Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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Raising the Minimum Wage is a moral duty

min wage_coins

The UK is the sixth largest economy in the world and the third largest in Europe, behind France and Germany, with predictions being made we could even overtake Germany by 2030.

So why are we still not paying our unskilled and semi-skilled workers enough to eat and heat in Britain today? The Minimum Wage – the hourly take-home pay set by law – is £6.31 for over 21s. This is immoral considering the inflation-busting cost of energy and food we have seen in this country over many years and boosted by the Labour Party-induced crash of 2008. And this does not even take into account the exorbitant rents and house prices.

It seems George Osborne – at least on the surface – thinks the same. The Chancellor has signalled he intends to raise the Minimum Wage to £7 an hour. This will still leave many living from hand to mouth and still heavily reliant on housing benefit and tax credits to make ends meet but it is a start.

I personally am in favour of the ‘Living Wage’ being enshrined in law. This would be £8.80 in London and £7.65 in the rest of the UK. 

This isn’t a Right versus Left argument (anymore). Labour’s Ed Miliband’s advocates a Living Wage as does Tory London Mayor Boris Johnson who has said he is in favour of people being paid a decent wage for a decent day’s work:

“Paying the London Living Wage is not only morally right, but makes good business sense too.”

We don’t know how Boris (if he was ever in national power) would implement a Living Wage. We do know Ed Miliband would bribe businesses by offering a tax rebate if they sign up to his policy.

But I don’t think businesses should be bribed one penny. The Living Wage should be legislated and let the businesses suck it up. Oh, what’s that? Do I hear some sections of the Tory squirearchy, who opposed the Minimum Wage at its inception, braying it would lose jobs? No it wouldn’t. Read the first paragraph of my post again. Britain is awash with money – it’s just mainly funnelled to the top 1% or to the Exchequer in middle-class tax intake. It is disappointing to read Ipswich’s very own Ben Gummer is not even in favour of raising the Minimum Wage let alone imposing a Living Wage. I personally like Ben so I won’t try and guess why he thinks this – I am happy for him to use the Comments to let us all know.

Raising the Minimum Wage then looking at introducing a Living Wage is a win-win scenario. It means more people paying tax and less money spent subsidising wages through tax credits and rents through housing benefit. In an economy which is the third largest in the EU single market, it is frankly obscene the British Government is forced to subsidise unskilled and semi-skilled workers’ wages with tax credits. This will not end overnight but we must travel in the direction of businesses paying their workers a decent wage commensurate with the profit they make for their owners.

Coupled with the Government’s policy on welfare, soon to be capped at £26,000 and hopefully being pushed lower in the coming years, a raised Minimum Wage will help to show the thousands languishing on benefits that work pays. And it may just help with the number one concern of British people after the economy: uncontrolled immigration. With more incentive given to the indigenous workforce for taking unskilled jobs, it will make Britain less attractive to temporary foreign workers.

The politics of New Labour and Gordon Brown never wanted to deal with the problem of low pay, happy instead to pay unskilled people off with tax credits and benefits, even ghettoising them into whole neighbourhoods. But the politics of George Osborne (even if it is insincere) may help to make this country a more moral place to live.


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The Conservative Party still cannot connect with its supporters

Non-politician Anna Soubry

Non-politician Anna Soubry

I was watching BBC Question Time last night and they had that ghastly woman, Anna Soubry, on again. Some may ask why I say such an awful thing as she is a Conservative. Yes, well the difference between Tories and Socialists is us Tories have independent minds and don’t just bleat away whatever the leader tells them to say.

Miss Soubry is one of those non-politicians who never says anything meaningful and spends her whole time shovelling platitudes on to minority interest groups in a desperate overcompensation for being a Tory in the hope voters will not think she is evil. She doesn’t seem to realise most voters don’t think the Tories are evil – a lot of people used to vote for the Conservative Party, especially in times of Conservative governments, not the mish-mash Coalition we have today.

