Archive for British moral compass

Balancing Government Expenditure

The new mantra spouted by politicians is ‘we have to make difficult decisions’, the use of the term ‘difficult decisions’ is nothing more than PR speak and has already worn thin, it is a way that Politicians can act as though this is something being foisted on them, over which they have no control and if only they could, they would spend unlimited amounts of money on everything.

The fact is that expenditure in the UK is higher than income and this is always a distinct possibility as potential demands for expenditure will always exceed income. These so called ‘difficult decisions’ are being taken all the time. The British people are not idiots and are well aware that cuts need to be made.

For many years the, spend now – pay later culture has pervaded both in personal households and also by Government. The abrupt collapse in the financial system has brought this failure to balance the books to the fore.

To argue about what should have been done and how to get out of this mess are a separate debate and should not be confused with the essential aspect. Finances in the UK are limited and should be spent more efficiently and in a more targeted manner.

On a personal level, individuals are reluctant to see taxes rise and a governmental level; politicians are reluctant to cut spending, so we have an imbalance.

The discussion needs to centre around what drives people to be so self focussed when it comes to their taxes, but so socially conscious when it comes to government expenditure. Efficiencies should be made across Government Departments and public sector expenditure. I am sure many people in the UK can identify examples of wasted money, be it in grandiose buildings, PFI inefficiencies, Quangos, etc. but these are issues tinkering around the edges.

The discussion needs to focus on the core expenditure of this country.

The NHS eats vast chunks of money in all sorts of programmes. We perhaps need to revise our expectations about the NHS, what is it and what is it not.

There is a debate to open as to whether the NHS should be spending money on treatments such as IVF, Cosmetic Surgery, and leading edge research. Should the NHS provide palliative care, or only treatments? Should parts of the NHS treatment process become means tested. Is the NHS responsible for treatment of those with self imposed conditions, such as drinkers, the obese, smokers etc?

It is ridiculous for the users of the NHS to demand ever increasing ranges of treatment, yet at the same time expect to pay ever decreasing taxes.

The Defence budget is another huge expenditure area. The UK continues to seek to play a role as a major world power, on a budget which doesn’t cover the costs. Should we be seeking to have a Military which is able to respond to conflict around the world, or should we scale back to become a defence of the country? Should the UK seek to remain a nuclear force, or should it move away from this?

Having a world class fighting force, requires money, can the country afford it and should we strive to have a military which is able to respond in a meaningful way to world conflicts.

The education system is another area with a large budget. What are the aims of our education system and why. Do we need larger schools, do we need more schools? Should children be made to stay in state funded education until the age of 18? Should University education be funded by the tax payer, or the student?

Looking at climate change, how should the country focus on the issue? Should it even focus on the issue? Should fossil fuels be taxed at a higher rate and the money invested in alternative sources of energy or should alternative energy research and development be funded through indirect taxes. Is there any need to focus on alternative energy? Should people be incentivised to become ‘greener’, or penalised for not becoming ‘greener’? Should any money needed to be spent on the issue of climate change or is this a choice individuals should be making?

There are other big areas of expenditure, this is only a short list and not necessarily the most important, until the ‘sacrosanct’ are identified, trying to balance budgets is nothing more than hot air. Not only do Politicians need to look at this issue, but individuals must accept their own financial responsibility in the process. Demanding more services yet throwing hands up in horror at the idea of higher taxes is a ridiculous starting point.

This country needs to limit expenditure and individuals needs to consider whether the reluctance of people and business to pay higher taxes, means we are absolving Public Services from the responsibility for providing services.

The discussion needs to be open and those with free market attitudes who would prefer to head towards a system of limited centrally provided services, need to be honest with themselves, about the reality of that type of society. Those who would prefer a system in which all services are freely available to all and provided centrally again need to step up to the plate and accept the reality of their position.

