Sunday, 28 July 2013

Naughty Weiners, royal babies and bishops bashing Wonga

British workers need more than just ‘platitudes’ from politicians if a living wage is to be introduced, so says not Red Ed but Dr John Sentamu; otherwise known as the Archbishop of York.

Writing in the Observer last weekend the combative cleric said the ‘scale of low pay in Britain is a national scandal’, he went on to call for more to be done to help those workers who earn above the minimum wage but still can’t afford a decent standard of living.

The idea of introducing a living wage, set at £8.55 in London and £7.45 for the rest of the country, has attracted honeyed words from all three main parties, but these have not been backed by much in the way of action. In his article Dr Sentamu writes that ‘what workers need is pay not platitudes’, adding that too few employers have ‘stepped up to the mark’ in terms of fair pay; go get em Bish!

Not to be outdone Sentamu’s boss, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, laid into high street loan company Wonga a couple of days later saying that he wanted to use church run credit unions to ‘compete them out of business.’

Dr Sentamu is set to chair the Living Wage Commission which will campaign for the introduction of a living wage across the country. The strongest argument at his disposal will be that if introduced a living wage would save government £4billion in support for low earners and boost the national income by £6.5billion, with a corresponding knock on for consumer spending.

Ok Justin Welby had to wipe a bit of egg off his face with the hem of his bishop’s robes when it emerged that the Church of England had invested money in Wonga, but once again it is leading religious figures who are setting the agenda when it comes to tackling social issues.

The politicians seem to have painted themselves inextricably into the austerity corner, leading to some very odd positions being taken. For example the Tories want to make work pay in order to reduce the number of people claiming benefits, how exactly is that going to happen without the introduction of a living wage?

As for Labour they persist in the belief that willing complicity in the savaging of the welfare system will make them more electable; it will do noting of the sort. Backing a campaign to give the sort of people their party was created to fight for the confidence and security that comes from working for more than survival just might, what a shame not so Red Ed and his team are incapable of recognising a golden opportunity when they see one.

I’m not one of their flock, but having troublesome priests like Justin Welby and John Sentamu around is cause to sing hallelujah.

A poll conducted for GP’s trade magazine Pulse found that 51% of its readership supported the idea of charging patients a small fee of £5 to £25 for a routine appointment. If so they risk sending the NHS down a very dangerous road.

The logic, such as it is, behind the proposal is that charging a small fee will reduce the number of ‘unnecessary’ appointments and the workload placed on GP’s. All well and good until you remember that, as doctors are continually telling us in endless health awareness campaigns, even the most minor symptom could be a sigh of a major illness, so how exactly so we mere patients to know when our trip to the quack is unnecessary?

What will happen is that the poorest and often sickest people will be priced out of seeing their doctor, rich hypochondriacs however will happily pay to see the doctor and expect far more from him or her because they are paying. This situation where the rich get treatment and the poor stay sick is what the NHS was created to prevent, allowing it to return could spell the beginning of the end for universal free healthcare.

Anthony Weiner, a candidate to be mayor of New York m’lud has been caught, again, sending intimate photographs to women who aren’t the remarkably tolerant Mrs Weiner. Weiner, a former Congressman has form in this area and has faced calls to withdraw from the mayoral race.

Sex scandals need not necessarily be the kiss of death to a political career, consider the case of our own dear Boris Johnson, a tendency towards self sabotage always is though.

Bo-Jo rode out the media fuss about his affairs with a charm and aplomb that enhanced his appeal to voters in London. Weiner by contrast looks and sounds like the saddest sack on the truck, his sole motivation for entering public life seems to be to provide a stage on which to make regular pratfalls. It would be much kinder if he were allowed to return to the obscurity he so richly deserves.

And finally it is impossible not to mention THAT baby, Prince George Albert whatever.

As the nation alternately cooed and fawned around the royal Moses basket I couldn’t help thinking the poor mite doesn’t know what he’s in for; a life of wealth and privilege undoubtedly, but one marked by intrusive media interest and suffocating protocol too.

Add to this the knowledge that like his father and grandfather before him he will probably spend decades waiting to take on the only role open to him and Prince George might come to wish he’d been born plain old Mr Windsor instead.

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