GREAT Britain in the 21st Century

It is a well known fact that there is a surfeit of swear words in the English language; so rich is our verbal vulgarity that even speakers of foreign languages frequently swear in English. Yet somehow even with these excesses available to me, there isn’t a word in my vocabulary to adequately describe my contempt for the British government.

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Simple Rules For Life

1. Don’t judge people.
2. Don’t judge yourself.
3. Don’t give any shit.
4. Don’t take any shit.
5. Don’t want stuff.
6. Learn to say fuck off.
7. Pay it forward.
8. Be grateful every day.
9. Be kind.
10. Question everything.

After posting this on Facebook, it occurred to me that 9 should be:

Be excellent to each other.

My friend Susan suggested:

11. Share what you have …advice, yourself and everything you achieve

Another friend, Jane, suggested:

11. Accept your failures and learn from them.

I like Charlie Chaplin’s version:

“Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.”

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LOVE this TED Talk

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60% income tax is a BAD idea

Bloody hell it’s been more than a year since my last blog post!  I’ve actually started a few and then given up and just let them become way out of date… And in fact I’ve just ditched 3 unfinished, unpublished posts.  So what’s prompted me to blog today?  The Green Party’s announcement of a 60% income tax rate. I’m interested in the Greens and in the left generally, but I think a 60% income rate tax is wrong and counter-productive.

I appreciate that our public services are desperate for funding, but to me the tax that needs reform is corporation tax, specifically closing the off-shoring loopholes. Corporation tax is a profit tax not an income tax. What that means is a tax on what is made after all costs have been deducted, rather than on gross earnings. The thing with income tax is, I don’t care who you are, paying 60% income tax is staggeringly unfair and a huge disincentive to work. I think tax rates are about right, though a 50% supertax for those earning mega-money eg over £1,000,000 could be considered and VAT should definitely be cut to 15%.

The thing is, yes our economy is grossly unbalanced, but excessively punitive individual taxation is not the solution. I do think avoidance and evasion need to be tackled, the “tax gap” is a disgrace, it runs at anywhere between £35BILLION (HMRC’s number) and £120BILLION (Tax Justice Network’s estimate) per year. The cost of the top tax cut from 50% to 45% in 2010 is estimated to be £100MILLION per year, so as you can see it’s “nibbling at the edge” of the problem rather than solving it.  Clamp down on the bigger problem and close the tax gap. Increase corporation tax to 28% or even 30% and CRUCIALLY make big companies pay all of their staff a living wage (what is a big company? Can’t tell you in financial terms, but examples would be Asda, Shell, BT etc).

How would this work? And why would it work?  Look at some of these multinational corporations, the make billions of pounds of profit every year, but many of their workers are on below subsistence wages (ie the minimum wage), this means that they literally can’t afford to work, so the government makes up the shortfall by way of tax credits – ie Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit.  But what *they* don’t tell you is that tax credits are essentially propping up poverty wages, they allow corporations to get away with paying poverty wages. They are a subsidy for (big) business.   Apparently supermarket workers claim £11BILLION in benefits every year!

Look I’ve run my own business, I know how difficult it can be to pay decent wages for your staff, but I’m not talking about small companies here – I’m talking about multi-national corporations where the directors are being paid mega-bucks and the shareholders get a huge dividend every year.

Dividends are profit share, but often that profit is derived from “exploiting” the workers, this exploitation is masked by government intervention by way of tax credits.  So is it real profit? Why not make all companies pay all of their workers a decent wage BEFORE they can be considered in profit?  How would you do this? You could impose a punitive profit tax of say 75% on any listed company that doesn’t pay its workers a living wage.  And if a company can’t afford all of its costs (including the aforementioned living wage for all of its employees) then it isn’t profitable at all, it’s merely exploitative – or worse, a lifestyle business.  Tax Credits and other in work benefits are a huge drain on the public pocket, but without exploitative businesses the cost could be massively reduced. Plus the extra income would create more spending and boost the economy that way.

I have lots of other ideas that I think would benefit the public purse, I might publish them before the election. If I can be arsed.

