Published on 14 Oct 2010

Is the revolution finally with us?

The world is upside down. Conservative David Cameron attacks the middle classes, Labour’s Ed Milliband fights for them. The Coalition Government that wants to shrink government is expanding it to take in the activities of unaccountable quangos.

It was Denis Healey who as Chancellor set about squeezing the rich until the “pips squeaked”. Now we hear that George Osborne is to savage the generous tax breaks enjoyed by higher earners investing in private pensions. The pension industry won’t be putting much money into the party coffers in the near future. Four billion pounds a year is to be taken out of their coffers by this measure.

We are living in interesting times. Yet one could also ask how we ever got into a situation where any of this was done in he first place. Why did anyone allow the establishment of these quangos that appear to have absolutely no relationship with the either the voter or the tax payer? The amalgamation of the Competition Commission (that questions whether a take over is fair in the context of the industrial, economic, and commercial activity of the nation) with the Office of Fair Trading seems not only logical, but actually fair. The full list quangos to be abolished or absorbed will be published today.

The pensions landscape at least will change for ever. No one is ever again going to allow the head of Barclays, or the deputy head of the BBC, to walk away with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pounds of tax payers money to fund a pension that is able to pay out far more annually than the average Brit earns in a year.

The coalition talks of wanting to achieve “transparency”, and “accountability”. Will it ever extend that desire to include the way our political system works, the way Parliament functions, and the antediluvian conduct of Lords and Commons?

In short, are we in the midst of the first proper UK revolution? Or is politics only briefly on its head?

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76 reader comments

  1. Briantist says:

    “far more annually than the average Brit earns in a year”

    A year = 365 days shock!

  2. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    The principle, or lack of it I should say, of turning things around and on their heads has perfused local and governmental politics for the last 28 years, for it was then when I sussed ,something wasn’t quite right in the State.My realisation though, doesn’t preclude the bedrock of twists and turns which are advantageous to the winner rather than fair competition ,already exisiting.

    As a younger mum ,trying to make sense of it all, I reflected on the rights and wrongs, treating basic ethics almost as absolutes. That was naive and the study of social philosophy enabled me to see clearer.

    Your comment re the almagamation of the Competition commission with the Office of fair Trading being not only logical , but actually fair may not be all it seems as competition has not been ‘fair’ pursae.One could argue that by the addition of the ‘Office of Fair Trading’ into the equation ,standards would be set to ensure equal competitive rights. Very nice theory, but competition has become so dirty ( refined is another view) that negativity and put downs are easier to work with and finding fault is easier to compete with than to actually promote and prove that something is the best.

  3. Keith McBurney says:

    If Mr C major and Mr C minor wish to seal the deal yet done with the UK electorate, then evolution not revolution in long overdue political emancipation as enabling civic communities and societies through self-governance would be the “Big” idea in recognition, acknowledgement and provision for our nation’s people’s sovereingty – our individual, joint and several free will to do as we would be done by in service to the true meaning of the debt we owe each other: our just and so strong societies and communities of interest emanating from our families, friends and fellows.

    For – in exercising that personal and plural responsibility of, for and by each other – our sovereignty would be supreme above all save our elected judicial and legislative authorities and be both signified and symbolised by the sovereignty of our Head of State(s) be they royal or not: ie it would be our “crown” as we the peoples of our nations in our courts, parliaments, assemblies and councils that then reigned in much more participative forms of democracy lacking hitherto. Only then will the effects of the Norman Conquest in our isles be overcome in inheritance of our rightful freedom.

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Keith in less flowery terms i agree.Only when our legislatures represent the views of the majority and not of any party affiliation will there have been a true revolution ,and true democracy achieved.
      Power of the people , by the people for the people.
      It is time that government, both National and Local, instead of building little empires, followed the wishes of the majority.
      We know or should know that debts have to be paid.The country and many households and individuals run on credit,which is ok provided its repayment is within their means.The alternative is bankruptcy.So any sensible individuals will know that their have to be cuts in expenditure.How that is achieved is open to debate.However can anyone explain that in these austere times around the world,the EU is planning an increase in its budget for around 10% which means our contribution is set to increase by that amount.It is time we had a referendum tosee whether we want to stay in such a profligate organisation

  4. adz says:

    I would say that that politics is only briefly on its head and that is because they need to show us that they are wanting to do something about this absurd and criminal financial mess.
    The worlds financial instituions have become uncontrolably powerful and they dictate rules and laws as it has been under any previous deadly dictatorship, difference is that the current dictators are invisble. The problem is that the those in control are even more invisible and powerful than ever before in world history.
    I believe a peaceful but very determined revolution is needed, which would be in the interest of humanity and for them to be able to look back in a 100 years time and say “wow, weren’t they primitive in their ideology!”
    adzmundo The Venus Project

    1. adrian clarke says:

      ADZ , I AGREE ALMOST TOTALLY TtHUMBS UP TO YOU , MY FRIEND

    2. adz says:

      Cheers Ade..
      adz TVP

  5. the-Richard-of-Nottingham says:

    “The world is upside down. Conservative David Cameron attacks the middle classes, Labour’s Ed Milliband fights for them.”

    Jon, you read my mind. I was thinking that very same thing on the train this morning. Bed-head-fred-Ed Millithing stands up for “…the deputy school mistress and the Police Cheif inspector”, and the PM satnds up for the school dinner lady and the supermarket security man. i.e Eddy-baby stands up for the VOTER, and the PM appears to want to redress the balance a bit (i.e. “those with the broadest shoulders…”).

