Another day of the Tory conference, more of the usual.
Then the Theresa May speech bought up something new, or perhaps I should say something old, returned from the dead to terrify the living once more. After having a good go at the Lib dems for refusing to give ground on proposed data retention laws a while ago we hear a new Conservative government will give the police the powers they need to keep us safe.
This is just the latest declaration by the Tories that they are having a serious go at introducing a police state if they win the next election. That’s ridiculous you say, I’m just being paranoid.
Well yes but that doesn’t make me wrong.
Let’s look at the things we have heard over the last few days.
Firstly the PM, Cameron was giving a speech at the UN where he said the following:
We must be clear: to defeat the ideology of extremism we need to deal with all forms of extremism not just violent extremism.
Non-violent extremism is just as dangerous as terrorism and must be eradicated using all means at the government's disposal.
Then we have this statement:
We are in the middle of a generational struggle against a deadly extremist ideology. We will be engaged in this struggle for many years, probably decades. We must give ourselves all the legal powers we need to prevail.
Then we have the Extremist Asbo form Mz May.
I am looking again at the case for new banning orders for extremist groups that fall short of the legal threshold for terrorist proscription, as well as for new civil powers to target extremists who seek to radicalise others.
The new Extremist Civil Orders would contain wide-ranging restrictions on individuals who undertake to spread, incite or justify hatred against people on grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation or disability or for the purpose of overthrowing democracy
The restrictions are expected to include banning individuals from speaking at public events, protests or meetings, informing the police in advance of any public event, protest or meeting that they plan to attend, and banning individuals from particular public locations.
May also wants to include restrictions on banned individuals from broadcasting, from associating with named people, and restricting their use of social media or the internet by requiring them to submit in advance any proposed publication to the police.
So far she has been justifying this as an effort to stop Islamic Extremists such as ISIS. But Cameron and May have both said non violent extremists and Cameron specifically mentioned the 9/11 and 7/7 truthers. If you are not familiar with those two groups they believe that both were inside jobs by the respective governments in order to justify the war on terror and increased security.
Now both of them are talking about Extremists and since they are now talking about both violent AND non violent extremists we need to look at what an extremist is since they are all counted as the same thing by the Tories.
A person who favours or resorts to immoderate, uncompromising, or fanatical methods or behaviour, characterized by immoderate or excessive actions, opinions, etc
A person who holds extreme political or religious views, especially one who advocates illegal, violent, or other extreme action.
One who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm, especially in politics.
There are a number of definitions and they are all fairly broad. When you consider that Cameron and May are talking about people who hold extreme views in Religion or politics, say extreme things or support extreme groups you should begin to see just how widely this description can be spread. Given that they are looking at anyone who has an extreme view on race, religion, sexual orientation or disability or for the purpose of overthrowing democracy you are looking at probably millions of people.
Strongly oppose Gay marriage, tell people who do not share your religion they will burn in hell, vote UKIP, be a member of the EDL or BNP. Are you strongly socialist or think democracy doesn’t work, a monarchist who wants a return to being ruled by the queen or any of a thousand other views.
Then you are an extremist by the broad stroke of the possible definition and therefore vulnerable to Mays extremist ASBO. Oh and you can go to prison for breaking it so talking to your friends down the pub about what you think of immigrants and you could end up with a criminal record.
Am I being ridiculous?
Well ask yourself a question. Can you trust the Tories or Labour or the Lib Dems to not let things get that bad. What about councils, after all when social services can refuse to allow you to adopt because you vote UKIP do you honestly think they will hesitate to use new powers to act against anyone they don’t like.
Then we come to some more statements made by Theresa May that included such gems as:
I want to see new banning orders for extremist groups that fall short of the existing laws relating to terrorism.
I want to see new civil powers to target extremists who stay within the law but still spread poisonous hatred.
Targeted not just at so-called hate preachers but also those who sought to “disrupt the democratic process” and “undermine democracy.
So both policies, banning orders and extremism disruption orders‚ will be in the next Conservative manifesto
Part of a widening of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, the Home Office will soon, for the first time, assume responsibility for a new counter-extremism strategy that goes beyond terrorism.
Aim to eliminate all forms of extremism‚ including neo-Nazism and Islamist extremism. In particular, it would confront the culture of bullying and intimidation
Well well. That’s a lot and as she said herself, it’s a crisis in national security, children were at risk.
But read the above again and ask a few questions. Such as what does she mean by people ‘who stay within the law’ or ‘fall short of the existing laws’. Does that mean going after people who have actually broken no law, putting them under an Extremist ASBO and sending them to prison for breaking the ASBO when they have done nothing to break UK law.
Surely if the Law does not cover something it is the duty of MPs to amend the law to bring it up to date. .
Under what circumstances is it acceptable in a civilised democracy to have a home secretary who thinks it is acceptable to ban people from attending public events or accessing the internet when they have done NOTHING to break UK law.
Yes I understand that this is being done for the public intention of fighting Islamic extremists and recruiters for ISIS. But it will do no such thing, instead it will be spread far and wide to catch huge numbers of people who happen to hold views that are a bit far from the political or religious centre.
Who defines ‘poisonous hatred’ or ‘all forms of extremism’. Would that be Mz May and her lackeys, or perhaps the crown prosecution service, any judge that is asked, the local councils, your local mayor or anyone else that is in authority over us.
Then we come the Snoopers Charter, part two, The Return from the grave’
The next Conservative government will give the police the powers they need to keep us safe after those outrageous irresponsible Lib Dems sunk the Communications Data Bill last time.
This was bought in to fight terrorists and extremists several years ago before it was dropped.
It was rushed through a short while ago as Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, remember the panic to get it done in a few days without anyone being able to read it. Its not yet been passed the royal assent bit to become Law, well I'm thinking it will soon.
Now it’s rising once again but this time the definition of extremists is a lot wider. So the Communications bill which is intended to provide the security services and other authorised organisations with the intelligence they need to monitor and act against extremists will now include non violent extremists and anyone the government thinks has extreme views or attitudes.
Our home secretary is publicly talking about imposing legal restrictions on what can be said in public or online, where people can go or who they can meet for people who HAVE BROKEN NO UK LAWS and now is telling us that the Tories will give the police the powers they need to deal with extremists and the definition of the extremists is now much wider and more far reaching.
The communications data bill was rightly attacked by just about everyone who had an understanding of what it was and how open to abuse it would be, not to mention how much of a step it was towards an unaccountable police state.
But the old bill was a mere warm up to the main act which is before us now. Violent, non violent, all the same thing. Any extremist view or opinion and you are on the list to be monitored or worse.
So,am I paranoid and wrong. Or am I paranoid and right?
On Friday we had a PMs speech and debate on bombing ISIS / IS.
