Them & Us

Dangerous driving

Comedian Al Murray’s reactionary alter ego character – the pub landlord – must be wondering just how ludicrous his general election manifesto must become to out-trump Ukip.

The latter’s latest nonsense outburst comes from Lynton Yates, its parliamentary candidate in Charnwood, Leicestershire. His party leaflet called for benefit claimants to be banned from driving cars and instead use buses. He also reckons, in a disingenuous environmental claim, that such a ban would remove six million vehicles from our roads. Presumably, Yates intends removing adapted mobility cars from disabled people.

Of course, the use of public transport should be encouraged. But ensuring that it’s affordable, accessible, reliable and safe would require public ownership and substantial government investment – two policies that Ukip opposes!

Dark side of the moon

“Fall in real wages prompts 40% rise in workers with second jobs”… “The UK is becoming a nation of toilers. With living standards at their lowest in a decade and real-term wages falling 8% since the financial crisis” (Financial Times 26/1/15).

Officially, there are now 1.2 million workers with second jobs, up 450,000 since 2006. But that leaves out workers forced to ‘moonlight’ with second jobs in the so-called grey economy, which has grown to an estimated 3% of GDP.

Head of the queue

Thousands of City Link workers were shafted when the courier company folded without warning over Christmas, with the government picking up the tab for redundancy payments.

Another 1,000 self-employed and agency workers were also sacked, with some self-employed drivers owed more than £20,000. However, while these workers are likely to find themselves at the back of the queue for payment Rentokil Initial, which sold City Link for £1 in 2013, will scoop a multi-million payout when the courier firm’s assets are sold.

Worse off

Austerity: ‘We’re all in it together’ is the government’s unconvincing slogan. But according to the Institute for Fiscal studies the poorest UK households have suffered the most from the Tory/Lib Dems coalition welfare cuts and tax rises. The average household is now £1,127 a year worse off since 2010. The income of the lowest 10% of earners fell by 4% whereas the richest 10% suffered a 2.6% drop.

Lording it

If readers believe that feudalism was swept aside during the English revolution then think again. 84,000 ‘manorial rights’ claims were issued to home owners (including freehold properties) in the last two years. These claims allow lords of the manor to mine underneath their land, to hunt, shoot and fish on the property, and even to stage fairs!

In October 2013, 500 households in Welwyn Garden City received notices telling them that Lord Sainsbury (former Tory leader in the Lords and supermarket owner) had registered claims to manorial rights over their properties.