    And if the deputy head of the BBC’s pension is savaged as a result of Geoge Osbourne’s pension reforms then I for one will think that no bad thing.

    It’s not the start of a revolution, but we are living in interesting times. It’s like being able to breath again.

  6. Richard says:

    I was disappointed that Ed Miliband did not comment on the unfairness of the housing benefit cuts, which will affect both the unemployed and low earners, but said he was prepared to work with the Coalition on cuts aside from the ones to Child Benefit.

    I agree that the current plans are flawed, and that a couple earning £80,000 should not keep child benefit while a single parent earning £45,000 loses it. If the rules were altered so that a couple whose earnings totalled £45,000 or more lost their Child Benefit, would Ed Miliband support it? I would.

    It seems like Labour are worried about losing the middle class vote but are taking the working class vote for granted.

    1. Tom Wright says:

      You can’t address this issue without means testing. Introducing means testing involves form-filling bureaucracy, civil service job creation, and the sort of waste and bloat that accompanied the Child Tax Credit. You’ll remember that in practise, means testing seldom works – Child Tax credit created heartbreak and difficulty for millions who were overpaid and then faced very unpleasant demands. You have to weigh up which is likely to be the greater injustice, cutting on means testing – and the latter is both unjust and wasteful – a clear loser.

  7. Paul Begley says:

    Actually this Child Benefit row looks like a very shrewd piece of Tory politics to me. “See how fair we are”, hitting the middle class. Listen to the outcry as said middle class tear their clothing and wail piteously. Meanwhile people taking much harder hits (eg those who would have found work if the government hadn’t imposed a recruitment ban) are invisible and unheard.

  8. bdbcks says:

    650 sexually degenerate snake-oil spivs are running aka ruining this country. not content with screwing you in the now they are now gonna ensure you are shafted in the future with this latest pension nonsense.

    i am sorry to waffle on your blog jon and readers but most of you are still exhibiting signs of extreme compliance aka you are all brainwashed. you’ve buried the notion, or never known, that you are in fact beautiful, unique creations of nature that have every right in the world to shelter, food and body care, and that we should all have the right to those things without superiors telling us how we may and may not achieve those basic tenants.

    but carry on with the charade and we’ll carry on slowly revealing what lays beyond the veil. plato knew what he was talking about, that’s for sure.

    you are your own handcuffs.

    1. Tom Wright says:

      Call me thick, but I don’t follow this at all. And please change your user name. I’m always mis-reading it as b****cks, or is that the intention?

    2. margaret brandreth-jones says:

      I think bdbcks is simply saying that we are free not to comply .

      However that freedom comes with a price.Personal freedom / Social freedom are different working philosophies. As with any other working arrangements , the more variables, factors , twists and turns there is in a society the less clarity there is. Obvious you may say , but to superficially argue in the knowledge that the obvious is ignored is veiling the truth.

    3. bdbcks says:

      parable of the cave…

      “plato imagines a group of people who have lived chained in a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. the people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. according to plato, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to seeing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not constitutive of reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners.”

      at heart we should all be philosophers aka lovers of wisdom. instead we’ve stepped back and allowed prophets and (these days) profits to fashion how we spend our time on this mortal coil.

    4. margaret brandreth-jones says:
    5. bdbcks says:

      one thing i am learning more and more is the inability of people to deduce the meaning of abstract values. surely the people who read and post on this blog regularly have the capacity to process ideas and notions that sway away from the mainstream.

      do you honestly think there is any difference between the tories and labour? they are merely cleverly designed illusions to give the great unwashed the impression that they have a choice and a say in the way they are governed.

      can you honestly say you understand the implication of “fractional reserve banking” aka money out of nothing aka the alchemy of turning value into debt. please use google and find out what “fractional reserve banking” really means.

      and if that doesn’t float your boat then at least do yourselves a favour and go google the phrase “post-democratic age” aka find out what the banking dynasties have in store for the future of this planet.

      “don’t thank, think”.

    6. MarcoB says:

      Agreed 100%

      The number 1 threat to the UK is financial terrorism, not men in caves or hackers…

      The banks JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs intentionally sold off toxic timebomb derivatives to the global free market with the goal of crashing the interconnected financial system and then buy up all the cheap assets and force countries to borrow from the IMF/EU which would asks for higher taxes. Search for the truth..

      The people should not be paying for this debt, we, the people and the government should be suing and be confiscating assets of these banks and the owners. Actually don’t wait for government, start suing now, small banks, companies get together and make these guys pay for everything!

      Google Max Keiser, Webster Tarpley, Gerald Celente, Allan Watt, Randy Kelton, Bob Chapman
      These guys have consistently been correct about the economic manipulation by banks of the US & UK. Read up, they are asking the real questions, channel 4 needs to interview more alternative global views of what is actually going on.

      Dollar is going to crash, gold is going to rocket, USA attacking pakistan to insight retaliation just like japan & pearl harbor.
      Search -> Hamid Gul: Afghan-Pakistan

    7. bdbcks says:

      marcob :thumbs up: for the very interesting google leads.

    8. margaret brandreth-jones says:

      Bdcks– Abstract values are simply that, abstract.

