Op-ed: Pensions in the UK have been protected by a triple lock but that looks set to be scrapped.
David Cameron's election promise was a committment to the triple-lock until 2020 at least.
BBC News claims "As a result of triple-lock policy, the state pension has risen by a relatively generous £1,100 since 2010, with an increase of 2.9% in April this year." Break that figure down and it is less than £200 a year; less in some cases. Much less than £3 a week.
But Cameron has gone and the government is now led by unelected PM Theresa May.
Younger people who may say "good" to news that the triple lock could end need to consider a few things not least that the state pension is a pittance in real terms and that for older retired people the pension is as good as it gets for the rest of their lives.
Getting old is a fact of life; the only alternative is dying young.
But when we are young it is hard to envisage yourself as an older person, frail, perhaps with no family, maybe still struggling to pay rent or doing OK financially until a long term husband, wife or partner dies or has to move into a residential care home.
It is all relative and many people will know at least a few older citizens who continue to work into very old age or seem to have an affluent lifestyle.
The reality is most pensioners are not wealthy.
The state pension is not a huge amount of money nor is it a state handout or a benefit.
Down many years people pay into the system, play by the unwritten rules, and toe the line hoping they are paying in for a little security in old age.
There are always some, like my parents who died aged 55, Dad, and 58, Mum, who are never able to claim their state pension.
Dad worked all his life, including military service during the second world war, but his pension entitlement ended with his death obviously, resulting in money going to the Treasury for use as they see fit.
Recent governments in the UK have made a complete hash of pensions; not the very generous pensions of politicians however.
It was decided to equalise retirement age and rather than bringing the age down for men, the age women can retire has been gradually increasing. Men also face a higher retirement age; how high depends on their age now.
Trust politicians to make it complicated and unfair
Check out WASPI women to understand the pension problems of women born in the 1950s. Check out the new flate rate pension to understand that it offers a two-tier pension system with people born before a certain date losing out.
The new flat rate pension is touted as a good thing and a fair system but it is not available to all.
The Pensions Reform Group
Frank Field, 74, is the veteran Labour MP who chairs the House of Commons work and pensions select committee.
Who is Frank Field?
In a report on immigration in 2006 the Guardian said "Devout Christian and fervent admirer of Lady Thatcher, the outspoken Labour MP has fanned further controversy, this time over immigration, but until his vision of a new Britain is achieved, he won't be silenced."
A strange sort of Labour politician.
Tony Blair also had an uncomfortable positive opinion about Maggie Thatcher.
That Guardian report had to this to say about Field back in 2006:
In his youth, he was a member of the Conservative party, but he was thrown out for opposing South Africa's apartheid system. Shortly after becoming the MP for Birkenhead in 1979, he took on Militant and threatened to stand as an independent if they attempted to deselect him. And then there are his views on the welfare state, which place him firmly in a category all of his own, certainly within Labour. Put most simply, he believes it degrades the very people it is meant to serve, that it creates a benefit-dependent, work-shy sub-class. 'It's our fault as politicians to have put temptation in front of people,' he has said. 'If the system pays people more on incapacity benefit [than jobseekers' allowance], it's human nature to claim the higher amount. We have to remove the incentive.' In short, Frank Field wants to sack the nanny from the nanny state.
From 1997 to 1998, Field served as the Minister of Welfare Reform, before leaving the Government, following differences with Prime Minister Tony Blair but in June 2015 Field was elected Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee.
Although this report is about pensions it seems fair to include information aout Mr Field who is chair of a committee recommending an end to the triple lock.
Percentage pay increases are always a mixed bag.
"State pension to rise 2.5% from April to £116 as 'triple lock' boosts pensioners' handout twice as fast as workers' pay. Pensioners will get a 2.5 per cent hike in their basic state pension from April to £115.95 a week - substantially more than either inflation or the average pay rises workers are getting.4 Dec 2014"
NOTE pensioners handout? NOTE increase to £116 a week!
Apparently such excessive pension rises are not sustainable.
But compare that to "Queen in line for £2.8m pay rise in 2017-18" a headline this week and one from February 2016 "MPs get pay rise of nearly £1,000 despite one per cent public sector wage caps." That increase took effect in April "nine months after they received a backdated 10 per cent pay rise from £67,060 to £74,000."
Should I trust Mr Field and his committee to sort out my pension?
