Archive for the ‘Ranty Ones’ Category

Pro-Business? No Thanks.


Now we are are again into the long tedious run up to an election. All the usual Daily Mail nonsense is getting thrown around about immigration, benefit scroungers, the EU etc etc, yawn yawn.

In addition to having to be tough on immigrants and the poor, politicians have to be pro-business. Business creates jobs you see, it’s so much better than the nasty, union-infested public sector, filled as it is by overpaid lazy jobsworths. It must be comforting so see life in such simple terms.

All pro-business means to me is removing all regulation and law that protects workers, the environment, or makes it pay tax. Allowing it to do with the hell it likes with absolutely no come back, in other words. (Funny how businesses gets away with millions in tax avoidance but if some poor sod allegedly commits benefit fraud, they go to jail. Who are the real scroungers here?)

And politicians go along with this, surrendering more and more of their power to unelected and unaccountable business. Who do you think really benefits from selling off public services so cheaply? Not us taxpayers that’s for sure. Politicians are put there by us to represent us, to look after our interests and the country’s interests. Yet they sell themselves to business, regardless of our interests or the country’s. Well, there’s a word for that: traitor.

Yes, jobs may very well be created by business. But it’s sad that so many are Mcjobs: mostly part time, not paying a living wage, or worst of all, a zero hours contract. And that’s all people can get, and so still have to go through the humiliation of claiming benefits to top up the wages.

If it’s anti-business to want better worker rights, better pay, better terms and conditions, an end to zero hours contracts and an end to the obscene salaries of CEOs, then I’m anti-business. And what’s more, I’m proud of it.


Reply to the Lies


Every time you go to work you leave a democracy and enter a dictatorship”. Nick Cohen.


This is the text of the letter I sent to my former employer today. The only change is that I’ve removed names.

I am not going to dignify the “appeal procedure” by using it as it was clear from the tenor of the meeting on 15 September that the outcome was a foregone conclusion. However, I do have a few comments.

I found the conduct of the meeting by both the administrator and the HR officer to be both mendacious and patronising. I find the allegation that I was under-performing to be incredible. If I really had been slower than “the other person doing the job” as alleged then I would have expected it to have been raised earlier and a chance given to improve.

I’m afraid I find it necessary to state the blindingly obvious: when I started in May 2014 fire certificates were in backlog. They no longer are. Indeed, for the last few weeks I had been asking for other work to do while waiting for new ones to arrive. If I had been as slow as alleged, I doubt the backlog would have been cleared.

For you to state in the letter received on 22 September that you “listened carefully to what I had to say” is insulting as you demonstrably did not. As I’ve stated, it was obvious to anyone with eyes that the outcome had already been decided. Until the 15th, I was actually enjoying the job and a number of people had been kind enough to compliment me on my work. Not what I would expect from someone under-performing.

The administrator’s hypocrisy is breathtaking. When I received the letter inviting me to the meeting, I asked him about it and he said he didn’t know what it was about. There’s a word for that sort of thing: it’s called lying.

Yours In Disgust etc

Back On The Road


This isn’t the post I was originally going to write, but events have got in the way. And the event in question is that I lost my job today, quite unexpectedly.

To begin at the beginning:

I started the job in May, job share 3 days a week, fixed term to Jan 2015. Most of what I did was creating fire certificates based on engineers’ timesheets. Straightforward stuff. At that time, these were at least 2 months behind. Once I’d been shown how to do it, I was left to get on with it., which is how I like to work. Anything I was unsure of, I asked. At NO time did anyone say I was doing anything wrong. Never once.

As of now, the fire certs are up to date, and have been for several weeks. I’ve been waiting for new stuff to come in, often casting around for things to do, so I’d ask and gladly do whatever was asked of me.

Last week I got a letter inviting me to a meeting, ostensibly to do with the 6 month probationary period. Alarm bells rang, both from the tone of the letter and the fact I’d been there only 4 months. So I asked the senior admin officer (who I sat beside) if it was anything to worry about. He said he didn’t know what the meeting was about.

The lie was quickly given to that at the meeting. He said had concerns about how little I was doing compared to the person I job share with, plus that I’d been seen staring at the screen.

Well, I said, this is the first I’ve heard of any problems, others have said I was doing a good job. And any staring at the screen would have been my waiting for a certificate to be uploaded to their system.

They accepted none of this, offered no evidence to back up their assertions, and terminated my contract there and then.

He then asked if I had anything to say.

“What would be the point?” I said, and threw my badge across the table.

And my view?

