Chucking rocks at a squirrel

Just returned from GMTV studios in Glasgow where I was trying to defend my views on happiness, or lack thereof. Most people, I think, understand the point I was making, even if they don’t agree with it.

But given the importance of this issue and the relative sophistication of its various elements, isn’t it rather depressing that Philip Hammond’s only response has been: “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’.”

That’s the political equivalent of chucking rocks at a squirrel – entertaining, but rather missing the point.

UPDATE (7.30am): I’ll be doing the Today programme in about an hour on the same subject.

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69 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Conservative Party, Media, Politics, Society

69 responses to “Chucking rocks at a squirrel

  1. Nicola Mortimer

    I share your perception about happiness as during my life the fears of not having enough money for the basics in life have lifted and my life has been unimaginably more exciting, interesting and enjoyable compared with what I could realistically expect as a child.
    I work abroad a lot and most people I meet envy the stability, prosperity and the smooth running of so many services in this and other European countries.
    I really cannot understand why people moan so much and I usually blame the media and perhaps that there is nothing encouraging us to be grateful which is a key to happiness. Religion used to take on this role and although I am athiest I have to admit that the Church may have had a hand to play in encouraging positive thinking.

  2. J Harker

    Are you actually doing any work as an MP? There seems to be very little about it on this blog.

  3. Garry

    I am assuming that you are extremely comfortable with your lifestyle and do not struggle for anything. I, on the other hand, am what i consider to be a working/middle class citizen. The rich don’t need to worry about finances; the poor get all the help they can – I have a pregnant wife who cannot work, a child and one stable job to support it all. Every week our credit card fills up because we haven’t got the money in our bank accounts to even feed ourselves. Petrol increases by the day, fuel prices are set to rise 40%, food is more expensive and on top of that we now have to pay overinflated interest rate because my wage cannot support my family. I am trying to run a second job as a photographer to increase my earnings but, unfortunately, this is a difficult task in between working my normal hours, taking extra work from my company, studying in my spare time to increase my learning and earning prospects and looking after my wife and child. I’m certainly not saying all is bad but we really are up against it at the moment. Please don’t ask why we are not all as cheery as our previous generation – some of us have many obstacles to overcome. Remember, i am just one voice.

  4. Mr Hammond (& you) obviously haven’t read my book “The joy of us – a guide to happiness in the 21st century” which deals with, amongst other things, simplicity & complexity (which Mr H clearly doesn’t get given his comment re it all being Mr B’s fault), big numbers & small lives, chance & probability, evolution & human lifespans and having enough, but not too much, money. You can be forgiven; I haven’t written it yet…

    As to the Daily Mail and happiness, I believe that its founder said he set it up specifically to give the lower orders something to be really angry about every day. I think the theory was that this would divert them from fermenting revolution against the upper classes…

  5. John McDermott

    Yep you and your parliamentary cronies have never had it so good that`s for sure with second home allowances and just about everything paid for including food and council tax. What do you all spend your salaries (not insubstantial) provided by “hard working” tax payers on. It will be no problem for you and your ilk to buy the latest high def tv`s as they no doubt come under “furnishing”. How many of your Castlemilk constituents have one car let alone two I wonder. You say that we spend money in amounts which would left our parents gasping did you ever consider that we also pay prices which would have had a similar result. Of course we have never been so well off by your standards and we can look forward to rapidly rising costs for food and fuel but of course that won`t touch the “elite” in Westminster.

    Presumably this sudden interest in the electorate is your attempt at 15 minutes of fame no matter who you upset by crass comments

  6. Having discussed Tom’s comments about happiness in our office this morning. We have to agree with him totally, but we all believe that the media have a huge part to play in whether we start our day in the right frame of mind or not.

    Waking up to Sarah Kennedy in the morning reading the ‘papers’ nothing interesting or happy. The news on the t.v, surely there is something good happening in the world it can’t all be doom and gloom. The media should be helping us to weather out this ‘credit crunch’ not fueling the panic that seems to be setting in. They have to be held responsible as they have the ears and eyes of this country. ITS ABOUT TIME THEY LET US OFF.

  7. Bob G

    Just came here to read the real thing in context after hearing the Today interview, and 100% agree with both the original blog article, and your response to criticism. Can’t really blame your opponents for having a pop either though; Such is political life. However, journalists and presenters taking the attack at face value, and obviously *not* reading the original article, is depressing (if unsurprising). This is no doubt part of the weary, cynical and “think the worst” attitudes of current times you were asking about.
    Bob.
    PS. I’m a right-wing libertarian who thinks Socialism and the Labour Party are pernicious evils. But you’re still right on this though. 🙂

  8. I assumed you were talking about the long term decline in national confidence/optimism rather than individual circumstances today.

    As an engineer by training I link the decline to Government mismanagement of (disdain for? Ignorance of?) manufacturing industry and the policy frameworks within which it operates.

    When you are world leaders in industry you know it. You know what winning is. You go home with a sense of pride in your achievement.

    Growing up in the 1950s there was a lot of success around. The company I joined was at the cutting edge in aviation, nuclear power, trains, computers.

    There are dozens of books analysing the subsequent decline. When did it start to go wrong? From personal experience I would say the first Harold Wilson government. Like the Blair government it began ( at least from my personal viewpoint) with optimism for a new start in the white heat of the technological revolution. It ended with me vowing never to vote Labour again
    as men had to wreck their part finished handiwork with axes to ensure that cancellation was irrevocable.

    So we’ve lost our sense of national confidence and optimism because of the way Governments have run the country. It’s all your fault, Tom!

  9. Triffid

    Tom – I heard you on Radio 4.

    OK, will take you at your word that you really want people opinions as why the disconnect between happiness and position of the country.

    Speaking just for myself (and just myself) – I am getting more and more depressed at the state of the country. I don’t mean whether crime is increasing or litter or even MP’s expenses (choose a soapbox.)

    I feel completely unheard.
    My voice is now a whisper as the Government isn’t listening any more.

    By now you will be rolling your eyes thinking this is an anti-Brown rant. It’s not.

    I’ll give an example. I wrote to my MP about my concerns of the Serious Organised Crime and Prevention Act 2005 (don’t worry, I’m not a constituent of yours. My MP is actually a Lib Dem.)

    My letter explained I was concerned that it is a fundamental right for people to be able to peacefully protest against their government if they do not like what they see.
    The answer I got, 6 months later, was a form letter about the local bus route – apparently my MP has written asking for more buses as it’s a tad over crowded in rush hour.

