Saturday, 31 March 2012

Why David Cameron owes George Galloway

For a week of startling Government incompetence to end up with the Opposition being firmly trounced in a by-election by a self-publicising narcissist demonstrates quite how lucky the Bullingdon Hamster has been.  We have Ministers advising people to turn their homes and garages into petrol bombs, and a cash-for-access scandal that would make My Little Tony blush, and an economy that looks as though it's going to stumble into a depression in the next six months.  We have the prospect of a drought that will rival 1976, and no credible programme to deal with the infrastructure issues that throws up, and we have unpopular changes to the NHS, education system and almost anything that can be screwed for Tory crony profit.

The handling of a potential tanker drivers' strike demonstrates the ineptitude and credulity that the Tories and their tabloid dung-merchants are noted for.  That 2,000 drivers vote for strike action over health and safety and training standards, when they spend 56 hours a week in the front of an explosive cargo, manoeuvring around the various Clarksonian fruit-cakes whose driving style appears to be predicated on reducing their (and others') life expectancies, rather than pay, should set alarm bells ringing.  They are similarly affected by outsourcing and cost-cutting as many public-sector employees, and in some ways the response is entirely sensible - especially given the reality that it has taken a threat of strikes to get the employers even to think about talking to the trade union.

So we get Francis Maude advising that people store petrol in a way calculated to increase the risk of domestic fires, and Cameron totally incapable of calming people down.  Instead the Tories use it to bash Labour's receipt of funds from the unions, neglecting to remember that union members can opt in and out of their political funds and many don't support the Labour party - but when did we last see a shareholder ballot about corporate donations to the Tories?  Mister Ed would have been better off telling the Tories to "calm down dear, it's only a ballot" and reminding them that a strike had not been called.

Galloway's victory in Bradford West is symbolic of the way in which the Coalition has strangled political differentiation.  Labour triangulate, vacillating somewhere around what they judge to be the "centre" - and the Liberals are implicated in government and can no longer challenge the status quo.  Hardly surprising, therefore, that there are opportunities for others to get in on the act - and not entirely unsatisfactory as it points to the democratic deficit further reinforced by the lack of political reform in England. It's similar in some ways to the rise of the SNP, but much more farcical, since the SNP have shown themselves to be consummate operators and credible governors, which nobody would ever be able to accuse Galloway of achieving.

So this has distracted attention from the government, and at an unfortunate time.  Maude's cretinous comments and potential consequential impacts should have been subject to much more scrutiny - at the same time as the cash-for-access scandals miring the Tories, Murdoch's puppetry with Michael Gove and the complete bankruptcy of macroeconomic policy becomes clear.  My view remains that the Budget could have been worse, but only within the context of not digging any faster into the hole in which the current and previous administrations have landed us.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Waiting for the Great Leap Backwards

Whenever I hear a politician wibbling on about "progress", it is usually time to take out the smelling salts.  In the last week, the Conservative side of the Coalition has forced through a Health and Social Care bill that will take public health provision back several decades.  The last vestiges of meritocracy are being replaced by the marketisation of higher education.  Cameron has reintroduced the bizarre concept of Private Finance Initiatives for road construction and maintenace - the former of which is to be funded by a toll.

In the case of roads, this is an incredible stepping-back beyond three centuries, to the days when turnpikes were build and funded by the users - but usually on the basis that the fees paid would pay for the capital and upkeep of the roads rather than making a tidy profit for the many parasitical intermediaries who make up such a large proportion of contemporary capitalism.  As a supporter of road pricing (of which Ken Livingstone's Congestion Charge in London is a brave and reasonably-effective example) I can only expect that the narrative will move towards selling off the existing road stock and then extending charges all over the system - paving the way for the Tories' pavement tax to be the centrepiece of their 2015 manifesto.  After all, pedestrians do get in the way of entrepreneurial limousines that pollute the environment and generate tax revenue.

