Tag Archives: greed

100,000 retail jobs lost – ironically, because of greed

What would Napoleon have made of this? His “nation of shopkeepers” is falling apart – all by itself.

And it’s all down to greed.

That would be greed by big companies, that are leaving the UK because they know a Tory-negotiated Brexit well mean a drop in profits.

Greed by company bosses who preferred to keep retail profits for themselves, rather than share them with staff.

Greed by central government, that has kept business rates too high to allow businesses to establish themselves on high streets.

Greed by shop landlords, who have pushed rents too high for businesses to be cost-effective in their spaces.

And greed by private car parking firms, making it impossible for shoppers to afford parking charges.

Most of the people named above are idiots.

Shop space that is occupied is better than shop space that is empty. It means retailers are making a profit and can afford to pay rents and business rates.

Some money is better than no money so any landlord with empty shops is a bad landlord and deserves to go bankrupt, and any government that sets business rates so high that retailers can’t afford to occupy the space is a bad government.

And any private car parking company charging so much that most people can’t afford to park in their spaces is a bad car parking company. They may say it’s fine because some people can still afford their prices, but it’s better – obviously – if lots of people can afford them. That way, everybody wins.

The question that arises is, why would anybody want to create conditions that stop retailers from taking up shop space, or employees from taking jobs with those retailers, or shoppers from being able to park their cars near those stores?

And that brings us back to the companies that are leaving the UK because of Brexit. They are greedy and want too much profit so we should have very little sympathy for them.

But we should also have very little sympathy for a government that knows it is creating economic conditions that will drive these big employers away.

Until all of these situations change, the UK’s economy will remain in deep, deep trouble. Who does that help?

Labour has called on the UK Government to save Britain’s “dying” high-streets, as new figures published by the Party reveal that 100,000 retail jobs have been lost over the last three years.

New analysis by Labour of ONS figures released on Tuesday has revealed that a staggering 100,000 retail jobs have been lost in stores across Britain since 2015, with Labour blaming poor wage growth and the Government’s handling of Brexit.

Rebecca Long Bailey, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, has urged the Government to reform the business rates system to ease the burden on traditional high streets.

She also called for a register of landlords of empty shops, to make it easier to bring boarded up shops back into use, and an inquiry into excessive car parking charges levied by private firms.

Source: 100,000 retail jobs lost in the last three years, Labour analysis reveals

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Keep talking, Iain – your idiot ideas will run your party right out of office

Honest appraisal: The national opinion of Iain Duncan Smith is reflected in this comment, delivered direct to the Work and Pensions Secretary by 'pigeon post'.

Honest appraisal: The national opinion of Iain Duncan Smith is reflected in this comment, delivered direct to the Work and Pensions Secretary by ‘pigeon post’.

Iain Duncan Smith typifies the classical definition of an idiot – and his latest speech will prove it by ignoring Britain’s real problems in favour of self-centred, ideologically-motivated foolishness.

The Greeks used to believe idiots were ignorant people, incapable of ordinary reasoning, whose judgement in public and political matters was poor – but who refused to change their minds.

If you don’t think that’s Iain Duncan Smith, take a look at parts of his speech, as quoted in today’s (Monday) Daily Torygraph.

First off, take a look at the headline: “Cutting benefits is vital for economy, says Iain Duncan Smith”. Why? That money goes out to people on extremely low incomes who cannot save it and must use it immediately, to service their needs. They spend it straight away, boosting the economy as it then passes through the system. Taking it away from people will only stall the system so Duncan Smith is wrong from the start.

This is why we call him RTU, or Returned To Unit, on this blog. It’s a phrase referring to his Army career in which he did not achieve promotion to Captain despite training at Sandhurst. This kind of failure, in the Army, leads to a soldier being RTU’d as a failure.

Look at his main claim – that immigrants have taken British jobs, not ahead of British people, but because British people refused to take them, preferring a life on benefits. The man is delusional.

Does he not understand the hell into which he has turned the benefit system? Getting any money out of the Department for Work and Pensions at all is a minor miracle in the age of RTU! The disabled are forced to wait months at a time, without any means of support, while hired hands from private profiteer companies mull over whether the DWP should bother to help, while people who are actively seeking work are sanctioned by Job Centre Plus for attending job interviews rather than signing on.

