Tag Archives: senior

Continuation of Tory business by other means: disabled people make up six in 10 Covid-19 deaths

Targeted: more elderly and disabled people have died of Covid-19 than anybody else. Doesn’t that suit the Tories’ purposes perfectly?

It’s a sickening thought but it just might be possible that Boris Johnson and his Tories have been allowing Covid-19 to go unchecked – in certain places – because it is fulfilling their goals.

We all know that the Conservatives hate – I mean they absolutely hate – people with disabilities, for no reason other than that they have disabilities. It’s a classic prejudice that, if it were drawn along racial line, would demand prosecutions.

That’s why Tory policy since 2010 has been so brutal towards people with disabilities and has caused so many deaths. Just read back through This Site’s posts over the last nine years and you’ll see what I mean.

Covid-19 seems to have given them an excuse. It’s not just their policies causing the deaths any more – it’s the virus.

What a great way to excuse themselves!

I fear that is exactly how people like Therese Coffey and Iain Duncan Smith, not to mention Johnson himself, think.

Here’s Metro:

More than half of people who died of coronavirus in England and Wales had a disability, new figures revealed.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 59% of all deaths involving Covid-19 from March 2 to July 14 were of disabled people.

But only 16% of the population have disabilities, according to 2011 Census data, meaning they have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Targeted is the word I would use.

After adjusting for region, population density, socio-demographic and household characteristics, the coronavirus mortality rates between disabled and non-disabled people was 2.4 times higher for females and 2.0 times higher for males.

And the benefit to the Tories was even greater among pensioners, who the Tories consider a huge burden on the Treasury:

For women over 65 with a severe disability, the mortality rate was 589.63 compared with 187.95 for non-disabled women.

Out of the 19,405 deaths of females aged 65 and older from March 2 to July 14, the proportion of disabled people was the largest, accounting for 67.2% (13,048).

In contrast, among the 2,766 deaths of males aged 9 to 64, the share made up by disabled people was the smallest at 38.5% (1,066).

I know: it’s a disease and it most strongly affects those who have the least resistance to it.

That’s exactly what they want you to think.

Source: Coronavirus UK: Disabled people make up six in ten Covid-19 deaths | Metro News

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Harry and Meghan step down as senior Royals – because of bad press?

Bye bye: Prince Harry and his wife Meghan wave farewell to the corporate mass media hacks who they have accused of “misreporting” and spreading “false impressions”.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex – that’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (still) to most of us – have announced their intention to step back as senior members of the UK Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while still fully supporting the Queen.

It seems they are unhappy with certain aspects of the job – one of which appears to be the way their activities are reported in the press.

In that respect, This Writer thinks they’re right up with the rest of us.

Complaints and criticism of the way the general election has been reported are rife. And it seems these Royals are equally unhappy with the way they have been treated by the Fourth Estate.

In a statement on the Sussex Instagram page, they ripped into the Royal correspondents working for the UK’s mass media organisations [boldings mine]:

“Britain’s Royal Correspondents are regarded internationally as credible sources of both the work of members of the Royal Family as well as of their private lives. This misconception propels coverage that is often carried by other outlets around the world, amplifying frequent misreporting.

“Regrettably, stories that may have been filed accurately by Royal Correspondents are, also, often edited or rewritten by media editorial teams to present false impressions.”

The statement also announced a new publicity plan that takes them off the Royal Rota system, in which only a limited number of mainstream media organisations are allowed to attend Royal engagements – so they are obliged to share material that they gather there.

Instead, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they will be adopting a revised media approach to ensure diverse and open access to their work:

“This updated approach aims to:

“Engage with grassroots media organisations and young, up-and-coming journalists;

“Invite specialist media to specific events/engagements to give greater access to their cause-driven activities, widening the spectrum of news coverage;

“Provide access to credible media outlets focused on objective news reporting to cover key moments and events.”

They will continue to share information directly to the wider public via their official communication channels.

This could really shake up the way Royal events are covered in the news.

Being somewhat long-in-the-tooth, This Writer doesn’t expect to benefit from the engagement with young, up-and-coming journalists – but I look forward to find out who these may be, and what grassroots organisations they Sussexes choose to carry their stories.

The idea of “widening the spectrum” of those who cover Royal news could really shake up a stagnant system, and if it jolts some of our more complacent reporters and corporations out of their smug security, I’m all for it.

Of course, it is entirely possible that the Sussexes want to go to the grassroots because they think less-established media organisations may be easier to manipulate.

I’ll be watching for that, too.

