Can we go back to when records began?

The Biggest Fall in Living Standards since Records Began.”

What a cheerful thought to wake up to. The fall in living standards didn’t surprise me. I was honestly more curious as to when records began. Turns out it was 1956. For context, the war that ravaged Europe and killed 15-20 million people had ended 11 years previous. Rationing in the UK ended in 1955. At that point, they were no longer in a state of emergency, but they weren’t in a boom either. They were rebuilding.

Ironically, were are experiencing rationing these days. Not the official, Government Issued Ration booklet program. Just supermarkets saying “Oi, two per customer, you greedy little so-and-so.” Eggs are rationed due to avian flu, various vegetables are limited purchase as lack of farm workers in the UK (thanks to Brexit) and devastating weather conditions in Europe (thanks to Climate Change).

Of course, the Government has nothing to do with these rules, as they don’t care who has access to fresh food, as long as their free House of Commons restaurants are fully stocked. The Supermarkets themselves are imposing them, having learned their lesson from the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020. (That one still confuses me. Covid wasn’t even ‘That Type’ of illness.)

There was also a housing crisis in the 1950, as so many homes were destroyed in the Blitz. The current housing crisis is entirely different. Enough Housing exists, but no one can afford it. In the rental market, properties are so scarce that people will pay a years rent in advance just to secure it. As for buying a property… The rising cost of living means people can’t put aside money for a deposit. People who had been saving are now using that money to keep up with the bills: Gas, Electricity, Food etc.

The most galling aspect of the housing crisis are the number of properties owned by foreign millionaires and billionaires that sit empty 90% of the time. They were, at best, purchased as a London crash pad for the trust fund baby. More often, they were purchased with cash as a form of money laundering. St George Wharf Tower is 50 floors, 214 flats, all purchased, mostly by foreign nationals and off-shore shell corporations. Only 10% permanent occupancy. It’s called a Ghost Tower, and there are many, more like it. In a city where 1 in 58 people are homeless.

The more complete headlines say that the Tories have overseen the biggest fall in living standards. Saying the Tories have overseen anything implies they were exercising some sort of control. That they were deliberately making life harder for the common people and it wasn’t just general incompetence. It’s probably a mix of both. Austerity was definitely deliberate, making the working class pay for government excesses. Boris Johnson/Liz Truss antics were down to incompetence and indifference.

Jeremy Hunt’s new budget has given a pension tax break to the 1%, no surprise there. He’s retained the current cap on energy bills but has ended the support to low-income households for paying those bills, so no real help there; it’s a net loss to the bill-payer. He has offered 30 hours free child-care per week to all parents of children under 3, in an effort to get more people working. There’s a catch, of course. It won’t come into effect until April of 2024.

Getting people back to work is a good idea, and will improve living standards. The delay, however, may render the whole plane moot. Businesses in the service industries are closing due to lack of staff. By the time people can get the childcare, there may not be jobs for them to go to. People need help NOW, not the hope of help in a year. The Tories have failed to follow through on too many schemes: Levelling Up, BoJo’s ‘High Wage Economy’, £350 million per week to the NHS.

The Tories will offer this carrot immediately before the next General election in the hopes it will get them re-elected. They are hoping people will forget every other way they are worse off. And since this Budget does NOTHING to address the Public Sector wage crisis, there going to be even more people even worse off.

One sliver of comfort in all this; when Grandpa talks about how easy these young people have it now, young people have the statistics to shut him up. Take whatever comfort you can get.

If you enjoyed this rant, please check out my collected works on Amazon. So That Happened by Sheila Power. Available in Digital or Paperback formats. Going Cheap, so give it a chance!

Costly, Inhumane and Ineffective: That’s the Tories.

I have not paid much attention to the Tories current wailing about Illegal Immigration, because I saw it for what it is; A distraction issue meant to draw attention (and headlines) away from how badly they are failing the British Public in every other way (Cost-of-living crisis, healthcare crisis, energy crisis, etc). Immigration is their go-to issue when they want to appear strong and decisive. Immigrants make a convenient scapegoat to blame for the nations ills, and as illegal immigrants can’t vote, they don’t think it will cost them at the polls.

They may need to rethink that.

Because the Tories are being extra deficient on every issue impacting the voting public, they want to appear extra tough on Immigration. Or rather, on small boat immigrants, AKA the most vulnerable people making the most dangerous journey. Illegal Immigrants caught entering or in the UK will be deported, either back to their country of origin or to a “Safe third country.” The primary argument is that refugees cost the government too much money and illegal immigrants are… well… illegal.

There is so much wrong in their thinking that my own head may explode in frustration. First, the finance. Refugees who manage to access government help (in it’s a small percentage), get £37.75 per week. That’s £5 per day. Yeah, they’re living the high life on that. Of course, they wouldn’t even need that pittance if we issued refugee claimants with temporary work visas so they could support themselves while their claims are settled. Given the country is in an employment crisis right now, with agriculture, service and hospitality sectors in desperate need of staff, this would solve several problems. But then the Tories would lose their scapegoat, so that won’t happen.

Of course, illegal immigrants can’t access the government help, because they don’t want to be deported. This leaves them entirely vulnerable to people traffickers; the modern slave trade. The only help the government will give them is relocation from frying pan to fire.

And then there is the ‘Safe Third Country’ bollocks. It makes you think they will be sent to a SAFE county. Someplace with a stable government, stable economy, employment opportunities, infrastructure. The Tory idea of a Safe country? RWANDA, where the government stays in power through surveillance, intimidation and torture to supress political dissent.

I wonder if our Home secretary looks at the Rwandan Government with envy.

It’s all bombast and babble, and doesn’t withstand scrutiny. Immigrants tend to contribute more to the economy than they cost, because god knows they have the motivation to work hard. The plans to keep them out of the country will involve paying France a half Billion pounds. Deportation to Rwanda has, so far, cost £120 million.

These days, people are paying attention to the numbers. The rising cost of living means we are weighing how much everything costs, how every every penny is spent. How much to boil the kettle? (6.8p) How much to run my Fridge? (£8 per week) How much does the Government cost? People are looking at those numbers too.

Suella Braverman, who balks at the £5 per day a Refugee would cost, has expensed £159000 in the last year. That’s £432 per day. Other MPs are expensing their utility bills, using government money to heat their stables. There’s also the £17 million for subsidised meals in the House of Commons. And lets not forget the pay rise MPs are giving themselves while refusing to negotiate pay with the Unions.

From a purely financial standpoint, the Illegal Migrant Bill will almost certainly cost us more than it saves. From a moral perspective, it is kicking the most vulnerable while they’re down. Even Theresa May, who many considered dangerously right wing during her time as Home Secretary, has deemed this bill costly, inhumane and ineffective.

The Tories have failed with healthcare, the economy, infrastructure, brexit, education, cost of living, cost of energy, unemployment. Immigration was their last hope to appear in control. It’s not going to work.

Costly, Inhumane and Ineffective; Sums up the Tories as a whole.

If you enjoyed this rant, Check out my previous work. So That Happened by Sheila Power. Available from Amazon in Digital and paperback.

We don’t talk about Part-Gate… No, No, No

This week, we celebrate International Women’s Day, marking the achievements and contributions of women throughout history, and in the modern world. And our Tory Government has chosen to mark the occasion by… attacking a woman.

Sue Gray has left the Civil Service and joined the Labour Party as Kier Starmer’s chief of staff.

It came as a shock. Sue Gray is was career civil servant. The Civil service IS the government. At least, it is the Framework of government. Prime Ministers change, MPs change, Parties change but the Civil Service remains. Although they are ostensibly apolitical, they are not just an establishment institution, they are The Establishment. They are a naturally conservative institution and their values, for want of a better term, are more aligned with The Conservative Party.

Sue Gray joining the Labour Party has been taken as a middle finger salute to the Government, (as it was probably intended) and it has rocked some Tory MP’s to their very (hypocritical) core.

