Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Council Tax pensioner jailed

Meet Mr Richard Fitzmaurice, a 76-year-old pensioner who has devoted his life to his country, who served 22 years as a soldier in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, and who yesterday was handcuffed and led away to prison for non-payment of his council tax. The humiliation of handcuffs was a bizarre decision for someone has never threatened anyone or exhibited any signs of resistance to his fate. He was there, he said, ‘on a matter of principle’, because ‘the way old age pensioners are being treated is shameful’.

Cranmer finds it interesting that the country is short of prison places for rapists, paedophiles or murderers, and so much so that some have to be released on remission half way through their sentences in order to create space for the likes of Mr Fitzmaurice. And we serve aspiring terrorists with ASBOs, and absolve those who preach hate and threaten murder, while pensioners are jailed for non-payment of a increasingly burdensome tax.

This is an apalling state of affairs, and a perversion of the meaning of 'justice'.

While Cranmer firmly believes that one should render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, he expects Caesar to show a little compassion if Caesar wants Cranmer’s loyalty. And that compassion must begin with the elderly, the infirm, the sick, the widow and the orphan. The reality is that pensioners face rising fuel and food costs, and a council tax that has increased 100% since New Labour came to power – from an average of £688 in 1997 to £1380 in 2007. Over the same period, pensioners have received meagre increases of just a few pounds each year, and New Labour is oblivious to their consequent hardship.

Yet what is remarkable about Mr Fitzmaurice is not that he cannot pay, but that he will not, and he chooses not to in order to raise the plight of the thousands of pensioners on fixed incomes who cannot. He is a martyr to his cause, and, in an age typified by celebrity, self-obsession and ego, such selflessness is a dying virtue.

Mr Fitzmaurice may be stubborn and principled, and he may be breaking the law, yet he is evidently sufficiently desperate to deem this the only way to inform the country of what is actually going on. Pensions could be re-linked to average earnings at a cost of £600 million, yet no party is contemplating this. While the Northern People’s Rock is shored up with £100 billion of taxpayers’ money, there is not a minuscule fraction of this available to assist those pensioners who make their morning tea with their coats on, or sit in front of one bar of an electric fire while the politicians gloat over their gold-plated pensions.

The party that once prided itself on its working class credentials and its commitment to social justice has betrayed its roots and perverted its philosophy. If Christian Socialism ever had any credibility, it was in its understanding of community, of brotherhood, of compassion. Yet Christian Socialism is no more, or it resides very quietly in the heart of Frank Field.

Cranmer can hardly wait for the first pictures of when the People’s Rock starts to evict the elderly and vulnerable who are incapable of paying their mortgages – only to find the state then has to re-house them and give them even more expensive benefits in order to survive…

24 Comments:

Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

Something surely needs to be done, especially as I shall be joining the ranks of impecunious pensioners soon.

But let it not be a back-door affair. Bus passes, special energy rates, concessionary this, that and the other, are all stealth taxes. There should be no concessions to anyone. Instead, let them have a decent lump of money which we, the earners, can measure directly and keep a democratic eye on.

20 February 2008 at 11:01  
Blogger mongoose said...

re compassion and Caesar, in this case I could not agree more, Your Grace.

Could his local authority not just have sued him and sent in the bailiffs in the normal way? The pensioners of the land are unlikely to rise up and take to arms. Who breaks a grandad upon a wheel?

20 February 2008 at 11:48  
Blogger Curbishlyauto said...

Your Grace; If you were to peruse the blog of Guido you would see that a peasant named Minnikin is to be evicted.

http://www.order-order.com/2008/02/government-to-make-darren-minnikins.html

20 February 2008 at 13:06  
Anonymous Wannabe Anglican said...

Your Grace, this observer across the Pond is constantly amazed at what gets punished and what gets a pass in your country under Labour.

I think it's called straining a gnat and swallowing a camel.

20 February 2008 at 13:12  
Anonymous oiznop said...

If Mr Minnikin is being evicted from a house own by the state, isn't he effectively being evicted from a council house? And won't the government now have to re-house him in another council house?