Those who do get work are either encouraged into self-employment at extremely low pay and no holidays or pensions, zero-hours contracts at extremely low pay with no holidays or pensions, or part-time work with extremely low pay and no holidays or pensions. The figures make it seem that full-time work is increasing but these are reversed when self-employment is removed.

He is trying to say unemployment surged upwards after 2008 because people were refusing work, in line with the Conservative Party’s current attempt to re-write history. In fact it increased because of a recession engineered by greedy bankers that cost many thousands of jobs and had nothing to do with migrant workers or the preferences of the people affected.

In fact, the way to get British people back to work is the exact opposite of what RTU has been doing, and the exact opposite of what he is proposing.

The Conservatives have been pushing wages down, and squeezing benefits with below-inflation rate rises in order to make it possible for them to say they are “making work pay”. Anyone can see through this lie – just because work pays slightly more than benefits, that doesn’t mean it pays enough.

Look at the way the number of people claiming in-work benefits at the moment has shot through the roof, because employers refuse to pay even subsistence wages any more. That is a complete answer to the nonsense in RTU’s speech.

But he wants to make matters worse by lowering the Benefit Cap further – from the already-below-what’s-needed £26,000 per family to £18,000 – the average amount of take-home pay, according to new figures his party has plucked from its posterior.

It is an idiotic move; taking money out of the economy will stall it.

If he were to encourage firms to pay the Living Wage, ensuring that workers do not have to claim benefits at all, he would find that all the issues he mentions would disappear.

Sure, some people would want to remain on benefits – there is an acknowledged 0.7 per cent rate of fraud and error, after all (yes, just 0.7 per cent, and RTU spends billions trying to say it is worse) – but most are desperate to be self-sustaining and would take work that allowed them to achieve that aim.

These people would still be low-earners, meaning the money would still be spent into the economy straight away on necessities, and to pay off debts accrued under RTU’s disastrous regime – and this means it would provide much-needed lubrication for the economy.

They would also be paying Income Tax, rather than claiming benefits, meaning funds would pour into the Treasury rather than out of it.

All the talk of economic recovery indicates that employers are in a much better position to provide the Living Wage, now, than they were over the last few years, so why isn’t Iain Duncan Smith suggesting so in his speech today?


He’s an idiot.

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Do YOU want your national parks messed up by oil and gas prospectors?

Snouts in the trough: Martin Rowson's Guardian cartoon goes straight to the heart of the matter - GREED.

Snouts in the trough: Martin Rowson’s Guardian cartoon goes straight to the heart of the matter – fat cats and pigs fouling up the landscape in the name of GREED.

Britain’s treasured national parks could be spoiled by oil and gas companies using them as drilling sites, if our treacherous Coalition government has its way.

People are already angry because the Coalition intends to open up about half the country – presumably those parts not owned or inhabited by members of the Coalition – for fracking by oil and gas companies. The plan is to allow drilling even if it takes place under citizens’ houses.

With less than a year until a general election that they know they are likely to lose, it seems that David Cameron’s Conservatives are determined to strip the whole country to the bone in the name of naked greed.

Perhaps they consider this to be poetic justice after we stopped them selling off publicly-owned parks and common land, back in the early days of the current Parliament; the logic seems to be, “If we can’t sell them, we’ll ruin them so nobody can enjoy them anyway”.

The plan is being handled by business minister Matthew Hancock – who specialises in energy, it seems. What does Ed Davey do, then? Hancock came to the attention of this blog yesterday when it was revealed that he had complained to the UK Statistics Authority about figures that Labour leader Ed Miliband didn’t use in a speech on jobs.

That can only bode ill for his plan to speed up the process of licensing companies to drill, so they can start within six months of making an application. He’ll cut corners and he’ll make even more bad decisions.

He’ll ruin our national parks. These are our designated areas of natural beauty, intended to be there for us to enjoy in perpetuity. Once the drills go in, there will be no way to restore them.

Fracking is an especially destructive form of oil and gas drilling that uses pressurised water to break up rock to get to oil supplies. Ground water can be contaminated by the gases and toxic chemicals used in the fracking process, and it is understood that waste from the fracking process is commonly mishandled.

Not only will our areas of outstanding natural beauty become ugly industrial pits but our health will be put at risk, while the big oil companies take the profits.

