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- - By Mad_Accountant Date 09-08-2011 14:55
Never mind rubber bullets - live rounds please !

Stop this nonsense dead and reduce our benefits bill at a stroke.....
Parent - - By szecsei Date 09-08-2011 22:47
I'm waiting for the squaddies high on drink and adrenaline to be let loose on these. What a beautiful sight that will be.
Parent - - By Mad_Accountant Date 10-08-2011 06:15
You loot, we shoot.

A few years ago I was put into the unfortunate position of having to manage my Mother-in-Law's hairdressing shop after she repossessed it from a scumbag.

In the 18 months I managed it we were broken into no less than five times. Calls from the police in the middle of the night, emergency glaziers, sweeping up, boarding up, having to replace clippers and stock in order to open the next day - all whilst trying to hold down my day job.

I'm with farmer Martin. In the end I would have happily waited in the shop for them with a loaded 12 bore, and happily swung for them.

I can't describe the feeling of total frustration of never knowing when we would be hit next by what were described last night as "Feral Rats"

It started years ago with the lager ads idolising yob behaviour, now it's deemed cool to be a thug and we are in a spiral of decline in this country that must, surely, result in more of this nonsense.

Actually it infringes my human rights to know that these little bastards breathe the same air that I do.
Parent - - By Clunkfish Date 10-08-2011 16:19
It infringes my human rights to know that the real hooligans - bankers and speculators, Vodafone, U2 and all the tax-dodging plutocrats - not only walk free, the government wants to reduce taxes for fear of them upping sticks and leaving. Increase income tax, stop big companies avoiding corporation tax, and spend the money making this country look less like a shabby slum, and provide opportunities for youngsters to work and gain some self-respect. If Phil Collins, Tracey Emin, Lewis Hamilton, Sean Connery, Vodafone and the rest of the greedy tossers want to leave, then good. Watch them go, and then rip up their passports so they can't come back.

You can't keep young men in a hopeless dead-end situation, advertise unattainably expensive must-have consumer goods to them all the time, tell them about massively lucrative MPs' pensions and bankers' pay-offs, and expect them not to be seethingly angry. The greedy feral tossers in the upper echelons of society are now finding out what happens when you treat people like dirt. Unfortunately, the rest of us are caught in the middle.

(puts fingers in ears and waits for backlash....)
Parent - - By szecsei Date 11-08-2011 02:08 Edited 11-08-2011 02:12
I feel sincere truth in both comments. It's so important now for the nation to stand back and not revert to political tribes so that we can understand properly why this happened and then, finally, do something about tackling the root causes for the festival of crime we've experienced here in our towns and cities over the past few decades. This is the culmination of this and the explosion doesn't surprise me one iota, I've been waiting for it. It would be nice if there was some action and not just rhetoric on the issues of law and order, social segregation and quality of life. Sadly these issues are usually in the hands of people that live in Dorking and take great delight in Waitrose's selection of cupcakes instead of tackling the major (and smelly) issues we're facing. There is no left and right wing here, only a national crisis that needs resolving immediately.

I would add that the ring leaders do need a gun to temple, to have organised this orgy of crime and destruction they're beyond any help at all and we're wasting our time with them. We need to concentrate on the younger generation now to stop them falling into the same disasterous and vicious spiral that today's teenagers are in.
Parent - - By Mad_Accountant Date 11-08-2011 19:48 Edited 11-08-2011 20:53
This is not political demonstration, this is opportunistic criminality.

People have died, hard working business men, high street shops and SMEs have had their livelihoods destroyed. Both my daughter (in Manchester) and my Godson (in North London) were marooned in locked up shops absolutely terrorised by rioters in the streets outside.

It beggars belief that you can even begin to defend their mindless actions.

Years of political dogma have fuelled this, Lord knows how you begin to fix it.
Parent - - By Clunkfish Date 11-08-2011 22:17

>It beggars belief that you can even begin to defend their mindless actions


Hmm. You can't just dismiss alternative views as unbelievable. If you're prepared to assume that I'm an intelligent and rational person, then you have to accept that maybe I do have a valid perspective.

