned killing machines could be just around the corner – a scary thought!
Feel free to comment with your test results.
This blog is inspired by the above piece, found on the BBC website, which asks the question “How Do I Know If I’m A Bully?” It’s an article aimed at young people, and is designed to make them look at themselves objectively and question whether or not they are having a negative impact on someone else’s happiness. Bullies don’t tend to see themselves as bullies because it’s such a negative label. They are also looking at events from a very particular perspective, and will therefore lack empathy.
Maybe David Cameron and the Conservative government should have a look at the article. It might encourage them to peer into the proverbial mirror so that they can get a glance at the reflection looking back at them.
According to the article, bullying behaviour can include “verbal abuse, such as name-calling and gossiping”. This week our Prime Minister, David Cameron, was caught on a live microphone saying “We just thought people in Yorkshire hated everyone else. We didn’t realise they hated each other so much.” You have to hear the recording to identify the venom in his tone when he said this. The PM says that it was “just a joke”, but a bully would say that, wouldn’t they?
Another indicator is “emotional abuse, such as threatening, intimidating or humiliating someone”. The Tories are acting very threateningly towards the working class by bringing in new legislation to restrict unions and industrial action, taking away people’s power to fight for a fair, safe working environment. And there are thousands of families that have had to go through the humiliation of using food banks because of the barbaric cuts that have been made during this reign of terror.
“Ignoring or isolating someone” is also on the list. The government has ignored the youth of the UK, and has isolated groups such as the unemployed and immigrants, often actively demonising them, and using psychological projection to place blame on them for all of the country’s troubles. This links into the next thing on the list of bullying behaviour: “Criticising or spreading rumours”. Of course, the Conservative government puts Rupert Murdouch’s evil media empire to work when it comes to much of this nasty business. Ask Jeremy Corbyn, who is lynched for something as little as wearing a tie “incorrectly” (while Cameron’s Yorkshire jibes are swept under the carpet).
Finally, the government should look at this one: “physical assaults, such as hitting or pushing”. The way the government is handling the NHS is the equivalent of physical assault. Sneaky hidden cuts, privatisation, and plans to make the public pay for healthcare will batter the British public black and blue. See THIS ARTICLE for more on that.
I think you’ll agree that, by these standards, the Conservative Government is a giant bully, strutting around the UK like it’s a supersize playground. Hopefully Jeremy Corbyn will turn out to be the hero this country needs to put the bullies in their place!
Jeremy Corbyn has been voted the new Labour leader. It’s about time we had some good political news, after years of disillusionment and disappointment!
He took almost 60% of votes in the first round of voting, whereas Liz Kendall, the most “righty” of the candidates, took a measly 4%. This shows you that Labour’s left-wing is looking healthy, and that the public zeitgeist is: “enough is enough, and it’s time for a change”. Corbyn’s victory is so comprehensive that the conspiracy theorists can’t even claim that he won because of Tory saboteurs.
Labour now has a leader with morals, and we can be confident that he will do what he feels is right regardless of corrupt external pressures.
We know that Jeremy Corbyn is in favour of renationalisation, equality, cracking down on tax avoidance, and helping the environment. We know he wants to cut military costs, and develop an alternative to austerity. We know he offers the perfect alternative to the current elite rulers whose only points of reference are people like themselves, and the wealthy they surround themselves with. We know Corbyn has engaged the youth of the UK onto political subject matter. These were all great reasons to want him to become Labour leader.
However, the most obvious reason for wanting him to be elected was the way he terrified his opponents. The media tried to drag his name through the mud (even BBC’s Panorama), casting aspersions, and using snippets out of context, where even the smallest bit of research would tell you that they were talking, for want of a better word, bollocks. The Tories tried to use reverse psychology by saying they wanted him to win. The careerists in his own party claimed that his election would tear the party apart.
All of this to contend with, and he still won with 60% in the first round of voting. This shows that he is strongly supported, and how can having a popular leader of the Labour party be bad?
This is great news. Cherish it, because good news in politics comes few and far between. Hopefully Jeremy Corbyn will win the next general election so that he can implement his ideas and make the UK a better place.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the weekly charts. Boy, have we got a show for you today! You’ve heard the rest, now hear the best. This is your top 10 countdown of how the poor stay poor, and how the rich get richer. Mind the gap, folks, or you’ll fall right through!
