Archive | January, 2014

Observing Benefits!

23 Jan

Rifling through the broadsheets at the weekend looking for articles on “Benefit Street” I come across an article in the Observer stating that benefit claimants are being short-changed rather than overindulged.

Quoting from a report called “The Ties That Bind” by the thinktank Demos, error and fraud in the benefits system is costing the government around £3.5bn.  Yet this is dwarfed by £5bn a year owed but never paid out to those on welfare.    On top of benefits not claimed, the DWP underpaid claimants by around £1.6bn, a rise from the 2011-2012 underpayments of £1.3bn.   Those missing out on state benefits often end up as a burden to charities and are not being properly helped out of their trench.  Demos, started by two ex Marxists twenty years back were very much part of the New Labour landscape and would like a change in the law so that jobcentres have a legal duty to ensure claimants are aware of their full benefit entitlement which sounds a positive move countered by a view that the unemployed should be allowed to opt for help from recruitment consultants rather than jobcentres; because of their poor record. 

Crap Jobs Everywhere!

Crap Jobs Everywhere!

£5bn + £1.6bn – £3.5bn works out at a net gain to the economy of £3.1bn.  Even if every single person entitled to benefits claimed, leading to a net loss (which they wouldn’t do as you will always get pensioners who say they are too proud to claim pension credit) the money would end up being spent in local shops and businesses, helping the economy.  It wouldn’t be salted away or spent abroad like people who pull the leavers do when they have a surplus.  It might mean people no longer needing a chitty from the jobcentre so they can pick up emergency food from the local food bank.

As someone who has had plenty of experience of job agencies before going back into permanent employment, I’m not sure how unloading the unemployment problem onto the private sector will help.  Recruitment consultants are basically salesmen and women who get paid according to how many people they can match to a job.  They will only register people if they think there is a good chance that this will happen, therefore the people they don’t think will fit the criteria will be turned away.  Added to that the jobs tend to be temporary.  Long-term temp or rolling contracts are acceptable, but short-term contracts are a worry for people with children, demanding landlords and banks and the rise of temporary employment has led to families having no viable option other than the despondency and security of being on benefits. 

Natural Selection at work!

Natural Selection at work!

Anyone with an eye for detail needs to look at the monthly amounts both Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council pay the agency “Carlisle” on a monthly basis!

Debs. Unless it gets edited too much

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Alistair Burt MP

23 Jan

Alistair Burt is my MP and is best described as a high pitched egg on legs on account of his helium balloon voice and his oval shaped head. If I sound rude I wrote to him several times last year and basically got fobbed off by one of his staff…of which…He also employs his wife on a suggested £40,000 a year and so far we’ve failed to find any evidence of the job advert although she has been at his side for some years! Cosy! The total cost for Alistair and his entourage last year was £225,510.

Him, the little chap!

Him, the little chap!

Alistair was in the news quite regularly when he was a sort of war ambassador for the Foreign Office until he rather inexplicably got sacked last year. Apparently Mr Burt was infuriated at the lack of MP support for military strikes against Syria although given the state of Iraq and Afghanistan (dead bodies and unbelievable costs) one can be forgiven for telling the leader where to go from time to time!

Not content with being in the shadows I noticed last week that Alistair has revived his public profile by visiting a branch of McDonalds just up the A1, complimenting them on their apprenticeship scheme and generally being quite patronising about the wonderful career opportunities and public good that comes with fast food outlets. Am I being sarcastic enough?  Spend your working life cooking chips, maybe work your way up to placing orders for burgers and throw away trays!

On the subject of unhealthy stodgy food Alistair’s track record for not earning more dosh from consultancies and freebies is admirable with a “nil” in the last register however when it comes to the midnight munchies despite claiming allowances for his second London home (£19,993 last year) back in 2004 he also racked up £13,000 in hotel stays near Westminster including the Savoy! Munchies…he also claimed back £229 for hotel sundries and the extensive list seems to consist of nuts, Pringles ™ Coca Cola™ beer and a TV film. It doesn’t say what film it was. He paid this back but he was allowed to keep £1000 that he over-claimed for his rent on the basis that he didn’t claim any expenses for food.

It’s just one long continuous cruel joke! You accept a 20 hours a week job on shit wages cooking dead cows, Burt’s coining it in and he says how wonderful the world is! Clearly not the same on we live on!

Perhaps They Are Related?

22 Jan

What do you think?

Herr Lipp from the League of Gentlemen

Herr Lipp from the League of Gentlemen

Lord Rennard

Lord Rennard

OK not as good as Private Eye and I’ve been told to remove the section that says ..XXXX removed ……and the other is a character from The League of Gentlemen!

Why Anarchists Oppose Parliament

22 Jan

I don’t like seeing myself in photographs, never have done and never will. Coupled with this I don’t like narcissism which is why I’m not on Facebook and so on. There’s only one picture of me on Bedford Bypass and that was from a stunt in the local paper. But here’s one. It’s circa 20 years ago. Anyone with a social consience was waiting for the fall of the Conservative government. I’d read Tony Benn’s diaries with intensity as I could relate to those that covered the 70s, 80s and into the 90s. This was at a Cooperative Society event on the House of Commons terrace. Very posh and to a degree quite beguiling. Then John Smith died, Blair took over and I hit a personal brick wall as I could see the words “sell out” all over him. I might stand accused of being late to pick up on things as many anarchists a generation or two older had figured things out much earlier! But better late then never?

That said I look quite dashing on this! She's looking at my name badge by the way!

That said I look quite dashing on this! She’s looking at my name badge by the way!

The ability to describe myself as an “anarchist” came with a growing comfort that all the traits had been there for decades but were contained within a view that my vote counted, together we could use our votes for good. Chartists, suffragettes, gay rights all part of a long list.  One very arse kicking book that turned the light on was called “Against Parliament -For Anarchism” here’s a whistle wetting excerpt and if I don’t mess up I’ll include a link to the full version!

It is often argued that those like anarchists who deliberately refuse to vote in elections are apathetic, and have no right to comment on political affairs if they do not participate in the approved manner. Anarchists vigorously deny this. Even the politicians profess to be disturbed at the mounting lack of participation in the “democratic process”, a worldwide phenomenon. Anarchists in fact argue for constant and general involvement in politics, that is , all of the questions (work, food, housing, transport, education, etc.) which affect our lives. Apathy – and despair- are the by-products of a vote every few years and the chance to sign the occasional petition to Parliament. They do not come from the refusal to be mocked in a farce. As anarchists, then, we are opposed to parliamentary democracy and capitalism. Neither can we be satisfied with the end of one and not the other. For example, capitalism can thrive in all kinds of political environments but it will still produce similar misery and injustice.

We conclude by outlining some of our positive views of a world in which they have both been superseded. Our starting-point is that individual freedom is best realised in a society without domination, brought together instead by voluntary co-operation and association. The needs of the individual and the needs of society are in a constant tension, but they stand the best chance of being harmonised in a world which has seen the abolition of classes. This means an end to the power of anyone to dominate, either economically or politically. Power would instead be diffused.

One hundred years ago, anarchists chiefly argued against the working-class taking the parliamentary road on a theoretical level. Today we have all too much experience to confirm their original insight that freedom, equality and well-being are not to be achieved via that route. In the 21st century it is more than time to leave behind the political illusions which littered the 20th. This pamphlet is a contribution to the exposure of one still deeply-rooted.

One question that I’ve been personally mulling over is whether anarchism is a hope or a way of living your life. It’s both but the option of sitting on the sidelines is rather coma inducing! I have a brain and mouth and whilst I’m content not to self publicize I’ve been gobbing off for over 20 years in one medium or another!

There’s a concept emerging and I’m still getting my head round it this being to stand candidates in the 2015 general election for the soul purpose of shouting with rage, making a spectacle and a mockery of the process and pointing out basics that you vote Labour you get war, health cuts, sell outs and if you vote Conservative you get war, carpet bombing and demonisation of the majority and much more of what got me fired up against Thatcher 30years back.

Like osmosis the further right the elite have gone the more the so called opposition has followed them to the point where Labour appear to be a means by which the tories can have a breather and regroup every now and then safe in the knowledge that when they get the keys back nothing will have changed much!

I’m going to expand on this over coming weeks. The light fluffy random stuff like the Musketeers blog  will still appear as it’s just a cunning plan to entice you into Bedford Bypass so I can get you reading stuff like this! Ha ha ha!

http://www.afed.org.uk/publications/pamphlets-booklets/88-against-parliament-for-anarchism.html

Lone Wolf…

21 Jan

 Number Two: Society is a place where people exist together. 

Faceless Authority

Faceless Authority

Number Six: Yes, sir.

Number Two: That is civilization.

Number Six: Yes, sir.

Number Two: The lone wolf belongs in the wilderness.

Number Six: Yes, sir.

Number Two: You must not grow up to be a lone wolf.

Number Six: No, sir.

Number Two: You must conform.

Defy convention, there is no such thing as a lone wolf, there are plenty of lone wolves. Find them!

Defy convention, there is no such thing as a lone wolf, there are plenty of lone wolves. Find them!

Number Six: Yes, sir.

Number Two: It is my sworn duty to see that you do conform.

