That’s not what I said!

The Mail Online has described my blog post as “Mr Harris’s ‘cheer up’ message”.

I know it’s only the Mail, but for the record, I absolutely was not telling people to cheer up. I was simply asking why people in the current generation – even those who aren’t suffering as much from the current economic slowdown – aren’t as happy as our parents’ generation. Am I being too optimistic in expecting a grown-up debate about this?

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61 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Media, Politics

61 responses to “That’s not what I said!

  1. “Am I being too optimistic in expecting a grown-up debate about this?”

    From the ghastly Daily Mail and the turgid Philip Hammond, I fear you may be.

    From everyone else – as evidenced by the comments on your original posting – a sensible debate is entirely possible.

  2. nibbs

    A grown up debate from The Mail? I wouldn’t hold my breath. Isn’t there a bit of an irony in the most miserable newspaper in human history taking up this issue?

  3. nibbs

    The Wail quotes
    ‘The short answer to Mr Harris’s question asking why everyone is so miserable is, “Because we’ve got Gordon Brown as our Prime Minister”.’

    And there would be parties in the streets if Cameron was PM would there? What a buffoon , the issue isn’t political , a general discontent that things “aren’t what they used to be” has been around for ages-certainly since Thatcher’s early days. Perhaps if Hammond actually read more books consisting of fewer pictures and more than 20 pages he may understand the issue Tom was addressing…

  4. pete jones

    having just read the blog comments i would say that “cheer up” is exactly what was said, by inference, if not in the exact words. the comments regarding consumerism and spending were gross generalisations which would certainly not apply to many of your own constituents. the comments are also an example of the sort of comments which would once have been made by conservatives, but we should not be surprised at that, since most of the “labour” government’s attitudes and policies are more traditionally conservative than labour. it is no wonder david davis is arousing such scorn among labour mps and cabinet members as he is making a stand on principles; unfortunately for us all, 99% of “labour” mps left their principles at the door of the commons when they entered.

  5. Pat Owen

    Didn’t read all of what was written but couldn’t agree more. Here in France everyone is moaning about the cost of living while booking their foreign holidays and spending a fortune on consumer junk every saturday. Of course there are those who do suffer but the loudest complaints don’t come from them. We should face up to, the fact that we’ve never had it so good and maybe teach people how to spend money.

  6. Erika

    I am married, with 3 children and I earn a reasonable wage and my husband is a teacher . Yet I don’t feel any better off than I did 20 years ago. We are still paying off the extra we had to borrow to live on when my husband re-trained as a teacher and we only had one wage. Over the years I’ve paid out over £40,000 in childcare which made a huge hole in my wages. We don’t have big flat screen tvs, exotic holidays, eat out maybe 4 times a year. We have 2 cars because we need them for work, but they are cheap and were second hand. Every week is a struggle and it’s getting worse. Each week I watch the prices in the shops go up by pence and see it add pounds to my shopping bill. I’m struggling to save some each month for my daughter to go to uni but I know she will come out with debts of over £25,ooo which will hang round her neck like an albatross while she tries to save for a huge mortgage. Yes I’ve never had it so good.

  7. Bob Irving

    I do get the impression that we’re all miserable because the meedja spend a lot of time telling us how bad everything is. Everything little thing is reported as a disaster “Family’s horror as hamster dies of old age”. Criticism is reported as “X slams…”. It sells newspapers, so that’s all right….

  8. Karen

    So why is everyone so bloody miserable?

    Because there’s an arrogant, incompetent and authoritarian government in the UK

  9. Mr Harris, I do understand your point. It is a sophisticated and complex debate, as you rightly said. The problem is that we (British Citizens) are becoming more aware and able to intelligently and objectively criticize ourselves and the conduct of the government.

    There is a generation of people who are working as hard as any MP has ever worked, spending their personal time trying to improve their future prospects, progressing with work responsibilities and making extra money to support themselves. When you actually observe the physical and mental effort put in to these potential advances, you can gain a better understanding of why people are unhappy about the state of the economy. The disparity between people having it ‘easy’ and those having it ‘hard’ is not only unjustified, but it’s motivating. I for one have been a soldier and a Software Technician (Nothing too substantial there – but real) and I bought a house all those years ago. Irresponsible lending and guardianship (The State) has lead many of us down roads that now we are old enough and perceptive enough, we’d never journey again. I know what I need to do as a responsible citizen and I’m doing it, but at one point I was being ‘encouraged’ to ‘lend’. The responsibility could never have been mine at the age of 18 when I was offered £43,000 pounds unsecured Loan on a low interest rate. I was a soldier earning very little, but this was ok. Did I take it? No, not all of it, but some. Everybody was taking it for cars, holidays, entertainment and ego’s. I took some and shortly after leaving and being unable to get employment to my complete and utter surprise I fell into disarray financially simply because I was not ‘hot’ anymore. I could not guarantee the financiers. This was my first taster of the truth behind financial institutions. I was being hounded, discredited…why? Simply because I was stupid enough to consider their offer as sincere and secure. That said, I managed to resolve every bit of it (IVA’s) and a great number of months later I was doing ok and earning a reasonable wage. Did I begin to save? No. I didn’t. Why not? Simply because the previous few years were like a major depression and I began to put my money immediately into a new home. Which I did, proudly. Three years later, my girlfriend is a newly qualified teacher (This week) and we are due to sell the property, as planned, so I can go to university to further my personal and professional career. Of course, we cannot sell it easily and we are guaranteed to loose money because of the contract Northern rock drew up which meant we could not loan a 100% mortgage but they’d be happy to make the figure up with unsecured debt. We reasoned that we could manage to make a little extra and support ourselves while I was a student. It is not possible. I am doing it any way. I shall voluntarily repossess because I’m wise. I shall write another IVA because I am wise and I shall forever avoid overtly paying into the economy, because I am wise. Basic tax is all I shall contribute. I shall buy a property with cash and I shall earn that cash for as long as necessary. I have lived in relative poverty…charity shop clothes or discount stores. Aldi or Neto groceries. I do not have a car and I do not have any Dependants. It is possible for some people to be smart enough to see who and what is really being supported from their hard labor. I might add, I have no technology other than my mobile phone and my ‘work’ laptop. Both of which will be handed back when I am a student.