    I am afraid it’s symptomatic about daily life now. The government say they are listening but studiously don’t hear. The last 5 years have been littered with broken promises (from all parties) & broken manifesto promises. There’s no point listing them all – as an MP I’m sure you are fed up of the same complaints – but, a good example is the referendum commitment in your manifesto.
    Now you may believe the Government line but the people don’t. So it’s a stalemate and not resolved. The 42 days “debate” – not even funny how pathetically MP’s behaved.

    I now sit here and think Westminster is completely out of touch with the country. It is running it’s own plan and frankly, the British people aren’t invited. It doesn’t matter if the country if fairing well or not – if the Government fundamentally doesn’t act in our interests but puts itself above the electorate then we are no longer a representative democracy.

    Depressing ? You bet.

    I will guess you do not recognise my comments. If my guess is correct I ask just for 10 seconds thought only – do you not recognise my fear because I’m wrong and its all groundless … or is it because you are in Westminster where you voice is heard ?

    Thank you for your time.

  10. Phil

    Good on you Tom. Finally having the guts to tell us all to buck up!!

    A straight talking politician! What is the world coming to 🙂

  11. Stephen Wilson

    Dear Mr Harris,
    Just read the headlines where you apparrently accused the peasants of being bloody miserable.

    I wouldn’t be so bloody miserable if I was living in a country I wasn’t born in, telling the natives how they should live and sucking up huge quantities of tax payers money (I think you call it wages and expenses) to feather my own nest while others suffer.

    I realise that not all of you scots can fit into the scottish assembly but that doesn’t mean you should be part (Major) of the government of MY country. Its called ENGLAND by the way (do you like that – slipped in a bit of Rab C Nesbit – by the way).

    See if you can persuade Brown and all your other scots politicians that you are not wanted here – go home and leave us alone.

    Miserable ? I’ll cheer up a lot when you have all decamped back over the border.

    A Friend. (You probably don’t have many)

  12. Helen Walker

    I heard you this morning on Today and I agree with you. People are bloody miserable -me included. I’m a 47 year old working mother, two lovely young children, good marriage, nice home. My husband and I have never been more exhausted and fed-up. The reason? Work. We both work in the public sector – hounded by targets, emails, change programmes, new initiatives, etc etc all needing to be done yesterday underlined by an ever-present threat of being ‘restructured out’. People in all sectors are overwhelmed with inescapable workloads – email, blackberries, mobiles forever pinging and ringing. We can never get away. I was emailing instructions to my staff from an internet cafe in Cyprus last year. Ridiculous. Similarly, living in a virtual world dominated by mobiles, web cams and email, increases isolation. The anxiety that makes people constantly text and call each other, comes from the fear of being alone. Yet ironically we are more alone than ever, because the technology allows all our interactions to be virtual rather than physical. No wonder we’re all so bloody miserable. Anyway, must go – am at work and feeling guilty about the five minutes it’s taken me to write this.

  13. Petronious Duckett

    I have just listened to your Today programme article, I was not aware of your question; “Why is everyone so miserable” previous to that.

    You make reference to our society as having many benefits, cheap plasma screen tv’s and restaurant food etc. Whereas generations previous would never have ben able to afford the cheap goods on offer.

    From my experience – I was brought up to only purchase what I could afford. I do not have a credit card, I do not take holidays abroad and am on the whole very happy with my life. I invest in gold with what small amounts of cash I have and do not own a television. Wonderful.

    Most people who fall under the ‘miserable’ category seem to be the ones who have the same humble background as myself, working/middle class roots, but whom believed the Chicago School Reaganomic values as promoted by western leaders in the eighties and nineties. The same economic programme also followed by the Blair Brown travesty. The subset of society who you mourn for the spirit of; the poor truck driver who went freelance ‘cus Thatcher told him too, or the house flipper with several buy-to-lets have helped vandalise the society which bore them.

    It is now apparent what the consequences are of this policy: slave trade, refugees, rise in prostitution, never ending Orwellian style war, fictitious state enemies. Or the dilution of our economy to service failed US foreign policy.

    Those people caught up in this scenario are going to return to their true position within the ranks of a class driven society. They will take unwanted steps down the imaginary ladder of success. They will sell the house they could never afford, for pennies on the pound to a Van Hoogstraten who will in turn make a vast fortune out of the misery of the once petit bourgeois mindset.

    This scenario has been discussed for several years, it is not a secret. What is astounding is the ring of innocence which surrounds many establishment leaders as they make excuses: oh a global credit crunch, US sub-prime etc. What nonsense. If I could see it coming I am sure others have.

    I am very happy. I was sad when I heard neighbours gloating about the cheap clothes they bought from the supermarkt which were in turn made by slaves in India/China. But now that China owns the company my neighbours work for, and are making them redundant the sense of justice which this communicates has reinstated my love of life.

    As for the mindless debate about which government is better. Neoliberalism, globalisation etc is a set of goals at the heart of new labour and the tories so I would speculate that if it was’t blair/brown government but a tory one the outcome would be identical. It is not without some irony to note that Marxism outlived globalisation by some 50 years. But then no one ever got rich from Marxism, not like the globalisation lie which has created more billionaires than ever at the expense of poverty the like of which has not been seen since mmm, just before the French revolution.

    In short you only get what you pay for. There is no such thing as a free dinner. If you (Tom) want to go on a worthy crusade maybe you should stop being so whimsical and instead get real before a whole lot more people start getting – not just miserable, but angry too.

    Meantime, I watch the value of my gold increase. This indicates the value of the pound/dollar decline and thus a measure of my happiness but the unfortunate sadness in our society. Another batch of bankruptcies, mortgage failures, suicides. Tell them to cheer up tom! I am sure those families would be really happy to have you knock on their door and promote Tesco dvd players at knockdown prices. As another teenager gets knifed maybe you could organise a Caymen Island whip round to buy the parents an SUV.

  14. Tim Johnson

    What a silly man you are. We are not miserable because we havent got all the modern trappings, we are miserable because they are soon to be yanked from us, and possibly forever.

    Two car families? 12 months ago, it was not a problem. Now it is a BIG problem. I cant afford petrol at the moment and it is only going one way.

    Hi Def tellies? a moot point if i cant afford the HD subscriptions or new games for your new hi def console. they will sit there and gather dust.

    Eating healthily? when did you last go food shopping with a tenner and come out with a weeks worth of food? I can guarantee you that you will now need at least £100.