Sue Gray was appointed by Boris Johnson to investigate the allegations that he broke Covid restrictions by attending parties at Downing street. She conducted a thorough investigation, too thorough for BoJo’s liking. Suddenly, the Met Police announced they would be investigating Party-Gate. Sue Gray’s report, about to be released, was put on hold in case it’s findings were prejudicial to the police investigation.

Sue Gray’s report was published in May, 2022, after the police completed their investigation. Gray’s report was side-lined, intentionally, by the Government in favour of the softball police report, which basically called BoJo and his clowns naughty little scamps who should have known better, and issued a few fines that barely amounted to a slap on the wrist.

Gray’s report was far more scathing; a searing indictment of Johnson’s government. She cited failures of leadership and judgement at the highest levels, poor treatment of security and cleaning staff. “Many will be dismayed that behaviour of this kind took place on this scale at the heart of government. The public have a right to expect the very highest standards of behaviour in such places and clearly what happened fell well short of this.”

Sue Gray did the job she was assigned in a thorough, professional and unbiased manner, which was the opposite of what the government wanted. Is it any wonder she has left the Civil Service? Joining the Labour Party shows that it was not just dissatisfaction with the job that spurred her exit, but distaste for the people running the country.

And the response from Tory MPs shows just how entitled, hypocritical and stupid they are. Any objection they try to raise just backfires on them, as it draws attention to their own misdeeds.

Some objections are related to the Ethical question of whether a Senior member of the Civil Service is allowed to take on a political role. Honestly, any high-ranking Tory even alluding to ‘ethics’ raises many comments about Pots and Kettles and the colours thereof. There’s the growing number of Bullying charges against MPs, such as Priti Patel, Gavin Williamson and Dominic Raab, plus the MPs who defend them, like Jacob Rees-Mogg. Rees-Mogg isn’t an overt Bully, he just like to leave passive aggressive notes for staff who choose to work from home in a pandemic. Or how about MPs like Owen Paterson, who brazenly broke lobbying rules, and the MPs who tried to change the rules to make his action ‘Not against the rules?’ First, if the best thing you can say about an action is that it’s ‘Not against the rules’, it’s something you know you shouldn’t be doing. Second, if you are okay with ‘not against the rules’ as an answer, don’t talk to me about Ethics.

Even Stupider are the MPs claiming that Sue Gray getting a job as Kier Starmer’s Chief of Staff proves that ‘Party-Gate’ was a stitch-up; a Labour conspiracy designed to oust Boris Johnson. There is just soooo much stupid in these statements. First, BoJo appointed Sue Gray, due to her reputation and level of respect within the government. If she was a labour plant, then the beginning of the conspiracy would pre-date Kier Starmer or Boris Johnson being in office. That is an extremely long con. With that level of prescience, they should be playing the lottery.

Second, her investigation turned up EVIDENCE: photos, videos, witnesses, receipts. None of it was fabricated. An investigation is not a ‘Stitch-Up’ when you’ve actually done the thing you’re accused of doing. Besides which, BoJo wasn’t ousted by partygate alone. It wasn’t even the final straw. It was his appointment of Chris Pincher the Pincher that finally did him in, as 62 MPs resigned rather than defend him….Again.

And finally, the Dumbest part of the conspiracy allegation is a lesson that can be learned in a Disney Song. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno…No, No, No.” then the whole song is about Bruno. The Tories are desperate to distance themselves from Party-Gate. There is no way to put a positive spin on it. In a time of national crisis, their leader and his closest associates were breaking the rules they had set, while punishing any member of the public who did the same. They were literally Fiddling while Rome burned. And every time someone mentions Party-Gate, everyone is reminded of the governments failures during the Pandemic. Johnson’s resignation didn’t erase the stain on their reputation, because he never took responsibility for his misdeeds. And the public is reminded of that every time someone says ‘Party-Gate.’

So Kudos to Sue Gray on this International Women’s Day. As she speeds away from the Civil Service, she is covering the Tories in their own dirt. As they say, Hell has no fury like a woman scorned. It’s even worse from a woman ignored.

If you have enjoyed this rant, check out my collection; So That Happened, By Sheila Power. Available from Amazon in Paperback or Digital format.

The Tories have solved 1 problem. What about the other 999,999?

So there’s another Brexit deal. This one apparently sorts out the Northern Ireland situation. Don’t ask me the details, my brain still glazes over whenever Brexit negotiations. I can’t get past the whole “This was a monumentally stupid idea to begin with” of it all. It is, however, technically a win for the Tories, or at least for Rishi Sunak. Assuming it all goes through parliament without a hitch and the DUP doesn’t object. All they need is a united Tory party and a reasonable, measured response from the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.

Should go well.

Doesn’t matter in the long run.

Brexit Is a bad idea, poorly executed. Although it had supporters and detractors in all parties, it is inextricably linked to the Conservatives. It’s become a blessing and a curse for them. Actually, it’s a curse for everyone, but for the Tories, there’s a bright side. They can use it as a distraction from all the other things they’re failing at.

When the headlines are highlighting the strikes and Tories refusal to negotiate, Suella Braverman starts attacking migrants and shifts the news cycle to immigration. When immigration gets too hot, there’s the food crisis. Grocery stores are rationing eggs, fresh fruit and fresh veg, and Therese Coffey tells people to eat more turnips. The Brexit deal over Northern Ireland is providing a distraction from that. It has the added benefit of being a positive story, unusual for the Tories, but not essential. They want to keep the public so distracted they can’t investigate just how corrupt the Tories are, or how bad the situation actually is for the British public. The Tories jump from crisis to crisis like kids playing ‘The Floor is Lava,’ and with this Brexit deal, they’ve just added another chair.

Apparently, they are counting on this deal to give them a boost in the May local elections and in the eventual, inevitable General Elections. They are deluding themselves. The status of Northern Ireland and whether the Border is the Irish Sea or the border with the Republic is a particularly thorny issue, and Brexit threatened to up-end the Good Friday Agreement and nearly 25 years of relative peace. The Windsor Framework will help to steady that ship. A little. It’s not enough, as it doesn’t even touch on all the other crises Brexit has wrought.

There’s the employment crisis caused by the end of Free Movement of People, which has caused major staff shortages in the service and hospitality sectors, and an all out crisis in agriculture, as farmers cannot hire the short term EU workers to bring in the crops. This means grocery stores cannot ‘locally source’, leaving us dependent on imports from…. EUROPE! Oh, the irony. That food is more expensive now because we’re no longer in the EU, and they’re also facing shortages due to adverse weather. Funny how one crisis bleeds into another.

The Tories love to cite the War in Ukraine as a reason for the food and energy shortages, but is it really? Sure, in part, it may be a factor, but Brexit allowed the British Government to lift the cap on what energy suppliers could charge customers.

And then lift it again.

And again.

As a result, energy in the UK is twice the European average. You would expect the War in Ukraine to affect them more, wouldn’t you? What with them being closer to it.

I have grave concerns about the coming months, as the EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill ends the supremacy on the EU laws that we grandfathered into British law after Brexit. Parliament will be able to alter or negate these laws with minimal debate or public awareness. Many of these laws apply to workers rights and protections, labour laws, equality, environmental regulations, food standards; Things the Conservatives have always stood firmly against and only honoured because they had a higher authority to answer to in Brussels. I think we may be going back to Dickensian times without the benefit of time machine.

We are now fully in Brexitland, god help us all.

But hey, the Northern Ireland thing is good. It may well prove a win for the Tories. Good luck and God Speed. I don’t think it matters much in the long run. We are all living day to day on the Dark side of Brexit and we won’t forget that at the Ballot box.

If you enjoyed this rant, you can check out my back catalogue of sarcasm in my book, So That Happened by Sheila Power. Available from Amazon in Paperback or Digital format.

Can we give up The Tories for Lent? For Ever?

It’s Pancake Day today! Hooray! A day of universal joy, for who doesn’t smile at the prospect of pancakes. Except I just saw a news story declaring pancake batter is menace for plumbing as it hardens in the pipes and blocks drains. The headline read “Recipe for Disaster.”