The vote was: 524 in favour, 43 against. A majority of 481.
Since Saturday the Royal air force has been flying over Iraq fully armed and ready to drop bombs or fire missiles at IS forces. So far they have not done so because of the problems they have with identifying targets.
The desire to target IS and not the civilians around them is a significant problem in Iraq, less so in Syria. But the RAF are not (yet) flying in Syria so what is the problem.
I refer to ISIS / IS sometimes as ISIS which is the amalgamation or Terror, insurgency and guerrilla groups and IS the Islamic State. People have argued that IS is not a state or not Islamic, I’m not going to cover the nonsense of denying the Islamic identity here. Instead I am looking at its identity as a state.
IS now covers an area larger than the UK, they have an economy that puts them towards the bottom of the list but not at the bottom and there are a number of small nations that are considered states with far smaller areas or economies.
But one point which has been made now by several people is that they don’t have a capital or any of the things a state should have, like a parliament.
Walk around London and see the palaces, the halls, all of the magnificent history written in stone and brick.
While you are there visit the tower of London, a thousand years of power and might stamped into the landscape.
London is a great and powerful city, the capital of a great powerful nation. It exudes age and majesty, it says the UK is worthy or respect because we have done all of this, can do all of this and have been doing it for centuries.
But then Britain has been throwing its weight around the world for centuries and London is the legacy of Empire, wealth and power. Paris, Rome, Madrid, these also lay claim to centuries of history and have the magnificent old buildings to support that claim.
Our ancestors were born into a country where London was the capital and everything was based there. It’s where the government is and always has been and these days it’s where the biggest share of resources and spending ends up.
As a nation and in fact across the entire traditional and historic west we have problems with the very idea that things should not be concentrated in a great Capital city, look at how much trouble the mobile office technology has being accepted and try to scale that up to the level of regional or national governments.
This gives an enemy a long list of clear targets that are unquestionably associated with the British government and leadership.
Across Africa, the Middle East and the Far East people are using the technology of this century to run business and organisations with smart phones and tablets that don’t need fixed offices. Here in the west as a society we are slowly adapting to mobile technology in business and not at all in government, our traditional western views are leaving us far behind in terms of distributed business and government.
But the Islamic State is not a traditional western power, it does not have the traditional mindset of the west, in fact it is an amalgamation of insurgent groups and people who are well versed in asymmetric warfare, they have no need for historic buildings and in fact spend a deal of time destroying any historic buildings that do not fit with their interpretation of history and scripture.
Here in the UK with our hundreds of years of tradition and bloated governmental bureaucracy we have 650 MPs and yet apart from very rare or ceremonial events you never see more than 10% in parliament. Bombing the houses of parliament most of the time will have a minor impact on British government.
For IS which has an organisational structure based around insurgent groups and tribal councils they have no real need for great halls and chambers to meet in. They can hold a council meeting in a coffee shop or mosque anywhere in one of the cities they control. This makes bombing the focal points of the IS government very hard, the only ones they have are generally only there because they are aping traditional government structures or are meeting points for civilians and therefore likely to bring high numbers of civilian casualties.
With smart phones and tablets and distributed computing it is entirely possible to control an organisation or even a nation without the fixed infrastructure that we in the west are pre conditioned to consider necessary. We westerners have done government and bureaucracy the same way for hundreds of years, technology is only slowly beginning to make changes.
But for people who do not have the same traditional handicap towards what a state could be and can be things can be very different. Want to hold a meeting, why be in the same room unless you want to be doing that old fashioned shaking hands and sharing coffee stuff.
Smart phones and tablets with encrypted communications software, video packages like Skype and conference calls means that you can hold those meeting from anywhere in a country or several countries. The computer servers and resources used to control and coordinate the billion dollar economy that is the Islamic State can be located anywhere in the world.
This is the 21st century, technology makes it possible for any business, organisation or government to be distributed. All it takes is the technological know how and the willingness to discard long traditions of the way things should be done. ISIS and IS have clearly demonstrated they have a grasp of technology and coming from an amalgamation of terrorist and insurgent groups they are the very opposite of traditional and hidebound when it comes to the way they do things.
So what do you bomb?
The Islamic State in Syria has been suffering steady attacks by the US against identified fixed facilities and buildings. The oil wells and refineries have been attracting particular attention in an attempt to cut down on the millions of dollars a day the Islamic State makes from selling oil. Other buildings known to be used by IS have also been destroyed.
Front line defences, vehicles, tanks and the like which are out in the open have also been attacked but this in Syria and the West is less concerned about the risk of collateral damage, after all the same aircraft that are flying over Syria and bombing IS were ready to fly over Syria and bomb Assad not so long ago.
Iraq on the other hand is a far more difficult problem. While IS control and exploits some 40% of Iraq’s oil production and refining facilities the Iraqi government wants them back rather than blown to bits. It would take years to rebuild and cost more money that the weakened Iraqi state has to spend. So they have asked the west NOT to destroy the oil facilities.
What does that leave? To be honest not a lot. IS forces in the Sunni north of Iraq are based in towns and villages that are inhabited by Sunni locals, some forced to support IS, others doing so willingly. Apart from front line villages that are regularly fought over where the civilians have long since fled any buildings used by IS also tend to have civilians in them or around them.
In terms of vehicles and groups of people away from the towns, again it is a problem of identification. A fighter pilot or ground spotter that see’s a column of pickups filled with masked men in black pyjamas with machine guns and IS flags is a clear target, half a dozen men in the back of a truck full of boxes could be an IS supply unit, reinforcements going to the front lines or some locals taking their goods to the closest market.
The time when the US could simply fly over the battlefield and blow up anything not a US vehicle are long gone. The Iraqi army, the Shia militias and the Peshmerga lack the modern electrical systems used to identify friend or foe to modern fighters. IS captured large numbers of western vehicles and equipment, someone driving a Humvee in an area that may be IS or Iraqi or Kurdish today could be friendly or an enemy.
IS also have captured Russian or soviet era tanks and armoured vehicles, the same as are used by the Kurds and the Iraqi army. Again to a fighter pilot racing over the area at speed to avoid ground attacks is that tank an IS one advancing or withdrawing or a Kurdish one advancing or withdrawing? Take away the flags above and which one is the enemy and which one is an ally?
So British aircraft are taking off, flying across the designated target areas and waiting for someone to spot something they can attack. But IS are not stupid, or at least the people behind them are not stupid. They are already changing the way they operate and developing counter measures against air strikes.
All of these means that bombing will not work, the whole Degrade and Destroy thing is a good sound bite but cannot be done from the air. In fact the very way in which the bombing is not working acts to improve the reputation of IS and ISIS, they can and indeed are using the fact that the infamous US shock and awe bombing campaigns that crushed Sadam are not working on them.
