Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

MODERN TIMES: The Dinosaur Column

In Dinosaur on November 15, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Re-shuffling the pack:

Well, no doubt after much thought and due deliberation, David Cameron has taken a long hard look at his Cabinet and re-shuffled the pack.

Okay – but however he stacked the cards, it’s still the same pack. The Lib Dems hang on to their token positions, the “Bullingdon Club” boys remain where they were whilst others have been shifted rather than removed. As for Andrew Lansley (plucked from his position as Health Minister), his crime wasn’t to do with the iniquitous policies he pursued, but his inability to sell them to the public. The Tory Health and Social Care Act remains, but now it will be administered by the equally unsavoury Jeremy Hunt. No doubt his support for Murdoch in the attempted buy-out of Sky TV has been put down to “bad timing”.

We’ve been told by the media pundits that the re-shuffle marks a “shift to the right”. All I can say is how far right can they go without falling off the edge?

Incidentally, just out of curiosity, I did take a peek at the Lib Dems’ website, to see if they had anything to say about the Cabinet re-shuffle. But no. Not a mention.

Couldn’t have put it better…

Talking of the Lib Dems, I can’t resist quoting from Ian Aitken’s column in Tribune. On 7th September, he wrote:

“The antics of the Liberal Democrats over their party leadership during the past few years have been despicable. First, they got rid of a genuinely charismatic leader – Charles Kennedy – largely because the sanctimonious buggers thought he drank too much. Then they replaced him with a sound, reliable and honourable man – Ming Campbell – only to dump him too when they feared that his soundness and reliability might be too dull for the voters. And finally they chose a right-wing nonentity – Nick Clegg – whose views were so far to the right that he was able to slide painlessly into the deputy premiership of a very right-wing Tory Government controlled by a free-market freak called George Osborne.”

Ian Aitken continues, cogently outlining why we should have no truck with the Lib Dems. Thanks, Ian – I couldn’t have put it better myself.

How’s YOUR Pension doing?

A question to those of our readers who’ve reached that age when they can retire and relax. How’s your pension doing? Are you managing on it, or struggling a bit?

Well give a thought to those company directors who have no such problems. According to new research produced by the TUC, directors of the country’s top companies have built up pension pots worth an average of £4.3 million each.

351 directors were involved in the research. The average value of their pension increased by £400,000 over the past year.

But then, in the words of the old music hall song, “it’s the rich wot gets the pleasure, and the poor wot gets the blame”.

Don’t call us: we’ll call you

A pernicious new wheeze has been dreamt up by employers in this age of job insecurity and uncertainty.

It’s called a “zero hours contract”. An employee can be hired, on condition that he/she is available for work as and when required. No actual hours are either specified or guaranteed. Neither does it guarantee a level of salary. But the employee is expected to be available for work at any time.

I’m told that this kind of arrangement is most common in service and retail sector jobs, where “part-time” work has always been part of the pattern. But now, it seems, it’s being used increasingly within the NHS.

And it’s not just the low-paid manual staff. Now clinical staff are being employed on “zero hours” contracts as well.

All this raises a lot of questions. Presumably it means that those covered by such contracts are no longer officially unemployed, even if the work they do is minimal. And of course they offer no job security whatsoever.

And what about those jobs that require training and expertise? Who’s going to train for, say, a clinical position in the health service if all they get is an “as and when” job at the end of it?

And whilst we’re about it, what about the concept of a national minimum wage? Surely it makes such legislation a mockery!



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