Friday, 8 December 2017

Brexit: May Capitulates.

It seems that we are getting Brexit lite: out of the EU, paying the EU, subject to EU rules (regulatory convergence) but not actually in the EU to make those laws.

It's the worst of all worlds.

Not yet negotiated, but I suspect this will be the sticking point of the next phase:

If we have regulatory convergence, then we must abide by EU trade deals surely? i.e. we won't be able to go out and negotiate our own trade deals as was the plan to bring prosperity and cheap imports after Brexit.

For instance, if we keep the same regulatory framework, we can't import non CE-approved equipment from China. Because our border is effectively the EU border. We have to keep up the same standards. It would be impossible to have an open border on one side and be importing goods that comply to a different standard than in the rest of the EU on the other side. Because those non EU standard goods will be able to slip over the border into Europe unopposed.

So as far as I can see it, the version of Brexit we're getting has all the red tape and expense and non of the benefits of free trade.

I look forward to Jacob Rees-Mogg demolishing this agreement.

I'd email my MP to insist on a firm Brexit with no deal, but he's Alan Mak, a remainer. A remainer in a majority Leave constituency. A remainer who I'm sure will be happy to be effectively staying in the EU.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

I Hate Social Workers (2017 edition)

One of the most popular threads on my blog was one entitled "I Hate Social Workers"  I wrote a few years ago. It ended up with over 5000 replies espousing hatred for social workers. Some very serious and personal messages were posted. So much so I had to delete the thread.

Back then in 2009 I was fighting to get my Autistic son housed. He was homeless, sleeping on my couch after being let down by Oxford Social Services in regard to housing. After months of ups and downs their only solution to housing him was: a homeless shelter. Yeah, like that's an option. He moved South with us.

So we'd moved South, he wanted to stay but had been let down for housing. Annnnd guess what? Exactly the same scenario started to play out down South. Not our responsibility, blah blah, then even when they stepped up, they failed to attend his supported housing panel, etc. A whole litany of fuckups. Despite their incompetence he was found not entirely suitable housing lodging with a chap that houses youths that come out of prison, that sort of thing.

Well, fast forward a few years and he's being made homeless again. I guess the landlord after 8 years has decided my son should move on and give the landlord some space again.
My son has been given notice.

Soooo, back to Social Services. Went to the GP, he heard the issues with my Son Autiscic, withdrawn, no social skills, no outside intereaction, depression, etc. He fired off the referral to Social Services quick smart.

My son got a call from Social Services today, which he didn't understand, so they called me. What we needed (as we've been advised by various local charities) is to have my son's needs assessed so he can be offered suitable housing.

But wait: there is now a waiting list; not for housing, but to be assessed for housing. So he is now on the waiting list to be assessed to be able to go on another waiting list for housing.

You couldn't fucking make it up.

Oh, and there are no timescales as to when this assessment will take place, it's all based on need. My son's being kicked out in February, I think the need is pretty fucking obvious! So chances are he will not have had an assessment of his housing need before he becomes homeless.

I think some canny thinking needs to be done here: social services hate nothing more than publicity and having how shit they are exposed. I think a Twitter account may need to be set up detailling the failures in Social Health and Welfare coverage in the UK.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Coming Conservative Catastrophe.

It's pretty clear now that the Conservatives are quite a way away from planning that post-Brexit pissup in the local Brewery. A long, long way.

I've already said what I think are the failings of the Labour party, now it's time (in the spritit of fairness and balance) to have a pop at the Tories.

Straight away, there's theresa may, the leader. Not "A" leader, but "the" leader. Past experience with her in the Home Office and other jobs leads me to understand she's good at talking the talk, but not actually walking the walk. She fails on almost every key delivereable sent her way. She wouldn't last the first episode of the Apprentice. She's the most Shambolic of omnishambles, everything she touches turns to dust.

You get the idea.

So, you can imagine, I have a very little respect for the current Tory government.

The thing is, I have very little respect for their policies either. Time was, the Conservatives stood for hard work and high rewards. You worked hard, you got more money in the form of tax breaks. You went self employed, you got tax breaks again to help and reward you for taking the risk.

Now, what the fuck is all this "Gig Economy" shit? If you are self employed, you take the risk, have no employee rights, no paid holidays (you're self employed: you take your own holidays when you like and you pay for them).