What madness!!!

20 February 2008 at 13:20  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace
a disgrace

double speak anyone !

20 February 2008 at 15:53  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

If it is indeed Mr Fitzmaurice's intention to bring attention to this situation, then he has succeeded, and well done to him!

Such fighters for justice are rare in this world, and I take my hat off to him. Let's see if it makes a difference.

20 February 2008 at 17:52  
Anonymous Cinnamon said...

"Pensions could be re-linked to average earnings at a cost of £600 million, yet no party is contemplating this."

No doubt our Grace himself will perform another bread and fishes miracle in order to make this possible, despite the boomers going into retirement in the next 2 years :) :) :)

We are truly in for interesting times when pensioner are having to pay tax to finance ... pensions.

Pensions are a giant ponzi scam -- it can never work because it relies on an ever growing population feeding and even longer living pensioners.

How about raising the retirement age to 75 subject to a medical instead of writing people off when they are (due to modern medicine) in great shape?

Retirement is for when you're too old and frail to work, it's not a decades long holiday financed by your children...

20 February 2008 at 17:53  
Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

What Cinnamon said.

I suspect that one of the reasons why 50-year olds are not considered the most desirable workers is that some are already starting to run down their investment in the future. These days that makes you a dead man walking, of course. Time-servers they call them. Raising the retirement age to 75 would force these would-be liggers to get their skates on again.

20 February 2008 at 19:04  
Anonymous billy said...

cinnamon said...
How about raising the retirement age to 75 subject to a medical instead of writing people off when they are (due to modern medicine) in great shape?

Retirement is for when you're too old and frail to work, it's not a decades long holiday financed by your children...
20 February 2008 17:53

Bugger off Cinnamon. I retire at 60 later this year and I've been looking forward to it since starting work at 15.
I want a long and healthy retirement.

20 February 2008 at 22:26  
Anonymous RottenBoroughs said...

cinnamon raises an interesting point - pensioners are poor because they are not allowed to work, and will seek it in vain, as employers want to be surrounded by ever-younger, ever-dopier, blander, more obsequious kids feigning energy and enthusiasm.

aethelbald, I think you put the effect before the cause. Because of the rapid lowering of average work-force age, most fifty-year olds who are not CEOs or employers are generally sidelined at work, and deliberately isolated in order to induce them to accept early retirement. It is scarcely surprising if some lose their motivation.

I think most would agree that the handcuffs were a disgusting idea - who authorised their use: the police?

20 February 2008 at 22:30  
Anonymous DocBud said...

I agree with, Billy. Retirement should be a long, healthy holiday. But I also agree with Cinnamon that it should not be financed by the kids (their inheritence yes).

As a nomad who has lived and worked on three continents, I am not eligible for a UK state pension and neither is MrsBud should we choose to retire there.

Our retirement income will be 100% self-funded (I guess we'd get concessions). I suggest that anyone who wants to be certain of not living in poverty in retirement not rely on the state. I accept the arguments about the NI contributions, etc. But do people want to be making that argument as they sit in their armchairs in their coats. If you make provision for yourself and the state pension improves, you're really laughing, if it doesn't you're still laughing.

The sort of action being taken by Mr Fitzmaurice is inspiring and necessary. Council tax in the UK is an absolute rip. It should be replaced with a poll tax or a local income tax.

20 February 2008 at 23:13  
Anonymous Cinnamon said...

"Bugger off Cinnamon. I retire at 60 later this year and I've been looking forward to it since starting work at 15.
I want a long and healthy retirement."

Thank you for proving my point for me so, umm... elegantly :)

It's spongers like you that cost people the money they would otherwise have to spend on a home and a family. This has huge consequences across society -- from 'binge drinking' that takes place because people even in their late 30's don't have anything sensible to do like paying a mortgage and cultivating a marriage and being parents to bonding problems where people who know they cannot afford a family don't even try to start a proper relationship, to the obvious and worrying lack of children born to competent people who themselves will pass their culture on to their kids. (The list is long and the margin of this comment is too small to contain it.)

The 1968 flower power revolution eats it's grandchildren, indeed...

21 February 2008 at 02:43  
Anonymous Cinnamon said...

"I think most would agree that the handcuffs were a disgusting idea - who authorised their use: the police?"

Probably an elf'n'safety issue. Yes, he is an old man, but those people who put the handcuffs on have to deal with raving lunatics all day and making one mistake trying to be nice can end up in a lifelong disability or worse here.

Frankly I think the guy who got jailed is using the wrong approach. What we need is an internet ad-campaign ala Oxfam will be far more useful here -- imagine the ad:

Old couple sitting huddled up in a sparse room. Underneath the caption:

Sponsor a British pensioner today -- just £1 will buy heat for one hour!

I can think of a huge number of those quips and potential pics...

Am I kidding? Actually I started out making a joke here, but as I type I'm thinking that a Google ad campaign would not be that expensive and probably do more to highlight the issue than any amount of martyrdom in jail. And it might even bring in some money for the genuine pensioners too!

21 February 2008 at 02:58  
Anonymous billy said...

Dearest cinnamon

I've never been called a sponger before. Thank you.
As I wallow in the luxury of my indexed linked pension, the occasional handout, and the odd day on the black economy, I will think of you. Not too often though.
While you are busy sponsoring a British pensioner this English one will be living off his hard earnt.

21 February 2008 at 09:37  
Anonymous DocBud said...

"I've never been called a sponger before."

Thank you, Billy. You have confirmed my suspicions about you. You are obviously an accountant, have dyed, neatly cropped hair, wear NHS spectacles, live in Chesham, wear cardigans, cycle to work and watch Holby City. You couldn't have spelt it out more clearly.

21 February 2008 at 13:30  
Anonymous Cinnamon said...

Billy,

You earnt nothing. What you did whilst earning in all those years is provide for others, who in turn provided for you(and also those who provided for them) when you were little. It's called the 'generational contract', and your generation is about to break it...

Your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be the ones who are going to provide for you, and as our society no longer is tribal, everyones' grandchildren do it as a collective. A lack of children in general will result in a shortfall of anyone's pension, and it doesn't matter what is written on a piece of paper, if reality says it cannot be done... it won't happen.

Remember the Babushkas on once generous state pensions when the USSR fell? Very quickly it turned into nothing, leaving millions of OAPs cold and starving. It's one way of solving the problem of a greedy generation of elders, but not a nice one.

So, think about that when you settle in on your state sponsored holiday -- when you retire in earnest and need the help that real pensions do, it's unlikely that there will be enough to go round, and you will fester neglected in your nappies just like the other paupers -- that's if you're lucky, the babushkas ended up begging on the streets.

As for private pensions, well, again, when you really retire in earnest and need nursing, it costs currently about £1k a week to look after frail people.

Do the sums, and you will realise that if you live too long, you too will become a case for the public purse, eventually, if not sooner as private pensions are a nice fat pot for government and gangsters to dip into whenever they can.

21 February 2008 at 14:14  
Anonymous DocBud said...

About 2% of pensioners currently live in nursing homes.

Billy, you are a really idle swine, sitting around on your lonesome not paying tax or NI and then expecting cinnamon to subsidise your pension, sheesh, have you no pride?

21 February 2008 at 14:33  
Anonymous billy said...

Dear docbud,
I have neatly shaven hair and I cycle to work. In fact, I cycle nearly everywhere.
I have four children, all working, and hopefully they, in good time, will produce the grand children and great grand children that I need to keep me in luxury while cinnamon makes up the difference.
I often remember the Babushkas, I think the wife may be one, but NTW. She retires in six years and says that she doesn't mind cinnamon supporting her as well.
I nearly feel overwhelmed with guilt but hey, I'm in rude health thanks to the nhs and a muslim surgeon, and my time is nearly my own. I'm hopeful the feelings of guilt will pass.
Thank you again.