    To conclude, it is not everyone that has it ‘good’, but some certainly do, not least those that do not work. It is a great shame and I do understand the need for discussions, but you might actively invite us to talk to you, and only then will you learn the truth. A National statistics officer is coming to follow up on my situation tomorrow. I invite you to look at the results of his accounts. That should make things a little clearer. Contact me if you want the opportunity. It is true that at our age when things become difficult, our attitudes change.

    I would have liked to have written far more and in a far more organized manor, but I am at work so it’s not possible.

    Kindest regards,
    Matthew

  10. Charlotte Amon

    We have never had it so good???? I had to give upt work to care for my husband and get £48.15 a week taxable!!) carer’s allowance to compensate for my loss of earnings and the 24/7 caring. I will be 60 in July and have just been told that since I qualify for the princely pension of £85.00/week my carer’s allowance will be stopped. How am I supposed to survive on these paltry amounts? Having worked and paid my dues all my life I know I would be much better of had I sat on my backside, had 5 kids by 3 different fathers and just collect a bunch of benefits – then I could afford the plasma TV and foreign holidays

  11. Andrew Paddon

    I would very much like to support Tom Harris’s comments. Life is tough, no question about it. The increased fuel and energy costs are sapping all our hard earned finances. BUT in the grand scheme of things, compared to my grandfathers time, and the state of Zimbabwe and other desperate countries. We are mostly all well off, and should count our blessings for what are fortunate enough to have, not to spend our short time in the sun, fretting for what we cannot obtain, or seething with jealousy over what others have.
    Smile, enjoy life, its the only one you get 🙂

  12. Dan

    I’ve just read the blog in question and entirely agree with Pete Jones, above. MPs maybe enjoying good times, but it’s not unreasonable to assume that has something to do with the vast expenses they’re able to claim.
    Without expenses, perhaps they’d be a bit more in touch with the reality of the countries economic situation?

  13. John

    The reason why people are so miserable is because your corrupt party has completely destroyed this country, with your mishandling of the economy and the spending of billions of £s on two unjust wars! I used to be a working Labour party member and am not leaving my name because I know the dirty tricks your members get up too, if you speak out of line! It’s dangerous to criticize your methods, as there’s no freedom of speech any more, you’ve used new terrorism act to see to that! How dare you! Oh yer, don’t forget to give yourself a large pay rise soon, that’ll make us all feel a lot better as you work soooo hard!

  14. Brian

    When Scottish MP’s can no longer vote on issues only affecting England, then I may well be a bit more cheerful

  15. Peter Harris

    The problem with Tom Harris’ statement is that there is no evidence that his parents’ generation or any before them were happier. I seem to remember the 70s being a period of industrial and class conflict; race riots and towards its end high unemployment and inflation. And while I do not recall that I or those around me were particularly unhappy I do not recall their being particularly happy either as compared with now. I suspect that the real point is that except in extreme circumstances levels of individual happiness are relatively stable. However, to attract votes politicians have to pretend that matters are better or worse or that people are happier or less happy than at some earlier time.It is infantile, but usually reflects whether the politician is in or out of power or his party doing well or less well in the poles. It also reflects the simplicities to which politicians are driven by the populist nature of debates in democracies.

  16. Tim

    If we hang our happiness (or lack thereof) on things that pass away is it really any wonder that our happiness passes away with them? Unfortunately, people who have money (the majority in the western world) will never have enough. To quote a rather forgotten book, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase.” To put it bluntly, the notion that, “we’ve never had it so good” is more misplaced than a man on the moon. Our trust in riches will be our downfall. Our wholehearted trust in Christ will bring real peace. I hope and pray that you find this peace.

  17. G. Brown

    I can’t wait to see the back of lots of arrogant Labour MP’s such as yourself at the next General Election.

  18. peter jones write:

    “having just read the blog comments i would say that “cheer up” is exactly what was said, by inference, if not in the exact words.”

    Perhaps so, but what is egregious about the Mail’s coverage is the implication that TH as suggesting people should cheer up in the face of the credit crunch and economic downturn. I read it differently, namely that the generality of material wealth (i.e in the long term, not just the current fluctuations) does not appear to have made us happier. It is not, as reported, an injunction to be happy at the prospect of harder economic times, but a general observation that more stuff doesn’t make us more content.

    That is a reasonably uncontentious point, and has in fact been academically studied for some time.

  19. Maggie Walls

    Having just read the original blog post, you seem to equate wealth with having more stuff. Does the convenience and comfort of wide screen TVs and dishwashers really compensate for having less time to spend with our families?

    Despite what you seem to imagine we actually spend much less on groceries now than we did in the 1970s. I would not be surprised if the same was true of clothing. Our “increased incomes in real terms” are largely swallowed by massive increases in accommodation costs and pension provision.

    Most couples I know who own two cars do so from necessity. The reality of high accommodation costs mean that people have no choice but to commute, often in different directions. Public transport is also much less reliable than it was. So, I am not convinced that the increased numbers of households with two cars indicate we are really better off. As we mostly have no choice but to move to various commutervilles so we can afford to buy or rent a family home it becomes harder to socialise and maintain family ties.

