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!
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.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a scientific, airtight, 100% reliable way to calculate your social class, and it will take less than a minute of your time. BEHOLD: The Great British Class Calculator:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22000973 (BBC Website)
OK, maybe it isn’t as infallible as I made out. But it’s fun, and the BBC say that they worked with sociologists from leading universities to come up with it (oooooh). Feel free to reply to this blog with the result the test gave you, and whether or not you think it’s a correct assessment.
Emergent service workers
This class group is financially insecure, scoring low for savings and house value, but high for social and cultural factors. According to the Great British Class Survey results, lots of people in this group:
- Are young
- Enjoy a cultured social life
- Rent their home – almost 90%
Mind the Gap documents my thoughts on class inequality in the UK. There are aspects of British society that I find frustrating. The wealth, power and life opportunities that the upper crust inherit is inexcusable.
However, I don’t see this as an ‘us versus them’ issue. Being born into a working class or privileged family is no more a choice than being born black or white. It would be wrong of me to attack a whole class of people for the situation they randomly find themselves in. This isn’t about two sets of people warring with one another. It’s about two philosophies, ideologies, going head to head.
Tony Benn was one of my heroes. He sadly passed away last year. He was born into a privileged, political family. He attended Westminster School and later studied at Oxford. He had a career in the army before becoming an MP. When his father died he inherited a peerage (a peerage is a title, such as ‘Duke’, ‘Earl’, or, in this case, ‘Viscount’), which prevented him from continuing as an MP. Benn campaigned for the right to renounce this title in order to continue in his political role, and was successful.
He was a great man, and always followed his heart in politics, even when it was detrimental to his career. He spoke out about the media and bankers about 35 years before our recent troubles. He was solidly against the fruitless Afghanistan and Iraq wars. His left-wing politics were aimed at equality and providing a better life for the cheated underclass.
Tony Benn was born into privilege, but that didn’t define him. His ideology and actions showed his worth as a human being. This isn’t ‘us versus them’. If you are born into privilege that doesn’t mean you can’t do the right thing. In fact, in order to eradicate our current social issues we need strong advocates on both sides of the fence.
We are all one. All people should be born with an equal chance to thrive. Nobody should fall straight from the womb into the scrapheap.
I’m a Glastonbury Festival man. Since 2008 I have worked voluntarily on the Glastonbury Recycling Crew. Tony Benn attended Glastonbury often, and I heard some inspiring speeches from him. He always used to say that it gave him a boost to see so many politically active young people debating and campaigning. Here are some great quotes from the late Tony Benn:
“Making mistakes is part of life. The only things I would feel ashamed of would be if I had said things I hadn’t believed in order to get on. Some politicians do do that.”
“A faith is something you die for, a doctrine is something you kill for. There is all the difference in the world.”
“All war represents a failure of diplomacy.”
“It’s the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you’re mad, then dangerous, then there’s a pause and then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you.”
“Normally, people give up parliament because they want to do more business or spend more time with family. My wife said ‘why don’t you say you’re giving up to devote more time to politics?’. And it is what I have done.”
“I think if you’re going to be committed to doing anything, you really have to care about it, and I suppose that is a romantic idea.”
MP Chris Bryant stated that it is easier for a person from a privileged background to succeed in the arts, specifically naming actor, Eddie Redmayne, and musician, James Blunt. James Blunt responded via an open letter, very maturely calling the MP a “classist gimp” and a “wazzock” before moaning about how hard he has had it, and that it was just as difficult for him to succeed in the arts.
James Blunt was born in an affluent area of the country. His father was a colonel in the army. He went to the best schools (Harrow) and his education was paid for with army bursaries. After education he went into the army and trained at Sandhurst, and was fast-tracked into high ranking positions. While in the army, he didn’t deal with the hand-to-hand combat and getting shot at kind of thing so much as captaining his army ski team. To be Blunt isn’t such a bad thing, as far as I can see, thanks to Colonel Daddy. During this privileged start he was able to listen to, learn, and compose music. He was also able to make contacts with powerful people and earn a lot of money. James Blunt is the definition of a “Chosen One”.