Last night Anna Soubry excelled herself in her response to fellow panelist Nigel Farage’s answer to a question on immigration. Soubry, as all liberal wets and socialists do, tried to shut the debate down by by accusing the UKIP leader of putting “fear in people’s hearts” and he was being “prejudice”. She might as well have accused Mr Farage of being a “raaacist” and have done with it.

The junior defence minister was earlier exposed for not knowing her defence brief when she said it was “just not true” that South Korea is building four Royal Navy tankers in the week the shipyard in Portsmouth was closed – in fact, it is true! Anna Soubry then was rattled and lost control, just like the Coalition government continues to do over immigration.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage

UKIP leader Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage, earlier on the programme, had recalled an exchange with David Blunkett on BBC Question Time ten years ago when the former Labour Home Secretary said there would be just 13,000 Poles a year who would come to the UK after EU accession in 2004. “I said that was nonsense because logic said if you extend to poor people the ability to come to a rich country they’ll come in huge numbers. And in the first two years, 800,000 people came. That…is a fact”, the UKIP leader told last night’s audience.

This then sparked Anna Soubry’s rant. It would seem any mention of immigration, in Soubry’s mind, must be shut down, never to be discussed. This was despite the programme being broadcast from Boston, Lincolnshire, which has seen one of the highest influx of East Europeans in the last decade meaning it takes two weeks for local residents to get a doctor’s appointment and the local schools and hospitals are creaking under the strain of catering for a population size the public services were never designed for.

David Cameron’s election strategist, Lynton Crosby, was probably watching with his head in his hands. He was understood to be furious when another liberal wet, Ken Clarke, called UKIP supporters “clowns” just before the English County Elections, when Ukip pushed many Tory incumbents into third place. Since then senior Conservative ministers have been told to zip it.

But either Lynton Crosby has changed tactics or Soubry didn’t get his memo, just like she didn’t get her full briefing on defence I guess!?!?


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Mass immigration is making British workers poorer

Census 2011 reveals immigration numbers are higher than we thought

There have been a flurry of news stories over the last few days, which are all intertwined.

On Monday I found myself agreeing with Labour’s Chris Bryant. I am almost nauseous in writing this but as I tweeted at the time Mr Bryant spoke a lot of sense. He was pointing out how big firms like Tesco and Next deliberately set out to recruit foreign workers over UK nationals. For all their weasel words about Corporate Social Responsibility, large companies couldn’t give two hoots about ensuring local people benefit from having the likes of Tesco, Next and any other business trading in their village, town or city. Their only concern is maximising profits and if that means busing in Poles in their early twenties with no family ties or dependencies to pack containers in a distribution warehouse for a much lower cost than a person with a family to support then so be it. What do the senior managers care? They are doing very nicely back at the mansion in Hertfordshire with their cheap immigrant nanny and gardener.

But the issue of immigrants undercutting the unskilled and semi-skilled indigenous workforce is not a simple one.

Later on Monday Channel 4 broadcast a documentary entitled ‘Benefits Britain 1949‘ which took three benefits claimants from 2013 back in time to the rules of the welfare state in 1949. The documentary demonstrated once again how ridiculously generous the welfare system in Britain has become. William Beveridge, the economist who designed the welfare state and was later implemented by the newly elected Labour government in 1945, did so for one main purpose: to stop people starving. If you fell out of work, Beveridge, rightly, stated people in a civilised country should not starve to death as a result. That is all it was meant to do.

William Beveridge

William Beveridge

But in 2013, millions of people receive handouts and in some families, three generations have NEVER worked. They have everything paid for by the State (i.e. the taxpayer) and we are not just talking about food and heating. Flat screen TVs, Xbox, Sky TV, cigarettes, alcohol, cars. The list goes on. We learnt from Channel 4’s documentary half the population of Nottingham are on benefits. Beveridge will be spinning in his grave.

