Thursday, 29 December 2011
Where to start for a personal and political review of the lowlights of the past 12 months? Well, we can judge organisations and people by the targets they set themselves. So let’s kick off with a look at Coalition government pledges ‘kept’, ‘in progress’ and ‘not kept’ (with thanks to The Guardian).
Yes, there are quite a number of pledges in the ‘kept’ column, but many of these are easy-peasy crowd-pleasers. So, achieving ‘banking freedoms’ will win City support, ‘review of workplace laws’ will help businesses sack without scrutiny, adopting the National Minimum Wage was frankly a no-brainer, and planting trees is franky ironic given the failed attempt to sell off the nation’s forests. ‘Simplifying the benefit system’ is beyond a joke as we already know this is going to be an utter disaster and end up costing more, financially and socially. ‘Stopping unfair competition with local authority newspapers’ just hasn’t happened as two have closed in the past year, likewise claiming success on the pledge that anyone paid more that the PM is having their salary signed off by the Treasury, nor scrutiny over fatcats earning 20x more than their lowest earning employee, given the sickening amounts paid to our own double- and treble-jobbing politicians.
Pledges ‘in progress’ include just about anything to do with equality – no surprises there – action on lobbyists, third world debt, cutting parliamentary perks, improving access to dentistry and dementia research among others issues it is clear they would prefer to bury in bureaucracy. ‘Not kept’ include all those commitments about green issues and employment, and of course the NHS – all issues the Tories were so overheated about before the election.
‘Coe is as deluded as he is unprincipled. These games are out of control.
Not content with riding roughshod over local people and turfing them out of their homes, he then proceeds to hire one of the world's most pernicious companies - Dow chemicals. Makers of Agent Orange, napalm and other horrendous child-burning weaponry, owners of Union Carbide, responsible for perhaps the worst peacetime civilian atrocity at Bhopal, whose people have still not been compensated properly. And what's Coes' response? He doesn't care. Not bothered. Not interested.
And now London is set to look like a militarised war-zone, with more troops than Afghanistan, drones circling overhead, thousands of armed-to-the-teeth CIA and other Secret Service operatives and enough weapons to launch a small war. This is about Games, is it? This is about brotherhood and coming together in a spirit of friendship? I scarcely think so. This is about Coe's ego, his games-at-any-cost. I need hardly add that all the promises of local people getting tickets and being first in line were all a hollow sham. They haven't had any, and they're complaining. The lies, the anti-democracy, the grotesque waste of public money, the disdain for human rights and human values, the war posturing - it all adds up to one miserable, sick, corrupt and venal fiasco.‘
Sad to say I am also quite unexcited by the prospect of the Olympics.
Meanwhile, looking at ‘local opportunities’ in Kensington and Chelsea, our own politicians must be laughing at us, taking credit for making ‘efficiency’ cuts while pouring more and more of OUR hard-earned cash into their own pockets. Thus our part-time MP Malcolm Rifkind supplements his MP’s allowance thus:
MPs salary plus extra as chair of select cttee - £80,000
Then there are his directorships-
AAM (10 meetings a year) 56,000
EE CFG (6 meetings a year) 45,000
AdamSmith Inst 35,000
Unilever (8 meetings a year) 32,000
LLP (4 days a year) 25,000
If this is correct (gleaned from ‘Theyworkforus’ website) Rifkind is creaming in over £331,650/year, DOUBLE the PM’s salary (and we’re not counting allowances, expenses and second homes). No wonder his attendance at parliament is barely over 50% and ‘well below average’.
Passing by our senior officers for today, let’s look at our senior Tory Councillors – whose income comes from various sources. A Councillor’s allowance is NOT supposed to be a salary but to cover any loss of earnings plus expenses, though of course many hard-pressed back-bench Councillors rely upon it as a major part of their income. Cockell of course took the ‘local opportunity’ in 2007 to convince his fellow Councillors that being Leader of the Royal Borough was a full-time job so he should be recompensed commensurately. So currently our ‘Leader’ is supported by the public purse thus:
Leader’s full-time allowance £65,000
Chair of LGA (3 days/week) 52,000
This bring a hefty £117,000 without all the fringe benefits of luxury travel and feasting. We now face the prospect, if rumours are true, of adding a peerage into the mix which, if he attends regularly, could net an additional £42,000 TAX-FREE. This could also bring the Leader’s income to £159,000, well over that of the PM for three ‘full-time or almost full-time’ jobs, which brings the issue of ‘local opportunities’ into very sharp perspective, though it must be said that Rifkind’s nose-in-trough prowess cannot be beaten.
