Sunday, October 31, 2010

today : I continue to be a lazy scrounger

It already started when the coalition was installed. The chipping away, the cynical stories relentlessly in the lap-dog Tory media, the repeated statements made in an attempt to coin an orthodoxy of opinion, the unfiltered, unbalanced think-tank reports.

But it will get worse. At least once a week there will be a planted story in the media, a minister making some statement or even better, the single news reports focusing on individuals.

The uncomfortable truth is that there is a section of people who exploit benefits. Mainly, these are people who commit straight up fraud - the people who claim to be unemployed but work cash in hand, or those who put on an elaborate charade of disability in order to get DLA and a car. But for the vast majority, benefits are a port of last resort. Almost everybody who claims welfare has to grit their teeth and put aside their personal pride in order to do so. Go to the Jobcentre and just hang out. You can feel it in the air - a sense of bitterness and reluctant defeatedness that just hangs there.

Yes, there are some who get trapped into it, and can see no way out. Children of parents who have been brought up feeling keenly their place at the bottom of the pile. There are also some who end up marginalised and caught in the habit. Quite a few are trapped by the system itself - the fact that going back to work will actually make them poorer.

And lets not get mixed up here. People who live on government benefits don't live but survive. When I worked with the unemployed many of the people walked to and from my literacy classroom to save a few pennies on bus fares. The ones who are (and will be) trumpeted in the Express and the Mail are a tiny minority. Even then, I would defy any tutting Mail or Express reader to swap lives or incomes with them. The amount of people making themselves rich from defrauding the system is absolutely tiny.

At the moment, I'm one of the ones who has to survive on benefits. I'm one of those ill/disabled people who you might think, if you saw me, was perfectly capable of working but is just lazy. I'm not - I have ongoing chronic pain issues that you can't see. I don't screech all day or go around with my operation scars on display. I've seen it from all sides. Not only have I had well paid employment, but have also worked closely with the unemployed and disabled. I'm honest and try and make my way. I've paid a stack into the system and now have to draw on it.

I'll be swept up in the broad attacks built from little stories. I claim housing benefit, but I'll be lumped in with the very very few who live in central London and claim against extortionate rents (why not fix the whole London rents issue by doing what New York does and have a rent control policy?). Consequently nobody will stand up for me. When the cuts bite I'll actually be about £90 per month worse off. That's about three weeks food shopping per month. That's about half my utility bills I won't be able to cover. But I will be branded some kind of scrounger.

I claim DLA too - a double whammy. I get ESA - a triple whammy (this will be slashed along with most other things). The DLA claimants who run marathons or dance the tango are always front page news, but the subtext is always the same: disabled people are scroungers. Unemployed people are scroungers. Ill people are scroungers. Why should we pay for their laziness?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

today : blame Canada

Now the Tories are in, and doing the same old things, there is a temptation to will the economy to tank, to wish them to screw up so I can not only see them tipped out of power again, but to enjoy it. A bit like the extra relish you get from a four nil victory, that's not just a victory, but leads to the opposition manager being sacked.

But I also know plenty of people who are teetering financially, and if Osborne's gamble fails, will take a pretty nasty hit. Because to will failure on Tory policy is to will people out of work and to will people into living on the streets. So I really want everything to be okay.

Except it won't be. I talked before about the intellectual basis of Osborne's cuts and I am reminded of Thatcher. She, of course, had many qualities. I cannot but admire the way she went back to work the day after the IRA tried, and almost succeeded, in blowing her up. It takes a strong and wilful person to carry on in such a situation. Likewise her willingness to be disliked and apparently not care. But, of course, she was wrong on almost all policy issues, morally suspect in consorting with likes of Pinochet and heartless in face of the suffering of her own people. The same qualities that I could admire, unfortunately sprang not from a Churchillian resolve and vision, but from being blinkered and, frankly, a bit thick.

She, of course, was seduced by the Monetarist vision poured into her ear by Keith Joseph (shamefully, he was my MP). And I am always extremely suspect of anyone who proffers an evangelistic position on anything. There is certainty of vision, and then there is a kind of swivel-eyed adherence to ideology that appears to ignore doubt. I have never known an intelligent person who didn't question or moderate their opinions by reflection and engaging in a dialectical process with alternative viewpoints. I have, conversely, known many, many very stupid people who are absolutely certain of their own correctness.