I understand your point and have some sympathy with it, but I believe it's more complicated than you say. I would like to see politicians finally accept that buying votes by lowering taxes has a societal cost, and that the cost is becoming starkly apparent in Tottenham, Birmingham and elsewhere. Explaining it as mere opportunistic criminality is very easy and convenient for the politicians, but we should be challenging them on this rather than making their lives easier by going along with it.

<soapbox>

For more than 30 years UK voters have been repeatedly seduced in the polling booth by the offer of lower taxes. It's about time some politicians had the courage and vision to say that a decent society costs money, and that the money has to come from income and company taxation. If we, as voters, had only rejected all these offers to pay less tax, we might now still have our energy, transport, manufacturing and finance systems not under the ownership of foreign governments, to whom they were sold to allow for the tax cuts. We flogged our country for a few measly quid and left it dirty, under-resourced, with shameful levels of child poverty, and with appallingly poor standards of general education. Many citizens now have lives so bleak that a riot is attractive to them, and they reckon that the consequences of being caught can't make things much worse than they are already.

The challenge for politicians now is to remind people that paying taxes is a common and decent good that we do to each other, not some imposition that we should shirk whenever possible; that taxes need to rise so we can afford to make our society pleasant and companionable. Then the rioting might stop.

</soapbox>
Parent - - By jrw Date 12-08-2011 08:43
Ok - I shall try a soapbox as well.

Currently the basic rate of tax for employees is about 44%, income tax plus NI (employee and employer). Raising that is debatable.

Wealthy people currently pay top rate of about 63%, income tax plus NI. It could be argued that the upper limit on employee NI should be abolished as NI is now a general tax and this would take it to about 74%. Other than that, raising this higher tax any more is unlikely to achieve a higher tax income as these higher payers are able to avoid lots of tax if pushed. Social engineering maybe to drive the very high tax payers out of the country but as a vehicle for increased taxation income - very unlikely.

The government wastes enormous amounts of money as do most large organisations but for central government and local government the culture of the managers and of the politicians makes this waste even worse.

I doubt if it will be done due to pressure groups and pet projects but major reduction of government waste seems to me the only policy that stands any chance of working.
Parent - - By Clunkfish Date 12-08-2011 10:22

>raising this higher tax any more is unlikely to achieve a higher tax income as these higher payers are able to avoid lots of tax if pushed


In that case we might just as well push income tax rates up very high. You have to ask, if it isn't really going to affect higher rate tax payers, why do they bleat so loudly about tax increases? Why do they threaten to leave the country?

>major reduction of government waste seems to me the only policy that stands any chance of working


I have worked in many large businesses, and I have run my own business. Inefficiency is a function of size, and is irreducible. You can't actually run a large organisation without what looks like inefficiency - if you try, you spend more and more money chasing ever-decreasing gains. There is a balance point between chasing down every penny and using your revenues to run the real business. Very large organisations, including governments, have that balance point in a very different place from small businesses, so can appear inefficient. They're not.

Opposition parties have tried this line for years - vote us in and we can cut taxes because we will cut waste. Result - lower taxes, but the country is a shabby dump in mostly foreign ownership. The "reduce waste" approach has been tried over and over again and patently does not work - we have had to flog the family silver instead in order to keep the promises to cut taxes. We need to raise government income in order to spend, and that means raising taxes. We are a low tax nation, believe it or not: the consequences are all round us and now in the news and in the police cells too.

Time to put our hands in our pockets, stop expecting something for nothing, stop believing the US-originated, Murdoch-promulgated "cut waste" stuff, and understand that we can't have it both ways. A country worth living in is one worth paying for!

Sorry, soapbox again....
Parent - - By nickmiddy Date 12-08-2011 12:06 Edited 12-08-2011 12:09
I work in a large business and with a wholesale change to our operations, we have reduced yearly operating costs by £1.75 BILLION with a target of £2  BILLION by the end of 2011, which is wholly achievable given the current plan.

So, it can be done. The problem is the people that know how to do it don't want to work in public office because the pay is terrible.