But at a time when the so-called media Establishment may have thought they had news coverage sewn up as propaganda for their chosen (right-wing, let’s face it) causes, this should come as a body blow.

Members of the UK’s fundamental institution don’t trust the Tory media – and they’re telling us not to trust them either.

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Tories in tatters over NHS as stormin’ Corbyn trounces Theresa May

Jeremy Hunt shuffles uncomfortably under the gaze of his fellow MPs as Jeremy Corbyn asks why he is piloting a pointless scheme to harm NHS patients while claiming to be eliminating almost-non-existent 'health tourism'.

Jeremy Hunt shuffles uncomfortably under the gaze of his fellow MPs as Jeremy Corbyn asks why he is piloting a pointless scheme to harm NHS patients while claiming to be eliminating almost-non-existent ‘health tourism’.

Theresa May consolidated her position as the UK’s most pathetic excuse for a prime minister yet, with a crushing defeat at the Dispatch Box under the questioning of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

(Wasn’t he supposed to be the inept one?)

Mr Corbyn made strong points and supported them with solid facts. Mrs May provided no answers and seemed utterly lost.

Mr Corbyn began: “The government’s sustainability and transformation plans for the National Health Service hide £22 billion of cuts from our service, according to research by the BMA. That risks ‘starving services of resources and patients of vital care’. That comes from Dr Mark Porter of the BMA. When he calls this process a mess, where is he wrong?”

Mrs May ventured this reply: “The National Health Service is indeed looking for savings within the NHS which will be reinvested in the NHS. It is this government which is providing not just the £8 billion which the NHS requested, but £10 billion of extra funding… and sustainability and transformation plans are being developed at local level, in the interests of local people, by local clinicians.”

Oh really?

“It’s very strange the prime minister should say that,” mused Mr Corbyn. “Because the Health Select Committee… says it is actually £4.5 billion, not £10 billion. There’s quite a big difference there.”

So she was being economical with the truth about the amount of money being put into the NHS – and, by the way, is that NHS England or the health service across the whole of the UK? Mrs May doesn’t seem clear about that and the UK Statistics Authority certainly seems confused.

Mr Corbyn continued: “Part of the reason for the strain on our National Health Service is that more than one million people are not receiving the social care that they need. As a result of this there has been an increase in emergency admissions for older patients. What action will the prime minister take to stop the neglect of older people, which ends up forcing them to take A&E admissions when they should be cared for at home or in a care home?”

“The government has introduced the Better Care Fund… the Social Care Precept for local authorities, and we’re encouraging the working together of the health service and local authorities, to deal with precisely the issues he’s raised on social care and bed-blocking,” Mrs May blustered, unaware of the hammer-blow that would shatter her protestations very shortly.

She blundered on: “But I will just say this to the Right Honourable gentleman: Er, we’ve introduced the Better Care Fund and the Social Care Precept. Let’s just look at what Labour did in their 13 years. They said they’d deal with social care in the 97 manifesto, introduced a Royal Commission in 1999, a Green Paper in 2005, the Wanless Review in 2006, said they’d sort it in the CSR of 2007, and another Green Paper in 2009. Thirteen years and they did nothing.”

Here comes the hammer (boldings mine): “As the prime minister well knows, health spending trebled under the last Labour government – and the levels of satisfaction with the National Health Service were at their highest ever in 2010. This government’s choice was to cut social care by £4.6 billion in the last Parliament, at the same time as they found the space, shall we say, to cut billions in corporate taxation bills. That means it’s affecting patients leaving hospital as well. In the last four years, the number of patients unable to be transferred from hospital due to the lack of adequate social care has increased by one-third.”

So it doesn’t matter what Theresa May says her government has introduced; the service it provides is much, much worse than that offered under the last Labour government. That is unquestionable.

Mr Corbyn pressed on: “Will the prime minister ensure her government guarantees all of our elderly people the dignity they deserve?”

“I recognise the importance of caring for elderly people and providing them with the dignity they deserve,” said the prime minister, immediately prior to evading the question completely, going back over her previous assertion and changing the subject (which, as we all know, is a false argument).

“He says this government has done nothing on social care. I repeat, this government has introduced the Social Care Precept, that is being used by my local authorities and by his local authority, and we’ve also introduced the Better Care Fund.” That’s the recapitulation of what she had already said.

Let’s look at that Social Care Precept. It allows local authorities to increase council tax by up to two per cent in order to fund adult social care, meaning that this service has now become a postcode lottery.