On the flipside, a person brought up in a terraced house, who starts with nothing, who goes to work in a factory at 16, who worries mainly about housing and feeding oneself, may not even think to pick up an instrument or a paint brush. Art is a luxury that people can turn to once the essentials are covered.
But James Blunt says that his privileged background was a disadvantage in the world of the arts. Believe it or not, I agree with him.
Working class people are the most diverse, interesting, gritty, thoughtful people on the planet. They are exposed to harsh lifestyles. They experience hardships and horrors daily. They work the hardest jobs for the crappest pay, and at the end of the week they go home to their families with a smile on their face. This is where real art originates.
Anything the James Blunts of the world can come up with will pale in comparison. James Blunt may be able to walk into opportunities because of his social class, and he may be rich beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. But he will never write a song with the heart, pain, and emotion that the likes of Bruce Springsteen has written. He will never compose a melody that will rival anything by the Beatles. His voice will never convey emotion like Morrissey. He will never mesmerise a crowd like Tom Waits. He will never put his soul into an instrument like BB King or Jimi Hendrix.
So yes, I believe Blunt’s true artistic ability is diminished by his privileged life. But make no mistake, to be Blunt isn’t a bad thing, and I’m not going to shed a tear for him.
Today is Democracy Day on the BBC – an event that marks the 750th anniversary of parliament and the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta (which established that the King was no longer above the law of the land).
The sealing of the Magna Carta transferred some of the King’s powers over to the nobles, and democracy as we know it in the UK stemmed from there. However, it hasn’t evolved quite as much as it could have done. Maybe that’s because parliament is used as a tool for individuals to gain and maintain power as opposed to being a force for good and equal opportunities across the country.
All those years ago, it was the nobles who were given the power. Fast forward to today, and it’s our modern day nobles that have all the power.
Of course, most UK residents are allowed to vote in elections now, as opposed to the privileged few. But we weren’t handed that opportunity on a silver platter. The people of the UK had to fight for their rights every step of the way. 750 years of parliament, and women were only given the vote in the 20s (by that I mean the nineteen twenties). Does that sound as crazy to you as it does to me? It wasn’t until the late 1960s that 18, 19 & 20 year olds were given the vote.
When people gain power they use that power to keep it. All the positive changes to democracy have come through relentless dogfighting, and further rights are given to the masses only sparingly and reluctantly as a way to try to appease people. This process has been continuously plodding on for 750 years, and we are still far from having a fair democracy in the UK.
The Chosen Ones still have a death grip on our society. Power is still hereditary. The underclass don’t have an official sway on policy (our only unofficial sway we have on policy and law is striking and protesting – a concept that is slowly dying thanks to legislation brought in by people in power that reduces the power of unions).
One could argue that the UK isn’t really democratic at all. A component of our parliament is the House of Lords, the second largest decision-making body after China’s National People’s Congress. It consists of nearly 800 unelected officials. And we supposedly live in a democratic country. It’s embarrassing!
What do we actually vote for, anyway? We have the choice of a few select careerists, and that’s our say over with. After that, it’s over to them to make all of the decisions (which is democracy for them, but not for us). What if, for example, you vote for Nick Clegg based on his shameful lies and then he gets elected into office? You’re stuck with him making decisions for you for the next five years just because of one day of public voting.
Of course, now and again a referendum comes along (see Scottish Independence), where the public get a chance to vote on one political question. However, this only occurs when either A) the government is pretty confident they’re going to get the outcome they want or B) they want to wash their hands of the decision and blame the outcome on the public.
Here’s an idea, why don’t we get rid of parliament and make ALL of the decisions ourselves? In this day and age most people have a computer, a smart phone, a tablet. I wouldn’t mind getting messages sent through to me a couple of times a week asking me how I want my country to be run. We could use the money we’d save on politicians’ wages to provide a tablet to all the people too poor to buy one for themselves, and invest in a broadband network to improve communication channels.
This would be true democracy, free of power-grabbing careerists. Do you think we could make this happen? No. Because the power-grabbing careerists in power wouldn’t allow it.
Happy Democracy Day, everyone!