Friday, 24 June 2016


So Leave has won and the UK is set to leave the EU. Personally, I thought that Remain would do it but on a slim margin. Glad I had no money riding on it...

The campaign was Remains to lose given that people don't like voting against the status quo and there's many reasons why it went wrong. For me, perhaps the most poisonous one was the implied and direct accusations of racism. If you are voting Leave, then you're a racist, a Little Englander, a Kipper, or variations thereof.

It's common sense that if you want to persuade someone that your opinion is the correct one, you should be able support it with arguments and be able to overcome objections. The completely wrong way to do this is to not only insult the person you are trying to win over, but to use one of the most serious of accusations to do so - racist. This is an accusation that can lose you friends, end careers, and even lead to criminal investigations. That's why to use it with such abandon and without foundation is extraordinarily offensive. Once you have so grievously offended the person whose view you disagreed with, you are never, ever going to get them to see your side of the argument. On any subject. Ever again.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Gay elf porn poverty

Kathleen Kerridge and family have fallen on hard times, according to this video in the Guardian. She claims poverty and clearly has health issues that means she can't do a regular job like she used to be able to. I completely accept the work issue and at least she's doing something, albeit writing gay fantasy novels, to bring in a bit of extra money. She's also studying for a degree and wants to use the skills learned to get back in to work when she's capable. That's great, but what I don't accept is the poverty issue.

Unfortunately, like similar articles that the Graun has previously published, there's a lot in the way of "poor me", but no detail on their exact circumstances. Someone could be earning a fortune but spunking the lot on the horses and therefore have no disposable income. I'm not suggesting this is the case here. What we do know about Kerridge based on what she's put out in the public domain is:

  • She is married with four children
  • Her children are 21, 19, 17, and 11. The eldest doesn't live with them, the 19 year old is doing an apprenticeship, and the other two are in full time education.
  • They live in Portsmouth.
  • Her husband works in admin full time at above the minimum wage. He earns five pounds a month less than their rent.
  • She hints they earn above £16,190, the cut-off point for free school meals, prescriptions, etc.
  • She claims that their rent is average for the area and they get housing benefit (she terms it "rent assistance", I assuming that means housing benefit).
  • She doesn't receive any disability benefits.
  • They are servicing a small credit card debt and paying it back at £40 a month. There are no payday loans or gambling debts and no arrears.
  • Council tax is £140, prescriptions are £10, and gas and electric are £250 per month.
  • The degree is through the Open University.
  • She has a student loan.
  • After all of this, they only have around £40 a week for food.

A suitable house for a family of this size with children of those ages would be four bedrooms according to government guidelines. To rent one of these in Portsmouth is around £1,200 a month. That would then make husband's income around £16,500 a year. In addition to this, they'd get around £6,744 in working and child tax credits and £1,768 in child benefit. That's a take home income of roughly £22,800 or £1,900 a month. That doesn't include housing benefit - based on the known details and assumptions, the calculator at reckons on £153.55 per week, so £665 per month. Here's a summary of their estimated incomings and outgoings along with what's left over:

OK, I know that these are estimates* - I've added water as it is an essential and the only bill not covered. Only Kerridge can give exact figures and it's up to her if she wants to make that public. What it does show is that there is a surplus well in excess of the £40 a week. So where is the rest going? Bus fares have been mentioned for the 11 year old but surely not £150 worth? No cars or other transport costs have been mentioned. It's a fair assumption that mobiles and internet are also a cost and not an unreasonable one, unless they are taking out £50 iPhone contracts.

I don't believe that they are living an extravagant lifestyle but neither are they scratching around in the gutter. It's not the sort that they maybe used to have, but it's certainly not poverty. There's clearly something we're not being told as they've got nearly £900 per month to cover all of their other costs. Maybe I've got the sums completely wrong but that would mean that they could rent something else cheaper and save money that way.

There are things they could do improve the state of their finances though. Could the husband get a better paying job (not always easy I appreciate)? Why is the gas and electricity bill so high? Can anything be done about that? Is the 19 year old contributing? If not, why not? Can they revisit disability payments? Given she has trouble getting out and about, surely she must be entitled to something. If not, why not?

I'll be honest here, and while I want Kerridge and family to achieve the lifestyle that they want and for her health to improve, it pisses me off to see someone who is dependent on more than half of their income from the tax payer, then go in the national press and say "this still isn't enough."

* Estimates. Big, big caveat on these. I also don't believe that Kerridge is being 100% truthful, e.g. she says that they aren't entitled to working tax credits but that would mean their income would be much higher than I've estimated and therefore aren't actually living in an averagely priced house for the area. There's inconsistency in the food budget. In the Guardian, it's £40 a week, on her blog it's £45 and £50 depending on which bit you read. Also this:
I’m so cold I can’t feel my fingers as I type this blog about poverty on a computer bought for me by a friend.  I will let you sit next to me and we’ll laugh at how you can see your breath misting in the air above my charity-shop desk.
Doesn't reconcile with a £250 a month gas and electric bill. She is a fantasy author after all...

