Archives for posts with tag: work houses


It is not the strongest of a species that survives, nor the most intelligent, it is the one most adaptable to change, that survives. Charles Darwin.

The growth of civilisation was made possible because every able bodied person is capable of producing more goods than they need for their own personal survival, bearing in mind that human societies were formed and flourished long before mechanisation.

Work, as we now know it, was established in the Industrial Revolution. Workers were not paid for what they produce, but the minimum that the industrialists could get away with, whilst keeping all the produce and the profits from their exploited workers.

To be honest, I think that overall we’ve been pretty tolerant of this over the last two and a half centuries, as far as I know not a single factory or business owner has been strung up, not least for the exploitation, beating, maiming and killing of children in the work place. Measures to support and protect workers were hard fought for and hard won by workers unions, which are, to this day, utterly despised by many business owners, conservatives and, what we now call, the right wing media.

I think it is remarkable that contempt for workers seems to exist in direct proportion to the greed of factory/corporate/business owners. Perhaps it is just an extension, from feudal times, of contempt for the peasantry and perhaps that helps explain the contempt of the Tory party, which is establishment to the bone, who are busily dragging us back to, for them, the halcyon days of Poor Houses/Work Houses and Debtors Prisons.

Work, or employment, is one of those encultured norms, like Royalty and Christmas, that are so difficult to challenge. Working class people who vote Tory, called deferential voters, also tend to follow the Daily Express, Daily Mail, and latterly The Sun, line in despising our Unions, and are frequently likened, with a fair degree of accuracy, to turkeys voting for Christmas.

The corporate media is well practised in the dark arts of division, sowing and breeding hatred between different groups of tax paying workers. In the recent Birmingham bin strike, the Daily Mail headline, or one of them, was “Birmingham bin strike costing taxpayers £40,000 a day”. Stoking discord and petty hatreds is pretty standard stuff, as George Osborne proved in his 2012 Conference speech, “Where is the fairness, we ask, for the shift-worker, leaving home in the dark hours of the early morning, who looks up at the closed blinds of their next door neighbour sleeping off a life on benefits?” Sadly, it works like a charm, preventing workers from seeing or doing anything about the daily reality of being robbed blind in the work place and the accumulation of wealth made on the back of their daily toil and even being paid a minimum wage that is not enough to live on.

Not content with getting away with paying a minimum wage, many companies now exploit workers through zero hours contracts and what Damien Green, then Work and Pensions Secretary, called the exciting Gig Economy, saying it had huge potential, but omitted to say, ‘for worker exploitation’.

It is a measure of the tenacity and determination of workers, even the most exploited and befuddled by political and media rhetoric, that their ability to adapt and change under the most trying conditions imposed upon them is taken for granted and exploited by their oppressors.

Not so their oppressors, the merest hint of actually paying their fair share of taxes or decent wages is enough to send them into apoplectic rage, resentment and the bribery of politicians to maintain their accustomed and cosy lives of greed and plenty at our expense.

It is in the nature of human vanity that those who enjoy the benefits of the current system the most think of themselves as the strongest and most intelligent, but they are the least adaptable.

The Tories despise the rise of social media and its existence as an open democracy for ordinary people. They simply cannot adapt and can be frequently seen walking into the brick wall of their own privilege and ignorance and would like nothing better than to shut social media down. The Snoopers Charter, under the guise of preventing terrorism is, in reality, a means to snoop into the lives of ordinary people who they uniformly despise.

Unable to adapt, they choose repression and when challenged they bluster, hide, lie and deny, or besmirch and vilify those who oppose them.

2018 is going to be an interesting year, because, if Darwin is right, then the end is swiftly approaching for the Tory party which is ripping us all off and has plunged the country into chaos, not least in our greatest ever achievement, our NHS.

It is not my intention to suggest that the Tories should die, and, like the dinosaurs, become extinct, but it is my personal and fervent hope that, as a political party, they disappear into the vault of history and never darken our lives again. Then we might begin to address the oppression and exploitation that has bedeviled us for centuries and achieve a change for the better for all ordinary people, the many, not the few.

KOG. 07 January 2018.



I spent last evening with friends at a barbecue where I was gently reminded what a green and pleasant land Britain really is.

This image I took is neither unusual or rare in Britain, it is the norm for most of these islands.

Britain sits on a sweet spot on the planet, a goldilocks spot, where the conditions for life are not just right, but pretty much perfect.

