Thursday 25 February 2010

The Day the Immigrants Left

Last night’s programme The Day the Immigrants Left introduced by Evan Davis had a predictable outcome. Centred in the Fens it took white English unemployed and put them into jobs that these days are mostly done by immigrant labour. Predictably most, although not all, of the unemployed failed to cope with the jobs they had been given. They were unable to work as quickly and as efficiently as their immigrant counterparts. This was in effect a ‘reality’ television programme so it was hardly scientific. These were false situations and they were being measured against experienced people. But the programme did make some interesting points.

I know that it is stating the bleedin’ obvious but we sadly have an underclass in this country that is virtually unemployable. The reasons for this underclass are complex and varied but a lot of the responsibility lies, as I’ve said before, with Thatcher. On last night’s programme training was mooted on a few occasions which I found an incredulous notion. Why is the goal of a job now seen as the be all and end all of human existence in this country? In my opinion we have too much training and not enough education. What many of the poor souls in last night’s programme seemed to lack were life skills. The fundamentals of forming working relationships and operating in a polite and respectful manner. Why should they have these skills? No reason at all, as they have been failed by society for several generations. What comes naturally to someone of my generation and background doesn’t exist necessarily in the world of the white long term unemployed.

I suspect the desire of the programme was to redress the balance on the argument that immigrants are taking English people’s jobs and thankfully I think it succeeded at that. I think that this country has benefited both culturally and economically through immigration. Immigration is a red herring with regard to the plight of the white underclass. Their problems have very little to do with unemployment. It’s deeper and wider than that. When are we going to stop failing these people?

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

You can’t go far wrong if you use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a yardstick to formulate your approach to life, your approach to your fellow human beings, your political views or your general philosophical beliefs. Abraham Maslow developed his Hierarchy of Needs model in 1940-50's USA. Even so, it still remains valid today as a useful tool for understanding human motivation, management training, and personal development. Maslow's ideas regarding the Hierarchy of Needs are today more relevant than ever. They certainly influence my political beliefs and influence the way I give to charity to name just two effects it has on me.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs dictates that we are all motivated by needs. Those most basic needs are engrained in our psyche, having evolved over many thousands of years. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs helps to explain how we are all motivated. It is also important to understand that each level of need must be met in turn, starting with the first or lower set of needs. Only then can you move on to the next set of needs, and so on. It should also be noted that if one attains several levels and then lower levels are removed this negates the need to maintain those ‘greater’ or ‘higher level’ needs.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs - definitive and original version:

1. Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.

2. Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, etc.

3. Belongingness and Love needs - work group, family, affection, relationships, etc.

4. Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.

5. Self-Actualisation needs - realising personal potential, self-fulfilment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

The Hierarchy of Needs was first introduced in Abraham Maslow's book Motivation and Personality, published in 1954. Maslow then went on to extend his ideas in other work, notably his later book Toward A Psychology Of Being, described as ‘a significant and relevant commentary’. Abraham Maslow was born in New York in 1908 and died in 1970. He took his PhD in psychology in 1934 at the University of Wisconsin. This formed the basis of much of his motivational research. His original five-stage Hierarchy of Needs model is clearly attributable to Maslow, but later versions with added motivational stages are not so. Whilst Maslow subsequently referred to various other aspects of motivation, his original Hierarchy of Needs is shown in five clear stages.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs coupled with the UN Declaration of Human Rights really should form the basis of any civilised society. It should also be the goal of those civilised societies to help other countries to attain these standards. If we concentrated on this the world could become a much better place.

Buy a book:

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Riding through the glen

The Robin Hood Tax campaign is a movement bringing together dozens of organisations that work to reduce poverty in the UK and overseas, and campaign to tackle climate change. They have come together during the economic crisis to campaign for a new deal between banks and society."

Join the campaign now!

Friday 5 February 2010

Oil City Slickers

I had so been looking forward to Julian Temple’s film Oil City Confidential. I had been looking forward to it since I heard about it on Radcliffe & Maconie last year. It was screened, nationwide, Tuesday night, followed by a live concert from Koko in London beamed to the cinemas showing the film. I was not disappointed.

Dr Feelgood were very much the unsung heroes of British music. They paved the way for punk, but they were more than that. In the early 1970s they looked different, they sounded different and oh boy were they excitingly different. I could just not believe Wilko Johnson, the frenetic and mesmerizingly manic lead guitarist of the distant stare. How could anyone play the guitar that well and move up and down the stage at such speed? The combination of Wilko’s guitar sound coupled with front man vocalist and harp player Lee Brilleaux made it a winning formula. Dr Feelgood were pure unadulterated R&B. That’s real R&B of course, and all played at a pace.

Julian Temple films tend to be a bit oddball and Oil City Confidential is no exception. I don’t say that in a derogatory way. I like his style. The film is basically a surrealist documentary. Parts of it reminded me of early Old Grey Whistle Tests. Not for the musical content but the stripped down presentation and the edited in ageing film clips. The film is as much a celebration of Canvey Island as it is the Feelgoods. It charts their lives from childhood up to Lee’s demise. This informative film is a must for any lover of British popular music. There are interviews with all the band members, music colleagues, family, friends and fans, some from archives obviously, but many made for the film. Anchor man in the film is the enigmatic Wilko, although there were sizeable contributions of some of the other Feelgoods. The film left me feeling very sorry for Wilko. Not 100% sure why, but he did come across as a lonely and troubled individual. Not sure if that’s just a facade for blues authenticity or the genuine man.


