Turned Against Liberal Democrats (Early 2013)

Thursday, 7 February 2013
This Vicious Government

It is a trick of government not to explain legislation. It comes towards people and heads go into the sand. Then it comes, apparently sorted, and it is too late. It impacts. You then get social disorder and backtracking happens.
The Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats together are not just the nasty parties - they are vicious. The Bedroom Tax is nearly upon people and it is going to cause social destruction across large groups of the poorest. There are large estates in places like London and other major cities that can react to tipping points far less than this, and this will hurt. This one is a Poll Tax Plus big time, on top of making the Council Tax a localised form of Poll Tax all over again.
In the past governments knew that there was a social contract. It went something like this. Capitalism works most of the time but not all of the time. With the best will in the world, the market fails to employ everyone and fails to fit the best people to the best jobs. So you make life just possible for the people who are left unemployed and try and make things more fluid to get a job. Everyone knows that a place like South East Wales does not have a geography that causes more depression: it is unemployment, and the need to live on more than the minimum that leads to depression and disability and at least a little more money to cope. The Tories in the 1980s created mass unemployment and just dumped people, but at least they could live even if the figures were fiddled. Of course everything should be done to assist those who should and can work when the work is available.
This government now is led by a bone-headed Chancellor, an air-head Prime Minister and an arrogant over-promoted Deputy Prime Minister. They are all privileged posh boys and have little insight into where so many people exist. They have forgotten the social contract, and the Work Programme involves no work and no programme but just adds repetitive pressure. The firms involved park the difficult cases while trying to claim the job seeking efforts of the successful as their own work. It becomes more private profit. Well that's all OK if it is surrounded by a practical realism, but these political lightweights deceive themselves. They believe their own propaganda. The strength of their politics has been shown once again, today, by the reverse gear use by Michael Gove the Education Secretary (who has been promoting himself to take over from Cameron). He is another hopeless case, a shambolic prejudice-run individual.
What the Bedroom Tax does is lead hundreds of thousands who can just about make ends meet fall into continuous debt. But it won't work, if the aim is to cut welfare payments. It only affects people in England, so that is one discrimination, as with the Council Tax becoming the new Poll Tax. It only affects people in listed social housing. It also denies those people a broader family life or social assisted life, because the extra bedroom is the means by which the wider family can come and stay, or carers can stay over. There must be a human rights challenge on that basis if nothing else.
So imagine what happens as large numbers of people get a cut to their housing benefit. It will soon be real. They must do something about it, because they are living on so little. Many cannot move and will suffer. So say they pay £75 a week rent and get that in benefit. It then drops by 14% or just under £5 every week. If they have two rooms 'spare' it drops by just under £19. This is money that went on heat, clothes and food. So the government starts to save money. But then many couples or individuals move into the private rented sector, where, up to certain limits, the full housing benefit for an area is paid. Before market pressure and rising rents, they might pay say £85 a week rent, even for flats and small houses. So the housing benefit that was £75 paid becomes £85 paid under the new system.
At the same time, people in private rented accommodation, receiving their housing benefit, will not want to move into vacated social housing. So the effect is that the benefit bill goes up. There becomes a surplus of two and three bedroom social housing, which no one wants except larger families on a waiting list, but these days many families are small and fragmented and the housing stock reflects the benefits system as has been.
But then let's not be fooled about even this. Social housing makes up some of the smallest units of housing going. Many of these two bedroomed houses are with a tiny so-called double room and then a box room. Europeans and Americans are often surprised at just how small are British houses and flats. The tax is an excuse; it does not reflect the nature of social housing.
So the policy is vicious and stupid at the same time. It is another example of (at the very best) cocked-up inadequate government, where people in administration and control have no insight and are clueless so that they come up with grand ideas that turn out to be disasters in practice. No one thinks things through. Either that or the Tories and Liberal Democrats really do believe in rubbing the poor into the gutter.
There was a lot of parliamentary gnashing of teeth over the removal of the social mix from posh London. But this is far, far worse. This hits so many people, causes so much disturbance, and leads to widespread worry and stress. People will be pulling their hair out over this change and once it hits it will be very nasty. British people are also a strange people. They mutter a lot and stay quiet, but when the shit hits them they often react big time.
Last night there was a party political broadcast by the Liberal Democrats. I only caught a part of it. It was Nick Clegg mouthing off something or other. I have never felt such rage when a politician has appeared on TV. This man is a charlatan, very toxic, and a lying politician of self-serving nastiness and incompetence combined.
I don't give a toss about the Chris Huhne story any further, but I am interested in the Eastleigh by-election. I really do want to know what is happening in the south, because even in the south the figures are fiddled and the economically underperforming exists in large numbers. We've had the public sector and major private employers sacking people with frequency while the unemployment figures have gone down. They are a joke. For example, if you are unemployed and receive a sanction, you are no longer counted as unemployed for the duration of that sanction. Lots of people seeking work are not counted as undemployed. It is rumoured that Job Seekers Allowance could be linked to how many vacancies have been examined or jobs applied for: that would itself be a pernicious system.
The sooner the coalition crumbles the better: I hope Eastleigh helps. The Liberal Democrats deserve nothing but destruction. The Conservatives deserve to divide and fall. Let them obsess over Europe. The economic policy has failed and the social policy is anti-social and incompetent at the same time. The electorate has been sitting and waiting to exert a bloody nose on them, but the Bedroom Tax and new Poll Tax may more than try its patience.
The authorities are stupid as well as vile. These people like Gove, Osborne, Cameron and Clegg should not be running the country and should not be anywhere near the levers of power.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Marriage and the Broader Politics