- Privileged in high-power positions
Yes, this one is an oldie but a goldie. Virtually all of society’s most sought after positions are occupied by people born into wealth and privilege. Politicians, masters of industry, actors, singers, bankers – you name it, the privileged have a monopoly on it!
War. Huh! What is it good for? Making lots of money! (Iraq). But then there’s total war, too, such as World War 2 when the common folk had to go into battle while the privileged gave them orders. But it was all to protect our way of life! Well, the privileged were doing well before the war, and the poor had it bad, and that’s how it has been afterwards and ever since. So that’s the way of life all the common folk were asked to protect. Sometimes I think it might be time to give those commoners a break….NAH.
- Cut Vital Public Services
Nee-naw nee-naw nee-naw. That’s the sound of an ambulance arriving 3-hours too late. The rich can pay for private healthcare, but the poor tend to rely on the NHS. But we can’t make this service too efficient because if the poor aren’t worrying about their health, then they may be trying to steal a slice of dosh from the rich.
Bankers (rhymes with wankers) storms in at #7. They take risks and the masses pay the price. The bank charges you a fee if your account balance drops below a certain level (yeah, cos that’s going to help my low bank balance), and they make you pay higher interest rates on loans because you haven’t got a summer house to put up as collateral. Expect this one to rocket up the charts in the coming weeks.
- Demonising the Welfare State
This is a zinger. Demonising the Welfare State (B-Side: Fuck Communism) is a new one, and expect it to linger in the charts for at least another 5 years. If the most vulnerable members of society are having a hard time, get everyone to turn against them. This distracts from the bankers (rhymes with wankers) and other Chosen Ones who are slowly killing the working class. That’s right-wing morality for ya!
- Withdraw Power
The poor cannot be allowed any sort of power. It is a threat to the rich, and their hedonistic way of life. The number one target? Unions. We can’t have the scum protesting and causing a disturbance because they feel they should be paid a fair wage.
- Expensive/Inaccessible High Education
Call us old fashioned, but us English believe that knowledge is only for the richest in society. Otherwise, how would they stay rich? We like the poor to be uneducated so they continue to make bad decisions. Besides, who’s going to clean all those mansions? (no mansion taxes to worry about now, chums).
Boo! Yes, this is David Cameron’s favourite tool. He wants to scare you into blaming others (immigrants, people on benefits), he wants to scare you about the economy (it’s fragile, but the Tories can fix it; we just need to destroy your lives in the process!), and he wants to make you believe that any positive change would end up destroying the world in the long run.
- Don’t tax the rich!!!!!!!!
For God’s sake, don’t tax the rich! They need as much money as possible so they can provide the scum with low-paid, exploitative jobs…so we can tax said scum. The perfect system for keeping the rich rich and the poor poor.
AND COMING IN AT NUMBER 1……SCRAPPING THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
May God have mercy on us all.
The Conservatives are “the party of the working people” according to David Cameron. He said this in the same week that it was announced by his party that strike laws would be significantly changed to prevent working people from taking industrial action. We know that this Tory government has absolutely no regard for human rights (they plan to scrap the Human Rights Act), and this proves it further. Companies will be allowed to treat their workforce horrendously, and workers will be virtually powerless to fight back.
The new law will state that any strike affecting essential public services will require 40% of eligible union workers to back it, and there will have to be a turnout of at least 50% at the strike ballots.
It’s time to do some maths. Let’s say that our imaginary union has 100 members (because this makes the maths bit a lot easier for me). We are all members of this union, and we are being treated unfairly in our workplace. The wealthy people at the top don’t care and won’t listen to us. We decide to strike in order to make a positive change.
Our union holds a strike ballot. We rally around and get a big group of workers to vote. The votes are counted up, and the decision is unanimous. 100% of votes say YES, LET’S STRIKE! We cheer, but the cheers come prematurely. Only 49 people voted in the ballot. And despite every single one of the voters agreeing with strike action, this doesn’t meet the new 50% turnout criteria that will be put in place.
