So here’s the scenario – you work for a multi-national company which employs tens of thousands of people, you already get paid better than the industry average, thanks to the global downturn your company starts to lose money and develops ways to try and keep the company viable by changing some working practices and downsizing just a little.
What do you, as a responsible employee do? Do you:
a) Work with your managers to implement the changes in a bid to ensure that the company survives and therefore you stay in work, or;
b) Vote to go on a strike which will cripple the company financially, penalise tens of thousands of innocent customers and possibly destroy any hope the company has of surviving?
Sadly, the cabin crews of British Airways have voted to do the latter, and while managers at BA are desperately trying to ensure they can still get most of their flights away when the first strike starts tomorrow, the company has already lost an extra £25 million as a result of the Unite union’s idiotic and confrontational attitude, and say that if the strikes go ahead, the losses could be hundreds of millions.
At the heart of this dispute are a bunch of fat-cat union leaders who are dictating terms and using 16th century industrial relations techniques to try and hold not just British Airways, but every British taxpayer to ransom.
Tony Woodley and his cronies at Unite are betting that the Government will do everything it can to stop British Airways, the country’s national airline, from going to the wall; the union leaders have seen the massive pay-outs made to the banks to stop them going bust and are fuelling the dispute with the privatised company to get the same result, so they and their members can line their pockets still further at our expense.
You know full well that while the passengers are left stranded and the rank-and-file union member goes hungry on the picket lines, the union leaders will still get paid and have full bellies, sitting at home warm and secure while everyone else suffers.
These dinosaurs have never liked the privatisation policies under which many nationalised industries were sold off in the 1980s; true, some of the sales were done monumentally badly, but that does not necessarily mean they were bad, however, with private companies in charge, the unions lost their power because their political donations to the Labour party were suddenly disconnected from the people who ran the companies.
For years the unions have been trying to reverse those sales and after the banking crisis and the bailouts that were handed out last year (which effectively put some banks back under Government control), these backward, knuckle-dragging morons have seen an opportunity, and are betting their members’ pensions (not their own of course) on the Government doing the same for BA if it goes to the wall.
Whether they succeed or not is another matter, with tens of thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on BA, and many tens of thousands more working for BA’s suppliers, this dispute may just be the biggest mass (professional) suicide in history.
On the other hand, this Government is so spineless, the unions may be on to something, and certainly the railway workers seem to think so, as they’re now planning strikes of their own.
In the meantime, we, the fare-paying, tax-paying passengers can only struggle on with our lives, watching our work and incomes be ruined by the outdated actions of a bunch of greedy old farts.
I hope anyone who has a flight cancelled this weekend sues the Unite union for their losses – that would serve the ignorant bastards right.
I’ve made many observations in the past about the stupidity of the law, and it’s now becoming clear that different laws and different legal systems are stupid for different reasons.
Take Sharia for instance. There are many people I know who believe it is a perfectly sensible system and who abide by it every day, and on the face of it, Sharia is no different to the Ten Commandments, upon which most common law is based – actually, it’s just common sense.
What’s not common sense is when a law is hi-jacked and used by extremists to impose their morals on others, or exploited by small-minded fools to hold back the development of a society.
Take this story pictured in the National newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, where a British ex-pat and a UK visitor were seen kissing in a hotel restaurant after having a drink, and as a result have been sentenced to a month in jail and then deportation.
Now, I have plenty of friends who have worked in the Middle East and who relate ludicrous horror stories like this every time I see them.
I have also visited the Jumeriah Beach Residence in Dubai and know that it is an ultra modern hotel which like many in the region, sells alcohol to ex-pats and foreign visitors, and feels entirely like any other luxury hotel anywhere in the world.
So here’s a few matters arising:
Some friends meet for a drink and a meal, in a place where food and alcohol are openly and legally sold to them.
Some woman, who has her kids with her at 2 o’clock in the morning, sees them kissing, but doesn’t see them well enough to be able to tell whether it is on the lips or the cheek, tells the authorities and suddenly these people are arrested and face jail time.
Now, if someone is jailed for having drunk alcohol in a place where alcohol is on sale, isn’t that called entrapment?
If you are taken into an environment where you are treated very much as if you were at home, and arrested for doing something you would normally do there, are you not being deliberately misled?
If I had my children in a hotel bar or restaurant at 2 o’clock in the morning, shouldn’t I expect to be arrested for child abuse and have my kids taken away by social services?
Unfortunately, this is all perfectly normal in the fairytale-land of the Middle East, and it tells you a lot about how the people of this region are simply not ready to deal with the West, despite claims to the contrary by it’s leaders, even though almost all of them have not been elected, and who treat their own people like children.
Cities like Dubai have spent jaw-dropping amounts of money on buildings and infrastructure, using an army of slave labourers from South Asia; they have enticed Western businesses with tax-free financing to set up shop there so they can point to these developments and say they are democratic and modern, and they build fantastic hotels and allow them to sell alcohol to ex-pats so as to encourage these businesses to bring staff over.
But underneath it all, the old laws remain in place – the laws that were developed in the Middle Ages still hold sway, and of course, ignorance is no defence.
And there’s the problem: Western people are encoraged to go into cities like Dubai, they are made to feel at home, given all the comforts of home plus tax-free wages, or stay in luxurious hotels where food and alcohol are freely available.
But technically, the laws still apply, even inside the hotels.
Add to this a swathe of local people who see huge amounts of money being spent on Western-style business and hotels and not on them, and you suddenly have an army of spies who are full of righteous indignation and happy to exploit the old laws to their own advantage to make life uncomfortable for any Westerner who strays.
If you treat people like children, is it any surprise that they act like them?
The same is true in the stone-cold sober world of business, and I have heard many a tale about Western business people held in the country they called home, against their will, because there is a dispute over their business dealings, usually because the local partner faces having to take some responsibility for their actions and like a pouting teenager would rather falsely blame it on the “corrupt” Westerner.
Again the local laws are little changed from the Middle Ages and in countries where you need a visa to leave the country, and where bureaucracies are still based on paper and fax, where there are no bankruptcy laws and where debtors go to prison (and the local labour laws prevent them from finding other work) and where the court system is as transparent as mud, there’s no wonder Western businesses find the cards stacked against them if things go wrong.
Until these iniquities are sorted out, the Middle East will never be a safe place for Western companies and executives to do business, and that won’t happen until these countries grow up and drag their people and their legal systems into the modern age, and start treating them like grown-ups.
The collective sound of jaws dropping across the breakfast tables of Britain was almost audible this morning as people read the details of how the leader of the UK Indpendence Party, Nigel Farage, has claimed £2 MILLION in expenses as a member of the European Parliament.
Compared to the expenses claims of our national MPs, Mr Forage’s efforts make their’s look like fiddling small change, and only go to prove that if someone is doing something wrong, someone, somewhere is doing it bigger and better.
Like many, when I first read of this, I was tempted to launch into one of my usual rants about MPs, polticians, tax-payers money and especially the gold-plated gravy train that is the European Parliament.
But how could I? By boasting publically, Mr Farage has made a bigger statement about the inherant, and accepted, corruption at the heart of the the EU than any rant by a mere blogger.
Indeed there is something deliciously ironic about the expenses system of the European Parliament being exploited, perfectly legally it would appear, to help fund the UK Independence Party’s message that the UK should get out of the EU.
The expenses, of course, are on top of Mr Farage’s salary of over £64,000 a year, and his party is jumping on the domestic expenses row to call on voters to punish “greedy” MPs at the European elections on June 4.
Cue the predictable braying from MPs in the UK, who lifted their noses from the trough long enough to heap scorn on Mr Farage, claiming he is a hypocrite and no better than they.
Sadly this only further demonstrates their stupidity and the genius of Mr Farage’s revelation and his timing – what they forget is that they themselves pledged that they would be honest, and they will now reap the whirlwind at the ballot box.
However, when it comes to anything to do with Europe, the electorate is so used to stories about the endemic corruption at the heart of Brussels, that we would probably have been more shocked if Mr Farage hadn’t been cashing in!
The other thing to note is that by using the money to promote UKIP’s message, Mr Farage has, at least, remained true to his principles, which is a damn sight more than most of his political peers have done.
OK, so I’ve really gone to town on the British political system and the current scandal over MPs expenses, but not without reason.
So as an antidote, I was pointed towards this video, a salutory reminder that whatever one may say about the UK’s political system, at least it is not one where the media debate is based on complete lies:
I really don’t want to even tag this with “bad journalism”, because that would imply that Fox News actually bears some relation to real journalism.
Conservative MP and so-called “Tory grandee” Anthony Steen is to become the second MP to announce that he is stepping down over his expenses claim.
The Totnes MP claimed tens of thousands of pounds worth of OUR money to pay for the upkeep of his “country mansion” in Devon, including work on 500 trees, leaking pipes, a wrought iron fireplace and lighting.
Yesterday another Tory MP, Douglas Hogg, resigned over expenses he claimed for having a moat cleared at his stately pile. He is otherwise known as the 3rd Viscount Hailsham.