Osborne and his people seem to have been seduced by what happened in Canada in the 1990s. A massive deficit reduction programme, with a goal of balancing the books within a few short years not only got Canada out of a financial hole, but counter-intuitively, the economy grew at the same time.

As with all situations, Canada's economy at the time was subject to very specific conditions. To extrapolate a template from what happened is risky at best and folly at worst. But isn't this what all ideologues do? They constantly try to find a magic solution, a simple set of rules that solves or explains everything. Always, it ends in tears. Whether it's Stalin bolting his own notions onto Marx and coming up with the Soviet nightmare, or a free market, light-touch regulation of financial institutions leading to a collapse of the banking system.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

today 80s music fest continued

there's a good argument that this song was the first ever goth song.

this is possibly my favourite song of the 80s. How I adored ice queen Susanne Freytag. I saw them play live and she never cracked a smile the whole time.

today : feels like the 80s again

tonight I switched on the TV. Newsnight was going on about the Tories slashing public services and then Heaven 17 were on Jools Holland's show.

It was like the 90s and 00s had never happened. So I decided to have a small 80s music fest.

Starting with these gems:

Friday, October 22, 2010

today: The laughing gnomes

There are many things I could write about the 'cuts' that happened this week. I'll quickly list them.
1. The Tories sudden antipathy towards the IFS - long used by them as the analysts of choice and tool to beat Labour with, but now peddlers of nonsense.
2. The utter lack of an intellectual justification for their actions. Osborne : "We have to do this.", Questioner: "Why?", Osborne : "Because it must be done"
3. The obvious fact that the speech itself was full of obfuscation and structured like all budget speeches with the clear and coherent parts all about handouts and the detailed and long-winded parts all about the bad stuff. 4. The lack of detail.
5 The fact that the lack of detailed plans left the teams of journalists and correspondents floundering. At one point in Osborne's speech Nick Robinson posted insightfully: "7 Billion in cuts is the same as £10000 less for 7 million people." Perhaps they could have got Rachel Riley in instead.
6. The way the TV companies all produced logos and graphics on the 'budget day' model for something that was not a budget, and looked a bit daft. Thursday morning: Louise Minchin sent to talk to 'poor' people at Dickensian market in East London. The best she could come up with was a fruit stall holder who told her that people spend about £3 a week on fruit and after the cuts might only spend £1 a week. A point Louise reiterated at least three times.

But the thing I noticed most was something that Alan Johnson pointed out in his rebuttal speech, but didn't hit hard enough on. It was the sight and sound of Tory MPs and Minsters cheering job cuts, cheering slashes in public services, cheering austerity and poverty, cheering benefit cuts.

It gave them away. At no point was there a single note of regret. No notion of 'we have to do this but it gives us no pleasure to throw half a million dedicated public servants out of work'. No mention that some people will be badly affected but it is a painful but necessary choice.

They enjoyed it. They revelled in it. They celebrated it. Whilst telling us all we must take the pain, Gideon Osborne - future 18th Baronet of Ballintaylor (worth 4 1/2 million), Cameron (worth 4 million - set to inherit up to 30 million) and Clegg (worth a couple of million with family wealth of several million more) were, and remain, gung-ho.

It was if the whole party had been waiting desperately for the last 13 years, swelling up with the pressure that builds and builds when you are constantly denied the chance to kick the poor in their pasty, subservient, worthless faces. And they couldn't help letting it all out in a smug tsunami of arrogance and guffawing cruel stupidity. Like bullies pissing on a cripple and sticking the video on youtube.

It not only shows the Tories in a poor light, and, as Johnson pointed out, caught up more in their ideology than any notion of patriotism or reality, but also does politics itself no good. We have MPs who have apparently cleaned house on their own scams and fraudulent behaviour, happily laughing in the face of the ruin of millions. The fact that nobody in their own ranks thought to brief them about how such behaviour would look says an awful lot about how remote and ideologically driven these children of Thatcher really are.

today : "The Bonnie Lassie" says 'Awa an bile yer heid, Auldjin!"

Today's guest blogger is "The Bonnie Lassie" who relates an unusual blue-badge parking incident.