The destruction of the health and education systems in England is unwinding reforms that commenced in the Victorian period and moved apace with the reforming Liberal administration of 1906 and the Attlee Government's strength to stand up to the vested interests.  Whereas many of the medical profession's big hitters opposed the formation of the NHS in 1948, they have generally been vociferous in rejecting the forced marketisation and the introduction of spurious competition into the sector.  All this was to no avail, and the sight of a craven Clegg advocating an illiberal, privatising measure that will merely drive up costs was a nauseating reminder that the Liberals need to stick to the Coalition agreement and no further.

Education, particularly beyond 18, is another prime example of regression.  The generations who grew up between the late 1950s and the late 1980s did not enjoy universal access to higher education, but where they merited entry to it the state at least funded the tuition costs - and where means-testing required, grants ensured that a reasonably provident student would enter post-educational activities without debts and with a strong expectation that their education would stand them in good stead professionally and culturally.

Nowadays, we have a bloated sector where students are consumers, where the average debt for those without parental bank-rolling is likely to be above £50,000, and where the currency has been devalued.  Hardly egalitarian - simple maths ensures that if 50% of people go to university there will be significant numbers who are earning at or below the average for the wider community.  And disheartening - but it least it keeps youth unemployment figures below the catastrophic, merely at the grotesque.

This all limits social mobility - and links it solely to the availability of cash, either from inheritance or from the dubious confines of "entrepreneurship".  Hardly progress to be looking in 2012 towards the universalisation introduced by the People's Budget of 1910 as being significantly more radical and reforming than anything a government has done since the 1970s.  Disguised, until recently, by the impacts of contined growth in material wealth, the inequality and immobility are likely to come back and bite the perpetrators.

For people saddled by debt, crippling housing costs and uncertain employment, the 1960s and 1970s must seem like a golden age.  Any party that can start articulating an alternative that reflects our times may suddenly start clearing up, as it is clear that driving inequality further forward is not going to make England a safer or happier place in the decades to come.

Same old Tories, same old corruption

After my one-handed applause for the Budget, on reflection awarded on the basis that it could have been somewhat worse, comes the news that "cash for access" is back on the scene.  I now have a new theory that David Cameron is not the bastardised offspring of a one-night stand between Thatcher and Blair but a hybrid between the two most ineffectual Tory leaders of the last half-century (excluding, for the sake of argument and circumstance Alec Douglas-Home), to wit Ted Heath and John Major.

Quite apart from the revolting idea that people might actually want to pay to spend a privileged evening in the Hamster's cage, probably sharing regurgitated pellets, in order to influence the fecklessness of the contemporary Tory Party, the rank hypocrisy that this exposes is unsurprising.  What is more surprising is that Murdoch allowed one of his allegedly less-putrid organs, the "Sunday Times", to run the story.  The warning shot that this fires is fascinating, as it denotes the latest stage of Murdoch's counter-attack against his former benefactors - of which more later.

I do hope that the Liberals disclose how many people have paid for cash for access with them, although it won't waste much printer ink. 

Cameron's hubris is breathtaking, given that he leads a government of which no one component actually "won" an election on a skewed electoral system designed to produce just that.  It has taken a day's worth of intense media scrutiny even to get him to cough up the list of people who he has entertrained, on the spurious grounds that a taxpayer-funded and maintained flat is his private accommodation and he can therefore give hospitality to whoever he likes - while at the same time attacking Labour and the trade unions for publicly-disclosed linkages. 

It does raise the suspicion that there are others who are also enjoying the treat of his company who he does not want the wider world to know about - and we all know how much more interesting John Major's tenure became once he left office and people started publishing their memoirs. 

This is all entirely consistent with the veneration of "entrepreneurs" and "wealth creators", who can bankroll the Tories and whose interests are entirely aligned with an atavistic urge to keep the proles in order.  These people are special because they have money and an antipathy to both social justice and mobility.  Therefore their movements, their tax affairs and their connections with the Government are not to be the subject of common tittle-tattle and scrutiny.  Unless, of course, they want it to be.