      Values, as some purists believe are absolutes which existed prior to civilisation. Others believe that values derive out of an evolving social construct. What correspondence there is between the emotional/ psychological currency a person or group of persons attributes to a ‘thing’ ‘fact’ or ‘happening’ in the world remains an abstraction.

      We cannot assume knowledge , we can only endeavour to understand. We see the shadows in the Cave. They are not a mimetic representation of the 3D world, They are indeed Platonically veiled. Can we fully think and look at everything? Hardly, we rely on other beings to inform us( whether that information is correct again is subjective as we an only see with the ears, eyes and senses we have)

      Words are deceptive, but fascinating. They reach far and deep into society . Many try to be careful with their usage, but there are always those who deliberately twist meanings and misuse words to their own advantage.We are all think tanks.. but are our deductions accurate?

    9. bdbcks says:

      the fundamental truth is out there for those prepared to walk the path to find it. when you find out what it is you quickly realize there is no point telling other people what it is because the only way to fully comprehend it is to have walked the path yourself. all that can be done is to try to nudge people to unshackle themselves from their invisible chains and take a stroll out into the sunlight.

  9. John says:

    A few pedantic points – Cameron is taking money away from the rich (only Polly Toynbee thinks those paying higher rate tax, i.e. income net of pension contributions over £44k, are poor) and hasn’t yet attacked the middle class; Ed Miliband is defending the Child Benefit paid to his mistress not to the middle class who are unaffected; Barclays hasn’t got any money from the taxpayers.

    1. anniexf says:

      I do feel that it’s discourteous and somewhat offensive to call a long-term female partner a “mistress”. I have lived with my partner for more than 15 years & I can assure you he has never referred to me as his mistress, nor would anyone else around here.

    2. John says:

      I am sorry if you thought I was being discourteous – I did not intend to be as my criticism was of Ed Miliband rather than of the mother of the child that he says he will acknowledge when the second child is born. The mistress of a rich man, such as any Miliband, would more often be viewed as a victim than a culprit by my generation. She has no legal right to any maintenance payment for the children that he has not formally acknowledged. However if she has to give up work while nursing the second child and caring for the elder, she may be able to claim allowances from the state if no father is named and held responsible.
      My major criticism was of his gross hypocrisy in pretending to defend “the poor” – although only the likes of Polly Toynbee consider higher rate taxpayers as “poor” – when he was arguing for tax-free handouts to his own extremely wealthy household. It appears that his current partner is far less memorable that the one he enjoyed in New York so I can only remember that she is, like Mrs Blair, a wealthy lawyer.

    3. John says:

      As the completely inoffensive answer that I posted more than two hours ago is still quote “awaiting moderation” unquote
      I had no intention to offend Ed Miliband’s partner: my criticism is primarily of his hypocritical greed and only secondarily, as a by-product, of his treatment of his relatively short-term partner.
      I am still married and living with my one and only partner so my definition of ‘long-term’ is not yet matched by Ed M’s latest relationship.

    4. margaret brandreth-jones says:

      I totally agree with Annie here. The term used in this context, suggests that the woman is ‘kept ‘ and used for rights which should be connubial and are otherwise. It is derogatory in its usage.

    5. anniexf says:

      Margaret: Very well expressed if I may say so. I was too shocked & upset to stay calm, but you have done the honours!

  10. Mudplugger says:

    The situation of politics being on its head is not unique – it probably started with Margaret Thatcher. Prior to her, the parties generally behaved to type.

    Whether you agreed with her approach or not, she set about ‘changing’ things which had been taken for granted for decades, while the opposition on the ‘left’ set about trying to retain those things, i.e. they were being ‘conservative’, while she was being ‘radical’.

    Once New Labour came into power, they seemed determined to maintain most of the things she had fundamentally changed, so that was ‘conservative’ too.

    Now the coalition is being ‘radical’ by ripping into so many sacred cows and being opposed by the ‘conservative’ left.

    So yes, politics is on its head, but we should have learned to live with that for the last 30 years.

    It’s interesting that, despite this, our major political parties are still largely in hock to the same financial backers – unions for Labour, big business for the Tories. Does that indicate that business has become more ‘radical’ but the union and socialist movements have become more ‘conservative’ ? Discuss.

    1. margaret brandreth-jones says:

      Yes to a greater extent I agree with you. The frameworks are the same, but the people and turbulence inside those frames has changed and the pictures inside those frames have become generally bigger.

      Margaret Thatcher radicalised and SPOILED British politics. She set a ball rolling though, that didn’t stop . NEW LABOUR did not conserve her work , they radicalised it even more. They went further down the marketeering slope than ever before. If we would have stoppped and reflected on the damage Mrs Thatcher had brought about instead of compounding it ,we may not have been in this mess now.

      Alas we are set to put in more competition, cut and thrust even deeper as private firms will take over our public services and make money out of us, to eventually take to another shore.

  11. adrian clarke says:

    Revolution Jon?NO.Just a government reacting to the situation they find themselves in.A bit like George Michael on his release from prison, going into re-hab in attempt to get his life back on a normal track.
    As for the Quangos , yet another Labour Left wing (not Socialist according to some) attempt to create the big brother society,where they believe they should control everything we do.
    Pensions:Should public employees have feather bedded pensions at the expense of tax payers.Of course they shouldn’t.Pensions should be paid from contributions to some form of investment , outside of the public sector.A great time for the establishment of two publicly owned mutual banks.controlled by the bank of england
    If there is a revplution going on , it is a revolution back to commonsense, sound economics and freedom against the big brother state and powerful unrepresentative blocks .We all aught to pray it succeeds.