Oh, and the Social Care Precept was announced at the same time the Conservative Government said the local government central grant is to be cut by more than half, from £11.5bn in 2015/16 to £5.4bn in 2019/20, a drop of 56 per cent. Meanwhile, councils were expected to increase self-financed expenditure (from revenue and business rates) by 13.1 per cent over the same period, making council services another postcode lottery.

Was it wise of Theresa May to draw attention to this monumental increase in unfairness across the UK?

The Better Care Fund is a pooled budget, initially £5.3 billion, announced in the June 2013 Spending Round and intended to save £1 billion by keeping patients out of hospital. As the number of patients who could not be transferred from hospital due to inadequate social care has increased by one-third in the last four years, it is clear that the Better Care Fund has failed.

In fact, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and the Healthcare Financial Managers Association surveyed the plans for saving money through integration financed by the BCF in December 2015 and concluded that 80 per cent were likely to fail and that many were hampering progress, “giving integration a bad name”.

Mrs May continued: “But if he talks about support for elderly people I would remind him: Which government is it that has put the triple-lock in place for pensioners, that ensured the largest increase in pensions for elderly people?” And that’s the change-of-subject. Mr Corbyn was not discussing increases in pensions for senior citizens who may be perfectly healthy.

Our verdict can only be that, even though Mr Corbyn didn’t actually say the Conservatives have done “nothing” on social care, the result of their efforts is in fact worse. His response – “The precept is a drop in the ocean compared to what’s necessary for social care” – is mild, in that context.

Moving on to specifics, Mr Corbyn said: “I’m sure the whole House will have been appalled by the revelations in the BBC Panorama this week, showing older people systematically mistreated. The Care Quality Commission’s assessment is that care homes run by the Morleigh Group require improvement and has issued warning notices. The commission goes on to say that the owner has allowed services to deteriorate further, and has ‘utterly neglected the duty of care to the residents of these homes’. What action is her government going to take to protect the residents of those homes?”

Look at this stuttered, barely-intelligible response:

“The- the- Right Honourable gentleman mentioned-raises the issue of the quality of care that is provided in homes and the way that elderly people are treated. I’m sure everybody is appalled when we see examples of poor and uh, uh terrible treatment that is given to elderly and vulnerable people in care homes.

“What we do about it is ensure that we have the CQC which is able to step in, which takes action, which has powers to make sure that nobody-nobody in the chain of responsibility is immune from legal accountability. But we know that there’s more that can be done, and that’s why the CQC is looking into ways in which it can improve its processes, increase its efficiency.

“The, er, my-my honourable friend Minister for Community Health and Care is going to be writing to the CQC shortly, to look at how we can improve, to see what they do. It’s the CQC that deals with these issues. Is there more we can do? Yes, and we’re doing it.”

In other words, her government is taking no action at all.

Oh, and the CQC? It deliberately suppressed an internal review that meant it was found unfit for purpose in 2013. Are we sure we want to trust this organisation now?

“Yesterday, the government proposed that patients may have to show passports or other ID to access non-emergency healthcare,” said Mr Corbyn. “Has the government considered the impact of this on elderly people?

“The last census showed that nine-and-a-half million people in this country don’t have passports. Rather than distracting people with divisive and impractical policies, could the prime minister provide the NHS and social care with the money that it needs, to care for the people who need the support?”

Mrs May’s response was very silly indeed: “Over the course of this Parliament, the government will be spending half a trillion pounds on the National Health Service.”

And it is clearly not enough! How much goes into the pockets of private health bosses?

“The Right Honourable gentleman asks about a process to ensure that people who are receiving NHS treatment are entitled to receive NHS treatment. For many years there has been a concern about health tourism, about people turning up in the UK, accessing health services, and not paying for them.”

No, there hasn’t!

The only people talking about health tourism are Conservative MPs or Tory government spokespeople – and that includes the right-wing media like the Daily Heil and the Torygraph. You’ll hear people talking about it but, when pressed, they’ll say they heard about it through these sources and haven’t actually witnessed any themselves.

In real terms, there isn’t any health tourism. But if people are being asked to produce passports when nearly one-sixth of the UK’s own citizens don’t have them, you can see how it would ease pressure on the NHS.

The only problem is, the health of the nation would fall off a cliff.

“We want to make sure that those who are entitled to use those services are indeed able to see those, free at the point of delivery, but that we deal with health tourism and those who should be paying for the use of our health service,” dissembled Mrs May. Of course she doesn’t want to see anything of the sort.

She wants poor people to go away and stop asking for the service their taxes support.