According to Wikipedia:
Two nights before the Conservative Party leadership election in November 1990, he [Field] visited then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street. He advised her that her time as Prime Minister was drawing to a close and that she should back John Major to take over the role. His reason for doing so was that he felt that her Conservative colleagues would not tell her straight that she could not win a leadership contest. Following this meeting, he was smuggled out of Downing Street's back door. Two days later Margaret Thatcher supported John Major for the post, and Major went on to be Prime Minister
Maintaining the status quo and helping the establishment is unappealing especially in a Labour MP. But he started out as a Tory and some things never change.
Having touted austerity and tried to make poorer and vulnerable people pay for the mistakes and mismanagement of others is the government about to move on to pensioners?
Many pensioners traditionally vote Tory. Most pensioners bother to engage with politics and vote. But generalisations are sloppy.
Either way hitting the incomes of pensioners is more divide and conquer and will fail to address core issues.
Will this also be blamed on BRexit?
The judges have faced a series of attacks since the ruling, in one case citing one of the judge's sexuality.
Thursday the Daily Mail went with "The unelected 'activist' judges who mounted a 'power grab': High Court trio who blocked Brexit are led by one who founded group dedicated to furthering European integration."
In that report the Daily Mail says:
The bombshell court ruling which has bogged down Britain's exit from the EU in a legal quagmire has sparked a row over how UK judges are appointed.
In truth it has nothing to do with how judges are appointed but all to do with the judges making a ruling they do not like.
But the Bar Council has said that the "serious and unjustified" attacks on senior judges should be condemned by Tory Lord Chancellor Liz Truss.
Ms Truss has responded by saying an independent judiciary is the "foundation" of the law. That response was quickly condemned as insufficient and far from satisfactory.
There had been calls for PM Theresa May to make a statement but according to the Mail she is unavilable as "British PM heads to India with eye on post-Brexit ties."
The ill-thought out and badly handled EU in or out referendum was always going to lead to trouble. If a majority of voters had opted for BRemain perhaps it would have been plain sailing. That however would have depended on how close the result was.
But Pandora's Box is open and the UK will look a laughing stock on the world stage unless the government gets its act in order.
Unless the government win an appeal in the Supreme Court Parliament will have a final say and vote on when or perhaps if Article 50 is triggered so that the process of the UK actually leaving the EU can commence.
SNP MPs representing Scottish constituencies in Westminster are not expected to support the triggering of Article 50. In Scotland more than 60% of those who voted chose BRemain.
Whatever the outcome there will be a lot of disappointed people in the UK.
Op-ed: A High Court ruling Thursday highlights how shambolic BRexit and the Tory government overseeing the process is.
On June 23 a majority of voters chose BRexit.
Thursday "The high court has decided the government does not have the power to trigger article 50 without consulting parliament" throwing a spanner in the works.
Nothing much in real terms has happened on BRexit since June 23 but there has been a greal deal of procrastination, pontification, a plummeting pound, inflation and other serious economic woes.
Following the High Court ruling Thursday the value of the pound is up highlighting that it is all a sham.
Right-wing rag the Daily Mail reports:
Judges trigger major constitutional crisis as they deliver 'slap in the face' to Theresa May by ruling MPs MUST be given a vote on Brexit but ministers vow to overturn controversial decision.
The government will appeal the decision and unelected Prime Minister Theresa May insists the schedule for BRexit will be met.
But the government cannot trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and begin the formal exit-negotiations with the EU without including parliament.
According to BBC News "A statement is to be made to MPs on Monday but the prime minister's official spokesman said the government had "no intention of letting" the judgement "derail Article 50 or the timetable we have set out. We are determined to continue with our plan"."
Political leaders are viewing today's news from different angles. Nigel Farage smells a rat and thinks the government may renege on BRexit. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn however urged the government "to bring its negotiating terms to Parliament without delay", adding that "there must be transparency and accountability to Parliament on the terms of Brexit".
Thursday's court ruling is a mixed bag.
If it is upheld it could be a positive or a negative.
Remember Theresa May is not an elected Prime Minister; she took over from David Cameron when he turned tail and ran following his disastrous handling of the EU referendum.
The electorate will be better represented during BRexit negotiations with cross party involvement.
The worry is that the Westminster hierarchy will work out a BRexit to suit their agenda rather than the will of the people.
This story is set to roll.
Read the full ruling here.
Or the official summary here.
Legal arguments against Brexit revealed for the first time, ahead of High Court battle.
Will MPs let the UK exit the EU?
The Labour Party Compliance Unit has suspended some members for a range of perceived, real, fantasy and or trumped up allegations. Justice is a long time coming for some still suspended from the party.
Today though it is a Liberal Democrat suspension, subsequent resignation and response and it is one of their peers, Jenny Tonge. On Facebook Ms Tonge writes:
Today I have resigned from the Liberal Democrat Party at more or less the same time as they decided to suspend me!
The timing of the Lib Dem spat may be important.
Sky News reports "Earlier on Thursday afternoon, Jenny Tonge, Richmond Park MP from 1997 to 2005 and now a cross-bench peer, was suspended by the party only hours after protests from MPs over comments made at an event she chaired in Parliament. One speaker apparently compared Israel to Islamic State, and suggested the Jews were blamed for the Holocaust. Within an hour of her suspension, Baroness Tonge announced she was quitting the party."
"I was chairing, I did not make any speeches, I introduced the speakers and in the course of that meeting there was a great rant", she said.
Ms Tonge was not one of the speakers but chair person.
Sky News continues "A few hours before her suspension, Tory MP David Davies complained about the event to the Leader of the Commons, David Lidington, during Business Questions in the Commons. "May we have a debate on the use to which these premises may be put following reports that outrageously a member of the House of Lords presided over an event at which Israel was compared to Islamic State, and the Jews were even blamed for their own genocide?", said Mr Davies.
"Could we discuss this and also whether we should be issuing an apology for these outrageous comments to the Israeli government and the Jewish people."
Dare we ask if all this aggrieved anger is more to do with political advantage and the Richmond Park seat up for grabs?
Other than that dare we comment in McCarthy-style political Britain 2016?
This post is a type of part two following on from Tuesday's "Since when was the word TRAITOR so abusive."
The above letter was received by the person in Tuesday's story; a Labour Party member who was recently suspended from the party for a handful of angry tweets.
Tweets which on the grand scale of abuse would probably be laughed out of court. No swearing, no nastiness and no threats.
For me it is ironic that in so many ways Labour's NEC and General Secretary Iain McNicol are acting on a par with the management of American owned supermarket chain Asda.
How so I hear you say? Well this is how.
When an Asda colleague faced disciplinary action for a silly angry comment on Facebook, with no names but obvious hints that Asda was the target, he was hauled over the coals. As an older man months away from retirement he opted to act with his feet and walked.
That person was and still is my husband.
But among those hauled over the coals for his indiscretion, calling ASDA "shite factory" and the "head man" useless following a crappy night shift, was an older female colleague who dared to LIKE his post.
She in fact was given "counselling" for her sins.
So how is the Labour party different? The answer is that at this time it is not.
People choose to join the Labour Party and pay for the privilege. They do so for many reasons.
They use social media in their own time and what they choose to share and re-share should be down to them.
If they break the law or are truly abusive that is a different matter.
But if party members share another person's social media comment what then?
Will the Labour Party like Asda offer counselling? Will they exclude a member for retweeting?
The following was retweeted by our source and forms part of the suspension process in this case:
ŷStrong stuff that makes your blood boil? Banter that will be a step too far for some? Hilarious? Silliness or what?
Opinion: aged 64 perhaps I am out of touch. Certainly some of those currently suspended from the Labour Party are my age or older.
They have seen life and some. They know first hand real trials and tribulations. They are real adults living in the real world.
Do the Labour Party want to be elected or not? Do they only want to be elected if they have removed Jeremy Corbyn? Do they think they can disrespect and or remove members and those same people will vote for them?
I am increasingly at a loss as to WTF is going on and why.
Do they think this constant "bad news week" will do the party's image any good? Will they say well you should not share it online?
Too that I would have to say "on yer bike."
Tough working-class people do not always swear but some do. Some are better educated than others. We the people are far from "champagne socialists." But as a point of fact many of those in Labour attacking Corbyn as some sort of "champagne socialist" are far from working class.
But it is a convenient tool like allegations of perceived abuse.
In much the same way unnamed sources within the Labour Party feed the right-wing mainstream media negative articles those accused and suspended are finding it increasingly difficult to get information from the NEC and are sharing their stories with people like me.
Letters and documents legally requesting information are arriving with redactions.
What have they to hide? Who is trying to hide?
Let's face it any person can screenshot an angry tweet or comment, send it off to the dreadfully named Compliance Unit of the Labour party and have any person suspended.
Jeremy Corbyn may not do personal but many ordinary people do. We lash out on social media often following provocation.
The above letter received by our source is not the first. As a point of fact that person tells me "they just asked me to appeal. I've already appealed 3 times what do they want? Blood" and perhaps they do; their "pound of flesh" to quote Shakespeare but that is not a politically correct saying these days.