    What about electricity and gas, what about travel costs and holidays (which normal folk need to have due to them having proper jobs), what about the sudden negative equity the poor saps who bought a house in the last 6 months find themselves with? Did they slip your blinkered mind?

    We are on the brink of a massive downturn and you smugly sit there and wonder why we are miserable. You silly, overpaid, oblivious-to-your-own-constituents’-feelings, pompous fool.

    Get your hands dirty with the rest of us and suddenly the lack of any kind of job security, coupled with crippling price rises that are conveniently left out of the inflation figures will make you want to be back in politics in a trice.

    Thanks for the opportunity to get all this off my chest. Thanks for showing the country how divorced from reality the government is. Thanks for a good laugh (stops me being miserable!)

  15. Bedd Gelert

    Honestly, I don’t know how your remarks have been so controversial – although deliberate manipulation by the ‘Mail’ will always help.

    This has been the topic of many erudite books, such as ‘Affluenza’ by Oliver James and ‘Willing Slaves’ by Madeleine Bunting.

    What is the answer ? Tom Hodgkinson has tried to address some of these issues in his excellent book ‘How to be free’. But the old Chinese proverb puts it best – sometimes you have to stop chasing around so that the ‘butterfly of happiness’ has a chance to land on you…

  16. Max Freedman

    Hi Tom,

    I actually thought that your points were interesting and deserved more than the knee-jerk reaction that they got from the Tories and parts of the media.

    I think it’s clear that when modern technology means that we can speak to people the other side of the world, but we don’t know our neighbours, people naturally feel an unsatisfying disconnect.

    When science has brought us such amazing techological breakthroughs it is natural to believe that our lifestyles will be transformed into something like the Jetsons – maybe what were once aspirations for a better lifestyle have become expectations, with the resulting negativity when the expectations aren’t met.

    One other thing that is related to your brief – many people feel that a consumerist society excludes values of community or spirituality from which we used to derive comfort. I just wonder how many people register distress when we travel by train and are referred to as “customers” rather than being given the dignity of the title “passengers”. If all public services are perceived through the prism of simply a business exchange, then we implicitly feel less of a society…

    Food for thought anyway, thanks for raising this Tom.

    Max

  17. S Bennett

    I absolutely agree with your observations, Tom. There are people who have very difficult lives and are clearly disadvantaged, both here and abroad. It is the duty of governments in particular, and societies in general, to work constantly to counteract act that.

    However, most people in the UK have the benefit of an advanced economy, a stable democratic society and a technologically advanced health care system. They may, quite reasonably, want to improve their quality of life further, but it is already far greater than would have been expected in the first 70 years of the twentieth century.

    The question as to why happiness has not apparently increased over the last thirty years is a very important one, because it in turn questions the values we hold as a society.

    Thanks for airing a difficult subject, the consequence of which is, predictably, the rabid outpourings of the Daily Mail.

  18. C Jackson

    How are the expenses coming along? Got that payrise yet?

    How about you get back in your little corner, Do the NHS a favour and lose some weight, then Sit down and shut up.

    You have no idea how “middle england” is struggling at the moment. You just feel a little bit short and dip your little sausages into the public purse for the extra. Your expenses alone are nearly 8x my wage which I work damned hard for, I’m on call 24/7 and rarely have a free week without being dragged in at all hours.

    I pay over a weeks worth of my cash EVERY month to prop you, and your droves of paid for labour voters sat at home watching Jeremy Kyle. Money I have earnt with my sweat, and my skills.

    How dare you start ranting along how I choose to spend the rest of my hard earned after all. Most of my weekly spend is on petrol which if I’m correct goes right back into you and your fat fingered friends pot.

    Prick.

  19. themethatisme

    I am not unhappy.
    I have a full time job which bores me rigid and provides sufficiently crap pay that I have two other part time posts in order to pay the bills. This is despite having a good degree and several professional qulaifications. In addition to this I run a community business, a parish church and care for a disabled wife. I am no materialist, have no car, would have no TV if it weren’t for my beloveds need for it, although I will admit to a guilty passion for books and a cigar or two, I also have T-shirts older than I can remember.
    I do not have time to be unhappy and resent being told that my life is miserable and cynical. If the future holds little for me it is because the high handed optimism you speak of in our parents generation turned out to be a lie, as the value base it came from has eroded into a self-seeking material obsession. This is evident not only in the increasing numbers of people in the world with more money than they could possibly count in their own lifetime, but in the millions in the west for whom life is a struggle and the more millions in the world who just struggle to live. I see society around me increasingly heading into Wilde’s demoralising maxim of understanding the price of everything and the value of nothing. And it is unsustainable, and it will implode.
    I am not unhappy.

  20. Maybe the 90k salary and 150k expenses you claim insulates you from the realities of what most people in the country are feeling sad about Tom?

    Champagne socialism at its best.

  21. Jeremy Poynton

    You really don’t get it do you, Tom? Fact ism we the great unwashed lumpen proletariat are sick to the back teeth with New Labour’s (New Stasi) contempt for the electorate. From lying about the EU referendum, to the assault on our pockets, to the assault on our hard fought for civil liberties. We get the ghastly Ed Ball’s “So what” (and don’t pretend he said otherwise) re the tax burden, to Brown’s compulsive lying, to Burnham’s utterly unnacceptable slur on Davis & Chakrabarti, what IS clear is that there are very few Labour MPs fit for office, and threat the Cabinet might as well be a knocking shop.

    Anyway, one thing does cheer us all up – and that is that New Stasi will be gone before too long, never to return

    Disclaimer. Middle class, 56. Labour voter from my first vote in 1970 until Bliar lied us into Iraq. I am now actively involved in making sure New Labour are never again elected. Mind you, I fully expect the next election to be called off on account of a “national emergency” – odd, is it not, how the terror threat suddenly LEAPS when New Labour is in the shit?

  22. LittleJim

    Mr Harris I fear that you are missing the point. People aren’t just miserable-they’re bloody furious at being treated like idiots by all of you at Westminster. Start listening to the electorate who put you, and your cronies, in a position where you don’t personally have to worry about rising costs ( until the next election that is…….)

  23. John Doole

    I agree with many people who commented on your original blog post that material wealth and posessions do not automatically make people happy, but think there are other reasons as to why we seem to be less happy these days, most of them blindingly obvious.