Three points here – the first is that both of these men are long-standing MPs – Steen has been an MP since 1974, while Hogg was first elected in 1979.
These are people who know the rules of Parliament intimately, they know how the system works and how best to make it work for them – one wonders how many other expenses they have claimed over the last 30+ years that we are still unaware of?
Secondly, while it may sound like these people have done “the honourable thing” by announcing they are stepping down, one should remember that by “stepping down” this does not mean that they will be resigning immediately.
“Stepping down” means they will not seek re-election, so they will continue as MPs until the next elections, whenever that may be, and continue to benefit from all the trappings of grandeur and the perks that the post of MP brings with it.
Finally, they will also benefit from the pensions and other benefits that come to former MPs, including lucrative seats on gravy trains including NGOs, non-executive directorships in business or on government quangos, or even seats in the House of Lords.
Some punishment eh?
So don’t be fooled by the faux show of remorse by these people – what really grates is that had I, or any ordinary member of the public tried to get away with claiming for the upkeep of their homes against the public purse, say through our income tax or VAT returns, we would fully expect to be languishing in a jail cell now.
The first Prime Minister’s Questions after the full extent of the MPs’ expenses row was an instructive affair, and proof, if any were needed, that the whole British political system is languishing in a mire of institutional sewage and needs some brave, innovative thinking to drag itself into the 21st Century.
What was desperately needed was something which would begin the process to try and re-build the public trust in politicians and the poltical process.
What we got was the same ignominous braying from a bunch of arrogant parasites who have time and again thumbed their noses at the public who pay their wages; the whole thing descended into the same old party posturing, a pointless diatribe which characterises what passes for real debate by our so-called leaders.
Gordon Brown, the still un-elected PM refuses to call a general election, but the best reason he can muster is of the “chaos” that would be caused by a Conservative government.
Hang on a minute – this is Gordon Brown, admitting to his party, and the country, that he doesn’t think Labour will an election if one was held now.
And that’s why he won’t call one. Have you ever heard anything so craven and pathetic?
There is, at last, a growing, palpable anger among the British people about what has happened, and the way that they have been taken for a ride by their own elected representatives; Gordon Brown’s answer is to run away and hide, is there any wonder this country is in the state it’s in?
The other reason Brown musters is that, being in the middle of a recession, it is the wrong time to go to the country – again, this is utter hogwash. The current administration were responsible for getting us into this mess, how on earth can anyone have any confidence that they are the right people to get us out of it?
In 1979, when the UK economy was being flushed down the pan, the only thing that pulled the country round was the fact that James Callaghan, another un-elected prime minister, was forced to call an election because his government’s five years were up.
There were calls for him to go to the country in 1978, but he didn’t, and the economic consequences made the ensuing recession last far longer than it needed to.
The problem was that after successfully turning the country round, Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative party went too far the other way and destroyed much of the industry that made Britain what it was with an ill-conceived programme of deregulation and privatisation which laid the foundations for the economic crash we are now living through.
Maybe Brown is right, would we be any better under the Conservatives, or the Liberal Democrats, or would we just have more of the same from a party political system which is failing to respresent the needs of the electorate?
So the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin has finally resigned, but once again, he managed to screw that up, showing the now contemptible lack of leadership which has become a hallmark of his tenure.
The long-awaited statement on Monday about reforms to MPs’ expenses contained nothing about his conduct, or lack of it, and as predicted, there was no apology for the shockingly bad way in which “Gorballs Mick” has handled this whole issue.
We had to wait until Tuesday afternoon for the announcement of his resignation, and even then he didn’t express one iota of remorse for the way in which he had conducted himself, indeed he did not even acknowledge he had any responsibility at all for an episode which has seen the Mother of Parliaments dragged through the mud.
No doubt glowing tributes will follow and the professors of rotational medicine who still haunt the corridors of power will relentlessly paint Martin in a good light, eventually trying to re-write history.
I hope, for the sake of posterity that they don’t succeed – Martin’s nine years in the chair have seen him preside over a shocking decline in the public trust of politicians and Parliament as whole; he has allowed mendacious and corrupt potilicans to take us into illegal wars and pass legislation which has demeaned British society and the human rights of everyone living here.
And right to the end, at a time which the House of Commons desperately needed someone to grasp the issue and deal with it like a true leader, Martin just sat and let it happen, he completely failed to lead and made it look as though there was tacit approval of all the corrupt practices that had been going on.
Thankfully he has gone, “Gorballs Mick” will not be missed – actually “No Balls Mick” is probably now a more appropriate description.