  12. Kurt says:

    I think regulation would be more beneficial than revolution. Imagine if we had more accountability for all the pay packets in parliament and they were all available to be held up against public scrutiny. Ditto, every aspect of public services. More regulations for 9-5ers rather than a basic minimum wage as a form of protection. More job security for people on a lower income. More training based employment. Regulation of public spending in proportion to population density. A practical solution to the sea of graduates in unemployment. The reason why so many people (myself included) are stuck on the dole – draining money is because practical measures have not been taken. New Deal? Come on! How many ‘highly skilled’ graduates are stuck in the dole queue? What kinds of industry can flourish in the U.K.? That’s the big question because the cuts are only a way of reducing blood loss. They are not the solution to the problem. What are the chief exports in this country? Can we make more of them? If you ask me the next big step for the government is to introduce a large scale initiative that can encourage both entrepreneurial activity & outside investment. Deforestation? Plant trees. Toffs!

  13. dave b says:

    We need a land value tax, they can’t leave the country with their land. The fact that someone can earn hundreds of millions clearly isn’t making the rest of the country better off. So we should have all that invested in green science, education, health and decent homes for us all. If as Danny Dorling claims there’s a 1000 people sat on 350+ billion why? How is that helping the country? I’m sorry so many people have invested in property but the bubble will burst anyway. Use the wealth for a better society. The free for all since the 80s is why A&Es and maternity wards are closing. We need a green industrial revolution here we need jobs here, build it here and sell it there. Get the unemployed building and making not shelf stacking and answering phones.

  14. Marcor says:

    A “To Do” list for saving this country and its people.

    – get out of Afghanistan and Iraq: we simply can’t justify spreading democracy with a gun or fighting “terrorists” when our democracy is a sham & our economy is collapsing
    – dissolve this government and house of lords which seems to have more infuence than ELECTED OFFICIALS
    – select people from different classes, ages, races, religions and views to create a representative council
    – create VARIOUS think tanks and lobbying groups to propose ideas to the council
    – create a government website forum where every idea is broken down in detail, pros and cons of each and where people can easily access to vote for EACH DECISION THAT IS IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF BOTH PEOPLE AND BUSINESS
    – the council then can take into account the people’s consensus on every issue and make the right choice
    – the council members term is no more than 8 years, every interest is declared & an seperation between business connections & politics that is enforced
    – a website that shows in detail with easy to read tree graphs where every tax pound is spent on for we our the shareholders in this country

    True democracy is so simple to achieve if we want it enough!

  15. Charles Jurcich says:

    Perhaps the reason for all this up-side-down politics is that all the parties are constantly trying to out-flank eachother.

    Of course the one quango that should be taken back into government (specifically the treasury) is the Bank of England. There is no longer any need for its independence, which just creates an artificial division between fiscal and monetary policy, and, undermines our democracy (nobody votes for MPC members).

    Now that Labour are supporting “reforms” to Incapacity Benefit, including the abomination that is the Work Capability Assessment – I’m not going to be voting for anyone next year when the government collapses.

  16. Tanya Spooner says:

    I’m always surprised by the lobby that thinks this government is going to collapse. Why should it? People who believe that the Lib Dems are going to vote themselves out of power, or that the Tory backbenchers will risk losing power,are unaware of the seductive nature of being in power. However much Labour supporters resent the coalition, the likelihood is that it will be there, possibly very unpopularly, until 2015.

    1. Charles Jurcich says:

      I take your points Tanya, but when unemployment reaches 3 million by the end of 2011 (the VAT hike could achieve this all by itself), i’m not sure any of these MPs would want to be associated with it – and of course this will diservedly rub off on Labour too, as they withdrew the fiscal stimulus prematurely.

      I am hoping that the (hopefully) inevitable wave of civil disobedience will bring a plague on all their houses and spark a fundamental reform in their (and all our) attitudes to the poor and vulnerable. In short government itself needs to collapse so it can be remade again – older and wiser.

  17. linda says:

    Blah, blah, blah & yadda, yadda, yadda. The human race needs a NEW direction. Check out & join thezeitgeistmovement.com and thevenusproject.com to participate in moving BEYOND politics, poverty and war. “You cannot solove a problem w/t same thinking which created it”-A.Einstein
    I’ve been around the block a few times & TVP is the only idea i’ve been exposed to which has practical SOLUTIONS for our ‘people problems’
    Read the FAQ’s, listen/watch the vids and have FAITH in the human potential to evolve beyond old ideas.
    Love to all – Mamma D

    1. Charles Jurcich says:

      Linda,
      It looks like you’re gonna learn the hard way!

  18. GS says:

    It’s a sign of just how deluded New Labour was. I think some in the coalition are truly scared about where we are at the moment. Which is part of the reason why they are acting contrary ‘to type’ as some people see it.

    I’m particularly in favour of housing benefit and buy-to-let being tackled (good report by Faisal Islam the other night) as I don’t think we’ve fully appreciated all the consequences of that yet. For example, some villages are turning into ‘holiday factories’ with no one who supports or cares about the local community or facilities (not visitor nor house owner). This is different from the old-style second home owners.

    In 2007 the MOD did a look ahead to what the ‘key risks and shocks’ might be in the future. One conclusion was that the middle classes could become revolutionary:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/apr/09/frontpagenews.news

    It’s pretty interesting in retrospect.