    With long waiting lists, social housing is no longer a realistic option for ordinary families who cannot afford decent accommodation otherwise. This means that we must overstretch to buy a home (compare average incomes with average property prices), or live in the wretched insecurity of short-assured-tenancies. Which the labour government has never addressed.

    Crime figures are down, but that may have more to do with the cheapness of modern electronic goods and better car security systems. Teenagers are now living in fear. Your blog posts simply confirm how badly out of touch you are with reality. Few of your constituents are lucky enough to enjoy your wealth and security.

  20. Dave Leighton

    I’m miserable because I live in a country where the government has one solution to everything:

    Congestion? Congestion charging
    Global warming? Green taxes
    Waste issues? Chipped bins so we can pay per kilo.

    I’m also miserable because in this democracy we live in we go to war against Iraq (85% of people against it). We allow mass immigration (75% against it). We push ahead with ratification of the European Treaty in full cognizance of the fact that the British people would vote it down given the chance.

    If I vote for the only other party that could possibly get in to power, they would not change one thing.

    If the government really believed in democracy, where the people really had a say, then all major issues could be voted on by the people (we have the technology after all).

    Please don’t pretend that you and your party believe in democracy. I’ve heard the argument about MP’s being representatives and not delegates: it’s just an excuse so you can ignore the wishes of the people.

    Dave

  21. Andy

    I hope that Tom Harris reads the replies to his comments. If he wanted adult debate, he has certainly got it on these pages. What I think both we and our representatives in Westminster forget is that our MPs are just normal people and are no more intelligent (and in some cases less so) than many of the people that they represent – for tat reason they need to think very carefully before opening their mouths. A lot of people in Britain are struggling with crippling debts – There is always plenty of publicity in this country about cancelling third world debt etc, whilst this government has consistently ignored the debt problems we have at home.

    We are fighting two wars in this country one in Afghanistan the other in Iraq, and we are now weekly seeing the body bags flown home, and yet under the term human rights our borders are open to anyone and everyone to come in and take advantage of a benefit system which allows our own peoples to struggle into old age whilst the people we allow in for whatever dubious reason are allowed to live the life of riley.

    30 years ago, we were criticising the Russian Government for its prescience in Afghanistan and here we are 30 years on in the same position fighting a war that we cannot win, against a people who will not give up.

    Our streets are no longer safe to walk particularly at night and we no longer have an effective punishment system in this country where the criminals are given more rights than the victims of their crimes

    It is no loner enough for Gordon Brown (an unelected leader) to ignore the wishes of the people he wasn’t elected to lead.

    The time has come to allow the people of the UK to make their wishes known

  22. stephen agoston

    I tell why I for one am unhappy and I will try list simple points.

    As a self employed businessman, I am finding it more and more difficult to run a business because of:

    1) the constant introduction of new and often poorly thought out (if at all) legislation.

    2) The complete disregard for democracy i.e. the UK government reaction to the “No” vote in Ireland and denial of a promised referendum. It seems none of the advocates of the treaty have actually read it.

    3) A marked deterioration in levels of service from ALL government departments we deal with due to cost cutting and constant intrduction of new policies. For example, approximately 1/3 of our employee coding notices issued by Revenue have misspelt surnames, wrong NI numbers, etc. the time, money and effort correcting these mistakes takes it toll.

    4) Introduction of retrospective taxation for example on trusts recently and on car VED rates, effectively penalising people for making decsions retrospectively.

    5) Sending our troops to war and then not equipping them correctly.

    6) Destruction of the NHS – again, constant new policies, polyclinics, maternity services, etc often disguised as “improving services.” Waste of time and money.

    Shall I go on?

    Maybe all MPS should spend a compulsory year or two in the real world creating jobs and earning money rather than penalising others for doing so.

    Stephen

  23. Richard

    I’d be more cheerful if I was on £92,100 a year and managed to snout my way through £153,862 in expenses last year.

  24. Jeremy Poynton

    So, let me get this right – you won’t allow strong criticism of your party on this blog, yes? Free speech, is after all, a thing of the past since New Labour, New Stasis came to power.

    Can I shame you into printing this?

  25. Paul

    I always find it interesting that when a politician talks about a sensible debate he or she usually means they want the public to get behind their view of the world. What Tom is missing is that while the material standard of living has gone up – for large part of the population, a point I will return to, the quality of the life has declined. To enjoy the material benefits people are working excessive hours, which they can’t reduce because of the fear of retaliation or loss of employemt. Inceasingly, both parent have to work in oredr to afford the mortgage for a modest home, and still live within their means. There is much more to be said on this and needs to be, but there won’t be a sensible debate as long as Ministers keep denying the facts as they exist on the ground and attack anyone who has a different view point, which is oftenfar more ferocious than anything I ever saw Mrs Hacksaw’s admininstration heap on anyone. Tom also over looks the fact that the poorer end of society, which is not small and actually appears to have increased under labour not only does not benefit, but has actually seen a decline in both material standard and quality of life. And if Tom wants the public to listen and believe what they, then they need to address the fact that policians are consistently at the bottom of the league tables for trust in holders of public office. The evasive hair splitting we daily witness now e.g. David Milliband on Today this morning do nothibg to instill either trust or confidence, and as long as Government minister attack other institutions of the state e.g. the judiciary, State Educators, Doctors then it won’t improve. Politicians like all people serving the public need to realise that contempt generates contempt.

  26. Melanie

    I agree very much agree with comments Dave Leighton made but would take it much further.

    No I’m not a nutter but I think that our very humanity is under attack – I think therefore I am a consumer – oh really, I thought I was so much more than that. Adam Smith may very well have provided an economic rationale for society but it has been taken way too far. Since the Thatcher and Reagan years, policies have sought to divide us as a society and as a people – great tactic for government, and three decades in it’s working well. The obsession of allowing the market to set a price for everything is paying great dividends to its shareholders at the cost to us mere mortals.