Since Tony Blair's introduction of the IR35 rule, that classed certain self employed people as employed and started to sting them for full PAYE tax and the "employer" (actually the client) for employer's contributions

That the IR is doing this under a Tory government shows the government is not Conservative in the true sense. IR35 should have been abolished the day the Conservative government took office, to shake the self-employed sector up again, kill the politics of envy and start having self-employed independent contractors out there earning big wages as a result of taking big risks.

Instead, since the Tories got in, there has been mission creep by the Inland Revenue.  They are now going after workers in corporations and the public sector that by the normal definition would not be classed as employees but contractors instead.  i.e. risk having no employee rights for higher wages, lower taxes etc.

That's just one example. Back in Thatcher's day, there was another element to the social mobility strategy. Decent government-funded training schemes were launched in order to fill skills gaps. I know: I went on one of them. I learned I.T. skills and was paid £27 a week back in the early Eighties. I learned how to operate and program computers and as part of the course had placements in industry. With no qualifications, instead based on entrance exams to test aptitude, I got on the course.

That's the sort of thing missing today. The people at the bottom of the social ladder, disenfranchised and disqualified, stay at the bottom. There is no means for them to improve their life, earn more than they ever dreamed of and contribute to the economy.

From no qualifications, two decades after that course I was earning £70K as a self-employed I.T. contractor. Had IR35 not put an end to that, I would still be there, earning that money and contributing to society at a high level. the amount of money I paid in professional insurance, critical ilness cover and personal pension contributions, purchases of I.T. kit, etc. was almost as much as I'm earning now. All that gone.

Instead, I'm earning less that £20K in a low-risk job. Would I stick my neck out now? Not likely. I don't have the support of the Government, instead they want to keep me down. A Conservtive Government not providing social mobility and killing aspiration.... what a shame.

The Tories have just continued to determine that all your wages are theirs and want as much of it as they can get away with, just like Labour. Not that you control how you run your life and business: they know best and tell you how you run things.
And what to Tory voters do in the face of these "Red Tories"? i.e. the current mob with their socialist non-aspirational agenda? Do they abstain and let the Commie/Trot Labour party in?

Someone, somewhere deep in the Tory party needs to start sticking a rocket up the various MPs and higher-ups and start to bring the Tories back to what they were: a party for small-medium business, a party that rewards risk-takers, that is for aspiration irrespective of background, that understands that light regulation is necessary than no regulation or an overburden of it, that knows a light tax economy is a prosperous one, that recognises current house prices kills home ownership for the poor, and recognises that their early policies back in the eighties killed social housing and recognise that is a neccessity and strategic asset, not a dirty phrase to be ignored. It needs to be caring for those that need care, but tough on those that abuse the benefits system, not by setting arbitrary limits, but instead having fair rules that root out abusers.

Combine that lack of old-school Conservative firm-but fair compassion, a lack of aspiration and the impending Horlicks regarding Brexit, who the hell would vote for the Tories again?

I smell not just a single catastrophe ahead for the Tories, but Brexit is just the tip of mis-management iceberg. There will be more to follow after they deliver "Brexit-lite", the "almost-in/almost-out" fudge that no-one that voted in the referendum wanted.

No-one will vote for them for a very long time....

Sunday, 3 December 2017

No Confidence in May, in er, May.

My sources say the knives are out for Theresa May. I mean really out this time, not the idle speculation of previous months.

Her lack of ability to make significant progress on anything has created a problem for her. Not that it was any different at her other posts. Some tinkering around the edges, shuffling the papers, rearranging the furniture: call it what you will, but that's what she's good at. Making herself look busy whilst not doing much of any substance.

I believe she'll be out by May. The Corbyn threat will have reduced significantly by then as new information comes to light regarding the current Labour front benches.

The Tories will start to promote their May replacement in the New Year, Just watch the political TV programmes to see which Tory MP gets a lot of air time. :-)

Monday, 27 November 2017

Brexit: Ireland's Idle threats

It's in the news today that Ireland is threatening to Veto any agreement to move onto post-Brexit trade talks without a guarantee that there will be a "soft" border between Southern and Northern Ireland.

