Thursday 2 February 2023

To be fair. . .

I remember from years ago a competition, or maybe in was just a string of letters in the paper, to devise a motto for al the British to use instead of “Honi soit qui mal y pense” which was taken to apply just to the upper classes, or even only the royal family. The favourite which emerged was “Mustn’t Grumble.”. Given the mass strikes of the past few weeks, and scheduled to continue, that could hardly apply today. I suggest “To be fair…” as the contemporary alternative. I believe it is neither Brexit, nor the government’s manifest incompetence, nor inflation, nor even sleaze, which is the root cause of our disatisfaction, but a profound sense of unfairness. For years many of us have been have been disgusted by the government’s contemptuous treatment of our citizens at the bottom of the pile: the disabled, those on benefits, asylum-seekers and migrants, but this has not seeped through into mass demonstrations. Now the relatively comfortable lower middle classes – teachers, nurses, fire and rescue workers, civil servants, engine drivers et al are flexing the muscle that the poorest lack. They are not being treated fairly. Some of the wages allegedly earned by some in these groups, in the region of £40 000 a year, seem to suggest a fairly comfortable standard of living, though I concede the problem young people starting their careers have in buying houses, while we who already own one sit back smugly as our asset accumulates in value. But why should this supposedly “squeezed” middle put up with a falling standard of living, however comfortable, while those at the top are publicly raking in shedloads? Former prime minister Johnson is a prized and much publicised example. As prime minister he received a salary of £164 000, along with two rent free houses, yet he still needed access to a loan of £800 000 to fund his lifestyle. Since being ousted from No 10 he is still receiving his £84 000 a year MP’s salary and has received payments in the millions simply for giving speeches. Even Mrs May gets paid in thousands for a single speech, and has access to over £100 000 a year for life to fund her “office” (as do Sirs Tony Blair and John Major, and Messrs Gordon Brown and Johnson, and possibly even M/sTruss for her 44 day stint. All this is out of the public purse, from which the powers that be argue it is not possible to pay nurses etc a salary to keep up with inflation. But what our politicians take out of the national cake pales into insignificance compared with the millions and sometimes tens of millions which the heads of major industries pay themselves each year in what they are pleased to call their “compensation.” For a brief period during the lockdown months of the pandemic we recognised that it was not he hedge-fund managers and captains of what is left of industry who took the risks and kept the country going, but largely those at the bottom end of the pay rates: the nurses, teachers, refuse collectors, firefighters, post workers and parcel deliverers.. Some of those who now resist paying them properly turned out on Thursday evenings to applaud them. Now the crisis has passed (we hope) and their contribution to our civilised life is downgraded. I suspect the government’s strategy may well be that if they remain obdurate for long enough it will be possible once again to describe these valued citizens as “the enemy within.” Britain is a profoundly unfair society. The progressive parties need to band together to recognise this have the courage to promise to make it fairer. To be fair, this is not an easy ask. The Tories and their supportive press will be quick to trot out the cliché of the “politics of envy,” the fallacy of the “trickle down effect” and the myth of “plucky Britons” waiting to be unleased by the hope of riches. That is why we need courageous political leadership to “tell it like it is.”


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  2. “Honi soit qui mal y pense” (Anglo-Norman dialect of French as spoken by the Normans) means "disgraced (or shamed) be who thinks bad of it" was the motto of the the chivalric Order of the Garter founded by King Edward III of England. The probable motivation behind the formation of this order was to gain support for the pretension of King Edward III (descended from Geoffrey the Count of Anjou and later by conquest Duke of Normandy) to the throne of the Kingdom of France.

    Now that we have escaped from the under the jackboot of the un-elected fourth reich EUSSR bureaucracy, why is that the good King Charles III is not raising an army to reconquer first the port of Calais and then the other territories of Normandy and Anjou which rightfully belong to the English crown? Perhaps because of his nearly pure German blood line (father: House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and mother: House of Hanover) he could get some additional help in the raising troops with some German mercenaries from Hanover? (Nothing like a spot of war to take the mind of the people off the current government's electoral difficulties -- it did after all work wonders for the blessed Saint Margaret of the Shopkeepers.)