"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Is the Government writing Comedy Scripts?

Other Half and I like a bit of comedy. Life can be gloomy enough without watching on TV/listening on the radio to dark dramas, especially the type where someone ends up tied up with blood streaming from various bits of the body whilst others are screaming and running about with guns. Yes give us a good comedy show, the more silly, satirical or anarchic the better.

So last night promised to be a good night, the Now Show [satirical] on Radio 4 followed by later on ITV Benidorm [silly] and on BBC2 Twenty Twelve [satirical and slightly anarchic?]

Of course I laughed at the Now Show, always do - as 'Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis dissect the week's news with comical precision' [as the website puts it] But last night it was obvious that the script had almost written itself. Or rather the Government had written a lot of the best lines. From the budget induced 'pasty crisis' to the more serious petrol 'shortages' situation.

Benidorm was reassuringly silly and Twenty Twelve had us laughing until we cried. But the worrying point about the latter programme - which is a spoof documentary about the 'organisers' [and that in itself is a loose term] of the forthcoming Olympics] was how easily statements to the press and others by both these 'Officials' and 'Government advisers' sounded impressive but actually said nothing. Have you listened to real news bulletins and interviews lately and thought the same thing?

Which brings me back to the fiasco which has been the result of Government statements this week. We have a women in hospital with 40% burns through decanting petrol in her kitchen which then exploded. Whether she did this as a result of David Cameron & Francis Maude's advice is obviously unknown. And although the poor woman was obviously unwise to have done what she did, she is paying for it in the most dreadful way. The Government were more than unwise, they deliberately unleashed a wave of panic buying to demonise the union and the tanker drivers. And what Francis Maude suggested was - if not actually illegal [when we lived in Germany this would have been illegal btw] it was really foolhardy to put it lightly.

And as for the pasty and sausage roll farrago, no leading politician looks good on that one. I don't care whether any of them eats cooked pies or not - but I do care that once again the poorer sections of society are being disproportionately affected whilst the better off sections have probably never been into a Greggs..... David Cameron's recollections of when he last had a pasty and advertising which make it was were as cringe making as watching Ed Milliband and Ed Balls stopping off at Greggs for a quick snack.

Then came an important story in the Daily Telegraph which suggested that David Cameron's pasty story may in fact be untrue. What other secrets are we about to discover? Well the same article reveals:
Nick Clegg has also eaten a pasty “in the last few months at Paddington station”, according to his spokesman. Sources close to Baroness Warsi said she “loves pasties” and often eats them when on trips round the country.
This is enough to make me strike pasties from my shopping lists, although I do really like them and Other Half particularly enjoys the veggie ones we buy in Glastonbury. But as we are not politicians I don't suppose you want to know that.

Quick where's the TV listings guide magazine. Are there any comedy programmes on tonight?

The photograph is from the Twenty Twelve website

Friday, 23 March 2012

Budget2012 and the Protestant Work Ethic

Every blogger knows that whilst a little bit of emotional involvement in a subject can help when writing, too much can cloud issues and cause logical arguments to tangle around each other. So this is one of the reasons I have held off commenting on the #budget2012 until now, specfically the so called #Grannytax [I am giving the twitter hashtags. There are lots of emotional and logical comments/arguments on there. Some of them mine!]

I have long thought - and said - that this government seems to be employing Weber's Protestant Work Ethic attitudes of 19thC Britain. In a nutshell the idea of the PWE is that as God rewards the morally just and good by ensuring that they have a 'comfortable life', it therefore follows that those who are suffering from poverty and, say, illness and other miseries, must therefore be morally bad and receiving their punishment. A creed well suited to capitalism and entrepeneurialism. And further more, as the rewards of the good life are shown in profits and more wealth, it is dependant on those so rewarded to invest this wealth back into their business affairs and if God is rewarding them further then greater profits will be made. Whoopy do doo for the rich and yah sucks boo to the poor.

So what have our wonderful coalition government done since gaining power [some say stealing power but that is an argument for another blog on constitutional reform] in 2010? Well it would seem like just in this budget the rich have been rewarded with a cut in the tax rate for the very rich of 5%. [Not of course that the very rich often pay as much tax as many of their PAYE lower income fellow citizens. In perfectly legal tax avoidance schems, expensively paid accountants can ensure that] And in this budget the poor in the form of pensioners are being punished #Grannytax furore is still building. I am listening to Ros Altmann on the radio as I type and she is livid!

But look also at the other acts of this government since 2010. NHS reform bill passed this week, NHS reforms obviously more of a worry to those in society who cannot afford to use private health care if their local NHS 'suppliers' are cut. Sue Marsh's heartbreaking blog too often tells us the hardships the cuts in the Disability Living Allowance and support services are causing. Over the past year or so many welfare services across the country have been cut: Sure start centres, childrens' centres, pensioners' luncheon clubs etc etc. Marches have been undertaken to save many libraries, petitions taken to save amongst others coastguard services - the sort of cuts that in the past would only have been envisaged in Sci Fi novels about some sort of totalitarian regime that storms into power and its citizens end up existing cold, starving and ill in caves....

No-one can deny that economically the country is not in a good state. But we can deny that it seems as if the poor and needy are getting hit disproportionally - are we being punished? Answers please.

Yes I am a pensioner - just! And like far too many was part of a company pension scheme which took my money for many years but now is not paying out what it should [although the company still makes a profit. But they must have been good whilst I was bad?] Many others paid into private pension schemes which have got into financial troubles and are not paying anything. We live in houses that are too large and costly to run but we cannot afford to sell because [a] they have lost too much in value and we cannot realise enough capital to make moving worthwhile [b] no-one wants to buy anyway! Heating bills have gone up [I did not want power supplies to be privatised but who listened to me?] Postal services are not what they used to be. Fuel prices are going up which affect the costs of services and food, and yet village shops are closing due to high costs like council tax etc so that we have to get to large out of town supermarkets somehow. I won't go on - its all been said so many times but are the coalition government listening OR do they care?

OK blown it now - over emotionally involved. But it had to be said.

Image of one edition of Weber's theory on sale at amazon.co.uk