All this opportunism and self-servatism, of course, bodes very ill as we enter a long period of economic stagnation and belt-tightening. It also threatens to bring all public servants into disrepute, which makes life very difficult for those of us with more ambitions for others than for ourselves.
Monday, 12 December 2011
In the same week that Cameraman omitted the courtesy of telling (let alone discussing) his Euro summit plan with his Deputy PM, K&C Tory Councillors were also forgetting their manners, with one senior Tory publicly calling an esteemed Labour counterpart a ‘f***ing c***’.
Aha! Pressure’s rising then.
Our Council, like the current Government, is run by Eton Rude Boyz or wannabe Eton Rude Boyz. They have been born to rule and dominate. They will charm and seduce and speechify, but their real character soon emerges if things don’t go their way (see previous blog about Alexander de Pfeffel). Many of them simply aren’t very bright so cover this up by repeating the same old twaddle that an officer has written out for them in big writing, and if that doesn’t work they descend to sneering and hurling insults.
Our Kensington Rude Boyz are, it is clear, in disarray. We know some of the reason for this, and can guess at the rest. It will come out or be leaked to us eventually, that’s for sure.
Meanwhile our Labour Opposition is stronger and more purposeful every day. Given that we may have a General Election sooner rather than later, we are in a very positive place and up for the fight – locally as well as nationally.
Indeed, a recent poll on local election voting intentions on another local website, From the Hornet's Nest, put the Labour party at 59% of the vote, with the Tories at a miserable 15%. Says it all really!
Friday, 2 December 2011
Luckily I was well aware of his infamous charm, and simply found the episode funny. I also knew there is a far more sinister side to this promiscuous attention. It is a means of control and domination far more subtle, but ultimately just as offensive, as the violent moods he was also prone to.
In a similar manner Mayor Johnson has been bred and trained to please. From his carefully ruffled mop and boyish smile, his ‘cheeky’ off-colour comments, his renaming as ‘Boris’ (real name Alex de Pfeffel), to his deadly magnetism with women, he is designed to undermine resistance, and entrap.
Despite this carefully positioned façade, Johnson has an Achilles’ heel; he is desperate for your approval. Cross him or disagree with him at your peril; he is a fearsome enemy. He aims to run the country and will charm and wheedle and bully his way through if we let him.
So, beware of any man who is so obsessed with his hair - Berlusconi and Cameron with their dyed coiffes prove the point.
Contrast this object lesson of vanity and ambition with Ken Livingstone, a man unafraid to make unpopular decisions if he thinks they are right. Our Portobello and Golborne stallholders and traders were dead against the WEZ and so were we Councillors on their behalf. Now it’s gone and the pollution is literally deadly. No easy answers there.
As for Alex de Pfeffel, a charm offensive is still offensive. So next time someone says ‘he’s such a character!’, you can answer, ‘Well, so is Freddie Kruger’.
Friday, 18 November 2011
Council policy, from every angle, seems to be moving relentlessly towards the effective forced migration of anybody who may be, long or short term, on Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, Disability Benefit, even Pension Credit. Unemployment is rising in the borough, the worst affected being 18 to 24yr olds who should be looking forward to a rewarding lifetime of work, and those 50+ who may never ever get another job. Even our Council tenants, victims of a vicious rent rise – the highest in the country, likely to be followed by another equally vicious next year – are struggling, with rent arrears up by £.25m in one month. Among those worse affected are the third of Council tenants who are low income workers, dependent on low rents for basic survival while their pay is frozen and the cost of living rockets.
And when faced with ‘difficult’ facts and ‘unfortunate’ case studies, a crocodile tear may be squeezed out to trickle down a hardset cheek.