On Channel 4’s Benefits Britain 1949 there was a woman called Karen who hadn’t worked for years and certainly didn’t look like she went without food. She pulled up at the Labour and Welfare Office (as the Job Centre was called back in 1949) in a shiny new car, paid for by the taxpayer through her Mobility handout. Karen then met the welfare officers who interviewed her for eligibility for out-of-work payment. Karen was keen to point out every part of her body had an ailment and so she was judged eligible for some form of handout from the 1949 UK state. But it was nowhere near as generous as she gets today in 2013. Karen’s 1940s weekly handout was deemed to be £38.48 (adjusted for today’s prices) — compared to the £155.34 she currently receives. The car she has courtesy of her Mobility allowance was also taken away. Karen’s immediate response was to hurl expletives saying: “I’ve done my f***ing share for Britain, I’m doing no more. They can f*** off.”

Later Karen has a medical assessment using 1949 criteria for determining her fitness to work. Karen is asked to lift a bag of potatoes which she fails to even lift off the floor so the doctor places just one potato on the desk in front of her and asks Karen to pick it up. She pauses and then reluctantly decides to pick it up but immediately complains of pain in her arm. The doctor then asks her to cut out the shape of a star from a piece of paper which Karen bounds up to do, until the doctor explains it will help assess if she is capable of tailoring work. Karen suddenly has a pain in her thumb.

The problem with Karen is there are millions more like her in Britain and this is one of the reasons why millions of other workers are fed ‘chicken corn’ by their employers or not even offered work at all. There is just no competition in the indigenous workforce as millions know they are paid more in benefits than work could offer them. The labour gap is then filled with cheaper, eager young workers from other EU countries with no family ties or dependencies enabling businesses to lower wages to maximise their profits. It is then the unskilled and semi-skilled UK nationals who suffer as they are caught between a rock and a hard place: many want to work but cannot afford to as wages are lower than benefits. So immigrants who are being paid, in some cases ten times what they could get paid for the same job back home, suck up the jobs and the vicious circle keeps on turning. There is a solution of course: cut and cut again the welfare bill. Lowering it to a cap of £26,000 (which is equivalent to earning £35,000 in work), as the Coalition have now done, is insulting not only to the taxpayer but to the unskilled and semi-skilled people desperate for a job.

Back in Benefits Britain 1949, Beveridge’s original inception was proving fruitful once more. Another claimant featured was Craig who has spina bifida and is confined to a wheelchair to move around. He is, rightly, on disability allowance, but in 1949 a person with a serious condition like Craig’s would not receive his current £171.25 a week and instead he would have been paid just £7.49 (adjusted for today’s prices) a week to stop him starving. I’m glad the system has progressed to offer Craig greater monetary assistance from the State today but the 1949 system was actually very generous indeed. In the documentary, Craig was offered a training course to help him get a job and if he accepted the course he would get £100 a week. Craig is provided with a training course in a call centre selling entertainment venue tickets. The office environment, desk, computer, telephone setup is ideal for Craig with his disability and he soons excels – to the extent the boss offers him a job. Craig is overwhelmed with happiness and tells the producers this is the first time he has ever been offered a job. In 1949, companies were compelled to take on disabled workers and they would be prosecuted if they failed to comply. The documentary presented a startling statistic which dismisses the notion everything was horrible and evil in the past and today is the enlightenment era: in 2013, only 46% of disabled people are in work; in 1949, 94% were.

Yesterday, the perversity of the way modern Britain allocates money was thrown into the spotlight once again when it was announced railway season tickets will be going up by as much as 9.1% from January. Whilst we are happy for ordinary workers to be squeezed of tax until the pips squeak to pay the likes of Karen to sit on her backside all day, the same workers are then hit AGAIN with exorbitant travel costs they MUST pay to get to work to PAY their taxes. Surely, we should be helping those who work hard and keep the country afloat and not assist millions to shy away from work?  I’m surprised us hard working people in this country haven’t revolted yet.

Of course the Government can get away with setting rules which allow train operators to impose inflation-busting ticket price increases as the workers who pay the country’s bills are a captive market. More and more people have to commute long distances to reach work because the cost of housing closer to their place of work is too expensive. On top of that because of mass immigration caused in part by an incredibly generous welfare system, overall competition for jobs is cut-throat, thereby keeping wages down as well.

