Caution, u-turn up ahead

The Conservative Party continue to surprise everyone and no one as they repeatedly turn their backs on the electorate and reverse pre-election pledges used to gain their trust and their votes.

The past week has been of particular embarrassment to the Conservative Party after a Tory voter broke down on BBCQT following David Cameron’s announcement that the government would be cutting family tax credits, having pledged only six months earlier not to. This was swiftly backed up by a maiden speech by Cambridge SouthTory MP, Heidi Allen, who made scathing remarks about the governments decision to cut tax credits, only to vote with the government when the moment came.

This phenomenon of Conservative’s saying one thing and doing another is precisely what they should be known for and they are working hard at erasing these comments from the internet.

In 2010, David Cameron, as leader of the opposition, said there would be no frontline cuts and that any minister in a Conservative government that came to him with such proposals would be ‘sent back to the drawing board’. The Canary this week reported how our frontline services have been decimated by the Conservative Party austerity agenda, revised figures from the Fire Brigades Union this week paint an even bleaker image showing that the number of firefighters lost as a result of government cuts now stands at a staggering 7,000.

The policy reversal culture of the Conservatives continues to affect families the length and breadth of the country and it now transpires that the government have been economical with the truth regarding the Redcar Steel Factory aid fund. Having at one time promised the £80m to assist workers in finding new jobs, it now transpires that the aid fun is also to be used to pay final salaries and redundancy packages.

Workers and unions have been finding ways other than industrial action to challenge the decisions being made at Westminster using statutory instruments such as Early Day Motions, the latest of which has been tabled by the FBU in reference to the up coming comprehensive spending review to ring fence future funding. The last such action by firefighters at Westminster came following a period ‘Occupy’ style of direct action in central lobby, holding weekly vigils during PMQs and green carding their MPs to discuss a range of issues from pension reform to the independent living fund. This eventually led to a debate on pension reform on a stormy night in December 2014.  A record number of MPs signed the EDM in support of opposing the pension reform legislation. This did not stop some MPs changing their mind at the last moment and vote with the government but it did let them know that the people are watching and willing to act. This is what is feared most in the halls at Westminster, more so following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the opposition.

A change is growing in parliament. Parties and devolved governments are working together to ignore or oppose Tory legislation and if coupled with the despair of the public in watching the Tories continually backtrack on pledges used to gain their trust and their vote, we could see their downfall and the start of a fairer society for all.

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Create ripples, one day they’ll become tidal waves.

The biggest threat to our way of life is not the government or the terrorists they claim to be chasing across the globe. Its is our apathy.

The Royal Mail, educational system, NHS and emergency services have been built by the blood, sweat and tears of you and you grandparents going back 100 years. Today they are seen as cash cows for corrupt politicians and their privateer friends to siphon off billions in public money to line their private pockets and they are using the veil of austerity to do so. They have managed, somewhat convincingly, to persuade a large section of society that austerity is both real and necessary.

Alessio Rastani told us that a recession is not bad for everyone, it is an opportunity to make money; This is not a recession, it is a robbery.

Worryingly this agenda is something that is pursued by both Labour and Conservatives, one hard and fast and the other a kind of “I can’t believe it’s not austerity”, or “austerity-lite” approach. Either way the end result is the same. Working people are forced to bear the brunt of paying for a crisis created by corrupt politicians, rogue bankers and immoral (if not illegal) banking practices with their banking and economic terrorism.

The leaders of both these parties are no longer interested in popularity contests at election time because there are common themes, goals and aims amongst them. They are ultimately all gorging themselves at the same trough of public money and broadly speaking, their sole interest is themselves.

The NHS as I mentioned is already paid for by our parents and grandparents, the problem we have is that far too few of us dare old enough to remember a time when you would have to pay for a doctor call out and all the associated care that goes with it and even less have stopped to think about the danger we face because of privatisation. Some may think that they will see no real problem because they already have some form of private medical care, paid for either by their employer or privately but the key point here is that these private firms are backed up by the publicly funded NHS. Even the Royal spawn, despite all its top private care, was delivered in a private hospital, ably supported by the resources of the NHS should anything have gone wrong.