Many things about all of this make me angry.
As yet I am not directly affected but we lefties traditionally care for and about each other.
Seeing the Labour Party act much like Asda chastising employees is more than worrying though. It is a bloody disgrace.
OK now do your worst Mr McNicol.
Free speech ASDA or lack of it - http://www.wherebuttheuk.com/uk-news/free-speech-and-asda-or-the-lack-of-it
In the run up to the Labour leadership election 2016 a series of party members where suspended from the Labour party.
Reasons were at times vague and many people smelled at least on big fat rat.
For most their problems stemmed from activity on social media.
For many it also appeared to be a McCarthy style witchunt with Jeremy Corbyn supporters targeted.
If that was the case were or are Corbyn supporters excessively abusive online? Just where is the line between banter and abusive interaction online?
If you are active online and drop by political forums, especially on Facebook, you may have already experienced abuse of some sort. It could be simple school yard type name calling or something more serious. It could also be by way of a "troll", possibly of the paid kind, and aimed at getting you to respond angrily.
It is then as simple as them copying your response and sending it off to the Labour Party validation team.
Initially this writer and Labour Party member was determined she would not stoop to that level but after too many online friends were removed from the party, perhaps temporarily, but all without due democratic process, it was a case of why not?
I posted a series of reports which featured some high flying abusers in the Labour Party followed up by open letters to the validation team.
Councillor John Ferret was one and he quit Labour recently. Did he jump before he was pushed? Who knows and in his case who cares. He has posted vile stuff on Twitter since Corbyn was first elected September 2015 egged on and supported by some MPs and he continues to do so.
But here is the thing.
A few things about the so-called #LabourPurge2 are worth noting:
One friend today has received details of five comments made on Twitter that used the word traitor.
One was actually during an interaction with Jo Cox who was murdered in June of this year.
But and there is a big BUT.
No expletives were used, no nastiness either, but pure and simple anger in response to a lack of support for party leader Jeremy Corbyn. A party member, an ordinary retired person who responded angrily as Labour Party MPs who opposed and still oppose Corbyn closed ranks.
Traitor was one word some had warned would be off limits.
However such ridiculous infringement of an adult's use of social media would act as a red rag to a bull in many cases.
In truth for some it would become a fight for freedom of expression.
Some of those suspended refused to toe a party line if that meant a curb of freedom of expression and can you blame them?
There was a time the Labour Party would have supported Evelyn Beatrice Hall who wrote the phrase: ""I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" as an illustration of Voltaire's beliefs. Hall's quotation is often cited to describe the principle of freedom of speech."
Social media at times is anything but social. It sometimes is more like anti-social media but how you choose to spend your free time is up to you as long as you do not break the law.
Since when has the word TRAITOR broken any laws?
I can think of far worse name calling, have seen it and experienced it in fact.
There is always the block button or the police if abuse is actual real abuse not simply silly name calling.
Remember some words hurt as they are close to the truth.
For many Corbyn supporters those who plotted from day one to undermine and then remove him from office are traitors pure and simple. They feel they have been betrayed by those who vowed to support whoever was elected leader. So a natural choice of word is traitor.
As for the Jo Cox comment hindsight is a wonderful thing.
At the time my friend commented to Jo Cox "traitor" no person could have guessed what was to follow - the murder of Jo Cox.
I have my own theories on #LabourPurge2 and I am sure you do too.
Feel free to share your opinions in the comments section but remember the thought police may be watching. When I used that phrase in the Labour Party Forum on Facebook months ago I was ridiculed but hey I am a big girl and can take it. Sadly however it seems that was not such a silly notion after all.
Note: The "traitor" person becomes my third online buddy to quit the Labour Party rather than face a foolish unnecessary investigation. This time though the person's partner is quitting the party too. Four Corbyn supporters gone but at what price? Four decent law abiding individuals who are valuable members of society.
I presume the Labour Party will not want their votes come election time then?
About that word Blairite.
Thursday October 6 Steven Woolfe MEP turned 49. He spent his birthday in the European parliament, in an altercation with another MEP, collapsed on a bridge and then in hospital as it was reported he was in a life-threatening condition.
Friday he appears to be doing OK but there is a lot of damage limitation and spin underway.
The other man involved was initially unnamed but it did not take long for his identity to be revealed. It is the aptly named Mike Hookem MEP from my city Hull.