    I am frightened for the future and for that of my parents and my children; and my husband and I both work full time, my parents don’t…but hey ho…fear is a great device.

    Who decided that as human beings we should encourage such an unequitable arrangement. Money and its management is after all a human invention. The privatisation of amenities where someones energy metre reaches critical and is disconnected now means, somewhere someone else is sipping cocktails in the sun whilst pink (painted) elephants walk around their garden (and I’m not making that up).

    People all over the world of starving because they can’t afford the food on the shelves, not because there isn’t enough; or perhaps to pay debts to the IMF and World Bank their food production is for export only.

    Perhaps there is a price for everything and that all the great minds are in pay to shut up; or have we really so little imagination that we can’t imagine a common purpose for money that would allow a more equal share for all.

    Yes I’m miserable! because unlike the post-war era I’m short on hope.

  27. Dawn

    I am absolutely flabbergasted by your comments! I cannot believe that you are unable to understand why people are feeling so miserable. Do you sit in a hut with ear muffs on?! I can’t speak for anyone else but I would say that having a joint income of £22,000 p.a. to cover food, childcare, mortgage and utility bills for two adults and two children is pretty difficult in days where the price of everything is rocketing except our wages. I think that you may have used the word ‘miserable’ where perhaps ‘demoralised’ would have been far more suitable. People are working their backsides off to find that they are struggling to buy even the basics. Can’t comment on Tesco’s Hi Def TV profits as it’s not something we, or I’m sure many other people, can even contemplate on our budget.

  28. In response to Andrew Paddon
    June 20, 2008 at 9:15 am

    I’m glad some has supported Mr Harris’s comments. Life is tough, no question about it. And we are comparatively well off compared to third world countries. You state the absolute obvious. I am not arguing that. We are a first world country and things could be better if we managed our country better. The ethics of our economy is an ideological issue not merely a simple complaint about prosperity. I am in good health and the financial situation will not break me. I shall survive and I shall be happy. I hope that is clear. What is the issue is that we are in the 21st century and we have not managed to come very far in the last 20 years. How can we as a country make much of a difference to the world if we cannot prevent negative difference to our own situations? I know it’s moving the goal posts of the debate, but there is no point arguing over who is justified to be unhappy or happy. That’s far too elementary and futile.

    What we need to establish is that Civil Servants work for us and do listen to us. Politics has not progressed anything in my life. It has regressed. 1000 people out of 7000 in my ‘ward’ voted at the last local election – why? Apathy. Lets get some good old fashioned communication going on…People will always work. If we improved the welfare system, those that don’t work might work, if we improved the prison system, the inmates could work with the public sector, not the private sector. If the relationship between the commercial and public sector was reconsidered, maybe we could achieve our developments at a quicker, more cost effective rate. I’m clearly no economist, but the profiteering has instigated this…

    If everyone stopped spending their would be job losses up and down the country…we do buy too much rubbish in general, so it is OUR fault, but the government need to take a more responsible approach to the private sectors blatant determination to continue to attract the consumer…

    The easiest way to tackle any of this is to get a better turn out at the polls and then we can debate. I have voted constantly, but hardly any of my friends have…we need to be involved and need to instruct our government, not whine about them.

    I still stand by my earlier comment; we are in difficult times. The financial system is sinister and has lead us all astray…

    I’m sorry Mr Harris, but what did you spend the reported £150,000 plus expenses on?

    It’s not you that my concerns are really with, but some people clearly have disproportionate wealth for their contributions to the country. We need to understand our principles, our ethics and model our rewards on that. We have to fight the commercial markets to get work, to prosper, where they would all crumble without us…Please, lets have a serious debate about how we can effect change…lets not just complain…

    Regards,

    Matthew

  29. Sue Hudson

    That might not be what you meant, but you have a salary of c£92K and virtually unlimited expenses, so things aren’t too bad for you. However, the rest of us (who actually do real work), have been inflicted with rising stealth taxes and our pension pots pinched, whilst the Labour government, via the DFID, gives billions to daft overseas projects such as “Democracy in the Ukraine”. We protect terrorists like Abu Qatada (who wants Britain to be an Islamic state and apparently wants to kill all non-Muslims). We’ve not been given the referendum the 2005 Labour Manifesto promised us on the EU treaty. And, finally, we’re overrun with immigrants who are clothed and fed by the British taxpayer.

    And you wonder why we’re fed up?

  30. Well, there are indeed many unexpected surprises regarding online buzz and media. You just dont know what would really happen and what information spreading out there.

  31. D Scott

    Unberlievable! You couldn’t be more out of touch with the people of this country. As another poster on this board has correctly pointed out, the reason for everyone’s misfortune, bad times and general gloom is because of Gordon Brown’s poor leadership, Alistair Darlings inadequate handling of finances and the shoddy mess that the Labour party has become. Before you start bashing me for being a right wing Tory boy, opposed to every Labour MP’s comments, I’ll happily point out that I’ve been a Labout supporter all my life and I would have made the above observations if a Tory MP had made such a ridiculous comment as you did. As someone that has voted Labour all my life, I find this one thing to be horribly scary… The Conservatives are starting to become much more appealing! Dare I say that they seem to be intouch with the feelings of this nation? Great PR, awesome spin or an unfortunate run for Gordy…Call it what you will, Labour has lost touch with this voter.

  32. Kevin Otto

    That’s just the sort of comment I have come to expect from snout in the trough greedy despicable in it for the money MP scum. The only reason plasma tv’s are flying off the shelves at Tescos is because you and your conniving mates are buying them to furnish your second homes. I and other people like me are about to lose our homes because we can no longer afford higher mortgages, council tax, utility bills , food, petrol etc, don’t tell me that council tax and stealth tax rises are not your fault.