It was an excuse. If my work was really that much of a problem, I would have expected someone to have said something about it by now. Even the awful Serco-Peterborough did that. The certs are now up to date, in contrast to when I started, and I can easily take most of the credit for that. Plus I noticed the job share often didn’t complete the spreadsheet properly: I lost count of the number of times I corrected it. I didn’t say anything as I don’t like dobbing people in it.

So my conscience is clear. I worked hard and didn’t dawdle. To be frank, I could do the job blindfolded, with one hand tied behind my back.

The senior lied to my face. The two faced little cunt should go far. It’s horrible to think that you have to be that sort of person to get on in the world, but it seems to be true. It’s also a stark demonstration of just how poor worker’s rights are in this bloody country.

Special Relationship? More Like Special Needs.


I’ve always been sceptical about the so-called “special relationship” between Britain and the USA. It’s obvious to anyone with eyes that it’s always been more special to the British than the Yanks. “It’s our common language, shared values and history” its proponents say. Nonsense. Sure, it used to be a British colony, but that was over 200 years ago and the America then bears as much resemblance to today’s America as an amoeba to a dog. And as for the language and culture, don’t make me laugh.

Our politicians cling to this “special relationship” to feel important, hoping some of the power and influence will rub off; the class wimp hanging round with the bully. A former great power that has never really accepted its loss of that status, that the world moved on a long time ago. Look at Thatcher’s adulation of that old fool Reagan; Blair’s sycophancy towards Bush. For the Americans, it’s all about self-interest. By slavishly obeying their orders, our government is not acting in the interests of Britain. Has our involvement in their wars made us safer? No.

We are the lamp post to their dog, little better than a giant aircraft carrier (how prescient of George Orwell to call Britain Airstrip One in his novel Nineteen Eighty Four). It makes me want to vomit. To be allies, even friends is one thing, but we should be sceptical and critical. Our politicians need to grow some balls and put our interests first.

The relationship can be simply summed up:

American President: Jump!

British PM: Yes sir, how high? And may I kiss your arse too?


Diary of a Benefit Striver #6: Running True To Form


Hanley Job Centre were there usual efficient selves today. Queue for the first “Welcome Desk”, queue for the second, a surly “sit over there” where there were no seats, then a 20 minute wait with no apology.

My Arrival time: 13:49
Apppointment Time: 14:00
Time Seen: 14:15
Minutes late: 15

Cameron Plumbs New Depths


The disgusting unfairness of the coalition’s welfare reform is now axiomatic. Every time I decide to stop getting angry about it, the bastards propose something even more noisome. Their latest idea is for the DWP to charge a fee if any claimant has the temerity to challenge any decision they disagree with.

Recent figures (according to this week’s Guardian) show 58% of appeals by claimants are successful. Aside from the rank unfairness – how is someone supposed to afford a fee when they’ve had their benefit stopped? – it will also serve to hide widespread incompetance by DWP officers. The department is clearly employing far too many people who don’t know what they’re doing. The tragedy is that these morons have the power to make people destitute. The fee will obviously be a deterrant to appealing, so the inevitable consequance is even more people being unjustly kicked off benefits. Yet another attack on the poor. Makes you proud to be British doesn’t it?

I’d like to think that Labour will oppose this, and should it become law, repeal it should they win in 2015. I won’t hold my breath however.

The Tax Payer Myth


Written just before Christmas

One common element in all the anti-welfare propaganda being spread about is how “tax payers” are subsidising the feckless. The term “tax payer” is clearly being used in the narrowest possible way, to include only income tax. There are numerous other taxes, and Income Tax is less than half of the government’s overall tax take. (Source

As I write, I have a Christmas job at Royal Mail. As it only pays minimum wage for the 20 weekly hours, I pay no income tax on it. However, I’m still a tax payer. Every time I put petrol in my car, every time it’s serviced, every time I renew the tax disc, I pay tax. I pay all my Council Tax. Every time I turn the heating on or want hot water, I pay tax. On those occasions when I drink alcohol, I pay tax. And I will continue to pay these taxes after my job ends and I’m unemployed again.

Because all these taxes are regressive (i.e. not based on the payer’s income), they hit those on low incomes much harder, so a much higher proportion of your overall spend goes on them. This affects not just welfare claimants, but the many thousands of people trapped in poorly paid jobs. I’m not often given to Biblical quotations, but this seems apposite, the story of the Poor Widow (Mark 12: 43-44)

This poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.

It would be nice if those that put in out of their surplus actually did so, rather than evading or at best avoiding tax. Yet they get away with it, and all the ordure is dumped on the poor.