The UK government wastes too much money on stupid things.  My builder, who charged me £20k for an extension has a mate that gets paid £15k by the government to install a level crossing.  It's just a bit of paint on the road and a couple of small lamp posts. How that can cost £15k and I get a whole kitchen extension for £20k beggars belief.  I work in London in Whitecross St and we have a Market there. I normlally get lunch from one of the many stall holders there and know a few of them.  The council provides umbrellas for the guys to put their tables under. They told me the council paid £1000 for what is essentially a garden parasol.  The traders were so upset they found a better alternative for £300 but the council refused to change as the the cheaper supplier wasn't on their list of preferred suppliers. This is madness.  These are just 2 examples of what is wholesale waste in the public sector.  These are not isolated cases.

So to say that the Government will always be run inefficiently and we just have to accept is shear and utter nonsense. We need to stop trying to change and just fix what we have now.  Only then can we build.

I am pissed off at work because they want to give a large percentage of us a 10% pay cut.  Should I go and throw a brick through my managers office window because I feel hard done by? Or go and steal his bmw so i can joyride it around for a bit of fun and then drive it through a jewellery shop window to make up the difference of what i "deserve"? Or to buy a new iPhone?  Of course I bloody shouldn't. I should educate myself and figure out if i am willing to accept this or do something different for myself, not blame "the man" because I am not getting what I want.  Responsibility starts at home and if you aren't willing to take that responsibility, then you should be punished for it.

Nobody is willing to accept the lot they have and look to themselves to change that lot. My father and mother were Geordies brought up in abject poverty. They didn't complain, loot, riot, steal, beg.  They took the opportunities the state gave them, got themselves educated and tried to get jobs in the UK. They couldn't so left all friends and family behind and moved to America where there was work and they provided a comfortable middle class upbringing for me and my sisters. I am now able to go a bit further for my kids and hopefully they will go a bit further than me.

I am absolutely opposed to paying any more tax than I already do until the government gets rid of waste and convinces me they are spending my money efficiently and effectively.  Once they do that and then figure out how much they need, they will have a lot more of the tax paying population that would be happy to pay the right amount of tax, whether that be higher or lower. Until they can prove I am getting value for money, I will use every loophole I can to pay as little tax as possible.
Parent - By Clunkfish Date 12-08-2011 14:15

>to say that the Government will always be run inefficiently and we just have to accept is shear and utter nonsense


Look guys, I don't mind people disagreeing but can you stop saying I'm talking nonsense, or my views beggar belief? It's just a different point of view. You might not like it but that's life.

You axiomatically cannot reduce "inefficiency" below a certain level:
Case A: you manage a perfectly run organisation where everyone is fully employed for 8 hours a day doing their job and making no errors. A few new people join and make a few mistakes. Efficiency drops. You're in charge - what do you do? Assume it's one of the new people? So you decide to mount an operation to identify which one - but with what resources? Everyone's fully occupied....so you live with it. Gradually the perfect old people retire and the new people teach the even newer people their ways. Now everything is running OK, but far from perfectly. What do you do? They are all still busy all the time and you don't know which ones are the root of the problem. So you create a Department of Increased Efficiency. Who works in it? You could re-hire the perfect retired people as consultants, at consultancy rates...but that would reduce your efficiency even further, and you'd be sacked.
Case B: you run a very sloppy and inefficient organisation with lots of waste. You decide to mount an operation to identify the sources of waste. That means diverting existing workers from productive (low efficiency, but still productive) jobs, so your efficiency drops further. You are sacked.
Manager's decision in both cases - accept that you must have some inefficiency. Perfect efficiency is like perpetual motion - practically and theoretically impossible. It is a straw man - reducing government inefficiency is neither possible nor particularly worth attempting (as an example, take Vodafone. We sacked half of our tax inspectors, saving a couple of billion, and as a direct result Vodafone dodged several more billion in tax. Loss of jobs and loss of money, both as a result of chasing "efficiency". Sheesh.)

>with a wholesale change to our operations, we have reduced yearly operating costs by £1.75 BILLION


Yes you can change your business and reduce costs. I don't know what proportion £1.75bn is of turnover but I'm guessing either it's a very small percentage or the business model has changed in a very radical way.

