Monday, 28 October 2013

Scotland and HS2

HS2? What is it?

Basically its a new  'High Speed' rail line planned for England, it's planned start point will be London Euston - phase one will terminate at Birmingham while phase two will see the line snaking its way to Leeds and Wigan.

I mention it for two reasons, the first far less bothersome than the second - its mentioned on the BBC's online news page for Scotland...

Years of Disruption. It goes without saying...
... and its going to cost in total £42.6 billion - yes, BILLION - of which Scotland will be paying a per capita share of £4.8 Billion. (I took the liberty of rounding the figure up, I think its safe to do that since the estimated cost of the project will no doubt rise anyway.)

For the avoidance of doubt.

Illustrated most ably by the map from the BBC's web page, HS2 doesn't go much further north than Leeds. Leeds isn't in Scotland, heck, Scotland isn't even shown on the map the BBC chose to use in their story and yet - to paraphrase Alan Bissett - 'but you'll pay for it, you'll pay for it'. 

Transport is devolved to Holyrood, the current Minister for Transport is Keith Brown, his budget comes from the block grant which in turn is worked out with the Barnett Formula - no yawning at the back - HS2 on the other hand is supposed to benefit the entire UK so Scotland won't receive an equivalent per capita share of this transport spending (which is how Barnett is supposed to work.)

(Very quickly: Barnett is a fag packet calculation on how Holyrood and its devolved responsibilities are funded. Put simply, if Westminster spent £100 on paperclips for England, Scotland - with ~9% of the population - would get £9 to spend on paperclips , or what ever we thought best suited our paper-collation needs. This is horrifically over-simplified, but I'd challenge anyone to try and make sense of the wiki page on the subject. If you do figure it out, please clue me in.)

Same as it did for London's new 'super sewage system' costing £4.2 Billion. Scotland should have got something in the region of £400 million in line with Barnett, instead though, we got to pay our per capita share of a sewage system 560 miles away from Inverness.

If Westminster decides a project will benefit the entire UK, instead of Scotland getting its per-head share of spending, it gets a per-head bill instead.

Not only will you and your kids be paying for a railway line which comes no where near Scotland - recently, an unintended consequence was discovered - not only will people in Scotland be paying for it, we'll be penalised by it. 

That Aberdeen (for example) could lose out to the tune of £220m - this is to do with companies potentially choosing to locate to areas served by HS2 instead of the North East of Scotland - wouldn't have seen the light of day were it not for an FOI request passed over to the BBC, (sometimes they do their job.)

Only under the current Westminster arrangement is it possible for a person living and working in Dundee say, to be paying for a train line in England which will potentially cause the company they work for to relocate or for future job opportunities to evaporate because of that self-same train line Westminster forced them to pay for.

Indeed, it seems, if you live in Scotland and want something approaching your fair share of the tax revenues you contribute to the UK's coffers - you need to visit London for a dump. 

Not wishing to sound dramatic about this but, there must a few jowly old men in clubs around London - pigs snuffling at the trough of the British Hyena State - laughing like drains over brandy and cigars. They are simultaneously taking the piss with London's new super sewage upgrade which Scotland helped pay for and taking Scotland for a ride with it's massively costly, doubtfully beneficial new high speed train set.

What more do people need to know for next September and why - seriously - why would you vote to maintain this iniquitous settlement?

* Edit for clarity. It isn't wrong to say the rail line will come no where near Scotland - it won't, at least not until the nebulous phase 3. The trains however, according to the HS2 website, will continue 'seamlessly' onto the East Coast Line (for example) to Edinburgh - one assumes the trains won't be able to travel at the same break neck speeds that it does south of Leeds. Its a fine point, we're still paying for a rail line in England, Scotland's benefit will by in the form of time saved when the train gets onto the new line at Leeds.

It's still not blowing my skirt up.

Friday, 25 October 2013

To the people of Dunfermline who voted for the Labour candidate



and this.

It's not that I don't have the words, I do, I really do, several in fact, each one more foul than the last.

