Issue 143: 2018 03 01: Diary of a Corbynista

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22 February 2018

Diary of a Corbynista

Temporary diversions from Brexit

by Don Urquhart

Mug shot of Don Urquhart22 February

Lecturers at 64 universities and colleges are embarking on a 1 month strike, ostensibly because changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme will reduce the level of their pensions.

The employers want to move them from a defined benefit scheme to a fixed contribution arrangement.  The nub of their discontent is that the level of their pensions will depend on how well the pension fund is invested rather than on their final salaries.

Many companies are making similar changes because, without a magic money tree, defined benefit schemes are unsustainable.  However intelligent employers deal with employees’ concerns through a compensation scheme of some kind.  I don’t know if this is case with university lecturers.

Many are on fixed-term contracts, or even zero hours, so I suspect that lack of job security is as strong a stimulus to action as the pensions issue.

23 February

As any political wonk will tell you, if you want to avoid psychological damage the first rule is to ignore anyone who knows what they are talking about.  This morning I broke this rule and was pointed at a blog by Sean Wallis:

He argues that the current University Superannuation Scheme is sustainable and successful and has been deliberately depicted as a basket case by the University employers through the use of an inappropriate valuation model.  He goes into why the authorities have done this and this fits happily with the Corbynista world view.  It’s a good read.

24 February

It does not seem like 6 years since 9 men of South Asian extraction were sentenced for abusing young girls in Rochdale.  The papers had thumbnails of the perpetrators in a chilling grid on the front pages.  Last year 17 men, also of South Asian extraction were jailed for similar crimes in Newcastle.  And so an even larger rogues gallery hit the front pages. David Spicer’s Serious Case Review was published this week.  The great and good remind us that not all men from the subcontinent are child abusers but add the rider that cultural issues should be investigated.  Mr Spicer admitted that his review could not explain why the crimes had occurred.

The leader of Newcastle City Council, Pat Ritchie perhaps put his finger on it:

The way that these men prey on women and girls is seeing vulnerability.  This sort of a crime is one that is based on fear and exploitation of people who are vulnerable.

What kind of society is it that renders its children vulnerable?  Where is the Social Care we bang on about?

25 February

The Syrians and Russians are bombing civilians in Eastern Ghouta while not permitting aid agencies to treat the wounded or evacuate the innocent.  Yesterday the UN Security Council belatedly agreed a ceasefire which was promptly ignored.  Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN pointed out:

In the three days it took us to adopt this resolution, how many mothers lost their kids to the bombing and the shelling?

Assad is ruthlessly re-establishing his hegemony, for which project he requires Russian support.

If Ms Haley wishes to rescue the innocent she can achieve this by assuring the Russians that Syria is theirs as long as they and their puppet desist from attacking civilians and allow them to leave contested areas.

26 February

NRA President Wayne La Pierre is on TV again telling America that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.  So far so good but surely one should also consider ways of stopping the bad guy from obtaining a gun in the first place and from putting himself in a situation where he is able to kill innocent people.

27 February

So now we know.  If we send aid to a war zone it is likely that the aid agency employees on the ground will extract sexual favours from vulnerable recipients.

Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for UNHCR conceded that there had been allegations of sexual abuse by UN employees in Syria since 2015.

He continued: “The mere suggestion that the UN can somehow control the situation in a war zone is rather simplistic and disconnected from the reality of what an aid operation looks like in an open and fierce conflict.”

So don’t blame us I guess.

28 February

In the Oscar-nominated film “The Darkest Hour”, Churchill goes on the tube and gets into conversation with the passengers.  They assure him in no uncertain terms that they will back him to the hilt.  He returns to Westminster to tell the Commons and the people about fighting on the beaches and is cheered to the rafters.

The European Union is set to publish a legal draft of its Brexit withdrawal agreement for the first time, detailing the terms of the UK’s departure.  Now it is becoming technical and detailed and real, the challenge for politicians is to present to the nation a simple credible version of what is about to happen.

So my advice to Mrs May is to take the Circle Line and try out her Brexit means Brexit shtick on the commonality.



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