    And just for the record I will cheer up when you corrupt and disgusting lot are voted out at the next election.

  33. James Matthews

    I am not just bloody miserable I am bloody angry Tom.

    Why?

    1.Your government, having promised a referendum on the European Constitution in order to improve its election chances (in England at the last election the Labour Party received fewer popular votes than the Conservatives), has just denied me a vote on the Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty has pretty much the same effect as the constitution, but with some of the bells and whistles removed. The fact that so many members of your party, as well as the LibDems, are willing to defend this transparent bad faith calls the legitimacy of our Parliamentary system into question.

    2. MPs from Scottish constituencies such as yourself vote and speak on all matters affecting England while MPs for English Constituencies are denied similar rights in relation to Scotland. When this is called into question we get self-serving drivel about how excluding Scottish MPs from English matters or, more effectively, creating an English Parliament with the same powers as Holyrood, will lead to and end to the Union. If so, so be it. If the Scots are not willing to share a state with the English on the basis of individual electoral equality, much better not to share a state at all.

    3. My personal inflation is rate running at about 9%. This is true of most people on average or lower incomes who do not spend much on clothes or consumer durables. My income is rising at a rate of about 3% pa, meanwhile Alistair Darling, the poor sap who has to deal with Gordon Brown’s wonderful legacy, raises my taxes to pay for far too many people on the state payroll and, incidentally, to provide £1500 a year more expenditure per head of population for the Scots than is available to the English.

    4. Having failed to reverse the decline in the size of British armed forces brought about by the irresponsible idiot John Major (we now have the smallest Army, in proportion to our population than we have had since before the Union) your government has taken us into two optional wars without ensuring that either has solid popular support. If there is one thing worse than getting into an ill-judged war, it is losing an ill-judged war.
    Unless something drastic is done to reinforce our forces, and quickly, we look set to lose both. The world will conclude that we are an unreliable ally and a weak enemy and that will be very bad for all our futures.

    5. Instead of relying on the entirely adequate safeguards for individual rights provided by the Common Law, your government has severely handicapped its own efforts to fight crime and terrorism and control our borders by incorporating the European Declaration on Human Rights into British Law. In an effort to escape from problems entirely of its own making it now attacks the fundamentals of the Common Law by introducing first four weeks, and now six weeks, detention without charge. In the background it continues to pass more new laws than you can shake a stick at in the belief that more and more interference in the lives of the essentially law abiding is an excellent substitute for enforcing existing laws against the genuinely malign. We will soon have a situation (if we do not have it already) when the old police maxim that there are no wrong convictions because everybody is guilty of something will be undeniably true. A further precondition for a police state.

    6. About four decades late, the British political class is starting to recognise, albeit reluctantly, that turning Britain into a multicultural society might have been less than a brilliant idea – that diversity inevitably brings with it division. They are not, however, willing to do anything about it other than try to stop people drawing attention to it.

    There is more, but that will probably do to be going on with.

  34. Chris' Wills

    Posted by :Richard
    June 20, 2008 at 1:01 pm
    I’d be more cheerful if I was on £92,100 a year and managed to snout my way through £153,862 in expenses last year.
    —————-

    Now now Richard, I’m sure that my honourable MP Mr Harris can explain how he “earns” his paltry 92k and will happily reveal his expenses claims along with receipts.

    I’m sure it is all fully justified and honourable.
    Obviouslly it’s legal, MPs write the rules after all.

    It would be interesting to see him trying to survive on just twice the modal (no not average as that figure is easilly manipulated) wage of an employee in the UK.

    Then again, I do seem to recollect that he voted against allowing MPs expenses to be open to public scrutinity.

    I’m sure he’ll correct me if I wrong.

  35. Why are we so “bloody miserable?”

    Well Mr Harris, as one who stupidly voted for you at the last election as my local MP, I can asure you that I will not be voting for you at the next election, and hopefully you will then have to suffer like the large majority of working people who have had to suffer increased tax takes by taking away the 10% lower tax band and then puting the country into even greater debt trying to fix it, a 30% increase in petrol, (and going up dailiy along with the governments tax take), huge increases in gas and electricity and to get even higher come the winter, huge increases in food prices, working longer than ever to pay government taxes and offered a derisory 2% pay increase when “real” inflation, and not the doctored one that you and your collegues like to use, is nearly 8% I have to take a pay cut…again, we hear that you hard worked, out of touch MP’s need huge rises to keep in touch with fellow professionals, oh but then again Mr Harris I have a very hard earned salary of under £20k, whats yours…..? Oh yes, over £100k, yes I can see why you are not so unhappy with life and need another huge rise, just doctor the MP’s expenses and he presto!

    We have a Government that is just not listening to the people, and is now so out of touch with reality it beggars belief, your remarks show just how out of touch you are with your constituants, what with Gordon Brown at the helm, he is the one who singlehandedly has created most of the mess we are in at the moment, and the rest of the cabinet “yes” men and women all too scared to fight for the people!

    Yes Mr Harris I sincerely hope that you join the ever growing band of Unemployed people at the next election, as I, and I am quite sure many many people will not be voting for you or Labour, change is what Scotland and the UK needs, and we need to get rid of out of touch MP’s like you.