Murdoch is clearly so displeased that Cameron has hung some of the Chipping Norton cronies out to dry that he has turned on his own creatures.  I suspect that the motivation to disclose that the Tories have still not learned from the 1990s (and even from Lloyd George's blatant selling of peerages) may be the harbinger of more dirt that has been accumulated over the last five years - and this should prove entertaining.

However, even I would't place bets on the Hamiltons replacing the odious Steve Hilton.  But stranger things have happened and this is the Conservative Party, after all.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The Budget and the tribalists

Apparently, all that stood between the continuation of Britain's greatest depression since the 1870s and the sunlit uplands of post-Cameronian entrepreneurship was the abolition of the 50% tax band.  Now that this little victory for the parasite has been won, we can all look forward to the stunning success of attracting rich people to give larger amounts to bankroll the Tories into the 2015 General Election.

At the same time, the Liberal victories have been a few but nevertheless significant.  The implementation of a higher rate of stamp duty on £2m property transactions, and the removal of loophooles that meant that plutocrats could pay a lower proportion of tax than the average first-time buyer are important, as they start taxing wealth and assets that can't be hidden in the same way as income.  The increase in personal allowances is welcome.

Gorgeous George needs better PR.  As the general level of personal allowances rises, the case for special treatment for pensioners reduces.  Put it simply, if everyone has a £10,000 threshold then why should pensioners be any different?  Instead, the Tory press has fallen for Labour obfuscation and portrayed the removal of the special treatment as being the introduction of a "granny" tax.  There is a moral justification for a reasonable level of income being exempt from tax, but that applies to all citizens, whether or not they join the ranks of the self-styled "senior". 

Labour are making it out as a budget for millionaires, which it is, provided they don't try to acquire assets that attract tax.  More significantly, it continues many Tory idiocies such as regional pay arrangements in the public sector (that no manager seems to want), but does not really move infrastructure investment forward.  Buried in the small print are some quite significant possibilities, including a mansion tax for non-doms, going forward.

There are some good ideas in there, but there needs to be a more full and frank discussion of tax. My modest proposal would include a flat rate personal allowance, with 20%, 30%, 40% and 50% bands (the latter probably kicking in at aorund £200k on taxable income) - with a view to reducing the number of people who face very odd tax rates in the middle of the £30-45k salary range.  Closing exemptions and starting to shift more of the burden from direct income tax onto land and consumption would also be worthwhile.

Tax and economics are difficult because they are nuanced, but I would give Osborne around five out of ten for this Budget.  And given the cretinism he normally displays this is reluctant praise.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

No tax, please, we're Tory stooges

There is a Budget coming up.  And Georgie boy wants to give yet more "incentives" to the people who got the country into its current mess, because they bankroll his party and they understand his lifestyle, prejudices and sit there applauding every time the distribution of prosperity becomes more skewed in favour of the parasite class.  Reliable stooges cram every media outlet discussing "enterprise", "freedom" and "progress" as though they can purely be defined in monetary terms.

The newspaper this week made sombre reading - news of a telephone conference between senior Ministers finalising the contents of the budget.  The guilty parties are the Chief Hamster, his faithful deputy poodle, Osborne and Beaker.  Osbrone's rodent-like features deserve a more damning comparison but I do quite like creatures with scaly tails so I'll let that one pass.  The Budget instead appears to focus on Alistair Darling's fiscally-inefficient but socially-just 50% marginal rate of income tax, not jobs, infrastructure or reforming a system that is riddled with anomalies, evasion opportnities and injustice.

Apologist lick-spittles for the super-rich drone on both about driving out good managers from the UK, and the relatively low yields from the top rate of tax.  In darker noments, given their performance, the former outcome does not appear to be such a disaster - these are the same people who laud "management education" that turns out semi-literate clones without an idea in their head, and with the sense of entitlement to the Kingdom of Heaven that has produced the current moral vacuum in society and politics.  Most good managers will be lucky to be on the higher rate tax band, many of the people above them have been promoted beyond their level of competence to get them out of the way of real people and real decisions.