Where will the support network be once the entire lot has been sold of to the great bearded one, Richard Branson?

In the case of the NHS the politicians have gone to great lengths to show us how badly the NHS is failing and have been duly assisted by a complicit media, none more so than our publicly funded BBC who reel off story after story about “nurses on safari” looking for patients or failing trusts. As bad as some of these stories may be on the face of it, these are an infinitesimally small percentage of the millions of people treated by wonderful doctors and nurses every day of the year, any time we call on them.

Where are our survivor stories?

Along with the horrors show run by the mainstream media, the government also repeatedly tell us that the immigrants (who are not even here yet) are to blame for the failure and over capacity of our A&E departments etc. These are blatant lies, used to prey on people’s fears and prejudice that is manufactured by a corrupt elite intent on walking away with billions in profit at the cost of our health. The process to privatisation is a simple but effective one; first the government go through a period of defunding which creates an environment for failure, the failures are reported and the cost to make improvements is amplified and then the privateers swoop in with the answer to take an ever-increasing cost off of the tax payers hands. All the while feeding you distraction stories of immigrants, bad nurses and creating apathy to convince you that a nice guy like Branson will make a good job of it.

Really? He is a businessman about making money. Would you really want someone in charge of something that makes money solely off of the death and illness of people? The only way they will make profit is by charging us for treatments, reducing wages of the nurses providing the majority of the care (not the execs, they get paid off to push through change) and generally hanging us out to dry. See how cheap health insurance will be then when they know you cannot rely on the NHS. These firms will have cornered the market and will drive up prices. Just look at what the energy firms are preparing to do this winter, nearly 10% increase in price’s!

The apathy they are trying to foster enables them to impose these changes because we feel we cannot make a difference and that we cannot make a change. We have given up our power and we have to take it back. One person can make a difference and everyone should do so, if we do not start offering a resistance to these attacks now and come to realise we have more in common with each other than with these merciless privateers and criminals running the country, then we will quite literally be cut adrift and priced out of even a base level of living.

We can do this by winning the hearts and minds of the people around us, taking interest in each other’s causes and not waiting for people to come to us and ours, we can withdraw economically from certain corporations to redistribute the pain, we can write music, draw, sing and create art – the true way of protesting and engaging the hearts and minds of others. If we create ripples they can one day become tidal waves.

We inherited a world of opportunity from our parents, we have a duty to hand it on to the next generation in a better state and not sell it from under them for a dollar.

Standing up for education: Teachers our children’s guardians

Today teachers across the UK took strike action over the attacks by our government and their puppet Michael Gove.  They are standing up for education and so I went to a rally where I was invited to tell them why I am standing up for education with them.

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I have just been on my first ever strike on Wednesday last week, over the attacks on the firefighters pension scheme, as this government and the fire minister Brandon Lewis refuse to listen to studies and reports that THEY themselves have paid for and commissioned into the appropriate pension age for a firefighter. Their reports state 66% of the workforce are unfit at the age 55 rising up towards 90% potentially by the age of 60. This is dangerous for the public and dangerous for firefighters. Everyone in the fire service knows that 60-year-old firefighters is dangerous and politicians too will admit this behind closed doors. This is why strike action had to be called.

Firefighters could not continue to participate in their lies and neither should the teachers.

68 for a teacher is too late and equally disgusting, in both the fire service and the world of teaching, people and their families are being priced out of being in a pension scheme, a scandal considering the Queen said this year her government would help people to save for their futures. One story I heard today was of a young teacher who had to choose between running their car or paying into a pension. Is this the big society Cameron was talking about I wonder? The one other thing missing from all the government rhetoric and debates about pension age is the effect these creeping pension ages have on youth unemployment and aspiration!

