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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Does the Government Represent You?

Government of the people, for the people and by the people is the ideal of democratic nations, as Laid down by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address (I haven’t seen the film yet honest…). Our democracy is older than that of the USA but the sentiment remains valid, a point Winston Churchill made when he echoed it in his famous “We will fight them on the beaches…” speech. I wonder though whether or not the UKs modern Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government has ever bothered to consider the broader spirit of the words because it seems to me that their make-up and their policies fall short in every area.

Two thirds of the cabinet  – the crux of government – are millionaires. Does anyone really believe they understand what it is to have been made redundant and be struggling to pay the mortgage? To have a disability? To have a low paid job and struggle to pay the bills? Have they ever been in a position where they have had to choose between heating and food, and are they ever likely to be? If not, then how can they represent those elements of society? 2,700 pensioers die each year because they cannot afford to heat their homes. According to the UK government’s own figures over 13m working people exist on less that 60% of the average income, and more than 7m people (again in work) in 3.6m households live in extreme financial stress unable to feed themselves and their families at the end of each month.
We have 2.6m unemployed people in this country, and according to the Office for national statistics one in four employed people want to work more hours than they currently do. In fact the number of these people has increased by 1million people in the last four years. Why do they want to work more hours? Because they cannot afford to support themselves and their families on their meagre wages. The Tory aim to increase labour market flexibility has meant that many have had to take part-time jobs because there are no full time positions available. These people do not sound like the benefit seeking scroungers that our government would have us believe they are, and yet the war on the welfare state continues.

Meanwhile we have a cabinet worth £70m pounds collectively, led by a Prime Minister of the rich who tells us “We’re all in it together” while cutting tax on the richest in the economy. The richest 1000 people in the country (according to the Guardian) have increased their wealth by £155bn while the rest of us suffer recession after recession and cut after cut. Why does he defend the priviledged so staunchly? Could it be anything to do with his net (largely inherited) £3.8m fortune? How does he get away with it? This is depressingly easy to answer. The telegraph estimates that there are 280,000 millionaires in the UK, or roughly 0.4% of the population and yet 67% of the cabinet are millionaires. It appears we do not have a government of the people, we are governed by the rich and as the old saying predicts: “Power corrupts”.

Does this government have a mandate from the people to do the things it is doing? On a seemingly constant basis the PM and those in both coalition parties tell us that they have to take unpopular decisions. That they are the ones with the strength to make difficult choices regardless of how unpopular they might be. This is wrong. The government of the UK is a representative body, they should be acting in accordance with the wishes of the electorate and doing nothing more. Clearly this is not what is happening, but if you’re not sure consider these points as examples and note that there are many, many more:

a.       Effective Privatisation of the NHS

This policy was so predictably unpopular that the Conservatives “forgot” to mention it during their electoral campaign. They did tell us that there would be no top-down reorganisation of the NHS, but I’m not sure that this statement really covers their policy of using the NHS as a franchise logo for private businesses that use your ailments to make a profit. Unsurprisingly the early signs predict disaster, with vast cuts in available treatments, privatisation of NHS trusts and individual hospitals and warnings from doctors, nurses and professionals throughout the organisation that there will be fewer treatments, more waste, less efficiency and a higher cost.

 

b.      Cuts to the welfare state

Most people take this to mean cuts to job-seekers allowance but it’s much more than that. Child tax credits have recently been re-structured in the least fair way that anyone can imagine. Being fair is not really this government’s priority though, for example the changes to child tax credits will save up to £1.5bn by depriving working families of that money, but the Tories gave this away by cutting the top rate of income tax and costing the country over £3bn. That’s a pretty tough pill to swallow for anyone who has been told that their allowances are being cut to help pay off the debts caused by rich investment bankers who will pay significantly less tax on their astonishingly large bonuses-for-failure in future. Nonetheless, the government has taken no direct action to tackle the banks or bankers and instead focussed on selling your healthcare to businesses that are trying everything to avoid paying tax at all.

