The UK Turf War


Once again immigration is the topic of conversation for the UK, and as usual it hasn’t taken long for the UK press to revel in the delight of ‘scaremongering’ and ‘scapegoat’ rhetoric.

If the news is to be read literally though, it would be enough to frighten the pants off any level headed individual just going about their business; an influx of foreign workers stealing jobs and benefits, who plan to eventually take over the country for their own ends! Sounds sinister!

All of the talk, press and otherwise, does raise important questions though. Is this truth or merely scare tactics? Also, just how fair, equitable, free and humane does it all sound? It is immigration, but we are talking about people right and not merely cattle?

Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, but now that the UK has had to lift its restrictions to their job market, fears have escalated, by what seems like over-night, to a boiling point.  Should the UK nation be afraid, is there about to be a turf war?

I was nosing around the net, wondering if all the hullabaloo was in fact worth the media frenzy. What I wanted to know was whether the people of the UK really gave a damn about who from the EU might or might not take up UK residency. It didn’t take too long to stumble upon something curious.

The below text has been copied from an actual on-line petition set out on the HM Government website. Its creator, a member of the UK public, along with 153,811 signatories, seemed to obviously feel that there indeed would be a mass of Romanian, and Bulgarian immigrants desperately making their way to the shores of the UK.

“In 2014 EU restrictions are set be removed, allowing nationals of Bulgaria and Romania ‘free movement’ to the UK. The move is similar to the one that granted access to around 600,000 Polish immigrants to enter Britain over recent years.

Despite Bulgaria and Romania joining the EU in 2005 (Savvy Senorita edit – it was 2007), restrictions were put on the number who could move to Britain. However, those restrictions will be abolished in 2014 (Savvy Senorita edit – I.E now).

Once the restrictions are lifted all new comers will entitled to claim benefits, housing, child, job seekers etc. There is currently an estimated 1.5 million people seeking work within the two countries

The impact will also put pressure on housing, infrastructure, schools, and heath care. All at a time the government are cutting pensions, jobs, public services and the armed forces.

I request the government suspends the easing on these restrictions” 

I then took a look at the newspapers. There were ample comments left upon The Daily Mail and Guardian’s websites; replies to the articles telling the world about how our MPs feel or fear about immigration. In one such article, (posted in the Guardian: link below), it was claimed that David Cameron believes that the immigration levels for Romanians and Bulgarians is now reasonable enough; the responses to this article however provided a somewhat different perspective;

“We need mass immigration as a pro business policy Cameron is completely wrong.

Think about the benefits, house prises rise make home owners wealthier and Britain can remain competitive by getting cheaper labour.

We live in an increasing globalised world and we in the EU have China to compete with. He couldn’t be more wrong.

In addition without immigration we would have to spend an exorbitant amount training our own feckless and work-shy, and the price of house keeping would rocket.

The EU must not allow him or his party to get away with such inflammatory comments”.

These quotes demonstrate two very different ideas about immigration, both of which are actual opinions held by people living in the UK.

OK, so I know there maybe those out there who feel that any level of immigration is too high, and others who think that the doors of a country ought be flung wide open (each to their own); but isn’t there a happy medium?

What I mean is, can’t we talk immigration without becoming so emotive? Can’t we leave all the scapegoating, racism and the overly P.C comments behind, and focus on what could be the real issues of immigration for the UK?

I want to ask the powers that be, and the people;

Can any country allow mass immigration? Does any country have the capacity to offer that? Is it economically viable? Could they offer employment, housing, services and support (et al) to everyone that comes to, and resides in the country?

Is immigration a one way street – the people from the poorest nations moving to the richer ones? Is immigration about making money for a country or spending money? Do we all really have freedom of movement? How many people would up-sticks and re-locate to another country? Is that even possible with the economy and the lack of job opportunities? Also, EU countries differ from the UK; different languages, educational requirements, alien benefit and health care systems which not every resident will have access to.

Why is the UK immigration fears/policies subject to mass interjection from other countries? Why has it become such a contentious subject? Every country has its own ideas regarding immigration, yet, I don’t see every country being asked to explain themselves. Is UK immigration a national or international issue? Whose country is it to govern, and make those decisions about immigration? Have the UK Government merely become some middle man in all of this, without the real power to decide what happens in their own country? More importantly, does anyone care what the public think and want?

Is the UK a ‘soft touch’ for the world? Is the UK being racist in its cautious approach to immigration?

Is the UK Government trying to appease everyone, and pleasing no-one at the same time? Is immigration a way of making amends for a shady past history as ‘colonial conquerors’, do they feel guilty?

Has the UK given up on its people – do they invest enough in what resources and talent they already have? Why would the country require an extra work-force from abroad, when the UK already has those who are in need of training/re-training, educating, employment, self-employment, good wages and steady/secure jobs? In fact, can the UK Government deal with the issues/changes and problems the country already has? Are they actually taking on too much responsibility by accepting more people they won’t be able to ‘do right by’?

