2015 General Election – get out there, get informed and vote

I believe in democracy because I don’t want some rich elite telling us what to do.

I believe in democracy because I don’t want our whole society run for the benefit of a rich elite.

I believe in representative and local democracy because I don’t believe some rich elite can possibly know what is good for anyone but the rich elite.

I believe in democracy because I want some say, however small, in events.

I believe in democracy because it provides the closest thing to individual freedom we can collectively have.

Ironically of course, at this moment in time we have a minimal democracy (according to Wikipedia that really is the official term) which is run by a rich elite, for the benefit of a rich elite. The first is demonstrated in the Independent and the Spectator, among others. The second – well do I have to provide a list? They – governments calling themselves tory and labour over the last 40 years – have sold off any number of public assets (that’s public assets folks, not state). They want to sell more. The public sector has been in many places seriously damaged if not quite yet destroyed, taking away low-paid jobs and services at the same time. The inequality in Britain, high for Europe to begin with, is increasing. Not even working full-time guarantees a living wage, one able to provide the basic human necessity of food. Not even having two full-time wage earners can adequately provide a family with shelter (I don’t count the current private rental market as ‘adequate provision’, by and large).

The loss of democracy goes back a long way unfortunately, and there are many reasons for it, some of which I know a little of, more of which I probably know nothing about. The gradual centralisation of power and reduction of power in local councils. The rise of arrogant populist leaders – Thatcher and Blair – who believed so strongly that they alone could possibly know what was good for us that they drove that centralist agenda mercilessly. They may have also engaged in gerrymandering, the fiddling with election boundaries to encourage leadership by certain groups (please note the ‘may’). The failure of parliament (that’s my belief anyway), where all parties should be coming together to discuss the executive’s actions and hold government to account. The emphasis on party politics, on the means, rather than on the needs of the state, the end. The funding problems of parties, which means they have to ask for more money from members, who accordingly have to have money spare. The rise in arrogance among MPs who similarly believe that they alone can possibly be educated or informed enough to make decisions.

However there is another reason, or set of reasons. Our democracy is failing because we, the people, are making it fail.

We still at this moment have all the trappings, or at least most of them, of a functioning democracy. Any of us can join any political party: any of us can become active in that party (apart from that funding caveat). At the least we can all choose to become informed, interested and engaged. At the very least we can all now get out to vote.

Yet many of us do not take these options seriously. At best many of us vote only ‘the way we always have’, i.e. we don’t think about it. Far too many people are doing this. Many more try to vote tactically: they vote for ‘x’ to get a party out, or for ‘y’ because they will never lose. Far too many people are doing that. Then of course you get the huge numbers of people who are simply not voting at all (34.9% of registered electorate didn’t vote in 2010). Many of those are just so discouraged with that rich elite running the country for their benefit and think nothing can ever change.

Add up all those people. I will hazard the guess that between them they represent the vast majority of voters in this country. And between them they add up to one thing: very few are voting for what they believe, for the society and country they want. And so we have ended up with, what I fervently believe (and even more fervently hope), is NOT the society we want.

And so, please please please please, for the love of us all, STOP it. Start informing yourself now. Start to think about what society you want now. Start to think about which party is best equipped with policies, aims and visions to get us there. You can also have a look at which candidates in your area are most likely to get us there – those that, in addition to standing for their parties beliefs, are themselves truly likely to believe and act upon those beliefs, and will still genuinely try to represent you. And then get out to vote for that party, that candidate.

To inform yourself, don’t settle for listening to the party political campaigns. We all know what they will consist of: mudslinging, boasts, wild claims, all empty rhetoric. Equally, don’t assume you know what each group is offering. Take a proper look at all of the parties’ policies to start with. Consider what, under all the ‘they don’t know what they’re talking about, we do’ gibberish, they are actually saying they themselves will do. That is remarkably difficult all by itself, the main parties are showing a noticeable reluctance to come out and tell us the truth at the moment. Keep an eye out for news stories about what independent groups think they will do (e.g. this one from the BBC), and how they respond to that. Think about their track record over the last few years – the real track record of how their beliefs and, where appropriate, how society has changed in their time. While we still have time, think about where we are now in economic and global terms and whether you want to stay there (e.g. try Klein’s new book).

Never mind sitting at home saying nothing will ever change. A general election really is a chance for change. If we don’t take it, if you don’t take it, there will be no change. The Britain we have now is not an act of god: it was created. It can be re-created, it can be changed, and all the gods ever dreamed up know that we need change. Between all of those people not voting for what they believe we have one huge possibility for change. So let’s start it. You need to start it. Be the change you want to see in the world.