At this point, if the complexty of sentence structure has not deterred the monomaniac neo-cons, the argument is that the tax is only yielding hundreds of millions not a couple of billions.  It is still, read my lips, yielding money for the Treasury and for the common good.  Instead, Osborne should focus on closing opportunities for avoidance and evasion - although I'm increasingly convinced that "we're all in this together" merely applies to those who employ accountants to dodge and fake their income, and the outcome he wants is for the rich to pay as little tax as possible. 

Clegg's increasingly-desperate silence (after a Party Conference memorable for his dismissal of party concerns over the NHS emasculation) demonstrates the extent to which the Coalition has neutered him and his pals.  The assimilation process is ongoing - I am reminded of the last scene in "Animal Farm" - and as each touchstone of Liberalism gets ignored, diluted and ridiculed he will increasingly resemble a pig rather than a human being.

The Coalition agreement was signed for a specific purpose and with a specific remit - going beyond that and then promoting socially-divisive, class-war politics is not what Liberal politics should be about.  I suspect many long-standing Liberal party members are suffering crises of conscience, not for signing up to the Coalition but for the abuse of trust that is ongoing.  When the Coalition runs out of policy this year, unless a hard bargain is driven, its worth and future is very much debateable.  Clegg and Beaker will close this down, but the country deserves better than people keen to hang onto Ministerial status without a clear direction to deliver what, we must not forget, nearly a quarter of those who voted actively supported. 

I shall watch the Budget with interest - a move towards higher tax thresholds in itself is not going to be enough to convince me that the spirit of Nigel Lawson is not stalking the land. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Boris, and what you won't read in the Evening Standard

One of the many sensible things that the Liberal Democrats said before the last election (what a long time ago that seems now) is that the burden of taxes needs to be considered thoroughly.  For example, the idiocy of the Council Tax, which is based around notional property value in 1991 and which has not been updated to reflect current differentials, local declines and falls and the impact of the super-rich tax avoiders whose ability to scam the stamp duty regime means that their contributions to the general good are disproportionately small.  Add to this the reality that Council Tax receipts do not cover even half of local government expenditure and you get very close to a system that is neither equitable nor efficient. 

Were a significant portion of local revneue to be raised from direct taxes on either people or property within the boundaries, this would provide some incentive for more participation and scrutiny of local government.  It would also give powers back to the locality, rather than giving the centre the current highly-geared ability to reward its political allies and stuff the rest of the country.  So this is clearly going to be unpopular with the Tories, who believe that local government is merely a means for getting third-rate apparatchiks large allowances and filling up pages of under-resourced local newspapers with perpetual drivel about a mythical drift back to the 1950s.

So the Budget and the London Mayoral election have become a battleground.  Rumours are that there could be a deal to be cut within the Coaltion on the 50p tax rate and the grotesque spectacle of the top end of the property market underpaying for local services.  The huge number of high-end properties, particularly in London, standing under-used and occupied by people whose other tax status is mainly offshore, should make this end of the market a prime candidate for taxation (houses, unlike the fleet-footed tax evader, cannot move around) and a means of funding services and infrastructure that are otherwise free-ridden by the peripatetic parasites.

These are, however, Boris Johnson's acolytes, so his equivalent of Pravda, the "Evening Standard" is up in arms about the mere attempt to establish some equity in the tax burden.  Perish the thought that the level of affluence in London and the South East is so much greater than in other parts of the UK, or that much of the movement is asset value is deserved as much by the recipient as a win on the national lottery - as the South-Eastern NIMBY culture gets into overdrive.  The "Standard", from a reasonably promising start when it was decoupled from the rabid extremism of the "Mail", has mutated into a despicable pro-Johnson farrago, reflecting its market research and its phobia of addressing the inequality and deprivation that exist on its own doorstep.