Its just that for some, it seems like if we have to explain (and it seems like we do) they'd never understand.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Big Six UK utility companies

What are the 'Big Six' then? They are the six main companies we in the UK have very little (as in no) choice but to buy our gas and/or electricity from.

Managing director - Chris Weston.
Brutish Gas, sorry, I meant British Gas is a subsidiary of Centrica who's operating profits in the six months to June 2013 were £1.58 billion. In order to assuage this terrible lack of profit, they recently raised energy prices by 9.2%. You can see why their Managing Director looks so content.

Centrica also own Scottish Gas.

CEO Vincent De Rivaz
EDF, is wholly owned by the French state-owned EDF SA (Electricitie De France if you're at all interested and yes, there should be acute accents over the e's, but who knows how you do that?) EDF haven't as yet announced their price rises for this winter, last year's though were an eye watering 10.8% (assuming your eyes can water with the heating off.) 

In his spare time, Vincent De Rivaz enjoys photographing the frozen corpses of old age pensioners, (I'm joking, I have no idea if he does that. Please don't sue me like you tried to sue those environmental activists who climbed the chimneys of your power station at West Burton, not that I think you did it to scare off any future protests because as we know; EDF is a fair and responsible* energy supplier.)

I've blogged (irreverently) about EDF before, only click if you have time you don't mind not getting back.

* Daily Mail Online alert.

CEO Tony Cocker
E.on is a German owned power company who's UK arm was formerly known as Powergen. Apparently it used to be a vertically integrated Utility company, I've linked to the wiki page for an explanation about 'vertically integrated' things but lost interest before it finished loading.

E-on were famous earlier this year for a 14.7% jump in profits (to £273m) for the first half of 2013 after it raised prices in January 2013 by 8.7% for dual fuel punters. The profit alluded to above was made by their 'Supply Division', but their UK power generation and oil & gas business saw profits fall sharply, from £399m to £159m. I mean give them a break, they've got to make the short fall up some how right?

E-on haven't announced their price rise yet, charitably, they wait till we're right in the middle of the cold snap to do their robbing.

And no, I'm not saying anything about their CEO's last name.

CEO Paul Massara
RWE npower plc, trading as Npower, is a UK based German owned gas & electricity supply and generation company. Npower not only supply electricity they also make it - so to speak. While that isn't very interesting, it is important because if a company is set up just so, it can hide huge profits made in its supply division in the way it trades internally with its generation division.

For example, if your newsagent hiked the price of a Cola Bottle from 1p to 10p then told you - "sorry, its the supplier" - the shop's profit stays the same but the supplier's profit goes up substantially - what you don't see is he is his own supplier.

Last year, npower announced an increase in profits of some 34%, this in the same year they hiked prices for gas by 15.7% and for electricity by 7.2% (although the kind souls dropped the price of gas by 5% at a later date.)

Npower owns nine power stations across England.

CCO Scottish Power and CEO of Scottish Power Renewables, Keith Anderson
Scottish Power is another vertically integrated utility company, headquartered in Glasgow but owned by Spanish giant Iberdrola. Iberdrola employs 38,000 odd folk around the globe and enjoyed profits of €2.8 billion in 2012. Scottish Power is truly vertically integrated - it operates the distribution network for Merseyside & North Wales and is also the Transmission Owner for the south of Scotland - it also generates and sells electricity and gas to the UK. 

Remember the newsagent and the Cola Bottles? It would mean he owned the shop, the factory plus the haulage company used to deliver the Cola Bottles and the roads the lorries used. At each stage a profit margin is maintained - all of it compounded then added onto the final bill which eventually ends up with you.

A Cola Bottle, and its not even fucking fizzy,

Scottish Power's profits doubled from £350m to £712m  in 2012, in October of 2011 they hiked their energy prices by 7%. They also payed their Spanish parent company a dividend of some £890m, looking at Keith there, you begin to get ideas about where to put the vanes on that model turbine.

So far they haven't announced price rises for this year but it seems to be fashionable so brace yourself.