The gay equality issue in the House of Commons second reading to introduce marriage for all couples is like a necessary unfinished business in the life of parliament, but one I suspect that remains unfinished even as and when passed. The fact is it isn't equal, even at this point. This is what has given the antis their argument, that it is a "redefinition of marriage". The heterosexuals who marry still have to consummate; failure to do so and then adultery remain grounds for divorce. The homosexuals who marry do not have to consummate and have to commit "unreasonable behaviour" in order to divorce. Thus there ceases to be a unity in marriage. Furthermore, there is a division without accepting it between marriage of the State and marriage of religion including by the Church of the State. On the first matter the question is how do gay people consummate the marriage, when authorities won't tackle the matter of gay sex (and how would lesbians consummate the marriage?) and on the second should there not be State marriage which Churches can bless if they want?
So a better piece of legislation would have been that, yes, marriage is redefined, but as a unity: unreasonable behaviour, which is what heterosexuals use anyway, becomes the basis for divorce, and consummation ceases to be a maker of marriage. After all, many who perhaps could (under certain cirumstances) don't consummate or can't and don't tell. On the State and Churches, a better piece of legislation would require the official of the State to be present and that provide the basis of the marriage: this might be the same person as a religious celebrant or someone else present, and the established Church cease to have privileges and duties in this matter. It would have the freedom to turn down any marriage and indeed only do the marriages it wants. Disestablishment seems to be knocking at the door now - Church and State are themselves undergoing a separation.
British legislation always seems to be messy. Surely nothing is messier or nastier than the bedroom tax, which attacks the poorest the most and denies a wider, visiting, family life of extended children and grandparents, and lives in denial that people can sublet to pay the loss of income, which would be counted as a form of income anyway regarding other benefits. Any sensible approach to this (if possible at all) would have always allowed at least a spare bedroom, starting thus at two and not one. This is a most vicious tax, and comes on top of creating a poll tax out of the council tax. People simply won't be able to budget. And this has been introduced with Liberal Democrats in office, which is extraordinary, and becomes another, indeed the most serious reason, why they should not only be removed from office but vanish as a result of the utter betrayal of their electorate since taking office. They haven't just been the Tories's wooden leg, but have done it with enthusiasm. They've joined in with the clueless and incompetent person that passes for a Chancellor these days and the inadequate PR man that passes for a Prime Minister.
It's unfortunate but I conclude that an important piece of legislation regarding marriage has been a sop to try to maintain Prime Minister Cameron's 'radical' side, especially as the Green agenda has been largely parked. It is a good thing, and you'd vote for it, but it is still incompetent legislation when thinking it through. The House of Lords might straighten some of it out (excusing the pun).
The fundamental error the Liberal Democrats have made is believing the statistics. There is nothing significantly different between our economy and some other middle and weaker players in Europe. We have huge numbers of economically inactive people; we also have very large numbers of underemployed people (which is all that is achieved by a 'flexible labour market'). The unemployment figures are a sham, a lie, and no one trying to get a job believes them for a minute. Ramming the economy into the wall and then doing it again and again does not get us out of recession, it just adds to the woe. Then reducing benefits will reduce purchasing in the economy and deepen the recession.
After the bubble burst the curves of LM and IS shifted towards a more Keynesian shape. The answer to the economic conundrum is to spend and invest. The answer they have come up with is 'money cheap' - no result - and then 'money flood' as in quantitative easing. Result - nothing. Take the old fashioned MV = PT equation. M is money and V is velocity, and it equals Prices times Transactions. Quantitative easing represents more M but there is no V to speak of in this recession. So money gets made, but it gets parked. So nothing happens. What is needed is T to be increased. Quantitative easing is proof that the State can do this for next to no cost. Furthermore, States have the power to simply wipe debt: tough on creditors but it was always this way. That's part of their risk.
At the least debt could have been paid while maintaining some spending. I seem to remember that this was the policy of the Liberal Democrats. They agreed with Labour. But they went in with the Conservatives and decided a wholesale change of policy. As with just about everything else. Left with constitutional change as their only significant likely contribution, the Conservatives saw that off too and the Liberal Democrats finished by denying them their constituencies' gerrymandering.
Apparently down in Eastleigh the Tory versus Lib Dem battle has favoured the Lib Dems. This somewhat disappoints me as I want the Lib Dems to pay dearly for what they have done: the contempt in which they have used their electoral votes. In the north of England and in Wales the Lib Dems will be wiped out, I would think. But isn't Eastleigh Nigel Farage's (UKIP) best chance to get a seat in the House of Commons? My friends say he'll calculate on what if he loses. Just about everything he stands for I don't, but I can imagine the disgruntled Tories going to him and the protest-based and oppositional vote in the Lib Dems going to him. I'd have to vote Labour - I could not vote for him. There is an anti-European tide for Farage to use. But I look forward to this campaign in general because it will add to the weakening of the coalition and if the coalition fell apart then all the better.
But let's bring it down to brass tacks: how the Liberal Democrats can support this bedroom tax beats me. Somebody has to stop this: beating people into poverty, denying them a family life, is not a way to encourage yet more underemployment, if it can be found. This is nasty stuff. We might expect it from the Conservatives, which is why they weren't elected, but we don't expect the Conservatives to still be able to do these things thanks to a party that got itself elected on an entirely different basis. Well, we won't get fooled again.


Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful