Saturday, 29 January 2011

Regeneration and political doublespeak

We are accustomed to politicians saying one thing and meaning another, never more so than under the current government which is heavy on propaganda and light on effective policy and basic competence. We see an array of previously unknown effete Tory and LibDem MPs handed huge ministerial salaries to set their values aside and trot out meaningless sound-bites while doing the Eton Raffles' dirty work. What they do not understand they just keep talking about, in the hope that eventually they will say something 'convincing-sounding'.Their total self-belief and lack of any awareness or personal reflection make you gasp. Hey chaps, Plan A isn't working ...

How did George Bernard Shaw put it? 'Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.'

One of many characteristics the Tories of Kensington and Chelsea Council have in common with this government is a total lack of understanding about regeneration. They believe that to regenerate the 'poorer north' of the borough, they need to plonk a Crossrail station, millionaires' flats, posh frock shops and a 'new exciting urban quarter at Portobello Square'. Yes, that's what they want to call Wornington Green after development, and they are so ignorant of the area they have no idea that there already is a Portobello Square. And I'm not telling them.

This 'top down' approach to regeneration will guarantee just one thing: the total decimation of the close-knit neighbourhood with its networks of support. The poorest will be shoved out of the borough via housing benefit cuts and Council rent rises and - VOILA! - the shocking stats on the difference between north and south of the borough on work opportunities, health, education, life expectancy etc will improve and the Council will congratulate itself with cheesy photo ops.

However, those who know, know: regeneration is about PEOPLE not areas.

This is the dream they are selling - a bright lovely young photographic model puts a plant in a tea-chest and skips happily off to the 'exciting new urban quarter' at Portobello Bottom (as local people call it).

But this is the reality - people like great-granny Mrs M distraught and confused as she is taken to court under threat of eviction unless she moves from the house she has lived in for 30 years into the flat that is still not ready for occupation.

So who are we 'regenerating' for? Not for Mrs M, that's for sure.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

CamSham's sincerity make-over

The PM's PR's PR advised him that if he put his hand on his chin it looks as if he gives a damn, so CamSham has been trying out his new look at every opportunity, to great effect.

Simon Hughes was wowed by the new sincere look and joined the Tories' Stepford Wives (they look and sound like the real thing but are robots inside). Soon Hughes will be complimenting the PM and agreeing with Cleggaron that student fees are a 'pleasant surprise', and that cutting the National Scholarship Fund for poor students from £150m to £50m is 'good value for money'.

Sure Start is being slashed around the country despite CamSham's pledge to safeguard funding; we await news in K&C but fear the worst.

Of course this is 'no way connected' to proposed tax breaks for married couples, or at least not to those who can afford to leave wifey at home to bring up the sprogs.
The massive pre-orders of the £30,000 Land Rover Evoque created 1,500 jobs for which 14,000 applied. The two-ton monster is a candidate for the new Chelsea tractor, having a specially designed cow-catcher to repel student protesters and other undesirables. The petrol price rise will mean nothing to the Evoque tribe; their cash is safe in tax havens and they have shared the pain by sacking the nanny and getting the cleaning lady to watch the sprogs.

Those approaching retirement in the north of the borough and therefore have an average life expectancy of 12 years less than those in the south may literally have to work until they drop and may never collect the pension they have worked for all their lives. CamSham tried a new extra-sincere look for the press release but could barely suppress his glee.

Together with the effect of inflation and mortgage rise for those un/fortunate to have one, cuts to adult social care and disabled benefits working tax credits and child benefit, tube and bus fares rocketing, and the estimate that poor people pay an extra £1,300/year via prepayment gas and electricity meters, buying goods on HP, higher insurance, and being unable to pay by direct debit or bank cheques for free, it was inevitable that the Tory-led government has announced that Father Christmas has accepted a ministerial role and tasked with the unenviable announcement that due to fiscal tightening Christmas 2011 will now take place in December 2012. CamSham has come up with his best look yet to accompany the press release: -