CEO Alistair Phillip-Davies. No, the image isn't mis-aligned, its just a long picture of APD
with a white cat in a snow storm to his right.

SSE plc formerly known as Scottish and Southern Energy plc head-quartered in Perth (Scotland, not Australia.) Other brands they own which you might recognise are Southern Electric and Scottish Hydro. With 9.6 million customers they are second only to British Gas who manage to rip off a staggering 20 million domestic and commercial customers.

SSE announced price rises of 8.2% from the 15th of November 2013 and enjoyed pre-tax profits to end of March 2013 of a lung-emptying £1.4 billion - yes, billion - and that was after it paid a record £10.5m OFGEM fine for misleading customers.

There is no white cat in that picture above, its just a middle income family shrouded by a blanket of snow.

But listen, lets not form any unfortunate views, Alistair Phillip-Davies does have a heart. As CEO of SSE he's given his staff energy discount - worth a hefty £144 - to charity. He said it just wasn't worth the bother of the 'pointless criticism'. He went on to say he 'wanted to make SSE as well-loved a brand as John Lewis'.

Aye, you're doing a fine job there right enough...

For an at-a-glance overview on the 'Big Six' click here. Hopefully, being able to put a face to those ripping you off so enthusiastically will offer some form of catharsis. Equally, when you turn on the news and hear of the first pensioners who so feared the thud of a utility bill on the hall carpet they died of exposure or hypothermia - you can look at the images above and wonder about their humanity.

For a not-very-good explanation about Futures Trading (which is why they try to convince us their prices must go up) click here, or not.

Up to you.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Pandas, Yawn.

Its been pretty quiet since Alistair Carmichael was elevated to the dizzy heights, even Phillip Hammond's ritual visit to Scotland to look down his nose at us all was more miss than hit. Yes Phillip, we get it, you don't think we could defend ourselves from the vicious hordes which would inevitably invade our shores... Blah blah blah...

Fortunately BBC Scotland has found a new topic to be exercised about: Pandas.

The image above may or may not be of Tian Tian & Yang Guang, they all look the same to me. Poor Tian Tian though lost her Panda cub, turns out, according to a conservationist on Newsnight Scotland last night, Tian Tian's miscarriage was caused by press interest in her pregnancy - it was all too much.

Clearly Tian Tian read one Daily Mail headline too many:

It goes without saying, headlines like this during any pregnancy will have an inevitable deleterious effect on the unborn fetus and so it turned out for poor Tian Tian. And it wasn't just the Daily Mail:

The Daily Mirror's heartless reportage was even worse, many visitors claimed to see Tian Tian weep after being shown the headline above.

Meanwhile, during this morning's edition of Call Kaye, Kaye 'I'm not a Tory' Adams suggested the Pandas were a waste of money and the Scottish Government had miscalculated (I'm paraphrasing here) even although the £600k annual rental is being covered by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, I think we all knew it was only a matter of time before blame for Tian Tian's miscarriage was attributed to the SNP.

It goes without saying, the producers of this blog (that would be me) offer heartfelt sympathy to Tian Tian at this time and in a break from the normal behaviour, offer respect & kudos to the intrepid journalists of the Daily Express for the diligent snooping that led to the astonishing front page story below.*

A spokesperson for Police Scotland said in a press release:
"Inquiries are ongoing although I can confirm a man from the Dumfrieshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale area is being questioned."

He/she went on to say:
"Although the Edinburgh Zoo penguins had motive, we are not pursuing that line of investigation at this time."

David Mundell was not available for comment and if I'm being honest, probably wouldn't speak to me anyway.

* We can only assume the inclusion of an image of Diana was for the purposes of reminding Express readers that while Pandas are well-thought-of, they're not as well-thought-of as Diana and its readership should not lose focus on the important things in life.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Flags, Stirling Council and Alistair Carmichael's boxer shorts.

Flags are gnarly things, what they represent is very much in the eye of the beholder, the deeds done beneath them can dictate how we feel about them but then, the deeds can be subjective too.

I can't speak for anyone else, indeed, sometimes I have trouble speaking for myself but when it comes to flags - I like the Saltire but I don't like the Union Jack. The reasons are simple, the Union Jack has been rammed down my throat enthusiastically where-as the Saltire has not.

The Saltire is just there, I would even go as far as to say, I'm indifferent about it. I don't for example fly one from my house (I don't actually have a house just now, if I did, I still wouldn't) I don't have one on my car although I do have a Lion Rampant on my motorcycle, I put it there to cover up the Union Jack on the number plate.

The Union Jack on the other hand is ubiquitous, its every where. The Jubilee, the - just mentioning this fills me with ennui - Olympics, you can't watch a program on telly without seeing it somewhere - on a tea towel, a cushion cover maybe or a mug held casually in a Coronation Street kitchen.

Mostly though, there is a double standard in play in the UK with flags, its OK to plaster the Union Jack all over every thing but if you try it with the Saltire - its wicked nationalism. 

I always remember Aamer Anwar at last years independence rally:

Found a picture, can't find a transcript.

He's a prominent civil rights lawyer and supporter of Scottish independence. He said in his speech to the crowds at the Ross Band Stand at last year's march - and I wish I could find a transcript - something about the London Olympics and the tiresome over-use of the Union Flag on the streets of London, meanwhile, the crowd he faced looked like this:

Experiencing so many people feel just a wee bit awkward was very special.

I can detach my feelings about flags from the act of flying them, if I see a Union Jack flying, I don't vomit or have an urge to tear it down and replace it with a Saltire, I accept it - its not that important. Equally, if I see a Saltire, well, that's fine too - it is Scotland's flag after all or if you prefer - one of them as things stand at the moment.

So enter Stirling Council. They've decided to make their feelings known about independence and the Union and they're doing so via the medium of flags.

Hat tip to wings over Scotland.

I wouldn't mind if they decided to fly Margaret Curran's knickers from their HQ's flag Pole and in honour of Michael Carmichael's elevation to Secretary of State for Scotland, a pair of his probably ample boxers from the pole in the 'grounds of Old Viewforth'.

Is it not just the most petulant thing though, I mean, its normally unionists accusing nationalists of over-bearing mawkish nationalism isn't it?

Stirling Council is led by a Tory/Labour coalition, although there are more SNP councillors, it turns out even when they win, they don't actually win. But, that's how Local Councils work, coalitions are formed by parties with common purposes - in this case - hatred of nationalists.

There are things that leave me a bit gobsmacked (like seeing Libdem Jeremy Purvis on Newsnight Scotland last night and realising somehow, he is now Baron Purvis of Tweed - I mean seriously? How the fuck does a total nonperson like him manage to become ennobled?)

Just look at him. He's done nothing, NOTHING and now he's a life peer, that means £300 per day and an assumption by the press that his opinions actually mean something. He's a WEE BOY and I know other wee boys who's opinions I'd hold higher than his. I almost deployed an exclamation mark over this.


Stirling Council with its unionist councillors and their new flag policy - well - I can't help but think they're a bunch of small minded jobsworths. 

I don't believe flying one flag instead of another is cause for hatred or revolution, but to actively seek to remove one flag and replace it with another to further your cause and do down those who oppose you seems churlish and a tad opportunistic.

Currently there's room & reason for both flags on top of council buildings, while I'm not quite sure what they meant in their second-to-last paragraph above, I assume they feel the Union Flag has been traduced in some way and the only way to restore balance is to remove the Saltire completely.

Or perhaps they've been listening to another ennobled bell end, Lord George Robertson of Port Ellen (ex of the Labour party) who said recently:

I like Scotland and while I'm not one of those people who love it unconditionally - I know its not perfect - I cannot understand why there are Scots who seek to do Scotland down with such avidity. From the baseless too wee/too poor/too stupid arguments to the removal of national symbols and the denial of national identity.

