I'm not going to talk about the Spending Review, I don't need too. It is all to obvious to all of us that it is an ideological swipe at the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. The image of whooping and cheering Tories waving order papers in the House of Commons at the prospect of destroying the welfare state will stay with me for some time. As for the LibDems, well, what can you say, this coalition stinks and it's intentions are clear. Their definition of fair seems to be something along the lines of being fair to everybody, and if you've already got more than you need, it's only fair you get a bit more. With the Tories in charge you can guarantee that some of us will be more equal than others.
Now IDS has decided to turn up the volume a bit to remind us all of the appalling 'get on your bike' statement made by Tebbit last time the Tories screwed up the country. This time the unemployed in Merthyr Tydfil are supposed to have lost the ability to get on busses and go to Cardiff to seek gainful employment in a city that already has a bit of an unemployment problem. According to IDS it's only a 50 minute ride to Cardiff, not going to argue with him about 50 minutes, that's probably about right. Now if you glance back through some of my previous posts you will see that I am no stranger the bus journeys in the South Wales Valleys.
I live in Aberdare, one valley over from Merthyr (35 minute bus ride away, weather permitting in the winter). If you are not familiar with the area we're talking about, open up your Google Earth and have a look. If you are unemployed and living in Merthyr the chances are you are housed on one of the estates to the north of the town. These estates are not exactly walking distance from the bus station in town where the cardiff bus can be caught, you are looking at adding another 30 minutes at least to your journey. Of course, another problem is on the return journey in the evening the chances are you would be too late to catch the last local bus back to your estate. I live on the edge of an estate 3 miles south of Aberdare, the last bus from there to where I live is at 6.00pm, whenever I have left Cardiff after 5.00pm I have never managed to catch a connecting bus and end up paying more for a taxi to get me home. I know 3 miles isn't that far, but look at the terrain, the last mile is seriously uphill. They may be small but they are still mountains! So Ian Duncan Smith, commuting into Cardiff by bus from the Heads of the Valleys bears no resemblance to commuting into London from the suburbs, believe me, I know, I have experienced both. Come down here and give it a try before you start telling the people whose families your predecessors have already tried to destroy by taking away their livelihoods and dignity one way or another for generations, that they have forgotten how to use busses!
Which brings me to a personal gripe which has niggled me more than a little this week.. cold callers, particularly the ones who call in the early evening when you are trying to get the tea ready. I knew they were in the area, I saw them while I was waiting for a bus earlier in the day, (ironically, on my way to the jobcentreplus to get a bit of paper stamped). These two were from Scottish Power, apparently not selling anything, just anxious to show me all the savings I could make, I told the talking one I wasn't interested, but he was jabbering so loudly he couldn't hear me. He had to take a breath so I took that opportunity to say again that I wasn't interested and quite frankly fed up with the likes of him standing on my doorstep trying to sell me stuff I didn't want and started to shut the door. To cut a long story short, he took exception to my refusal to listen to his sales spiel, told me I was abusive and the last thing I heard as I shut the door was him telling me I was rude and ignorant. I have been in touch with Scottish Power, waiting for an apology as I blog.
That was Wednesday, yesterday it was TalkTalk, earlier in the day but still inconvenient, This one came out with some crap about did I know about the free internet being rolled out over our area. I said 'no, but somehow I already have free internet, so cheerio.' He then told me his internet would be faster, I suggested it probably wouldn't be and tried to shut the door. He's now waving a leaflet in my face asking me if I had read the leaflet that I should have received last week. I had to tell him that unsolicited mail went straight into the bin and was never read. What followed was a silly statement from a man who is only carrying a clipboard, 'Only we're collecting them back for recycling because we are a green company' I told him we were green too and all his junk mail went out with all the other paper recycling shortly after a nice man from the council delivered a very cute little green wheely bin for food waste only the day before and shut the door quickly before he could think of anything else waste my time on.
Now to pull cold callers, IDS and the spending review together. Old council estates with their high percentage of the low paid or unemployed and of course, a lot of elderly people, usually women since most of the elderly men have long gone with silicosis, must seem like the happy hunting ground for these high pressure and deceitful sales types. Faced with the onslaught of 'facts and figures' these people regurgitate on every doorstep I'm pretty sure the unwary get sucked in by the false enthusiasm and just go along with it. I don't imagine these people do a lot of trade in the areas which sport front drives, nice cars and neat front gardens, I would hazard a guess that the people who live in that sort of environment are not the ones IDS is having a pop at either. Well, we all know who is going to come off worse when the spending review cuts are implemented and lets face it, the nice cars and neat front gardens are going to get over it if they lose a bit of benefit, maybe take a cheaper holiday, maybe put off the new kitchen for a year. Heaven forfend, they could send their children to the local comprehensive and save on school fees, their kids will still be able to take their A levels and go to University!
But back to the cold callers for a moment, I suppose they are just as worried as the rest of us about how the cuts are going to effect them, so of course they are going for the easy targets, get your sales numbers up, less chance of losing your job. Which is what the government is also doing, ensuring their core vote is happy by targeting those that they perceive to be scroungers, which unfortunately includes the people who will be least able to cope with cuts in an already meagre income, not to mention the inevitable reduction in social services as councils pull in their belts. They know these people are the least likely to vote, let alone vote tory. It is despicable behaviour by people who should know better and that is as far as I am going, the sun is most definitely over the yard arm, Sarah is away in respite this weekend, and the said weekend starts here........