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The "wrong" result

So the Tories have a won a majority in parliament. That took a lot of people by surprise but of course, not everyone is happy.

The Left are absolutely fuming, crying that the result is undemocratic and demanding the voting system be changed to proportional representation. All this because the Tories ended up with a majority from 36.9% of the vote. To understand their outrage better, I think we need to look this in the context of previous elections. Here's some details of the last four:

In 2001 and 2005, Labour won a majority with fewer votes than the Tories this time around. Remember the outrage and riots back then? Anyone?

If the solution to their problem is PR, they may want to consider this; the most likely outcome in that situation would be a Tory/Ukip coalition. I'm not sure they've thought this one through...

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Passport tax?

Ed Balls on the Andrew Marr show said:
“But if people are actually setting up false structures to avoid paying tax or going off to live in Switzerland to avoid paying their fare share of tax we will crack down in a way the Tories have completely failed.”
So if I go off to live in Switzerland, it's easy for me to avoid tax in the UK by not actually having any tax liabilities arising in the UK, e.g. if all of my income is earned in Switzerland. There's fuck all Ed Balls can do about that at the moment, unless Labour has plans to make UK citizens subject to UK taxes wherever they live, like the US system. Perhaps he really is looking at that. The twat.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Food banks yet again

I've got my (rather sceptical) views on food banks, so it's disappointing to see the church demanding that the state goes a step further and starts providing food for those "starving" in the UK. The Trussell Trust can shout as much as it likes about hundreds of thousands of people using food banks but the reality is that no independent statistics exist on how many, who these people are, and why they are using one. If you want to fix a problem, which is what the church appears to want, you need to work out just how bad it is so you can apply the right solution. What we don't know is:

  • How many food parcels are going to the same people.
  • Why they are using a food bank - benefit delays and sanctions have been cited in Trussell Trust surveys as the most common reasons.
  • Could the reliance on the food bank have been avoided - perhaps people have got their spending priorities wrong?
  • Where are the users from?
That last one is interesting - from the article:
‘In one wealthy town in Berkshire, a food bank director discovered a woman in the advanced stages of pregnancy and her partner living in a child’s toy tent in winter.’
Given the safety net of the welfare state and the duty of local authorities to house you immediately if you are pregnant and homeless, the story is highly improbable. But if we accept it to be true then the most likely explanation is that the people in question were immigrants and not entitled to benefits. That's why it's important to know the full story before lobbying the government for money action.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Occutards are back

Occupy are back, this time trying to occupy Parliament Square. Being led by professional protesters, they knew full well that protesting there is banned, as is camping. They then acted surprised when they were carted off by the coppers for trying to set up another one of their squalid camps. Combined with the cries of police brutality, it was just a pathetic attempt to evoke sympathy, a tactic used by them heavily in the past. Nothing has changed there then; same people, same bat-shit insane ideas. 

What has changed though is that the media has mostly stayed away, something that has enraged them. There probably hasn't been an hour that has gone by this week without some "why are the BBC ignoring us" tweet or variation on that theme. Maybe this picture might help explain why:

Because a bunch of unemployable crustifarians sitting around on a tarpaulin isn't news. Really, take a step back and think why what is going on in this image would ever be considered newsworthy.

What is particularly fucking stupid is they have spent the week listening to speakers who are preaching to the converted and are now formulating a list of demands for "real democracy". We heard this shit three years ago, it came to nothing and they're still waiting for their revolution to happen just like that.

What may come as a disappointment to them is that in spite of what Russell Brand proclaims, there will be no revolution. And we do have democracy in this country; don't like the Tories, Labour, or the Lib-Dems? Vote Green or Ukip if that's your thing - both parties have elected representatives at a local, national, and European level. Still not fussed by any of these? Vote for an independent - Bristol voted elected an independent candidate for mayor a couple of years back. Still not happy? Then stand for election yourself; you have that right, nothing is stopping you. But then starts the policy formulation, fund raising, meetings, canvassing, and generally getting your name and what you stand for out there. That's what you need to do if you want to effect change. It's damn hard work of course, certainly a lot more effort than sitting around stoned out of your gourd for a week bating the police. It does speak volumes why they've chosen the latter route again...

