Sunday, 31 December 2017

Working with your hands.

A person with the handle "Andy Hampton MP" has made the following tweet (as part of a series of tweets) on Twitter
"Most builders are self employed and don't want to work! Have you ever tried calling up an electrician in this day and age? Or don't you live in the real world yet?"
This tweet has annoyed me considerably.  I work in an office in front of a visual display unit every day. It strikes me that people who work with their hands, who get their hands dirty if you like, are not valued by our political class at all. 

When the Labour party declared it their aim to get 50% of young people to go to university that was in my opinion a great mistake. What they effectively did was firstly to kick 50% of the potential unemployment problem down the road by 3 years, greatly enriched universities and in the process changed many colleges of further education into universities - another mistake in that it made colleges of Further Education seem less valuable than universities. (I took two A levels and two 'O' levels at a college of further education as I did not work at school).It also greatly enriched those colleges and universities.

What they SHOULD have done (and what we could still do) is to have said that those who work with their hands have EQUAL value to those who work with their heads and sit on their backsides all day (as I do). Fully qualified builders, plasterers, painters, electricians and engineers should have their trades recognised by employers and others as 'degree equivalent' (why not?). SRN (State Registered Nurse) should have been recognised as degree equivalent by virtue of the training itself. Why not a degree in Painting or Brick laying?

The fact is that the problem with calling up an electrician in this day and age is that good electricians are hard to come by and you generally have to wait for them. I recently had the internal downstairs of my home painted and I had to wait 6 weeks for a good reliable painter - the same applies to the qualified gas fitter who tests my boiler annually. I have to work around him as he is in high demand. 

I think that the Government and Labour Party could do much worse than re-introduce apprenticeships and to give tax breaks to employers who train people to work with their hands. There could be a tax 'bonus' for every fully trained bricklayer, plasterer, plumber, electrician, painter etc that they produce. Once they had fully completed whatever the laid down training was they would be regarded as 'degree equivalent' by all employers. Who says that a plasterer is not equal to the person who works out that plasterers pay?

This can still be done. Not everyone can work well with their 'mathematical' brain. I am hopeless at working with my hands and DIY and have to employ someone else to do it because I CAN'T do it. The painter I employed was just as valuable as me - maybe MORE valuable. Their work if well done also has great value. You would pay good money for a meal why not pay good money to have your walls painted well in the colour you want?

There is massive housebuilding going on in the vicinity of where I live. Bicester, Milton Keynes, Buckingham and Aylesbury have all seen massive building programmes and we should value all the builders, plasterers, painters, ground work persons and others who make it happen. We might even reduce unemployment further. Look at the skill of making a muddy field into a housing estate with roads, drains, electrical and other infrastructure and ask yourself could you be a surveyor, builder, plasterer or painter.

There is a very good case for bringing back colleges of further education and technical schools to produce the artisans and the tradespersons of tomorrow. The fact that they have the skill to work with their hands marks them out as important people. That is the message of this post.

Those who work with their hands are just as good as you and me - maybe better.

People who work with their hands are important people.

Personal Thoughts on New Year's Eve

Having voted Leave I was hoping that the politicians would reassert their independence and leave in the best way possible to avoid harm to the economy. I have been disheartened I confess at what I perceive is the folly of a Prime Minister who seems only to listen to her special advisors, especially Nick Timothy, and no one else.

Then it suddenly dawned on me that if it is the case that I voted for decision making to be repatriated that, if MP's allow Mrs May to leave the Customs Union and Single Market (despite leaving the European Single Market being a bad decision) and do not hold the executive backside to the fire then that is what I voted for. I have achieved what I voted for and my vote has counted precisely because the elected House of Commons has decided to emasculate itself. Maybe the next generation of politicians will understand self government better and do a better job.

What I have found especially difficult however is that 18 months after the referendum there are still arguments about the validity of the vote and how the campaigns were conducted and funded. Let us take it as read that both sides lied. I am especially concerned about all the fuss about 'the £350 million' bus. There were commentators at the time (before the date of the referendum), usually independent bloggers like Dr Richard North at EU Referendum ( who said that the bus was a lie and he was a Leave champion. Some on the Leave side were horrified by what was done to promote the Leave cause.

My response is that lying was not a Leave speciality. President Obama, Christine Lagarde, Mark Carney, Gideon (George) Osborn and David Cameron all lied. Mr Cameron started off with all the advantages. He was able to dictate the passage of the EU Referendum bill, he was able to frame the terms of reference of the referendum (the age of the voters, the majority required etc.), he was able to nominate the date and to stop the civil service from looking at even the possibility of a Leave win. Despite all this advantage, Remain lost.

It now seems that there was overspending or at least spending manipulation by both sides and the Electoral Commission are investigating claims and counter claims of overspending. I would personally like to see some method of enforcing spending limits even if that means the electoral commission being able to enforce by-elections in constituencies of the worst offenders.

I am dismayed most of all by the personal nature of the attacks. Remain supporters seem to have been totally taken aback by the fact that Leave won and have spent the last 18 months trying to find reasons. The old outvoted the young. Even the irredeemably awful Nick Clegg has said this. How old is old? On a personal note I have had to reassess my own definition of old. Clearly I am no longer young and must count myself as an older voter. Leave voters were ignorant and were taken in by 'The Bus' and the regions decided to ignore the wisdom of the London Metropolitan elite.

I thought that growing older might give a deeper insight and wisdom to people like me whose young views have developed and changed over the years. Apparently not. I am an old fossil who has ensured that my heirs will be forever poor by my vote. I do not accept this.

I think the calling of a second referendum to validate or overturn the first would be disastrously destructive and I cannot believe any Government will countenance it. If we are to rejoin the European Union, a  political party will have to put rejoining the EU in its manifesto and gain a majority Government for that manifesto in a General Election. My personal view is that I can't see that happening within the next 20 years (I could be proved to be wrong).

I would still like the Government to go down the EFTA route and hope that the European Union negotiators will urge the EFTA option on us. The fact that Iceland, the President of the EFTA court, Norway, the European Union have all suggested it is not to harm the United Kingdom in my opinion but to assist the United Kingdom in achieving the best possible result for its electorate as a  consequences of the referendum decision itself.

In the meantime, my New Year's wish is that we would stop name calling. Supposing that older voters did indeed vote to Leave the European Union, they did not do that because they were old necessarily. They might have done it because they realised the arguments about what the EU was. Let us please argue about what we SAY and not what we look like. Debate the argument and not the person. I happen to believe that some of what Diane Abbott or John Redwood say and write is rubbish on its own terms and not because of their gender or ethnicity. It is why I refuse to put my photo on Twitter or this site. I don't want to be judged on what I look like or my haircut. I want to be judged on what I say and write. I try not to attack people for themselves (although a couple of times I have been tempted). 

My New Year's resolution is to try to blog more often - I really do admire how people like Dr Richard North do their daily output when there must be occasions when they are disheartened. Positive feedback is always appreciated but I will also prominently correct any errors that I make or are pointed out to me. As it says in most books, any errors are mine and will be corrected whenever possible.

I will also try to maintain my position of not insulting people as individuals but for the incontinence or otherwise of what they say and write. Not all my blogs will be on the European Union but about my vision of what the United Kingdom should look like as it leaves that Union. 

I have found that I love my country more than I thought.

Happy New Year