The idea that reforming tax, and ensuring that land, as well as labour and capital, makes an equitable contribution to the fiscal pot, should be so radical is clearly a product of the Thatcherite delusion that nominal asset values (i.e. house prices) should always rise and that they are a good thing.  The proposal to revalue Council Tax bandings was scuppered by the mid-market tabloids under Labour.  So perhaps the Coalition can take the opportunity to review the whole tax burden, squeeze the non-contributing, non-domiciled rich, and ensure that there is equality of impact in terms of people's sacrifices.  It won't happen this year, as the Tories want to dig in to London and Boris's grasp on reality and ethics is nearly as tenuous as the rest of them - but unless something gets done soon then there will be more trouble from those of us who don't like being lectured on our need to sacrifice while those above keep their fingers in the till.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Cameron, Gove, propriety and decency

You would be forgiven for thinking that we're back to the 1990s - despite the expenses scandals and the need for probity in public office you can't help but think that at some point the deceptively grey John Major will pop up and suggest it's time for "Back to Basics" once more.

The revelation that David Cameron had a Metropolitan Police horse between his legs, courtesy of his mate and fellow Clarksonian stooge Rebekah Brooks would be funny if one could imagine a cross between Catherine the Great, Caligula and a rather rotund domesticated rodent.

Gove, quite apart from being another senior Tory in moral, financial and political hock to Moloch Murdoch, is now standing proud as the leading circumventer of the hard-fought-for Freedom of Information legislation, raising the suspicion that there is much more going on behind the scenes than any of the shysters would wish to admit to.  Couple this with the execreable Steve Hilton's "sabbatical" and I can't help thinking that as I get older, history speeds up - it took nearly fifteen years for the Tories to reveal this level of craven venality last time round.  They've clearly learned from My Little Tony that cronyism has to be repaid early in the term.

My next pleasure will be seeing whether Brian Coleman will be found guilty on Monday of anti-constituent rantings - again.  This would be highly amusing as well as instructive to the multiplicity of half-witted sycophants who hang around Boris.

Will be interesting what the next revelations are, as well.

Friday, 2 March 2012

With its "friends", does Israel need enemies?

The ongoing teacup-storm following Baroness Tonge's allegedly incendiary analysis of Middle East politics at the University of Middlesex last week is a worthwhile reminder of what is really at stake.  This morning's exchange between Lady Tonge and Robert Halfon MP (Conservative) was revelatory, particularly since Halfon is one of seven current Tories listed on the Conservative Friends of Isreal web-site as being on that organisation's Parliamentary Committee, along with James Arbuthnot, James Clappison, David Amess, David Burrowes, Priti Patel and Lee Scott.

These "Friends of Israel" groups are unitentionally hilarious, principally because they appear to be a combination of propaganda front and package holiday firm for gullible politicians who are shown exactly what the Israeli government wants them to see and no more, and repay the favour by behaving as stooges to shout down any dissident voices who question either the actions of Israel or the moral high ground upon which these lickspittles position themselves.

Halfon's briefing had clearly been to repeat the phrase "conspiracy theory" as often as possible in relation to Lady Tonge's views, and to criticise her for sharing a platform with Palestinians who have a less analytic, more visceral reation to the way they have been treated.  Had Lady Tonge stood up and read from "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion", he might have had a point, but instead he extrapolated from her views that there is a vast pro-Israel lobby (represented by such bodies as Conservative Friends of Israel) as evidence that she suffers from delusions.

Since his intellect is clearly either not functioning in the morning or has departed on a permanent vacation, he then decided to extend the critique to not having condemned the atrocities in Syria.  Even the presenter thought this was somewhat out of order - but, for reasons best known in Moscow and Beijing, the current revolution in Syria does not yet enjoy the international backing that the uprising in Libya did last year.

As an aside, I must not pass up the opportunity to note that Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green, is vocal in pro-Isreaeli circles while wishing to crack down on squatting ever since Libyan dissidents occupied property in his constituency owned by the Gadaffi family - still, it's consistent stoogepersonship for oppressive regimes, I suppose.