    What do you expect when many people with good jobs can’t afford to buy a house and those who have managed to get a mortgage see house prices falling (which, admittedly, is no bad thing in the long run)?

    What do you expect when the pernicious Council Tax leaves many people with good jobs struggling to make ends meet or have any kind of social life?

    What do you expect when people who live in social housing are expected to pay the equivalent of (or in some cases more than) their rents again on council tax and can’t pay so end up in arrears and have bailiffs knocking at their doors?

    What do you expect when there are so many people in low paid jobs? Ok, so there may be more people in work these days, but surely a job isn’t just something you get to bring unemployment figures down and make governments look good. Isn’t a job only worth having if it enables you and your family to have a decent standard of living and social interaction in return for giving up 40 or more hours of your life every week? And as for tax credits and the like, surely one of the the main ideas of having a job is that you don’t have rely on state handouts?

    What do you expect when so many people are struggling to make ends meet while footballers, foul-mouthed TV presenters and greedy City whizz-kids are raking in obscene amounts of money, while at the same time the government abolishes the 10p tax rate, effectively doubling the amount of tax paid by low earners and then urging wage restraint?

    What do you expect when when politicians talk about taking action on green issues and then expand airports, or when rail companies constantly raise the price of tickets which makes driving anywhere cheaper?

    What do you expect when after 11 years of this slick, slimy, lying, scheming, style-over-substance, glorified advertising agency of a government we are told that levels of pensioner and child poverty have gone up? Just what have you been doing these past 11 years? ‘Labour’ politicians have been cosying up to rich businessmen while ignoring or patronising the less well off and telling us the economy is buoyant, fighting illegal wars and covering your own arses, that’s what.

    Then there’s knife crime, the ever-widening gap between rich and poor, the dumbing down of higher education (especially by ridiculous state-funded ‘faith’ schools and city academies so beloved of your inane, grinning, used car salesman of a former leader) and further education (with technical colleges becoming ‘universities’, a situation which is damaging to both kinds of institution), increasing insecurity, pension firms reneging on deals, poor social cohesion and remote, uninterested career politicians. And you wonder why people are cynical.

    If you couldn’t figure this out then you have no business being either a minister or an MP.

  24. Environmentalism

    I agree with your comments. Fromm said the same in the 1950’s and Oliver James recently in ‘Affluenza’. This discontent and greed is a disease of the English speaking rich world. It would be wonderful for the standard of living to fall. Better for the environment and better for us, causing us to take pleasure in more important things than over consumption. Look at all the fat people for evidence of that over consumption! Disgusting!

    Well done!
    David

  25. andrew

    Hi Tom

    Interpreting technological advances as improvements in the standard of living is a false measure. Diet, free time, health and living space are better measures. Fecundity of all and the percentage of children born to single and unmarried mothers are the best measures.

    The younger couples are when they marry and then have children, the better their standard of living. The more children born to single mums, the greater the number of men who can’t afford to have a family.

    The last time england had todays figures was in the 1290’s. About the time Robin Hood was around.

    The biggest cause of the decline in UK living standards is the manipulation of house prices by governments seeking electoral success. Only an interested party could describe the rise of 30 something parents working full time to pay a mortgage while their first born 6 week old baby has to go in to a creche 5 days a week, 8am-6pm, as a rise in living standards.

  26. Oliver K

    I think that your daft “chucking rocks at a squirrel” comment and single minded obsession with Philip Hammond’s comments only reinforce the perception amongst the electorate that today’s politicians are totally out of touch.

    Have you read any one of the hundred plus replies to your blog? Do you read any of them? Reply after reply describing peoples’ current hardship, and your reaction so far…banal one liners and some Westminster political horseplay with Philip Hammond.

    And please stop using the word ‘debate’. Not a week goes by without some politician starting a ‘public debate’ about one thing or another. It’s just another excuse to prevaricate and avoid actually ‘doing’ anything about tackling some of more pressing issues affecting your electorate.

  27. Derek Simms

    made redundant, as has my wife, not really laughing at your miserable comments I am afraid.

    Hope you enjoy your smug self-satisfied politicians ivory tower view of the world.

  28. Peter Barton

    Useless, useless, useless

    When will you New Labour myrmedons realise that it’s the quality of government, and the quality of trust in government and authority, which makes us miserable?

    We now have Ministers who have no proper experience of the outside world, lording it over us as if they’re our masters and not our servants.

    Count the Ministers who have done nothing more than been media managers and press officers (like you), party researchers and officials, full-time local councillors, special advisers and the like, and nothing else or more.

    And then we see them screwing things up massively – the instances are too numerous to put down here – thinking only of presentation rather than substance, self-perpetuation rather than the good of the country and its citizens. That’s New Labour for you, and, Tom, you come from that mould perfectly.

    You came into office in 1997 with so much promise, so much you could have done. And now look at the glowing embers of your fiery pride. And the ashes of our hopes, and of the fruits of our precious labour and talent. Thrown down or thrown away in an exultation of Labour party self-indulgence. How much good could have been done with all that money, and now it’s gone. Wasted by you and the rest of this appalling government.

    It’s depressing. When will we see men and women of integrity, ability and real experience in Parliament and in Government? When the present lot have been cleared out. It’s about competence, stupid.

    We have the most incompetent, mendacious, self-serving government we’ve ever had. It has done the country huge harm, and you, Tom, and your sub-standard, dithering dunce Ministerial colleagues are to blame.

    As Oliver Cromwell said to the rump Parliament in 1653: “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately … Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

  29. Strap

    Goodbye you brainless cretin. Thankfully we will not have to suffer the likes of Nu-Labour again for at least a generation. The 2010 election cannot come soon enough, and be assured the electorate will not forget the idiotic ramblings of ivory-tower merchants such as yourself.

    Why is it that EVERY Labour “government” ends is disaster for the economy, individuals and companies?

  30. Lindsay Grant

    When I was in Primary School here in Moray (In P7 just before going to High School), my class was asked to create a ‘newspaper frontpage’ each on who was going to win the General election in 1997. As children, we all had dreams of one day having a job, having a happy home and a happy family and many of us at the time believed that New Labour was the way forward. I even had the honour of meeting a New Labour representative and asked him if the UK would be a better place if New Labour won. His response at the time was ‘Yes…it will be a better place. When you are older, you will all be able to follow your dreams and become an assett to our society.’ I truely believed in him then, believed that when I was older, I would be able to follow my dreams and become a Forensic Scientist.

