Thursday, 11 November 2010

What an Interesting Week!

My my my, what a week it has been…

First, we’ve had 50,000 students protesting in London against university top-up fee rises where a few arseholes have kicked off, smashed a few windows, admittedly to the Tory party headquarters, danced on a roof at same said headquarters, and dropped a fire extinguisher from said roof at said headquarters that could have hit someone and, highly likely, killed them. From my extensive experience of students (Middlesex University Student Union employee as a bar manager in the mid nineties plus various periods of studying), most students aren’t actually that radical; it’s the Socialist Workers party and other hangers-on who want their grant money for bollocks “newspapers” and badly organised gigs that cause the problems.

Then we’ve had the announcements of reforms to the welfare system that’ll take three years to start and seven years to finish, if they ever get off the ground that is, which, if government traditions where I.T. systems are concerned continue, seems highly unlikely.

Everyone’s up in arms, we’re going back to the eighties, there’s going to be riots in the streets in Toxteth and Brixton and
Trafalgar Square
again! Heterosexual women with big hair and shoulder pads will don bovver boots and carry placards, turn lesbian overnight and chain themselves to branches of Waitrose! Dave Cameron will start cross-dressing, get a blonde bouffant hair-do and start asking to be called Margaret! The despondent Labour party will dig up the corpse of Michael Foot, parade it into parliament at the head of their massed rank of righteous indignation and Harriet Harmon will reveal, coyly, that Michael was that foolish liaison she experienced in her freshers week! My dog (if I had one) will sleep with my cat (if I had one) and begat a dat! Shudder!

Actually, I agree with Phill Hall, the students should be made to pay for their education. Stick 1% on top of their income tax after they graduate and start earning, and start it when they go above the average wage. What’s so wrong about that?

Again, as Phill has said elsewhere, it would never really affect most students very much anyway. The well-heeled son of the well-heeled father probably will end up making a considerable contribution to the costs of his education, but the average media studies student who ends up stacking shelves in Tescos at minimum wage (sorry guys, but you can’t all be film reviewers for the Guardian or get that gig on Film 2015 with Claudia Winkelman) is never going to have to worry (same goes for most archaeologists, but that’s a purely personal aside!).

It’s the same with welfare benefits reform. All the major parties and, indeed, the majority of the public realise it has to be done. Even if there are only 17,000 households in the UK getting over £400 a week in housing benefit under the current system, that’s still too much. Cut the level of housing benefit to something reasonable but also cap the level of rent private landlords can charge to anyone, working or not. People tend to forget that these self same landlords are, at the end of the mortgage period, gaining a sizable tangible asset which the tenant is effectively buying for them with their rent. (Okay, this ignores all those buy-to-let landlords who “own” property on interest only mortgages and expect to sell the property at the end of the mortgage period for a huge profit but, I’m sorry, the saying “If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is” comes to mind.)

And you know what? Personally, I agree that if someone refuses three job offers, so long as those jobs are appropriate to the skills and personal abilities of the candidate, they should be told to fuck off and don’t darken the lengths of our dole queues again. Caveats apply of course where people have genuine health or other issues that need to be addressed.

And I have one last, highly personal, point to make because I know someone will accuse me of it. I am NOT a Conservative party supporter, but neither am I a Labour party supporter, nor a Liberal-Democrat or a Green. I have, at various points in my adult voting life lasting thirty-one years, voted for all of them at some point in some level of election. Do you know why? Because they aren’t all always wrong and they aren’t all always right!

Some of the biggest racists I’ve ever met come from the “working classes”, the heart and soul (so they would have us believe) of Labour party support, some of the people with the biggest social consciences I’ve met have been members of the Conservative party, the one politician I met after the Broadwater Farm riots who really cared (so it seemed to me) was a Liberal (Lynne Featherstone for your information) who never had a cat in hell’s chance of ever standing or getting elected in that seat. It’s not that simple to put people in factions that either find favour or disfavour with us in a blanket circumstance; I think you might find that’s called dogma, which is never a good thing.

Hey ho! I wonder what next week will bring?

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