But pictures of aircraft in the skies makes it look as if the west is doing something to counter the problem. Cameron’s claim of a generational war against IS and whoever replaces them and whoever replaces the ones that come next will involve bombs and missiles being fired every so often against the occasional target.
Using technology and techniques designed to fight traditional enemies will not work against IS, our leaders need to start thinking about other ways of doing the job.
To do the job requires a short term and a long term solution. The short term is military, the long term one is social and economic and political. Three areas that the west has proved singularly inept at organising in the Middle East.
Without troops on the ground who can identify the enemy all the bombs in the world will do nothing except strengthen the IS cause. The west has had enough of its young men being maimed and killed in some dusty hell hole, Britain has had its armed forces somewhere shooting at and being shot at for the last 100 years.
But what is the alternative. Half the Iraqi army is considered to be completely incapable of combat and most of the rest is questionable. All of those men trained and equipped at vast expense by the US and UK, the number considered to be capable of full scale combat operations to a western standard is a handful. Syria, Jordan, the Lebanon, can they do the job. No they can’t. Saudi Arabia with a larger and more powerful military than the UK, not willing to do the job and outside of the prestige units of the Saudi army most of them are as questionable as the Iraqis.
The Shia militias that are being raised in great numbers, they are looking to fight a holy war, Shia against Sunni, they will be as bad as ISIS. The Kurdish forces are one of the few that is actually fighting IS to a standstill but they can hardly drive IS out of the entire north of Iraq alone.
About the only serious military with the numbers is Egypt, a nation that does not seem to have been involved in the anti IS alliance.
Thanks to deliberate provocation there is a clear consensus in the west that ISIS / IS must be attacked and destroyed. All of our technology and air power is useless against an invisible enemy and the terrorists and insurgents in Syria and Iraq are the sons and grandsons of the men who hid from Russian bombs in Afghanistan decades ago. They have learned their tradecraft during wars where those who failed to learn died and they are very good at what they do. Aircraft and drones cannot kill an enemy they cannot find.
So the west is trapped, the demand to act against the impossibility of acting.
We can bomb and shell and missile for years and achieve nothing. To win in the short term it will take ground forces which means local troops and that brings the prospect of creating new problems in a few years time.
After all you cannot bomb an enemy you cannot see.
I tend to work alone these days and I like a bit of background noise, the sound of music or better yet voices around me. It gives me the illusion that I’m not a sad loner tucked away in a cave all day typing on a keyboard.
Generally I use the news programs, so its voices and information. Though the blade runner trials drove me to distraction with week after week of repeating the same dammed thing over and over. For this reason I have had the labour conference in my ears for several days and I’m sure I’ll have the other two spouting their lies as well as the party conference season continues.
So yesterday I was half listening to Labour rolling out minion after minion to talk about the economy and stuff.
People don’t understand the economy, not on the scale of nations and countries. Billions here, trillions there, its just long lines of zeros.
Those charts that we see on the news, the ones with the red lines going up and down, the ones that look so important. They show only a fraction of the real scale, a chart showing a ten point range and going up and down by three or four points looks like a big change but when its three tenths of one percent it’s not something a normal person would even notice. Tiny wiggles on a line.
Look at the chart above, big drop showing there, very impressive. But it has dropped less than 200 points on a 6000 point value, barely a wiggle.
No when people think about the economy they think about personal economy, household economy, family, friends and the neighbours economy. The broad picture is an abstract, something that happens around them rather than to them.
People look at the money in the bank account and how long it lasts, they ask can they afford to fill up the car this week or do they do the fuel light gamble again. They look at the point there the bank account goes past zero and its overdraft charges again.
People here some politician boasting that the economy is doing better, the recession is over, Britain is doing better. Then they sit in the kitchen and add up the bills and try to work out if they can afford two take aways this month and take the kids to see a movie.
To people the economy is how it affects them not how it affects the country as a whole. Does it change their lives, make things better or worse, if not then it’s just another politician talking nonsense.
Now we have lived through a number of years of belt tightening and every shrinking money. People reach the end of the month and get their money, which is near enough the same they were getting last year or the year before. Then they count how many weeks it is before they run out, will they reach the next pay day with money left, will they run out early again. Remembering a few years ago when they actually had money left to save or for a treat at the end of each month. Not now, not these days.
People understand that things are affecting their lives, regardless of the prevailing political attitude that the population are stupid enough to be lied to over and over and over. We know the politicians are lying, we just haven’t become angry enough to do anything yet.
So people listen, we listen and then we go back to living our own lives and worrying about our own economies.
We have heard all the lying and the statistics, we have had some bloke in an expensive suit stand at a gold lectern and talk about permanent austerity, austerity for us that is, while parliaments Champagne bill goes up in leaps and bounds.
We see every price we pay and every bill we receive go up and up
We know the nasty party are nasty, unless you are rich enough to play the old school politics that are the norm these days you are either struggling to stay where you are or slowly falling toward poverty. In modern Britain, If you have the power, influence of wealth to scratch a politicians back at some point then they are more than happy to scratch yours. If not, get back with the rest of the proles and serfs you peasant.
Elections are a choice of who we hate the least, who we hate the most. A list of bad choices so which one will hurt me the least.
Parties don’t win elections these days, they lose them less than the other guys.
We have the Nasty party, they are cruel, uncaring, a bunch of two faced liars blatantly looking out for themselves, their friends and their old school chums at the expense at the expense of the rest of us.
We have the Lib Dems, the inconsequential party. Do we vote for them?
Sorry, had an attack of hysterical laughter as I was typing there.
Vote Lib Dem?
Then there is choice number three, the incompetent party. Labour. The other guys in our normal two horse race as we switch between one and the other.
Election coming up, last chance to shine where the nation’s TV crews are watching, party conference season and Labour are up first. The opportunity to get in there with new ideas, good ideas, and them say the others are just stealing your ideas if they say the same.
Instead we have Labour jumping in on Tory benefit hatred by confirming they will keep the £26,000 cap, hello, real world here. 99.9% of people on benefits will never see that much money in a year and those who do get that much and more are cheating the system. Close the bloody loopholes instead of jumping on the Tory hate the unemployed bandwagon.
Anyway yesterday I was hearing about the economy. The big picture, how things will be made better for the country and for people. Less debt, more money available for other stuff. Balancing the books. Standing in front of the faithful and giving speeches about how labour will do things better. But its all grand scale, over most people’s heads, they don’t care about such promises, what they hear is things getting better for them and their families.
Then on the news shows and the satellite channels I watched and they watched as spokes Oik after spokes Oik came and sat down with some well known BBC or Sky interviewer to get some TV time. Both channels asked the same direct questions, your party is making grand promises but how do the numbers work, where does the money come from. 200 million here, 400 million there, a billion in the corner.