Supporters of the Union are getting hellishly desperate, we've moved way beyond getting what might be the positive case for the union and are now in uncharted territory where the tactics are becoming more and more desperate and not a little bizarre.

Monday, 7 October 2013

One oot, another in.

The Tory-led coalition are having a reshuffle and the politician known as Mr Pointless, Libdem  Michael Moore - not to be confused with the American social commentator, author and activist Michael Moore - has been given the boot in favour of another Libdem called Alistair Carmichael.

Carmichael in

Moore oot

Its important you know who these people are because as Secretary of State for Scotland and head of the Scottish Office in London, they have a meaningful and measurable effect on the lives of every man, woman and child living in Scotland - no really! OK, not really.

Actually, since the Scottish Parliament reopened, many have questioned the need for a Scottish Office in London - including Michael Moore himself - who in opposition said it and the position of Secretary of State for Scotland should be abolished before promptly accepting the job when the Tories sooked the Libdems into the hellacious coalition we see in Westminster today.

Very quickly (because like Michael Moore, its really quite dull) what does the Scotland Office do exactly? Pre-Holyrood it managed, oversaw and administered Scotland's distinct functions. As you may know, Scotland has always had an independent judicial system, an NHS entirely apart from but having many cross-border arrangements with the NHS in England and a unique education system plus many other smaller quasi-governmental organisations requiring oversight by a civil service. The Scotland Office (based at Dover House in London) managed it all - it was called Administrative Devolution, a wonderfully bureaucratic term which really means Westminster being in a position of direct control but oblique responsibility.

Since the re-inception of The Scottish Government, all that stuff the Scottish Office did is now done in Edinburgh. The Scottish Office still sucks £8m from Scotland's block grant though, part of which funds the now arguably redundant position of Secretary of State for Scotland. Indeed, the one remaining dimension of the job is now accepted as being Westminster's mouthpiece in the debate against independence. Many a nationalist now replaces the 'for' in the job title with the word 'against', a fact which jars since we're paying for it.

What can we expect from Alistair Carmichael that will be different from Michael Moore? According to the BBC's chief political correspondent - the prosaically named Norman Smith - the ever-relevant Nick Clegg and Tory PM David 'the-land-of-hope-is-tory' Cameron believes the time has come for a more 'combative' figure in the job.

Cue Alistair Carmichael. He's another Libdem this time representing Orkney and Shetland. Most recently, he took over from Jo Swinson as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats after she resigned in September of 2012. Swinson is a tough act to follow what with her conference speeches being renowned for their scything humour* and her swashbuckling campaign - and I'm not making this up - against Easter egg packaging.

Swinson - she's not yolking about those Easter eggs.

Perhaps Carmichael will bring some vim to the debate, its my theory that Better Together and Westminster will use his position as a Northern Isles MP to try and batter home the idea of partition - that Orkney and Shetland, if we vote yes, will vote to stay with the United Kingdom with 'all' the oil.

Of course this is just more scaremongering, its already been debunked. In a poll held by The Press & Journal news paper, 82% of islanders wished to remain Scottish. The question asked was:

"Should Shetland/Orkney be independent countries, separate from Scotland?"

Critics might say, 'Ah, but the question didn't contain a caveat about Scotland not being part of the union.' You can take what you like from it, but it contains no caveats about being separate from the UK either. As for the oil, this has also been debunked, I don't think it'll be long before Alistair Carmichael suggests - as Libdem MSP Tavish Scott did - that the Northern Isles may not be on board with independence and might pick up their oil and piss off with it. Unfortunately that has also been debunked, in short, because of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (or more snappily; UNCLOS) - they wouldn't have any.

For what its worth, I'd hate to see the Northern Isles not come along on the independence journey, it goes with out saying, its up to the islanders. I can't sit here and extol the virtues of independence and self determination for some but not others. All of Scotland's islands are part of what makes Scotland such an interesting place, having had the merest sensation of what Island living is about, I can't believe they'd shun the ethos of community and the Common Weal for Westminster's cruel bastardised Darwinism.