Friday, 1 August 2014

UK Unfiled

The David Icke of taxation* Richard Murphy has a new research paper out on how abusing limited companies might contribute to the tax gap. It's probably all bollocks given Murphy's previous and that if you were trying to pull a tax dodge, you probably wouldn't want to put any of your details on a public register. That said, he's posted some interesting stats on company filings, or rather the lack of:
• An average of more than 300,000 companies are struck off the Register of Companies each year without a formal liquidation process taking place; 
• Each year, over 400,000 companies that could still owe tax are failing to file annual return forms with the Registrar of Companies, including those struck off; 
• More than 340,000 sets of accounts due to the Registrar of Companies from companies that could still owe tax were not filed in 2012-13, including those due by companies struck off.
So what's my point? Well UK Uncut's company that was set up to challenge HMRC over a Goldman Sachs tax settlement has just failed to file its accounts on time. That's the same UK Uncut who bang on endlessly about the tax gap, people and companies not paying their "fair share", and lack of transparency from Big Evil Shadowy Corporations, yet can't/won't themselves comply with the fundamentals of company law - exactly what Murphy is moaning about here.

As to what this means for my favourite leftards, it's a £150 penalty for late filing and it's a criminal offence...naughty, naughty.

* Nicked from one of the commenters on the Graun, credit where it's due.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Joined up thinking here

An interesting admission from Vodafone:
Vodafone, one of the world's largest mobile phone groups, has revealed the existence of secret wires that allow government agencies to listen to all conversations on its networks, saying they are widely used in some of the 29 countries in which it operates in Europe and beyond. 
The company has broken its silence on government surveillance in order to push back against the increasingly widespread use of phone and broadband networks to spy on citizens, and will publish its first Law Enforcement Disclosure Report on Friday. At 40,000 words, it is the most comprehensive survey yet of how governments monitor the conversations and whereabouts of their people.
There probably isn't anything there that people didn't already suspect and this just confirms it. Perhaps more interesting though is the reaction below the line. Here's a selection:
Private Eye reporting they'd not only dodged paying tax, but had just landed themselves with a tax-refund from HMRC. 
Heaven forbid they might even pay some tax next! 
So Vodaclone don't pay normal taxes... erm sorry I mean.... pay their taxes according to law and they provide access to our communications to the rich and powerful.. 
Would this be the same Vodafone let off a £6 billion tax bill by HMRC under Dave"thanks for the hospitality"Hartnett? 
Vodaphone, probably the worlds biggest Tax Dodger... 
So the same people outraged by state surveillance are outraged that a company isn't paying taxes that fund state surveillance. Idiots.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Criticism will not be tolerated

It was interesting to note that the following comment from the Russell Brand article was removed from The People's Assembly website:
ghost whistler commented 2014-05-04 12:56:17 +0100 
Is this a fucking joke? 
A year ago you had your assembly meeting in London. A year ago you sat on your hands and held a talking shop for privileged media interests and political parasites. A year ago you did FUCK ALL to help those of us desperate to believe an alternative to this austerity wasteland being forced on us. While people begged you to get off your fat fucking arses, as spokespeople, to do SOMETHING, all you did was pledge to have…another fucking meeting. 
What good are you? What’s the point of you? I don’t enjoy criticism and I don’t want to sow division but while Owen fucking Jones talks – again – or while Mark Steele cracks the same joke – again – or while some token Labour cunt who won’t reject the party he’s a member of despite their continued betrayal of socialism and society, you DO nothing.  
You sit and have your fucking workshops, you encourage good people to participate and you piss their hope and enthusiasm down the fucking toilet. Each. And. Every. Time.
You sit there with representatives from the capitalist friendly ‘dont rock the boat too much’ unions who say they stand with the poor and the disenfranchised. The likes of Mark fucking Serwotka who oversees a union who’s members are ACTIVELY engaged in the forced destitution and deprivation of the sick, the poor and the mentally unwell.  
These people do not deserve support. They deserve to be forced to make a choice: either you walk the walk, or we want no part of you. If the PCS, for example, will not strike over conditions that affect them as they do the precariat forced to attend their DWP gulags then show them THE FUCKING DOOR!  
Either you fight, or you forget it. I am not remotely interested in millionaire tossers like Russel Brand who have no conception of the reality of the lives of the poor in this country and who treat everything as a fucking joke. Let him do his comedy turn at JOngleurs. What answers does he have? None. What has he actually done on behalf of the unemployed facing IDS’s pogroms? What has he done for DPAC or the disabled or carers or against the Bedroom Tax? Nothing. Why are you tolerating this fucking vacuous piece of shit who’s worldview is a confused superficial mess of pop pyschology and student level mystical woo woo, who panders to the ideology of racist conspiracy idiots like David fucking Icke?  
FIGHT! Get on the streets and fucking FIGHT! Don’t just parade around providing a photo op for Milibland. Fight to take back what is ours.  
It’s either that or we lose everything.
Thank you Google cache.