 

c.       Reduction of your employment rights

In short, this government wants to make it easier and cheaper to sack you when business is poor. This may not be your fault, you may have served the organisation faithfully and successfully for years but as far as the government is concerned, the business owes you no loyalty. According to the Office for National Statistics there are 29.6million employees in the UK, and 2.6million job-seekersin a potential workforce of 34.1million people. This means that over 95% of people in the UK are employees or potential employees and the government is eroding their rights. In addition to this, cuts to the economy and the ensuing economic effects have meant that average pay increases have been 1.9%, considerably below the inflation rate which has been hovering close to 3%. This means not only are employees losing their rights, but they are also effectively taking a pay cut.

 

d.      I could go on…. And on…. I don’t want to over-egg the omelette though, so perhaps people could add other government policies since 2010 that have hurt the majority of the country to the comments (below).

It is clear that we do not have a government of the people, for the people or by the people. These people do not represent you, this is a collection of career politicians that are making decisions that benefit only the richest people at the top of the largest organisations in the country. A collection of people that pretend their decisions were difficult and have the temerity to tell you that they are acting in your best interests. We do need strong politicians that are capable of making difficult decisions, but those decisions are very different to the ones that are being made. We need politicians with real experience of life’s difficulties who are prepared to stand up to the tyranny of corporations and protect their people from the life-destroying effects of poverty and inequality.

Our current government however is simply a collection of weak politicians who are selling your rights, your health, wealth and your services. And they expect you to be grateful!

4 comments:

  1. Hear Hear! The government, in it's current state, is an absurd money-devouring beast that needs to be decimated.

    Our forefathers would have been shooting already.

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  2. Rapinder Adekola26 January 2013 at 14:57

    The origin of the word (etymology) of 'democracy', can be decrypted from the Greek demokratia, meaning "popular government". Breaking down the word, demo and cracy even further, 'demos' means "common people," and 'cracy' means "rule, strength". So, as you say above, democracy literally means the "rule of the common people". However, this is clearly not the case, even if the Ancient Greeks, who probably coined the word, intended it this way.
    You say, "...[government} parties tell us that they have to take unpopular decisions. That they are the ones with the strength to make difficult choices regardless of how unpopular they might be".
    I agree with you that this is he wrong attitude as it smacks of a nanny State, which thinks it is there to make all the decisions for the retarded People who are incapable of really knowing what's good for them. This is more poignant given the minority Elite may have had little experience of the plight of the majority when it comes to every day living, such as the examples you give above. This government certainly appears, publicly, to be picking on those on the bottom few rungs of society, although I am not sure, if statistically, this is actually the case, as I have not followed or looked into all their policies as closely as you write above.
    However, if I start comparing this government with a Labour one, supposedly more in touch with the Plebian classes ( I believe it is now socially acceptable to use this term), am I then extrapolating from this that they would be much better as rulers? Certainly my experience of Labour has not shown this and on occasions the Labour leaders, with more 'British class divide' chips on their shoulders, than the average middle classer, can run havoc with his resulting emotionally laden policy decisions. In the end, the Labour-ites are quite often shown to be hypocrites by betraying the roots they exploited in order to get into power in the first place. Mentioning no names...but Jaguars come to mind...!
    An educated leader is what really counts, someone who has been brought up to be respectful to others, someone with integrity and a belief in honest values. Even if such a person has an Elite background, I shouldn't think it should matter to much, as long as that person has a passion to help his People and nation to progress to a better future as a whole. There's not many of that kind around these days though, are there?
    Thank you for posting; I enjoyed reading this article.

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  3. About not being sure of the stats (above) in making a critique of the present administration, I take it all back: It's quite clear the present government is picking on poorer folk, given the latest "bedroom tax", apparently to give People the 'incentive' to get a job. The only incentive is to get frustrated and hate the government even more than already but maybe the Powers That Be can live with that....?

    website: rapinderadekola.yolasite.com
    twitter: Rapinder@RoadrunnerA

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  4. You also have plutocracy see Berkeleyb for more info is plutocracy destroying democracy?, what really annoy me too is that the political party's act as though they are really different to each other but all of the three party's are just exactly the same to each other...they dont represent different views..... i bet they all hang out together too...

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