Saturday, October 17, 2009

Who pays for this nonsense...

A satirical take on events...

Saturday saw a thinly attended march (forty people tops) by an organisation called ‘United against Fascism’ in Southampton that apparently is propped up by the Southampton Trades Union Congress while an even more sparsely attended counter protest (a maximum of maybe 20 people) was staged by the even more off the wall ‘English Defence League’ whoever they might be. Apparently the catalyst for this stirring up of apathy is the decision of the BBC to invite swivel eyed nutter Nick Griffin to be a guest on this week's Question Time..
Doubtless as these demonstrations continue up and down the country their organisers will cry it is their democratic right to practise free speech and so it is.
That said, the forgotten issue of free speech is that someone has to pick up the tab of policing such pointless events and in the case of Saturday’s march it will be the hard pressed taxpayer.
As none of the marchers were in anything like the political mainstream, I wonder if it would be unreasonable for both the protesters and the counter- protesters to contribute towards the cost of their protection? After all organisers of shows and football matches have to pick up the tab for part of the cost of policing such public events.
Despite Labour’s disastrous asylum and immigration policies that have led to a loss of control of our borders, people trafficking and human misery on an almost unimaginable scale for those involved, race relations remain generally good in this city. Assorted zealots shouting at each other from opposite sides of the street (in every sense) hardly adds to the debate while residents have to pick up the cost of the participant’s self-indulgent protests.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Full employment

Bad times

As this 1909 poster shows, the Conservatives have long campaigned for full employment and it is no surprise that it should be part of the theme for this year's Conservative Party conference- people are feeling pretty bruised out there, unemployment is rising, huge numbers of people languish seemingly unwanted and uncared for by Labour on incapacity benefit and the social consequences are horrific but we have been there before...
In the early 1980s, as unemployment rose above two million and headed inexorably for three million, the growing army of the unemployed workless was the most toxic political issue of the day and was used by Labour to point to the alleged heartlessness of the Tory government led by Margaret Thatcher. Sounds just like today really and strangely enough the Labour stratergy is the same too as the political narrative appears once more to be about blaming the Tories. Funnily enough, I doubt it will work. The line that Labour is pedaling that it is uniquely the only party offering the training and development for individuals who find themselves unemployed is a fiction that is as implausible as Bron's surreal 'Tory Cuts vs Labour investment' proposition a few months ago.
Another fiction is the myth that that the Conservatives in the mid-1980s simply did nothing to help the unemployed yet it is used by Labour ministers routinely and blindingly accepted in some sections of the media.
Actually Sir David Young, who was then brought into the Cabinet with a peerage as employment secretary revolutionised the UK's training and skills agenda. Lady Thatcher later said that his schemes for getting the unemployed back to work made a major contribution to her 1987 election victory and tellingly that that the Action for Jobs programme was "the single most effective economic programme we launched in my time in government".
Later, the much derided Youth Training Scheme, established in the depths of a recession, was dealing with 400,000 school-leavers at a time, offering training and work experience with business and (after a fashion and huge initial obstruction) unions working together. I know more than one businessman here in Southampton that cut his teeth on the YTS scheme who went on to be incredibly successful.
David Cameron, then, is on familiar Tory territory in opening his party's conference in Manchester with a focus on how to tackle an unemployment crisis every bit as bad as that of two decades ago but which today's Labour government seems singularly ill-equipped to tackle. It does not even have an employment department any more, but rather a Work and Pensions ministry no longer dedicated to job creation.
If Cameron can win the voters confidence on this issue, he will go quite some way in looking like a Prime Minister in waiting, surely the key goal of this conference week?

Spurned by the yellow peril!

Compulsive radio listening HERE!

A balanced portfolio...

a one club golfer as Ted Heath used to say...
I have always had a lot of time for Greg Clark MP. He is a passionate environmentalist but pragmatic too and has a reputation for being a hardworking MP.
For my money, his analysis of the situation the Conservative Party finds itself in as reported on the Conservative Home website today is spot on too;

“Most of you here will be familiar with the brilliant Conservative Home website. Its front page features a series of shields, each of which represents an important area of public policy. In the early days of the site, Tim Montgomerie commissioned a piece of artwork [above], designed to illustrate the fact that we had, as a party, abandoned many of these areas to the Left. [As you can see] the artist shows this in the form of shields missing from a wall, keys missing from a typewriter, and a window that only lets in a crack of light. In the last four years this picture has been transformed. There are no no-go areas for the Conservative Party. On social justice, the environment, international development and public services we have something important to say. By addressing the concerns of the whole nation, we’ve become the most trusted party on issues like health and education: a fact that doesn’t dilute, but rather
enhances, our message on issues like crime and immigration.”

I think with the benefit of hindsight, future historians and political academics will marvel at why Hague & Howard fought general elections around 'core issues' to get the 'core vote' out. The trouble is, there are not enough 'core voters' for the Conservative Party to win; it is a truism that elections are fought and won on a range of issues, a fact Margaret Thatcher understood well and many of her most fervent admirers did not!!!
The fact is in politics, like investments, you need a balanced portfolio.

If it seems to be to good to be true, then it usually is!

local stars

An unpleasant reality though it is, Con artists are coming up with ever-more clever ways to scam people out of their hard earned cash and every year local authority trading standards officers are coming up against new scams. Getting through to residents about the steps they need to take to avoid becoming a victim of scammers can be difficult but we have decided to try and reach vulnerable groups and particularly the elderly by rather unorthodox measures, namely – by dancing, singing and acting our way to success!
The council’s trading standards officers have teamed up with a local theatrical group, to stage two free musicals on Wednesday to make residents aware of the tactics and tricks used by con artists. As Clive Robinson, Trading Standards team leader, says it is essential that we get our messages out into the community, especially to our more vulnerable residents. In the past we have found this to be an effective, if somewhat unusual way of doing it.
Scammers will use any tactic they can to get hold of your money so we need to be ready to do everything we can to warn residents of their tricks.
The musical, entitled “To Good To Be True”, by Solomon Theatre Group, will focus on a group of retired friends who have been targeted by con artists. It will feature some of the top scams to hit Southampton, including rogue share sellers and aggressive door stop sellers.
Trading standards officers will introduce the plays, sing along to the music and will then be on hand at the end of the shows to answer questions and offer handy advice. These con artists prey on the most vulnerable members of society and I commend our trading standards team for thinking out side of the box to get their message out. The title of the musical is apt. If it seems to good to be true, then it usually is.
The first performance of “To Good To Be True” will take place at Methodist Church in Burgess Road, Southampton on Wed 7th October from 10am. The second will take place at the Holy Family Church Hall, Redbridge Hill from 2.15pm.