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The REAL suck on the taxpayers’ tit

I’m beginning to think London is the big SUCK on the taxpayers’ tit – it’s not us feckless people up north who cost the most.  A quick glance at some of government’s tables and articles in the press show that:

  • The North East has received £86.22 per head in arts lottery funding since 1995, while Londoners received £165.
  • £21.33 per head is spent on arts’ funding in London compared to £5.59 per head for the rest of the country
  • 85% of the highways budget is spent in London and the SE.
  • £2,700 is spent per person in London on public transport subsidies compared with £5 per head in the north-east.

We don’t even have a Film Hub up here.

And EVEN if we oop Norf do take more health spending (which is open to debate) – remember our life expectancy is 10 years less than in London and the SE, so that’s 10 years less of state pensions!

We may like to think that the wealth is created in London too – but the North East is regularly the only region with a balance of trade surplus!  So I say fuck you London, fuck you Tories, I think we would manage without you.

For more information read the government’s OWN analysis.

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Happy Birthday Lubylicious

On the 20th March  2004, my lovely little Luca was born.  We hadn’t planned on calling him Luca – we had no name for him – but he had a big pudgy nose and looked like a Bruno.  But to me Bruno is a dog’s name – so we needed something else… It came down to Hugo and Luca – with Luca being the decision (on the 40th day after his birth!)

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He was always cool, always mummy’s baby – always laid back… with hindsight, probably too laid back – in 2006 just after his second birthday he was given a preliminary diagnosis of autism, with the final confirmation coming in the July.  And so what – lots of people are autistic – what’s the biggie?  I don’t normally write blogs about Lu – why would I? I fill Facebook with photographs of him – and spend every day with him – that’s enough for me…  So why now? Well tomorrow is his 10th birthday, so that’s a good starting reason – but it’s also Day 1 of #107days.  What is #107days?

On March 19th last year (Day Zero), someone else’s Lubylicious – a beautiful 18 year old called Connor Sparrowhawk – was admitted to an NHS assessment unit.  You see Connor (LB – Laughing Boy – to his family and friends) was autistic, he also had epilepsy; he was being being assessed to help develop a support and care plan.  It was a small unit, with plenty of staff – but as is often the case his parents were not involved in developing his day to day care in the unit, his epilepsy was not properly risk assessed and the staff didn’t have adequate epilepsy training. On July 4th, 2013 he was left unattended in the bath, suffered from a fit and drowned. 107 days after he was admitted.

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Southern Health (the Trust in charge of the unit) initially said his death was due to natural causes.  I didn’t know that drowning was ever considered natural causes!  Less than two months later after an inspection the unit was closed – it failed on all 10 of the criteria that it was inspected on.  And last month an independent inquiry, that Connor’s family had to fight for, found that Connor’s death was preventable. Note that Connor’s family, Connor’s GRIEVING family had to FIGHT for that independent inquiry!

This is what we do to learning disabled people in this country. In the twenty first century. We stick them in awful placements (sometimes at extraordinary cost – his place in the unit cost £3500 a week!) with inadequate care – though I don’t think there was ANY care adequate, inadequate or otherwise… seems more like neglect to me.  Remember this was a specialised NHS facility that was supposed to care for an assess LB, it wasn’t a prison. It wasn’t a detention centre – it was a hospital.  Let’s look up the word “care” in the dictionary:

noun

  1. the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.
    “the care of the elderly”
  2. serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk.

verb

  1. feel concern or interest; attach importance to something.
    “they don’t care about human life”
  2. look after and provide for the needs of.
    “he has numerous animals to care for”

Now let’s consider that Connor Sparrowhawk, 18, someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s friend drowned in a bath. In a hospital. In Great Britain. In 2013.

Now consider, Luca, 10 today. My son, Dryden’s brother, Kieran’s friend…  One day he’ll be 18. One day he might be in an assessment centre – that is now one of my greatest fears.  My beautiful boy will always need care. Just like Connor did.  The question is will he get it? Even if he doesn’t have to go into an assessment centre – James and I won’t live for ever.

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Happy birthday Luca. Goodnight Connor.

Remember #107days and #JusticeForLB – get involved, our vulnerable citizens need you.