Its the economy so people weren’t really listening to the numbers, what they were watching was the people. Spokes minions and big names, one and all, evade the questions and avoided the questions. Gave answers to some other question they hadn't been asked, did everything they could to not give a straight answer to the question they were asked.
Big promises made and then they one and all refused to provide any details.
In short they looked like the usual bunch of slimey, two faced, lying politicians.
Labour is constantly considered to be far less trusted on the economy than the nasty party, that’s an impressive achievement. The Tories who have left a million going to food banks, millions more in poverty and left most every household in the country poorer in real terms by thousands of pounds are more trusted on the economy than Miliband's mob.
Labour had the chance to change that, they got their time in the spot light, a chance to make a good impression for next year. Change people’s minds for the better.
Nope, they just demonstrated they are just as much a bunch of weasels as every other political party, good job.
Does Putin look happy in this picture meeting with Poroshenko. Not surprising given that Putin has basically won everything he wanted in this round.
To take a break from the coverage of Scottish independence lets go a little further abroad to another ongoing independence campaign that is well on the way to success.
Despite frantic efforts on the part of Kiev to get the EU and NATO to save them from the rampaging Russian beast no one was willing to directly help. So faced with a resurgent independence army or armies along with Russian troops now doing to the Ukraine what the US/UK/NATO have been doing to others for years Kiev has now waved the white flag and surrendered.
The two primary independence regions, Lugansk and Donetsk have been granted greater autonomy in many fields as the new semi autonomous region of Donbas (Donetsk Basin).
This is what I was expecting, the areas that were actively separatist being granted a significant degree of autonomy and devolution of power.
Kiev accepting that this area was no longer under their control and unable to do anything to regain control over this area due to the the Russians having involved themselves directly in a major way for the first time.
I was expecting Russia to want some sort of land access to the Crimea with its Russian population and more importantly the Russian Naval and military bases and facilities along with Russia's only fleet access to the Black Sea and from there to the Mediterranean.
What the separatists have actually gained is this.
The entire Lugansk and Donetsk regions, collectively called Donbas.
This is vastly more than the area controlled by the separatists at any point during this civil war and includes large areas that were never involved in the fighting.
This region includes a population of roughly 7 million people out of the entire Ukrainian population of 45 million. That is 15% of the entire population, a far bigger split than Scotland.
No land connection to the Crimea peninsula. YET.
But this is just the first bite. and its a big one. imagine what the next bite is going to look like.
Demographically the Donblas is predominantly Russian speakers as showed above. All three of the dark blue regions are now autonomous or as good as such and all but allied to Russia. How long before the mid blue regions come under Putin's eye?
What does this agreement actually mean:
Lugansk and Donetsk regions granted "special status", giving them broad autonomy and increased local powers. Treaty stipulates a three-year period.
So autonomy, significant self rule but remaining part of a larger Ukraine. Pretty much the Crimean deal then. Oh and three year limit, just how exactly does anyone think Kiev is going to take back these powers in three years given the whole deal is because the separatists with Russian backing were winning the civil war.
Regional councils will have the power to appoint local judges and prosecutors.
Yet more autonomous powers, the separatists could do this anyway in the areas they controlled but this now covers the entire Donbas region.
Russian language use guaranteed in regional institutions.
Again given that the regions in question are heavily Russian speaking and now all but autonomous this is a nothing promise to the winners.
Local authorities in Donetsk and Lugansk can "strengthen good neighbourly relations" with their counterparts across the border in Russia.
This one is a biggy and basically recognises the de facto situation on the ground. The borders between the separatist regions and Russia have not been under Kiev control since the civil war started. "Strengthen good neighbourly relations" means what, open borders and Russian military units securing the separatist regions as they are doing right now.
This one all but declares that these regions are now no longer under Kiev control and there is nothing Kiev can do about it.
Amnesty protects from criminal prosecution "participants of events in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions"
No investigation or prosecution for war crimes or attacks on civilians on either side. This lets both sides off the hook given the reports that both sides have been committing brutal attacks on the other and on civilians. In particular Kiev has been bombing civilian areas with regular and inaccurate attacks.
This also means any Russians who were over the border in the Ukraine illegally as it refers to ‘Participants’, a broad term that covers everyone involved. Given that this was signed by Ukraine and the separatists and Russia it will make any action by the EU or international legal bodies against Russia very difficult.
Now the good news for Putin and the bad news for the Ukraine and the EU.
Donbas (Donetsk and Luhansk) between then represent 15% of the Ukraine’s entire population. Add in the over 2 million from the Crimea and 20% of the population of the Ukraine is now effectively autonomous from Kiev and allied to Russia.
Even worse than the population numbers is the economics.
This deal includes the port of Mariupol which was surrounded by Separatists but not captured. This is the largest port in the Azov sea and one of only four major Ukrainian ports, combined with the Crimea this gives Russia significant naval and civilian access to the black sea and to the Mediterranean and beyond while reducing Ukrainian port space by a significant amount.
The Donbas region combined with the Crimea contains roughly half of all coal, iron and steel. Aluminium, chemicals, oil and salt come from this region. Over half of the gas in the Ukraine is under this region, most of the Ukraine’s oil is produced in these regions.
A significant majority of light and heavy industry, three quarters of the Ukraine’s military production in terms of completed units or parts comes from Donbas. Russia is dependent on exports from this region for a large part of its military build ups.
At least half the resources, 75% of the heavy industry, 25% of the total GDP. That’s a big chunk of value and given the example of the Crimea there will be elections followed by a parliamentary vote for closer ties to mother Russia.
A year from now if the entire Donbas is all but Russia all of those EU sanctions will have been nothing more than pin pricks against the vast wealth and resources that Russia gains.
The remainder of the Ukraine and the remaining population have lost most of their heavy industry, most of their non agricultural exports, as much as 25% of the nations GDP and there is no guarantee that this will be the last they lose.
The nation that remains under Kiev is far less economically capable that it was a few months ago when it went cap in hand to the IMF and the EU for money to keep the government afloat. Giving the Remains of the Ukraine EU membership will create a money pit that will draw in hundreds of billions of Euros over the years and bring very little in return.
Poroshenko’s headlong charge for closer EU integration is not to create a market for Ukrainian exports, he doesn't have much to offer. Instead it is a desperate plea for a lifeline, to keep what remains of his nation solvent and to protect him from Putin coming back next year and taking another bite out of the south and east of the country. That land corridor to the Crimea that I was expecting, that will be most of the south gone simply because Kiev has demonstrated that it cannot resist and will give Putin whatever he wants.