    My, how 12 years can make a difference to a young girl’s life. How the harsh reality of life can kick a young girl’s dreams into the gutter and leave her with little more than bitter memories of promises broken. At 23 years old, I should perhaps be where I wanted to be…but I’m not. Bullying in the workplace is still rife and I know this because I was a victim and chose to leave to save my sanity. I’ve been on JSA for nearly 2 1/2 years trying to find another job yet where I live, there is high unemployment and not enough jobs available. For medical reasons, I am banned from driving and have to rely on public transport to get from a to b. Good for saving the planet maybe, but when you go and tell a potential employer that you can’t drive for medical reasons its an instant black mark on any chance of getting a job with them and because I haven’t been able to find a job, I’m accused by the rest of the UK of being lazy.

    Granted there are people that sit on their fat backsides and drain the system of money but I’m not one who wants to yet have little choice in the matter if I want to even travel just five miles from home. The bus prices are so expensive now that I can’t aim for a part time job because I would never have enough money after tax, food, electricity and bus travel to ever see what difference it would make to my happiness be any better. I’ve been through many Government schemes and put 110% of the effort into it and still I come out with nothing more than a depression, knowing that all my hard work was for nothing and the longer I say on JSA, the more accusations of being lazy I’ll get…

    So where do I go from here when all I have is shattered dreams of happiness? Well screw ever finding a job here in Moray, I’m going back to college where at least I can find some sense of achievement. Maybe one day I will be happy but all I feel right now is bitter knowing that thanks to Labour, the UK isn’t a better place to be.

    In fact I challenge you. Prove to me how the UK has become a better place. Prove to me that it is better despite you Politicians burying your heads up your backsides as immigration goes out of control, as our soldiers die in battles caused by Labour sticking their noses where they shouldn’t be, as our NHS becomes more and more shambolic, as gun and knife crime still goes up yet our justice system won’t put those who murder good people for life, as poverty here in the UK goes up and when we cannot let our voices be heard on things like the Lisbon Treaty. Labour is turning our democracy into a dictatorship that taxes the living daylights out of us so Labour can keep its politicians’ pockets fat.

    Labour is always willing to help the International Community but what about the people here at home? Wake up and smell the roses, get your head out of your backside and you’ll soon see why we’re so miserable. We need more help than you believe. Tell Gordon Brown that the next time you meet him.

  31. Jane

    A fascinating discussion and an important issue. I don’t know whether to congratulate you on the media attention or not?

    I have read the book that inspired your comment – I am a fan of Bill Bryson and like you it did make me think. I too felt more “contented” in days gone by perhaps because I (and society)had little choice over much of our lives? We do have unprecedented wealth in this country, better health and more fulfilling jobs. Yet everyone does seem dissatisfied. I do think there are a few issues which fuel this. Capitalism and a free market means that we are all told that economic growth is good and that wealth makes you happy. Look at how everyone has commented on the latest retail figures for May! We take material goods for granted and they are not even made to last! To maintain economic growth we are brainwashed to believe that we do not have what we need and we need to buy things not for pleasure but to keep up with others. When we have what we need it is never enough and we want more. It is all about materialism which is somehow more important than traditional values such as family, personal responsibility and community. This is reflected in an ever increasing demand on the state to provide. Grandparents wanting allowances to care for grandchildren, partners/carers believing that they should be recompensed as if they were employed in looking after their children or husband/wife. Loss of voluntary activity within communities with the state (and all taxpayers) having to pick up the pieces. (I know that others will be most unhappy with these views)!

    Do we have too much choice – does this make us miserable? Are we being bombarded with pessisimism from Government and Media alike and does this contribute to our outlook? All we hear are crime statistics, prisons overcrowded, the high divorce rate, alcoholism, binge drinking, anti social behaviour, abortion. That is before we start taking onboard the threat to our society from illegal immigration, terrorism, loss of Christianity in the country., credit crunch, homes being repossessed………. these are the messages that we are all taking on board.

    The last report on young peoples satisfaction with life by UNESCO (I think) indicated that children in the UK were very unhappy. I was astounded when children from other countries who were much poorer did not have had a much more optimistic outlook and contentment.

    Perhaps we just need to accept that we are a dissatisfied generation even though we are all wealthier. I realise that many have commented on their current financial hardship. However, this does not compare to previous generations who experienced lifelong unemployment in many parts of the UK, extreme poverty, poor education, lack of opportunity to advance, and early death. My only hope is that we are striving for a more equitable society where every person can achieve their potential. This must surely lead to a more satisfied person?

  32. Leroy Glinchy

    I think that happiness is not something that just happens to you. Nor do I think it is something that is given by an institution like the media, government, nor any church.

    Happiness is a product off mental processes. Institutions can only control external causes. They can not get at the heart of a human.

    Any happiness based upon earthly causes is temporary and unstable.

    There are people who have undergone all kinds of suffering and still wind up smiling at the end? Why? I think it is because they have faith, faith in themselves and their ability to deal with it.

    Nobody can tell you how to become happy, it is your road alone. Enjoy the ride.

  33. Chris' Wills

    you wrote: chucking rocks at a squirrel – entertaining, but rather missing the point.

    ————————

    So chucking rocks at squirrels is entertaining!?

    So tell me. Why did you vote against fox hunting?

  34. Sover

    Why would you think chucking rocks at a squirrel is entertaining? Now you will have animal welfare after you. You do realise it’s against the law to harm wild animals and causing distress equates to harm? Do you actually put any thought at all into what you write before posting?

  35. George

    You pompous git , how dare you tell people to stop being miserable,you and your cronies should get out of your ivory towers and start living in the real world pal, No referendum as promised , out of control immigration , Human rights act , 2 illegal wars,inflation going out of control,sky high fuel & food prices , intrusion into our lives , taxed til the pips cannot squeak any more , & an unelected PM who to be honest is totally useless ( look at the polls & recent by elections ),i could go on but i have to go to work now to keep paying my taxes to keep all the low life scroungers in a better standard of living to myself. By the way i have always voted Labour but never again after the way Gordon Brown is treating the people of this nation , he’s like a bloody dictator.

  36. Karen

    Happiness for me is the day Labour get voted out ,
    Yes we have it ‘good’ if you like debt, unemployment , crap wages , your father was a lorry driver in his time they could afford fuel my husband is a lorry driver in our time we CAN’T afford fuel you have a drop in wages put the money towards the VAT you hike on every litre then we may be HAPPY

  37. Andrew F

    Look on the bright side: now everyone knows who you are, and you have about thirty times as many comments per entry.