  19. Philip Edwards says:

    Jon, I have just seen your exchange with former Sun editor and now columnist Kelvin McKenzie.

    Congratulations for exposing him – almost without effort – for what he is……a repulsive, reactionary media neo-nazi with an East End chip on his shoulder. No wonder he kowtows to equally despised Rupert Murdoch.

    Again, well done, Jon. More of the same please, and as often as possible.

  20. Saltaire Sam says:

    Another example of upside down world – Cameron asking Schwarzenegger’s advice on cuts. Doesn’t California have a bigger debt crisis than the UK, a problem Arnie hasn’t managed to solve?

  21. Kurt says:

    I think Jon Snow should start a ‘Think Tank’ noticeboard via this blog and website as a base for idea sharing. Given the current economic circumstances and his advantageous position in the media. This could be inclusive of and reflect the opinions of the people that the cuts are effecting. Practical solutions could then be offered to what is going to become a nationwide problem. It may be wishful thinking but maybe a bunch of fairly thoughtful well educated people could add some clout to potential parliamentary arguments in the future. Perhaps Mr Snow could have his revolution after all. I think this could be a potentially fruitful project for Chanel 4 and ultimately beneficial to gather a realistic perspective on what’s happening in each sector and area. I’m particularly concerned with Northern Ireland. I think the 25% cuts on the ‘block grant’ of overall public expenditure are absolutely ridiculous and threaten to destabilise the province. There is of course Slugger o Toole to reference first however I think it would be best to look at it in context of the rest of the U.K. There must be other facets (not just geographic) of society e.g. Policing, Medicine to consider as well.

  22. Terri says:

    Dear Jon Snow,

    This comment is off topic . . I just want to say I was with you 1000% when you told off the editor of the sun . . the Murdoch man . . .

    I am an American and a British resident .. . and I do not want to see the UK go down the road of Fox News . . . . Murdoch is the enemy . . . . if Vince Cable allows him to get more than 40% of BSskyB . . he is selling the UK down the river.

  23. phil dicks says:

    “Is the Revolution finally among us?”
    No.

    Revolutions usually mean guillotines and other forms of nasty mayhem. This is the crew that survived “The Great Expenses Scandal 2009”, after all. If the system can survive that, then let’s get Enola Gay back into action – that’s what it would require.

    Pronto.

  24. Jim Flavin says:

    Jon Snow on c4 news last nite – ” There is someting which u [ interviewee ] Murdoch and me Snow ] would all agree , Capitalism is a terrific thing as long as it is regulated ”- That is rubbish . A system that manges to convince the popuation that £44,000 is rich – well u have to admire it . The bankers and big biz must be laughing their heads off – as the herd ” debates ” this cr#p. Capitalism will never solve the problem of Poverty – it needs poverty to exist – as humns need oxygen – it needs low wages – and people who are on £44,000 to be thought of as rich – while the real rich get that for a 1/2 morning work or tying their shoe laces . Well – if there was ever any doubt – we now know Jon Snow is part of the problem – not its soloution . Attending banquets and cahrity events may be interesting – but waht has ” charity ” done for the poor – those on slave wages – or the 800,000 thousand Americans who this year have lost their homes – ZERO. It is a basically eveil system .

    1. Mudplugger says:

      A little harsh on Jon perhaps.

      However, where Snow was wrong was in saying, “Capitalism is a terrific thing as long as it is regulated” – it is largely the failure of regulation which led us into our current mess.

      Capitalism is a terrific thing if there is competition – now that’s an entirely different matter. Competition keeps driving product and service quality forward, addressing market needs, while keeping prices low, yet still making a living for all the stakeholders.

      Where we have failed is in trying to impose regulation as a substitute for competition, when those devising the regulation are actually in hock to the very system they are supposed to be regulating. The FSA (Fundamentally Supine Authority) being a classic example of this.

      When two similar shops exist on the same street, they compete on price, quality and service, thus providing customers with both value and choice – that’s capitalism at work. The challenge is to find ways to replicate that at national and international levels to obtain the benefits without the cartels and corruption we most often see.

      We may not yet have the answer, but at least we understand the question.

    2. margaret brandreth-jones says:

      As always Jim,, we can only deal with what we have. We are talking about the politics which we can exert a little control upon.

      As you rightly say ,we are being laughed at by the type of people who spend £13,500 in a hotel room for one night. We cannot get to them BUT we can struggle with the power we have to bring a better balance and correct a little. I know, it is always the poor with their gratitude for even being alive who seem to have the higher morals.

      We sold out Jim..we continue to sell off our heritage and then wonder why we lost power with the rest.

      And yes I agree with you to a large extent ,charity makes me feel nauseated. It gives power to those who give crumbs from the rich mans table. It makes the syrupy Samaritan feel so superior.This is why I rail at the destruction of the state and the objective dignity it has given to the less well off.