Will there be a mass exodus from one country to another? Will the Romanians and Bulgarians swamp the UK, and take over the country? Why do people live in fear of immigrants stripping the country bare? Immigration is nothing new for the UK; it has always been multi-cultural and accepted people from far and wide, why then is the country now so angst ridden?

Is immigration a good business and economic policy? Is it investment and profit? Is it more people claiming benefits and abusing the system, sending money back to their families in Romania or Bulgaria? Is it escalation of crime? Is is merely public cynicism and distrust? Is it greed and shady dealings? Is it appeasement or enlightenment?

I personally feel the UK cannot close the doors to immigration, but there are certain discrepancies with how the UK handles the subject. I don’t doubt that UK immigration and policies per se are being vetoed or strangled by the EU. I question though, who benefits from all the upper echelons (in the UK and EU), wrangling amongst themselves because of their own agendas? Well, it isn’t the people they are supposed to represent and that is for certain.

I believe immigration has become a convenient red herring in many ways, an issue placed before the public to distract from the real issues on the table, the real failure of those in charge.

With or without immigration, the UK still has serious issues; how is the Government going to convince the UK public that they can do what they say they will? When all the scapegoating and smoke screens have gone, what is left? A Government who doesn’t really know what they really stand for, and which way to turn in any crisis without squabbling like children.

I wonder, when there is nothing to fight over, what remains to fight for?

I will leave you with a quote (another reply) to that article in The Guardian (I mentioned earlier in this post: link below);            

“The UK is not concentrating on “job building” it is penny wise and pound foolish, driving wages down to a minimum base and sitting complacently on a million unemployed and millions under-employed. We have so many things that need replacing and repairing, upgrading and restoring here, but the governments we have seem happy to suck up to businesses who cream profits off-shore and let the citizens scrabble around in the mire for part-time low paid work.

We have work that needs doing, but lack the courage to invest in our people to improve the quality of life for everyone”.

Check out the article at: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/27/cameron-romania-bulgaria-immigration-reasonable

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Is It Fair?????


counciltax(1)

What else meant to help the public can be eradicated by the UK coalition Government??

What more can the economic strife demand??

Council Tax Benefit might be a THING OF THE PAST very soon. Everyone will HAVE TO contribute something towards their own Council Tax, EVEN those on the lowest of incomes or on benefits. So, regardless of circumstances, ANYONE living in any housing within the UK will be paying something. The ONLY EXEMPTION to remain in place will be for the elderly (pensioners).

COUNCIL TAX (for those of you lucky enough not it know) is a:

Tax levied on households by local authorities; based on the estimated value of the property and the number of people living in it.

Is this lift on council tax benefit fair when some people clearly won’t be able to pay ANYTHING towards such a tax?

What will be the point in the Government ENFORCING such rules, if people can’t pay the tax?

What resources will be WASTED trying to ensure these people comply and do pay up?

Take a look at the link below from The Guardian newspaper for some more info.

UK Council Benefit Cuts

Freeganism


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Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies to live their lives. The theory behind it is limiting their participation in the conventional economy, and indulging in minimal consumption of resources. Freegans see themselves as embracing community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing. They are opposed to materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed.

For many years Freegans looked to avoid products from unethical corporations who they seemed to be responsible for human rights violations, environmental destruction, and animal abuse. Yet Freegans soon discovered that whatever they bought they ended up supporting something they classed as deplorable; realising that the problem wasn’t just a few bad corporations, but the entire system itself.

Freeganism is a total boycott of an economic system.

They believe that profit driven motives have eclipsed ethical considerations. The complex systems of production guarantee that all the products we generally purchase, and don’t think much about, have detrimental impacts. Thus, instead of avoiding the purchase of products from one bad company, Freegans believed they were only lending their unconscious support to another.

Freegans now buy as little as possible!!!  

The word Freegan has it’s origins in ‘free’ and ‘vegan’. For those of you who don’t know; vegans are people who avoid products from animal sources or products tested on animals.

Freegans however take this a step further. They have come to recognise that avoiding abuses in our mass-production economy is impossible. Profit driven industries abuse humans, animals, and the earth; this is the by-product of production.

Freeganism aims to avoid supporting; sweatshop labour, rainforest destruction, global warming, displacement of indigenous communities, air and water pollution and eradication of wildlife on farmland as ‘pests’. They are against; overthrowing popularly elected governments to maintain puppet dictators, compliance to big business interests, open-pit strip mining, oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas, union busting, child slavery, and pay-offs to repressive regimes. These too are stated by Freegans as impacting on the consumer products we consume every day.

****The above adapted from information at:  http://freegan.info/

**** Above image from same website

OPINIONS PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do YOU know a Freegan or ARE YOU A FREEGAN????

What do YOU think about Freeganism??????

Could YOU convert to Freeganism????

Could YOU boycott ALL the products we take for granted everyday???

Could YOU live for free????

Do YOU think Freeganism advocates a new type of UTOPIAN SOCIETY??????