Governments can't do that. They can't decide not to be a government but to be oil explorers for a year or two and then bullion speculators for another year or two. So they have many fewer degrees of freedom, which is good, because governments with lots of freedom become totalitarian very quickly. We need government to have a closely defined set of jobs to do, most of which are done by holding hands with their citizens as direct or indirect employers. Unless you want government telling you exactly how to run your business (because they can see a way for you to operate that might not suit you, but would make government more efficient), you have to accept that the government cannot run anything anywhere close to a highly efficient business.

Chasing government efficiency has been tried for over 30 years and has delivered absolutely zilch to us, so you can't even say that no one's tried. They have tried and failed, over and over, on both political wings, for at least 30 years. It does not work because it cannot work: it is trumpeted all the time because it is the only way in which an opposition party can offer reduced taxes without admitting that the cost will be paid in reduced public services. Furthermore, reduced taxes suit the very rich - people like Murdoch. So he uses his newspapers to make a lot of noise about £15K to put up a shelf or whatever (funny how it's always someone's mate's mate who has all the details) without any detailed analysis of why that figure is there. Cherry-picking examples out of context is meaningless. It works though, especially when it's the Sun or the Times or the NOTW that has it in 72pt headlines on the front page. With your parasols, maybe the same supplier that charges £1K gives free liability insurance, or has a good rate on other items, or has offered to hold the cost at that level for the next 50 years, or has a no-quibble guarantee, or provides back-end integration into the council's ordering system that saves one invoicing clerk job... without all the details, this sort of thing has no meaning.

What we have actually had as a result of all these lies and distortions by politicians and press is reduced taxes, reduced services, flogging off everything that you and I used to own on EUbay (my water's French, my electricity is German, my airport is Spanish), and a country so desperately poor that children live below the poverty line, leave school unable to spell their own language or do simple sums, and young men in inner cities think that jail is not such a stupid option.

And next time some shady PR git like Cameron offers reduced taxes and increased efficiency, people will swallow the old lie again, and ultimately the cities will burn again, because the lives of those young people have not been improved. I'll be upgrading my TV with my tax rebate, and they'll still be looking through the window figuring out the best way to break in and nick it.

Take a wander round a Swedish city. Income tax at 50%, clean safe streets, excellent benefits system, much better integration of immigrants. Take a wander round Bristol. Income tax at 20%, filthy dangerous streets, people living rough, anti-immigrant slogans daubed on the walls of people's houses (amongst all the other graffiti covering pretty much every square inch of our cityscapes now). Now tell me that I'm talking unbelievable nonsense. Now think that just maybe, paying taxes is not some evil imposition from above but a way in which we show kindness to our neighbours, and makes them less likely to rob or assault us.
Parent - By jrw Date 12-08-2011 13:18 Edited 12-08-2011 13:21
"Inefficiency is a function of size, and is irreducible. You can't actually run a large organisation without what looks like inefficiency - if you try, you spend more and more money chasing ever-decreasing gains.*

The government has a problem that is similar to the NHS. If the NHS did everything that was possible within current knowledge, their budget would balloon. It would be easily possible to spend more than the gross national product just on health. But they cannot spend that much so hard decisions have to be made as to where their money can be spent. Plus many people will not agree with their choice as there are bound to be many different opinions.

The government has the same problem. It needs to decide priorities for where they will spend a restricted income. All political parties wish to get elected or re-elected by spending money where their own group of targeted voters prefer. Due to the wide range of opinions the end result is that government spends money that it does not have. Basically all governments in my memory refuse to make hard decisions through fear of voters reactions (unless forced to do so by external agencies such as the IMF).

I consider that the debate should be about what we can afford not about how we should get more income in order to spend more.
Parent - - By Mad_Accountant Date 12-08-2011 08:53
I wouldn't dispute some of the above but two points....

When were you last in fear for your life and how would you feel if your children were put in that position?

Secondly, my children both attended state schools, they had the same educational opportunities as everyone else in this country, they both are graduates and have acceptable careers.

There is no excuse for looting or thuggery, nothing you can say will change my mind on that.
Parent - - By Clunkfish Date 12-08-2011 10:33

>When were you last in fear for your life and how would you feel if your children were put in that position?