    But seriously, I feel for you. This is just a fascist paper flinging anti-Labour mud on a slow news day. You posed a valid sociological question (statistically, we are more depressed than ever – and not just for the last year) without actually making reference to whether we have a right to be.

  38. Chris Wills and Sover: Seriously?

  39. Oliver K

    Tom Harris: another one liner?

  40. Mark

    Well, we’d be chucking rocks at the squirrel because it’s been taking our nuts for one thing…

  41. pilgrim

    A fool is a fool no matter what their nationality, you sir are a fool who is blind to the REAL world in which most of us live. Yourself and your political colleagues have no idea (no matter what party).
    Please be quiet, better to be thought a fool…….. etc

  42. Chris' Wills

    Yes, seriously.

    If you think that chucking rocks at a squirrel is funny why did you vote against hunting foxes?

    Some consistancy would be nice.

    Now personally, unless they’re red squirrels, then I don’t object much but it does seem a poor choice of phrase.

  43. Triffid

    Tom

    I gave you the benefit of the doubt that you were genuine in hearing from us but your only comment was a one liner trying to argue about the heading for your blog entry.

    Guess you are the same as every other Westminster denizen.

    Damn – one day we will have an MP who does want to listen. So far we have David Davis and … well, not you apparently.

    Next time you “call for a debate” remember some of us gave you benefit of the doubt this time. Once bitten twice shy. Please don’t call for opinions again – we know you don’t mean it.

    Bye.

  44. Lis Stedman

    Why are we all so miserable? I think other respondents have mentioned some reasons why we’re not all on our feet cheering you wonderful chaps in Westminster. To sum up, as you’ve forgotten:
    1. The bottom has dropped out of the housing market and negative equity is back.
    2. Power costs have gone up by eyewatering amounts.
    3. Ditto petrol.
    4. Ditto food.
    5. Ditto interest rates.
    6. We have to listen to that nice Mr Darling, telling us we should all be brave and just put up with the above, and not require extra wages, so he can be happy (at least that will be one of us)
    7. Oh, and terrorism. And those rather expensive wars you’re running?
    8. Crime. You must remember crime?
    9. And pensions disappearing down the toilet?
    10. Government not appearing to have the slightest idea why people are fed up and worried and telling us to cheer up.

    Apart from that we’re all deliriously happy, Tom.

  45. Vic Leader

    It is a general fact that the more you have the more you want. But I would suggest that much of the “miserableness” comes from the constant erosion of our freedoms by politicians who seem to think that the answer to everything is to pass another law, and that when we do speak up the public can be ignored (unless they constitute a vociferous media-seeking pressure group normally representing a minority view). Finally what would make me less miserable (even though I actually rejoice in the good fortune I have to be living now & here) would be for MP’s to concentrate on recreating a JUSTICE system. That is something quite apart from a legal system.

  46. nibbs

    Tom-can I offer my sympathies at the number of Mail reading nutters your blog has attracted in the past couple of days? It may actually help if they read the Bryson book you were discussing although I’m certain that would require an ability to see behind a tabloid headline and indulge in personal investigation – something that has ensured human advancement but seems beyond Mail readers .Reading some of the comments “I’m not happy because I run a business,I’m not happy because of the Lisbon treaty, I’m not happy because you earn £92’000 per year” seems to simply prove the point of your initial post.

    Everyone should be miserable because I’m miserable. Everyone should be miserable because the Daily Mail says so.

    Perhaps people should look at the post war explosion of depression and mental illness in the west before blaming ‘unhappiness’ on something as inane as ‘Gordon Brown’ or ‘the amount you earn’.

    Better still get your noses out of a rag like The Mail and read Affluenza’ by Oliver James ,a clinical psychologist, writer and television documentary producer and not a politician. He investigates the very issue Tom raised……I don’t think there’s a picture book version for Mail readers though…

  47. Mister Brillo

    Chucking rocks at a squirrel for entertainment? Make sure you claim them on expenses! (Under the “entertainment” section of your parliamentary expenses form.) No need to skimp on those rocks either – I’ll go and fill my fuel tank up later today so that you can be sure to receive even more of this taxpayer’s money to pay for them. When you’re fed up with squirrels, I can think of better things to chuck rocks at for entertainment – most of them are sitting grinning inanely on the front benches of the Government side of the chamber. Whoops, I’m not an octogenarian heckler, but does that last comment qualify me to be locked up for 42 days as a “terrorist” suspect? Don’t worry, rant over, I’m off to eat cake!

  48. JJ Norton

    For me, it’s bullying, egotism, small-mindedness and negativity (including by those who have more than enough and those who should know better). I grew up in England, but left for 10 years to work abroad. Came back to a completely different society – obsessed with other people (who had nothing great about them) who were known as celebrities. Nobody thought about anything beyond material things and a good life. But it is the workplace nightmare that is making me consider leaving for good. I have found nowhere that is not populated with bullies and gossips of the meanest kinds – people who are probably incredibly miserable. But they at least find succour together. I say it is not the desperate person who is dangerous, it is the weak person who is. Nobody stands up to bullies any more, everyone tries to ingratiate themselves with them and become one themselves. They talk of therapists to help us in this miserable time – but the people who really need to change wouldn’t go because they think they are great and are concerned with snatching their pound of flesh. They don’t want to be good or reasonable and they would say so to your face. These are the people killing our society.
    And how many qualifications do we need these days just to do something we are suited for? It just goes on and on and on, and then the pay is terrible (esp. compared to what you have to pay to get the training), and your colleagues are likely to be these slugs that seem to be populating our country.
    I rang job centre plus to get info on becoming a psychologist and the woman said “oh that’ll take a long time to achieve etc etc” She was almost telling me not to bother. Life is fight enough without people like that populating key positions.
    The UK right now is truly is a vile place to live. I love our countryside and our animals and feel wretched that such a vile psychological disease has taken us over.
    We can blame politics – and it is hard with the constant rise in costs, yes. But I think I could even live with that if I wasn’t totally demoralised by my own people.

  49. Abigail

    Tom Harris calls our beloved Prime Minister a Squirrel shock!

    Tom, El Gordo is nothing like a squirrel, without the charm, energy, productivity or usefulness to society of a squirrel.

    Did you see him greet Laura? He shakes her hand. Then George goes up to Sarah, takes her hand and quite naturally kisses her on the cheek. Gordon dithers for a moment, then goes back to kiss Laura. Ha! If you cannot stick to that sort of decision, what sort of decision can you stick to? 10p tax?