  

Musketeers remake not patch on original!

20 Jan

Here at the Bypass Manor we love spending a biut of quality time watching telly! I’m never that sure about when they get an old series and update it, especially when they get a perfectly good cartoon or puppet show and make a live action version like The Flintstones (reasonable) and Thunderbirds  (awful).

Don't mess with the originals!

Don’t mess with the originals!

There’s another reimagining hit the Sunday night spot vacated by Sherlock and this time round they’ve got hold of the classic Muskahounds which dates back to the 80s, disposed of the animated but lovely dogs and using actors instead placing them as people and not hounds in a sort of er ..dog eat dog pre revolution France! Not an inspiring start, the jolly theme tune has been replaced by an orchestral score and more than a few people got killed whereas in the original they just went round helping people. What worries me is that having grown up with Dogtanian the bad guys, sorry hounds ended up being soaked wet through, tied up and laughed at..take that you bad un’s! there was never any gore and it made wet school holidays endurable

It’s just violence for violence sake and I just wish they’d left the classic alone. You can get it on VHS video by the way! Listen to the theme tune and it will turn your head into a juke box!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=VR9J2ITspyU

Conjoined twins seen in Bedford again!

20 Jan

As you enter the town from Tavistock Street, just before the boarded up sports pub  (12 years since it closed) you can’t fail to see the

Welcome to Bedford!

Welcome to Bedford!

former Charles King car showroom that’s been rotting and crumbling for some years and giving a clear sign saying “Welcome to Bedford” runner up in the latest Crap Towns book!

It’s been a real shit heap and dumping ground for at least the last five years with, at one point, sheet asbestos, the odd methadone syringe, human excrement and the usual items littering the ground including condoms like those given away from the VD clinic next door. Not very nice but Bedford Borough Council were fully aware of it when I worked there and was paid very well for just hanging around town talking to people. I got to know the shopkeepers on Harpur St that backed onto the former showroom who complained to no avail. There was a similar place off Midland Road, an illegal abattoir dumping all the goo in council recycling bins!

News clearly travels fast and up at the showroom quick as a flash conjoined twins Cllrs Colleen Atkins and Louise Kings have brought this well known issue to the fore by standing in front of the car park and spouting off about how they have “demanded” action and blah de blah whilst at the same time being good enough to take a break from their hectic schedules to have their photo taken!

A real eyesore...say our councillors!

A real eyesore…say our councillors!

Cllr Atkins has so far since last being elected claimed £80,000 in expenses for her sterling public service while Cllr King limps along with a paltry £21,000 though she does have her part time job as an MPs researcher to help through the bad times!

Both have two years worth of expenses to claim before election time trundles round so given form Cllr Colleen (in pink) can expect to have been paid approx. £120,000 for ensuring that we are all aware of the bleeding obvious!  We offer our profuse thanks and gratitude to both councillors and hope the operation to separate them is a success!

Just Call Me Susan!

20 Jan

This is a sort of “lost blog” as most of it was actually written last year but pulled on the grounds more out of respect than legal. It concerned the Lord Rennard accusations and one female complainant referred to as “Susan” on a lengthy interview about his wandering hands at a Lib Dem event!

I recognised the voice as my former (Bedfordshire) County Councillor Susan Gaszczak. Like most politicos Susan was never one to miss out on publicity but in this instance her surname wasn’t given and after a bit of dithering I went along with our legal advice and left it hanging.

Susan Gaszczak, rising star!

Susan Gaszczak, rising star!

Susan has now opted to go public as one of a number of female Lib Dem personnel making allegations as to the good lord trying it on, coming on strong, getting fresh or however you describe someone making unrequited advances.

The Lib Dems seem to have screwed things up by assessing if there was enough in the allegations to result in a criminal prosecution which there weren’t thus setting a high water mark rather than an internal assessment of his behaviour so Rennard having been cleared is refusing to apologise and Susan et al are threatening to resign. Cleggy seems to have his head in the sand. Susan I guess is taking a gamble as from what I knew of her she is one of a number of singularly ambitious rising stars within Lib Dem ranks seeking a safe seat.  

I don’t like Lib Dems as they seem to have through some Darwinian process evolved to be the most weasel like, toadiest, forked tongue bunch deciding our futures however I admired Susan Gaszczak as she was determined and a free thinker and we forged an alliance to embarrass the local Tories in 2007 which was from  my perspective a huge success. She also didn’t really value Dave Hodgson (our Mayor) all that much and having obtained the Lib Dem nomination for a seat in Hertfordshire (a dry run as she had no chance of winning) she departed Bedford for pastures new and apart from losing in 2010 I lost track of her until I heard the interview!

