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Is The Love Of Money The Root Of All Evil?

by Tony Kelly
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It should be noticeable that these fortnightly articles for Caribdirect.com tend to shy away from politics preferring to keep my views private if at all possible. However, the subtle way in which the House of Commons just days before the February recess passed through a Bill giving all MPs a basic pay rise taking their annual salaries from £84,144 to £86,584, a 2.9% from 1ST April is incredible. To set it in context one also needs to bear in mind that MPs receive expenses to cover the cost of running an office, employing staff, having somewhere to live in London or their constituency and travelling between Parliament and their constituency.

‘MPs pay rise has exposed hypocrisy and willful ignorance’ is the headline used by the Civil Service World paper.  Whilst Richard Burgon a Labour MP is trying to get a Bill through Parliament to prevent all MPs from having second jobs which has been a major issue of concern in recent times. One Conservative MP and former Cabinet Minister who was sacked from the latter position even had time recently to be a participant on the ITV reality show I Am a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here filmed last autumn in Australia.  He had the Whip removed by his Party but has justified his actions for in effect abandoning his constituents to appear on the show.  

I will never forget a few years ago during the scandal surrounding what MPs submitted in claims and expenses from one end of the spectrum to the other with one listing a five pence supermarket plastic bag and another for the cleaning of the moat at his country estate along with piano tuning.  A gravy train springs to mind along with avarice while the country is now plagued with industrial action/strikes never before seen on this scale and no end in sight.

Some of us will recall the 1969 song in Jamaica, Everything Crash by the Ethiopians with a verse and chorus as follows:

Firemen strike!

Watermen strike!

Telephone company too!

Down to the policemen too!

What gone bad a-morning,

Can’t come good a-evening, whoi!

What gone bad a-morning,

Can’t come good a-evening, whoi!

In Britain, health workers including doctors/nurses/ambulance staff, airport baggage handlers, council workers, fire service staff, teachers/lecturers, lawyers and solicitors, rail-workers, bus drivers and civil servants have all been striking from last year with no end in sight as the Government is refusing to compromise and offer inflation busting pay rises or a decent wage to those who are overworked, underpaid and struggling to survive financially.  At least there is a law in Britain which prevents police officers from going on strike under any circumstances.

Workers in some jobs are relying on handouts/foodbanks, soup kitchens, dipping in to their savings or turning to relatives and friends in order to survive. Some are having to decide whether or not to heat their homes during the cold winter or not eat, whilst in some cases adults are choosing not to eat and go hungry in order that their children can have a meal as the spiraling cost of energy prices is affecting millions. When one reads reports of oil and gas companies in the last year making staggering profits of up to thirty-two billion pounds at the expense of the consumer it truly puts everything in perspective and beggars belief. Several organizations and politicians have been clamouring for a windfall tax on these money-making companies but the current government has refused to adopt that approach.  Ask yourself why as I don’t need to provide anyone with the answer.

I was not in Britain during the period commonly referred to as the Winter of Discontent between November 1978 and February 1979 which was characterized by widespread strikes in both the private and public sector.  It ended with the Labour government under James Callaghan being defeated in the June general election by Margaret Thatcher of the Conservative party, 2 months before I returned from Jamaica to live here.  There is a well-known saying that a week is a long time in politics and people sometimes have short memories.  Britain under the new rules must have a general election by 24th January 2025 so let’s see what will happen by then as anything is possible although if I was a betting man, there is no way Rishi Sunak the current prime minister would be brave enough to call a snap election over the next few months. In any event he has just passed his first 100 days in office and will not have the ignominy of being the shortest reigning prime minister in Britain of 44 days held by Liz Truss which will take some beating. The rest as they say is history.

One can only hope that things will get better as the clear divide between the haves and the have nots and the ever-increasing poverty line/trap is serious cause for concern. How long will it take for people’s living conditions to improve and the cost-of-living crisis to subside is anyone’s guess as time is longer than rope. However, I am of the firm belief that MPs should lead by example and for the sake of the country not accept this latest increase at least for the next financial year. What a powerful message that would send to others as pro-social modelling should be their modus operandi.

Tony Kelly
Tony Kelly

London born Tony Kelly of Jamaican parents grew up in Jamaica and returned to live in Birmingham in 1979.
He is a graduate of Mico Teachers’ College and taught in Kingston high schools prior to working for 30+ years as a middle manager in central and local government with an emphasis on equity, equality, diversity and inclusion. He has a masters’ degree in socio-legal studies from the university of Birmingham.
For over a decade Tony has volunteered as a diabetes ambassador firstly for Diabetes UK and now for the National Health Service – Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group. A multi-award winner doing a yearly average of 150 health and well-being events, locally, nationally and internationally focusing on type 2 diabetes. He was diagnosed with this medical condition 18 years ago. However with a combination of physical activity and diet he has never taken medication thus proving with the right mindset and discipline it can be achieved.
As a diabetes advocate/activist Tony will continue delivering the message of healthy options to readers of CaribDirect.com .


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