Anyway, I digress. Expect trouble-making from Carmichael. He'll claim to have a mandate to speak for the people of Orkney and Shetland - that may be true, but will they agree with him on independence?

On the up side, he'll have plenty of time to formulate points and develop arguments, as Secretary of State for Scotland - its not like he'll be rushed off his feet.

Alistair Carmichael's PA wakes him at home time.

PS: If anyone has been affected by any issues contained within this blog entry, please get in touch with, call free on 0800 731 9590 or write to him at:

Rt Hon David Mundell MP
Constituency Office 
2 Holm Street, 
DG10 9EB 

Any concerned Scottish constituents suffering from anxiety or nervous tension at the departure of Michael Moore can rest easy, David is still in position at the Scotland Office.

Look at that face and feel the stress drain away...

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


If further evidence was required to support the notion that Labour MSP's have an amazing capacity for being immeasurably daft, here is another example.


Labour MSP, James Kelly:

Seeing his face explains the story.

...has accused the SNP government of an 'astonishing' waste of tax payers money over the cancellation of the £300m Glasgow Airport Railway Link. Johann Lamont recently tried to use a land sale to smear the Scottish Government whilst the problem really lay with the purchase of the land carried out by the Labour controlled SPTA. I've already had a good yack about that here.

You might remember, Johann's righteous indignation was somewhat attenuated by the fact her husband, (Archie Graham,) was on the board of Strathclyde Passenger Transport Authority back when the land deals where being negotiated in the run up to 2009 - the problem lay not with the sale of the land - which the Scottish Government were legally obligated to do - but with its price and method of purchase.

Anyway, James Kelly thought this turd of a story still had some rolling to do. So far £29m has been spent on compensation, land deals and 'other costs'. In reply, Keith Brown SNP transport minister...

... said it was true, final expenditure would exceed £30m but was forecast to be £3m less than previously forecast.

The Glasgow Airport Rail Link was an expensive vanity project instigated by Labour-led Glasgow City Council, it was overseen by the SPTA board which was in turn rammed with Labour councillors.

For the avoidance of doubt because even I know how these things work, GARL was Glasgow's answer to Edinburgh's Trams. Not content with one over-priced, almost impossible to deliver, gravy train for Labour councillors and their retinue of yes men - they wanted another one out west.

What the Scottish Government are doing - that'll cost £30-odd-million - is tidying up more of Scottish Labour's mess. It was Labour who signed the contracts, negotiated the land deals and greased the palms in the initial stages of GARL, just as they did for Edinburgh's benighted tram project with TIE. Lets look at the trams for a moment, initial cost in 2003 was said by Labour to be £375m. By 2011 it was clear we wouldn't be getting any change out of £1bil for a truncated version of the original plan. (info)

Can you imagine the same debacle in Glasgow?

What James Kelly is basically saying is this: 

"I took a large malodorous dump under the stairs of the Scottish parliament building some time ago, and I am astonished its costing so much money to clear up, what is the SNP Government thinking about, the Scottish people demand to know."
And since its the BBC, we also get the old story rehashed even although its been discredited thoroughly.

Derek Bateman* used to work for the BBC as a reporter on Good Morning Scotland among others, he left some time ago. Recently he wrote this about Labour's relationship with the BBC in Scotland, its a longer piece of writing but you won't regret reading it at all. Given the topic, you might ponder for a moment why he no longer works for the BBC...

* Link may not be up much longer, he's definitely no longer with the BBC - the web team didn't get the memo.


Before continuing I should say, I am at death's door with flu. Normally my Victorian upbringing doesn't allow me to exaggerate or over-state issues such as this, but since I've managed to evacuate so much mucus from my body I've noticeably lost weight, it doesn't offend my conservative sensibilities when I say I'm not well.

Recently, Johann Lamont saw fit to diagnose all independence supporters with another type of virus, something I'm not sure she's qualified to do. The Yes side retorted with an impromptu "I'm Yes Positive!" campaign. Cue many complaints from unionists who claimed this did down those suffering from HIV - even although it was Lamont who made the initial comparison. As usual, wild-eyed uni-twits behaving at their very unreasonable & illogical best online.


