Thursday, 19 May 2011


I have just calculated that I will be £4,000 worse off next year owning to 'reduction in duties' at work and to the loss of Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit from 1 September. I have friends - GPs earning in excess of £100,000 per annum, who didn't even notice their Child Benefit payments. Yesterday, I was taking coffee in the morning room of a very grand house in Devon, where the host, a big society sort of guy (he has certainly paid his dues to charity) was talking of buying another grand piano for a knock down price of £16,000 - nearly three quarters of my gross annual income before the forthcoming reduction. He also needs another house in which to place the piano (he has two already) and the large collection of antiques that have outgrown his mansion. The rich really are different - at least the ones I know. Their world view is entirely alien to that of most ordinary Joes like me.

We have a Tory Government composed of very rich people with vast inherited wealth which keeps on growing, thanks to careful investments and tax allowances (creative accounting). They may be nice people, some of them at least, but they all share the old Tory insousiance of the very rich when it comes to making policies that will affect the rest of us. I have survived under the Tories before, so I know pretty well what is coming, and I think I still have the personal resources to prepare for and handle it; but what of those who don't? What about the chronically disabled, the under-educated, the elderly poor and those lone parents with children under 5, who can't work at all and for whom the loss of £4,000 a year cannot be made up elsewhere? I like the idea of an austerity period - it has a fine and noble ring to it that makes it sound as though it is good for the soul. But I haven't found any belt-tightening amongst my rich friends, which suggests to me that, though all austerity measures are equal, under this Tory-dominated Coalition, some are more equal than others.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011


I won't be watching the news for the next few days. I am sickened by the sight of so many Americans congratulating themselves for killing Osama Bin Laden. Sure he brought death into the world through his messengers of hate, but the backlash against him from The White House resulted in the deaths of thousands more innocent civilians - old, sick, children, women - in Iraq and Afghanistan, London and Madrid. It is therefore more than a little unseemly to crow at his killing and I am ashamed of our British government for joining in. Wouldn't it be better to reflect on the state of the world now that Bin Laden has left it? Will his death lead to peace and co-operation between Islamo-terrorists and the West? Low probablility. A vacuum has been created, waiting for some less clapped-out a leader than the chronically ill and softly spoken Osama to fill. Will the threat of terror be any less? Not likely. The signs are that Britain and and the USA are still on high alert for more bloody reprisals from those who hate America and all it stands for. The sight of all that blood in Bin Laden's Pakistani hideaway should be a warning to us all.

The news studio is a crazy place to be, reflecting a crazy world back to its dazed and suffering inhabitants. The Royal Wedding on Friday brought an uplifting sort of message to the billions worldwide who tuned into it -even to closet republicans like me, who shed a few tears. The sight of two well-starred young people setting out together in a pageant of colour and music brought hope and joy, because it is love that unites the world, not vengeance, Doesn't that belong to God?