The price of the Conservatives austerity programme, 2010-19

A 2017 study published by the British Medical Journal linked health and social care budget cuts to nearly 120,000 excess deaths in the UK since 2010. Last year, the Office for National Statistics revealed that life expectancy has stopped rising for the first time since records began in 1982, and even fell in several parts of the country. At the same time, the net worth of Britain’s thousand richest families has more than doubled since 2009, to £547 billion, according to estimates by the Institute for Fiscal Studies

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v41/n04/vadim-nikitin/kleptocracy

Chris

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Politics over thirty six years

During my life as a hard line unionist I’ve considered myself to be on the left of main stream politics. In the late 1970s I was very tempted to join the Communist party but instead, in the summer of 1983, I joined the Labour Party. Throughout the dreadful Thatcher years I was on many demos, marches, and solidarity campaigns.

Blair showed his true colours when, as one of his first reforms, he pushed through the revocation of clause 4, thus cutting ties to the trade union movement. This was even though the Labour Party was established as the political arm of the unions. I argued vociferously in my CLP (constituency Labour party) meetings against this. I was outvoted by the majority, who were ready to give Blair time. Mr Blair had many faults but, his one redeeming feature was, he could think on his feet. Indeed he did grant devolution to the three Nations in 1999, started a campaign to end poverty and encouraged Free Start Centres. His major mistakes were in pandering to Bush by sending Britain to war in Iraq.

In May 2015 when Ed Miliband resigned, who I always thought of as ineffective, Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party. I thought we might see a redressing of the awful Tory attacks on the working classes. Going head to head with David Cameron, and his side kick George Osborne, Corbyn failed to score any significant wins during debates. This might be excused as lack of experience or simply the Tory party had the voting power. But the regime of austerity cuts continued hitting peoples lives and security. After eight years they had almost crippled the country, and seemed proud of it. Then as always, with the Conservatives, Europe divided them.

The whole Brexit debacle began when Cameron failed to deal with the Tories who thought the UK was sending too much money to the EU and Britain was in danger of being swamped by immigration from poorer countries. Cameron’s solution was to call for the matter to be settled by a referendum. The result of that referendum succeeded in dividing the whole country. Cameron immediately retired from politics after the vote.

Theresa May was elected leader of the Conservative Government. She continued with the austerity programme. Universal Credit continued, the infamous bedroom tax and a whole host of vicious attacks on the poor. These were open goals where Jeremy Corbyn should have won significant debating arguments. He didn’t.

Today Britain is a broken society. People, even in affluent areas can see the homeless sleeping on the streets. Crime is rampant as a result of police officer numbers being reduced over the years. That reduction in police numbers isn’t by natural wastage. No it’s due to the Tory government squeezing the police precept’s annually. Our Nation Health Service has suffered the same fate.

It is deeply regrettable that eight Labour MPs have resigned the whip. They say Jeremy Corbyn is ineffectual in failing to deal with anti-Semitism, which is said to be  rife in the Labour party. Whether true or not. I can’t say, but it’s well known Corbyn is very sympathetic to the Palestinians. But I can honestly say I’ve never seen hostility towards Jewish people in the thirty six years that I have been a party member.

Mike

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Book Review: Dov Alfon ~ A long night in Paris (translated Daniella Zamir)

Dov Alfon is an Israeli who’s novel is autobiographical. He was an intelligence officer in an elite unit- 8200. A lot of the action is centred on this unit. The majority of the action is based in Paris.

Away from the razzmataz of the all-action Israeli security service there’s sly digs at the back-biting careerism embedded in the service. Much of the back-biting dialogue is racist. Obviously! But in context the racism is against Jews from north Africa, Russia and anyone not from the Grand Tradition. There’s routine sexism in the machismo world of Mossad. Netanyahu, his wife and his sleazy friends feature as a side-show.

Our heroes are above all of this. Oriana Telmor is a female lieutenant from a distinguished military family. She’s over-achieved everywhere she gone, which hasn’t made her popular. The novel begins with her attending an important meeting, where she’s an unexpected substitute.

This is a meeting summoned by the Chief of Military Intelligence, Aluf [general] Rotelmann. He explicitly asked that the head of 8200’s Special Section be here today….”

I regret the disappointment my presence has caused you,” Oriana, the substitute head of department, said.1A great put-down but poor office politics.

Alfon’s other hero is north African Israeli, colonel Zeev Abadi. He too is burdened success. Unit 8200 is crucially important but utterly boring to work in and as a result very bright young men look to entertain themselves usually through porn. Turai Vladislev Yerminsky decided to hack criminals accounts and become a millionaire. He was using the opportunities of unit 8200 to do this.

Yermi’ says,“Boredom is a powerful engine, rather underestimated,” he resumed. “When people look for a motive, they always talk about money, or love, or ego, or God. But if they examined what was really behind the most infamous crimes, they’d discover boredom as the number one motive.”

Twelve people die as Chinese gangsters try to get their money back. Zeev and Oriana triumph just as they should.

1 Alfon, Dov. A Long Night in Paris: The must-read thriller from the new master of spy fiction (Kindle Locations 138-139). Querctor Kindle Edition.

Chris

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An African Lumberjack

An African lumberjack is interviewing for a job at a major logging company. The foreman decides to take a practical route and hands the lumberjack an axe.

“Take a couple swings at that tree over there,” the foreman said.

The lumberjack walks over to the tree and fells it with a single blow.

“Holy moly. You’ve got quite the arm! You’re absolutely hired, but I need to be sure. Try your hand at the tree over there.” The foreman points at a much larger tree.

Two swings and the tree crashes to the ground.

“That’s incredible! Wherever did you learn to use an axe like that?”

“In the Sahara Forest.”

“Don’t you mean the Sahara Desert?” Queried the foreman.

“No. That’s what they call it now.”

 

Chris

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I enjoy proper music

Not the brash, brain numbing trash
As depicted by, young, strutting peacocks
Their brand of noise, I find irritating
To the point where I try not to listen.

Recently, whilst in a crowded pub
People were all talking at once
The place was racked, with strained conversations
People having to almost shout, to establish their relations.

On top of that, the music volume was so high
Adding to the difficulty, of nil, entertainment
That blatant, barrier to civilised conversation
More likely to cause my, Cardiac ablation.

Why do places of enjoyment, choose to do this?
Rather than encourage elderly old gentlemen like me
It seems, pub landlords have become the bourgeoisie
Eager to embolden me, to become just another absentee.

How much better would it be, if Chopin, or Mozart, would gently play
Softly, background music, old favourites, written so long ago;
Civilised, crystallised – sweetly tripping across a key board
Gently bringing memories, solidified, so many years ago.

I’m a bit set in my ways
I don’t pretend to like discordant noise
I hate Ravel’s Bolero, and any of Gershwin’s tripe
But could happily listen to Joplin, or Shostakovich, without a gripe.

Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, or the romance of Brahms floats my boat
Rachmaninov, Beethoven … all worthy masters of pleasure
Pop music, was never my favourite pastime
I like the news, some films, but give me music anytime, as my preferred leisure.

Mike

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A Chinese epigram about religion

Man is born, ages and dies, the gods in heaven don’t care.’

Küng, Dinah Lee. A Visit From Voltaire (Kindle Locations 5601-5602). Eyes and Ears. Kindle Edition.

Chris

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Queen to f4

Mate in 4 moves

Ray H.

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