Whose Country?

There’s a debate on the television tonight. I may or may not watch it. Probably not.

It’s billed as the leaders’ debate. Seven people who lead parties standing for election next month. I anticipate it will be an event where each of these leaders have several carefully crafted lines that they will at all cost say. I doubt very much whether we will be treated to a thoughtful discussion about how our country is, the choices we might make.

I watched George Osborne on Channel 4 News the other night. The experience was bad for my health. If you don’t know who George Osborne is, congratulate yourself on having escaped exposure to a man I described on Twitter as an oleaginous git.

I am hoping Natalie Bennet will at least be unscripted. She was ridiculed some weeks ago when she admitted not knowing the answers the questions she was asked. I found it quite refreshingly honest. Most politicians ride roughshod over their questioners just bleating out the lines their spin doctors have coached them to say.

I saw another interview with someone last night. I don’t recall his name, but he was part of the business community who say we should vote Tory because that would be best for the country. I really wanted him to define what and who he means by country. For I had a very strong feeling his country is composed of a small percentage of the population who have most of the wealth.

The mantra of there are more people in jobs and more jobs is a mantra full of holes.

Zero hours contracts are great for those people because they never have to live on them. Ed Miliband wants those on zero hour contracts for three months to have those contracts converted to permanent ones. This is either fudging the issue or showing a belief in human nature that is touching but probably misled. It would be all to easy to tell the employees their services weren’t needed after ten weeks.

I would be looking for an end to zero hour contracts completely. I cannot imagine what those people’s lives are like. It must be hell. Big business makes money; we top up low wages with benefits; those on benefits are demonised; a shocking number of big businesses conspire to evade paying tax; social housing is sold off and communities dispersed; the collateral of children having their schooling disturbed, animals in shelters; luxury flats are built that are marketed abroad, and not lived in.

If David Cameron, George Osborne and their ilk had zero hours contracts, had to hand back all the inherited wealth that has cushioned them from ever knowing what it is like to stand in a supermarket in front of cans of baked beans and wonder if they can afford even the cheapest, I might have a little more respect for them.

But five years on, We’re In It Together seems even more dishonest than it did in 2010.

4 thoughts on “Whose Country?

  1. Things aren’t much different on this side of the pond. You reminded me, when grocery shopping when my children were young and we were on a tight budget, of how I would take the items I needed least out of the basket last in case I didn’t have enough money for all I needed. I get the feeling that our leaders never had those kinds of worries and thus are so very much out of touch with the real world. In the US their most pressing concern is raising enough money for reelection.

    • My sitting room windows overlook the delivery area for a small supermarket. Every day, come rain or shine, a steady stream of people go there to check through the bins for food that has been thrown away.

      If the financial choices you face are to do with which ski resort or similar, it must be nigh on impossible to understand the constraints many people face every day; constraints they live with constantly in lives that are constant battles for survival, with uncertainty and insecurity the common themes.

  2. I had to look up “zero hour contract” – that sort of arrangement is all the rage here and we call it “disrupting” the economy. People “leveraging” their assets – a car, their labor, their spare room – in the sharing economy with no guarantee of a wage at all.

    Isobel, speaking as a voracious consumer of London history books, I must ask if you see the same parallels and phantoms of earlier bad old days that I do?

    And what’s with this proposal of a 2% increase in VAT? How is that even on the table?

    I take solace in your lovely blue header photo and the promise of Spring.

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