Travel any distance in Britain and you’ll find yourself travelling in a land which is predominantly green. Perhaps we travel too fast or are too preoccupied to properly notice, but it’s right there if we just glance sideways.

Many people think that Britain is overcrowded and have an urban mind set when in fact only 6.8% (2012) of Britain is urbanised yet 80% of people live in towns and cities, and not seeing the trees and lush greenery for the tarmac, bricks and mortar is a big problem, not least on immigration.

The empty but angry anti-migrant rhetoric which the right wing media and the government so delight to promote, is by no means restricted to Britain, it is exactly the same in America, yet when you consider the vastness of America by comparison, you get a feel for just how mind numbingly stupid it is. Another obvious similarity between Britain and America is that we are both mongrel nations, the only difference being that our mongrel history is just very much longer than that of the USA which we helped mongrelise into its current existence. In fact, the irony of mongrel Britain mongrelising America is not wasted on the first nations, who are the people who have paid the most bitter price for immigration, but whose genuine complaints are ignored to this day.

Of course urbanisation is related to work in which the Industrial Revolution played no small part, destroying cottage industries and forcing internal migration of people desperate for work as factories wiped their home grown industriousness out. What they discovered was an entirely new world of exploitation, of poverty and brutal conditions including work houses, whilst the new industrial barons amassed huge fortunes on the backs of their impoverished work forces.

Lest we forget, we are all inheritors of the past, whether we live in luxury or penury. Our struggles in Britain today are nothing new. What is new and astonishing, is that a system of exploitation which has survived for centuries and would have quietly continued for who knows how long, has been abandoned for naked greed and we now have a government which is, gloves off, tearing Britain apart for profit, consigning millions to ever increasing poverty and ten of thousands to early graves. Welcome to food bank Britain.

To describe the Tories as mad bastards would be a kindness, but they are not mad, they are vicious, uncompromising thugs in a country fit for all but denied to the many for the benefit of the extremist, grasping, few.

Wandering, relaxing and eating in green pastures in good company, gave me space to lay down my own burdens for a few hours and yet served as a vivid reminder of just how badly wrong life in Britain has become for millions of people and especially those who lack the succour of even a few precious hours release.

In 2015 £13 billion worth of perfectly edible food was thrown away as waste in this, one of the top ten wealthiest nations on the planet, yet instead of being the Goldilocks nation and a land of plenty, we have been driven into an Oliver Twist nation with millions in need of a crust to eat. It is no fault of the people that millions have no access to work, decent pay, land or resources, it is driven by government policy, knowingly, wilfully, deliberately, purely for self serving (and corporate) greed.

There are no possible excuses, no mitigating factors, we exist as many for the many by the very act of living. To be denied a place on Earth by those for whom greed is their master is a crime of unimaginable proportions in imposed suffering for absolutely no reason other than their xenophobic callousness and hateful greed.

There is enough for all and the serious business of fighting back is gathering pace at an enormous rate to drive the Tories out because they are not fit anything other than the scrap heap of history.

We shall recover, but not until they are gone.

KOG. 12 July 2017


A letter a day to number 10. No 1,437

Wednesday 18 May 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

The imposition of the SATs exams is a hostile imposition, it has no regard for the children who must suffer its iniquities, it is forced obedience for imposed answers, whether the children understand the questions and answers or not.

If all children aged 7 or 11 have to learn what a subordinating conjunction is, what possible use is that to the vast majority of those children? What educational value does that have other than the suppression of children’s creativity and intelligence?

In very simple terms, because the circumstances demand it, education is the nurture of the habit of inquiry. It is the continuing presence of a desire to learn which should remain throughout life.

It is entirely possible to suppress that desire and the best way is to present education as a series of set pieces to be learned by rote, aided and abetted by regular testing which imbues a narrow, and stupid, framework of success or failure, inducing fear and anxiety. Short of physical punishment, that is the best way to suppress the desire to learn which is innate in all human beings.

Every child from birth, barring very unusual circumstances, in imbued with a desire to learn, a desire which can only be suppressed through neglect and punishment and even then it can be harmed but not eradicated.

It was Michael Gove who dragged us back to a system of rote learning and competitive, difficult exams. As a strict traditionalist he probably favours the puritanical model of education and beating the devil out of children, however given that corporal punishment is now illegal he recommended litter duty and mopping dining hall floors for unruly pupils. Of course he is far from alone given that your welfare reforms and the DWP advocate punitive incentives to drive people into work regardless of their physical or mental well being or even if they are dying.