I also have had some hassle so to speak from members of the public sticking their noses places its not wanted! I parked in a disabled bay and put my badge on the dash and after locking my car realised there was this elderly man watching me from beside his car (also in a disabled bay). While I was walking past him he mentioned that did I know I was parked in a disabled bay to which I replied 'Of course I do and my badge is on the dash'.....tried to continue on my way and he stopped me again and said 'And you do know young lady,you are not meant to use someone else's badge to park there'.
'It's not someone elses badge it's my badge'.
'And whats wrong with you that gives you a right to have a blue badge?' he asked!!! 'What would you do if I called the police on you?'
To which I replied 'Laugh at you for making a fool of yourself!'

This got my back up and I told him in no uncertain terms that he was neither my consultant nor my GP and I didn't need to justify myself to HIM why I was entitled to a blue badge, but if he must know I suffer from Severe Bilataeral Talipes with Pes Cavus, and I've had it since birth!! I then added that he was just a bitter old man, whom, just because time wasn't on his side doesn't have the right to question anyone else about their disabilities and he should wind his neck in and mind his own business!!!

When I got home to my mum I was so distressed that I wanted to hand my badge back there and then! My mum being my mum called the police as I had noted the mans reg number and they came and took a statement from me and paid the old man a visit! He was still protesting to the police that I am not disabled and I shouldn't have been parked there as I was young and fit!! To which the police replied 'Have you never heard of someone being born with a disability,which this young lady was and she suffers from quite a painful deformity of her feet'......The old man never replied after being told that and to keep his opinions to himself as I could have had him charged with breach of the peace for putting me in an unnecessary state of alarm!!

Happy Days haha!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

today : my life is shit and I need someone to blame

It increasingly looks like the American Democrats will suffer a bloodbath in the upcoming midterms. I guess this is to be expected. Everywhere people are frightened about being poor.

But what happens in America always interests and amuses me. Their politics is so messed up that they really cannot see that they are consistently undermining themselves as a power. It seems that Americans are like Liverpool fans. Once, a long time ago they ruled the roost and perennially expect that they should continue to do so by default. But the world has changed since they were on top. Okay, so Liverpool have done well in the Champions league in the past decade, but that's a cup competition. Any team or country can shine in a cup competition, or in an individual area of business.

The story of the the midterms is that a mature Internet has fragmented the narratives of politics. This has always been the case to some extent in the USA because it is such a huge, geographically, culturally and economically diverse country. But the less people get their news and information from central sources, the more localised things seemingly have become. Localised to the point of reconfiguring communities outside of geography - meaning that people with similar opinions can form together and campaign more easily. Shazam! The Tea Party, connecting together confused, disappointed, bitter people everywhere with other confused disappointed and bitter people. It looks to me like the Tea Party (although much more complex than I'm portraying, and with some agenda driven people behind it) could easily be renamed the 'My Life Turned Out Shit and I Need Someone To Blame Party' - a party whose membership are almost entirely campaigning against stuff rather than for it.

This does diminish the power of the Metropolitan opinion formers and media. They grow ever more irrelevant to the discourse. Even when that discourse is riddled with prejudice, inaccuracy and selfish short-sightedness.

American politics has also suffered from the lack of balanced voice. One warning Brits can take from watching the USA is that to destroy the BBC would leave us open to anti-democratic Fox News-style broadcasters; 'news' channels that exploit freedom of speech to relentlessly and cynically push the agenda of their owners. In Fox's case, of course, this is Murdoch, whose only interest is in creating more wealth and power for himself and his companies. A 'News' channel is just one of his any means necessary.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

today : I become a murderer

I am a murderer. I am not proud of it. But I was provoked. A single fly decided to inhabit my house. It was okay at first. I saw it crawling across the ceiling, or sitting on the wall near the phone and it troubled me not. As long as it wasn't causing any harm or irritation. I did consider that the spider that lives in the living room light might even enjoy having a fly to catch. This is the spider that miraculously lowers itself the ten feet or so from the ceiling and hangs there, a small dot in my eye-line, visible against the light from the TV. I amused myself in thinking that maybe it just wanted to watch World News America. But after hanging there awhile, it gets bored and continues the perilous precarious descent, until it lands on the coffee table. Once or twice it has aborted the mission and climbed back up - the kind of rope ascent that would defeat the average human, but to the spider is as easy as pie.

The fly became bolder. It started to circle. It landed on the coffee table at the far side from where I was sitting. I tried to creep up on it and waft it away. I tried leaving the back door open for a few minutes, hoping it would escape. But it probably didn't fancy going out in the cold and the rain, so stayed stubbornly inside.

Then, the day before yesterday, it landed on my arm. I was watching Horizon and felt a slight itch. I looked down and there it was. This time the fly had crossed the line. It was, your honour. provocation. It invaded my personal space. I held my other hand still and then swiftly brought it down on my forearm. Slap! But the fly saw it coming and made a swift escape and found safe-haven on the ceiling, where it stared down at me mockingly.

I was reminded of the time some years ago when my beloved Dalmatian - Millie- had swatted a fly. Millie was laying in front of the fire on her side, apparently, asleep. The family were sitting around watching TV. A rogue fly appeared in the room and began buzzing around. We all tried to swat it. When it landed on furniture we all tried to bash it with magazines or cushions. It even survived one of us creeping up on it and standing over it, hands, apart, ready to clap them together. This is a 100% guaranteed way to eliminate a fly, and scientifically proven. It's said that flies cannot look upwards and also can only take off vertically. The waft created by clapping hands shocks the fly into trying to evade the attack it can feel but cannot see. It tries to buzz away from danger, but on take-off only succeeds in flying vertically, directly into the path of the clapping hands and its
inevitable demise by squishing.

Maybe we didn't clap hard enough. We all shrugged as it sat on high on the wall looking down. But then it took off again and buzzed circles around the room. Millie, snoring contentedly in front of the fire had been apparently oblivious to people vs fly contest that was taking place. The fly flew by her nose. She did not stir. But then it made a return journey. As it went past she momentarily awoke. A paw shot into the air - lightning fast - and batted it right out of the sky. Stone dead.

But Millie had grown old and died many years ago. This time I had no secret weapon. It was a one-on-one situation which was about to escalate.

Because yesterday it landed on my head, then danced contemptuously along the coffee table, just out of reach from where I lay prone watching Season 4 Episode 1 of Chuck.

Then this morning it went too far. I was about to set out on a trip to the fine city of Liverpool, 60 miles away from home. In preparation for the trip I was noshing a breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and coffee. I brought the small plate of eggs on toast into living room and placed it on the table. Remembering that I'd forgotten to get a knife, I returned to the kitchen. When I got back, some 10 seconds later, there it was. It was sitting on the edge of the plate. It saw me and buzzed away. I sat down, risking the contaminated plate.

It was not content. The damn thing then landed right on the rim of my coffee cup. I wafted my knife at it and again it took off and made an escape.

The provocation was unacceptable. I could not now look the other way. This meant war.

I had a simple plan. When I went out I would spray the room with fly-killer. After all, the instructions advised to spray the room, then seal it for 30 minutes to an hour, rather than use the spray as a gun and expel a direct hit of fly killer onto the target.

So, before leaving on my trip, I loaded the room with enough of the stuff to kill Jeff Goldblum.

On my way back, I didn't even think about the fly. Like George W Bush on the deck of an aircraft carrier, I had already declared victory. With my superior fire-power, I just assumed that I'd won.

After grabbing something to eat, I settled down to catch up the news. Everything was fine and relaxed. But then the fly nonchalantly landed on the coffee table and began to strut around as if it had received lessons from Miss J.

I was stuck, entrenched in a war that was beginning to look, if not unwinnable, at least attritional. My exit strategy had failed. All that was left was shock and awe.

I got the spray from the kitchen and sat, like an SAS man in his foxhole, waiting for my moment. I didn't have to wait too long. The fly came back. This time it landed directly in the line of fire. I unleashed a barrage of fly spray, enough to drench the surface of the coffee table. The fly buzzed away but surely this was the end. No living thing could have survived such disproportionate use of chemical weapons. I knew this because I began to taste the bitter chemicals, and soon was reduced to a coughing fit as the poison infiltrated my system.

I went to the door to get some fresh air, and then retired upstairs to read Michael Connelly's latest Mickey Haller thriller which I'd bought on my trip. After an hour, my eyes were tired and I figured that the poison levels would have returned to within safe limits. so I went back downstairs. Salman Rushdie was being interviewed on HardTalk and I wanted to see what he had to say.

Re-entering the living room I was shocked into swearing out-loud. Not only was the fly perched casually on the coffee table, but it was close to ground zero, where I had saturated the table top with spray. What's more it looked in rude health, a fact which it proved by buzzing away as soon as I approached it with a rolled up copy of the Radio Times. Rasputin was easier to dispatch. A highlander was positively fragile compared to this fly.

I gave up. Sitting back on the sofa I switched on the TV to watch a relaxed and well-fed looking Salman Rushdie discuss his latest novel and various related topics.

Just as Rushdie was answering in the inevitable questions about The Satanic Verses, I felt a movement in the air near my ear. The fly had re-appeared and was manically circling my head, as if attempting to re-enact the sad demise of Rhandy Rhodes. I tried batting at it with my hands I couldn't get near it.

I decided to give up. To surrender. I was sure that flies don't live that long. If I just let it go then the thing would die of natural causes or be caught by the ceiling spider.

It was painful and politically damaging to admit defeat, but I had to respect any adversary that survived using wiles and an apparent immunity to Raid.

Salman had now finished his interview and a weatherman appeared. As I picked up the remote to channel surf the fly came buzzing round again. I decided to try and ignore its taunts. It flew in front of the TV three or four times. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz one way and then Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz the other. But then, just as I settle on the Jools Holland show, it buzzed into view again. Bzzzzzzzz...then silence. half way through its pass across my field of vision it simply stopped, like a WW1 biplane suffering an engine stall, and fell dead directly into the ashtray that was sitting on the coffee table. It landed upside down, feet in the air, in the classic pose.

I was a murderer. But I'd won.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

today : same old same old

I was talking to a long-time friend the other day. She said that she had a reunion with some people from her Uni days and everyone (now in their early 40s) was having some kind of mid-life crisis.
"None of them were happy," she said.

I would include myself in that category. My 'crisis' has been inspired my medical issues : suddenly not being able to walk has made me have to resign myself to the things I'll never do and regret many of the chances I didn't take. For example, disability travel, while not impossible, is much more daunting and expensive than able-bodied travel. Disabled employment is problematic and restricted. My ambit of my choices has been narrowed somewhat.

So for me it is not really a crisis of 'mid-life' as such. The timing is a kind of coincidence. But qualitatively, the effects are the same. Someone who has reached a stage of career boredom, feels stuck in a marriage and bound by children. someone who counts the grey in their hair. They feel trapped by circumstance. The fact that the circumstance is solely the result of choices they made when younger doesn't really make a difference.

I am wondering if some of it is triggered by the nostalgia of living under a Tory government. I became politicised in the 80s when we had to suffer what felt like a hundred years of Thatcher. In many ways Britain really was an unpleasant, divided and pretty dour place to be during those years. People forget.

I've noticed a similar feeling hanging around recently. It gets stronger and stronger. Every time I hear a Tory minister bluster out the same old Tory nonsense, I feel a mixture of annoyance and despair that reminds me of when I was younger and just getting to grips with the complexity and unfairness of the world.

In those days it was the knowledge that people were being punished for being poor and working class. Nowadays it is the fact that...erm...people are being punished for being poor and working class. It might not seem that way on the surface, but cuts never affect the rich, because they are rich. Taxes affect the rich, which is why the Tories are so against taxes.

I am a little confused as to the basis of the 2010 Tory economic vision. I suspect that they have embraced Canadian style balanced book ideas, whereas before it was all about Friedman. But as any Canadian who is about to suffer the collapse of their property bubble will tell you, balancing the budget was not the answer.

But then again, it also looks like the deficit is an excellent excuse to continue prosecuting the same old free-market ideology that has proved so successful at making the rich richer and the poor poorer over the past 30 years. Under the guise of essential deficit reductions they are poised to make 25% cuts over four years. I don't really think the average voter has any idea how much of our economy relies on the collective and what this will do. Sitting in a castle, the average old-money rich person will see little difference. They don't use public health, education, social support etc, so for them it won't matter. For the rest of us things are going to be quite different.

In one way I was wrong about the Cameron Tories. I thought they might be a little more easy going than the Thatcherites. But no. From day one there seems to be a determination to roll back everything that Labour did in the last 13 years, whether it is good or bad, useful or not. A 'market' in the health service, check, returning higher education into the hands of the wealthy, check. Constantly attacking vulnerable groups like the elderly and the disabled. Check.

The nub of how they haven't changed can be seen in their PR. The recession, that everyone in the world knows was caused by irresponsibility in the global banking system, was 'Brown and Darling's recession' in the lead up to the election. Not unexpectedly they conflated the meanings of recession in the UK economy caused by mismanagement in the UK system, as in Brown wishing to abolish boom and bust, with the meaning of global recession caused by global issues and actually sparked by Bush spending on 2 wars, tax breaks for the rich and lowering interest rates to 1% to create a false boom in property. It all became the same thing in order to sell a simple narrative to the electorate. But since getting in they have carried this on. It is their way of avoiding any blame for what might happen in the economy and a nice convenient cover for their unnecessary and ideologically driven public spending cuts.

A side effect is that the banks no longer caused any problems. It was all Brown and Darling. So no need to reign in their friends in the City.

It's the same old simpletons' view of the world. Stuck in an ideological rut.

Next week we'll get the cuts. They won't be quite as savage as we've been led to believe. There'll be some sweeteners. Something like Winter fuel payments or social care will be spared to make them look cuddly.

But they are the same moronic selfish bastards that they always were.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

today : I help people but get treated like crap

Even though I say it myself, I am a pretty altruistic person. Well, I try to be. But I always get it wrong. I always misjudge the line between helping others and feeling used and disrespected.

Let me give you an example. You give someone a lift to work or wherever each day. After a while you arrive at the specified time but have to wait around because they are tardy getting ready. This is okay but once in a while you want to be at work sharp on time for some reason and you start to resent the fact that, instead of being able to get there to do what you wanted first thing, you sit in the car wasting ten minutes.

Then, for some reason you are late in picking the person up. Now the tables are turned. They complain about you being late. It's messed up their schedule. So what do you do? My instinct is to tip them out of the car and let them walk. Maybe present them with a bill for all the petrol they drifted into not paying for. But that makes you as selfish and petty as them.

When I was younger I used to have a friend who would happily accept lifts all over the place, but would complain like a small child if he didn't like the music I was playing. One of those people who has a different 'cool' fashionable taste each week, so whatever you're playing is generally not what he wanted to hear. In hindsight I should have kicked him from the car when he complained, but didn't.

And even today. I did a favour for someone. It's not the first favour I've done them recently and I did it despite being quite ill. To be honest they'd got in a position where they needed help. But it wasn't just expected that I would do one favour, they had planned for me to give up my entire weekend to help them - thinking that rather than tell me this, they would get me at their house and then reveal the extent of their problems. But I was ill and they knew that. Having done exactly what I'd promised to help, turned around and came home.

An hour later I got a nasty text, everything I'd done already was wrong and useless and I was an unpleasant and selfish person.

What do you do? Carry on driving or throw them out and make them walk 20 miles?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

today : the poverty line

Hilarious. Ear splitting howls of protest from people over child-beneft cuts for high earners. Poor them. There was a woman on the news who admitted that her family would be punished. That it is unfair.
"I don't know where we can make any more savings," she said.

On what planet is the belief that £44,000 (about $70,000 - when the famous stat is that half the world live on less than $730 per year) is a level at which you cannot make savings? How many holidays do you take a year? How many times do you eat out a month? How many pairs of shoes do you have?

I have no objection to people earning and spending as much as they can. But nobody is automatically entitled to a luxury lifestyle. We are talking roughly double the average UK income here. How mollycoddled, financially cavalier and caught up in a feeling of entitlement is someone if they cannot take a 2% cut from £44000? A little less wine and skiing would do it.

Whilst the recent financial troubles in the rich nations have certainly caused problems for people, there are very few who have been left destitute, homeless or starving. A bit of belt tightening is all most people have or will suffered. Maybe a bit of worry or a period of unemployment.

In about 60% of the world's nations the financial crisis had had little real effect. That's the nations that don't have an economy to suffer a downturn or an uptick. That's where people scrape by, subsisting in agrarian communities. No TV, no Wii, no holidays, no pensions, no prescriptions (also no anorexia, no prozac and no mid-life crises).

Whilst rightly arguing the various corners of political policies we could all do with taking a reality check.

Having said that, it's interesting to note that the Tories first hack at welfare is a universal benefit. Tories hate universal benefits because they are clearly 3/4 of the way to Communism. Watch out.