I'm not disputing that what's happening is awful and inexcusable. I'm saying that we have to make a choice now between simply stamping it down - which will stop it for now, but it will happen again - or in addition trying to work out why it has happened and making a plan to stop it happening again. Just dismissing it as the work of inherently bad people is to my mind inadequate. People always act in rational ways, and we have to ask what in their lives makes it rational for them to loot, burn, attack, rob and mug.

>There is no excuse for looting or thuggery, nothing you can say will change my mind on that.


I'm not trying to excuse it! I'm trying to understand it, and trying to suggest what might be done to protect our children in the future. I for one would be prepared to pay a lot more in direct tax (sweep away all the insidious hidden taxes and put it all on income tax) so that people didn't figure they had nothing to lose by mowing down three heroes in a street in Birmingham (and by the way, those three should receive the highest posthumous honour the country can award).
Parent - - By szecsei Date 13-08-2011 15:08
I have read all these posts carefully and, as would be expected, people have retreated to their political camps, battened down the hatches to try to ward off the invaders with lots of screaming and jangling of weapons. It is remarkable in a country, where the political differences between left and right wing parties are so minimal as they are today, that there is so much tribalism in the politics of the population. I feel that it is this very entrenchment that has got this country into the mess we're in today, where major decisions are not taken on the basis of what is 'the best' for the country on balance, but for the sake of political points scoring. A small but very significant example is the removal of the western congestion charge extension by Boris Johnson shortly after he was elected as Mayor. Admittedly, there were good reasons to remove the extension, but an enormous sum of money had been expended on installing it under Ken Livingstone and in view of the investment, it may have been prudent to wait a while and see how it beds in before consigning all this technology to the dustbin and paying huge sums of money to private contractors for breaking their contracts, when they had a contractual expectation to earn X sums for however many years they had been awarded the concession. The whole sorry saga is a direct example of government waste, and does not relate to the 'size' or 'inherent' inefficiency of the organisation but the mentality that lies behind its management.

Calling for higher taxes in the UK is a futile exercise whilst we are as badly run as we are today. The UK public sector is fundamentally a bankrupt business due to mismanagement calling for additional funds from the banks or shareholders to stay afloat, when in the business world it is survival of the fittest. We experienced meteoric tax rises under the previous Labour government leading to hugely increased expenditure on public services and took our tax burden to that of our western European brethren, yet we still experience significantly poorer services than they do. There was an enormous expansion in managerial or consulting roles, in a desperate attempt to bring order to the chaos, and the bloated budgets were ruthlessly exploited by the private sector for whom the government cash was a bonanza on a level they could never imagine. Why? I believe the roots to all this lie in the politics of  the post-war, when Europe was swept with a wave of liberal, left-wing sentiment that served as the foundations for the relatively successful social democracies they are today. The left wing made a huge balls of up its term in the UK and the country's electorate responded with Thatcherism, that saw the public sector as the enemy and private enterprise as the beacon of progress. They trashed the public sector as a place to work, cut back massively on the state's involvement in the provision of services and created an aparthied between public and private sector that to this day stands. Successful kids don't want to work for the public sector because it's seen as 'second grade', full of 'non-jobs' and 'low-paid', although ironically the latter statement is no longer true due to public sector salary inflation over the past 15 years and the contraction in the private sector due to the recession. The private sector creamed off the best people whilst the public sector was a collecting house for second grade staff or people with a social conscience (or sufficient private wealth) that would accept the poorer working conditions and lack of social status.