The film finished and we were told that there would be a twenty minute break. I nipped out for that all important toilet break, much needed on a middle-aged bladder and after a two hour film. Some poor folk took the announcement at its word and probably nipped out to the pub. I say poor folk because the concert started not much later than 5 minutes after the film. It had already started when I returned to my seat, but only just. Wilko was giving it what for on his guitar. Early in the concert, and for three songs, he was joined on stage by Alison Moyet who is now a slim vision of loveliness, but can still add weight in the vocal department. Also on stage was a pretty mean harmonica player. A giant of a man who looked vaguely familiar but at first I couldn’t place him. The first name that came into my head was Charles Shaar Murray, but I kept thinking, ‘Surely not’. Surely not, but it actually was Charlie boy. It was a great concert of Dr Feelgood songs and R&B classics that I wished had gone on longer. The only constructive comment I have to offer is that Wilko should make use of guest singers. He’s a great guitarist, but his vocal style, reminiscent of Pete Townsend’s, is not powerful enough to do justice to many of his songs, but full marks to him for giving it a damned good go.

Tuesday was truly a fantastic music evening!

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Honest politics

I’m a socialist and not ashamed to admit it. I’ll grant you that my take on socialism could well be seen as a warped version, but essentially it is socialism.

I, as you could imagine, don’t care much for Tories. But as a democrat I recognise that they are entitled to their beliefs and I would respect anyone who says that they are Tory and proud. I will probably never agree with what they believe, but I’ll respect them if they are honest about their politics.

Unfortunately there are many people who seem too afraid to admit that they are Tories. Too ashamed to put their heads above the parapet, for fear of being laughed at no doubt. It is strange that this should be the case, especially as they have been in the ascendancy in the polls. But I suppose old habits die hard, as this trait has a long history. I was born and raised in Suffolk. West Suffolk at that. A True Blue county where, if you were Tory, and you sort election, winning was assured. Even in such a safe Tory part of the country some people still had trouble owning up to their political allegiances. They would stand as independents in local elections. Strangely the Tory party would not stand against them, strangely they would get elected, and not so surprisingly they would vote with the Tories on virtually all matters.

These days closet Tories employ all manner of pseudonyms and guises with which to hide behind, but they are easy to spot. First give away is that they will refer to the Labour Party or representatives thereof as ‘Socialists’, when as any sane person knows, not all in the Labour Party are necessarily so. But then closet Tories are not exactly great thinkers or masters of deep political understanding. They will go on at great length about choice, freedom and liberty. They will often claim to be so-called ‘libertarians’. In reality they are anti-liberty, anti-freedom, anti-democracy, anti-Europe, anti-environment, anti-equality, anti-inclusive, anti-justice, anti-peace, and above all anti-society. Their true agenda is one of pro-exploitation and pro-oppression. They don’t like the law if it interferes with their true agenda but they are only too willing to call for stiff penalties for those that transgress against their way of life.
They are without morals. They are the latter day equivalent of the spiv.

British Gas announces five biomethane demonstration projects

I was pleased to see this press release:

British Gas announces five biomethane demonstration projects

British Gas has today announced it is to go ahead with five biomethane demonstration projects that are likely to be the first in the UK to inject green gas into the grid. The announcement follows Government backing for this emerging technology that confirms support for biomethane to grid from April 2011.

Biomethane will make a contribution to decarbonising the gas grid by delivering renewable heat to households through the existing gas network and central heating boilers. According to a study by National Grid, it could account for at least 15 per cent of the domestic gas market by 2020.

Biomethane is a mixture of gases (predominantly methane) that are sourced from organic material, such as cattle slurry, food and household waste. It has similar thermal characteristics to natural gas and, once upgraded to grid specification, can be injected into the gas grid for end use by customers.

The first project will involve British Gas working with Thames Water and Scotia Gas Networks to build plant at Didcot sewage works. Thames Water already makes and flares raw biogas from sewage processing. The project will design and build a plant to clean the gas and inject it into the grid.

First gas from this project could flow into the grid in summer 2010. Upon completion, British Gas will also enter into a long-term gas purchase contract with Thames Water.

British Gas has also signed development agreements with four other companies to carry out feasibility studies with a view to delivering biomethane to grid. The agreements are with GWE Biogas (using food waste and farm crops), Potters Waste (manufacturing waste), Dillington Biogas (farm waste slurry) and Adnams Brewery (brewery waste).

Assessment and development of these projects will start immediately.

Geaid Lane, Managing Director of Communities and New Energy, British Gas, said: "We're delighted that the Government will provide support to make investment in biomethane commercially viable. With 85 per cent of homes heated by natural gas, this is a fantastic opportunity to deliver renewable heat through our existing gas network and central heating boilers."

"These five projects demonstrate once again British Gas' leadership in renewable energy. By making early investments in biomethane we intend to drive forward the opportunity to deliver green gas to our customers."

Government support for biomethane injection into the grid is part of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which sets out proposed financial incentives for the generation of renewable heat by households, communities and industry

- ends -


Centrica press office: 0845 072 8001

About bloody time too!