The Coalition is defending its decision by saying that people living in or around national parks will be protected by tougher rules for fracking. Hancock was interviewed about this on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last week, and it should be no surprise whatsoever that he made a complete twit of himself. He claimed that there was broad support for fracking (in the name of “better energy security”) so the presenter asked him to name a village in the UK that supported fracking. He could not; instead, he changed the subject.

At the same time, the Coalition has removed the ability for millions of homeowners to stop companies from drilling directly under their properties.

The Coalition is touting the potential temporary benefits of a new oil or gas discovery. But is the potential permanent loss of our natural beauty really worth it?

Of course not – and you can tell the government to remove national parks from the list of areas open to fracking operations, simply by signing this petition.

An outright ban would protect our national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty in Britain.

Send your message to the government: The oil and gas companies can frack off and mess up their own backyard.

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Nick Clegg is in ‘Bedroom Tax’ denial – how does he sleep at night?

The body language says it all: Nick Clegg appears to goose-step off the stage after his conference speech on Wednesday, Nazi-saluting his fellow party members.

The body language says it all: Nick Clegg appears to goose-step off the stage after his conference speech on Wednesday, Nazi-saluting his fellow party members.

It seems this blog’s prediction that the Liberal Democrat leader would ignore the wishes of his party in favour of cosying up to the Tories has been proved accurate.

The Northern Echo has reported that Clegg is refusing to do anything about the so-called ‘under-occupation charge’, even though it is now his party’s policy to oppose it and demand its repeal.

Instead he has blamed local authorities for any problems suffered by the tax’s victims. He told the Echo that councils were failing to spend – or even returning – Discretionary Housing Payment cash which the government has handed out to them as aid for people falling into rent arrears.

He was lying, of course. It seems unlikely that a falsehood of this magnitude can be ascribed to poor advice.

The example used by the newspaper was that of Durham County Council, which received £883,000 from the government to hand out as DHPs – a sum which the council’s resources director, Don McLure, said would last just eight weeks.

In total, councils have been given £150 million to hand out, which may seem a large amount – but is in fact dwarfed by the demand.

Clegg’s rationale for his claim was that several councils had returned some of their DHP allocation at the end of the last financial year – but this was before the bedroom tax had been imposed and so the claim means nothing – and he must know this.

Excuses for the bedroom tax are flying thick and fast, after research by the Independent and the campaign group False Economy proved that 50,000 families are in danger of eviction because of it.

On the BBC’s Question Time, Shirley Williams claimed that the tax had created problems because suitable smaller accommodation had not been built in readiness for the demand it caused. This is nonsense. If there was already demand for accommodation – and we must assume so, because this is the reason the Conservatives have spent so long bleating about families on waiting lists who need accommodation that the tax’s victims are, allegedly, blocking – then why didn’t the government just get on and build it?

The tax was really brought in for several reasons: It is partly a reaction against the increase in the Housing Benefit bill to accommodate people with jobs whose wages are below their cost of living – this is due to greed on the part of employers; it is partly intended to clear housing – not for people on any waiting list but as a form of social cleansing, getting the riff-raff out of attractive parts of our towns and cities; and it is also another attempt to spite people on sickness, incapacity or disability benefits, who must either face the extra cost and inconvenience of removing special adaptations to their houses and reinstalling them elsewhere if they are able to move, or must lose the company of carers who use spare bedrooms when they have to stay over, or must pay the tax and live without food or heat, thereby risking their health.

According to Facebook friend Shirley Nott, the government’s spokespeople are extremely relaxed about this eventuality: “Apparently, there’s no need for alarm. Under no circumstances should anyone assume anything untoward is occurring.

“The reports of 50,000 potential – imminent (initial) evictions are not (“necessarily”) going to be “representative” of a potential situation in the more medium/long term. The ‘rationale’ for this cheery response is (obviously) that the ‘Not a Bedroom Tax’ is only just starting to make its presence felt and so, (of course) people have only just begun “adjusting” to it.”

So their imminent eviction followed, no doubt, by a nice quiet death in a side street is merely “adjusting” to the new system.