Can we not have one nice thing?

Pancake day, Carnival, today is a day of indulgence before Lent, the Catholic season of sacrifice. As a child, I would give up sweets. (Not Catholic anymore, not a kid anymore, not giving up anything.) It was meant to be a test of … Faith, I guess? I’m fuzzy on the details as I didn’t pay much attention in Sunday School. I generally took as a test of willpower and I generally failed.

It feels like we are all going into a government enforced Lent, although it will probably last more than 40 days and will end, not with Easter, but with a General Election. There is no end to what the Tories will force the public to sacrifice.

It’s all down to the Tory-made cost-of-everything crisis. They’ve spent 12 years digging a hole, which they are now filling with poor people on whose backs they will climb out. They will then fill in the hole behind them, burying the 90% of the population in debt.

Let’s look at what the Tories expect us to sacrifice.

Gas, electricity, energy. The cap on prices for domestic consumers goes up again in April. The government could stop it, but they won’t. They could continue the energy vouchers to help low income households, but they won’t. They are imposing a windfall tax on the energy companies (you know, the ones that posted profits of over 200% this year). The chance of that money actually going to fund public services, in my opinion, Nil. The Tory logic is that it’s spring, so people won’t need as much energy. Yes, our Conservative government has an energy policy based on the British weather.

The Tories are happy to leave people struggling with the Heat or Eat dilemma. That choice is complicated by the supply crisis and rising prices. There’s been an egg shortage for weeks, with some shops limiting how many you could purchase. This weekend just past saw many supermarkets with empty shelves, no fresh fruit or veg in sight. And what is available is going for a premium. Heat or eat ceases to be a question when you can’t afford either.

The shortage of fresh vegetables is especially troubling. It is vital that we all maintain good health these days, as the Tories are determined to destroy the NHS. The trust is underfunded, understaffed and the staff are severely underpaid. The working conditions are brutal; overtime, shift-work, unsociable hours, unreasonable expectations from patients, administrators and the general public, criminally low pay; all the while making life and death decisions on the regular. Most of these things come with the job. One can be fixed and that’s the wages. Nurses have seen a 20% pay cut in real terms over the last 12 years, so they’ve gone on strike. The government REFUSES to negotiate.

Because that’s the plan; make the working conditions in the NHS so untenable that everybody leaves. Nurses know they can make more money working for an agency. The NHS then has to pay the agencies to get staff, costing them more money. Eventually, the service simply collapses. At which point the Tories will say “See? We told you the NHS was a failure.”

Same thing applies to Teachers, who are also on strike. Government interference is prolonging the rail strikes. MP’s kids are privately educated. MPs can expense the petrol for their cars and don’t need public transport. The strikes are not affecting them. And somehow, the government can afford a pay rise for MPs, no problem.

So the Tories are forcing us to give up heat, electricity, food, healthcare, education and public transport until the next election, which they are in no hurry to call. Meanwhile, the masses are getting restless. Romans placated the mob with Bread and Circuses. We have Netflix and Deliveroo, except we can’t afford them anymore.

So, bugger the plumbing, I’m having some pancakes today. It’s going to be a long season of sacrifice. What we really need to give up is the Tories.

If you enjoyed this blog, you can buy a compilation of my previous works. So That Happened by Sheila Power is available from Amazon around the world in digital and Paperback format. Two years of watching the decline in society. ENJOY!

The Tories look busy but achieve nothing.

A few weeks ago, I described the UK government/economy as the Titanic; that they had deliberately rammed it into the iceberg because their (taxpayer funded) bar had runout of ice cubes, and I pleaded with them to at least address the gaping hole in the side of the ship.

Sunak’s Cabinet reshuffle last week show that they are rearranging the deckchairs. Granted, there isn’t a lot left to choose from in the Tory ranks, as most can be described as Post-Scandal, Mid-Scandal, or Scandal yet to come, it’s only a matter of time. It’s not a matter of who can be trusted, it’s knowing what they can’t be trusted with. Can’t be trusted with money, can’t be trusted to not bully subordinates, can’t be trusted not to sexually harass subordinates, can’t be trusted to speak in public, can’t be trusted…. generally.

First, they’re deciding on a new layout for the deckchairs: Splitting and creating new government departments. The department for Business, energy and Industrial strategy is now the Department of Energy Supply and Net Zero, the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology, and the Department of Business and Trade. Of course, it will take a while to set up these departments and to figure out what exactly they are meant to be doing. It will be at least a year before we see any real initiative or plans from them. And as they are smaller departments, they are meant to have more focus; they will also have smaller budgets and less power to do anything.

The Tories have become Masters of Looking Busy while Achieving Nothing. The re-shuffle was Sunak’s way of avoiding negotiating with the Unions or talking about the strikes. They don’t care about making the current cluster-tastrophe better for the voters. They are in power, making money, expensing their household bills and they want to ride that wave for as long as possible. The mantra of office workers everywhere; keep quiet and look busy.

If there is one person I almost feel sorry for in the Reshuffle, it’s new Tory Party Chairman Greg Hands. (Almost, because he chose to be a Tory, that’s on him.) In his new role, he has to oversee the strategies for the local elections in May and for the next General Election. He’s basically in charge of bailing out the Titanic, he has been provided with a teacup to facilitate this.

So far, he doesn’t seem any more corrupt than the average politician. No sex scandals; with a name like Hands, even the slightest impropriety would get him a memorable and embarrassing nickname. He recently told a story about how a Russian spy tried to recruit him in a pub. I feel like this is a story he tells to make himself more interesting. I question the veracity of any story that starts with “So I was down at the Pub and…”.

But the real reason I (almost) pity him is that his new Deputy Party Chair is Lee Anderson. Red wall MP, 30p Lee. I think he is the Tory Party’s new lightning rod, their new Big-Mouth, Small-Brain random Offensive Statement Generator, taking over from BoJo,(who is sitting in the corner, plotting his return while everyone else tries to forget he was ever PM).

Lee Anderson, who asserts that people using food banks just don’t know how to cook, and should be able to live on 30p per meal; Chefs, Dieticians and Nutritionists say that is possible, but only if you cut out all protein, flavour and nutritional value. Lee responded by flaunting a receipt for a 30p breakfast he and his minions had prepared. My response? He was cooking for 176 people, bulk buying always reduces costs, and most people don’t have the freezer capacity for 172 leftover portions. My 2nd response? He had one meal for 30p; try living on that. Even for a week. 30p per meal, no cheating, no subsidised House of Commons restaurant meals. I Dare You. With any luck, the experience will leave him too weak to speak.

He has also expressed his support of the death penalty as being 100% effective. “Nobody ever committed a crime after being executed.” A truly asinine statement, as the ultimate conclusion of that line of thought is kill everyone and let God sort them out. Anderson prides himself on being Anti-Woke, really he’s just boorish. Whenever he makes a deliberately offensive statement, he says his constituents are squarely behind him. A recent poll of Ashfield voters labelled him “A bit of a Prat.”

The thing is, Lee Anderson can be counted on to say the shocking, offensive and, most importantly, HEADLINE GRABBING thing. He’s the Tory Party’s new performing Monkey. So when he starts to dance, you have to ignore him and look hard at what everyone else is doing. It’s the quiet ones you have to look out for. They are Tories, so they are doing something nefarious.

We can’t keep repeating these Tory mistakes.

Last week was Groundhog Day. Traditionally, Groundhog day refers a some local rodent predicting either a longer winter or an early spring. The Northern Quebec version, Fred La Marmotte, was found dead hours before the ceremony. I wonder if he knew something we don’t.

Modern meaning comes from the Bill Murray movie and refers to repeating the same day over and over again. Last week was Groundhog Day and by either definition, we’re screwed.