This week alone has seen the approval of a plan that will shortly see some 2,600+ households currently in private rented homes thrown out of the borough with a ‘golden handshake’ of two months’ rent deposit that some call the ‘FOF’ policy (f**k off forever) as they will have to sever all ties and rights to return if they accept it. This means that, following a well-resourced Census on which our government grants are based, we could lose cc6,000 residents within 18 months. And that’s just for starters.
www.sociallyconsciouscapital.co.uk. Read it and weep. Essentially, we must all live like country gents if we are to reach nirvana. Likewise in Prince Charles’ toytown Poundbury residents shop in a Waitrose (pictured above) in the style of a neoclassical authoritarian regime public building.
It’s obvious. The road to equality is make everyone a Prince, living in a palace. Bags I not be the servant.
Sunday, 30 October 2011
There has been much discussion over the past months about BOUNDARIES. The August riots dragged unwilling politicians back from holiday to spout hastily-rehearsed platitudes and sophistries: ‘These young people must understand boundaries’. In Tory-land however, boundaries of behaviour mean it’s fine for the Prime Mincer, an inherited millionaire married to an inherited millionairess, to charge the taxpayer £800 to have his wisteria pruned, but picking up an abandoned pair of shorts from an already comprehensively looted shop condemns you to imprisonment and your children taken into care.
I called it ‘Mass Wisteria’ and the phrase entered a modern lexicon.
Trouble is, young men sucked into gang culture (and in the actual world there were very few involved in the disturbances) understand boundaries all too well. Gang culture is all about boundaries; behaviour is defined by loyalty to your cohort and your postcode.
Liam Fox was said to have ‘blurred the boundaries between work and friendship’. No. The former Minister of Defence did NOT blur boundaries. He crashed through them with a large track-laying vehicle and deliberately hid the evidence. He cowered behind the respectable doctor he married (whose life he has ruined) as he led a taxpayer-funded James Bond high life with his best buddy; two fantasists who decided their own boundaries and justified them as they pleased.
We have noted the irony of being governed by Cameraman who said in 2007 ‘Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations’ – then refused point blank to uphold his promise, who said one month we must ‘stop the bloodshed’, then crowed that the ‘job has been done’ as Libyans dragged the bloodied corpse of their oppressor through the streets.
Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser – who has a deep and unfailing faith – resigned his post at St Paul’s because of the church’s inability to stand up for Christian values in a protest within their own boundaries; here at last was someone who understands boundaries, and would act on them. Thus far and no further. He did not wish to be a part of ‘Dale Farm on the steps of St Paul’s’. And doing this, he has provoked national debate about the meaning of Christian values.
Meanwhile, news from Planet Silver Spoon,
"You(re policy is to) make the richer work harder by making them richer and the poor work harder by making them poorer".
So, Michael D Higgins is to be President of Ireland after a landslide win. His manifesto? ‘More space for thought’. Think on that.
Sunday, 9 October 2011
Saturday, 1 October 2011
As we face the prospect of five days of the Prime Mincer’s smug face in various well-rehearsed poses, we need to address one of the great mysteries of our time.
Why does Cameraman have two noses?
Does he have a jar on his dressing table, Michael Jackson-like, and select one appropriate to his mood? People, please, can we resolve this once and for all this week? Which is his real nose - the aquiline one, or the rather more homely, port-swelled version?
And let us remember these portentous words as he used the royal ‘we’:
"There are deep problems in our society that have been growing for a long time: a decline in responsibility, a rise in selfishness, a growing sense that individual rights come before anything else."
So why, we need to know, does he allow Gideon to show his disdain for his electorate by openly flicking bogeys at public events?
See no evil? KHT blocked the peepholes to the ‘construction site’, or rather, the crime scene where families were threatened with eviction then 48 perfectly good family homes were demolished and half our park ripped up, then left to fester for a year.
This has been done to prevent us from seeing the horrible truth that, despite the ‘Here&Now’ website http://yourhereandnow.co.uk/ joyfully proclaiming that 'Work is now well under way on site and we aim to provide as much information as possible on the development process to ensure you experience as little disruption to your life as possible’ - the only activity behind the hoardings is tumbleweed joylessly tumbling back and forth.
The same website, designed and managed by interestingly-named Philosophy (which has no internet presence, strange to say) has an allegedly ‘out of date’ plan for the route for construction vehicles which has driven near neighbours to state unequivocally that they will lie in the road rather than permit heavy lorries to thunder along narrow streets all day from 7am for 12 years.