Shirley continues: “Government spokespeople… have been at pains to explain – in words of one syllable – that no-one else should worry. It seems possible that some – even most – of those 50,000 mentioned in today’s news might find such an artfully-delivered response to imminent eviction a little difficult to come to terms with – but interested members of the government are very likely to have reasoned that they’ll probably be far too preoccupied with practicalities to make much of it.”

Maybe not – but they can still rely on blogs such as this one to make the point for them.

Please – everyone – feel free to splash this article around wherever you see fit. Use excerpts in letters to your local newspapers, share it with friends who don’t realise the seriousness of the situation – we’ve already had suicides because of this tax, don’t forget…

Make sure it doesn’t go away.

Soundbite Britain: This is a game we can ALL play!

Here's a good anti-Coalition soundbite: It's based on a well-known saying and it tackles the falsehoods put out by Iain 'Returned To Unit' Smith.

Here’s a good anti-Coalition soundbite: It’s based on a well-known saying and it tackles the falsehoods put out by Iain ‘Returned To Unit’ Smith.

Sitting in the cafe yesterday, I was discussing the situation in Egypt with a couple of friends. One was getting quite heated because he considered the problem to have been created by the “fundamentalist Islamic government they elected”.

He said something like, “These fundamentalists promised everyone the world. They said they would make everything better, did whatever they could to secure the vote – and then once they were in power they forgot all those promises and did whatever they wanted instead. They got what they wanted from the people and then the people could go hang.”

I couldn’t resist. “So you’re saying they’re exactly like the Conservative Party over here, then,” I replied.

Laughter all around. We laugh because it’s funny and we laugh because it’s true. And because the only alternative is tears.

Let’s not dwell on the Egyptian situation beyond what I said afterwards – that the ‘Arab Spring’ countries seem to need help in establishing the basics of real democracy but there is nobody around who can provide it. They would (rightly) distrust any foreign power that claimed to offer help, but there’s no independent organisation that offers such a service either.

The UK would be one of the last places I would advise Egypt to look. Consider the last general election here. People with a lot of money to spend on it funded a hugely expensive election campaign to get the Conservative Party into power, in order to serve their interests which are to accumulate an even larger share of the available wealth, along with the power that goes with it, while removing and restricting the freedoms of the people from whom that wealth was to be drained.

Those people got involved in politics and worked very hard to make sure they got a government that genuinely serves their interests – selfish and cruel as those interests are. They ended up having to put up with a Conservative-led government, rather than a fully Conservative one, but are now working very hard to finish the job with a propaganda campaign – based on lies – that appears to be swaying public opinion.

So they say (and here I’m quoting Owen Jones in his recent analysis): “We’re clearing up Labour’s mess. Labour overspent and now we’re balancing the books. A national deficit is like a household budget. Welfare is out of control and lining the pockets of the skivers. The unemployed person or immigrant down the road is living off your hard-earned taxes. Labour is in the pocket of union barons.”

All of these are falsehoods. They’re lies. But they’re also very effective soundbites that stay in people’s minds and colour their perceptions of the way things are.

And those responsible get away with it, I’m sorry to say, because the people who stand to lose the most are lazy. They can’t be bothered to get involved and make sure the government they get is one that genuinely serves their interests.

Why do you think Her Majesty’s Opposition is filled with neoliberals who agree with the government that our public services should be carved up and handed to private companies, to run them for profit and not in the interests of the people? Why do you think the Labour Party has agreed to stick to Coalition spending plans for the first year of the next Parliament, if it gets elected? Why do you think Labour has stopped opposing social security policies that have been killing an average of 73 people a week (according to figures that are now well out of date, so the average today is probably much higher)?

Labour doesn’t stand up for you any more. That’s why it has had no effective answer to the Tory lies. The masses can’t be bothered to find out the truth – and certainly won’t lift a finger to get involved and stop the corruption that is eating our institutions away. But that is the only way it can be stopped. You stay away and they get what they want.

At this rate, we’ll all be slaves by 2020.

It doesn’t have to be so hard, though. We could all turn the corner, just by devising a few soundbites of our own.

I was thinking this last night, while I was writing a response to Margaret Johnson. Ms Johnson was commenting on a previous article as follows (apologies to anyone who’s offended; they’re her words, not mine): “It was Labour who signed up Atos, engineered so many civil service jobs that were not needed, opened the borders for the rest of the world’s trash to enter our country, brought in more taxes, actively encouraged the demise of manufacturing and the rise of the banks, signed up to allow Europe to rule us, doubled the rate for income tax for the lowest paid, gave GP’s 100K a year to work 9-5 Monday to Friday, got the most revenue in and still left this country in the worse mess ever.”