It all comes back to immigration. No wonder EU-phile Chris Bryant has been forced to talk about it. It is the number one issue when voters are asked in surveys because the people know it is the reason why their pay is low, their son cannot get a job and the reason millions of idle work shy Karens sit at home all day feeding off the wages of those who have jobs. We know it must stop but the papers on Thursday tell us the political elite still don’t get it.

Quelle surprise, the number of Romanians and Bulgarians heading to Britain has increased by 37,000 since June last year taking the total to 141,000. How, you may ask, is this possible when the accession rules forbidding Romanians and Bulgarians from working freely across the EU is not lifted until next year? Ah, they use a well-known loophole in the rules and declare themselves self-employed so no work visa is required. Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of MigrationWatch, estimates 50,000 Bulgarians and Romanians will arrive in Britain each year for the next five years. So Tesco and Next can breathe a sigh of relief there profit margins aren’t going to be squeezed by the demands of local people wanting work quite yet. The peasants are back in their box for the time being.

It is time Britain was less tolerant. We pour £50 Million a day into Brussels but receive very little back. What does our EU membership fee get us? It allows millions of EU migrants, some from very poor countries like Romania and Bulgaria, to come over to Britain and look for work. The operative word being ‘look’. The likes of Tesco and Next might give them work – for less than they would pay the indigenous peasants population – but even if they don’t, the same migrants can board the great UK welfare gravy train and start claiming for housing allowance, income support, mobility handout, and, of course, the state pension.

I’m surprised Great Britain hasn’t sunk yet under the weight of the mass influx from East, West, South, North within the EU into our little island, which due to following an economic model which actually works (unlike the Eurozone), enacted by Margaret Thatcher, we became one of the richest countries on Earth, never mind Europe. But in typical socialist fashion, Brussels has dictated they will have our money thank you very much, and the mass redistribution of wealth from the UK to the other 27 EU states is now the order of the day.

Isn’t it time we put our own people first?


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Ipswich Star plays catch-up to local blogosphere

BBC beeline: Graffiti and boarded-up shops in Upper Orwell Street

BBC beeline: Graffiti and boarded-up shops in Upper Orwell Street

The Morning Ipswich Star have finally woken up to the story about how the national broadcast media portrayed Ipswich as run-down and overwhelmed by immigrants in their prime-time news bulletins covering David Cameron’s immigration speech at University Campus Suffolk on Monday.

Today, their political editor, Paul Geater, has boasted on Twitter that the Morning Ipswich Star has three pages (although most of the space is taken up by photos) dedicated to the story that Ipswich Spy and Gavin Maclure’s Musings covered extensively yesterday. I suppose that’s the problem with the dead tree press media: they can’t help but play catch-up but the Morning Ipswich Star does have a semblance of a website now so it’s not much of an excuse really.

Like all newspapers, the Morning Ipswich Star failed to credit the Ipswich Spy or Gavin Maclure’s Musings blogs for developing the story preferring to scrape a few tweets off Twitter and then – in typical deluded Star-style – did a vox pop on how wonderful everything is in Ipswich and we are the third happiest place in the world (ok, just the UK!).  The same paper then has Mr Geater write about how Ipswich is suffering a deeper recession than other places! Go figure.

You’re either in front of the blogosphere, or behind…


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Ipswich not served well by Number 10 media machine

This would have been a better backdrop for Ipswich

This would have been a better backdrop for Ipswich

The national media rode into town yesterday for Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech laying out the Government’s vision for controlling immigration into the UK. Things were hopefully planned with the best intentions by Number 10 and I trust Ipswich MP Ben Gummer also made sure Ipswich would get a good press.

