I’ve realised that my mood remains low, somehow my spirit hasn’t risen since the election. If anything I’ve felt worse, with Greece pondering the constant threat from its creditors (I call them predators) and here the threats from the swinging cuts to public services in the budget last week. What’s clear is that the maximum benefit that can be claimed will be £23000 in London, £20000 elsewhere. Council tenants who earn £400000 a year will have to pay a commercial rent and Housing Benefit is going to be cut. Family credit will also be reduced. In contrast homeowners of houses worth up to £1 million won’t have to pay inheritance tax, adding to the shift of incentives to be a homeowner away from subsidising public housing. The IFS (Institute for Fiscal Studies) made a response to the Budget, with serious concerns about significant income reductions for the poorest UK citizens who will be single working parents. The conservative rebuttal suggested that free childcare will reduce their losses. On the Friday morning Radio 4 today program one interview suggested that George Osborne is trying to separate working people who aren’t on benefit and those who are. He calls this ‘blue collar’ conservatism, taking previously working class citizens from Labour. For me this shows the Conservatives don’t change, trying to split the opposition and continue to support the rich establishment, with cuts affecting the majority of poorer UK citizens.
Over the weekend Harriet Harman, temporary Labour Party leader has said it’ll support the budget’s Welfare changes and benefit cuts. I find this shocking because the IFS budget response suggest these changes take most away from working poor on the lowest incomes, single parent families. The benefit cap restricts how much claimants can receive, what the policy doesn’t address is that Housing benefit claimants on low incomes are in that position because of escalating private rental costs. This presents a problem for anyone who opposes the policies being rolled out because time is of the essence as the government seeks to implement changes very quickly.
I think anyone who opposes these changes needs to consider joining the anti austerity campaign. Labour party members and supporters who can vote need to support Jeremy Corbin who’s the only leadership candidate opposed to these changes. I heard Dianne Abbott this morning on the Today program just before 8am opposing Harriet Harman’s position, suggesting the Labour party MP’s meeting later today needs to challenge Harriet’s views. I plan to email Dianne today to support her stand and as a party member I’m going to try at our General Meeting next week to have a motion opposing Harriet.
Last week was the 10th anniversary of the 7 July 2005. I’ve been thinking about my experience on the day, remembering how frightened and lucky I felt when I realised I was on the last Northern Line train to Archway which passed through Kings Cross before the bomb explosion there. I think on reflection that ‘home-based’ bombers then were another sign of how the UK had been drawn into global conflict centred on the Middle East after it joined America in Afghanistan and the Iraqi invasion. Since then this conflict has extended to Sunni/Shia Muslim violence, overthrowing Gaddafi in Libya, the Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war, IS which is covertly supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, Boko Haram in Nigeria and Malian violence against non Muslims, with both movements having IS links In Palestine and Israel no peace negotiations are taking place, with continued settler expansion into the West bank. The civil protests against occupation continue with a backdrop of continued violence with ‘lone wolf’ attacks by Palestinian Israelis which are very frightening, adding to Zionist support in Israel. In the last fortnight IS supporters in Sinai fired 2 rockets into Southern Israel.
On 9 July on BBC 2 at 1137pm there was a program called ‘Children of the Gaza war’ which is worth watching. I thought it was balanced, showing the effects of Israeli attacks on Gaza and how rocketing from Gaza affected Israelis in a Kibbutz close to the country’s border. What was striking for me was how low Israeli civilian casualties were the fear caused by random rocketing and tunnels from Gaza was shown. In Gaza statistics show that 500 children and 1500 adults were killed. The effects on children from the conflict showed how the trauma still remains with all of them. What made Gaza more shocking was the absence of any reconstruction when the program was made because of Israeli and Egyptian restrictions on building supplies for Gaza. I’d support a UN enquiry about war crimes in this latest conflict, to consider the Israeli and Gaza militaries.
In Europe and on the Mediterranean I’ve been affected by attacks in France against Charlie Hebdo, a Jewish supermarket in Paris and an attack against a Danish Synagogue. The last 3 weeks has been horrifying with an attack on a Shia mosque in Kuwait, migrants trying to reach the UK from Calais and the killing of 30 British tourists in Tunisia. I’m disgusted with the Foreign Office advice to tourists there which is very selfish, the Tunisian government has raised tourist security and the Today program spoke to a tourist in Sousse who was puzzled why they were being advised to return because safety had been improved. The British response is panic based and risk averse, with a possibility that reduction in tourism income will increase the involvement of IS in Tunisia.
I wanted to raise Greece again where I’ve continued to follow the developing situation. Thom Feeney raised 1.8 Million Euros which Indiegogo reports is the largest amount ever raised through crowd funding on a political issue. Unfortunately the amount raised is 1% of the 1.8 Billion Euros which was needed 2 week ago. Indiegogo has returned payments made by anyone to the initial fund however they are supporting a further crowd funding campaign by Thom Feeney to raise funds to alleviate poverty in Greece which is worth considering. News this morning is that there’s been an agreement about further financial support for Greece however it seems that this is based on Greek legislation about further privatisation, tax rises and pension changes. These will make it hard for some citizens to agree because the policies contradict the approach Sirisa was expected to adopt after the 5 July referendum.
I saw the film ‘Amy’ at my local cinema with friends a week ago which is an intensely sad account how she destroyed herself over her short 27 year life. The film showed what a great singer and composer Amy was, her lyrics were amazing although she never felt like she was successful. Her relationships with boyfriends were difficult, with her last boyfriend introducing her to cocaine and crack which added to her alcoholism. It was a tragedy that her father ‘Mitch’ didn’t encourage her to go into rehab or support her when she tried to give up alcohol and drugs. The intrusive media coverage of her private life was shown to verge on destructive, ‘warts and all’ when she was struggling with her addictions. Even the BBC piled in, reporting on prime time TV news how she’d been unable to sing because of drugs or alcohol. At the end of her life she was warned by a consultant that another binge could kill her. She died in bed, alone at home, drinking very heavily, killed possibly by alcohol withdrawal when she passed out.
More positively I went to the Constitution in Camden on Wednesday night with a friend to hear some music which I really enjoyed. For anyone who likes jazz, ska or reggae I’d recommend this informal session bringing together great musicians, music and singers. Surrealistically one of the barmaids was an Amy Winehouse look alike, when I asked her whether anyone else had asked her about this she said she had been which she resents!
I’m thinking to myself that I can’t continue posting on ‘My Trips’ and am thinking about establishing a more permanent blog with another title. I’d appreciate views about this option and contents of the post.