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Lubilicious NUFC Calendar

My LOVELY little (almost) non-verbal Luca goes through the 2014 NUFC Calendar on Christmas morning.

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Now you’re talking…

http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/international/immigration-controls-are-the-new-corn-laws-why-dont-more-free-marketeers-care

This is the sort of thing I was talking about in this blog here, let people live where they want…

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True Faith and The Fans’ Forum – some questions

It always makes me laugh when people talk about conspiracies and lack of trust or transparency, like in this article on True Faith website about the financial relationship between Sports Direct and Newcastle United – you can read it in its entirety here.  Suffice to say it involves tireless campaigner for truth and integrity, editor of True Faith – Michael Martin, posting some probing questions for Lee Marshall (NUFC Supporter Liaison Officer) to answer around said financial interrelationships.  Lee’s response is that he will raise the matter at the next NUFC Fans’ Forum meeting – to which our dear editor replies thusly:

“It is all well and good for this matter to be referred to the Fans Forum but as the only properly constituted and members based organisation, the Newcastle United Supporters Trust, have been banned indefinitely, for what many assume to be leading on the tough questions and the remaining supporters on the Forum are a disparate group of individuals with no organisation within them, this is a wholly unsatisfactory response. The Fans Forum, discredited as it is, is not for another month and given the time of year, I’d have thought, Newcastle United would have wanted to deal with this matter as a point of urgency.”

Now I don’t often get involved in fanzine politics, I’m way too busy with NUFC Fans United and my work to get involved but this man, Mr Martin, needed putting right on a thing or two in the above paragraph – so I decide to write a comment.  Nothing nasty, nothing too contentious… but nonetheless it remains unpublished. Stuck “awaiting moderation” – since 10:30 on Saturday morning!

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In case you can’t read the above screen-grab, I’ve posted it below.

“Just thought I’d pop on here with a couple of points (assuming you allow this rather than delete or censor it).
NUFC Fans United is still on the NUFC Fans’ Forum – we are one of two remaining permanent members – the other being Newcastle United Disabled Supporters’ Association.  NUSDA is coincidentally another “properly constituted and members based organisation” – which represents NUFC fans, though you *always* neglect them in your diatribes.
NUFC Fans United may not be a “properly constituted and members based organisation” but this is for very valid reasons – it provides greater flexibility in allowing us to represent our members and allows us greater latitude with which to lobby the club over ordinary fans’ concerns.
We have already said we will continue to represent NUFC fans (members of NUST or otherwise) to the best of our ability on the Fan’s Forum – and we have no problems whatsoever with making sure the questions you raise above, Mr Martin, are answered at the next meeting on December 16th.
Finally – it is beyond disingenuous to your readers and to NUFC fans everywhere that you say of the other fans’ forum members “We don’t know who they are really, how to contact them and they have no independent means of communicating with their fellow fans.”  You were on our mailing list from the very beginning and only unsubscribed last week!  And don’t forget the Club site has a “Contact The Fans’ Forum” page – here http://www.nufc.co.uk/page/Fans/FansForum/0,,10278~3462537,00.html with information about all of the members and of course ways to contact them!
Anyway if your readers are interested – our website is http//:www.nufcfansutd.com and all are welcome to join and/ or attend our meetings.
With warmest regards
zahra
NUFC Fans United”

Maybe it’s just my daft sense of humour but I find it hilarious that someone who is trying to uncover murky relationships and secret agendas likes to censor anything that critiques the content of their attacks.  Why does True Faith like to denigrate NUFC Fans United?  What is to be gained by ignoring our existence or writing [sometimes but not always veiled] insulting pieces about an inclusive fans’ group?

Makes me wonder who really has the secret agenda?

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Three Must Watch Videos

I have seen three truly inspiring videos this week, each one moved me for different reasons.  I’m not sure if I will go into those reasons here, now – I think I’ll just share the videos and let you make up your own mind.  I’ll post my thoughts over the next few days…

ENJOY

In the order I found them:

(thanks @trakgalvis)

(thanks @livingspiritpix)

(thanks @netribution)

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