Tag Archives: The Guardian

Daily Headline – 30/04/13

Unemployed forced to complete ridiculous questionnaire

UK jobseekers are being made to complete a nonsense survey or risk losing their benefits. The questionnaire was formulated by the Tory government’s ‘behavioural insights’ unit (sounds like another quango).

The Guardian states:

Some of the 48 statements on the DWP test include: “I never go out of my way to visit museums,” and: “I have not created anything of beauty in the last year.” People are asked to grade their answers from “very much like me” to “very much unlike me”.

While some will go down the de-humanising of the unemployed route (which is very valid) with this pointless crap what I want to know is, in a period of so called austerity, how much money did the government waste on both this survey and on the behavioural insights unit?

The government continue to to attack the poor, making them jump through ever more hoops just so that they can continue to have a roof over their heads and food on the table which the measly £71 a week jobseekers allowance (JSA) rarely suffices.

Workers and unemployed workers unite! We are the majority, ditch the government!

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Daily Headline – 11/04/13

Tory donors switching to Ukip

The Electoral Commission UKThe Guardian has an interesting article today about Tory donors giving large and small sums of money to UKIP for them to fight the upcoming local elections that takes place on the 2nd of May.

Elections will be held in 35 English councils, including all 27 non-metropolitan county councils and eight unitary authorities, and to a single Welsh unitary authority. Direct mayoral elections will take place in Doncaster and North Tyneside. A total of 2,362 seats will be contested.

From the Guardian:

Stuart Wheeler, the gambling tycoon in charge of Ukip’s funds, said former Tory backers had promised big donations for next year’s European elections. Some had already made smaller donations that would contribute towards the £200,000 to be spent on advertising in local elections over the next few weeks, he said

Wheeler, who himself gave more than £5.5m to the Conservatives before being expelled from the party three years ago, said Ukip was taking the local elections seriously while aiming for a bigger push in the 2014 European elections.

“Some of [our new donors] were Conservatives but many are unwilling to go public. Any donation of more than £7,500 has to go on the electoral commission website. Quite a few give us exactly £7,500 because they don’t want [their identities] to be known,” he said.

UKIP, by big business, for big business.

In the latest opinion polls:

YouGov: CON 33%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 10%
TNS-BMRB:  CON 25%, LAB 40%, LD 10%, UKIP 14%

Not sure who you can vote for? Click here to see the list and click details for who is standing. For example I chose the first available on the list Cambridgeshire County Council which has the following parties standing:

Conservative
Liberal Democrat
Labour
UKIP
Green
English Democrats
TUSC
Monster Raving Loony
Independent
Cambridge Socialists

Cambridgeshire County Council is divided into 60 ‘electoral divisions’ and not all parties listed above are standing in all of the electoral divisions.

Disappointing to see in the Romsey electoral division of Cambridgeshire that Cambridge Socialists are standing against the Greens but glad that TUSC is not standing against   Cambridge Socialists or the Greens in any of the divisions.

Good luck to the three of them, Greens, TUSC and Cambridge Socialists.

Daily Headline – 03/03/13

Venezuela; Hugo Chavez still in hospital

Chavez Venezuelan flagHugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, has been suffering from cancer for some time now and after several rounds of treatment in Cuba he remains in a Venezuelan hospital, unable to speak.

Chavez is seen as a real divisive figure with 45% voting against him at the last elections.

The poor and working class like him because he spends the petrol revenues on social programs and helping improve their standard of living and the wealthy hate him because he spends the petrol revenues on social programs and helping improve the lives of the poor.

Internationally Hugo Chavez is generally supported by the left though not entirely, even among the international left he is divisive.

Personally I am not one for hearsay, I like to look at the stats… and the stats are not good!

Hugo Chavez has been president for 14 years (came to power in 1999) which is by no means ‘too long’ (he is the 24th longest current serving leader) but how has he and Venezuela performed?

HDI ranking – Currently 73rd (2011)

1995 – 53rd
2000 – 58th
2005 – 74th
2010 – 73rd

HDI is the UN’s Human Development Index, it attempts to measure standard of living.

Life expectancy

2010 – 79th (73.8 overall)
2000 – 52nd (73.3 overall)
1990 – 50th (71.2 overall)

Life expectancy is getting better but at a slower rate to other countries.

The truth is something that always seems to be hidden in a web of media bullshit and left/right agendas.

The Guardian, for example, is reporting that the homeless in Venezuela have been given free houses and that lots of money has been spent on social programs and while I don’t deny this, it is clear from the stats that something doesn’t add up. Either the stats from the UN and other ‘trusted’ resources are false or Chavez’s regime is not all it’s made out to be.

What do you think? Is life getting better in Venezuela? Are you from Venezuela? And finally, what do you think will happen once Chavez steps down or passes away?

Daily Headline – 19/02/13

UK wealthy find £5bn a year tax loophole

British HMRC flagThe UK tax-man (HMRC) is missing out on £5bn a year because the wealthy are paying tax expert companies to help them avoid paying the correct amount.

The Guardian reports:

Margaret Hodge, a former Labour minister, said rich businessmen designing the schemes were “running rings” around HMRC.

She said HMRC had an “appallingly bad record” at catching tax cheats, having fined just 11 people for promoting tax avoidance since 2004 – despite 10,000 people a year coming forward to report tax avoidance schemes.

What is £5bn to the UK?

In 2012 government spending on education went down by £2bn from £58.28bn to £56.27bn so £5bn could help avoid many of the cuts and economic difficulties the UK is currently experiencing.

Is the BBC obsessed with the US?

By Leon J Williams

For those who aren’t aware (if that’s possible) the BBC is a British media company with an international presence.
BBC News (that’s bbc.co.uk) has news from all round the world, in theory there is a leaning towards UK news as it’s a British company.

BBC News today has 27 main news articles on its front page here’s how they break down:

China – 1 direct & 1 indirect
Russia – 1 direct
Australia – 1 direct
India – 1 direct
Egypt – 1 direct
Japan – 2 direct
Africa – 2 direct
UK – 7 direct
USA – 11 direct and 2 indirect

So out of the 27 articles the most mentioned country was the USA with 11 directly involved articles and a further 2 articles indirectly about the US.
7 out of 10 articles relate to the US.

7 out of 10 articles relate to the US.

As a comparison the Guardian today has 20 main articles and here’s how they breakdown:

UK – 11
India – 2
USA – 2
China – 1
Syria – 1
EU – 1
Italy – 1
Pakistan – 1

At first I thought it was in general that the UK media was obsessed with the US but as it has been highlighted it’s more of the BBC’s own obsession.