And since I am that way inclined, please have a proper open look at the Greens!

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12 days of (post-)Christmas Cleaning

In the interests of making the New Year and the internet a cleaner (and thereby healthier) place the Fibbing family brings you this little ditty. I’ve written it out in its long form, because… I can. So there.

On the first day of cleaning my vacuum cleaner found – an unidentified thing.

On the second day of cleaning my vacuum cleaner found – 2 dolls’ heads, and an unidentified thing.

On the third day of cleaning my vacuum cleaner found – 3 foreign coins, 2 dolls’ heads, and an unidentified thing.

On the fourth day of cleaning my vacuum cleaner found – 4 squashed raisins, 3 foreign coins, 2 dolls’ heads, and an unidentified thing.

On the fifth day of cleaning my true love said to me, “good grief we found the floor” – 4 squashed raisins, 3 foreign coins, 2 dolls’ heads, and an unidentified thing.

On the sixth day of cleaning my vacuum cleaner found – 6 shiny sequins, “good grief we found the floor”, 4 squashed raisins, 3 foreign coins, 2 dolls’ heads, and an unidentified thing.

On the seventh day of cleaning my vacuum cleaner found – 7 dirty socks, 6 shiny sequins, “good grief we found the floor”, 4 squashed raisins, 3 foreign coins, 2 dolls’ heads, and an unidentified thing.

On the eighth day of cleaning my vacuum cleaner found – 8 plastic bags, 7 dirty socks, 6 shiny sequins, “good grief we found the floor”, 4 squashed raisins, 3 foreign coins, 2 dolls’ heads, and an unidentified thing.

On the ninth day of cleaning my vacuum cleaner found – 9 bits of wrapping, 8 plastic bags, 7 dirty socks, 6 shiny sequins, “good grief we found the floor”, 4 squashed raisins, 3 foreign coins, 2 dolls’ heads, and an unidentified thing.

On the tenth day of cleaning my vacuum cleaner found – 10 scurrying spiders, 9 bits of wrapping, 8 plastic bags, 7 dirty socks, 6 shiny sequins, “good grief we found the floor”, 4 squashed raisins, 3 foreign coins, 2 dolls’ heads, and an unidentified thing.

On the eleventh day of cleaning my vacuum cleaner found – the neighbour’s cat, 10 scurrying spiders, 9 bits of wrapping, 8 plastic bags, 7 dirty socks, 6 shiny sequins, “good grief we found the floor”, 4 squashed raisins, 3 foreign coins, 2 dolls’ heads, and an unidentified thing.

On the twelfth day of cleaning my vacuum cleaner found – loads of biscuit crumbs*, the neighbour’s cat, 10 scurrying spiders, 9 bits of wrapping, 8 plastic bags, 7 dirty socks, 6 shiny sequins, “good grief we found the floor”, 4 squashed raisins, 3 foreign coins, 2 dolls’ heads, and … an unidentified thing.

*An alternative version could read, “On the twelfth day of cleaning my vacuum cleaner found – bags of sandpit sand, the neighbour’s cat, 10 scurrying spiders, 9 bits of wrapping, 8 plastic bags, 7 dirty socks, 6 shiny sequins, “good grief we found the floor”, 4 squashed raisins, 3 foreign coins, 2 dolls’ heads, and … an unidentified thing.”

 

With particular thanks to my husband for the number 5 line, and the little Fibbers for inspiration. Sigh. Back to the grindstone.

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Festive Meanderings on Public v Private Sectors

I could subtitle this ‘why the public sector is better’, for both basic infrastructure and the environment, and ‘how could anyone ever believe it isn’t’. I expect I’ll come back to parts of this topic as I learn more about it (I solemnly swear I will seek education instead of just mouthing off in 2015), but here are, well, some meanderings, in time for the New Year.

It is a mantra of our times that the public sector is inefficient and wasteful, while the private sector is the driving force of all that is good in the world (i.e. growth, greed, globalism… you can see where I’m coming from). I can give you a couple of simple theoretical examples that prove why in fact the public sector will always trump private for both efficient basic services and less waste, which benefits the environment (very obvious examples, yet it seems that there is a need to prove the obvious). We do actually know this on some level – it is why private companies are so eager to demolish what they call ‘state monopolies’. They know that they can’t actually compete.