So we could say something like (and feel free to include ‘Liberal Democrats’ wherever I have mentioned Conservatives):

“It is the Conservatives who employed a private firm, paying £1 billion to ‘A-toss’ disabled people off the benefits they need to survive.” If Labour was doing its job properly it would add: “A Labour government would save that money by throwing Atos out”.

“No wonder the government can’t make anything work properly – they have been sacking all the professionals. More than 600,000 government employees will have lost their jobs by 2015, replaced by amateurs working for the Conservatives.”

“It’s strange that the Conservatives complain so much about immigration from Europe – they signed the treaties that allow it! The Conservative governments of Edward Heath and John Major allowed the free movement of European immigrants into the UK. Now they see it is unpopular, they want to shift the blame.”

“Simplified tax under the Tories mean the rich pay less and the poor pay more.”

“Conservatives destroyed Britain’s manufacturing base in the 1980s – at the same time they created the conditions that led to the banking crisis.”

“Conservatives want to blame Europe for your problems. Who will they blame when Britain is out of the EU and your problems have multiplied?”

Going back to Owen’s examples:

“Conservatives: The only people who think they can clear up a mess by making a bigger one.”

“Conservatives say Labour overspent – but they have always spent more than Labour. You can’t trust them to balance the books.”

“If the Tories handled their household budgets like they’re handling the deficit, they would all have been evicted by now.”

“Privatisation is out of control; the Tories are using taxpayers’ money to line the pockets of greedy bosses.”

“You paid for Iain Duncan Smith’s £39 breakfast. How much do you spend on your own?”

“The Conservative Party is in the pocket of big business and the bankers.”

Of course, the above are just essays in the craft of soundbiting; I’m just a beginner.

So let’s have a competition to see who can invent the best soundbite, challenging the government’s lies with facts!

Please send your ideas in to this blog – but also put them out to the national media as well, any way you can. Try to get anyone opposing the government to use them, because this may lead to them being picked up by the newspapers and TV news reporters as well.

Above all, please try to make this fun. A soundbite is many times more effective if it makes people laugh, and the Tories and Liberal Democrats are silly, silly people. Let’s bring that out.

Or is it too much like hard work after all?

It is impossible to persuade a person who is irrational

Those of you who follow this blog will be aware that I have been involved in a dialogue with one Caroline Parkinson of Nantmel, in the letters pages of the Mid Wales Journal, over statistics relating to poverty in my home town of Llandrindod Wells.  My initial findings are documented as Britain’s idyllic rural life: poverty and joblessness, and Ms Parkinson’s letter and my response are in the article I won’t tolerate this insult to my town.

It seems I was not sufficiently persuasive. The Journal dated March 23 contained another letter from Ms Parkinson which I shall share with you forthwith.

Under the headline If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it, she writes:

“I’m mortified. I’ve upset Mr Sivier (letters, March 9). How true to type he should choose to interpret what I wrote regarding Llandrindod’s generosity at Christmas in a way that suits his ‘loud-mouthed’ agenda.

“Since when did Nantmel become to Llandod what Harrods is to the Co-op? What a risible analogy.

“I would no more wish ‘disgracefully to insult’ the people of Llandrindod, than I would those of any other part of our glorious United Kingdom. But I reiterate if its residents – and countless others – found themselves more heavily in hock after Christmas than before, it is only because they are representative of people the world over who feel pressurised by what next door is buying, eating, drinking, or watching and whose aspirations do not match their incomes.

“It’s called ‘societal behaviour’, but for Mike’s sake, let’s call it peer pressure.

“And this pressure – be it from next door or from advertising, trying to sell you ‘stuff’ at any cost (to you) – is what leads to societies founded on debt. Mike, have you not noticed what’s been happening because of societies founded on debt?

“I do not applaud the ‘generosity’ that made LW the 15th most likely town in the UK to have overspent at Christmas. I’m sorry that LW and the 14 towns before it seem to be populated by people who do not have the strength of character to resist the forces of temptation.