  50. JJ Norton

    I forgot to mention – the more people are obsessed with the good life and being top dog, the more their incapacity and limitations become clear, which is followed by thoughts of “I am nothing” and then come thoughts of death (ending it all, or simply ‘how will it all end – in a gutter penniless?’). People then desperately go all out for what they can reasonably hope to get – as much money as possible for a painless/dignified old age and death. This is truly a miserable way to live.
    By contrast, in cultures where daily people reflect on immortality and great existential facts, this painful mortal agony that materialism foists upon us is relieved; and the results are amazing: you get your happiness back, your sense of humour, your imagination and inspiration, and most importantly of all your capacity to love. You EXPAND. Materialism and meanness make you contract.

  51. Happy ex labour voter

    You seem to be referring to Gordon Brown as a squirrel in this blog.

    Squirrels most noteable trait is putting things aside for the future. Since Gordon actually raided pension funds and cashed in anything of worth in the country during his time in charge of the economy should you not have said “Throwing rocks at a pig”?

  52. JJ Norton

    I agree with Triffid – where is the insightful feedback to these comments from you, Tom Harris?
    The sole reason I post here, to be truthful, is that it is the only way I feel my voice can be heard.
    High-profile posting opportunities like this may be a way to start a grassroots movement – the way lots of useful things get done in developing countries and that governments cannot/don’t have the guts to do.
    It would be good if the UK could become an Intentional Community, with the intention to become good, courageous, cultured, truthful, and selfless instead of malicious, vapid, superficial, grotesque, vulgar and stupid.
    For this, we need discussion, experts, methods, resources/structural changes to allow this new ‘spiritual’ development. And it should be done in peace and happiness, with no favouritism or big bucks being thrown around and no celebrities or cult leaders whose personalities tickle the fancies of the big boys in the media or government being made in the process.
    For example, I love Goldie Hawn’s research into schools that include Mindfulness on the curriculum – worth looking into; and Camila Batmangelidgh’s insight into the psychological knowledge we need to know what is good for human beings, and what turns them into monsters, and her insight about the greater spiritual development needed by our psychologists/psychiatrists/social workers.
    This should be our focus, not wars and wealth-making – that frankly are not able to protect us from ourselves (in the first instance) and is not trickling down to make people’s lives in the bottom tiers better (in the second instance). To be of any help to us, the hard side of life (defence, economics etc) needs to be balanced by development of the soft side – humanism, spirituality, and the understanding and development of consciousness.

  53. Chris' Wills

    Posted by his: nibbs
    June 20, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    …………..
    Better still get your noses out of a rag like The Mail and read Affluenza’ by Oliver James ,a clinical psychologist, writer and television documentary producer and not a politician. He investigates the very issue Tom raised……I don’t think there’s a picture book version for Mail readers though…
    —————————–

    Condescend much do you?

    As it happens, the Mail isn’t available out here your nibbs.

    My MP asked why people are miserable even though he and his mates are raking it in.

    People responded, mostly pointing out that wealth and happiness aren’t synonyms.

    I responded because I thought that he might actually be interested in the reasons.

    Seems not and, as his majority is so large, he can afford to ignore the opinions of most of those he is paid to represent.

    But as you say, poor poor Tom.
    Let’s all vote him a big pay rise and you and he can share a pint together and complain about the nasty, brutish hoi polloi.

  54. Happy ex labour voter @ 6.33pm

    genius!

  55. Stevie

    I understand the point you were making.

    Lord Layard, an LSE Economist and expert on ‘Happiness Economics’ (sic), puts across a compelling argument that ‘happiness’ (measured objectively using brain scans) is relative and dependant upon our frame of reference.

    Accepting this argument then it is completely consistent with the cental tenet of your blog – that our absolute standard of living (measured as our ability to buy stuff and experiences) has increased over time; yet we are still unhappy. Lord Layard’s explanation for this apparant paradox is that this is due to our expectations and standards increasing with our neighbours, peers; the people who we compare with.

    Add to this T.V. shows glamorising wealth (MTV Cribs etc) and this is a potent mix of showing us how ‘poor’ we are relative to others. Lord Layard would likely suggest that we (in the UK) are more likely to compare ourselves with wealthy celebrities and not the absolute poverty of third world countries and this is why we are less affected by these images on the news when considering our own happiness.

    I think the criticism that is being allayed upon yourself is more to do with the specific timing of the comments rather than the generality of which, as I understand, they were intended.

  56. Bcnguiri

    if you agree, try reading Oliver James new book called “Affluenza”. he basically says the same thing but has managed to stretch it out to over 500 pages! Its an intersting read though where he travels throughout the world looking at different countries to see why English speaking countries are so dissatisified when they have so much!

  57. Chris' Wills

    If anyone is actually interested in understanding the human condition I’ld suggest anything by Erich Fromm, To Have or to Be? is excellent.

    He differentiates, unlike Mr Harris, between happiness and material possesions.

    Unlike Affluenza his work isn’t based on an extended holiday.

    Bcnguiri; you might consider that one of the countries Oliver James compares the west to is Nigeria (an English speaking country officially and most people in the South do speak English as the lingua franca), so writing “English speaking countries are so ….” is incorrect.

    Having worked in Nigeria and given the present low level wars going on there it is not a very happy place.

  58. Simon Dungate

    My income per month £902 my expenses £800 rent £100 Electric £ 60 food. No car because I don’t have enough ID to get my license back after a ban (which I wasn’t guilt of and can prove..guilty in my abscence) not enough ID to open a bank account (cant get a PAYE job) cant get my passport despite 3 years of trying and a complete refusal for a comment from the Home office. My local MP “can do nothing as he is in opposition” and no one else can even be bothered to reply. Currently I’m faced with breaking the law every week or not paying the bills and because I’m not an MP I can’t even go and have a beer and a smoke in the pub.

    How happy would you BE!!!!!

  59. Jeremy Poynton

    “But given the importance of this issue and the relative sophistication of its various elements, isn’t it rather depressing that Philip Hammond’s only response has been: “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’.”

    That’s the political equivalent of chucking rocks at a squirrel – entertaining, but rather missing the point.”