Like any bully Putin will be back for more and like any helpless victim Kiev will crawl to any hope of safety no matter how humiliating.
The West did nothing, could do nothing and so Putin has fed well. When he gets hungry he will be back and there will still be nothing the west can do to stop him.
Something that has been mentioned in numerous places is that one thing that has been raised by the prospect of Scottish independence is Hope. Hope for the major cities, regions and the old kingdoms of Britain that they could gain their own independence as well.
Today I have been listening to spokespeople for Manchester’s incorporation as an independent city with control over its own budget. Manchester. Birmingham, Wales, Cornwall. The north of England, the midlands, an English parliament. Yorkshire is getting in on the act.
They even rolled in Sir Ming Campbell to give his support for the idea.
Regardless of the vote on Thursday Scotland will find itself in command of much of its own destiny. Either they will spend the next few years negotiating independence or they will spend the next few years sorting out all of the new powers that they have been promised as a result of devolution and federalisation.
It is this that gives independence movements across the UK the Hope that they can fight and win, their own freedom.
Not as truly independent states that are somehow no longer part of Britain, but rather as their own states with their own parliaments or elected bodies and the right to spend their own money.
All done under that umbrella of a Federal Britain that Brown and Clegg have been promising.
How far will this go, back to where we were more than a thousand years ago when the old kingdoms ruled themselves and their rulers sat in council with each other?
Map by Imaginary Maps
After all, the welsh have a parliament and control over some of their own tax and spending. Wales as a whole has a total population of a shade over three million and a GDP of roughly £50 billion give or take a few billion.
Manchester on its own has a population of only half a million but has a GDP of more than £80 billion counting the whole city.
So if Wales is allowed its own parliament and control over much of its own spending, why not Manchester which is a wealthier region by far.
Scotland is five and a bit million people voting to determine who they answer to, the Scottish parliament OR London. Yorkshire and the Humber as a single region is a population of Five and a bit million people so what is the argument that they should not have a parliament to represent that region and its people.
Scotland 5.2 million Wales 3 million Northern Ireland 1.8 million London 8.3 million England 45 million
Scotland has its own parliament, so does Wales and so does Northern Ireland. London on its own is the same size as all both Wales and Scotland. Then there is the rest of England, by far the largest of the five regions that make up the UK. Where is the English parliament to focus on its own people rather than play constant second fiddle to London?
The south west of England has a population of 5.3 million, that’s larger than Scotland, where is the south west regional parliament or assembly?
As part of the massive panic that came with that first survey putting the yes campaign in the lead our political leaders have rushed in with the usual short term knee jerk response and promised the world to Scotland if only they stay.
The politicians can hardly refuse to honour the promises they are making, or Scotland will simply vote again and walk away.
But this is not happening in isolation, the whole country may be powerless in this vote but they are watching what happens closely.
I suspect that as soon as Brown made his promises and was then supported by all three party leaders cheers were shouted and glasses raised. Not for Scotland, but instead for everyone else. What Scotland had done was to give everyone else the first hope that their regions or cities could also benefit from devolution of power.
When Brown and Clegg both spoke of Federalisation and the devolution of power that Hope went from a candle flame to a ruddy great beacon of fire.
The prospect of breaking the out of touch and corrupt grip on power of our political classes as they sit in London with their snouts in the trough is tempting, it is one of those things that you dream about but never expected to see and not in this way.
London is a wealthy area and brings a significant amount of this countries income and capabilities, but only because the rest of the country has been all but sacrificed as more and more companies, projects and political will has poured into one small corner of the UK. Go back in history and look at the power, the economic strength and what the great Midlands cities bought to the UK before they were dumped into London’s shadow.
Given the power to do so Manchester or Birmingham or the Southwest can make better deals to attract new jobs and new money. Scotland, even including its share of the oil wealth based on population, has a lower GDP than Manchester and Birmingham and the regions around them. The Scots have been promised the earth and the moon to stay, what will happen if the movement for a regional authority to cover those cities rises and grows in voice.
This is the thinking and the reasoning behind many people who see what is happening and imagine how their dreams of devolution or autonomy can now become a reality.
YES or NO what Scotland has done is give Hope to every group that wants autonomy. The problem from the point of view of the government s that having offered the Scottish autonomy they are likely to be hard pressed to refuse the same to other regions.
After all if keeping Scotland is so important then so is keeping other regions of the UK that are as large or larger, so is keeping other regions that are as rich or richer.
People are noticing this is happening, talking heads are talking but more importantly the regions are talking as well. Those well intentioned but quirky Welsh and Cornish and Mancurian independence groups are suddenly being listened to because, hey, if Scotland can do it why can’t we.
Long after next Thursdays vote the after effect of all of these promises are going to spread like ripples on a pond. They will not be forgotten and you can bet that MPs and parties are going to make the same promises again and again over the next year as they try desperately to remain in power or to gain power.
How will a Federal Britain work, will it be like the American model or will it be something new?
At this time no one can say because we don’t know how many or how few regions will make up the states or what form they will take. It may be years before everything is settled but one thing is sure.
How much power will the regions and states have, enough to curtail the excesses of London based politicians, or will it simply spawn a whole new layer of corruption and greed as each new parliament is filled with career politicians who have taken their lessons from the current mob of self serving cheats, liars and thieves.
This has been building for years and an entire generation of Politicians carry much of the blame, this was not an accident, instead it represents the culmination of many years of an increasingly out of touch political class that has long neglected anywhere that is not the south east and that has sacrificed everything not London in order to advance their personal and political agenda’s.
Well now we seem to have reached the tipping point, the voices have become so loud that the politicians who have ignored them so long now run around like headless chickens as the enormity of the situation finally dawns on them.
Our politicians are bringing down the whole house of cards and in the long term that can only be a good thing.
This is democracy in action, the will of the people made manifest. That the politicians are panicking says a lot about our current system.
What is being debated and argued up in Scotland is not just something that will affect us for the next few years, it is something that will affect the next generation, today’s children will grow up in a nation shaped by next week’s vote.
Which is why it is far too important to be left to a bunch of politicians with vested interests.
For months now the whole matter of Scottish independence has been bouncing up and down in the news, will they, won’t they, the opinions have been many and varied.
Down here in the English part of the UK (as separate to the London part of the UK) we have been seeing a steady flow of media reporting that it’s not going to happen. Then suddenly something terrible happened, someone broke ranks, someone stopped putting out government propaganda and someone said the Yes campaign may be winning.
Cue panic, headless chickens, running around in circles and waving hands in the air. It was a disaster, oh no what do they do now. Those dammed Scots might actually get the idea they could win.
In the words of one famous Scottish Undertaker
You youngsters can look up Private Frasier
So some bright spark says, “I know, let’s all go to Scotland and support the No campaign”.