Although things do not always go to plan and yesterday was no exception. The first impression the PM and the travelling media pack got of our part of the world was the appalling Great Eastern mainline. True to form, the train would not move further north than Essex which meant David Cameron and his entourage had to alight one stop before Ipswich at Manningtree and continue their journey by car to Ipswich’s Waterfront. I presume David Cameron’s vehicle security detail had to rush down the A12 to pick him up considering they were expecting him at Ipswich railway station? It’s not as if this hasn’t happened to him before; I recall a visit from Mr Cameron when I was the Conservative Party Ipswich constituency chairman in the noughties when the then Leader of the Opposition had to get off his train at Colchester (even further south) due to Network Rail’s incompetence.

But if that memory didn’t cross over into Government, Mr Gummer surely could have reminded the PM that the railway service in East Anglia is horrific? Then the Prime Minister could have just done the entire journey by car and stuff the green movement for a day.

Once David Cameron arrived (late) into Ipswich he was whisked into the back entrance of University Campus Suffolk and straight upstairs to deliver his keynote speech to the bored journalists and a few hand-picked Tory members (those who wouldn’t ask awkward questions, hence I wasn’t invited!). But whilst the speech was being heard, the national broadcast media had teams out in Ipswich trying to find the “immigrant community” and they slyly found the least attractive part of Suffolk’s county town: St Matthew’s Street. This area of Ipswich is known for it’s row of immigrant-run shops from Turkish Kebab houses to Polish delis and unlike in some of the “diverse” areas of London, St Matthew’s Street is also known for its run-down appearance. This was the perfect backdrop for the likes of Sky News, ITN and the BBC for their reports showing vox pops asking if immigrants are claiming benefits without ever working, how the Government intends to stop this (if the EU allows them) and the new coalition proposals to ensure recently-arrived immigrants cannot get a council house. It wasn’t exactly an advert for the Visit Ipswich tourism board!

Image

David Cameron rushing back to his car after delivering his speech – Image courtesy of Ipswich Spy

The media cannot be told what to report (well, the Royal Charter might try and do that but its not law yet) but Number 10 and Ben Gummer could have done a better job at ensuring David Cameron did not just use University Campus Suffolk as a warm place to deliver a speech but also as a way of promoting Ipswich to a national audience during this recession-hit cold Spring. When the Prime Minister finished his speech (and had the obligatory photos with the select Conservative Party members) he practically ran to his armoured Land Rover, not even stopping for the freezing newspaper and blogosphere photographers kept outside. I am told by a reliable source that the editor of the Morning Ipswich Star, Terry Hunt, desperately tried to get David Cameron to stop somewhere with a backdrop that said Ipswich rather than any old building somewhere in Britain but he was running late (thanks to Greater Anglia and Network Rail!) and needed to get back to London.

And so the dreary side of Ipswich was what made the national news yesterday evening, which is a real shame for a town that finds it difficult to be confident at the best of times.


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BREAKING: David Cameron in Ipswich to talk tough on immigration

Prime Minister David Cameron is making a speech on immigration in Ipswich at UCS

Prime Minister David Cameron speaking in Ipswich

UPDATE: David Cameron experienced the horrendous Great Eastern mainline during his journey from London to Ipswich this morning when he was forced to alight at Manningtree because of “problems on the line” forcing the PM to switch to a car for the remainder of his journey. Let’s hope Ipswich MP Ben Gummer took the opportunity to lobby the Prime Minister for more investment in the railway infrastructure in this part of the world.

You can read a full report of Mr Cameron’s speech complete with photo of Cameron and bodyguards courtesy of Ipswich Spy.

Prime Minister David Cameron has arrived in Suffolk’s County town to say he is ‘rolling up the red carpet’ for immigrants.

In 2010, Ben Gummer was one of the few Tory parliamentary candidates to put a leaflet out during the General Election voicing his concern over uncontrolled immigration. Mr Gummer will have had some involvement in the Prime Minister’s visit as is customary when an MP visits another MP’s consituency (despite how senior the visiting MP is!).

As has been attributed to me before by leading Tory blogger James Spencer of the Bridge Ward News parish, if the Conservative Party had been as right-wing as Ben Gummer in 2010 they might have won the General Election…