Halfon resorted to all the old rhetorical devices, bnt one made me sit up and realise precisely how far we have come.  When called out on whether he supported freedom of speech, he qualified it, and then evoked the knee-jerk opportunism of Lapdog Clegg, Hamster Face and Milibland in uniting in their repugnance at the misreported distortions of what Jenny Tonge actually said to the students.  For an Israeli apologist, he has done nothing to convince the sceptical that the role of the outside world is to pump in money to Israel while turning a blind eye to what is going on there.

It is impossible to conduct any discussion on the future of Israel without being accused of anti-Semitism, but unfortunately economics, politics, demographics and reality intrude into this deranged narrative of moral superiority and the game of "don't kick me" that has been perpetrated upon the rest of the world for far too long.  Under American tutelage relationships between Israel, Egypt and Turkey improved - to be swept away by the Arab Spring and the massacre of relief workers that took place a couple of years ago.  Now Israel survives on American money and its status as a nuclear power - given the theocratic underpinnings of its state ideology is it any wonder that other extremist theocratic states feel threatened and aggressive towards it?

The real aim of Halfon and his cronies is to stifle debate.  Free speech and a defensible cause go hand in hand, and, as has been seen in other parts of the world where there is a sectarian divide, comprehension of others' viewpoints is essential to resolving a situation to mutual benefit.  Sharing a platform with people of opposing views is not to endorse those views, but to engage audiences and debaters alike - would Halfon condemn "Baroness" Warsi for having shared the "Question Time" stage with Nick Griffin?  Probably not, but then relativism and intellect are out of the water.  Progress is not made through entrenchment, but then the Israeli lobby want all past transgressions retrospectively forgiven and then airbrushed out of history.

He also then attacked Tonge for supporting "terrorists" in the West Bank and Gaza.  Nobody condones violence either direct or indirect - but an economic blockade and land expropriation directed against whole communities are aggressive actions too.  My reading of Lady Tonge's position is that she is a controversialist, but her views are reasonable in the context of the last fifty years of political history, and that attempting to describe the impact of Israel's procrastination in implementing widely-supported expectations of the international community is neither inflammatory nor, critically, anti-Semitic.

Eventually, as Lady Tonge suggested, people and states may lose patience with Israel - this is hardly apocalyptic or calling for its violent overthrow.  But it is much easier to cry foul towards opponents and besmirch their reputations and motives than to engage and accept that it is possible to hold an opposing view of both the moralities and the practicalities of the situation.  Groups such as "Friends of Israel", active in Labour, Liberal and Tory parties, are pro-Israeli lobbies, and should be prepared to admit to that - and to be accused of such bias is hardly evidence of a conspiracy theory.  It suits them to abuse opponents with the subtle insinuation of madness.

However, for expressing such views, I would anticipate that I will be written off by these people (to borrow Brian Coleman's phrase) as somebody who "seventy years ago would have been in the blackshirts".  Notwithstanding the fact that seventy years ago all British fascists who posed a danger to society were interned - it was 1942, after all - this is the usual response to criticism of the pro-Israeli position: equating liberalism with anti-Semitism means that any voice raised against the tide of bullshit is portrayed as having been formulated through long exposure to the inner circles of Nazi thought - hardly the basis upon which debate can ever take place.

As with virtually all on the left, I have never had a problem with Israel's existence, nor have I seen it as necessary for it to be destroyed.  Compliance with international law and respect for human rights is not even too much to ask, it is the basis upon which participation in the global community should be predicated.

PS: (slightly updated)

Another interesting example of the terms of debate here.  The "Jewish Chronicle" reports the events with the kind of slant that the "Sun" would be proud of.  Whatever Ken O'Keefe's views are, they aren't those of Baroness Tonge, and a misleading headline that is potentially actionable.