21 February 2008 at 17:19  
Anonymous billy said...

docbud said...
Billy, you are a really idle swine, sitting around on your lonesome not paying tax or NI and then expecting cinnamon to subsidise your pension, sheesh, have you no pride?
21 February 2008 14:33

I think I haven't docbud and I am determined to mend my ways, but after I have finished enjoying myself.
I'm hoping to just be here in 2033 so I'll start the guilt thing in 2028 if cinnamon will remind me. If he forgets the Lord is just and he will do it, or not. As he sees fit.

21 February 2008 at 17:26  
Anonymous Cinnamon said...

It's not that I won't be providing anyone's pension in the UK, it's that nobody will provide any pension to anyone come the 30's let alone the 20's (which may well be roaring, but not in a good way...)

Our anglo-saxon culture is about to die out, and when the boomers retire instead of staying in the game for a few years longer, the demise of our culture will even be steeper. Don't think that the new owners of the joint will feel very obliged towards you.

But then again, maybe there is a valid reason why the English are losing England and their Englishness -- if you guys don't care about yourselves and don't know who you are, why should anyone else do it for you?

You can tell a nations' cultural level of development by the way it treats it's elders, because that depends on pure altruism borne out of earned respect, and also you're setting an example to the generation that comes after you as to how to do this properly.

Anyway, I leave you with this ancient folk story to think about:

The Old Man and His Grandson

by The Brothers Grimm

translated by Margaret Taylor (1884)

There was once a very old man, whose eyes had become dim, his ears dull of hearing, his knees trembled, and when he sat at table he could hardly hold the spoon, and spilt the broth upon the table-cloth or let it run out of his mouth. His son and his son's wife were disgusted at this, so the old grandfather at last had to sit in the corner behind the stove, and they gave him his food in an earthenware bowl, and not even enough of it. And he used to look towards the table with his eyes full of tears. Once, too, his trembling hands could not hold the bowl, and it fell to the ground and broke. The young wife scolded him, but he said nothing and only sighed. Then they bought him a wooden bowl for a few half-pence, out of which he had to eat.

They were once sitting thus when the little grandson of four years old began to gather together some bits of wood upon the ground. "What are you doing there?" asked the father. "I am making a little trough," answered the child, "for father and mother to eat out of when I am big."

The man and his wife looked at each other for a while, and presently began to cry. Then they took the old grandfather to the table, and henceforth always let him eat with them, and likewise said nothing if he did spill a little of anything.

21 February 2008 at 21:17  
Anonymous billy said...

cinnamon said...
Our anglo-saxon culture is about to die out, ......

But then again, maybe there is a valid reason why the English are losing England and their Englishness -- if you guys don't care about yourselves and don't know who you are, why should anyone else do it for you?

As I recall c, you started about Britishness and I pointed out that I am English.
I know who I am right back to 1640 on some branches of my family and I thank God for making me an Englishman ... with a leavening of Jew, Huguenot, Welsh, Irish and, like as not, a touch of Norse in the Lincolnshire branch.
I won't be dying out, like my forefathers I'll evolve and leave all the narrow minded buggers like you behind.
Sorry for saying buggers, Your Grace.

21 February 2008 at 22:25  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

Strange that Labour never has any money for its own people, But any other cause, Olympics, Northen Rock, Africa, The EU, Wind Power ect.the money flows. What a terrible party they are.

22 February 2008 at 07:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All quietly complaining pensioners over 75 should be incarcerated for drawing attention to the iniquitous effects of Council Tax on pensioners struggling on a dwindling fixed income. Praise be for New Labour and the man of Straw who presides over such inequalities. Of ourse crimes against the highly regarded Councils and their Corporate purses must be avenged with swift and decisive action, but please don't be to hard on those poor drunken unfortunate yobs who ruin the lives of so many. The Law is not an ASS its the ASSES that apply it.

22 February 2008 at 19:10  

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