I’ve unashamedly borrowed this post from Mark Salad on Facebook.
“The photograph is my place of birth, the world I was born into. It was rough, depressing and squalid. It was a slum. It was already better than my parent’s world. My father – orphaned in his teens – watched his mother die of cancer screaming on the kitchen table. No money meant no doctor, no hospital, no painkillers. There’s precious little of that “cinema working class stoicism and nobility” here – my father grew up into a troubled violent alcoholic…. Life expectancy was such that I never met a grandparent.
Luck and some level of determination enabled my parents to get out of this place. Moving just two or three miles was a different world with things called gardens, where the default state wasn’t filth. Eventually, at a cost, we ended up as a working class family in a suburban middle class life. The changes bought a few years on the cycle – I was in my early 20s when my parents died. They died in hospitals, being cared for by trained staff and receiving medications that made their passing less painful. Quantifiable improvements.
The state paid for my education – in full – had it been any other way it would likely have been curtailed earlier. The education guaranteed nothing, but afforded opportunity to put more distance between myself and where I started.
I’m middle class now, dont’cha know – shopped at Waitrose and everything.
All this has happened across two generations. My grandparents were Egyptian, Irish, German and English – mostly migrants – the world that I was born into was already an improvement for them.
So, back to this phrase – heard on both sides:
“I want my country back.”
I don’t want my country back. My country was shit. I want something better than that. For everyone.
The advance of liberalism is infuriatingly slow, but it does happen – incrementally. Even with the occasional setback things are so much better than they were in our supposed golden age.
When the incredibly affluent talk about “taking our country back” the reality of that for the non-affluent is a massive step backward to a time of few rights, no protections and no safety net – that’s not a place you are in any way equipped to survive, let alone thrive. Drop the nostalgia filter, things used to be awful.
Gove has stated that “EU rules dictate … the distance houses have to be from heathland to prevent cats chasing birds (five kilometres).”
The EU’s Habitats Directive, says countries should take “appropriate steps” to avoid disturbance of protected species in special conservation areas. But nowhere does it say houses can’t be built within 5 kilometres of such areas.
He also stated that “EU rules dictate … the maximum size of containers in which olive oil may be sold (five litres).”
They do – but the EU allows countries to waive the 5-litre rule for those who might need olive oil in greater containers e.g. restaurants. The UK decided not to implement such a waiver.
A few weeks ago I listened to a programme on Radio 4 called ‘The Bottom Line’.
It was about the EU and whether we should leave or stay.
Amongst the participants were two business people – one anti and one pro.
Julia Gash, who’s the CEO of company called Bidbi, and is pro staying in said that doing business with other EU countries was simplicity itself. It was just as easy to send goods to Manchester as I was to send them to Milan. No customs duty to pay and no complications around VAT.
The managing director of company called David Nieper was vehemently anti. He said that some of the regulations the EU were proposing about data and how it could be used were quite sinister in their composition. I suppose he didn’t like the regulations because they limit the way in which companies can use customer data. As a consumer I find that a very good thing indeed.
He also railed against the fact that the EU had stipulated that office chairs had to have five legs. (I think he actually meant to say that swivel chairs should have five feet.) There’s a very good reason for that. Swivel chairs with only four feet have an alarming tendency to tip over when you’re sitting in them. So I’m all for swivel chairs with five feet. This was cited as an example of the EU putting up costs for businesses.
At the end of March Boris Johnson gave oral evidence to the Treasury Committee on “The economic and financial costs and benefits of UK membership of the EU”.
Towards the end of the two hour session the Chair of the committee said to him: “You are in danger of getting back to delivering us grains of truth with mountains of nonsense again, I am afraid.”
One of the ‘facts’ that Boris came up with was that the EU had banned children under the age of eight from blowing up balloons. This is arrant nonsense – they merely recommended that balloons should be used under adult supervision. Surely this is a sensible measure?
Another piece of nonsense was the fact that the EU have said what size coffins should be. They have – but only for cross border transport, and then only because it’s apparently something that European undertakers wanted. It makes life much easier for them.
If that’s the best he can do I dread him ever becoming prime minister.
The Vote Leave campaign believe that the UK will save money if it leaves the EU. They say that they would spend the money saved on the NHS!
Sarah Wollaston, a GP and the Tory health committee chairwoman, has announced she will now vote for Britain to stay in the EU because Vote Leave’s claim that leaving will free up £350million a week for the NHS ‘simply isn’t true’.
Would you trust statements about the NHS coming from the Vote Leave campaign if you knew that at least six of the campaign’s committee members are in favour of privatising the NHS?
Michael Gove (co-convener Vote Leave) has called for the dismantling of the NHS.
Matthew Elliott (chief executive Vote Leave) – is the founder of the Taxpayers Alliance which has long argued for the break-up of the NHS and private competition in healthcare.
Dominic Raab (campaign committee member Vote Leave) has advocated privatising the NHS.
Steve Baker (campaign committee member Vote Leave) – in 2013 praised healthcare provision for the working classes in Britain before the NHS.
Douglas Carswell (campaign committee member Vote Leave) has called for the “denationalising” and privatisation of healthcare provision in Britain.
Dan Hannan (campaign committee member Vote Leave) has called for the dismantling of the NHS, calling it a “relic”.
Nice headline – “We send the EU £350 million a week”.
The Financial Times has called Vote Leave’s claim “far from accurate” . Why is that? Primarily because it ignores the very large rebate that the UK gets.
The money that the UK sends Brussels should be calculated after deducting the rebate because the latter doesn’t get sent to Brussels.
In 2015 the UK actually sent £250 million a week to the EU. A substantially lower figure than that emblazoned on the side of the Brexit Bus.
However that’s not the end of the calculation. The British government also receives money back from the EU, primarily for farming subsidies and regional aid. A very small, local, example of the latter is the Ilfracombe Dotto Land Train, which received a large dollop of cash from the EU.
The UK private sector also benefits from EU money, primarily for research – and it does very, very well in attracting research money.
Britain also includes some EU spending against its foreign aid target.
After taking into account all those figures the net cost to Britain was about £120 million a week (ignoring any other benefits from EU membership).
At the end of last year I thought I’d take a break from blogging, as it was becoming quite time consuming.
However, I realised recently I hadn’t updated anything on my site for a couple of months. If a site is never updated then it’s not worth having!
So I’ve decided to start blogging again and update various sections of my site.
A lot has happened locally over the past months, but the most important national current event is the EU referendum.
The Grass Roots Out pitch in early May where Vote Leave can now be seen
The Brexit Campaign have been quite busy over the last month, particularly on market days. It is a pity that their stall obstructs the pavement, and that they, very misguidedly, use the Pannier Market pillars as their private poster board. Actually the Town Council have a very strict, and even-handed, policy about canvassing in the Pannier Market. It is not allowed. Posters aren’t allowed either.
The market manager has lots of jobs to do – and he shouldn’t need to spend his time regularly asking the campaigners to remove the posters.
By-the-way, it’s not permissible to attach posters to anything other than your own property unless you have the owner’s permission. This means not only buildings but also lamp-posts, road signs, fences and telephone poles!
In contrast, the Remain Campaign operate from their stand on the Enhancement (for which they pay the requisite fee). They play according to the rules of our town.