The first, unsurprisingly if you look back through my posts a little, is libraries. Imagine you have 10 families in a row of houses all with a child, all buying books to teach and nurture that child. Perhaps they’ll all buy 10 books. Some of those books will be identical. They will not all be being read at the same time. In just one year’s time those books will no longer be appropriate and will have to be thrown away and another 10 bought. It is not rocket science to imagine instead that the 10 families pool their resources, buying 100 books for the same price. Each child now has access to 100 different volumes, not 10. Even if you assume they are still being thrown at the end of the year that is still a significant bonus. In fact they won’t be thrown until they’re worn out as someone else will most probably find a use for them so there is less waste. In addition an eleventh family in the row with a child, who cannot afford books for themselves, can now use that library to nurture their child on a par with the other 10 as well.

Another example: playparks. In Belgium, for some mysterious reason, the authorities are very reluctant to provide play parks for children on the scale that the UK does. If you walk down one of their smaller playpark-less towns or villages you will observe that the well-to-do with children and gardens all have extensive play equipment in those gardens. Most of the year that equipment goes unused. Much of it is quite pricey – those modular wooden sets that start with swings and slides and can be built up in all sorts of exciting ways. Needless to say if all the resources spent on this equipment were combined you could end up with a fantastic adventure playground for each village, to be used and maintained by all however economically rewarded the parents are, and one that will out-last (with a little maintenance) the few years use one child would take from it.

I really do struggle to understand why the Belgians don’t see this, or why other rich nations are busy dismantling their collective assets as fast as they can. Incidentally, if you despise my simplicity, you can find plenty of other more sophisticated reports on the practice as well as the theory. Here’s one on the well-worn triad of railways, healthcare and care homes. Perhaps I should have just left them to explain it, but what-the-hell.

So let’s have a look why.

Back in the 1980’s when, whatever else you may think of them (and I can think some pretty nasty thoughts), the UK had some leading politicians on both sides who actually had some real-life experience of how their countries worked at the lower-if-not-quite-bottom end, it was of course the grocer’s daughter Margaret Thatcher leading the charge. Her famous belief that “there is no society, only individuals” was incredibly naive and easily disprovable from the viewpoint of human evolution. I will have to hit that nail on the head in a later post I think. But leaving that aside many do seem to genuinely believe she was doing something good.

Her, and others’, major reason seems to have been that eternal question of the rich “why should I carry you”. Why should that eleventh family, having contributed nothing to the library, be allowed to borrow books from it for that child (or indeed the other 20 families in that same row who can’t afford them either). Why should the children of families who couldn’t afford parts for the playpark be allowed to use it. Why indeed. Would it help if I remind you that the disparity in wealth is because the richer ones are the owner of the mine in which the poorer ones work (I’m being simplistic again)? Or perhaps, if you prefer, those poorer ones are the descendants of the mine workers, who never had the chance to amass and pass on wealth the way the owners did. Perhaps they are the underpaid nurses running around doing all the work the great-and-good declared needs doing. The richer families are not richer because they work harder (they generally don’t), deserve it more (how?) or because of some god-given right (there is not now and never has been any evidence for god). People doing the work at the bottom are never paid less than those who work at the top because the work is less needed. It’s because it is less valued, yes, but not less needed. So, bluntly, rich people, you should carry us because you damn well owe us. And yes, more on this and the ridiculously aggressive middle-class defence-of-the-indefensible reactions can come in later posts.

Once again other people put this in a rather more sophisticated fashion. Ha-Joon Chang in his 2014 “Economics: the user’s guide” defines capitalism as “an economy in which production is organized in pursuit of profit” (p. 33) and continues with “Profit is the difference between what you can earn by selling something in the market…and the costs of all the inputs that have gone into the production of it.” (p. 34). It’s therefore easy to see that capitalism requires large-scale exploitation of the masses of poor workers, who provide the labour input, by the owners of the means of production. Many people have said this so many times, but as I said we seem to be living in a time that needs the obvious re-stated.

Another reason for the rich to carry the poor a little would be that ultimately it will benefit the carriers. Education is an obvious example of that: educate the child of the poorer family who will grow up to nurse your well-off children back to health. “The Spirit Level” by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett has the sophisticated and expansive reasons along those lines, read it if you haven’t already.

However Thatcher and her colleagues did have other problems with the public sector that were rather more defensible. Oliver Letwin I think put their concerns particularly well in a memo on education – “The provider decided what the customer ought to have, largely ignoring what the customer actually wants.”