Parliament decamped and rushed north, like something out of a Benny Hill or Keystone cops comedy chase (if you youngsters don’t remember them Google and Youtube are your friends).
All of you youngsters that don't remember Benny HIll or the Keystone cops, Google and Youtube them.
The Cameron, Clegg and Miliband show rolled north trying to catch up with the Brown and Darling and chasing along behind them came the whole media and marketing arm of all three political parties and behind them came another hundred or more Labour MPs along with their staff and followers.
Entire train loads of London based politicians and minions streaming north to Scotland. A veritable army of them.
Not since the days of Edward Longshanks has Scotland had such hatred and contempt for the people heading towards it with an army in tow.
Now we have seen impassioned pleas, we have seen crocodile tears, we have seen chest thumping and begging and bribes.
We are seeing a significant media manipulation of events and news, the way that polls are represented has been changed to suit Westminster’s demands that the Yes campaign be fought by every means possible.
The giants of industry and business are falling in line and condemning independence as a disaster, everyone is doom and gloom, we will move south, prices will go up, it’s a disaster.
Heck even the Loch Ness monster is reported to have fled south and is now living in lake Windermere.
If that’s not a sign of the end of the world what is?
Everywhere you look they are saying Independence is going to be a complete and utter disaster. But here is the thing, it isn’t. Not at all. Because absolutely nothing has yet been decided as to what Independence means.
Not a single thing.
If the vote is yes then every aspect of the split will be negotiated afterwards. All the arguments, all the threats and the fear mongering, every worst case scenario, none of them mean a dammed thing. Because in the days after the separation not one thing will change UNLESS the parliaments of Scotland or Britain make them change.
The UK will make most of the worst case scenarios happen, not the vote for independence. The SNP will make the rest happen for better or for worse AFTER the vote. The vote itself will simply set into motion a series of discussions about how Scotland and the rest of Britain separate all the things that are currently combined.
But to our politicians it is that discussion that is the terrifying thing, not the separation.
Does anyone really believe those Cameron crocodile tears? Does anyone think for a moment that he really values those 40 Labour MPs, the loss of whom would leave us with a Tory majority for the foreseeable future.
Does anyone actually believe that those 100 Labour MPs that have rushed north hot on the heels of their boss care about Scotland or the Scottish or are they panicking because of the loss of so many seats in parliament?
No. They have all rushed north to try and head off a situation where they will have no choice but to sit down and negotiate what I hope will be a public and transparent series of arguments and debates over how Scotland separates itself and yet remains a good neighbour and partner.
Having to do that, with the eyes of the world on them, being forced to fairly and honestly manage such a separation. That is what I think Terrifies them. Not the loss of Scotland.
But instead the fact that such a loss would force them to change the rules that they have created and which serve them so well. The whole corrupt system could be dragged into the light and examined in every detail. All the injustice, the unfairness, the back handers, the bribes, the greed and the corruption. The whole stinking mess looked at in the light of day.
15 June 1215 at Runnymede King John known as John Lackland was forced to sign a document guaranteeing the powers of the Barons to block the authority of the King. It had little to do with the rights of the common man but its basic tenants have, over time, come to form the basis of many constitutions and legal codes.
We are counting down the last few day before the whole Scottish situation explodes, either they are going their own way as an independent nation or they are going their own way as a hugely devolved part of a federal GB.
But something that has been thrown up here is not Scotland or independence. Instead we are looking at that great unwritten and ever flexible charter of rights and not rights, the UK constitution.
The Brown himself has said: “We are talking about a big change in the constitution.”
But we don’t have one, at least not anything someone could point at and say there it is. What we have is a body of laws, a bunch of traditions and the charming old fashioned idea that we have rights because we are British. What we have is a body of Laws, both traditional and bought into force by recent parliaments, both domestic and forced upon us by Brussels.
In a just society the Laws tell you what you cannot do.
In a fair society the laws bind all men equally.
In an honest society the Laws are known to us for there is nothing to hide.
In a tyranny the laws tell you what you can do.
In a tyranny they are applied differently depending on who you are or to which group you belong.
In a tyranny they are hidden until you are accused of breaking them.
You can decide for yourselves where the UK stands at present.
A constitution stands above and beyond laws, it is the overriding principles by which a society sets it laws. It is the core principles, the rights and privileges of citizens, and their protections.
The basis of a constitution is the society and culture who wrote it. The Magna Carta was framed by the land owning nobles who had the armies and the power at a time when many did not and indeed could not own land unless they were of a select social class.
The US constitution is 227 years old, seven generations in old terms, given the life spans we now consider normal just five generations, yet the way it is written, the language used, is almost a forgotten tongue. This leaves it open to almost constant argument and interpretation.
The Magna Carta was a product of the society of its time, the US constitution was a product of its time. Both are hopelessly outdated in terms of the way they were written, we simply do not use that language anymore nor do we share many of the cultural attitudes of those times.
Our culture is the result of hundreds of years of slow change and social evolution, it is still changing, still being reformed into something new. Fifty years from now any constitution written today would need amendments to make it relevant to that generation.
So I think that a constitution should have a life span, it may be amended during that time but once it has reached the end of its life span a new generation should be called upon to write it again to suit the society and language that is theirs, not ours.
Given the dynamic nature of society and language I think it should be the case that such a document has a lifespan of no more than 100 years and rather than argue over its wording and language and intent, it be rewritten by the same process of majority interaction.
I said majority interaction just then, because I feel that a 21st century constitution must be frame by the population or as many of them as possible. A constitution is too important, too powerful to be left to a handful of politicians or lawyers to create. In fact There should be NO lawyers involved in drafting such a thing, it should be simple, straightforward, clear and easy to understand. The exact opposite in fact of anything written by Lawyers. It must also be fair and just and apply to all people equally which is why there should be NO politicians involved.
A system of amendments must be governed by the same standard, any change that is agreed to by a significant majority should be acceptable. Not changes that a party with 51% of MPs could do.
Some rights must not be changed by amendment, others may make no sense or be irrelevant after a generation as society and law changes.
But and this is a big BUT, unless we can act to confirm what people cannot do and the rights that people should have by a constitution that stands above our laws and cannot be ignored or amended by politicians at will we risk circling back towards earlier times and earlier cultures.
The economic differences between the richest and the poorest are back to the kind of levels that existed in Dickens day or in much earlier times when lords ruled the land and serfs worked on the barons lands because it was not possible for them to own land of their own.
When we had high law and common law those who were not of the church or nobility suffered under a harsh legal code with no way of appeal, a situation that is returning as legal aid is removed from more and more who cannot afford lawyers on their own.
In employment terms are returning to almost Dickensian attitudes as protections are removed, the rules that say you cannot treat your employees like serfs are weakened or taken away completely.