The Conservatives had their Conference during which George Osborne picture below...

Actually, its probably unfair to use this image - yes - he went to an English public school but that shouldn't be a barrier to life as a Tory politician and Chancellor of the Exchequer

Here's what he actually looks like:

Pinched from Guy fawkes' blog.

So, fairness established. In his speech to conference (get me sounding like a real journalist) Osborne said he wanted to extend the 'work for benefit' program. In this system, long term unemployed (two or more years) would be made to work for the pittance they receive. There will be three choices on offer:

1) Work placement (meaning pointless no-training-necessary work picking up litter etc.)

2) Daily visits to the Job Centre. (Possible aim would be to replace Job Centre staff with benefit claimants?)

3) Compulsory Training to improve literacy among other things.

For a more surgical dissection of why this is a shit idea please click here. For the less concise version, read on a bit.

First you have to understand, not everyone who has been unemployed for more than two years chose to live that way, its very easy and lets be honest, convenient to think that - but it isn't the case. Of course there are some who have chosen  to do so - but even then - its a tiny percentage of people. Westminster - aided by the braying mob of newspapers titles ever more desperate to up circulation - want you to believe people who happen to claim benefit are at the root of all our economic ills. We've already covered this and the truth is; its small fry compared to the real culprits.

Remember this?

Right, so why is it a shit idea? This seems to be Osborne's - and we must assume - Tory logic in action. The long term unemployed can't find work that pays a practical amount of cash, the sums are easy to do - if it costs more to get to work than you earn while at work - what is the point? This is a problem created by Government and the low wage economy it wishes to create at the behest of its business backers. Having a low wage economy attracts business - which is fine if you live in China (for example) where the cost of living is also quite low. In the UK - the cost of living is quite high - a single person must earn a good bit more than the minimum wage to make ends meet.

But shoe-horning benefit claimants in to already existing jobs will surely mean employers won't advertise real job opportunities because they'll know they can rely on free workers courtesy of the Tories - and to be strictly accurate here - the Labour Party's batshit crazy ideas around workfare/work-for-benefits.

If you told me you didn't think employers would take advantage of a free bank of staff and instead employ people in real paid jobs - I would begin to regard you with a high degree of suspicion.

Sure, it sounds good - getting the long term unemployed back to work - but what kind of work? These are litter picking positions and other odd jobs around the community they're talking about. When people are convicted of crimes and sentenced to community service they pick up litter or paint kid's play parks for fucks sake, now we're putting the long term unemployed in the same category?

On attending the Job Centre daily - is the government going to provide free transport so the long term unemployed can go and browse jobs offering zero hour contracts or low paid no-training-necessary positions all day? The former isn't a job at all as it doesn't guarantee an income, the latter won't exist because those jobs will be filled by benefit claimants who aren't sitting in the job centre or attending sinister 'mandatory training'.

It goes without saying, if you don't comply with the new rules, there will be sanctions. (This link has to be seen to be believed.)

Westminster had a choice, they could have done something substantive about jobs & pay in the UK, but they chose to demonise then punish those who've been out of work for the dubious purpose of 'attracting business'. It might be obvious to us what the proper course of action is but when viewed through the British Establishment/Westminster kaleidoscope of corruption, grasping selfishness and general fuckwittery - there was only ever one option.

Westminster creates a problem, blames that problem on the people who are suffering the most from it then punishes them for good measure.

This isn't an issue with one Westminster party, they're all guilty. If I lived in England I'd be even more horrified than I am now. I refuse to believe normal English people believe this is good government, I can't believe they accept it and can't see through it.

Finally, Michael Rosen has written a letter to Michael Gove, (Tory Minister for Education who thought it was a 'disgrace' Tories rebels voted against dropping bombs on Syria - because it worked so well elsewhere.) Its worth a read and joins up some pretty alarming dots in terms of where David Cameron's government want to take the UK.