  36. Pingu

    You’re quite right that the nation as a whole has never been so wealthy, but it’s clear we are about to hit troubled times. Our grandparents were happy through such times because there was a feeling of everyone pulling together, whereas we now live in a time where it’s clear that our MPs are not pulling together with us at all. In fact they are on a fantastic gravy train, which only seems to give them more every time the rest of the country gets less. Reports, this week, are that backbenchers are now demanding a 21% pay rise, to £75,000. Without wanting to sound offensive, what on earth for? As a teacher I guarantee that I work harder than any backbench MP, am held more accountable for successful outcomes, and handle a great deal more stress, but it turns out I make about a third of their salary. I also don’t get expenses that will cover anything from a second mortgage to a nanny. I never did get that bit. I suppose you justify the expenditure of public money on your own lives by telling yourselves that you’re in our service, and that you therefore shouldn’t end up out of pocket to perform your job. Why? The rest of us end up considerably out of pocket travelling to work, feeding ourselves during work, travelling for work, etc. etc.

    So yes I’m unhappy, because when I finally stop being able to meet the cost of living (and despite a reasonable wage I can’t afford to eat out, I haven’t ever had a holiday, I don’t constantly buy the latest gadgets – I just about manage bills and food) I have a sneaking suspicion that my MP will get another raise to help him cope with the stress of supporting us through such troubled times.

  37. Flora

    The reason we are so miserable now is because this Government is gradually taking away our freedom of choice. We are told what to do and when to do it more and more.
    When are we to be allowed to think for ourselves as we used to. Our brains will turn to mush soon.

  38. Jeremy Poynton

    Dear Tom

    The reason we are all miserable is that Gordon has made us so. His lies, his destruction of the economy, his favouring the rich at the expense of the poor and the moderately secure. His destruction of Magna Carta, his lies, the EU, Cannabis (he says he will respect opinion on abortion, does so, then goes against opinion on weed – Daily Mail tart).

    We hate Ed “So what” Balls as well, we hate the way he and his bint have screwed us by their housing arrangements – will we get our share of the profits when they sell their taxpayer funded houses?). We hate the fact that New Labour will stoop as low as it can to smear people (Burnham). We hate the incessant chirping of Hazel “Community cohesion” Blears, we hate the fact that you think that legislation can change the way people behave.

    In short. WE HATE YOU ALL

    (Labour voter from ’70 to Bliar and Iraq).

    May you all rot in hell.

  39. Silent Hunter

    The reason everyone is so miserable is the fact that we have a Corrupt & Sleazy government who increase OUR taxes whilst helping themselves to OUR MONEY to pay THEIR bills!

    That’s it in a nutshell!

    Crooks are running the country, they rub our noses in their own ordure and expect us to come up smiling.

    How do these bloody idiot MP’s get elected?

    Probably because in parts of Glasgow you could put up a vegetable with a red rosette and the underclass will vote by colour alone.

  40. Silent Hunter

    Oh that’s good! LOL

    Pre moderation!

    So ‘dissent’ is filtered out………….just like Walter Wolf at the last Labour conference.

    Hahahahahahahahaha! :OD

  41. Nir Shaki

    Dear Tom

    I think you were very brave to say what you have said. Of course if you take a stab at materialism (along with its silent and hypocritical manifestations) be sure they will bite you back, (in the shallowest possible way).

    Nir

  42. Scott

    maybe its just me , but I do not feel better off than my mother and father, i do not have two cars, not even one, I get the bus when I can afford it (which sounds ridicoulus, but even a bus journey is an expense i can seldomn afford)

    I come from a poor background, I left school early with no qualifications ( when i was 14 I went to a private school for a month with a friend as i was staying with his family and they arranged a temporary place for me) going back to what the government passes for a school after that left me feeling like there was truly no point being there – i had learned more in a month at private school than the years of neglect from the state.

    So i left and turned my hand to computer programming and make 4X more salary than my mother and father combined

    Yet I still can only scrape by, living from paycheck to paycheck

    MPs always seem to make these stupid comments – when the only world that is better off is the world that they surround themselves in

    Sure, you will say how meagre your salaries are and that really you are not so well off and work many hours and you are probably underpaid….

    Well I am in that position, my mother and father was and still are in that position and I am 100% sure that you earn more than all of us

    Perhaps YOU have two cars, a house and financial security but there are many many people who have never had that
    (my mother, father generation for one)
    I certainly do not have it now and take great offence when twats that do have, tell those who do not to cheer up.

    As usual MPs are far removed from reality and lose the ability to speak for the people

  43. Maggie W

    I can’t believe that you think we “have never had it so good”. Believe me if this is good then heaven help us all if it ever gets bad.

    As to being grumpy – I can tell you why I am grumpy and depressed. My father has Alzheimers, I was coping as the sole carer, then he went into hospital with pneumonia. Having been allowed to fall not once, not twice, but three times whilst in hospital he is now unable to mobilise at all. He cannot even move from a chair to his bed without the assistance of an electric hoist, consequently he is now in a Nursing Home. He never had a lot of money, never earned a fortune but he was frugal. Consequently he must pay the fees himself – even the nursing element from the Social Services goes directly to the Nursing Home while his fees remain the same (£535 per week). Although he can do nothing for himself, washing, dressing, moving, cooking, making a drink etc. he is not eligible for continuing care. He has to be turned during the night because of sores etc.

    His money, after less than a year, is running out – which means his house will have to be sold. This is a man who spent his entire life doing the right thing, never claimed anything from the State, fought in the 2nd World War from beginning to end – the bitter end as he was in Burma not Europe.

    I find it wrong that a man who has tried so hard will leave this world without a penny to his name, whereas if he had lived on Social Security and claimed everything possible, not saved a penny, everything would have been found for him.

    Didn’t New Labour claim at one point that no-one would be forced to sell their house if they went into a Nursing Home? But then they also stated that we would have a referendum on the Europe Treaty!

    I believe in Scotland things are done differently but I live in England (and fervently believe that the United Kingdom no longer exists.)

  44. Richard

    Why are MP’s making comments such as these when they earn far more than a lot of society? We are miserable because the economy has been turned upside down thanks to Labour. I don’t go out and buy a new flat screen TV every week, in fact I have still got a 7 year old 14 inch CRT! I have saved for over a year to buy a newer second hand car, to replace a 10 year old one, with a high mileage. I don’t feel very well off, and I don’t eat out every time I go shopping! Most people I speak to are struggling along, just trying to pay off the bills, and might buy something they want once in a while, not every day as Tom is suggesting.

    If Labour concentrated on fixing the economy instead of coming out with ridiculous quips like this, or stopped sending soldiers out to Iraq, or stopped taxing us to death on fuel, then we might feel a bit happier!

  45. Jim B

    You must be delighted with the publicity you have received recently after your comment, whatever it was, was published in some tabloid newspaper or other.

    I am, however, quite happy, more so than my parents, in fact, because I have made the decision to be so.

    There are no external factors that could shake this. Not even a self-seeking politician polluting our entertainment channels with a smug face can make me miserable.

    All the negative comments above are from people who are blaming someone else for the way they feel. It is time you all grew up and took responsibility for your own feelings and stopped blaming someone else.

  46. Jeremy Poynton

    Mind you – why not try legislation, that’s the New Stasi way, isn’t it? Surely you can legislate to make people be less miserable? ASBOs for persistent offenders? Make them wear yellow jackets in public perhaps, or force them to listen to Hazel Blears twattering on at them for days on end.

    Or why not INTERN them hey? That would be even better.

  47. Jeremy Poynton

    Question for the chirpy ones here, especially the one who so sumgly said “I decided to be happy”. How do you feel about New Labour’s twin-pronged assault on Civil Liberties and the independence of Parliament? The latter is now simply a rubber-stamp for an unelected dictator? Do you think that is healthy for democracy in this country? Do you think the fact that Quangos – of which Brown promised a “bonfire” when he and Bloody Hands Bliar staged their putsch in 1997 – unelected, and unaccountable, now cost us over £100 billion per annum?

    New Stasi has destroyed democracy in this country, in a soviet style socialist putsch. And I say this as one who voted Labour in his first vote in 1970 until Iraq.

    New Labour supports the EU. Here is the EU for you in all its glory, making our expense troughing of our MPs (stand up Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, with their second homes “fiddle”) seem mild

    http://preview.tinyurl.com/6jvgkg

    (YouTube says it has been pulled, but it seems still to be there). This is a shocker. Watch the piggies run when they get caught signing on for their daily expense allowance and then leaving straight away.

    Oh, how they squeal.

  48. Gerard

    I’m young enough, just, to remember 25+% inflation, never-ending strikes, mass unemployment, razor gangs, the first Thatcher government and snow every winter. Current inflation is still only 3% and we’re weathering the economic storm quite well after a decade of stability and growth. House prices in many, not all, areas are coming down but they’ve done quite well in the past decade or two and a little correction in the market will soon be forgotten. On the whole we’re doing ok and people should realise it.

  49. Jim

    Although it may be yet another bloated headline from the Mail, it was extraordinarily naive observation to make on your behalf. Without Tony Blair’s cheesy grin and PR gloss to paper over the cracks anymore, the current state of affairs is that life is getting tougher and tougher almost daily. Everywhere you turn in daily life, something is being taken away, taxed, denied to us, tightened yet there is no tangible benefits to this regime.

    The final insult is a junior minister trying to grab those bloated headlines with ridiculous badly timed and poorly made quotations. I am dour about the times we’re in but I despair that Tom Harris is one of the idiots who are the figure heads for us and should be ashamed at his own naivety.

  50. Rosemary

    Yes, you are quite right when we say that we are miserable now. However more and more of us are getting thoroughly angry and miserable.

    (1) It seems that with the Government of the last ten years if you set a target, then you have solved the problem. This has in fact done quite the opposite

    (2) You have tampered with Magna Carta. Our civil liberties have been significantly eroded, and the UK has turned into a Stasi State. Police are chasing target figures, not real criminals. Arresting a person for a very minor offence, when a warning would suffice, is perfect for them as it means “points make prizes” for hitting targets. It is time that you stop criminalising ordinary folk and deal appropriately with the nasties. The Human Rights Act has done some dire things to our country’s constitution.

    (3) Health and Safety has gone mad in this country. We can’t have plastic flowers in public places, Scout parades, and School Sports Days. You are breeding a generation of people who don’t understand that life isn’t fair and expect to win/succeed all the time; have no concept that when you fall over and hurt yourself, that you have to pick yourself up and carry on; and that you do have to work for an income.

    (4) Gordon Brown’s raid on the pension was criminal, and has reduced the value of retirement funds by at least £100 billion. He has left pensioners paying an extortionate price over many years. I am amazed that no one at the time kicked up a stink and that Brown was allowed get away with this.

    (5) It seems that if you are prudent, save, and try and put something away for a rainy day, when you need help, you don’t get it. Pensions are taxed, old folks are forced to sell their homes to pay for care, whilst some parts of society who have done no work are handed out benefits.

    (6) You stop NHS treatment for anyone who dares to help themselves by purchasing additional drugs or treatment because this encourages a two tier system. A two tier system in my opinion is the NHS versus private care. We should have the freedom to choose if we want to make additional contributions such as top up drugs without being penalised. After all the NHS is the system that should take care of us from cradle to grave and is paid by us from our National Insurance contributions.

    (7) My current take home pay is £165.00 a week, and this includes a tax credit payment. Tell me how I am supposed to pay for essentials such as food, fuel, heating and lighting, before I pay for luxuries such as clothes and haircuts. Since 1997 the poor have got poorer and the rich, richer. The financial divide has considerably widened.