We have to face it, that was a valid criticism of the public sector of the time. David Marquand (2004) in “Decline of the Public” points out that it was elitist and condescending, “saturated with pre-democratic, essentially monarchic assumptions and values” (pg. 5), often lacking in accountability. Anyone running into one of the older public servants still surviving in the 90’s could sometimes still see these attitudes. But was this any reason to throw out the baby with the bathwater?

Their solution marked the start of ‘choice politics’, the idea that people should be able to choose which services to use – private or public – because they are responsible for their choices, and the corresponding end of the idea that local services should all be as good as possible. I hate choice politics. It’s very easy to show that the people – the only people – who have choice, and therefore responsibility for it, are those who have the opportunity to take it, whether because they were better educated and informed (what about those with learning difficulties or bad childhoods?), because they are richer and can afford to buy the posh house in the posh area with the posh school (thereby ensuring their offspring stay educated at everyone else’s expense), because they have a private car (despite a constant assumption of it car ownership is not universal) and therefore can actually travel to the better hospital 30 miles away. The poor (in whatever department they are poor) have no choice but to take the dregs, which progressively get worse under a system which finances only the top performers.

Following these lines of thought also resulted in the hypocrisy that central control is necessary to make local councils ‘accountable’. So nowadays we end up with the situation where MPs apparently think that they alone, in a country that calls itself ‘democratic’, have any knowledge suited to making decisions.

A reinvigorated public sector could go, indeed needs to go, hand-in-hand with reinvigorated local democracy. Not the ridiculous target-based centralised controls that resulted in chaos under Tony Blair (and now used as an excuse for further cuts). But real local devolution where every local voice is welcome, where all “citizens collectively define what the public interest is to be, through struggle, argument, debate and negotiation” (Marquand 2004 “Decline of the Public” pg 33).

Because we desperately need the improved efficiency of the public sector. We need to pool our resources for the good of all again, instead of increasing inequality. The plight of the poor and vulnerable, starving in the midst of plenty, can be ignored no longer in the 6th largest economy of the world. Equally we no longer have the luxury of wasting resources left, right or down the political centres. We cannot afford to keep manufacturing ever more plastic tat and shipping it 3 times around the world for the elite rich in the name of some mythological pursuit of never ending growth. The environmental debt we owe is too huge and is about to be called in.

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I’m a softplay convert

Suffering from post-Christmas boredom? Come on infants get your things together and drag your mummies and daddies over to the nearest softplay place.

All right it probably wasn’t the best idea to try while your baby brother was still being carried around in a sling, but now that everyone is mobile give it another go.

It really gives them a chance to reprise the childhood they never had. They’ll love it. Scrambling up the ladders, avoiding the wobbly thing at the top, helping you roll through the tiny gaps and attempting not to bash their knees too hard doing the same. The best bit is when you get to the almost-vertical scramble nets. They’ll beg you to let them enjoy the challenge of keeping themselves upright while supporting your back with one knee and helping you move one arm at a time with one of theirs.

The extremely-fast high slide is a favourite too among the more adventurous adults. And that curly slide that they’ll bang their head on all the way down? The best. Littlest Fibber does still need a little help after all, and they won’t want to be left too far behind as you run off to explore the network of high and low rollers they have to do an SAS-style scramble underneath.

If you really want to jolly them into a good mood, push them through that section with lots of obstacles in it, the ones sticking out on both sides, top and bottom. And of course show them how fast you can negotiate these obstacles. They’ll just have to resort to increasingly desperate pleas to wait while they squeeze one limb at a time through. Maybe they’ll get a few more bruises to add to the collection. Maybe they’ll give you a few coins to play on the obligatory electronic side-shows instead.

Of course that also gives them a chance to gaze longingly at the mummies and daddies of older children sitting down outside, admittedly covered in the family coats but enjoying nice cups of coffee while reading their papers and tablets. It’s always good to give them that sense of anticipation, the hope of future joys and rewards before you snatch it away from them when you get to that age and reveal that you actually don’t like soft play any more. Meanwhile they can revel in the sense of superiority their active lives allow them. Being able to keep up, even half-way, with two little Fibbers [the eldest one is starting to learn the family tradition very well too. Sigh. So proud] for a whole solid hour longer than any of the other mummies and daddies in the hall is an achievement after all. They’re getting a bit of mid-life spread to be honest, they need the exercise.

If things do start to wind down a bit, don’t forget that old stand-by, conspiring with little brother to run one way while he runs another. It’s hilarious watching the adult struggling through those small asymmetric holes as fast as they can after the little Fibber while you run off and get yourself lost. It’s usually good for at least 15 minutes of peace while they a) despairingly look around wondering where you are and then of course b) somehow persuade little brother that he really does want to be with you and c) manoeuvre their way through themselves. Relax in the ball pool while you wait.