But don’t just accept This Writer’s comments. Mr Corbyn was able to deliver his second series of hammer blows in response to Mrs May’s words (boldings mine): “Sir Simon Stevens told us… that the next three years are going to be the toughest ever for NHS funding and that 2018 would see health spending per person cut for the first time ever in this country.”

So Mrs May’s comment about the amount being spent is worth nothing.

“The NAO [National Audit Office] reported that the cost of health tourism is over 100 times less than the £22 billion in cuts that the NHS is facing from this government.”

So there is no reason to make a fuss about it – unless it is to hide the enormity of cuts to the health service.

161123-health-tourism-cartoon

“The reality is… under this government, there are 6,000 fewer mental health nurses. There are a record 3.9 million people on NHS waiting lists. All of us who visit A&E departments know the stress that staff are under and that the waiting time is getting longer and longer – and that there are one million people, in this country, not receiving the social care that they need.

“So instead of looking for excuses and scapegoats, shouldn’t the prime minister be ensuring that health and social care is properly resourced and properly funded to take away the stress and fear that people face in old age over social care and the stress that is placed on our very hard-working NHS and social care staff?”

Mrs May could do nothing other than reiterate her discredited claims about the amounts her government is spending.

But she added: “We can only afford to pay for the National Health Service and for social care if we have a strong economy, creating wealth.”

Yes indeed. What a shame her party – the Conservatives – comprehensively trashed the UK’s economy in order to hurt the poor.

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Tories have not backtracked on Bedroom Tax for pensioners – they’re just prolonging the agony

Labour MP Frank Field called on the government to 'ditch the proposal altogether' [Image: PA].

Labour MP Frank Field called on the government to ‘ditch the proposal altogether’ [Image: PA].


The Independent is reporting the announcement that the Tory Government has shelved its “pensioners’ Bedroom Tax” plan for a year as a “climbdown”, saying ministers have “backtracked”. This is not true.

Senior citizens are being forced to live under the threat of the plan to charge them for living in “under-occupied” homes for a year.

Perhaps some of them will be able to save up a little, to stave off the inevitable consequence of this extra burden for a little while – but that just means they will have to do without some essentials this year.

What will go? Heat? Food?

Life?

It might come to that, as they try to find an extra £1,700 a year, in some cases.

It always comes down to this, in the end. Tory plans threaten people’s lives.

And of course, in this instance the Conservative Government lied to pensioners about their plan, saying they would protect the elderly from the Bedroom Tax.

That was probably a lie, made in order to cajole pensioners into voting for the Nasty Party as it prepared to do the dirty on them.

And the alternative to paying up is moving away from family and friends, most likely to flats that are unsuitable for older people.

That in itself could be a death sentence.

But then, Tories don’t care.

They’ve had the pensioner vote, but the pensioners themselves are surplus to requirements now. They don’t work, so they don’t make money for the Tories and their friends.

They are expendable.

This delay is simply an opportunity to torture them – for Tory entertainment, most likely.

Source: Government backtracks on a new ‘bedroom tax’ set to hit thousands of poorer pensioners | The Independent

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Britain’s worst idlers – the MPs who wrote Britannia Unchained

I have been saddened to learn of two events that will take place in the near future: The death of The Dandy, and the publication of Britannia Unchained.

The first needs little introduction to British readers; it’s the UK’s longest-running children’s humour comic, which will cease publication (in print form) towards the end of this year, on its 75th anniversary. The second appears to be an odious political tract scribbled by a cabal of ambitious right-wing Tory MPs, desperate to make a name for themselves by tarring British workers as “among the worst idlers in the world”.

The connection? Even at the end of its life, there is better and more useful information in The Dandy than there will be in Britannia Unchained.

The book’s authors, Priti Patel, Elizabeth Truss, Dominic Raab, Chris Skidmore, and Kwasi Kwarteng, all members of the Free Enterprise Group of Tory MPs, argue that British workers are “among the worst idlers in the world”, that the UK “rewards laziness” and “too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work”.

They say the UK needs to reward a culture of “graft, risk and effort” and “stop bailing out the reckless, avoiding all risk and rewarding laziness”.

Strong words – undermined completely by the authors’ own record of attendance at their place of work.

Chris Skidmore’s Parliamentary attendance record is just 88.1 per cent – and he’s the most diligent of the five. Kwasi Kwarteng weighs in at 87.6 per cent; Elizabeth Truss at 85.3 per cent; and Priti Patel at 81.8 per cent. Dominic Raab is the laziest of the lot, with Parliamentary attendance of just 79.1 per cent.