Six more weeks of winter, because of course we get a long winter during an energy crisis. Although I’m not sure ‘crisis’ is the right word. Crisis implies the circumstances are out of anyone’s control. That’s not the case here. Consumer energy bills have risen 200% in the UK. And yes, there is some scarcity and yes, there is the war in Ukraine, but the principle reason for the rise in prices is the Tories lifted the cap on what the energy companies could charge and of course, they all went for the maximum. The consumer can only choose which company screws them because they can’t opt out entirely and live off the grid. It’s not a Crisis so much as a Gouging. The Energy Companies are recording record profits. Shell reported profits of £32.2 BILLION. That’s double the previous year. That’s PROFIT, not income. The consumers are in crisis, the energy companies are just fine.

And here the second meaning of Groundhog day kicks in: repeating the same day over and over. We’ve seen this before. Britain abandoned the Grant system for university education and imposed a £1000 per year Tuition fee in 1999, which rose to £3000 in 2004. In 2012 the Tories raised the cap to £9000 per year, assuring the public that only the top universities would charge the maximum. And they were right; the less elite universities charged £8995.

Any Institution, Organisation or Business will always charge as much as they can: that’s how businesses work. (They will also pay the workers as little as they can get away with, but that’s another rant entirely).

Chancellor Jeremy… Hunt is rejecting calls to cancel the planned April rise in the price cap, and is rejecting calls for a Windfall tax on the energy companies. Yes the government is providing some support for low-income households, but they are borrowing money to do it. And thanks to the Tories refusal to raise public sector pay and the private sector following their lead, the number of Low Income households is increasing.

They do expect household energy bills to go down… in July. Not due to policy, it’s just summer.

Taxing rich people and richer corporations is a violation of ‘Conservative Ideology’, a phrase that makes me roll my eyes so hard I can actually see my brain. So they borrow, which means paying back the debt, servicing the debt. which means AUSTERITY, the Tory policy which has run our public services into the ground over the last ten years, bringing about the strikes happening every day. The Tories seem to think that if they keep giving money to rich people, it will eventually all work out… somehow. I’m not sure what their final goal is. I’m not sure they even know what their final goal is. But they’re going to keep going because pandering to the rich and screwing the poor is all they know how to do.

Liz Truss tried to do it on a massive scale during her thankfully brief time in office, and was massively shot down. In another example of Groundhog day, she wants to make a political comeback. She says her policies weren’t given enough time or consideration to work before the “Left-wing Establishment” ruthlessly pushed her out.

Liz Truss has her head so far in the sand she can see the centre of the earth.

First, “Left-Wing Establishment” is a contradiction in terms, as left-wing tends to be Anti-Establishment. And it was her own party that did her in. Even the people who would benefit from her Trickle-down policies recognised that they would damage or destroy the rest of the economy and didn’t fancy ruling over the ashes.

However, oblivious as she is, Liz is still hanging around. So is BoJo, for that matter, like an Ex who wants you back; the one you eventually need to get a restraining order on. No one in the upper echelons of the Tory party has any vision, any new ideas to get Britain out of the mess it’s in. They just keep offering the same ideas of underfunding public services, privatising everything and don’t EVER ask rich people for money, over and over again.

We need some radical changes in government. The longer we wait, the more radical the changes will need to be. We need a #GeneralElectionNow.

Because we can’t keep living this day over and over again and never learning anything.

Who haven’t the Tories screwed over?

Rishi Sunak is Prime Minister of the UK by the will of 200 MPs. I think he believes 200 votes is enough. Based on his recent policies, the Tories will be lucky to get 200 votes…. Nationwide… when we finally get an election. I’m struggling to find a single group the Tories haven’t pissed off recently.

There are many groups that would never vote Conservative. Scotland, as a group, are staunchly Anti-Conservative. That doesn’t mean they’re Pro-Labour, they’re just Anti-Westminster. 200 years on from the Battle of Culloden and tensions were starting to ease, then along came Maggie Thatcher and encased those tensions in cement. So the 5 million votes the conservatives can rule out.

The Conservatives won over a bunch of Labour seats in 2016 with lots of Brexit pledges. These communities were often rural and tired of dealing with EU rules and red tape, and were beguiled by promises of trading with whoever they wanted. Fishing communities wanted an end to quotas and have to share their waters with French and Spanish Fishing fleets.

Brexit has not panned out the way they planned. Since Brexit ended the free movement of people, Farmers don’t have enough workers to bring in crops or work the livestock. The fishing quotas imposed by the EU were down to lack of fish, not favouritism. These people feel betrayed by the Tories, and they’re not wrong. They won’t vote Conservative again.

Geographically, the Tories are screwed.

I doubt there are any Tory voters left amongst the working class and public sector workers. Especially after the last year. Especially after the last 12 years. Public sector workers like Teachers, healthcare workers, nurses etc have had below cost-of-living pay rises, effectively pay cuts. The private sector has done the same; if the government is going to screw over their workers, why shouldn’t they do the same? Now that the cost-of-living has spiked by 11%, a 3% pay rise is not going to cut it. So everyone who can is going on strike. And it’s all the Tories fault.

Sunak has admitted that it would have been cheaper to settle the Rail strikes quickly, cheaper to give the unions what they asked for, given what the strikes have cost the British economy. But the Government wanted to be tough, and cow the union into submission as a warning to other unions. They wanted to project the image that they are strong and not to be trifled with. Instead they confirmed the image of the Tories as Elitist, Greedy, Callous and utterly uncaring of anyone’s welfare but their own. The Strikes are disruptive and frustrating and still have tremendous public support. The Tory answer to the strikes is Anti-Strike Legislation. So in terms of Voters, the Tories can rule out anyone in a union, anyone who knows anyone in a union, anyone in a low wage job that wishes they had a union to fight for them, anyone who believes in fair pay for all and anyone who doesn’t like bullies.

Even Corporate bosses are turning on the Tories. They blame the Tories for the failures of Brexit that are costing them money, through greater trade restrictions and depleted workforce. The Tories refuse to raise taxes on the corporations or a windfall tax on the energy companies. The Corporate bosses want to be taxed. They can read the room well enough to know that when the Tories are turfed out, things may go much worse for them with the next government. The pendulum has swung about as far in their direction as it’s likely to go; when it swings back, they don’t want to get knocked down.

In terms of Economic Classes, the Tories are screwed.

The Tories Anti-Trans agenda is going to cost them as well. Boris Johnson’s ban on Conversion therapy excluded Trans people. The Tories think it’s Ok to torture them. Then Rishi Sunak decided to Block the Scottish Gender Recognition act, a piece of law that had been in the works for 6 years, had two thirds support in the Scottish parliament and, by extension, the support of the Scottish people, as many SMPs were elected having declared support for the Bill. It’s a Bill that makes it a bit easier for Trans People to be who they are and has no effect on how anyone else lives there life. And the Tories Blocked it, and sent a chill through the LGBTQ+ community. The Government does not have the right to decide who you are or who you love.

Given the level of misogyny and sexual harassment in the halls of parliament, and the halls of Justice, and the Police Force, and almost every other hall; Given the Tories failure to curb these behaviours or censure or even acknowledge them, women are… Unlikely to feel a Conservative government will have their back.

Socially, The Tories are Screwed.

Young people won’t vote Tory. Aside from how the Tories have tilted the Economic playing field to the point where its practically vertical, so that no one born without an entire silver flatware set in their mouth has a chance of getting ahead; Aside from how Brexit has limited their opportunities abroad; Aside from how the Tories utter Failure on Climate change has made their future a much scarier place; aside from all that, the Tories have made it clear they don’t want the youth vote. Actually, they don’t want the youth TO vote. The new voter ID laws don’t include forms of ID that young people already have, like the 18+ oyster card or student ID cards, while there are a wealth of options open to seniors. Young people have the added hassle and expense of obtaining an ID. It’s hard enough to engage young voters and the Tories have deliberately put them off.

And that makes sense, as the Tories have always relied on the more naturally conservative older voters. Which is why the Government’s latest move baffles me. They are planning to raise the retirement age to 68. That’s going to piss off a huge portion of their key demographic. It’s also going to put off the middle aged, as they can see the writing on the wall and know that if the Tories keep going, we’ll all be working until we die.