So, on one website, one tale ‘somewhat previous’ and another ‘somewhat dated’. None of which bodes well for the ‘open, honest and upfront’ consultation promised by KHT five years ago. Here is the nasty truth behind the hoardings, let’s see how Philosophy try to spin KHT out of this one:
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Sadly people do not always meet the expectations of public office. But what is more significant is how those in positions of responsibility behave, react and deal with the situation once an alleged breach is reported.
We have such a situation in Norland Ward, where a Councillor resigned his role the day before going to Court to be accused of very serious crimes. His guilt or otherwise is not the issue here; that is for the Courts to decide.
However, what is in question is how the allegations were reported and to whom, how the situation was dealt with by those with a mandate to deal with such issues on our behalf, and whether correct procedures were followed. These questions have not been answered satisfactorily.
In everyday life we have our own personal barometer of what is proper and correct that helps us deal with new and problematic situations. The difficulty arises when an unforeseen situation arises and there is no pattern of behaviour laid down for you.
Within the Council we are fortunate to have a set of written rules to follow, which have been democratically agreed. We must abide by these rules or suffer the consequences.
Wednesday, 31 August 2011
You see, he’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy.
Nb K&C Council, stop throwing (our) good money after bad on expensive consultants. Game over.
So – guess what? They blocked up the peephole in the hoarding.
Saturday, 13 August 2011
A lot of trite and self-righteous nonsense and lazy sophistry has emerged over the past week (see previous blog). First we had ‘sun-lounger’ expressions of confidence in the police, followed by quite shocking vilification of our depleted and exhausted forces in parliament as politicians played the blame game.
We have heard politicians, community leaders and media commentators discussing the ‘culture of entitlement’ that allegedly has made a generation believe their mere existence entitles them to free money in the form of benefits, flatscreen tvs and Nike Air trainers.
Why? Well, because you can.
When the Queen evades her taxes then tries to claim winter fuel allowance for Buckingham Palace (this happened people), and you count the number of her useless children who do eff all but live on the public purse (let’s count Prince Charles’ massive tax evasion while he postures with various charities), not to mention the work-shy scroungers living in Kensington Palace, yes, there is a culture of entitlement, no less distasteful at the ‘top’ than at the ‘bottom’ of society.
Of course there is a world of difference between claiming for something you are entitled to but don’t really need, and picking trainers out of a window someone else has smashed; one is ‘merely’ opportunistic, the other is a criminal act. But the perfectly legitimate claim by a large family for Housing Benefit on a house in Kensington last year was treated with shock and disgust by the media, and the family vilified. How much worse is this than the £6k/month mortgage the public purse is paying to keep the PM’s North Kensington home empty? He has Downing Street, he has Chequers, he has his grand Witney house, he has his £145k/year pocket money, why are we paying for a fourth home?
Perhaps we need a new term for this; perhaps we can call it –
My next blog will focus on the genuinely selfless and positive actions by countless ordinary citizens, who will give their time and energy, and even put themselves in danger if necessary, to protect their neighbours and neighbourhoods and everything they hold dear.
In the meantime, the PM is under pressure. Tick-tock.
Monday, 8 August 2011
The government’s response to world economic crisis and riots in Tottenham has been, more or less, resounding silence. Cameron has made the ‘difficult decision in difficult times’ to have less Restylane in his forehead so he can pose with a more convincing concern, but is more worried about whether the ‘scouts camping in his garden’ story (which was allegedly for charity, but how much did the security cost?) was big enough to drown out the ‘non-tipping of waitress’ story.
Osborne was sufficiently stirred from his sun lounger in Hollywood to make the ‘tough but fair’ decision to order a flunky to answer the constantly ringing phone.
But don’t worry, everything’s fine. William Hague (who evidently is Acting Deputy PM) can drawl on about virtually anything he knows nothing about, as evidenced every morning on Radio 4 news. Hague says the violence in Tottenham is ‘unacceptable’ - tough words for tough times.
So, once again we are faced with unprecedented levels of ignorance and stupidity in response to mind-blowingly serious situations. We have a government led by a Cabinet of little men in big jobs, existing in a mutual admiration bubble which is contributing to the downward spiral of the economic and social meltdown they have created.