For decades the UK has been progressing upon the path leading to the US free market model, whilst trying to keep a foot in the pool that is the European welfare state. The UK today has ended up as a jack of all trades and master of none, where our taxes are relatively high by global comparison and free enterprise complains of being shackled by high costs and burdensome bureaucracy, combined with a poor quality public sector spending this tax money and trying to offer the full gamut of services that our European brethren do, but due to the sheer burden the welfare state experiences, isn't capable of adequately providing a decent safety net to people in need. Our pensions are the very worst in the EU compared to average salaries (this includes figures from eastern European countries that recently joined), unemployment benefit is a paltry £56 a week, very soon housing benefit in the south of England will be incapable of putting a habitable roof over people's heads. Comparisons with Scandinavia are non-sensical for an array of reasons, and taxing the population to the degree that they are taxed there will not turn Bristol into Stockholm, anymore than if I start training 6 hours a day now, I won't be in with a hope of winning the 400m finals at the Olympics. Scandinavian populations are not 'tribalised' to any degree, they are very homogenous, both in mentality and ethnicity, the population generally wants the same thing, at the same time and have the same opinion how to go about it. They dress the same, eat the same things and drive the same cars. They have signed up to a society that taxes salaries highly but understands that their high quality public sector will provide high quality public services in return, without allowing the profiteering of private enterprise to drive down the return they see on an invested Kronor. In many European countries, working for the public sector is a top quality career choice with job security, good salaries, pensions and excellent working conditions. In the UK it is the polar opposite and has been seen and is, in practice, a second grade employer to work for. A lower tax economy has created an acquisitive one where property is seen as an investment vehicle. Initially relatively high levels of disposable income, combined with no controls on the acquisition of property has turned the nation into a collection of greedy feudal landowners that seek to profit from bricks and mortar. Prior to 2007, the key difference between the property haves and have-nots appeared to be who was willing to tell the biggest lies about their fictitious income on a self certification form. By definition, the moral types have ended up without a home due to spiralling property prices whilst the spivs now have 10 flats to their name that they are renting out for ever greater sums in a markets with no supply, no price reductions and where people unable to get a mortgage (the majority) are turning to renting. Course, it could have easily gone the other way, where collapsing prices lead to deflating rents and people would be unable to subsidise the mortgages on 10 flats at at time when rents are decreasing, leading to ever greater quantities of flats coming onto the market, feeding the downward spiral. To stop this calamity, the UK cut interest rates to 0.5% to prop up this farcical bubble and resolutely refuse to raise them, despite consumer credit costing double figures and inflation running at nearly 5%. This act also trashes the value of our currency as our government bonds became worth much less due to paltry returns. Savers are sacrificed at the alter to keep the spivs in curry and stop the theoretical value of your house declining, for fear of retribution from a stupid electorate who cannot see that this would be a good thing. 50% tax rates on the working population would impoverish most of the country whilst house prices and rents are as high as they are. People are already struggling to survive in a country that successive governments have created.

Another aspect of the UK public sector is that it became a collecting house for the left-wing, who saw themselves as defeated and marginalised during the Thatcher era. The public sector served as a perfect trojan horse from which to mount an attack on the 'forces of Conservatism' whilst sitting in town halls, local education authorities, local transport departments, et al. They were motivated by vicious dogma and have consistently ignored public opinion to deliberately attempt to get up the noses of the right wing, whatever stupidty or damage that may entail.

Nobody can do anything other than condemn absolutely the violence we have witnessed, only a few crackpot extreme left types have had the balls to stand in front of a tv camera and do otherwise and they have rightly been shouted down by the population. Trying to understand the causes behind the orgy is not making excuses or taking away the weight of the condemnation. If something happens, we need to understand the root cause why, we cannot just say that it's outrageous and hope that it never happens again. Sure, keeping police on every street corner in London is a solution of sorts, but if we don't deal with the underlying causes it is only a matter of time before the weight of people willing to pillage and smash their way around London is so large they'll overwhelm those 16,000 police officers as well. The 6,000 we had on the first night, should theoretically have been more than adequate to stop some hundreds of teenagers running amok. They weren't, and 16,000 wouldn't have been because they were told to stand back, let chaos reign and that they would be arrested later. We can't be conlusive because the Met will never tell us, but we can reasonably suspect that they were light touch because of the ethnicity and youth of the people involved. The Met didn't want the death of another black teenager on their hands, they knew what the inevitable consequences would be and they thought it's better that half of London is destroyed than fear triggering another public inquiry in police tactics. The corrosive politically correct dogma that has tied the hands of the police force has resulted in this outrageous explosion of violence. This was the night when the tenets of multiculturalism ceased to have any further validity and if liberals are upset at the outpouring of right wing bile that has accompanied the sweep up operation, they only have themselves to blame for stretching the limits of people's tolerance and believing in an 'Emperor's new clothes' approach to race relations and policing in the first place. The huge danger we face now is that because we are such a diverse country, the less intelligent members of respective ethnic factions could descend into all out warfare on the streets, as individually ethnic minority groups are not small in number. The largest of these factions, the uneducated white trailer park contingent are potentially the most dangerous as they now feel empowered to seek retribution and take back the streets.