A Law can be changed by a simple majority vote, a constitution cannot be so easily amended. With no protection but that of Laws that can be changed by a simple majority we could be living with the Tory idea of fairness for the poor, the sick, the disabled and the unemployed for ever just because the Scots bugger off.
We need something more than that, MPs come and go by the week, the protection that says what ALL men cannot do must be stronger than the word of whichever political body can muster 51% of the votes in parliament.
With Scottish independence a possibility now we have to look to a post Scotland parliament, with 41 labour MPs gone along with their country and the Tories losing a whole one MP Westminster is facing a considerable Tory majority.
What that means in terms of the Law versus Constitution debate is that a Tory government that can manage 51% of MPS and whip through the votes can change laws to suit its own agenda. With a Constitution that could be amended by, let us say a two thirds majority, and with core rights that cannot be removed the population are far safer.
After all do you want the likes of Cameron, IDS and McVey or the Ed and Ed show drafting the laws that are your only protection against poverty and mistreatment at the hands of the government?
Can you trust any Politician to act in your best interests unless they are forced to or it is in their best interests as well?
Consider a few simple lines that could be in a constitution and the effect they would have:
That no person can have their land, house or other properties or monies seized by any means except as clearly defined under the laws of the land and as a result of crimes committed against the laws of the land.
Consider how that would work, all those eminent domain land grabs blocked, HS2 a dead duck, sanction against people who happen to be friends of Putin stopped, Judicial authority required before peoples bank accounts could be raided. So many changes, so much protection.
That the Laws of the land be applied equally to all persons and that no person be punished for any crime except as determined by the law of the land. That no man (or woman) be placed above or beyond the power of the law no matter what their rank or title.
How many of our MPs would be in prison if this were part of a British Constitution, how many others would be in prison or sacked for covering up the crimes of our MPs and political class.
The big stumbling block here is that once you put in writing as a legal document the limitations on government power you bind that government to behave in the way that those who framed the constitution would wish. If the men (and women) who write such a document do so from the most noble and well meaning of aims then a government such as that which rules over us today would be prohibited from much that it does.
Or to put it another way, such a constitution would either be butchered into uselessness by politicians or written over their dead bodies.
By coincidence not a day ago my most troublemaking friend Hoz, yes you are but we love you anyway, Hoz was posting about the British constitution.
We were commenting on Face(security monitoring tool)Book about how we don’t have a written constitution and that what we do have is fairly subjective and changeable.
Well it seems that those damn Scots are about to get it rewritten for us. Centuries of causing trouble and now they are perhaps going to actually overthrow the kingdom itself. Bloody Scots!
What am I going on about, have I had enough coffee today? Well no but thats not the problem here.
For months now we have been watching the byplay between the YES and NO camps in the ongoing battle for Scottish hearts and minds. We have been watching reports, hearing speeches and looking at graphs that show the Yes camp gaining support steadily and the No camp falling from its early heights to barely level now.
Over the last few days as surveys have been publish putting the Yes team in the lead there has been a sudden rush of talking heads and politicians bouncing up to add their voices. Suddenly this has gone from something for the Scots to sort our to a full blown British emergency.
Dave and Ed are both cancelling the weekly shouting and lying meeting, commonly called Prime Ministers Questions, and rushing north to try and save the day.
Someone went to the box that held Gordon and used the hammer that should only be used if there is absolutely positively no possibility of any other option and broke the glass. Brown was released and pointed north.
Gordon has been making plans and chatting with a few people and he has come up with the solution to the problem, apparently this was exactly what Dave and Ed were thinking about since both the main parties have swung behind Gordon and are fully supporting him.
Which is a bit of a problem since what is being proposed here is a tiny bit more than just a vote for Scotland.
Now the pound is falling, markets are wavering, business leaders are panicking, EU leaders are taking a hard look at their own separatist regions and siding with GB PLC. So after having stood back and done nothing for so long we now have what seems to be a knee jerk response.
Anyway our ex PM and Chancellor and everyone’s most hated Scotsman Gordon is making a whole load of promises to Scotland, stay in the union and you will get a whole slew of new powers, your Parliament will be all but autonomous, taxs, laws, you name it the Scottish parliament will be getting it. Apart from the ability to change the top rate of tax apparently.
What our man Gordon said and what is being fully supported by both the Tories and Labour is this:
"the status quo is no longer an option", he said that "the choice is now between irreversible separation, or voting for a stronger Scottish parliament. We are talking about a big change in the constitution. It's like home rule in the UK. We would be moving quite close to something near to federalism in a country where 85% of the population is from one nation. Change is in the air and change is coming."
Erm right. Big changes in the constitution. Moving close to federalism.
I may have missed something here, I keep an eye on the news but perhaps it happened while I was trying to sleep one night. Did we have some sort of vote or debate over this? Was it discussed in parliament before one of those almost empty rooms? Was this anyone’s policy at the last election, has any party put it forward as something that people can vote on at the next election?
Did I miss this, when did it happen. When was this talked about, which News channels covered it?
Funny thing, I have this idea that this is the first that it has ever been mentioned. Can we look forward to Wales and Northern Ireland being granted the same powers. What is the time table for the UK becoming the United Federation of Great Britain, or are we going to just drop the whole United bit and just go for The Federation of Britain.
After all we now have our federal police force.
Hey I don’t mind the kingdom bit going, 21st century and all that, but I would like it happening as part of a carefully planned democratic process, not a suddenly declared plot by a handful of politicians. Because frankly I would not trust Dave or Ed or Gordon to plan a teddy bears picnic, allowing them to create a new federal structure for GB PLC is far too big a risk. You just know that everything will be set up to suit them, their greed for money and power, their political and pro EU agendas, the actual population will be a very distant consideration if they are even thought about.
Well would you trust any of them with your future, given the mess they have made of the present? Update. When talking about the fact that he, Cameron and Miliband were visiting Scotland Clegg, the deputy prime minister, said:
"the overall long-term aim was to form a radically decentralised British state".
Well, well, well. Nice of him to admit it. Normally when I am thinking things are going to happen the politicians are blatantly denying it.
Not two days ago I blogged about how the new Princess of cruelty, mz Mcvey was going to introduce psychological testing on those claiming jobseekers in an effort to focus attention on those who were Bewildered or Despondent.
Now as I said at the time this stinks of the usual government attitude towards the poor, the helpless and the disadvantaged. It was in fact giving those on Jobseekers the same treatment those on disability got from ATOS.
Well here we are two days later and I am hearing about a third group of scroungers and benefit parasites are about to get the same treatment. Disability benefits, jobseekers benefits. Now it is the turn of the short term sick to feel the cruel and uncaring boot of this coalition government on their necks.