This is very hypocritical of the Tory government because if these new rules were to be applied to the General Election vote, the Tories would not be in power, and therefore wouldn’t be in a position to impose these voting conditions on unions. The mind boggles!
That’s not where the attack ends, though. Read this BBC article for further information on how the Tories plan to put restrictions on picketing, and how they want to lift restrictions on using agency workers to replace striking worker: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-32702585
I’ll leave you with the words of the TUC general secretary:
“This is a government not so much on the side of hard working people, but Britain’s worst bosses – those who want their staff to be on zero-hours contracts, poverty pay and unable to effectively organise in a union so that they can do something about it,” said Frances O’Grady.
“The government’s proposals on union ballots will make legal strikes close to impossible. Union negotiators will be left with no more power than Oliver Twist when he asked for more.
“After five years of falling living standards, the prospects for decent pay rises have just got a whole lot worse.”
As a follow-up to my last blog, “Our Flawed Electoral System”, I thought I’d point out the approximate percentage spread of votes for the UK General Election 2015. The following figures come from the BBC website (keeping in mind we’re waiting for 40 more seats to be confirmed at the time of writing).
So, despite getting only 5.1% of the votes, the SNP will get 56 seats in parliament. On the other hand, UKIP have 12.4% of the votes and will get 1 or 2 seats. The Green Party have 3.7% of the votes, not too far behind the SNP, and will struggle to get one seat. The % difference between Labour and the Tories isn’t very big, but it looks like the Tories will have a majority government.
This underlines how flawed our voting system is.
For the last month we have been told how important it is to vote. If it’s so important, who don’t they switch to a fairer system? Proportional representation is the way to go. If voting is so important then they should put their money where their mouth is and make the change! Every vote should count. Every vote should be equal.
Don’t get me wrong, I despise UKIP, and I’m glad they’re going to be irrelevant during the next political phase. But that’s not the point. Democracy should reflect what the people of the state want.
On another note, David Cameron will be in power for another 5 years (or until Boris Johnson takes over!), which is depressing, especially considering that this time he may not even be tempered by the Liberal Democrats. Expect grey skies and empty bellies for the foreseeable future while his Dave’s upper class friends sip champagne and hunt foxes.
Anyway, mustn’t grumble too much. Things could be a lot worse. Think about (or, even better, donate to) those poor people suffering in Nepal. I’ll leave you with this Billy Bragg song that sums up my mood perfectly right about now.
Our current voting system is flawed and outdated.
On Thursday, when we go to the polling booths, we may find ourselves in a position where we feel we have to vote for a party we don’t support in order to prevent a party we oppose from getting into power. This isn’t how democracy is supposed to work – we should be able to vote with our hearts, without having to play games.
The “first past the post” suits our two major parties to the ground, and helps them maintain their stranglehold on politics. We should have adopted “proportional representation” long ago in order to give people more choice about how their land is run. However, the switch wasn’t made. Now the British public are forcing the issue. The Labour and Conservative Parties are no long able to gain a majority government, and the people are giving power to smaller parties (in the sense that they are giving them enough seats to be able to form coalitions with one of the two major parties).
But this shouldn’t be something we have to think about. Yes, we can vote tactically, in an attempt to get the result we want, but, at the end of the day, we don’t know what the parties are going to don when it comes to making deals and/or forming coalitions. I know many people who voted Lib Dem last time in an attempt to keep the Tories out of power – that didn’t turn out too well for them, did it? Our current voting system is ridiculous in this sort of situation because we have no way of knowing who we’re voting for! We might as well do an “eenie-meenie-miney-mo” and put our X next to anything.
Many of you will be in constituencies where one party dominates every time there’s a vote. You might decide not to vote at all – after all, what’s the point when Joe Bloggs always wins by a mile? If the voting system changed to proportional representation you would be more motivated to get up and vote, because you would know that it wasn’t a waste of time. Even if you’re party only gets 10% of the votes, and no majority in any one constituency, you can rest assured that they will get their just desserts overall, and gain political power on your behalf.
If we adopt proportional representation we will be able to vote with our hearts. Let’s get rid of this outdated “first past the post” system!