“LW is hardly unique. Its residents fall prey to this modern consumerist disease – no latest iPhone? no street-cred. It’s patently clear that society would be in better economic shape today if it was not entirely founded on debt.

“Those who can’t afford the run-up to Christmas will do whatever it takes to keep up with the Joneses and regret it afterwards. Whatever happened to ‘if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it’?”

It’s quite a piece, isn’t it? I have to admit, I found it hard to take seriously while I was reading it out to my girlfriend in the aisles of Llandrindod’s local Co-op. It seems clear that there can be no rational debate with this lady. She simply won’t pay attention to an argument based on fact.

However, I have responded – not out of any animosity towards Ms Parkinson but because I wanted to reassure those who have read her letters of a few important facts. Here’s what I wrote:

“I was delighted to see that Caroline Parkinson of Nantmel found enough of interest in my last letter to respond, allowing us all the pleasure of a further insight into her remarkable mind! Sadly, there was little substance to it, being mainly a rehash of the anti-Llandrindod statements she made in her initial epistle. I’m sure most residents will have been insulted enough by her comments, without me re-opening the wounds.

“But I must take issue with two of her claims. Firstly, Ms Parkinson, I never wrote that Nantmel was Harrods to Llandod’s Co-op. Those are your words, not mine, and I think it is right that I put the record straight. It is wrong of you to try to portray me as pitting Nantmel against Llandrindod. I have no animosity towards the other residents of your village at all; I merely take issue with your opinion. I do not make false attributions of this kind. I wonder why you do.

“Also, madam, your allegation that people in Llandod spent more than they had due to greed might be credible if it was a year-round phenomenon, but it isn’t. The statistics I quoted were for Christmas only. In my last letter, you will recall, I asked to see the factual evidence behind your assertions. None has been forthcoming. I therefore invite readers to conclude that you do not have any, and to condemn your claims about debt-fuelled “societal behaviour”, “peer pressure”, “temptation”, weakness of character, greed, selfishness or whatever else you want to call it, as nonsense.

“As a candidate in this year’s Powys County Council elections, I feel proud to be standing up for the people of Llandrindod in this matter.”

Fair enough?

I won’t tolerate this insult to my town

On February 17, the Mid Wales Journal published a letter from Caroline Parkinson of Nantmel, responding to my article, ‘Britain’s idyllic rural life – poverty and joblessness’. The letter is reproduced below and you will see that it made several points that required a response. Unfortunately the paper has steadfastly failed to publish my reply. Now, I don’t want the world to think I’m going to let a few ill-chosen words by someone who doesn’t understand the situation go past without a fight! If the Journal won’t afford me the right of reply, I’ll just have to publish it here.

This is what Ms Parkinson scribbled:

“Mike Sivier makes a good show of spouting statistics about the various aspects of poverty in and around Llandrindod Wells.

“However, when forming an opinion on what he has said, bear in mind that as Llandrindod’s Labour Party secretary he is hardly going to be unbiased.

“Also, how much credence do you give to someone who calls himself ‘the biggest loudmouth in Wales’? Does he intend to get his point across by using bully tactics? That’s how it appears to me.

“He finds it ‘revealing’ that LW is ‘the 15th most likely town in the UK to have overspent’ and says that some of the most generous householders have some of the lowest incomes!

“These are not ‘generous’ households and I am deeply concerned that he seems to be applauding them in such a way.

“They are simply the product of a reckless society that is entirely built on debt, where no-one lives within their means, selfishness abounds and if next door’s got it, well, I’ve got to have it too, whatever the cost, both financially and otherwise.

“There is no sense of self-restraint, no modesty, only greed and the weakness of those who cave in so easily to the pressures of our consumerist modern world.

“You will often hear people using the word ‘need’, when actually they mean ‘want’. What we need and want, is self-serving loud-mouths and others to develop a sense of humility, stop always blaming the opposition for everything that’s wrong in society and lose the obvious chip on the shoulder that so negatively influences their musings.

“The help Mr Sivier seeks will not be forthcoming and he is too short-sighted to see why. One little word: debt. Until the British learn the lessons of the mess we’re in, the problems faced by Llandrindod and the developed world will not go away.”

Here’s my response:

I’m not going to lose sleep because Caroline Parkinson has a low opinion of me.

