Strike together on budget day! & Braverman bravely goes... even further to the right!

 Strike together on budget day!

There was a lot of coverage here in Britain of the strikes and demonstrations in France this week, when 2.5m took to the streets nationwide, to protest against President Macron’s attempt to increase pension age.
    In France, you can currently claim a state pension at the age of 62.  However the government wants to increase it to 64. If this happens, many older workers (among the poorest) who are stuck in casual jobs would have to spend two more years in a precarious situation.  People are rightly very angry.
   While some of the British commentary over the large protests in France has been simply idiotic, along the lines of "well the French just love to strike”, others asked why there have been no similar large protests against the slow but sure increase in pension age in this country?
    It's a good question!  We can retire at 66 at the moment - already 4 years later than our French counterparts.  But by 2028, retirement age is meant to go up to 67 - and to 68 by 2046!
    Worse, it has been reported that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt might announce that 2046 is too far away and that the increase to 68 should be imposed sooner, by at least 2037.  As far as the government is concerned state pensions cost too much and especially if people live longer these days, as mostly, they do...
    This too, is a bad joke.  British state pensioners don't just have to wait the longest to retire, but are also the poorest among the rich countries.  Our state pensions are a fixed £185/week - half the rate of the Danes and £50 less than the Dutch.  In France and in Germany the pension is 50% and 48% respectively, of average earnings, which would mean £300 - £350/week.
    So yes, the British population has every reason to demonstrate - and strike - in large numbers, not just over the current iron fist which has been forcing down workers’ real wages, but against the worst state pensions in Europe and the highest pensioner poverty!
    In fact along with teachers and civil servants, London Underground workers are striking on Budget Day - and their main demand is for TfL to take its hands off their pensions!  They are right to fight for this, tooth and nail.  Because, given the pathetic state pension, it's only with a decent, additional workplace pension that
one might be able to survive into ripe old age!


 Braverman bravely goes... even further to the right!

The Tories’ so-called "Illegal Migration Bill", presented to the House of Commons on Tuesday by Home Secretary Suella Braverman, is unintentionally well-named.  Because according to the UN High Commission on Refugees, in terms of international law, this bill is itself "illegal".
    The UNHCR says it ”is profoundly concerned by the asylum bill... which "compels the Home Secretary to deny access to the UK asylum system to those who arrive irregularly. (...) This would be a clear breach of the Refugee Convention”.
    Of course breaking international law is par for this government's course...  And all the more so, if it means playing to its right-wing electorate and appealing to the
far-right - just 2 years or less, before a general election.
    So no wonder the "debate" (if that's what it can be called!) in the Commons revolved around name-calling, with Labour accused by Sunak as being a bunch of
”Iefty lawyers” and in favour of "free movement”!
    If only it was!  But Labour's only objection to Braverman's policy is that it is not effective enough at stopping the people smugglers and the "small boats”!
    On the other hand, unlike Labour's MPs, BBC football commentator and former ace striker (England's 4th highest scorer), Gary Lineker, stood up for refugees
against Braverman et al, tweeting that the kind of language she uses sounds like the rhetoric heard in Germany in the 1930s.  Yes, the time of Hitler's rise to
power.  He's not wrong.
    But such sentiments weren't confined to Germany in those years of severe economic recession - times much like now.  They were well-represented in Britain, by a large section of the business class, news editors and by members of the royal family; something the anti-Lineker mob wouldn't care to acknowledge!
    Braverman claims that her Bill will stop the small boats and stop the people smugglers.  Yet the Bill, which will "enable the detention of illegal arrivals, without bail or judicial review within the first 28 days of detention, until they can be removed” isn't aimed at "people smugglers” but the people they smuggle.  And it criminalizes them automatically.
    As the UN says, the government has made it impossible to be a "legal" arrival, since it insists that asylum seekers must put in a claim in their first safe country.  Given that Britain is an island, how is that even possible?  It puts them in a "Catch 22".
    Arguing that refugees must be stopped, Braverman mentions "the overwhelming volume of illegal migrants".  But if the 160,000 waiting for their claims to be processed (for lack of Home Office staff!) is anything to go by, this is a tiny "volume".  It is even fewer than the 170,000 NHS vacancies crying out to be filled.  That should speak for itself.