 

Miss Lib Dem 2013

Miss Lib Dem 2013

I’d love to know Dave Hodgson’s view of all this as he’s known to be a mover and shaker within the Lib Dem upper ranks. Maybe I’ll ask him!

Ever get the feeling you’ve been had?

17 Jan

The book that I have reffered to quite often by Engels is called “The Condition of The Working Class”. It’s one of those terms “working class” that is at times hard to define. I work. Have done more or less since I left school in 1978. Evn when I did a degree and a Master in my 30s I never stopped working. Gardening, security, cash in hand! We get bills and we scratch our heads as they all seem to arrive at once. I need a car to get to work. The MOT is due. Then the insurance. January is a grind of a month as we get paid before Christmas then eek out tuppences till the end of January. Mastercard must love me!

So what the bloody hell is the “middle class” and what the fuck does Ed Miliband think he’s achieving by by saying he’s going to restore the quality of life for middle class families! What an absolute tosser the man is!

Part of the same elite!

Part of the same elite!

It’s a term coined to divide and rule! Made to fool much of the UK working population into thinking that they are one step up above the povs and scroungers. You know the type, those on rock bottom wages, zero hours work in some warehouse, the ones that can’t afford prescriptions and the type that Wonga and all the rest simply adore because the banks and credit card companies don’t want to know! The one’s that have been to the job centre so many times only to be offered 20 hours a week in the evenings three bus journey’s away! In reality the vast majority have more in common with each other than those we have “elected” to govern and control every aspect of our lives. And deaths!

Labour are playing pre election games, the Conservatives are continuing the transfer of wealth into the upper echelons and the Lib Dems will hook up with anyone so long as they can grin and say look at us! Bastards all!

 

A Fully Furnished Dustbin..16 Benefits Street

15 Jan

The Boys are on the wagon, the girls are on the shelf

Their common problem is ..that they’re not someone else. The dirt blows in, the dust blows out, you can’t keep it neat, it’s a fully furnished dustbin..16 Beasley Street!

From Beasley Street by John Cooper Clarke

The Bard of Salford

The Bard of Salford

 What with all this internet and media chatter about Benefits Street which comes across as a hatchet job on anyone forced to rely benefits to survive, Birmingham is no different to any other city or large town. Look at the map and there are literally thousands of Benefits Streets. One of the common denominators is the forced deindustrialisation of many of the major conurbations leading to vast areas where mass employment (albeit monotonous) has been replaced by wasteland and survivalist wages! Add chronic housing conditions, despair in dilapidated estates and away you go. Your own little version of Shameless!

The programme isn’t on its own and there’s plenty of other offerings been served up over recent years that show what we term “the working class” rootling round skips for stuff to flog and while there’s a level of disagreement between anarchist and Marxist thinking, Karl and his pal Friedrich (Engels) nailed it when they pointed out that the capitalist structure needed a large pool of the unemployed to remind those in work that they were (and still are) easily replaceable. In other words for the gloriously wealthy to stay like that they need the rest of us to be squabbling amongst ourselves.

My Lost City

My Lost City

Marx and Engels hovered round Manchester and Salford for a few years in the 1840s. So did John Cooper Clarke, bard of Salford though he was circa late 1970s and 80s. Now that’s a serious jump there, founders of theoretical communism to the punk poet that once helped sell Sugar Puffs and at one time lived just down the road from me with Nico from the Velvet Underground!

Long before a well documented slide into heroin addiction in the 80s JCC wrote several excoriating poems that still stand today as brilliant statements on inner city living. Lowry was visual, JCC was aural, scathing and 30odd years on I still get a huge buzz from his stuff and he’s out and about, clean and doing live gigs!

He’s not produced any new recorded output for close on 30 years. There’s his original three LPs, a couple of live DVDs but of late he’s performed new stuff on stage. Or in one case a reworking. Beasley Street is a standout piece that documents Salford of the bleak 1970s. Vast parts of the area have now been gentrified, posh dockside housing so we now have a new track called Beasley Boulevard but just out of sight beyond the gated walls the old council estates can still be found as can Beasley Street in all but name. History repeats itself. Engels wrote of Little Ireland, a rookery slum close to the Irwell delta.

A sole reminder

A sole reminder

The annals show it had gone by the 1880s not through any act of mercy but by the fact that the land was needed for Oxford Road  railway station. All the inhabitants had been forced to move into chronic housing around the city and into Salford. Maybe Beasley Street. A little known fact, Engels returned to Manchester in the 1880s and found that even though the original site of Little Ireland had long gone the descendents of the displaced could be found living in the same conditions over the road and out of view!

 

In the meantime…enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37QUUwp9xIs