But she has also – disgracefully – insulted the people of Llandrindod Wells, and I’m not going to let that pass.

Ms Parkinson doesn’t know me and therefore cannot know that the subheading on my blog is based on a friend’s comment: “Oh, so now you’re going to be the biggest loudmouth in Mid Wales?” Her attitude to me proceeds from a false assumption and I think her comments about Llandrindod are also based on prejudice rather than reason.

By the way she highlights my political affiliation, one can deduce that Ms Parkinson is a supporter – or a member – of one of the other main parties, Liberal Democrat or Conservative. If they think this behaviour is acceptable then I am doubly glad to be Labour!

According to Ms Parkinson, it is the residents’ fault that much of Llandrindod is in poverty. She claims that this is a town where “no-one lives within their means, selfishness abounds and if next door’s got it, well, I’ve got to have it too, whatever the cost.

There is no sense of self-restraint, no modesty, only greed and the weakness of those who cave in so easily to the pressures of our consumerist modern world,” she writes.

These are not ‘generous’ households.”

Since she does not apply them to any individuals or groups, her words must be applied to the whole town. I’d like to see the factual evidence for these assertions, please, Ms Parkinson.

I supported my claims with facts. The average wage in Powys is only 72 per cent of the national average but we all know that income tax, council taxes, utility bills and the cost of groceries are as high as they are everywhere else. Unemployment in Llandrindod is the highest in Powys. Child poverty in Llandrindod North is the highest in Powys. The last fact follows on naturally from the others and you can check these figures; I didn’t make them up.

Taking them into account, it is no wonder that people in Llandod were among those considered most likely to have overspent in the run-up to Christmas. It’s a very expensive time of year and in a town with as much poverty as ours, they simply couldn’t stretch the budget any further.

It is easy to sit in Nantmel and slag off people in hardship in Llandrindod. But I live here too. Nobody near me has been overspending because they want what the person next door has. They’re too busy trying to keep what they have themselves.

I said I was doubly glad to be Labour – here’s why: Labour is standing up for Llandrindod. The parties represented by Ms Parkinson will only run it down.

A ‘versus’ from the Mrs Thatcher songbook

Are we really going to let the Tories use the Falkland Islands to make fools of us again?

I was around when the first conflict with Argentina took place in 1982 (though fortunately too young to have taken part). Then-Defence Secretary John Nott had withdrawn the Royal Navy ship HMS Endurance – Britain’s only naval presence – from the South Atlantic in a cost-cutting 1981 review.

Many people, including Royal Navy Captain Nicholas Barker, believed that this sent a signal to the Argentinian military junta that the UK was unwilling – and would soon be unable – to defend the Falklands, and sure enough, an invasion took place.

Some commentators have voiced a belief that the Prime Minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher, lied to the House of Commons because she had known the Argentinians would invade and could have prevented it – that she effectively engineered a war in order to boost her party’s popularity. It is certainly true that her government was boosted by the victory, and this helped carry it back into power in the 1983 general election.

Look at the situation now. Dr Liam Fox, prior to his ignominious resignation, launched a defence review in which he reduced the British Navy to insignificance. Am I right in suggesting we have no aircraft carriers now, so our ability to fight sea-based wars is seriously compromised?

It is in this atmosphere that Argentina has begun agitating about the Falklands again. Is anybody surprised? As before, they think they’re onto a winner.

And so does David Cameron, I reckon. Let’s not forget, he is only Prime Minister because the Liberal Democrat Party threw in its lot with his Tories after he failed to win a majority in the 2010 general election. He may think a victory on the battlefield could spur his party to victory in the next election, just as it did for Mrs (now Baroness) Thatcher.

I have a few problems with that. Also, the 1982 conflict killed 255 British military personnel and three Falkland Islanders (along with 649 Argentinians). Others were seriously injured, most notably including Simon Weston, who has been on TV news programmes recently, discussing the current situation. It would be grossly irresponsible to cynically engineer a war that would cause the deaths of British servicemen and women, in order to gain electoral popularity.

Let’s not forget what all the posturing is really about, either: Oil. The waters around the Falklands are rich oilfields but the UK cannot exploit the resource because it is too far away from us. Argentina wants sovereignty over the Falklands so that it can profit from the oil. Many believe that a deal should have been struck for mutual benefit. This is a matter of greed.

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