The best thing is that just two hours of it and the adults will be so tired they’ll let you watch TV all afternoon and not complain once.

As you’re enjoying your sedan chair ride home (well almost, on their shoulders) eating your healthy cereal-bar snack – don’t forget to leave the obligatory crumbs in their freshly-washed hair – you can reflect on the experience and ponder how short a time it will be before you hear the question: “When can we go again Infant Fibber?”

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Why Libraries are Essential

I don’t intend this to be solely a library blog, but having said that public libraries are viewed by councils as non-essentials it seemed a good time to hammer out some thoughts on why any society aiming at democracy and science should view them as essentials. I could add ‘any society aiming at sustainability’ too, since I’m keenly interested in that.

These are not original thoughts. Many people have given many good reasons for the existence of public libraries, time and time again – try this list from the Voices for the Library, or this extensive one from Public Library News to start with. However there is one that stands out for me, the one we should all be screaming from the rooftops.

Free access to information for all.

It is often said that libraries are outdated now that the internet exists. Did you know that even in 2014 16% of households lack an internet connection? Are they to be abandoned? I don’t believe the 6th richest economy in the world should be abandoning any of its citizens, though it seems I am in the minority there. In addition the main shortcomings of the open internet are well known: the huge amount of information with limited quality controls and access points. There has also been lots of research on how Google (you could extend this to all search engines) effectively controls the information (this is an older paper but seems to summarise nicely) people access by simply ranking it. More simply, if I had a penny for every time people have said to me “Oh don’t bother looking on the internet for it, I’ve tried and it’s not there” seconds before I found it there, I’d be rich. People need to learn or be trained in how to find information effectively. And where are the majority to learn that, outside of the education structure?

After all, there are four ways libraries support free access: firstly and obviously by its provision, in whatever form it takes, and secondly by training and supporting the training of people in how to access it. The latter starts with the toddler enjoying a picture book in the kids’ corner, travels through supporting kids’ reading (do you know how many books a child goes through in a year?) and information needs throughout their education, continues with supporting adult literacy programs, and simply by supporting the joy of reading at all ages. It also nowadays includes helping people gain familiarity with computers and the internet. It may include providing and helping with maps, directories and census reports to name a few of the historical sources available. Thirdly libraries have, or used to and should have, the trained staff available to put it into people’s hands at need when they can’t find it themselves. Finally, they are public spaces open to everyone regardless of age, colour, race, creed, etc etc.

What good does this do? I mentioned both democracy and science.

Both require the free flow and exchange of ideas and information. It should be obvious, but effective democracy requires an educated and informed populace. How can people make rational decisions without knowledge of a subject? How can they effectively evaluate the policies of our esteemed leaders and would-be leaders if they have no education? Not to mention how can they actually know said policies… both those that are stated, and those that are not. At a time when free media has fallen prey to the requirements of business we need more than ever reliable sources of solid information, facts and figures, to figure out what the blazes is going on.

And science… the role of public libraries in science may seem to be limited, but given that even a PhD in Molecular Biochemistry starts with that toddler with a picture book in the corner they clearly aren’t. They provide both information and basic training for all of us throughout our lives.

I believe science is also slowly coming under threat, directly from the increasing privatization of information and indirectly from increased copyright restrictions lobbied for by those private owners, also by increased digitization itself. Scholars need to be able to communicate ideas for new inspiration to strike. I have seen how difficult it can be to access essential papers for study when they are locked up in privately owned and copyrighted electronic journals whose subscriptions have to be renewed every year. Academic libraries are themselves increasingly difficult to access. They were once entirely publicly funded and open to anyone who wished to enter, if only for reference and upon signing permission forms and the like. Nowadays many are increasingly limiting access, to either their own students only or at best to the holders of ‘SCONUL Access’ cards and other reciprocal agreements within academia. Not surprising given both the cost of university education nowadays with its commercial agenda and also the increasingly tight licensing agreements for those electronic journals and books.

Public libraries have always supported those whom schools fail. Nowadays they also support those of us with a voice on the internet and nowhere else. As democracy fails we need that voice. That voice could even benefit local councils if it results in increased devolution in England. As privatization gains pace libraries should be acting as an equally loud voice on our behalf in favour of open access. It is a great shame that they are not (remind me to explore some reasons for that later). Without that voice out there we are slowly walking into a new oligarchic dark age.

“Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.”

— Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri videogame [1999], ‘Commissioner Pravin Lal’

If you like, you could start a running tally below of the fate of your public libraries over the last few years. Give me a list of those closed or reduced and (hopefully) how missed they are to add to the above.

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Let’s All Kick the Public Libraries

For anyone who doesn’t know, libraries of all kinds have been dying in the UK for at least the last 20 years, in the case of public libraries arguably since the 1960’s which is when they last had any kind of serious investment. Oh, it’s the same across the public sector, cuts cuts and more cuts, but libraries are viewed as ‘nice to have’s, not ‘necessities’ and so are an easy target.

This BBC article points out that there have been 6000 jobs lost in the last five years. Jobs have been being lost on a large scale for the last ten so I don’t know how many have gone in total in that time. I know there are very few actual described librarians left in the system now, perhaps just one or two per county depending on size. Most of the staff left are minimum-wage-or-not-much-above-it library assistants, doing much the same jobs (except that one does the job three or four would have done ten years ago: many possibly are ex-librarians) but for lower wages. What you don’t have time to do, simple matters such as picking books up off the floor, simply doesn’t get done. Please remember that next time you go in asking for a specific book and can’t find it.

Then we get these wishy-washy nice reports from government, the one that prompted that BBC report.

All they are are kicks in the teeth.

Yes libraries are useful. We all know that. Yes libraries are valuable. We all know that. Yes libraries are popular. We all know that. Cheers. Thanks.

So give us some money. Real money, not a fund for this or that development, which then falls prey to the general financial weakness (e.g. BBC article on Birmingham library losses) or gets whittled away by ‘efficiency savings’. That’s just called waste.

Never mind lecturing us on how we should be this that or the other. It was bookshops we were told to emulate in the 00’s, now it’s coffee shops. Any bookshop owner will tell you that books and cafes don’t mix that well, the stock gets damaged. Never mind telling us how we’re behind the times and need more computing. Actually most libraries I’ve come across have got as good computer facilities as they can afford, it’s the most efficient way of getting access to loads of information when we can’t afford proper books (electronic or otherwise). For your info if we stocked laptops and tablets – which we don’t have money to buy – they’d just get nicked.

And the stuff on page 21 about encouraging ‘talented’ people into the profession? Don’t make me laugh. 6000 jobs gone in five years. An unknown number over ten. There are at this time 34 jobs for the whole of the profession and the whole of the UK offered on the main professional jobsite, the first time I’ve seen so many not in London for ages. Oh, and two of those are in foreign lands, so actually 32 for the UK. On that same page 21 volunteers are mentioned – I think this is probably the only honest statement in this report. Volunteers have been taking over the paid work slowly. What they really want is to recruit the talented ‘volunteers’ into the profession. I have some very old news for you. Most people have to make a living, we can’t afford to volunteer.

Forget the damned reports. Forget “setting up task force in partnership… to consider the recommendations…and lead on any future actions” (any? none, you mean). We know what we are, we know what we can do. We know what we want to do. We know we can’t do any of it. Stop cutting council services and GIVE US THE MONEY!! The money spent on the report and the task force would be a start! At least stop wasting money on these insults.

And as for CILIP, ‘welcoming the report and endorsing its proposals as a “step forward”. Very diplomatic. I would have just stuck with saying ‘you’re all bastards’ myself. It’s time and past time for some real defence of public services of all kind. Stick with pointing out in words of one syllable the number of these reports we’ve seen, the similarity and futility of their findings, and the fact that libraries have always done everything they can on peanuts. You’re quick enough for action on inventing new hoops for your (few remaining, possibly) members to jump through, chartership and the like. Why so slow on calling central government to account?

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Ooh I have a new blog

…Now what should I do with it?

So I have finally elected to join that great crowd of people who think that everyone else has nothing better to do than keep up with them. To gaze upon the perfection of their daily lives. Why?

Because I can, essentially. Well, to see if I can. I’m sure I used to be able to cobble a sentence together at one time. I’ve been a bit bored lately so it’s time to try something new. New to me that is, as you can see originality can be a struggle sometimes.

I intend this to be a blog of, well, anything I feel like at the time. I expect it to be full of things that irritate me – lots of those, because I’m an irascible git who irritates easily. There will probably be quite a lot that bores everyone else – reflections of those daily life problems that we all share. And there may be the odd flippancy in there too, but probably not too many of those. My skill at wit and repartee is limited so I won’t force you to smile politely too much. Snigger at my attempts maybe.

If you dare.

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