So in terms of age groups, old, young and middle aged, the Tories are screwed. Who is actually left to vote for the Tories?

I think the 200 MPs who put Sunak in office might be the only Tory votes next election.

Assuming he doesn’t screw them over too.

The Business of Government should not be Business.

At what point did we decide that Government should run like a Business? It’s an idea that’s grown during my lifetime, so I don’t think it was always this way. Sometime, probably in the Eighties, people decided that the corporate business model was the way to go. Efficiency through competition. If something can’t survive in the free market, it deserves to fail. Privatisation of formerly government services took hold. We were told that Business people run them better and the Government got a big sack of cash. Great in the short term.

How’s the Long term working out?

All the so-called ‘Public Services’ are in decay. Energy companies have failed to invest in green energy alternatives, fossil fuels are running out, so now we’re in an energy crisis. Water Companies have failed to invest in their own pipe networks, so every year this rainy little island gets a hosepipe ban, and when it does rain, the water companies flush raw sewage into the sea, because they haven’t built the reservoirs to deals with the overflow. Our railways are falling apart because private companies own the trains, which do make money, while the government owns the tracks, which don’t.

The government lauds the Free Market, but the market they’ve created isn’t free. There is no competition between water companies. The Energy suppliers compete by all charging the same high prices. Public transport prices continue to rise, knowing that people have no choice but to pay if they want to get to work, the shops or anywhere else.

But that’s Business. It’s all about the profit. And that’s why GOVERNMENT is supposed to be something else. Something that protects those things outside the profit motive. by that I mean PEOPLE.

There used to be some competition for workers between the Public sector and the Private sector. The Public sector tended to offer more stability and job security, while the Private sector would offer higher wages, advancement, bonuses, etc. The Private Sector would have to compete with the public sector. However, over the last 12 years, the Tories have consistently given below cost-of-living pay increases, effectively pay cuts, so the private sector didn’t have to offer more. Their competition was a race to see who could squeeze more out of the workers for the least amount of pay.

And boy, howdy was the competition fierce.

With public sector wages stagnant, the private sector followed suit. The Tories aided them further by not increasing the minimum wage, and bringing in zero hours contracts. The average worker is screwed whichever way they turn.

The Government are supposed to be on our side. The Government has a responsibility to protect the Public, from the rampant greed of the free market. But our Tory government are more interested in joining in on the rampant greed. They are not interested in helping the Public.

This has been clearly illustrated in our Year Of Strikes. Rishi Sunak has admitted that, given what the Rail Strikes have cost the British economy, it would have been cheaper to just give the Unions what they wanted. But that would violate Tory Ideology.

The Tories didn’t want to negotiate with the Rail Unions; when talks between the owners and the unions looked close to making a deal, the government would throw in some clause that they knew the unions would never accept. Even the Owners were getting frustrated. But the Tories wanted to intimidate the other unions. They wanted to project the image that they were hard as nails and wouldn’t give an inch. They were all trying to channel the spirit of Maggie Thatcher, and frankly, they didn’t have the Hairstyle or the handbag to pull it off.

The Other Unions were not intimidated. Every Union that has polled it’s members has voted for strike action.

The last three years of lockdowns and restrictions have given the public a fresh understanding of the term ‘Essential Worker.’ And the British Public are solidly behind the Strikers. As the divide between rich and poor grows, with more people falling on the poor side, someone needs to be fighting for the ordinary citizen. It’s supposed to be the Government, but they’re too busy playing ‘Businessman.’

The Tory plan to dismantle and privatise everything (you’re next, NHS) is clear to everyone. They aren’t hiding it under the guise of making things more efficient anymore. It’s all about greed.

This Government has abandoned it’s responsibility to its Citizens. If we don’t get a new government soon, we may as well just abandon government altogether.

Striking is the Polite Response.

A century ago, women were fighting for the right to vote. And we got it. But over the years, voting fell out of fashion, as voter turnouts fell with every election cycle. And it’s no surprise, when it felt like voting didn’t make a difference. What with all the ‘Safe Labour Seats’ or ‘Safe Tory Seats’, where the Dominant party could put a donkey on the ballot and still get elected. (Looking at the current crop of MPs, it would explain a lot). And since Labour became ‘New Labour’, there hasn’t been that much difference between them and the Conservatives, so what’s the point in voting?

Voting persisted, though. People like to be asked their opinion, even if it’s only on trivial things, like Big Brother or Britain’s Got Talent. And everyone loves a Twitter Poll. But that kind of voting is… unsatisfying. It’s the Junk food equivalent of democracy. It’s entertaining, but there’s no real sustenance to it. We want to vote on meatier matters. With the next general election not until May 2024…

Another day, another union votes for strike action. This time, it’s the teachers. We’ll add them to the list. The list already includes:

Rail workers, Underground workers, airport baggage handlers, border control, airport staff, bus drivers, dock workers, barristers, postal workers, nurses, ambulance drivers, BT workers, universities, refuse workers, driving instructors, the Financial Conduct authority, and now, Teachers. just about every union is polling their members on strike action, and their all voting ‘Yes’.

In December, we had an advent calendar of strikes. You needed to check each day to see who was on strike. Now it’s easier to check who’s not striking. Talk is growing about a General Strike. At this rate, it could easily happen as there’s only so many days in the year, strike already have to double up.

To be fair, not all of these disputes are ongoing. Private companies, such as British Airways and some Bus companies have seen strike actions suspended and cancelled. The solution to strikes was simple… Pay People More.

For the most part, private companies are grasping that solution. The usual tactic of demonising the unions as greedy thugs isn’t working. The strikes have tremendous public support and the public disgust it directed at the bosses. The pressure is on them to increase wages in line with inflation, and it’s in their own self-interest to do so. They are losing the media wars, and with the current staff shortages they can’t bring in strike breakers. They can read the writing on the wall.

No such luck for the unions who have to negotiate with the government. The Tory Government cannot read the writing on the wall. Instead, they paper over the writing with overpriced wallpaper, just like the sitting room at No10 Downing st. The Tories are now having to negotiate with Nurses, Ambulance Drivers, Border Control and the Post Office. They are not interested in any discussion of pay rises. They are also interfering in the talks with Rail Unions, putting unacceptable stipulations into promising deals, setting the negotiations back to square one.

The Tories answer to strikes is… Anti-Strike legislation! Under the proposed law, the Government would be allowed to set required minimum staffing levels. Basically, a union can call a strike, but the Government gets to set the required staffing level, so there will be one lone worker on the picket line while everyone else is required to be at work. Anyone refusing a work order could be fired. So we can air our grievances as much as we like, as long as we work while we do it.

Side Note: This Anti-Strike Legislation lines up perfectly with Anti-protest legislation already in place, which gives the police the power to dictate when, where and for how long people can protest.

The Tories like to show the trappings of democracy: You can protest, but only on government terms; You can strike, as long as the Government is not inconvenienced or shown in a bad light.

When faced with ACTUAL results of the Democratic Process, the Tories are quick to say ‘No’. The Gender Recognition Act has been passed by the Scottish Parliament. The Bill has been in the works for 6 years, and has solid public support, and the Westminster Parliament is planning to block it’s passage. The Scottish Parliament has been doing it’s job, working on legislation that affects and improves the lives of the people it governs.

It’s a concept the Tory government cannot grasp, as it only seeks to uphold it’s own power. And they want to block the Bill as it’s an example of what government should be doing. God forbid people realise that’s what government is for, it would be the end of the Tories.

There is no chance of the Sunak Government calling an early election. Rishi Sunak seems entirely comfortable ruling on the basis 200 Tory MPs support and no public mandate. He’s in no rush to face the electorate. Given how the Tories have lost every by-election recently (and by some pretty embarrassing margins), he knows an election would not go well for him.