I suppose, in the light of current social policy, a repressive education system really is fitting children for life (under you Tories). I don’t know why you don’t roll The Department of Education and the Department for Work and Pensions together with the reintroduction of work houses, that’s what it’s all about anyway. You could call them Centres for the Advancement of Social Excellence, with the slogan, ‘From birth to grave the Government is always on your CASE’.


19_february_2016A letter a day to number 10. No 1,347

Friday 19 February 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I wonder if you have ever heard of the expression ‘noblesse oblige’? The Merriam Webster online dictionary provides a simple definition – ‘the idea that people who have high social rank or wealth should be helpful and generous to people of lower rank or to people who are poor’. However, it means a great deal more than that, it entails an obligation for those of high rank to behave with honour, compassion, generosity and high moral standards. Put very simply it could also mean, to lead by example.

I also wonder, other than as a self aggrandising myth, whether it has ever existed at any time throughout history?

From the biblical massacre of the innocents by Herod to the 1381 betrayal of the peasants revolt, feudalism, the French revolution, Britain’s work houses, the Norman invasion and the carve up of Britain, and, of course, the Tories, in no particular order, the aristocracy and the wealthy really have a dismal history, as do the poor at their expense.

I can find no citation for the following from Tony Benn, yet it is as poignantly apt now as at any time in history, “I don’t think people realise how the establishment became established. They simply stole land and property from the poor, surrounded themselves with weak minded sycophants for protection, gave themselves titles and have been wielding power ever since.” Certainly, in my own life, I had worked it out long before reading it and if Benn didn’t write it he will definitely have thought it.

I have been studiously ignoring the latest feudal throwback project, ‘Clean up for the Queen’ for her Maj’s 90th birthday, but ignoring it is simply not good enough. I know not who dreamt up this latest fun project for peasants to clean up Britain’s streets, but wherever it came from, it was either someone, somewhere, in the gilded halls of patronising nobility or some simpering sycophant who should have been shot at birth.

Whatever next? Will this become an annual event, ‘National Workfare Day’ or some such nonsense dictated from on high for the masses to obediently deliver, with dim witted celebrities extolling its virtues? Meanwhile there are many things in this country that are in urgent need of cleaning up, not least on the streets. I wonder what the plan is should any inconvenient homeless people be littering the streets in hopeless destitution? I am sure Prince Philip would have an answer involving a twelve bore shotgun and hunting dogs. I cannot be alone in wishing the nobility would just hole up their castles without expecting bunting, sycophantic adoration and blind obedience to their every whim and fancy and, yes, that very much includes you Tories. That would clean up Britain quite nicely.


18_september_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,204

Friday 18 September 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

The politics and polices of demonisation and vilification in order to justify the shrinking of state provision and its privatisation is traumatising lives and worse, it is dehumanising those whose lives are traumatised and deliberately undermines human care, concern and compassion in and for others. Nothing demonstrates this more than Iain Duncan Smith complete indifference to disability and his implicit denial of it having any relevance to employment.

His plan to force disabled people into work and to get that, in proportionate terms, up to the level of ‘normal, non-disabled people who are back in work’ is a complete whitewash of what disability is, whether physical or mental. It is an absurd and ludicrous idea which depends on treating all disability as an object dissociated from any real substance or meaning. He is also laying the blame for the lower rates of employment amongst those with disabilities firmly on disabled people themselves, as if disabled people are deliberately and wilfully work shy.

Worse still is that this is all driven by an arrogant authoritarianism which is such an intrinsic part of the Tory mind set. It presumes to have the right to treat others in the most inhuman way and is exactly why he can say without a hint of shame that people on benefits are called ‘stock’. It is that authoritarianism that allows Lord Freud to say,’People who are poorer should be prepared to take the biggest risks; they’ve got least to lose’.

This is nothing new, it is the same brutality that was seen in the work houses of Britain, where people were treated worse than animals and the poor were despised and punished and dehumanised. It is this blind, unreconstructed thinking that underpins the cruelty of Smith’s welfare reforms and his unshakable belief that he is right and why he is impervious to sense or reason.

Smith’s choice of Priti Patel to replace Esther McVey is telling as she is even more heartless and cruel than McVey and seems to take pleasure in demonising and attacking those most in need of help. She believes Britons are ‘the worst idlers’ in the world, and  that ‘too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work’. With an attitude like that she is the perfect addition to the DWP as Smith’s latest attack dog with nothing but contempt for ordinary people. None of these people are fit to hold office, but it is their unrestrained arrogance, brutality and authoritarianism which are precisely why they do.