Monday, May 05, 2008

Welcome to the Banana Republic

I HAVEN’T got anything against Paratrooper Stu Pearson’s right leg. The problem is, neither has he.

Sergeant Pearson, 31, had his left leg blown off by a landmine in Afghanistan 18 months ago. He’s now got a highly technical, hydraulics-aided prosthetic limb, although he still needs to use a wheelchair when the appendage becomes too painful.

But it seems that this leap forward has caused the Department of Work and Pensions to declare the Queen’s Gallantry Medal holder as “fully fit”. He therefore loses his £325 a month Disability Living Allowance but, more irritatingly for Stu, he also loses his blue disabled parking badge.

As he says: “I can’t get my leg out of the car without opening the door as wide as possible so have to park in disabled bays. They give blue badges to people just because they’re fat these days, but a guy gets his leg blown off for his country and doesn’t qualify.”

You can understand his anger. While Stu is struggling in from the far reaches of car parks at Tesco or Lidl, those lying benefits scroungers with a magical Tin Leg of Money dangling redundantly from their arms will be rolling into the prime places, smug smiles of feigned injury firmly in place. You can see them every day. They don’t even know how to walk with a crutch, never mind put any weight on it.

When I come across one now I honestly feel like kicking their magical Tin Leg of Money away while shouting: “It’s a miracle! This fat, anorak-wearing fraud can now walk!”

Of course, doing so would see me arrested, charged and probably imprisoned, where I’d have a rent-free room with a television, as many Class A drugs as I could manage to take and, if you believe the tabloids, a constant supply of hot and cold running prostitutes. The notion appeals all the more.

IF YOU want further evidence of the warped values of our sick society, you need look no further than the case of the two elderly sisters from Wiltshire who have had their fight to earn the same inheritance tax rights as gay couples thrown out by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Joyce and Sybil Burton (89 and 82) have lived together in the same home since birth. They have paid their taxes, cared for ageing parents until death without any help from the state, had brothers who fought in the Second World War and a sister who was a nurse throughout the Blitz.

Yet because of our shabby inheritance tax legislation, when one of the sisters dies, the other will have to sell the £875,000 house and move out to pay the £50,000 tax bill. Does that really seem fair to you? Who in their right mind could possibly think that this was a reasonable demand by a reasonable government?

As the sisters say: “If we were lesbians we would have all the rights in the world. But we are sisters, and it seems we have no rights at all.”

Perhaps the nation’s usually verbose feminist movement might want to take up the case of these horribly victimised old ladies? Because what’s going to happen to one of them is a hundred times worse than being shouted at in the street because you’ve got a moustache.

I ALWAYS laugh when I hear that Britain has dispatched electoral observers to some dim and distant shore to keep an eye on the voting habits of a bunch of former colonials. And that’s because our own electoral process is now as open to fraud as the worst kind of banana republic.

Oh, how we titter as the Americans end up electing the gibbering George Bush because of hanging chads in Florida. Oh, how we tut as Robert Mugabe makes a mockery of Zimbabwean democracy. Well before we laugh too much, we could do well with having a hard look at our own practices in places like Bolton and Burnley.

The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust is hugely critical of NuLabour’s introduction of postal voting on demand - i.e. that you don’t have to give any reason why you can’t turn up in person and vote in the normal way. This is because the system makes it possible for one person to control the ballot papers of every person in a multi-person dwelling. And let’s not beat about the bush here; we’re talking about houses containing large numbers of relatively recent immigrants who have brought with them a culture where women and junior members of the family do what they’re told by the household senior.

The Rowntree report is explicit: “Greater use of postal voting has made UK elections far more vulnerable to fraud.” Examples abound from the last General Election of the ballot papers of entire streets being collected up and handed over to one person, who then presumably voted the way he’d been persuaded or even bribed.

And it could have been even worse than that. So desperate are NuLabour to hold onto power (and we must assume that they think they are the party that stands to benefit from such practices) that they even thought about introducing voting by text message – a recipe for widespread fraud if ever I’ve seen one.

So please, spare me patronising smiles when some ex-colonial civil servant sets off with his pith helmet and malaria pills to cast an eye over the electoral process in Bongo-Bongo land. He’d do far more good if we sent him to Bradford.

YOU KNOW, I can’t help but feel that this bloke in Austria is getting a rough deal. Let’s face it, which one of us has never locked a young girl in the cellar for a few months?

Let him who is without sin …


Blogger Grumpy Goat said...

"Joyce and Sybil Burton ... have paid their taxes."

Quite. So what diseased mind comes up with the notion that 40% of what they've accrued out of their net, duty-and-tax-paid income is donated to Mr Dahhling? The whole concept of inheritance tax is in my view obscene.

I don't have to donate 40% of nephew Jimmy's birthday book token to the Exchequer, so I fail to see why there's a difference if I give my stuff away after I'm dead.

3:23 AM  
Blogger pdwalker said...

absolutely rage inspiring

4:39 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

... though inheritance tax has been around longer than NuLabour, so it's not entirely Darling's fault.

Not that I'm a supporter, you understand.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Tor Hershman said...

Stu's nation is a jungle, moi's nation is a jungle.

Beasts we were,
beasts we are and
bests we'll be.

Stay on groovin' safari,

10:04 AM  
Anonymous tony b.liar said...

Nice true story which encapsulates Nu Labour's "Cool Brittania". The other day, the memsahib and I had just parked in one of the disabled bays at our local ASDA [using a legitimately-issued Blue Badge, i hasten to add], when a crappy old Astra came screaming in to take the last remaining bay. Out popped a vision of dross in hotpants, beer belly, tattoos, matted hair etc etc [from the adjacent sink estate doubtless]- I think you get the drift? Said oik stode purposefully into the store no doubt in search of Bazza's obligatory Scrote-food, either the Findus Crispy Pancakes or possibly some oven chips or other gourmet delight. It was only after the vision had brushed past that my wife said "Did you see the electronic tag she had round her ankle?". Sure enough, this pond dweller had been let out early and foistered on the rest of us and had proven a spectacular success in disgusting the rest of us. ASBOs are no longer of any value, because they are NOT visible you see - electronic tags are so much "cooler".

I there any hope for this broken country I wonder? If our old friend Kris still works for Stoke Newington council perhaps he will no doubt enlighten us?

3:17 AM  
Anonymous Herr Nonce said...

Haven't these two old bags ever heard of equity release? And no, it's not something you get in Austria.

3:18 AM  
Blogger Grumpy Goat said...

One of my mates' wife parked in the disabled bay in front of Sainsbury's, leaving her badge-bedecked car,and went off to buy a newspaper and a packet of gum. When she returned, a car had blocked her in.

"Please move your car. I can't get out."

The blocker responded by explaining that the bay in which she had so selfishly parked was reserved for disabled drivers. "Can't you read? I just watched you walk into the store. This bay is for disabled people only."

So my friend's wife removed her artificial leg and used it to beat the other driver and dent his car. "What the bloody hell do you think this is, then?"

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Doctor Mick said...

Hope you're not mates with Sir Paul.

1:36 AM  

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