So the Tories are bringing in Voter ID laws; the modern remedy to Voter Fraud, which is a problem as common as…. dinosaurs attacking town centres. It’s an apt comparison, since the Tories will only allow the dinosaurs to vote. Most of the acceptable IDs are only available to seniors, not to young voters. Example: The 60+ Oyster card is acceptable ID, the 18+ Oyster card is not. A Freedom Pass is fine, a student ID is not. The Conservatives want to shore up the conservative voters and everyone else can go hang.

Here’s the thing; people want to have a say. They want to vote whether it’s in opinion polls or strike votes or elections. It’s ingrained in our society. And the Tories need to learn, Voting is our way of politely voicing an opinion.

Don’t make us say it Rudely.

Is it Funny yet?

They say “Comedy is Tragedy plus time.” I wonder, does how funny things become correspond to the level of tragedy or the amount of time? In 50 years, will we look back on this time and smirk a little? In 100 years, will we be rolling on the floor laughing? Because looking around, the situation right now is fucking tragic.

The (still) rising cost-of-living, supply chain crisis, food insecurity, the ever-widening wealth gap, stagnant wages, strikes, healthcare crisis, climate crisis, energy crisis. We have a government that is responsible for about 90% of the mess we’re in, and what’s worse, they did it by design. As far as the Tories are concerned, it’s all going according to plan.

They started in 2010 with the sword of Austerity, covered in the sweetly poisoned syrup of ‘the Big Society.’ The rhetoric boiled down to ‘communities need to pull together because the government isn’t going to fund anything anymore.’ They drew the line between rich and poor. Then Brexit came along and further fractured the country. Free from the constraints of the EU, the Tories put a vacuum hose at the top of the British economy and set it to overdrive, sucking all the money into the pockets of the 1%. Where did all the money come from? It came from Public Sector pay rises that were below the rise in cost-of-living, it came from cuts to benefits and restructuring the benefits systems, it came from failure to increase minimum wage for the private sector. Then they got down to some serious gouging. They lifted the cap on what energy companies could charge their customers. They introduced Zero Hours contracts, so employers didn’t need to offer workers benefits, or even steady hours.

Then 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic came along and made everything so much worse. Well, worse for most people. After ten years of gouging the public purse, they slipped into Pandemic Profiteering with practiced ease. They gave million pound PPE contracts to cronies and donors who fulfilled their obligations with faulty equipment and broken promises. They restricted and isolated the public, imposing fines on people meeting in the park, all the while have regular parties at No 10.

Irony does not count as ‘Funny.’ Neither does Hypocrisy.

Now, with the Economy in a tailspin, they are encouraging us all to get second jobs, ignoring the fact that many people already have second and even third jobs just to get by. I can see why the Second Job plan makes so much sense to MPs, as most MPs already have second jobs as lobbyists or Board Members for companies that need government favours. In fact, Tory MPs have earned an extra £15.2 million since 2019. And that’s just what they showed receipts for.

Absurdism does not count as Funny either.

All signs point to things getting worse before they get better. The government is seeking to impose Anti-Strike legislation for Essential Workers. You know, the ones whose roles are too important to allow them to strike, but not important enough to pay properly, like nurses, healthcare workers, teachers, rail workers. At the same time, the Government is refusing to negotiate on fairer pay rises. Honestly, the Tory government is so myopically self-important; they don’t understand that ‘Clapping for Carers’ does not pay the bills. In fact, they wonder why people didn’t clap for MPs.

Also on their Totalitarion To-Do list; Voter ID laws. An unnecessary impediment to voting to combat a crime that doesn’t happen. Most of the IDs the government considers valid are readily available to seniors, ie: people prone to voting Conservative. Invalid IDs include Student IDs or 18+ Oyster cards. The things that are already in the pocket of every young person, coincidentally the people most likely to vote for more progressive ideas.

The Government’s Retained EU Law Bill would see thousands of EU laws, retained after Brexit struck down from British Law. These include worker protections like paid Food standards, housing standards, Holiday, paid sick leave, working time regulations, agency worker regulations, part-time worker regulations. Basically, it a regulation inconveniences Business owners and protects workers, it will be up for grabs, unless it is separately enshrined in British law. It means the Government get to choose which laws they follow, and discard or alter the rest. Call me paranoid, but I don’t trust this government to NOT screw me over if it puts even a few extra pennies in their pocket.

Just because I’m Paranoid, doesn’t mean their not out to get me.

The Civil Service is delaying this Bill, saying they will need hundreds more workers to rewrite 4000 laws by the deadline. Jacob Rees-Mogg, Brexiteer and major proponent of the Bill countered saying the current Civil Service was adequate to the task, that the objections were obstructionism and idleness, and that they would just have to work harder.

It’s a little scary that the man trying to remove the worker protections just proved how much we need them?

Things are looking grim and I don’t see it changing for a while. The next general election is still 16 months away. Rishi Sunak seems stable enough that no scandal or parliamentary procedure will force him to call the election early. He’s learned the lesson from Theresa May, about calling an election to seek a Mandate to govern from the people, only to lose seats. He has no Mandate, and he’s fine with that.

Our Government is slipping into a Dictatorship in all but name. Our economy is circling the drain. We are on the verge of either revolution or feudalism.

In 100 years, will our descendants be laughing because we thought things were as bad as it gets? Will they be laughing, ruefully, at out naivete?

Happiness is a choice you make in hard times.

Another New Year, and I’m entering it with even more trepidation than the previous two. 2020 was a bad year, what with the US Election, the Global Pandemic and the ensuing economic collapse. It was a year of upheaval. We approached 2021 with joyful anticipation, hoping the end of the year meant the end of the bad.

It did not.

I think the lesson we all learned early in 2021 was that catastrophes don’t recognise calendars. They run for as long as they can regardless of clock, calendar or season. The Covid pandemic was just the first domino to fall, but it set off multiple chains of events. The global supply chain broke down in multiple places. Almost everything we use is manufactured in China, which has been in and out of Lockdown more than any other country. Manufacturing was disrupted, shipping was disrupted, we all learned to shop with a Plan B in mind. After years of living in an ‘On-Demand, Next-Day-Delivery’ market place, consumers had to learn that they couldn’t always get what they wanted. Add to that, we had to wear masks in public; vaccines, while not required, were HIGHLY recommended. Social gatherings were limited, things had to be Pre-Booked. We all had to accept some personal inconvenience for the greater good.

I would like to say people took it with grace, but that would be a Lie. People lost their freaking minds and 2021 began the Age of the Karen. (We saw the behaviour in 2020, but in ’21 they finally settled on the name. And the look.) It was a rough year, we were all fed up with everything, but the Karen’s would take out their frustrations on service and retail staff or unsuspecting bystanders. The sad thing is, I don’t think it made them feel any better, it just made others miserable too. It was the year of Entitlement.

As 2022 dawned, I think the most we all hoped for was things to not get worse. Omicron emerged at the end of ’21, a super contagious variant of covid guaranteed to hit everyone eventually, and we entered the new year with covid fatigue; either because we had the virus and complete exhaustion that came with it, or because we were just so sick of dealing with it. 2022 gave us the Hottest days ever in the UK, Europe half on fire and half flooded; the Russian Invasion of Ukraine in February, which Putin expected would take 3 days but still rages on 10 months later. The war and the climate crisis come together to give us the Energy crisis, the food supply crisis, the refugee crisis and, of course, the Cost of Living crisis.

Here in the UK, we got to see just how good our government is at creating chaos, and just how bad they are at managing it. The energy crisis is worse here because the Tories lifted the cap on what energy companies could charge. The Cost of Living crisis is worse because the Tories have kept public sector pay low with 10 years of below inflation wage increases, and minimal increases to minimum wage in the private sector. Then Liz Truss came along, resurrected the Vampire that is Trickle Down Economics (as it sucks the life from 90% of society), tanked the British Economy and put the Pound into Freefall. Their answer to the Refugee crisis is to send refugees to Rwanda. Their answer to calls for a general election is to implement voter ID laws that disenfranchise younger voters.

They have made it clear that in this time of crisis, we cannot look to our leaders to guide us, help us, or even sympathise with us. 2022 has been a year of Enlightenment. Now we know.