      However look at those poor Africans who have gone past pride and look upon others just to help them survive.I feel this inner tension between allowing others to just carry on doing nothing and say you ‘selfish sods'( then i join that clan) and wanting to join in the self rightous ‘ charity biz ‘

    3. Jim Flavin says:

      ”Competition keeps driving product and service quality forward, addressing market needs, while keeping prices low, yet still making a living for all the stakeholders.”-
      No Capitalism is rotten – and yes it may benifiet some in devoloped world via new products – often produced by semi slave labour in indevoloped world . Competition may lead to lower prices – and who pays for that – the workers – or as I have seen myself – the producers [ same thing ] eg of ag . and hort products . The prices paid to them go lower and lower – and evetually they go out of business – and eg the Supermarkets have less producers – which is what they want – less costs to them – and easier to handle . So competition is very much in favour of an illinformrd public – who are too mean to pay for qulity and safe food – they want cheap food . Do they complian about price of Alcohol.!!
      Who regulates capitaism – Capitalists .The reason why Capitalism suceeds is that it appeals to our nature – basically we are nasty and competive – so Capitaism suits to a T – while Socilasm / Communism etc – are Utopian ideals which do not suit Human nature at all .

    4. Jim Flavin says:

      Sorry should have clarified – Charity does little for poor – and Yes Capitaalism is a basically evil system .

  25. John says:

    Who needs Pravda or the Ministry of Truth when we have Jim Flavin? “Charity is a basically evil system” “the real rich get £44,000 for half a morning’s work or tying their shoelaces” (so you need to be paid £44 million p.a. to be really rich? I don’t think that even Polly Toynbee, who thinks anyone in a household where only one person earns £44k is poor, doesn’t get that much)
    Capitalism has been the greatest way of reducing poverty in the history of mankind. When Deng gained power in China Taiwan’s GDP was significantly greater than that of mainland China. When the Communists lost power the middle classes in Albania earned less than welfare payments to the workless in New York or Chicago (or London for that matter). The leading capitalist countries in the world have the highest wages – Liechtenstein versus North Korea anyone? In 1951 it was the norm for children to wear “hand-me-downs”, often patched, shiver in the cold, walk to school, regard fish-and-chips in a piece of greaseproof paper and old newspaper as a once-a-week treat …

    1. anniexf says:

      Capitalism is like pyramid-selling: it depends on a lot of people at the bottom receiving little or nothing so that those at the top can make vast profits. It’s fundamentally exploitative.

    2. anniexf says:

      Contd.
      “In 1951 it was the norm for children to wear hand-me-downs …”etc. etc.

      What planet are you on, John? It STILL IS the norm for more kids than your imagination could cope with! Have you not noticed the massive increase in the number of charity shops, or do you live somewhere that hides these painful truths from your view?
      Children still do “shiver in the cold”, believe me, and have ou seen the price of fish-and-chips? It was a treat in 1951; now it’s a luxury!
      Get real, man! Look around, I mean really LOOK, and LEARN!

    3. the-Richard-of-Nottingham says:

      With respect annie, I think you’re over doing things a little. Take a look around and you’ll hardly see legions of the damned.

      I look and I see strapping well nourished teenagers wearing the latest trainers and labels, frantically texting each other on the latest mobile gizzmo. I see hordes of over-weight adults who pile of the pounds through a diet of alcohol and excess. I see packed supermarkets. I don’t see legions of starving people, nor legions of muslim jihadists terrorising the streets. It doesn’t matter where I go, that’s what I see.

    4. Jim Flavin says:

      Sorry – put my correction in wrong place – but yes Charity does little for the Poor – and as I said Capialism is basically an eveil system .

      As for ”Capitalism has been the greatest way of reducing poverty in the history of mankind”- Is this a joke ?. Capitalism is bit by bit transferring money from the poor to the Rich . Thats what Capitalists do – and as was seen in Dispatches programme tonihght – this govt in UK is just a ” Commitee to protect the Rich ”- If I may take James Connollys words . Who were the fools that voted for these – did they not know what to expect from millionaires .
      As for Prvda – not sure if it still exists – but it was in the hapenny place compared to the media hype and indoctrination that the Capitalits use via News International et al .
      Congratulations to C4 and the Reporter for Dispatches programme .

    5. John says:

      @ anniexf
      What do you think capitalism is (apart from a bogeyman with which to frighten your grandchildren)?
      Capitalism is a system that provides a reward for capital investment. Most capitalists have NO employees or only one or two. I am a small business (NO, I don’t mean “own”): virtually all the assets are between my ears as a consequence of 40+ years of continual study. This is a consequence of a personal decision when I graduated that I did not want to take the “easy option” of working for the Civil Service – had I done so I should now be relaxing on a pension greater than my total income from work and an occupational pension from my former employer.
      I have been looking around for some sixty years. The earliest example that I can remember is that my mother and the mothers of the other two families who shared the house (split into flats) jointly owned some chickens and shared the eggs, so we kids were slightly better fed than those of mothers who had not made the effort to keep a chicken or two. How can you say that we were exploiting them?
      Further comment already posted below

    6. John says:

      Jim Flavin wants us to abolish retirement*, factories, life-saving drugs, gas cookers, electricity etc etc because he watched some TV presenter slagging off the government.
      Capitalists invest capital. Without investment you can have no machinery, not even a village smithy or a mill to grind corn into flour or a loom to weave cloth.
      Not all Capitalists are rich – there are a disproportionate number of self-employed in the bottom quintile of the equivalised income distribution (1 for every 2 full-time employees compared to less than 1 to 6 in the population as a whole; 1 in 5 of the self-employed capitalists was worse off than one-third of the unemployed in the last set of data published (by New Labour). Conversely not all the rich are capitalists (a lot of senior civil servants on more than twice the PMs salary, Eurocrats, journalists, footballers, pop stars, multi-millionaire Marxist professors …). None of these help ordinary people earn more but investment enables ordinary people to produce more with less effort and earn far more.