Mr Hokem, 62, is the party’s defence spokesman and a former Royal Marines Commando. Both men are well built but there is an obvious age difference between them.
The "altercation" has had mixed reporting.
Was it a brawl, a fight, a scuffle or just silliness?
Mike Hookem on Sky News Friday gave his side of the story.
UKIP MEPs called a clear-the-air meeting Thursday to discuss news that Steven Woolfe was considering switching to the Tory Party. Mr Hookem and others are concerned about electing another new party leader who may then jump ship and Mr Woolfe could easily be elected the new UKIP leader.
But as tempers frayed Mr Woolfe allegedly took off his jacket and invited Mr Hookem to take it outside. Hooken denies any punches or slaps happened and describes what happened as an embarrassing scuffle.
Denying any fisticuffs he uses a local phrase instead to describe it as "handbags at dawn" saying Woolfe is building the story up.
But he confirmed he has received an email from Woolfe from his hospital bed and that the two men plan to shake hands and put the incident behind them.
That may not be so easy.
Temporary UKIP party leader Nigel Farage has launched an investigation. If either or both men broke party rules they could be removed from the party.
[Martin Scultz refers incident involving MEP Steven Woolfe to advisory committee.]
How soon would it be before Steven Woolfe joins the Conservatives I wonder if that happens?
Wednesday we reported Nigel Farage is back as UKIP party leader after new leader Diane James jumped ship before her leadership had even been formalised. Farage said he had returned temporarily while the party elected a new leader but Thursday that election is on hold as one of the frontrunners to take over, Steven Woolfe, is seriously ill in hospital after collapsing during an "altercation" at a meeting of the party's MEPs in Strasbourg.
Currently there is a great deal of speculation about the circumstances surrounding Mr Woolfe's collapse and subsequent hospitalisation.
BBC News channel has shared "Brussels correspondent Damian Grammaticus says he hears that Steven Woolfe collapsed this morning inside the European Parliament complex although not in the chamber and he was subsequently taken to hospital in Strasbourg. He also tells the BBC News channel that he hears exchanges inside the party were "heated"."
Was there a fight? There are some reports that Mr Woolfe was punched but nothing initially confirmed.
The lastest news via the Telegraph is " Ukip leadership favourite Steven Woolfe in 'serious condition' after 'being punched by colleague."
That report continues:
According to Sky News, Steven Woolfe was punched once by a colleague before he staggered back and hit his head on metal bar. The two colleagues were both seemingly alright after the fight and went to vote.
One of UKIPs main funders, Aaron Banks, spoke on TV news channels Wednesday and his words highlighted the party has deep divisions
Former Tories Douglas Carswell and Neil Hamilton may have won votes in elections but they are not hugely popular in the party. Nigel Farage is a mixed bag depending who in UKIP is assessing his political career.
Steven Woolfe was excluded from the previous leadership election when the necessary documentation was received late. He blamed problems with the UKIP website for the delay but it prevented him standing.
For many in UKIP he is the natural choice of party leader.
We will update this story as more information is received and for now simply wish Mr Woolfe well and a speedy recovery.
There have been reports his injuries are life-threatening but the diagnosis and prognosis has improved.
When we act in anger we sould never forget that our actions could be life-threatening to another person.
Mr Woolfe was born October 6, 1967, meaning Thursday is his 49th birthday
UKIP TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS
Neil Hamilton did not appear on TV lunchtime news but he was in contact.
He highlighted a party with deep divisions, in-fighting and abuse.
Of course mainstream media has been too pre-occupied reporting on alleged and sometimes imaginary abuse in the Labour Party to notice.
Hamilton did not pull his punches when referring to party donor Aaron Banks or Mr Farage. Both men have links to the Tory Party.
Hamilton 'played to the gallery' describing Labour under Corbyn as some sort of Trotskyist haven.
Check out this Guardian report to refresh your memory about the appalling Mr Hamilton.
The latest on the fight is it was just that. Mr Woolfe and an unnamed MEP took off their jackets and went outside for a scrap. It was reportedly following reports that Woolfe was looking at joining the Tory Party following Theresa May's conference week. However when he learned Ms James had quit as UKIP leader he apparently had a quick change of heart. That led toaccusations that he is simply just another self-indulget and self-centered politician. With his honour in question Woolfe reportedly called the other man out and boom.
The fight ended, the men put their jackets back on, but then a little later Mr Woolfe collapsed.
One thing Neil Hamilton said which was true was such a fight does not make UKIP look good but me I wonder what does.
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British political scene
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