Curiously I was quizzed by someone from the radio the other day and off air he made a statement: “Teachers, Royal Mail, Bakers union and now firefighters. It’s like going back to the 70’s again isn’t it?”

Well aside from the fact I was not even a thought in the 70’s (let alone able to remember it) I did remind him that the BBC had also been on strike, so let’s name them all and reminded him that none of these groups are asking for more of anything, they are just fighting to protect what they have and to protect what the people who came before us fought for and won. Employment rights, health and safety – the right to be able to come home to our families after work, a livable wage and pension. We are custodians of these jobs and we do not have the right to stand by idly whilst these attacks continue to erode and degrade the conditions of employment we inherited.

Like teachers, firefighters face other fights around the corner; cuts and privatisation to name two and like teachers we have a minister responsible for these so-called negotiations who seems to understand and know nothing about what it is we do.

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Teachers have one of the most important jobs in the world, they quite literally are responsible with shaping our future with their everyday engagements with our children. Teachers lay the foundation for which we strive for a better world than the one we’ve inherited, Michael Gove and co would have them only responsible for teaching them what to think but teachers know they are charged with something more important; teaching children HOW to think.

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But teaching and education is under threat from a man who knows nothing about it – Michael Gove – a man intent on crushing the young by testing them to failure.

I have had discussions with teachers and a man I am proud to call a friend, Dave Mingay and I cannot believe what I am hearing about in the world of education and teaching. I get mad and then I get annoyed that it has made me angry.

Then I remember the 1976 film Network when Peter Finch says: “First you’ve got to get MAD!”, and then I settle. Getting mad is not enough, we have to get active and we have to get involved and get engaged, not just with our own issues and disputes but with others too and this is why I am today, standing up for education.

get mad goddamnit

To this end some firefighters have decided to start standing up against this austerity and provide a voice for those without one and for those waiting to find their voice. Their message to the government and any subsequent government is this; WE SAVE PEOPLE NOT BANKS.

The under pinning reason for all these attacks is the ideological austerity of our politicians to solve a financial crises created by fraudulent banking practices and corrupt politicians. Not by us. Not by you and I. But by them.

But they are making us pay for it and using it as a smoke screen to push through what they started in the 80’s.

They are pushing through everything they can ahead of the next election just in case they do not get back in and they know that once done, Labour will not undo the mess they are creating.

These politicians know what they are doing is outrageous but they are counting on the fact they we will do nothing about it. This is why they are prepared to accept pay rises of £10,000 and claim £39 breakfasts on expenses just after they have told us we can live on £53 a week! If we do not start offering a resistance now there will be no end to what they will take from us.

We are already seeing the attacks on our terms and conditions and contracts and I found out last week that schools and colleges have VTs – visiting teachers? Working on zero-hour contracts?! So we will expect to not get something for nothing but Sports Direct, Academy schools, McDonald’s the Queen and probably Mickey Mouse can get slave labour for nothing??

You couldn’t make it up.

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We are seeing our NHS sold off and now our Royal Mail, the Queens head is for sale, before our very eyes and If we do not start making a collective resistance to all these attacks soon, they’ll take it all back and siphon off the profits of public money into the pockets of their privateer friends.

Together we are stronger than we are divided – we have more in common with each other than we do with the likes of Gove, Lewis, Pickles and Duncan-Smith. I know it’s difficult to take strike action, particular in today’s society. The Media will of course be talking about the disruption it causes families and the loss of a days education. If Michael Gove and his cronies are allowed to push through their agenda unchallenged then it will be more than a days education our children will be losing, it will quite literally be their future and ours with it.

We have to be smarter and utilise the social media to get across our arguments. The majority of people will still get their news from Rupert Murdoch and the BBC but this is about creating ripples. If you drop a pebble in a pond, soon those ripples cross the entire pond. This is what we must do, create ripples and perhaps one day they will become tidal waves.

A wise man once told me that if you’re right you’ve got the right to fight and if you fight you can win. The teachers arguments against Gove’s attacks on education are sound.

Rise

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