      *except for civil servants with an unfunded scheme

  26. phil dicks says:

    Did anyone notice (probably not) Andrew Marr’s little rant against “freckly bloggers who’ve drunk too much” (or words to that effect)?

    I don’t think he meant you, Jon. But, yes, I do have freckles: after 50yrs I’ve begun to convince myself that I’m proud of my freckles, and some of us frecklies do rant after a few drinks.

    WHAT’S HIS PROBLEM?

    Mr.Marr, and most journalists, hide behind their millions of viewers/readers/whatever, but they never confront us, do they?.

    Put it out there, Andy. This forum is free-at-the-point-of-rant. You can join.

    Bring it on. We will mince you.

  27. anniexf says:

    We are having to compete with economies like those of China & India which depend on the equivalent of slave-labour to maintain & increase their domination of world trade. Yet a significant amount of the clothing on sale in our high street stores is made in China, India, Malaysia & Sri Lanka, all so that these companies, like M & S, can satisfy their shareholders.
    To me ( and I’m probably being naive here) it seems almost equivalent to treason. This country has always been able to produce goods of superior quality; we have always had skills that have been imitated, often poorly, by other countries. Why can’t big business invest in the technologies that would keep these skills alive, so that their products can become economically competitive?
    Living in Birmingham, the one-time “city of a thousand trades”, I have seen the terrible decline over the years of valuable skills, largely attributable to management short-termism and failure to invest. I agree with Kurt, Dave b & Jim – the Coalition is just tinkering & has no genuinely original ideas. Again, the words “deckchairs” & “Titanic” come to mind.
    Jon, there is no revolution, nor will there be. We/they will just muddle on.

    1. Mudplugger says:

      But surely, it’s all about timing. “..economies…which depend on the equivalent of slave-labour to maintain & increase their domination of world trade” sounds remarkably like Britain between the Industrial Revolution and World War 2.
      The emerging economies are still at that point in development, where their populations are so hungry for city work that they accept conditions which we now consider barbaric. Assuming progressive political developments there, we can also assume that social development will follow a similar path to ours, hopefully on a shorter timescale. I hope it does.

      Also, when I was a kid, Fish & Chips cost 1s (5p) and my dad’s weekly pay was about £7. Where I live Fish & Chips are now about £3, but the average weekly wage is about £400. That’s almost identical in proportion. Trouble is, folk have more things to spend on now, so the Fish & Chips ‘treat’ may appear to be unaffordable after paying for the mobile-phone top-up, the replica football shirt, the OK magazine and all the other tempting goodies which capitalism has placed in the eye-line of the potential ‘poor’ customer-base. But buying them is still optional – we never had the choice.

    2. Paul Begley says:

      I think the real cause of our economic woes lies here:
      Two options for getting richer:
      1/ Think of a useful product. Hire talented people to design it, make it and sell it.
      2/ Buy property. Sit on it. Sell it for a guaranteed profit.

      Option 2 involves less risk, less effort and less intelligence. For most of the last thirty years, it has also delivered much higher returns than option 1.

      As the old proverb has it “Only fools and horses work”. Or as Gordon Gecko put it “I do not create. I own.”

  28. Graham Bond says:

    I’m not a rich person, but but sometimes it amazes me that some sectors of the public ( i.e some basic rate- public sector employees) feel they are being unfairly target.

    The majority of the tax increases so far have been aimed at higher rate taxpayers. These include:
    Restriction on Child benefit of higher rate taxpayers,increase capital gains tax for 40% taxpayers, a backtrack on the promise of an increase in the inheritance tax threshold to £1million.

    This makes tax planning much more difficult for higher rate taxpayers.

    I believe that David Cameron was right to say we all need to share in the pain.

    This should include, all sections of the public, quangos and the public sector.

  29. John says:

    anniexf
    Actually I am on Planet called Earth or described as “Third rock from the Sun” if you don’t like names that will translate into “here”.
    You talk about “more kids than your imagination could cope with”: I was talking about ALL children, and I am impressed with your ability to measure the scope of my imagination (without ever meeting me) if you cannot tell whether I meant “a few” or “all”.
    In 1951 we didn’t have luxuries. The very few rich people who did had to pay a special tax. In 1951 the only take-away was the chippy now we have thousands of take-aways: pizza, burgers, indian, chinese, turkish, greek …
    Yes I have noticed the vast growth in charity shops in the second half of New Labour’s term of office. Under the Tories, I used to frequent the Oxfam shop for second-hand books when I went to the next town – now there are five charity shops in our high street. We don’t have a pawn shop yet but a century ago there were more pawn shops than pubs in Britain.
    You claim that kids still shiver in the cold – in their long trousers …

    1. anniexf says:

      John, I remember 1951 very well, and indeed previous years. There was still rationing, as well as smog and freezing bedrooms. It was the norm for boys to wear short trousers and girls to wear skirts. We always had chapped knees and hands. Family Allowance (Child Benefit) was only payable for the second & subsequent children, not the first…. etc. etc. etc.
      I didn’t mean to be offensive & I’m sorry if I seemed so, but from what you wrote it appeared that you weren’t aware of the real poverty that still exists. Don’t be fooled by “long trousers”!
      I live in one of the 10 poorest constituencies in the UK. Capitalism has dealt us some cruel blows, and continues to do so; the effects on children are clear.

