Mrs Mike tells me about an unfortunate side-effect of the coronavirus epidemic, due entirely – it seems – to stupidity.
The panic-buying of toilet roll that has emptied supermarket shelves has, apparently, forced people to use other items, which they are then flushing down the toilet.
These items include kitchen rolls and wet wipes.
Have these people not realised that those items will block up their drains, causing huge problems?
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
There is a skill to political attacks; you have to pick your target very carefully, know that attacking it won’t backfire on you, and you have to make it effective.
The Conservative Party has clearly forgotten all this as it is currently firing blindly into the darkness in the vain hope that it will hit something… and this is a vain hope as it is firing blanks.
Look at yesterday’s attack on Labour leader Ed Miliband, who is apparently so rich he can afford to spend the money he has earned on a second kitchen at his home:
It might be enough to fool the unwary, but has everybody forgotten David Cameron’s little kitchen secret? The Guardianreported it, back in 2011, when it stated that Cameron “has spent more than £680,000 of public money renovating Downing Street in the year that his government inflicted the biggest ever spending cuts across the public sector… including £30,000 for work he and his wife, Samantha, carried out on the No 11 flat last summer.
“The centrepiece of their revamp was the kitchen.”
Just so you can compare and contrast, here’s how the Cameron kitchen looked after the £30,000 revamp for which we paid:
The Cameron kitchen in Downing Street after a £30,000 renovation, funded by the taxpayer, in 2011. Sofa modelling by America’s First Lady and some woman who works for a company of tax avoiders.
It seems Ed Miliband’s claim to be a man of the people is more secure than David Cameron’s!
Tory politicians don’t care and Liberal Democrats don’t have any power – that’s why 80,000 children are being housed in temporary accommodation, alongside drug users and enduring threats of violence, as reported by Shelter today.
The government’s own figures show 2,090 families living in bed and breakfasts – an increase of eight per cent on 2012 and the largest number in 10 years, according to The Guardian. Of these, 760 have been living in B&Bs longer than the legal six-week limit – a 10 per cent increase on last year.
More than 43,000 other homeless households with children are in other emergency accommodation – usually privately-rented short-term flats, which are expensive. This is an increase of nine per cent on last year.
To put this into context, a Labour government commitment to halve the number of families in this kind of emergency accommodation meant the total fell between 2005 and 2010 – but it has been rising again since June 2011.
This is a human disaster created by the Coalition government.
Most families interviewed by the charity said they felt unsafe, with one child directly threatened by a man after an argument over a shared bathroom. Almost half said their children had witnessed incidents such as sexual offences, drug use and dealing.
One mother of three said: “One of the reasons we left was one of the residents trying to sell us crack cocaine.”
Most of the 25 families Shelter interviewed lived in one room; half said the children were sharing beds with parents or siblings and the family was sharing kitchen facilities with others. All but three said it was hard to find a safe place for their children to play. Three families had no cooking facilities and one reported sharing a cooker and fridge with 22 other people.
More than half had to share a bathroom or toilet with strangers, with 10 families sharing with seven or more other people; two-thirds had no table to eat on, and schoolchildren were finding it hard to do homework.
And their health is suffering: “It’s so hard to give him a balanced diet as it’s impossible to make proper meals here, let alone a Christmas dinner. He’s getting really pale and is so tired all the time. He gets so scared but it’s difficult when I’m scared myself. This is no place for a child to live,” said a mother in a Hounslow B&B.
“This shouldn’t be happening in 21st century Britain,” said Shelter’s chief executive, Campbell Robb, who described the charity’s findings as “shocking” and the conditions forced on families as “shameful”.
He said: “No child should be homeless, let alone 80,000. But tragically, with more people struggling to make ends meet and homelessness on the rise, we’re bracing ourselves for an increase in demand from families who desperately need our help.”
Housing minister Kris Hopkins couldn’t care less. “We’ve given councils nearly £1bn to tackle homelessness and to support people affected by the welfare reforms,” he sniffed.
“I am very clear that they should be fully able to meet their legal responsibility to house families in suitable accommodation.”
Let us be very clear on this: the problem is not that Tories like Hopkins don’t understand. This is exactly the result that they wanted; they just won’t acknowledge it because it is electorally damaging.
Look at the policies that created this problem: The bedroom tax; the ‘Pickles Poll Tax’, otherwise known as the Council Tax reduction scheme; the benefit cap that so many people in this country seem to support without understanding any of its implications.
Vox Political reported back in January what they would mean: “There will be a rise in rent and mortgage arrears… affordable housing will be less available and landlords less able or willing to rent to tenants on benefits… Private sector rental may become less attractive to landlords if tenants aren’t paying the rent. This will lead to a growth in homelessness. Councils have statutory duties and may see an increasing burden.”
But increases to the Discretionary Housing Payment fund have been entirely insignificant compared with the extra burden councils have faced. They received £150 million between them; Durham County Council had £883,000 and spent it all within eight weeks.
We have seen the start of the social cleansing predicted by this blog back in August 2012, when we noted that at least one council would use these measures to “clear out the poor and set up shop as a desirable residence for the rich”.
The housing bubble created by George Osborne with his ‘Help To Buy’ scheme will accelerate this process.
So don’t let a Tory tell you it’s nothing to do with them. They wanted this. In fact, 80,000 homeless children at Christmas is probably not enough for them.
Comic Relief should be about this – helping children across the world to have a better life through laughter-based events (these were with Ewan McGregor in Africa in 1999). It’s not about giving more publicity to media-savvy politicians.
I hate to be a party pooper but the revelation that Samantha Cameron had donned a red wig and entered the Downing Street kitchen to raise cash for Comic Relief with a bit of baking filled this columnist with dismay.
It was a fake, cynical, publicity-minded set-up that deserved to be ridiculed rather than tolerated. It stank. And it did the comedy-based charity no credit whatsoever.
How many people rushed to their telephones to ask whether Mrs Cameron would get a segment in the telethon itself – so they would know when to switch off?
Did nobody stop to think that the sight of the Camerons’ fully-equipped contemporary kitchen, reported to have cost £25,000, might be offensive to those of us who can’t afford such luxuries as a Magimix blender (£299), a £130 toaster or a £895 dishwasher?
The real giveaway was the PR-speak that we’re supposed to believe came from the head of the Prime Minister’s appendage wife: “Baking is such a brilliant and easy way to raise money for Red Nose Day,” we are told she said, in exactly the formulaic way that PR people like to write such things. “I know the children are really looking forward to selling our cakes around the offices in Downing Street.”
To staff who had already been told they had to buy, one would imagine.
It’s bad enough that somebody thought David Cameron should be included in the video for this year’s charity single – entitled ‘One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks) and performed by One Direction. Admittedly, Cameron likes kicking teenagers, and always in only One Direction – down.
Not a good advert for the cause.
It never could have been. The hypocrisy of the situation is staggering. Here we have the Prime Minister who has done more to increase poverty in the UK than anyone since Thatcher, posing as somebody who cares about the plight of the destitute.
It’s despicable and I won’t be having it on my television.
When will these politicians – along with their spouses and, in this case, the bosses of Comic Relief – realise that appearing on charity events is a bad idea? First they alienate everybody who disagrees with their political stance – more than three-quarters of the country, in Cameron’s case. Then they alienate everybody who despises hypocrisy (as explained above).
It isn’t worth it.
For the sake of balance, allow me to add: I hated it when Tony Blair did a turn, and at least his sketch had a certain amount of wit about it.
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