We know the current government is only interested in continuing their own power. We know that Corporate CEO’s are only interested in increasing profits rather than growing the business. The Rich are only interested in getting richer. None of them are looking out for the rest of us.

We have to look out for ourselves. It’s already started. Almost every Union in the UK is either on strike or voting whether to go on strike. There is a staffing crisis in retail and hospitality because people refuse to work in low respect jobs for wages they can’t live on. People are refusing to do overtime, and are valuing a work/life balance. People are working to live, rather than living to work.

Every aspect of our lives right now has the word Crisis attached to it. Economic, healthcare, energy, food supply, housing, employment, Cost-of-living, Cost-of-everything … Crisis. It’s a dark time.

So we have to make our own light. We have to find the things that make us happy and enjoy them to the full. Whatever it is that brings a little joy to your life, do it. Reading, Jogging, rock-climbing, anime, theatre, birdwatching, stamp collecting, fanfiction; whatever makes you happy without hurting anyone else. Find it, Do it, Share it with others. And if you’re not sure what makes you happy, find joy in exploration. There’s something out there for everyone.

Happiness is a choice you make in hard times. However much the current crisis takes from you, you will always have that choice. And sometimes it will be difficult. Misery is easier, it’s passive. It’s everywhere and it can wash over you. Happiness may take effort. It may take an active choice. And it may seem futile sometimes. But it’s worth the effort.

It doesn’t have to be big. In fact, it’s better to find happiness in the small things; a good book, a funny joke, a cup of tea. In the words of Arthur Shappey “You’re hardly ever blissfully happy with the love of your life in the moonlight. And when you are, you’re worried it’ll be over too quick. But the small things, there’s loads of those.” And no one can take them all away.

So here’s my wish to everyone for the new year, in the words of a far better writer than I.

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” Neil Gaiman

We had to hit the Iceberg; the PM’s drink needed ice cubes.

Our distinguished government is on a crusade. Determined to stamp out the threats to sacred British Society. Any sacrifice for Queen and… Sorry…. King and Country, confident that the People are behind them.

Right behind them.

Wait, they were there a minute ago, I swear.

Were’d all the people go?

Number one issue for the people is the Cost of Everything Crisis, but you wouldn’t know it if you just looked at our government. In policy and publicity stunt, they are showing how disconnected they are from the British People.

Let’s start with the Anti-Immigration drive. At this festive time of year, a time for charity and outreach and giving, Rishi Rich and Cruella Braverman are hell bent on keeping those in need out of the country and sending those already here to RWANDA. Braverman is blaming the civil service for not processing refugee claims fast enough. I assume that’s because they are actually investigating each claim and not, as Cruella would prefer, just stamping DENIED on each application.

The government moans on about how much refugees are costing them. Housing them in hotels while their claims are processed costs over £2.3 Billion per year. Braverman wants to cut those costs by housing them in disused cruise ships. Of course, they would still need to feed and clothe the refugees, and if you put people on the ships, they are no longer ‘Disused.’ Money will need to be put into electricity and plumbing. (Plumbing is a notorious foible of the Cruise industry). I have to wonder if the Home Secretary or her friends own some disused cruise ships, and they would rather pay that £2.5 billion to their cronies rather than to small, independent hotels and BnB’s. I mean, God forbid they put any money into the British economy.

That’s in addition to the £140 billion they’ve paid to the Rwandan Government ad a, let’s call it what it is, bribe for taking in all these refugees who have absolutely no connection to the country. Plus the cost of flying them there. Plus the costs of all the court cases as they fight deportation to Rwanda.

The Official government reason for not wanting refugees is that it’s expensive. One reason it’s expensive is that refugees are not allowed to work while their claims are being processed, so they are totally reliant on government handouts. So the government forbids them from supporting themselves, then blames them for leeching off the British taxpayer. They get slapped with an open hand and then slapped again on the backhand.

The slap on the face to everyone is that they care more to (unfairly) apportion blame than to implement the obvious solution. There is a staffing crisis in the UK; retail and hospitality sectors being particularly hard hit. (Brexit, leaving the EU, ending the free movement of people has really dried up the UK staffing pool).

But for the Tories, immigration has always been a good issue for firing up their base. They don’t care about solutions because the problem is so useful to them. It’s certainly worked in the past.

Not so much, this time.

Immigration isn’t the only hornets nest the Tories want to stir up. Scotland has recently passed The Gender Recognition Reform Bill. It makes it easier for Trans people to obtain legal recognition of their chosen gender with a Gender Recognition certificate. It’s a Bill that makes it easier for people to be who they are. It has no direct impact on anyone not applying for the certificate.

Rishi Sunak has declared that Westminster may block passage of the Bill. He claims to be concerned about the Bill’s impact on women and children. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard him voice concern for women and children. He makes no reference to what his concerns are or what the impact would be, but he is “concerned.” Either he is concerned about the views (and therefore the donations) of some Transphobic rich people, or he is looking to split some left wing groups that wouldn’t support him anyway.

Or he’s trying to create headlines that will dominate the new cycle and reporters will stop asking him questions he doesn’t want to answer.

They are also being very loud about their new Voter ID laws. They are playing up the importance of the Vote; that it is not unreasonable to ask for ID for such a sacred and important act, when we require it for lesser things. They must counter any potential voter fraud.

Except, voter fraud doesn’t exist. At least, not on a large enough scale to swing an election. You need ID to order a pint in a pub to show your old enough. People will show a fake ID because they want a pint and if it works, they get one. People will show fake ID to get a loan at the bank, hire a car, get a prescription. In each case, there is a benefit to the individual committing the offense. With Voter Fraud, there is no benefit to the individual committing the fraud. The biggest controversy in their ID laws is the blatant Anti-Youth discrimination. The Tories are trying to make a big fuss out of nothing. The only reason I can see for it is…Distraction.

The Number One Issue on everyone’s mind right now is the Cost of Everything Crisis. Energy, Food prices, stagnant wages, strikes; everything is related to the spiraling cost of living, what the Tories have done to cause it and all the things they are not doing to ease it. Energy prices are through the roof because the Tories lifted the cap on what the energy companies could charge, meanwhile those same companies are recording record profits.

The government could tax them. They choose not to.

The current rash of public sector strikes is also the responsibility of the Tories. 12 years of pay increases the were below the rising cost of living means people who were already falling behind have now been left in the dust. Healthcare workers are using food banks. Nurses at the top of their pay band qualify for universal credits. If someone earning as much as they legally can is also eligible for benefits, there is something seriously broken in the system. But Rishi Sunak et al refuse to negotiate pay.

After the Johnson and Truss governments, both of which U-turned so quickly and frequently the resembled the tilt-a-whirl at the fairground, we finally have a government that sticks to its word. Why oh WHY is this the word they choose to stick on?

And they’re pulling out all the stops in trying to cow the nurses. Calling Nurses greedy, claiming they already make more than other professions, which is really just highlighting how poorly the private sector is paid as well. They are trying (through the right wing papers) to shame the nurses and ambulance workers, asking how many people will die while they strike? It’s not working.

The strikes have Massive public support. People are tired of all the money going to the 1%. Liz Truss’ bid to resurrect “Trickle Down Economics” was the last straw, as it showed such blatant greed. #EnoughisEnough. The government is meant to represent the people. The People want them to address the economy and give some relief to the those who are struggling; a number that grows everyday.

Meanwhile, our PM, during his required Christmas publicity stunt, asked a Homeless man if he worked in business. Was it something he would like to get into? The man replied with Maybe, but mostly he just wanted to get through the winter.

Immigration, Transphobia, Voter ID; The Tories are rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. They’ve already driven us, deliberately into the iceberg so the 1% could have their Scotch on the rocks. Could they now please deal with the gaping great hole in the side of the ship?

At the moment, the only way the people will get behind them is with torches and pitchforks. The government won’t be leading, they’ll be targets.