    2. John says:

      I am very well aware that poverty exists *and has got worse in the last decade*.
      Knees did not get chapped in 1951 – they got grazed – one reason for shorts was that it was cheaper to put Zambuk (Savlon wasn’t yet available) on grazed knees than to replace/mend long trousers – and if I had worn long trousers I should have wiped most of my family’s clothes ration (as would most other boys I knew). This may not have been obvious to a girl; I still have a couple of scars (the rest have faded away) but they are only visible when I am racing.
      “the real poverty that still exists” – why do you think that I dislike Brown who has massively increased this? It is a lot worse than the picture shown by the published numbers as he has distorted CPI, GDP and (as far as I can tell) anything that he expected the tabloid headlines to feature.
      [cont]

  30. phil dicks says:

    Annie: “I live in one of the 10 poorest constituencies in the UK.”
    Don’t we all? Are there any rich constituencies?
    This “4th richest nation in the world” thing was always dodgy-maths, voodoo-economics. Britain always has been poor, even at the height of Empire. Who makes these figures up? Poor is what we do.

    In the uk, we’re doing well if we can afford a banana (how resonant is that?). There’s a load of bananas out there, but they’re a bit on the pricey-side. Do you remember petrol-rationing vouchers in the 70’s? Poor is what we do.

    We are a poor nation fooled into thinking otherwise – that’s down to the media, Gawd-luv-em. Poor is what we do.

    1. phil dicks says:

      Annie: don’t take that as critical. You seem to be under flak. I’m a fan!

    2. anniexf says:

      Phil: Not taken as criticism! Flak won’t hurt me, only my pride, I tell myself … but thanks for being kind & generous, much appreciated.

    3. Mudplugger says:

      Not guilty, M’Lud ! I hope I wasn’t being fingered as one of the critics, Phil.
      Anniexf always comes over as smart, caring, sensitive and receptive – just the attributes we need here.
      It’s good to have open and honest debates, where we can say what we believe, knowing that many will disagree and mount their own counter-arguments with equal logic and vigour.
      I’m sure anniexf can take any honest flak, as we all should – and she’ll come back fighting, which is what we want.
      I’m already looking forward to the 2010 Snowblog Christmas Party, when Adrian and Sam bury their heart-felt differences in a few jars, later staggering out into the night in a warm fraternal embrace of “You’re my best mate, you are”.
      Just for future reference, if I ever aim flak towards any fellow contributor, it’s definitely not personal – I respect all your views and learn from many of them. Long may it continue.

    4. phil dicks says:

      Mudplugger: very well put.

    5. anniexf says:

      Mudplugger: Your very kind comments could turn an old girl’s head!
      One thing I’ve learned from Snowblog is that people with views diametrically-opposed to mine are not necessarily bad people (!), & that if I disagree with the lucid, well-thought-out arguments of those with more knowledge or expertise, I may need to think things through better!
      Let the “friendly flak” recommence …

  31. phil dicks says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that this Wednesday’s CSR may not be as bad as…?

    Whereas a few weeks ago, it may have seemed that The Harrying Of The North, West and Ulster may have been upon us, maybe the political maths will save our skins. Everything seems quietly caveated, subtly denied…which is great, but you’re left with the impression that Scorched Earth Conservatism may be flushed down the lav faster than Frank Field’s ‘unthinkables’.
    Let’s pray.

  32. phil dicks says:

    We rant. We rave. We move on.
    Zen.

    It is always Zen, whether you think it is/wasn’t/whatever. It is always Zen.

    And the joke you gave.

  33. Peter says:

    I am still trying to work out what is so different between the Labour and Coalition approaches to “cutting the deficit”.

    Labour says its plan was (and still would be) to cut the deficit in half in the next Parliament (four years was the typical time quoted). I make that £158Bn/2 = £79Bn.

    Our Coalition chancellor is aiming to do £83Bn in four years.

    Not much difference there then…

    1. John says:

      The Conservatives say they will do it by “making work pay” so that fewer people will be prevented from working because they cannot afford to do so and a mixture of cuts & tax rises. Labour say they will cut unspecified items by less and raise taxes by more, so making work pay less.
      We have yet to see what will actually happen but so far Labour plans are more popular but less plausible.

  34. Philip says:

    Many of these quangoes were set up under the Major Government under a policy called “Next Steps” (A Thatcher policy I believe) which tried to remove “administrative” work from “policy”, so that Ministers weren’t required to answer for administrative errors, etc. It was also intended that these quangoes would be located outside London & therefore pay their staff lower (non-Civil Service) pay. The Labour Government actually reviewed them and either culled or merged a large number. Accountability is a good thing – but i suspect Ministers will start to find it inconvenient; and then the whole bloody cycle will start again. The UK political system spends more time footling around with administrative arrangements that concentrating on achieving things for the tax-paying public. This sort of area needs a different, more consensual, evidence-based, measured approach involving experts as well as politicians – but, of course, it’s the politicians who have the say & they prefer to move the deckchairs around.

    1. John says:

      Philip has made a slip
      “pay their staff lower (non-Civil Service) pay.” rather blows the gaff, in that it implies that pay for equal work in the private sector is lower than in the civil service/BBC. We all know examples such as the BBC paying a broadcaster who couldn’t get a job in the private £15m pa but those saying “public sector good, private sector bad and greedy” are not supposed to admit that.

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