    DISCLAIMER : Labour voter from my first vote in 1970 until Bliar took us into Iraq. Never again. I apologise unreservedly for helping to bring this gang to power. Now …

    Dear Lord on a bicycle. Mr. Harris – it is YOU and your mates who are missing the point, sonny boy. You’d better believe it. This country is mad as hell with Gordon Brown, and in the immortal words (adapted) of Peter Finch in Network – “we aren’t going to take it”.

    This is yet another – as if we needed any more after Burnham – instance of the utter dislocation between governing and governed. (Wintertons being allowed to keep their plunder, the previous day’s or so). They – the politicians – don’t give a flying duck about us. The evidence is in the behaviour of the likes of Ed “So what” Balls, Burnham, yourself, Campbell, who if there is a God up there will burn in hell.

    Old ladies hate Brown. Passing strangers hate Brown. My fellow dog-walkers hate Brown.

    You may ask why? If you don’t get it, then you are as he. Whatever, as the kids say, there is big trouble ahead for this country of Brown continues in his role as unelected dictator, refusing at every turn to be responsible to the people. We perceive him as not quite human. We know he is a liar, as he now does it by habit, from which one can only deduce that he holds us, the people, in utter contempt.

    Well, Tom, the feeling is mutual, Tom. We ****ing LOATH him as well.

    Here’s a verse by Brecht you might know. It perfectly illustrates how we, the people, see Brown, and indeed, all of the New Labour New Stasi putsch. You are destroying this once fine nation.
    Have you the balls to respond to this? We know Brown is gutless, his actions all the evidence anyone needs. What about you?

    Read on

    Brecht “The solution”

    After the uprising of the 17th June
    The Secretary of the Writers Union
    Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
    Stating that the people
    Had forfeited the confidence of the government
    And could win it back only
    By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
    In that case for the government
    To dissolve the people
    And elect another?

  60. Jeremy – You wrote: “Old ladies hate Brown. Passing strangers hate Brown. My fellow dog-walkers hate Brown.

    You may ask why? If you don’t get it, then you are as he…”

    Not for the first time, let me explain that none of my original comments was intended to explain why some people “hate” Labour or the government. In fact they had nothing at all to do with that subject. I had hoped to open a slightly wider debate than that but I accept that not everyone is willing to take part in that debate.

  61. Steve Rogers

    Hi Tom,

    I am sure you mean well but the timing of your comments, as our dead soliders are returned from Afghanistan, is foolish. You have confirmed what most ordinary people feel. That your party is totally out of touch with the public. Gordon Brown is a control-freak and has managed to achieve something I thought would be impossible to achieve. I am from a Labour stronghold area and Brown is more unpopular than Thatcher was! I am a life-long Labour voter who has had enough. These are the reasons:
    Tuition fees that penalise working families
    Two wars.. one illegal, one unwinnable
    Taxation on pensions
    Increased fuel and car tax
    Public smoking ban
    A justice system that supports criminals not victims
    The growing underclass in our country
    The politicisation of our police force
    Increased poverty for pensioners
    Reduced civil liberties…ID cards and 42 days
    Money wasted on Olympics and Millennium Dome
    Our laughable public transport system
    Government corruption and sleaze(all parties)
    Green fascists and health fascists
    Government obssession with red-tape and rules

    Despite it all I remain happy and will always be so.
    The tragedy of all this is that in 1997 you promised the earth but your party has delivered little.
    You should be ashamed of yourself

  62. MG

    Given the position you hold in the government and given the contribution that current government policy has made to the general misery of people in the country, pensions, 10p tax, fuel tax etc… then surely you must have expected a reaction of this nature.
    Your argument about opening a wider debate would perhaps have carried more weight if you had done it at a time of greater economic confidence and when the government was actually popular.
    Call me cynical if you wish but in my experience professional politicians only ever want to open debates to distract from something else.
    A failing government generally blames the press in the last days of its administration but to blame the voters! That’s a new one on me.

  63. John

    With regard to your comment on ‘chucking rocks at squirrels’. I have just glimpsed the news headlines on the BBC website.One of the headings is ‘MP calls for mass squirrel cull’ I hope it’s not another one of your rantings being taken out of context.

  64. dreamingspire

    Yesterday I was at an event where one of your fellow Lab MPs celebrated a community driven, community building project supported by some Lottery money. Had a word with her – she didn’t want to talk about you.
    When you started as Rail Minister you were welcomed as someone who knew public transport, but now we hear little from you on that subject. What has gone wrong?

  65. Dreamingspire – regular visitors to this site will know that, as a matter of policy, I steer well away from transport policy. This is a personal site, not strictly a “ministerial” blog. Outside of this site, however, I don’t think it’s possible to claim that I’m any less active in terms of my portfolio than I have been previously.

  66. Sully666

    The only debate people want now is one on how to get rid of a PM and government that is clearly out of touch.
    They could save billions by making idle low-life get off their backsides and work. The same with druggies. I have the misfortune to have a property leased by NACRO next door to me. For those that don’t know, they house druggies ex-offenders and homeless. The vast majority of the people they have housed there are for want of a better word “scum”. They pay £5 a week rent if they are unemployed or £90 a week if they have a job. What do you think they are going to do?
    Its the same with prison. What sort of punishment is it these days. They are probably fed better than a lot of hard working people in this country.

  67. Jeremy Poynton

    Tom,

    Read the other comments. Bar a few somewhat sickly “Well, *I’m* happy” comments, you will see that people posting have covered a wide range of subjects – the debate out here is already wide, whatever those of you in the Whitehall Green Zone, and your MSM buddies might think.

    Anyway, with any luck you’ll be bankrupt (well, New Stasi is already morally bankrupt) before too long, and we can all wave goodbye to the whole New Labour putsch.

  68. Ted Harvey

    Seems this is the better place to post what I want to say… What gall and arrogance Tom Harris shows in lecturing us on how well off we are and to stop moaning. Harris is one of those loyalist Westmister MPs who presides over a Glasgow constituency containing some of the most acute absolute, as well as relative, poverty in the UK., and probably Europe. Inequality under Labour has grown, is growing and seems to be increasing. Meanwhile, the earnings that he and his fellow MPs vote themselves are an obscenity – leaving aside the sheer greed and self-bettering with which they help themselves to a range of perks and pensions that many of their constituents can only dream off – while they help pay for them through their taxes.
    There are many such MPs in the West of Scotland being long-incumbents in similar constituencies of long-term deprivation and themselves now safely ensconced in the Westminster gravy trail; not least our Michael Martin – what a disgusting sight they are.

  69. James

    Put the real Mr Bean in No.10 and we would all cheer up.

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