To quell the overheating reactor, we need to have a mature debate about race relations without resorting to slanging matches about racism. I'll spell it out in black and white, no pun intended. The country does have a problem with black teenagers in inner city areas. Urban black culture, imported untranslated from the US is a massively corrosive one and accents on violence, the acquisition of fast wealth, 'bitches and Bentleys'. It is hugely influential in how these kids talk, dress, behave and their self image vs. the rest of society that it seen as the enemy. Education, work, leading to future success is not in the urban dictionary for these kids, and it is not entirely their fault when they have been allowed to become immersed in this crap without any guidance from their parents or guardians. In turning themselves into an alternative tribe, they have marginalised themselves and turned themselves into social pariahs that people are actively afraid of. The police and society doesn't give them any respect because they are not trying to earn it, rather they want to engender fear and menace to take revenge on a society that they percieve that has wronged them. The UK's diversity conveniently provides examples of other ethnic groups that are not influenced in any way by a vengeful attitude, by and large the country doesn't experience problems from Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Turkish or eastern European immigrant groups. Where there are isolated cases, it is down to a lack of individual morals and education, not that of large portions of an enthnic group. In fact, statistics show us that many immigrant groups achieve better results at school and have higher per capita average incomes than the indigenous British population. I believe the UK is mature enough and enough good work has been done for race relations over the past 30 years to have a mature debate. A professional black man in a smartly cut suit travelling on London Underground will experience no racism, only collegiate behaviour. When I see such a man, I feel very warm inside and admire his strength of character to have broken out of the young black model and in doing so he can achieve great success, as fundamentally society as a whole is benevolent and is seeking to help such guys and girls, where the opportunity presents itself. Sadly, most of the time it doesn't and nobody wants to employ any kid, of any colour, who talks 'street' and whose whole get up and appearance would chase away their customers.

France and Germany have high levels of ethnic minority immigration, countries like Sweden and Austria, relative to the size of their population have larger groups than the UK! The big difference in all these places is that there is one creed, that of the nation you are living in. France welcomes immigrants and challenges racism, but they are immensely proud of their history, lifestyle, cuisine, actually just 'being French', and they expect immigrants to sign up to the same social contract and come join the party, not willingly want to turn their back on the society where they live and attempt to exist in a parallel universe. The United Kingdom has lost its sense of identity as a whole. We no longer know what we are, where we came from or where we're going and only some serious national soul searching will put us back on the track. The UK has a great and noble history (as well as some less proud moments of course), it is the world's oldest democracy, it is a beacon of culture for the world, there is little finer than visiting parts of the British countryside when looking for pretty scenery, beautiful stately homes and inns that were serving warm beer 500 years ago :) We have beautiful towns, art collections and institutions of great heritage and wisdom. The UK could have a very clear identity that we could all subscribe to, yet we retreat into tribes with our own social codes and identity and actively disapprove of being 'British' for fear of this looking 'nationalistic'. Multiculturalism has emphasised difference and pushed people apart, it has sidelined the indigenous culture which could be the only glue that bonds us together, and is turning tribe against tribe with potentially horrifying results. Why the hell can't we all stand under the same flag and be friends?!
Parent - - By Clunkfish Date 13-08-2011 19:31

>I have read all these posts carefully and, as would be expected, people have retreated to their political camps, battened down the hatches to try to ward off the invaders with lots of screaming and jangling of weapons


Blimey. I don't have a political camp and I am not screaming and jangling weapons, whatever is meant by that bizarre and apparently rather discourteous expression. I'm a pathologist by training - I look for causes of disease, not instant fixes. I also like to use data, or at least real world examples, to try to back up the points I make; I distrust rhetoric.

>the public sector was a collecting house for second grade staff or people with a social conscience (or sufficient private wealth) that would accept the poorer working conditions and lack of social status


And also teachers, university researchers, doctors, police, firefighters, nurses, the military....don't tar everyone with the same brush just to score a point.