OR are Freegans merely free-loading??????

Another Day Another Strike


‘Se Vende’ or For Sale – pertinent sign to denote how staff feel about proposals

Regional Government in Madrid performed an unexpected back track on their plans to reform the structure and function of La Princesa hospital in the capital.

On October 31, regional Popular Party (PP) premier Ignacio González announced that the pioneering research hospital, which has stood for more than 150 years, would be turned into a specialist centre for the treatment of over 75’s only.

This was a shock, considering La Princesa is my local hospital. Also upon visiting there I couldn’t quite believe how busy the place was; it is not as though the services it provides the community aren’t sorely needed. Without treating adults of all ages, where else would the patients go? Surely another hospital couldn’t cope with stresses and strains of extra people to attend to, not to mention to services that would be lost to the community if La Princesa was made ‘redundant’ of its current functions.

The reason for La Princesa’s importance in my local area is that it offers the community 40 specialist treatments, which include; brain surgery, facial reconstruction surgery, and thoracic and cardiac treatments. Also, the population it serves exceeds a quarter of a million (just within its catchment area).

La Princesa is an important piece of the public service jigsaw. A large ‘player’ to try and maim without backlash.

This Government has proposed health cuts previously, and they didn’t go down well with the populace either; so what were they thinking? Well, they they haven’t been obviously as it seems a panicked move to quickly ‘save money’. A false economy in the long run though, with more people unemployed, less health care, more illness and strained services; kind of like cutting of your nose to spite your face.

If the Government had listened at all to the messages of the previous strikes and protests, they would have realised and taken seriously how their electorate felt about such cuts. Yet, they haven’t. So, on the 16th November I was out and about in the evening, and managed to witness another massive protest carried out by the staff and patients of La Princesa. It was moving to watch.

The people were obviously frightened that the hospital would close; losing the services it provides and lose staff. Health care is a vital public services, and public services in any recession are essential for the life blood of the country and the Government. To meddle without good cause will create havoc in the community, and soon make any political party unfavourable. It seems ridiculous to merely chop away in such a careless fashion at a service much required.

Crying for La Princesa

There has even been a petition gained of over 200,000 signatures, one signatory was Madrid’s Mayor Ana Botella. Showing how far the discontent reaches with Government proposals.

From the retaliation of the community, and the hospital staff, PP representatives of the Madrid region’s health department met with The Hospital Workers’ Committee. Funnily enough after this there was a backtrack on the original scheme to curtail La Princesa’s range of services. A concord was reached that the hospital will retain its current status, and continue to treat adults of all ages, and the teaching and investigation it performs too.

Labour unions however remain sceptical and continue to accuse the regional government of acquiescing to private businesses. Allowing private companies free rein to manage the hospitals, although the buildings are being constructed with public money.

These fears have credence as premier Ignacio González proposals already highlight; administration of six recently built hospitals will be soon tendered out to the private sector. More saving money, yes, that and more cuts to the budget. Planned healthcare spending in the region for next year has been cut by seven percent (which is roughly 45% of the budget for health for next year). So this is indeed another attempt to save money, and repay Spanish debt; but at a cost to health and well-being.

Though there has been a Government opinion ‘turn around’ on La Princesa, protests will continue. The people want this ‘turn around’ to be presented formally and documented in writing.

Does that denote a severe lack of distrust for this ‘Popular Party’ Government (ironic name)? Yes, I think so. I suppose their track record already supersedes their words.

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Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The General Strike and Madrid


Images of Madrid’ General Strike

14th November marks the General Strike here in Madrid.

Protesters gathered together this morning in Puerta del Sol, and soon moved through the city.

Here many places of business are closed especially those related to Industry. Thousands upon thousands have taken to the street to protest against Anti Austerity measures being imposed by the Government.

I am seeing reports of people being arrested (81 so far), and many have been injured, as Police use rubber bullets against protesters to quell the storm that has infused the city of Madrid.

Police Tackle The Protesters

From my apartment I can hear the constant circling of Police helicopters; never a good sign.

The momentum of the protesters has been building for months. One notable protest/ strike was that carried out by the Miners outside The Real Madrid Stadium, which my parents who were visiting me at the time actually witnessed. The clash of protesters and Police was significantly violent, though that is not always the case with protests here in Madrid.

The Miners Strike in Madrid

This week though the pressure has mounted as one tragedy hit the news to poignantly highlight the stress, and strain people are under. A young woman actually took her own life by jumping from her own apartment building, because bailiffs entered her apartment to evict her. She could no longer afford her mortgage repayments and was so desperate she committed suicide.

It seems to be utter madness, yet this strike fever has swept Europe, the UK also being involved.

Why, well put simply the workers are fed up of austerity measures being imposed on the ordinary working person by a Government, and banking system that has failed them. Imprecise and elusive policies which are not being fully explained to the public, and cuts, cuts and more cuts to vital social services and wages.

We can only wait and see what the next steps will be by the Spanish Government and the protesters.

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Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.