Late last year, the nation was gripped by the tale of Mary Bale, the infamous Cat Bin Woman. She was recorded – by a privately owned CCTV system – stopping to stroke a cat before picking it up, opening a wheelie bin, dropping the cat in the bin, closing the lid and walking away. Bizarre behaviour, I think you’ll agree… matched only by the owner of the CCTV system who had his fixed camera trained on the bin in the first place.
The cat survived with no ill effects. Mary Bale fared less well. She became the centre of a media storm as Britain’s ‘most wanted’ and, once her identity was uncovered, she was investigated by both the police and the RSPCA. She suffered widespread abuse from the more deranged extremes of society – there was even a Facebook page set up to call for her death. Eventually, she was charged and found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal; Ms Bale was fined £250, banned from keeping animals for five years and lost her job. Apparently she was let off lightly because of the vilification she had suffered.. She was probably extremely fortunate not to have been prosecuted and fined for putting the wrong sort of rubbish (no offence, cat lovers) into the wheelie bin…
The fury and rage that Mary Bale generated was an incredible demonstration of the power of public opinion, particularly when it is stoked and supported by the media. It is also a vivid example of where our priorities lie. Cat in bin – outrage: jobs and economy down toilet – barely a murmur.
I’ve written regularly about the damage being done to the UK economy by the Climate Change Act (don’t forget to sign the petition for its repeal here) but it’s also true that the country’s survival is similarly threatened by the effects of unchecked immigration. Apart from the racists and xenophobes, nobody objects to essential immigration whereby we offer asylum or address specific skill shortages but the unchecked immigration that has been pursued over the last 15 years is a different matter. It’s dressed up in the suitably progressive, vacuous clothes of multiculturalism and no politician tires of telling us how immigrants fill the jobs that we ‘don’t want to do’ – whereas any reasonable analysis would surely suggest that immigration is not reactive as claimed but part of a deliberate policy to drive down labour costs.
Many would see such a policy as a good thing but what is happening, in essence, is that business is transferring a proportion of its labour costs to the taxpayer. Whenever a job goes to an immigrant, an indigenous worker remains on welfare benefits. A similar argument applies to internships and work experience: there is negligible cost to the business but the unpaid worker has to be supported by the state (which is you when it comes to picking up the bills). Naturally, businesses love this arrangement and who can blame them given the time and costs being placed on them by government’s constantly growing demands for box-ticking, form-filling and compliance procedures (see this blog by Dick Puddlecote for a marrow-chilling example). But ultimately, bringing in immigrant labour at low wages has a negative effect on the taxpayer: in addition to paying benefits to the indigenous unemployed, (s)he is likely to be subsidising the immigrant’s wages – with housing benefit, for example, as well as additional infrastructure costs (bear in mind that existing provision for housing, transport health care and education is already at breaking point).
Most observers believed that an incoming Tory government would reverse, or at least halt, this cycle and the Coalition certainly indicated a stemming of the tide. But today we have this, the latest about-turn:
According to Michael Gove, who is clearly more than just a lookalike for Alfred E Neuman,
“One of the aims of my department is to make sure that the most talented people possible are teaching our children..”
Officially, we have almost three million unemployed in the UK. This figure is almost certainly a gross understatement thanks to the manner in which the statistics are massaged: a more likely figure of those wanting work will be in the region of five to six million and despite the propaganda that they are a bunch of feckless wastrels, my own past experience would suggest that the majority genuinely do want to work – the 1500 affected by this, for example. In addition, we have a vast number of working poor and thousands of graduates overqualified for the McJobs they have been obliged to take because there are no suitable placements for them. Over 60% of graduates fail to find suitable work: having conned them into mortgaging their futures to advance their education, why are they suddenly considered to be so lacking in talent that we need to import yet more teachers?
Despite his claim about the need for talented teachers, I suspect he is motivated by his department’s bottom line rather than some high ideal. He has cut teacher training; in other words, for a small short-term gain in the education budget, we will pay foreign teachers, add more strain and cost to our infrastructure and continue to pay benefits to our indigenous unemployed.
And eventually, as unemployment suppresses wages, the tax take will fall obliging the government to seek more and more money from lower-paid workers struggling to pay out-of-control utility bills. The cycle will repeat and accelerate until, at some point in the not too distant future, the demands of the state will exceed our ability to pay.
It really is quite astonishing that a government would show such a disregard for the people it is meant to represent, such disdain for the products of its own education policies and such little regard for the nation’s long-term interests: no wonder there are so many bloggers advancing theories about the imminent death of national politics and the emergence of a one world government.
Strangely though, despite their considerable significance, policy shifts such as Gove’s go largely unremarked by the public and our media.
If only he had chucked a cat into a bin while making the announcement..