To put that in perspective, if I took more than a week’s sick leave per year from my last workplace, I would have been hauled up before the boss and serious questions asked about my future at the company. That’s a 97.9 per cent minimum requirement. Who are these slackers to tell me, or anyone else who does real work, that we are lazy?

Some have already suggested that these evil-minded hypocrites are just taking cheap shots at others, to make themselves look good for promotion in an autumn reshuffle. Maybe this is true, although David Cameron would be very unwise to do anything but distance himself from them and their dangerous ideas.

I think this is an attempt to deflect attention away from the way the Tory-led government has mismanaged the economy, and from its murderous treatment of the sick and disabled. As one commentator put it: “They get a token Asian, a token African, a token Jew, mix in the middle class/grammar school rubbish propaganda, and suddenly they are just ordinary people? No they are not; they are stooges for the ruling elite.”

Britain doesn’t reward laziness among its working class. What it rewards is failure by managers, directors of industry, financiers. These people continually increase their salaries and other remuneration while their share prices fall, their dividend payments are lacklustre and shareholder value is destroyed. What have they given shareholders over the past 10 years? How many industrial or commercial leaders have walked off with millions, leaving behind companies that were struggling, if not collapsing? Does the criticism in Britannia Unchained apply to senior executives and bankers?

Our MPs are as much to blame as big business. They vote themselves generous pay, pensions and extended vacations (five months per year). They never start work before 11am, never work weekends (or most Fridays, when they are supposed to be in their constituencies, if I recall correctly). They enjoy fringe benefits including subsidised bars, restaurants and gyms. They take part-time directorships in large companies which take up time they should be using to serve the public. Only a few years ago we discovered that large numbers of them were cheating on their expense claims. They take more than £32,000 in “Resettlement Grant” if we kick them out after one term – which, in my opinion, means all five authors of Britannia Unchained should be applying for it in 2015.

These are the people who most strongly represent the ‘something-for-nothing’ sense of entitlement the book decries.

Have any of them ever worked in a factory or carried out manual labour? I’ll answer that for you: With the exception of Elizabeth Truss, who did a few years as a management accountant at Shell/Cable and Wireless, none of them have ever done anything that could be called real work.

In fact, the people they accuse work very long hours – especially the self-employed. When I ran my own news website, I was busy for 12-14 hours a day (much to the distress of my girlfriend). Employees also work long hours, get less annual leave, earn less and pay more – in prices for consumer goods, taxes and hidden taxes – than most of Europe. Average monthly pay rates have now dropped so low that they are failing to cover workers’ costs, leading to borrowing and debt.

Are British workers really among the laziest in the world? Accurate information is hard to find but it seems likely we’re around 24th on the world league table. On a planet with more than 200 sovereign nations (204 attended the London Olympics), that’s not too shabby at all.

Interestingly, the European workers clocking on for the fewest hours are German. Those lazy Teutons! How dare they work so little and still have the powerhouse economy of the continent?

If so many are reluctant to get up in the morning, why are the morning commuter trains standing room only? Or have the Britannia Unchained crowd never used this form of travel?

It seems to me that Britannia Unchained is just another attempt by the Tory right to make us work harder for less pay. The Coalition is currently cutting the public sector and benefits to the bone, while failing to introduce policies that create useful employment, and trying to boost private sector jobs. The private sector has cut wages and pensions. The result is higher unemployment and benefits that cannot sustain living costs, creating a working-age population desperate for any kind of employment at all (even at the too-low wages already discussed).

And let’s remember that Conservatives want to remove employment laws to make it easier to dismiss employees. In other words, they want a workforce that will toil for a pittance, under threat of swift dismissal and the loss of what little they have.

Why do they think this will improve the UK’s performance?

We already work longer hours and have less protective legislation than in Europe (such as the European Time Directive). But we are less productive in terms of GDP than their French and German counterparts, who work fewer hours and are protected by the likes of the ETD.

France is more unionised than we are, yet its production per employee is higher.

The problem is poor management and bad leadership. Poor productivity is almost always due to poor investment and poor training. Workers are abused when they should be treated as an investment. They lose motivation and when managers get their decisions wrong, they blame the workers.

Working class people are sick of grafting for low pay and in poor working conditions, to be exploited by the types of people represented by the authors of Britannia Unchained.

Is it any wonder we feel de-motivated?

I started this article by linking The Dandy to Britannia Unchained, noting that one was coming to the end of its life in print while the other was about to be published for the first time. I’ll end by pointing out a quality they have in common.

The Dandy is closing because it represents ideas that are now tired and out-of-date. Britannia Unchained should never see publication – for the same reason.