Starting this November and spreading to affect everyone as of next May a company called Maximus will be given the responsibility for this new program that is part of the Health and Work Service set up by the DWP.
The way that it will work is this. For the first four weeks that you are off sick it is the responsibility of your GP to determine if you are really sick, how sick you are and how long it is going to take you to get better.
But after that initial four weeks it becomes the responsibility of Health Management Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of Maximus) to determine how sick you are and when you have to go back to work. This will be done via an initial assessment of your condition. The kicker here is a quote from the DWP release.
The paper reveals that the initial assessment will be made on the phone not in person and will probe non-health issues as well as the illness.
As a result of that initial assessment you will be given a ‘Back to Work Plan’. This will detail how long you can be off sick and when you must return to work, failure to return to work when your plan specifies and you will automatically lose any company sick pay or sickness benefit you may be receiving.
Yep, one phone call will determine how sick you are and when you must go back to work. No mention of what happens if you relapse, fail to get better at the expected speed or are not getting better at all.
Given the example set by ATOS I don’t have high hopes that Health Management Limited will be employing dedicated medical professionals who will be using an exhausted process of assessment.
What is the worst that could happen?
In fact I fully expect that this is going to be just another excuse to kick people off of benefits that they should be entitled to and often desperately need.
But it gets worse. Did you note the bit about receiving sick pay from your company? Fail to return to work when your plan says you must and your company can legally stop paying you while you are sick. One phone call, one assessment made by someone doing an ATOS style hatchet job and your company has the excuse to stop paying your sick pay, heck, I suspect that if you refuse to return to work as dictated by your ‘Plan’ you could even be sacked without any recourse.
The paper said:
This will provide crucial support for individuals, ease pressure on GP surgeries and help employers maintain a healthier workforce.
Yes. It will certainly help companies maintain a healthy workforce. By stopping to pay of even sacking the sick. That’s one way to maintain a healthy work force.
So anyone who is so sick that they are going to be off work for more than four weeks, anyone injured at work or elsewhere and therefore off sick, anyone suffering any condition at all that makes them too sick to work. Four weeks or less, more than that and yet another private sector hatchet company will be on your neck.
How many people are going to be driven to return to work before they are recovered because some anonymous voice on the phone has decided they are allowed so much time and no longer.
Maximus is already UK’s largest independent occupational health provider. Given that this job is intended to save the government as much as £165 million a year I expect that Maximus is looking at a tidy bonus based on the number of people they manage to force back to work or off benefits.
I imagine that as more and more companies in the UK come to treat their employees as resources to be used (minimum wage) and abused (zero hours contracts), discarding them by sacking them as too sick to return to work on some arbitrary schedule will happen.
Is there any part of the current coalition government that is NOT out to inflict the most cruel and uncaring treatment on the people of this country?
I wonder how much Maximus has donated to the Tory party over the last few years?
Facepalm: A gesture in which the palm of one's hand is brought to one's face as an expression of dismay, exasperation, embarrassment, etc.
There are times when you see or hear something so mindbogglingly stupid that you facepalm yourself, yesterday I suspect that most of the government did just that. I know I did when I read the comment by Mr Boo. It was so utterly, incomprehensibly, stupid that I just put my palm to my face and shook my head. Words failed me.
Before you read any further put down any drinks and make sure you are not holding any sharp objects.
For those of us that are not familiar with the name Boo, Marcial Boo is the chief executive of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).
You may remember from a while ago all that furore about MPs getting a 10% increase. Well I don’t know where Mr Boo lives but it isn’t this world as he clearly has absolutely no idea what things have been like for the last few years.
What he has done is opened his mouth and revealed his true feelings on the matter of MPs pay, what he has said is:
“MPs did an important job and should not be paid “a miserly amount” for their services”.
OK when you have stopped facepalming yourself and spluttering you can pick up your drink again. I will not be repeating that unbelievably insulting statement again.
Insulting, yes it is. It blatantly insults every man and woman in this country who has spent the last few years on frozen wages or a token 1% maximum increase.
It insults every person in this country who has watched their income fall year after year as inflation has lept far ahead of wages.
It insults every man and woman in the public secor who has struggled to make ends meet as their income falls year by year due to a government policy of austerity.
It insults the one million plus people going cap in hand to the food banks.
It insults the five million plus people who are forced to claim tax credits to make up for part time or full time jobs that pay them less than a living wage.
That is the word Mr Boo used, miserly. Pitiably small or inadequate. Paltry, negligible, lamentable, beggarly, deficient, insubstantial, skimpy!
I don’t care if MPs are paid less than their counterparts across Europe, millions of people in this country are paid far less than they would like, millions are not paid enough to live on and yet this, person, this man, this complete imbecile who clearly does not have a clue, he stands there and describes our MPs salaries as miserly.
GB PLC's senior staff, the MPs, are hardly suffering. A basic wage of £67,000 which is far above the average, expenses that in some cases double or more their income. Subsidised food and drink, all the perks that parliament provides, housing allowances for second homes in London and probably a damn sight more.
Yet this level of income, in excess of £150,000 a year for some, is described as Miserly.
As I have said before I would happily have the MPs paid a fixed sum of £100,000 or a bit more and provide them with a hotel to stay at when they are in parliament but NO expenses. But have the common sense to do this when the economy is doing well.
A 10% pay rise at a time when everyone in this country who has had no choice but to take 1% or less in pay rises for years now is a kick in the teeth.
No, this is not just a kick in the teeth, this is a deliberate aggravated verbal assault. To describe MPs pay as miserly when they are taking home sums that are all but unthinkable to ten million people or more in this country who are dependent on benefits to claw their way to £13,000 a year is completely unacceptable.
When the 10% pay rise was first put forward last year much was made of the fact that it was being proposed by an independent body that was not part of any political party. Sadly it seems they are not part of the real world either.
Many MPs did little to object to this, senior MPs came out and formed a chorus singing us a song about how it was not their fault because it was an independent body. We had a few promises to refuse the pay rise but generally our caring MPs kept their heads down and waited till the anger have gone before going back to business as usual.
Now that 10% pay rise has just caught up with our MPs again and it has been reintroduced to us by a man who seems completely unaware of what has happened and what is happening in this country. A clear Ivory Tower comment, saying what he thinks without bothering to even pretend that he cares about what the peasants think.
The man used the word miserly.
How out of touch do you have to be to think that way?
How out of touch are you to think using that word is acceptable?
How out of touch must you be to ignore tens of millions who are struggling to make do on far less than the miserly sum of £67,000 plus expenses?
How out of touch do you need to be to ignore reality?
Mr Boo. As you head home to the ivory tower don’t forget to feed the unicorns and say hello to the fairies.