Dear Santa, For Christmas I would like…

Dear Santa,

I don’t know if I’ve been strictly ‘Good’ this year. It depends on your definition, or maybe your point of view. I’ve gotten by, at least. I’ve helped where I could and haven’t deliberately hurt anyone. Honestly, I think the while Naughty/Nice binary is a little too simplistic for such a nuanced world. And I’m probably too old to be writing you, but you’re kind of a last resort. There are things we all need, and the universe, the marketplace, and the government aren’t delivering, so I’m asking you.

  1. A pony (unrealistic item I don’t really expect)
  2. A baby Brother or Sister (Over the top request that I don’t really want, but I want you to feel you can’t say no to the rest of my list, having disappointed me on 1 and 2.)
  3. #FairPayForNursing I want the government to pay NHS nurses more. They are not just the backbone, but the whole skeletal structure of the NHS. Over the last decade, they have received below cost-of-living wage increases, which in real terms amounted to pay cuts. With inflation now skyrocketing, Nurses are 20% worse off then they were 12 years ago, so the demand for a 19% pay increase is not an unrealistic or inflated demand. Nurses provide treatment, administer medicines, monitor results, while dealing with ‘Just a Nurse’ disrespect, abuse and violence. It is a highly skilled, highly trained profession and should be paid as such. People making Life and Death decisions should not be wondering where their next meal is coming from or skipping meals to feed their kids. Nurses should not have to use Food Banks. It’s pointless to #ClapforCarers. It’s better to pay them properly.
  4. #wealthtax, #windfalltax, #capitalgainstax I want a more equitable tax system. I want to government to tax the rich, tax their donors. There is a vast sea of money out there that the government refuses to touch because of ‘Conservative Ideology’ ie: greed. When the wealthy talk about how much they pay on taxes, they always give the dollar amount. Saying they paid £10,000,000 in taxes sounds like a lot, but it’s not. Billionaires on average pay 3.4% in taxes. I pay 20%. They should pay the same percentage as everyone else. The government says to pay public sector workers in line with inflation would cost an extra £12-15 Billion. Taxing Capital Gains at the same rate as wages would raise £17 Billion. The money is right there. Even Energy companies are calling for a windfall tax. They have the money and are willing to pay it. (I expect they see the writing on the wall, that if they don’t pay it willingly, the next government may consider Re-Nationalising utilities.) But the government refuses to take money from the people who have it. They prefer to take more away from those who have little enough to begin with.
  5. #GeneralElectionNow Our current Prime Minister is in office by the will of 200 MPs. We need to re-instate democracy. We need to do it before the government implements it’s bogus Voter ID requirements which discriminate against young voters. Actually, we need them to drop the Voter ID scheme altogether as Voter Fraud is even less of a threat than naughty list.
  6. I would like a government who can see beyond their own immediate self interest and recognise that we all do better when we ALL do better. I saw a study that offered children aged 2-6 a piece of chocolate now, or a bar of chocolate in a half hour. Up to age 4, they all take the chocolate now; after, they wait for more later. I would like a government over the mental age of 4, that’d be great.

As I said, not things that come out of Santa’s Workshop. (By the way, are the Elves well paid, with vacation time and benefits? Are they unionised? If they’re not, I’m totally writing to the wrong person). But they are not unachievable, and don’t require societal effort. A few people in the cabinet could fix, or at least ease, the situation, but they choose not to.

So chances are, Santa, you can’t give me what I want this Christmas, but thank you for your time.

Sincerely, Sheila Power (age 50 years and 11 months)

PS In lieu of societal change, could you fill my stocking with lumps of coal? It would come in handy.

It’ll get worse before it gets better.

I’ll say one thing for the current Tory government; they have a greater level of self-awareness than the last two premierships.

BoJo never understood why people were upset when he broke his own Lockdown rules and then lied about it, when he knowingly appointed people with abuse claims against them and lied about knowing it. BoJo never understood that the people weren’t stupid and resented being treated as stupid.

Speaking of Stupid, Liz Truss didn’t understand why it was a bad idea to funnel all the money to rich people in the midst of a worsening cost-of-living crisis. I think her economic plan hinged on rich people tossing coins from their carriages as they passed groups of beggars (although there was no amount specified for tossing, and no real requirement that they toss any money at all). She did realise that everyone was mad at her, hence her resignation, but she still doesn’t think she did anything wrong. They just didn’t understand her.

Rishi Sunak does seem aware of the dire state of his party and of the country. He knows the country is in a dire state of uncertainty and unrest. He knows that at the next election, the Tories will be definitely lose power and will be lucky to retain any seats at all. What’s a Prime Minister to do?

He could make an effort to fix the damage caused by 12 years of Tory mismanagement; raise public sector pay in line with inflation, attempt to mitigate the disastrous aftermath of Brexit, clean house on the corruption within the Tory party, raise taxes on the 1%.

However, that would involve acknowledging the Tory Ideology is fatally flawed and he might piss off some rich people. It all seems like too much work. He’s not going to do any of that.

The country is restless. People are angry. The Tories have had a long plan to deal with this: limit the people’s right to protest, increase police powers to shut down marches or limit the time they are allowed to happen (think between 11:00 and 11:15 on February 29th). Because the best way to quiet the public is to gag them.

The Cost-of-living is out of control, particularly the cost of energy. The initial Tory strategy to combat this was ‘hope for a mild winter.’ It’s -5 celsius right now, so that plan clearly failed. Now they are recommending ‘Warm Banks’ like museums, galleries and libraries as places people can go to stay warm. Too bad the Tories closed so many Libraries during the Cameron years.

Every Union in the country is taking a vote on whether to strike, if they’re not striking already. And the strikes, inconvenient as they are, have received tremendous public support. We all realise the extent to which we’ve been screwed over the last 12 years and it’s good to see people striking back. This government plan to deal with the strikes is twofold; first is to refuse to negotiate over pay. When the Nursing Unions offer to delay the strikes as long as the government was willing to talk about pay, the Health Secretary gave them a flat-out refusal. Given that Nurses have suffered a 20% pay cut in real terms over the last 12 years, given that many Nurses are now having to use food banks, shutting down pay negotiations is not the way to win hearts and minds.

The second part of their plan to deal with strikes is Anti-Strike legislation. Police and military are already banned from striking and they want to extend that ban to Nurses. It’s easier than negotiating. They’re basically saying Nurses are too essential to strike, but not essential enough to pay fairly. It’s all part of their unstated goal to dismantle the NHS and force us all into private insurance (ie: the American model, which even the Americans are turning away from). It also makes me wonder who else could be deemed too essential to strike? At what point are all strikes illegal?

Surely, then, they will pay the price at the ballot box next election. They’ve got a plan for that: Voter ID laws. Touted as a method to combat voter fraud, they are the solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. In the last election, of the 48 million votes cast, there were 164 cases of voter fraud. even if they were all in one constituency and all going for one candidate, they would not have been enough to swing a result. So let’s not pretend that’s the reason for the laws.

It’s all about who is allowed to vote, and the government have not been subtle in their bias. Aside from Passport and Drivers licence, the list of acceptable IDs include: an older person’s bus pass, a 60+ oyster card, a freedom pass (available to pensioners), a senior smart pass, a Blue Badge (available to disabled people). Can you see the trend? Lots of free ID choices for the over 60’s, who are, coincidentally, more likely to vote conservative. Not on the list: student ID cards or 18+ oyster cards. The IDs for the 18+ crowd either need to be paid for or require a special application; an extra level of bureaucracy and hassle.

So they won’t let us protest, won’t let us strike, and are trying to make it difficult to vote. The Government approach to labour relations is to stick their fingers in their ears and go “LaLaLa” really loudly until everyone goes away.

But ignoring the problems doesn’t make them go away, and people’s situations are only getting worse. Food insecurity, home insecurity, unemployment, low wages, poverty, our grievances are only growing. In trying to restrict our legal options, all they are doing is opening people’s minds to the illegal ones; general strikes and riots. The strikes represent controlled chaos. Are they prepared to deal with real anarchy?

It’s going to be a longer, colder winter than any of us bargained for.