A strange thing happened this morning, I read Richard Littlejohn’s main column and largely agreed with it. His basic argument was that the middle-classes who complained about the budget – ironically such complaining was as usual led by the Daily Mail – were complaining about a loss that could easily be covered by decreasing unnecessary spending. He points to the fact that thousands queued overnight for the new iPhone which at £500-600 a go is hardly cheap, nor is the equally popular iPad. If the middle classes can afford to keep up with bleeding edge technology then losing £700 or so over the course of the year isn’t going to put them into poverty*.
He even seems to understand that the budget for many does mean increasing poverty, but it also highlights that often poverty goes hand-in-hand with purchasing processed foods, which are more expensive than fresh veg and bulky foods. Avoiding poverty for many involves altering lifestyles, go out less, consume less, shop more carefully – and stop throwing billions of pounds worth of rotten food away each year. We are all guilty of some waste and could all cut back to some extent.
The budget will hit people at the bottom of the economic pile, and it is those that we should as a society try to protect and raise up – which I firmly believe this government will fail to do and that they will make their lives worse. However, as Littlejohn points out, if you can afford to spend £500 on a new mobile phone, you can afford to pay a little more in tax. It is a shame that this isn’t expanded: if a great deal of society can afford to pay a little more in tax, then why are we not raising taxes to protect the public sector that does so much for us?
Nonetheless, this is still Richard Littlejohn we’re dealing with so of course he couldn’t fail to mention Gordon Brown, the person who underwent gender reassignment and has won their legal battle to claim a woman’s pension and of course the obligatory lie about ‘elf n safety’:
A couple of weeks ago I wondered who would want to live in a wheelie bin, following the issuing of new elf’n’safety guidelines to dustmen.
They now have to check before emptying that there’s no one lurking inside, after three people were crushed to death.
After he mentioned it a couple of weeks ago the HSE took the time to shake their heads in despair and issue a short response – not for the first time – to Richard:
Re: Richard Littlejohn “I’ve heard of living in a box. But living in a wheelie bin is plain daft.” – 15 June 2010
I am disappointed that Mr Littlejohn misrepresents the scope of the guidance that has been issued to help reduce the likelihood of people being crushed horrifically after seeking shelter in bins.
The guidance was drawn up in direct response to requests from the waste management and recycling industry following three deaths in the last year alone. It is not new law as your article suggests, but simply a guide to help businesses comply with current law.
The guidance clearly applies to commercial waste bins and communal domestic bins only – not household wheelie bins. We do not expect refuse collectors “to poke around in the contents of every bin on the off-chance that they might find a drunk taking a nap”. This would be neither proportionate nor sensible.
The guidance also outlines simple measures those who produce waste, such as shops and restaurants, can implement to discourage people from entering bins in the first place.
HSE fully appreciates that vulnerable people will not be reading Materials Recycling Week and that is why we are also working to make homeless charities and organisations aware of the issue so they can help warn the people they work with.
It says a lot about Richard Littlejohn that he completely ignores the facts even when explicitly informed of them and happily repeats lies.
* For the record my wife-to-be-next-month and I are both in education and both face 2 year pay freezes so I do understand the impact of this budget on the real middle earners; i.e. those earning around £22-23,000 per year. I appreciate that it is much easier for millionaire tax-dodgers like Littlejohn to say ‘stop moaning’, because he has no financial worries like the rest of us. I also understand that the Daily Mail idea of ‘middle’ earners is those on around £50k a year, so I have much less sympathy for those people who should really understand they earn over twice as much as the real middle earners.