First off, that threat isn't necessarily aimed at the Uk, but more towards the EU. It's their remit as to whether we have a soft border or not, not ours.

Correct me if I'm mistaken, but if we leave the EU, the EEA and EFTA, then the border HAS to be a hard one.

The outcome of the referendum is that we are leving the EU. The governments's (and most of those voting to leave) stance is that we leave the control of the ECJ, which then removes the EEA option.

Which only leaves membership of EFTA as a viable option. But then by default the border is then a lot firmer than the transparent border that Southern Ireland demands.

So Ireland are demanding the impossible. Certainly without some option that bestows some unique and so-far unavailable and possibly magical status on Northern Ireland.

The other thing is that Ireland has a veto at all. I thought that qualified majority voting had taken over, so no one country had a veto. It seems that the Brexit negotiations and trade negotiations in general haven't yet caught the majority bug (conveniently for Ireland).

Just like the stupidity of the Waloons stopping the EU-Canada trade deal earlier this year. Ireland will push Brexit to a place it doesn't want to go and is unnacceptable to the leave voters.

The more Brexit gets pulled from pillar to post by all the various factions, the more a "no-deal" scenario plays out. Just like I voted for in the reerendum and were told by the remainers before voting. No soft choices, but cold, hard reality. Out of the EU, out of the customs union, out of the single market.

Out means out.

The negotiations and the setup of the European project will not allow any soft options.

It's now up to us to plan and make the very best of the completely out options.

Of course the UK and Ireland could just unilatterally decide not to have a border without EU agreement. How that pans out for Ireland is anyone's guess. Would the EU demand Ireland impose a closed border? How could they enforce it?

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Budget: Rehashed Housing News as I Predicted and More Fuel on the House Price Fire

Love how a politician can stand up and rehash old news as something supposedly new and spectacular.

Stand-out amongst thise was the so-called "Oxford-Milton Keynes" corridor.Many thousands of houses promised in the budget that were announced years ago in the Bicester New Town/City scheme.

No radical plans at all and very little new news.

Stand-out amongst the new plans was more support for Help-to-Buy and tweaks on stamp duty. Neither of which actually reduce the cost of housing, but instead prop up the status quo and even fan the flames, helping to prop up unsustainable house prices and saddling first-time buyers with houses that cost lots more than they are worth.

Way to go Chancellor!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Tories "Building the Future" but with not Enough Actual Building.....

The Tories have launched a new slogan, "Building a Britain Fit for the Future", except my understanding is there isn't going to be any actual building.

Yet another wishy-washy mish-mash of rehashed, already launched policies, packaged up into something to talk about during next week's budget. Financial incentives, planning changes, but nothing concrete (if you'll excuse the pun). You can have that one for free, shadow Chancellor.

Labour need to be prepared to counter-strike and knock down each of the Tory's proposal. That means credible and detailed homework from the left to be able to deflate every one of the pumped up policies from the Conservatives.

It would also be nice if Labour put a few shots across the bows of the Tories beforehand, signalling intent to really sink their teeth into the Tories unless there are radical, substantial, new proposals to sort out the housing crisis. Tinkering at the edges or rehashing old news will. not. do.

Hopefully with a few well-placed broadsides from Labour, the Tories can be persuaded against presenting a PR campaign as a budget and get them to produce an actual policy with real targets, a real budget and demonstrable progress against those targets.

What Labour cannot do is just trot out the same old anti-Tory plattitudes, the ones that turn voters off and do nothing to change Tory policy. They have to give detailed and credible opposition and strip the veneer from the Tory plans so the voters can see the lack of detail underneath.

But given the superficiality of politics at the moment, I doubt I'll see any of the above actually happen.

One of those times you really wish you were an MP and able to give such superficial people a slap. (before it gets banned) ;-)

Back here I outlined my thoughts on housing and how the crisis should be managed. Government managed housing stock, outside the remit of local authorities needs to be started. Local authorities we all know are corrupt, with contracts going to friends that had surprisingly well-informed tenders. keeping it central (for once) seems to be the preferred option. From the planning perspective national government involvement means it's easier to quote national interest and make the planning stage eaisier. There are plenty of laws the government can invoke to build new housing, or they can quite quickly release old MOD land for building if necessary.