    (8) The indigenous population are fed up of paying high taxes for these to be spent on immigrants’ benefits and housing or people who just can’t be asked to get a job. Please tell me why someone who has not contributed anything to UK plc is entitled to payments, when you have people who have paid in for over 50 years receiving pitiful poverty line pensions. (By the way I am in my late 30’s, so I am not a pensioner, but I have got eyes).

    (9) You and the Government are completely out of touch with reality. Whilst we do have the technology such as HiDef Televisions, Flat Screen Computers, etc, it doesn’t mean that we can afford them.

    (10) Fuel duty is now at criminal levels. Before Labour came into power, the train industry lobbied hard for joined up transport thinking. They wanted some key investment put in place to get Britain’s railways and rolling stock to the level it should be. This was not done, and whilst we have, potentially, some very good transport links, it doesn’t work, it’s too expensive, dirty, dangerous, and it doesn’t join up properly because of timetables. Having high fuel prices is stopping Britain. Last weekend it was Father’s Day. We were going to drive up to my boyfriends parents because he wanted to see his Dad. We didn’t go, because we can’t afford the petrol.

    And I could go on. Basically we are fed up of being taxed, taxed and taxed again. Receiving shoddy services, being legislated against and being locked up for minor offences when violent criminals walk free. It is time that you and Labour listened and acted, rather than just listening, because you don’t.

  51. Pierre

    Tom Harris is yet another of those deluded, and in this case, unusually Scottish (joke), New Labour MPs whose view of the world is coloured by political power, a large salary and unbounded expense accounts. He sits there in his tower, unhindered by any economic and moral downturn because none of it affects him. He is pious in the extreme.

    On the radio yesterday, within 5 minutes of his ‘phone in’ on the subject Tom Harris was audibly gesturing to want to leave the studio. He couldn’t take it. The man is a smug elitist who has never has a real job!

    Of course, that’s without saying anything about the abuse poured on this country by his government…….

  52. Jeremy Poynton

    Gerard June 21, 2008 at 8:44 am

    “I’m young enough, ,…”

    I assume you mean “old enough”. So am I. Glad you are doing OK – most of the people I know are scared shitless about the collapse of their liquidity, courtesy of Gordon “No more boom and bust” Brown.

  53. If you think we are miserable, just wait until we are angry.

    Not far to go now.

    You and your Ilk WILL be held accountable and trust me, you will wish you had never set foot in Parliament.

  54. Jeff Norfolk

    Why are we miserable? Ask any pensioner , dickhead.

  55. Chris Casselden

    No-one is happy. There’s no need to single out any group. It’s all well and good for you sitting in your ivory tower, with inflation busting pay-rises, gold-plated pension, disgusting expenses claims and a hundred other tax-free perks.
    No-one is happy simply because GB is still Prime Minister, you lot are still in power, the economy is in a mess, we’re taxed to the eyeballs and idiots like you want to know why we aren’t dancing in the streets.
    Maybe after the next election you’ll get to see what it’s like in the dole queue.

  56. Quentin

    This government could’nt care less about the public, nor the truth, does anyone believe the governments inflation figures? . I think we are in trouble anyone on a fixed income or pension will suffer and unions will be flexing their muscles 14% for tanker drivers (this is just the start) ,of course were miserable . The only bright light on the horizon is there will be a third less estate agents and those greedy people who have buy to let mortgages to make money on property wont be.

  57. If the taxpayers of the UK were paid the princely sums MPs receive in salary from said taxpayers, then perhaps we would all have more reasons to be cheerful. What EXACTLY do you DO to earn your large salaries??? By the time you politicians spend hours trying to fiddle your expenses, find yet more ways to diddle the beleaguered taxpayers, go off on jaunts around the world, you have precious little time left to actually WORK in parliament!!! Why don’t you ALL produce something worthwhile to make us, your paymasters happy???

  58. James Matthews
    June 20, 2008 at 4:09 pm
    Sums it all up nicely though I would add that it not just about the money. Tom, you deny us our refendum because you know that we want to get back to a Free Trade Europe and not the police state that you have landed us in.
    You won’t give Scotland its’ independence because you know that your party would never again rule in Westminster.

    It is also about the constant barrage of tired yet paternalistic adverts on the radio ( I don’t bother with TV ) yapping at me do things Big Brother style but at least I can change station.

    Yes Tom, I am better off financially than my parents generation but I live in a worse country with little to look forward to ( including the future tory government that will do little to address any of the above).

  59. Annis

    I’m a civil servant, struggling on the pittance we get paid, with another pittance of a wage rise on the horizon (very far horizon!) to look forward to. Your Government has hammered the civil service until it is ready to crack – why? You hammer the general populace with massive tax bills – again, why??

    I tell you what, Mr Martin, live on my salary for a month, and see how happy you are at the end of it – I can guarantee you’ll be reaching for the Valium!

  60. tonto

    WHAT WITH `DARLING` TELLING THE GENERAL POPULATION TO HAVE NO MORE THAN 2% PAY RISE!!!!! HOW DARE YOU AND YOUR `NEW LABOUR` COLLEGUES TELL US ABOUT RESTRAINT!!! AND WE HAVE NEVER BEEN BETTER OFF. SHOULD`NT YOU BE SETTING AN EXAMPLE, AND REFUSE TO ACCEPT ANY PAY RISES OR `PERKS` FOR THE FORE-SEEABLE FUTURE. TRY AND COME DOWN OF YOUR `PRIVILAGED` PEDESTAL AND LOOK AT WHAT WE, THE ELECTORATE ARE SUFFERING.

  61. Mr. Harris, I am still waiting for your explanation as to why the Labour government refuse to give the UK a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Is it that we are no longer a democratic country???
    Once again I’d like to remind you that Daily Mail readers are also voters, so stop opening your mouth and putting both feet right in it!!!

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