Note Mike "Rent-a-Gob" Freer's intervention, as well.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Attack the poor but never criticise the rich

Apparently 500 greedy parasites (sorry, leading business people) have written to the Torygraph this morning to remind Gideon that the future wealth and prosperity of the United Kingdom rests solely upon reducing the marginal rate of taxation on their earnings over £150,000 per annum by 10%.  Forget providing decent training, public infrastructure or a macroeconomic policy that's not dead set on self-immolation - all it will take to release the wellspring of economic rebirth is a further handout to the rapacious, boorish and feckless.

In this world of fantasy neo-con spluttering, everything that an ethical, ordered structure should be based around is inverted - it's rather akin to a reader with a taste for great literature walking into a poorly-written fantasy novel.  The myth of trickledown was exploded back in the 1980s, but we are forced to watch a wallowing nostalgia-fest completely detached from anything that might be described as reality.  There are too many myths to be debunked, but a few easy pot-shots always liven up the day.

Firstly, the stoater that the rich "create wealth".  Entrepreneurs and workers "create wealth", the rich merely accumulate it and try to hold onto it - it's very difficult to justify how much recent gains are earned when profitability is down and the divergence in pay increases between the boardroom and the poor bloody infantry widens.  From the fat-cat bonanza over the last decade you would have thought that the entire corporate sector has been massively successful, run by people with the wisdom of Solomon and whose philanthropic approach has resulted in unparallelled prosperity and happiness for the whole world.

Secondly, any half-awake "leader" is practised in the arts of tax avoidance and in some cases evasion.  The vast majority of the population have no such opportunity to exploit loopholes - and the parasites wouldn't want them to.  Yet whenever there is a proposal to close gaps in the taxation fence, for example through enforcing stamp duty on mansion sales, then this will, according to the client politicians of which Boris is merely another sordid example, result in a flight of high-quality entrepreneurs.  On the basis of their past record, most of these people would not be a net loss in terms of social or intellectual contribution to society, and as was demonstrated, very ably, by John Lanchester in the "Guardian" on Saturday, there are very few tax regimes as craven and exploitable as the United Kingdom's.

Simultaneously, politicians of all hues have lined up to condemn Len McClusky, the pugilistic General Secretary of Unite, for his observation that his members, and other dispossessed and unwelcome citizens of Cameron's Britain, might consider targeting the Olympic period for industrial action and wider protest.  To hear Hamster Face maundering on about "patriotism", then being backed up by Miliband, is to realise quite what a debased world we now live in.  The Olympics, like the Jubilee, are contemptuous trinkets that distract from the cancerous parasitic worms whose unelected status and economic wealth provide a platform from which to suck further lifeblood from society and the economy, so they are a legitimate target for anger and complaint, whether or not you agree with the individual grievance.

When the rich whine about being asked to contribute proportionately to the common good, there are sycophants who support their selfish ululations.  When they make extravagant and mendacious claims about their importance and the impact of their displeasure the media line up to report it as though just by having wealth (ill-gotten or otherwise) their opinion is worth millions of other people's views.

Naturally, any trade unionist threatening strikes or fighting for their rights and conditions is a socialist wrecker wishing to upend society.  So, by this narrative, the cheer-leaders for the idle and shallow rich come up with more proposals to constrain people's right to combine and protest.  The latest one is a proposal that 51% of all affected staff must vote in favour of action before it can commence.  Sounds attractive - as it could save the public from disruption.  A modest proposal would apply the same principle to elected representatives, as their impact on public life is equally damaging, so nobody can be elected to public office without 51% of all their eligible electorate supporting them.  This would soon undermine the legitimacy of most MPs and councillors, but when you are subservient to oligarchs and media barons would that be a bad thing?

The UK has propitiated the drone class for too long.  Time to demonstrate that Hamster Face's "we're all in this together" means that "fit in or f*** off" applies to them as well, and that if they don't pull their weight and sacrifice some of their theft that they will be toppled and humiliated.  A revolution may be the only thing necessary.