Which brings us very neatly to parallels in the stupidity/power index in K&C which I am constantly searching to unpick and understand.
A current holiday read discusses conceptual engineering which offers some insight. Some of us are wired very differently than others. Some people will believe that if b) succeeds a), then a) is the cause and b) the effect; this is simplistic. Fatalists believe everything is determined, human life is organised in hierarchies, those with higher status benefit, those lower down get what they deserve (which is less). They believe everyone is selfish and are out for themselves, in competition with others – homo economicus - and worse still, there is nothing we can do, that’s just the way it is.
This standpoint is based on a philosophical mistake and a physiological misunderstanding. Intelligent thought sets us above pure animal instincts and dog-eats-dog competition. Human nature is ‘by nature’ cooperative; the message is false.
So those of us who, however imperfect, are willing to go forward with ideals, with the insecurity of indeterminism, with optimism that human nature is essentially good and will, or at least may prevail, have the advantage. We may be disappointed, but we go forward with such hope and (on good days), enthusiasm, that people including ourselves are more inclined to live up to, not down to, our expectations.
So, next time I hear unspeakably ignorant judgments from those whose expensive education has ill-equipped them for a normal life, I will respond, very serenely, ‘Those are your beliefs based on your experience, which is very different to mine’.
Though the words might come out a bit different.
Monday, 18 July 2011
Strange stories are emanating from Wornington Green about how and why the construction company has left the site. Some sources who were ‘helpful’ two weeks ago have now clamped shut. Others who were previously silent are opening up. Nb, I moderate all comments so you can send confidential information if you wish ‘not for publication’, there is no way of tracing emails.
We’ve had the official statement which is as transparent as brick; in the absence of fact, rumours and questions abound:
- Just how much is it going to cost to find a new contractor, and who will foot the bill for this cock-up not of the residents making?
- Will the result of the consultants' findings help bring in the construction crew who are allegedly personal friends of one of the decision-makers?
- What is the real story behind the contractors leaving? No one believes the official version, instead there are at least three other versions and all far more convincing.
- How did the new ITAs get chosen without any input whatever from ‘representative’ tenant representatives?
- Why is an alleged non-tenant representing tenants?
- Given that the heavily-consulted-upon Residents’ Charter has shamefully STILL not been agreed, will this now be quietly shelved?
- Whatever happened to those unlikely Pledges?
- and so the list goes on …
Meanwhile, as residents are waking up to the fact that they aren’t going to be rehoused any time soon, some who were promised, nay guaranteed, homes to meet their needs are getting desperate and angry. One has just found out that the home they were promised in the first phase doesn’t even exist and never did, so someone has been telling porkies/was badly informed.
This isn’t just a nuisance, as some KHT/Catalyst officers seem to think. If you are forced to pack your children like sardines on the floor to sleep, there will be repercussions on their health and well-being. We are watching and we will not stand by and let incompetence threaten the life and health prospects of our residents.
Elsewhere in another arena of incompetence, lies, spin and self-interest, the Prime Mincer is looking and feeling ever more vulnerable. You can tell because he always darkens his hair to Elvis Black when he wants to appear more manly and determined. Sorry Cameraman, you can swish your sword and curl your moustache as much as you want, the crocodile has had a taste of you and is on his way back for the rest. Tick-tock. Whatever have the press got on you? Well, we know some of it and that’s bad enough.
If the Prime Mincer is Captain Hook, Murdoch is the crocodile, Clegg perhaps Smee? Ed Mili of course is Peter Pan, at the end of the story when he regains his powers.
At least let’s hope so.
Monday, 11 July 2011
A picture-led story for you this week, you can join the dots yourself. Given the very low esteem the Prime Mincer's colleagues hold him in, what will be happening over the next couple of weeks is entirely predictable. He is not bright, he is not astute, he is not intelligent, for all these reasons and more he is regarded as easy prey for those who surround him with unmitigated approval and boost his self-love. He is a weak man, easy prey for vultures in politics, PR and the press. So, do not listen to his carefully chosen and indecisive words, heed Euripides, note who his friends are.
But watch it Dave, you are utterly expendable, as you may find out if you keep selling out those closest to you.