>Another aspect of the UK public sector is that it became a collecting house for the left-wing


Have you actually been in a school, university, hospital, fire station, army base? I suggest you be prepared to run if you try this line in their presence...

>The corrosive politically correct dogma that has tied the hands of the police force


Oh dear. "Politically correct" translates as "polite". "All this politeness these days, you can hardly say anything without offending someone. "It's politeness gone mad." Being polite does not cause problems on the streets. Thinking it's OK not to be polite does.

And on that point - what is it about the internet that makes otherwise perfectly nice folks, I'm sure, describe things they don't agree with as "nonsensical"? If something doesn't make sense to you, the safest assumption is that the failure lies in your understanding, rather than in the other person's ability to mount a rational argument.
Parent - - By szecsei Date 14-08-2011 00:05 Edited 14-08-2011 00:28
Clunk, no offence was intended, apologies if it was taken as such. My analogy of medieval tribes battling each other was just a metaphor for the general debate between left and right, where people become entrenched in one particular political mindset, not a reference to incivility on this site. It was not phrased well and I appreciate if it was taken as a direct description of previous posts. I would however say that a clear left/right divide was visible in the replies from everyone.

Turning to your second point, I appreciate that 'public sector jobs' also entails those in schools, hospitals, army, etc, although I did not have these in mind when I originally wrote my response. Specialised medical, military or emergency response jobs can only be carried out (by and large) by working for the state, so there isn't a private competitor that serves as a comparitor for salaries and working conditions. People undertaking these jobs also tend to have a specific calling to do them, and I'm delighted that they do because they are amongst the most challenging tasks to perform, however if you're working as an administrator for the parking department of your local council then a very similar or even identical role could be sought in the private sector. Same if you're doing such a job for the NHS or a school. The problem has never been the quality of our medical staff or the dedication of our teachers.

Ditto for point three, I did not have them in scope and I should have been clearer.

I disagree that a synonym for political correctness is politeness. PC is far more than just the search for expressions that cause least offence and if a term does cause offence, it should not be used at all, which is not political correctness, it's just human civility. A possibility is that PC is being used as a term far broader than that it was originally intended for, in which case the vernacular is incorrect and we need to relabel things.

I felt that comparison of the UK with Scandinavia is non-sensical because there is no basis for the comparison, not because I didn't understand the point you were making. I gave clear evidence for the reasons why I felt it to be such, the two places are so different that we will never be like Scandinavia. My description of the differences between the UK and Scandinavia should also be linked to my description of what happened under the last government when the tax take rose significantly. As I backed up my points clearly, I do not think it was uncivil of me to call the point non-sensical. You will have noted that I agreed with most of what you otherwise said, the key sticking point for me was that I felt that higher taxation will not lead to a better public sphere in general, indeed, precedent would suggest that the extra money will go on making smart alecs within the private sector even richer, feeding off the additional cash that has become available.

The internet is not lending me any extra bravura than I otherwise would have in offering my point of view, I would be happy to do it verbally, if someone had the patience to listen to it all :)
Parent - By Gerona-bike Date 14-08-2011 08:00
I would like to say that my ONLY defence of Clunkfish would be his right to express his opinion.  However, I very much agree with HIS comments as well>
Parent - - By Clunkfish Date 14-08-2011 08:41

>Clunk, no offence was intended


Those clarifications are understood and much appreciated :-)
Parent - By szecsei Date 14-08-2011 12:38
I'm pleased that's cleared up :) The peculiar thing about this debate is that actually everyone is right!
Parent - - By Clunkfish Date 14-08-2011 08:50
I see that Simon Hughes is saying something similar to the points I have been trying to make (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/14/profits-top-simon-hughes).

I should point out that I'm not a Liberal Democrat, don't much like the Liberal Democrats, and have only ever voted for them once (tactically, trying to get rid of Liam Fox in my constituency: it didn't work, and I wouldn't do it again). I'm not pushing Simon Hughes' views with any agenda, I mention it more because it forces me to admit that maybe I was too cynical when I said no politician ever advocates higher taxes and more public spending to improve our society. Finally one of them has taken the plunge!
Parent - By mach2 Date 22-08-2011 19:57
Gosh
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