Sunday, July 27, 2008

Colonel Moseley's BROADSIDE

Times are increasingly difficult. Ordinary citizens feel more threatened by spiralling prices and duties, deteriorating health care and public order and arrogant public authorities and companies. First and most importantly, this needs to be recognised by those at the receiving end and those inflicting the pain. Secondly, intelligent steps are needed to try to rectify a worsening situation.

People are more aware of these difficulties and are angry and concerned that they have been allowed to arise. They are anxious as to what, if anything, is being done to remedy them. They are not to be fobbed of by the formulaic categorisation of every problem as global and outside the remit of our government. Accordingly, thousands of voters have marked their genuine concerns by inflicting three successive massive by-election defeats on the government and sent a loud message to Mr Brown. This broadside is intended to amplify that clear message.

Many more electors are annoyed at being subjected to unreasonable increases in the prices of essentials such as basic foodstuffs, lighting, heating and petrol. They are frustrated at being patronised and treated without consideration or respect by self-serving public authorities and large companies – often powerful bodies which are effectively monopolies and which the consumer cannot avoid by exercise of choice.

Ordinary citizens – we who pay taxes, receive no benefits and obey the law- are becoming more concerned. If we continue to be ignored, other ways of expression will be found, so government and large companies, please listen.

Here are a range of typical issues –some seemingly trivial and others more important. They all combine to frustrate and worry the people our government is supposed to represent. We do not want:-

  • Profiteering on power, fuel and commodity prices bringing unfair profits for suppliers and unbearable increases to the consumer. Why are increases in this country massively higher than in the rest of Europe? Why are our reserves so much lower than others countries in Europe, making us so much more vulnerable to fluctuations in wholesale markets? What is being done to protect the UK consumer?
  • Hypocritical politicians manifestly feathering their own (first and second) nests with excessive expenses whilst urging restraint on those they are paid to represent. In other circumstances they advocate freedom of information, yet resist disclosure of their own expenses on the spurious basis of security. Why the obvious double standards?
  • Fortnightly refuse collection and draconian rules and bins that have to be pushable with one finger. What about the interests of the householder – particularly the elderly or infirm?
  • Any cold calling for sales on the telephone or at the door. They are often intrusive and bullying and should be prescribed by law. It’s time the rights of the householder came first.
  • Companies forcing the use of direct debit for payment. It’s no longer good enough to pay a bill promptly. The customer should always be entitled by law to pay a paper bill without any kind of penalty
  • Utilities refusing to come and read meters and to bill on actual usage. At a time when dramatically rising bills for gas and electricity are the biggest worries in many people’s lives, the anxiety is increased many times over by reliance on estimates. Consumers have an even greater need for certainty over what is an unavoidable expense and regular meter reading should be recommenced immediately. Again, what about the interests of the customer?
  • To be terrified of seeking treatment in hospital due to fear of infection or humiliation in mixed wards. Why is national health dentistry no longer widely available? Why has our treasured national health service been allowed to disappear or change into something to be feared?
  • Call centres where staff are insufficiently trained or based outside the UK where we cannot understand what is being said. Call centres have not improved efficiency or service and are infuriating. What about the interests of the customer?
  • Government to compound problems by ill-considered measures such as the abolition of the 10p tax band, excessively extended licensing hours and inappropriate increases in car tax and petrol duties. Why does the government announce measures so ludicrously ill-judged that they have subsequently to be reversed?
  • To feel increasingly unsafe in our cities where disorder and the threat of gun and knife crime are manifestly increasing whilst we are infuriatingly told crime rates are diminishing. Why not stop insulting our intelligence with foolish spin? It’s right and easier just to tell the truth – particularly when it is self-evident.

So those in power in government or large companies, please listen. These concerns are valid and considered; they deserve to be listened to and acted upon. They are not rocket science or insoluble, global problems. They can be fixed. Just do it