They are tax payers too.

They’re All The Same, Aren’t They?


I thought my anger about anti-welfare propaganda might have cooled by now. Just when I think it is, I read or see some tosser politician mouthing off and it’s reignited. What really fans the flames however, (throws kerosene on them more like) is seeing the responses to it on social media. Responses that show just how uncritically this nonsense is swallowed, (or to quote Kryten from Red Dwarf: “hook, line, sinker, rod and copy of Angling Times”). And swallowed by people who should know better: colleagues from when I worked in housing benefits.

The recent Channel 4 programme Benefit Street is a good example. I must point out that I didn’t see the programme, but it sounds like yet another piece edited to paint claimants in the worst way possible. One of my friends on Facebook (a former colleague) posted a rather nasty rant about claimants (basically: they’re all the same, lazy bastards living it up while I have to work; so what if there’s a bedroom tax etc.). When I pointed out that that hardly represents claimants, the person was quick to qualify by saying that they had nothing against “genuine” people. Oh really? So why did you accept the programme at face value? Perhaps you should pick your words more carefully.

If anyone was to make such sweeping generalisations about gay or black people (let alone make documentaries on the same lines) they would be rightly criticised and condemned for doing so. So why is it OK to make equally offensive generalisations about welfare claimants? Is it some collective need to have someone to bully, someone to blame? Or a need to feel superior to someone? Or is it simply stupidity, as I’ve long thought? It is strange that many people are contemptuous about politicians, holding them all to be liars (generalising again), yet it’s the same politicians who are leading the way with the anti-claimant propaganda. And that gets believed. Funny that.

Cheap & Nasty TV: BBC3


The recent series of programmes celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who has caused me to tune into a channel I otherwise rarely patronise: BBC3. As it’s a Yoof channel, I’m nowhere near its target demographic as I head all too rapidly into middle age. I find most of its programmes execrable.

While channel hopping recently, I stumbled onto a particularly repellent example. It was a sort of reality TV meets fly-on-the-wall thing, passing itself off as a documentary. Its targets were two STD clinics, one in Yorkshire, the other in Devon. As well as watching the staff, the viewer was treated to a selection of patients. These were all young people, many of whom were serial visitors who seemed to regard attendance at the clinic as a badge of honour. It seems none of them had heard of contraception. I was staggered by this level of ignorance (or is it just plain stupidity?) There was little embarrassment on show at having what used to be called “a dose of the clap” and little awareness or concern over the risk of HIV. The young often complain about how they’re misrepresented, but this programme only reinforced the view that they are a bunch of promiscuous and stupid fools.

Unlike that awful right-winger the late Mary Whitehouse, I exercised my free will and changed the channel. I do have to wonder which manager at the BBC thought it worthwhile to make such a programme, and then to present it in this way. Perhaps the makers didn’t want to be preachy and thought they were presenting a balanced view. If that was their intention, it was a failure. The programme tacitly approved of the youngsters’ behaviour where it could perhaps have suggested that they take precautions as next time they might catch something that can’t be treated.

A part of me has always resented the TV Licence fee. However, if it’s the price of keeping adverts off the BBC, then I will put up with it. However, I would rather the BBC concentrated on making quality programmes and leave this sort of populist lowest common denominator rubbish to ITV.

Ignorance As A Virtue: The Problem Of Social Media


One of the problems with social media is that it provides a broad vehicle for the sort of ignorant Daily Mail nonsense that was once the preserve of the pub bore, holding forth over the seventh pint (or fourteenth if you’re William Hague). The only advantage is that you can at least delete it, which is a bit more difficult to do with the bore (unless you’re a Cyberman). I came across an example of this on Facebook recently. As anyone who knows me will realise, I have no time for the prejudice about benefit claimants that passes for truth at the moment. This has nothing to do with the fact that I am currently claiming: I have always held this view. The post was of a picture of Star Trek’s captain Picard looking exasperated with the caption “how can that person afford an iPhone when they’re on benefits?” The conclusion you were meant to draw was obvious. And wrong.

There could be several answers to that question: they may have bought it themselves when they were working, or someone could have given to them as a gift. But the short answer is: none of your fucking business. If you are really so stupid as to make such an ignorant and lazy assumption, then go ahead. I will not get into the gutter with you. Just do everyone a favour: fuck off and don’t come back until you have learned to use your brain. You know, that squishy thing between your ears that you think with. It really isn’t that difficult. All you’re doing by your ignorant pronouncements is spreading lies and prejudice. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Nick Cohen: Writing from London

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