Letters - Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Sinking into a swamp of incompetence
Over the weekend I phoned my son who lives overseas to bring him up to date with events in the UK – and what a depressing picture.
Public transport fragmented, agriculture pulverised, distribution crippled, education stultified, care homes neglected, NHS overstretched, infrastructure crumbling, pensions and support inadequate, houses incrementally degrading, poverty increasing, the North further disadvantaged, fuel unavailable, HS2 stopped in its tracks at Birmingham, industry impoverished and just about everything set to get even worse.
The Government squandered £30bn on Track and Trace but can’t find 10 per cent of that to rescue the ever-growing numbers of people being put into distress though indifference and yet more to suffer as the extra costs of picking, processing and shipping are set to rise and be added to the higher wages demanded for shop personnel.
Where next? The tips jar on the back of the pub bar to become the subject of legislation?
My son, a developmental manager, whose instinct is to improve and coach people, pointed out that development should always start with an achievable goal. The tips jar might just be the answer.
And, the depressing thing is that, as the ivory tower of privilege and detachment sinks slowly into the swamp of incompetence, it’s the top floor that gets swallowed up last.
A Dickensian Outlook is needed
We are facing tax increases, a rise in the price of energy, and food, supply chain issues, plus a continued shortage of HGV drivers, a shortage that will not go away until the current facilities for them are vastly improved, and post Brexit consequences. In brief, a witch’s cauldron of problems that would test Solomon’s mythical powers. On the other hand the pandemic is easing somewhat.
History and classical literature demonstrates this is not new. Charles Dickens, for example, put it thus In his outstanding book A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
In short, although he was writing about the late 18th century he could have been writing about today.
He was also clear how to tackle the many problems. I am afraid Boris, his remedies didn’t include a deluge of childish jokes!
Dickens was a prescient character whereas today, governments and their armies of special advisors, whatever their ideology, seem incapable of anticipating the consequences of decisions or events. Possible second-order consequences are totally ignored.
The crucial question all decision-makers need to ask: ‘But what if ?’ is apparently never asked in Whitehall. Perhaps the preponderance of lawyers, public relations men and women and accountants is the reason.
Dr Barry Clayton
Scandal over pay of key workers
It is a national scandal that a third of key workers have had to use food banks during the pandemic.
After everything they’ve done for us, they deserve a pay rise.
But what we heard from the Prime Minister and Chancellor at the Tory Party Conference is far from that.
Key workers kept us going through the darkest days of the pandemic and now they are facing a pay freeze. When the supermarkets needed to be stocked, they were there. When the elderly in our community needed care, they were there. When our hospitals needed to be cleaned, they were there. And yet, key workers still earn eight times less than the national average.
This isn’t just about doing the right thing by our key workers. Analysis published by the TUC shows how the economic recovery can be sped up by reversing cuts to key workers’ pay, making pay rises for other workers more likely too. Parliamentary constituencies will get an average economic boost of £6.2m if real terms pay cuts since 2010 are reversed. We need our MPs to listen and take action - we all stand to gain from key workers receiving the pay rise they deserve.
Trades Union Congress
Pay rise harms small business
How ridiculous is the proposal that the minimum wage should be £15. Small businesses cannot afford this. This is the reason we are not competitive in manufacturing because of high wages. Labour is not in the real world and is desperate for people to vote for their party at all costs.
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