Burying heads in the sand and expecting the state to provide all to everyone for free at point of delivery yet refusing to pay for it is a road to nowhere and in reality is unachievable. There is limited income and therefore there has to be limited expenditure. The questions are what money should be spent on and how much are we prepared to pay, at that point budgets can actually be balanced.

Politicians have a role in this debate by being honest about cost implications; people have a responsibility to accept their role in funding those costs.

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English bigorty

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

British and in particular English bigotry and racism, which is endemic is usually portrayed by the Daily Mail and Express in particular, as perfectly reasonable, is suddenly deemed unacceptable when the natural home of English racists, the BNP, comes home to roost.

Why Brown and the Nationalist Socialist Party, more commonly known as the ‘Labour Party’ are so shocked that the Nazis win votes, when they have a slogan which proclaims ‘British jobs for British workers’, beggars belief.

The Conservative Party who spend their life proclaiming that there are far too many immigrants in this country, suddenly back track and decide that isn’t what they meant at all.

The UK has for many years been an endemically a racist and bigoted country; loud proclamations are made of a multi-cultural society, which in reality it is not.

Having spent most of my life living in London, where although the situation is not ideal, there are many different cultures living together in many Boroughs, I recently moved to East Anglia, where with out a doubt anyone who isn’t obviously White British is treated as an invader. Polish are deemed to be evil illegal immigrants, despite the fact they are from the EU and a non white face is of course up to no good.

I have had far too many arguments in this part of the world with people who genuinely believe that anyone who isn’t white is a scrounger an illegal immigrant and should be kicked out of the country. My only surprise was that the BNP didn’t secure a seat in East Anglia.

My first battle against racism was back in 1977 at the Lewisham march at the age of 13, when for the first time the Police used riot shields, nothing much has changed.

The simple fact is that many English people are racists and of course the BNP achieved European Representation. The Local Council representation was played down, as it didn’t hit the international agenda, but the sight of neo Nazis representing the UK at the European level has suddenly made the media and politicians pretend they actually care about the issue.

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Die for the UK but don’t try and live here

1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles

1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles

The disgraceful treatment of Gurkhas continues, despite very strong protests, which have been ongoing for years.

Gurkha Corporal Kumar Pun served in the Gurkhas for 14 years, just one month in to a tour of Afghanistan he was killed in a suicide bomb attack.
The first step was to alert his wife Parbati, just 24 hours after his death that she and their children could be ordered out of the UK next year, when their Visa expires.

This position was subsequently changed with the UK Borders Agency stating: ‘…We will not curtail this lady’s leave. We would not seek to remove the widow of any soldier killed in action, whether they are a Gurkha, a foreign or a Commonwealth soldier… A soldier’s spouse or dependants would almost certainly be granted settlement after applying for leave to stay in the UK…’

The statement still leaves a question as to settlement and is not an acceptable position.

Yesterday Wotton Bassett saw the homecoming of four soldiers who died that day, including Corporal Pun, marking the sacrifice made by these men, yet hypocritically at the same time, obfuscating on whether his family had any right to be here.

Corporal Pun Kumar served all over the world, including tours of duty in Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Oman, Kenya, Kosovo and the Falklands. Most of  the past decade has been based around living in Britain.

In 1999, Corporal Pun married his wife, he had been serving in the Gurkhas for 3 years, but she wasn’t granted leave to live in this country until 2006, 7 years after they married, when their eldest daughter was three.

It transpires that this is sadly not the end to the appalling way Gurkhas are treated.

In 2007 Gurkhas were given the right to leave their own pension scheme and switch to the regular Army scheme, which provides a widow with a lump sum payout in the event of her husband being killed, it is not known whether Gurkha Corporal Kumar Pun had transferred to the new scheme, so his widow may receive nothing.

Because Corporal Pun only served for 13 years, there is no entitlement to war widow’s pension; they are required to serve 15 years for this entitlement.

It would be better if Britain omitted the word Great, from its self congratulatory name.

There is nothing to be pounding a chest about; service personnel and the families of non-British Nationals who fight for this Country, are treated in a morally reprehensible manner.

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