I see that the Conservatives have received from an opinion poll shows their lead over Labour has widened and indicates huge public support for their tough plans to cut the number of people on benefit. At the same time, Kent on Sunday shows that here in Kent we are faced by a particular benefit challenge and if the figures were sufficiently granular then, I'm quite certain that Margate, Ramsgate and Sheerness would catch the attention of the statisticians.
Strangely enough, even the LibDems, under their new leader, Nick Clegg, appear to be moving towards the policy right and listening to his speech yesterday my first reaction was 'Cameron-lite' as he talked about public service reform, education and hospitals. The LibDems describe themselves as 'The Progressive Centre' party but I'm not sure what this really means other than not being part of the two major parties in British politics.
I mentioned Northern Rock yesterday and like me, I'm sure you will be delighted to hear that the people involved in the biggest banking crisis in modern British history have been rewarded with annual payouts of up to £100,000 each. The confidential payouts, - which total £2.3million for this month alone - are capped at £25,000 per quarter and take effect from this month. The formula means that some staff – those earning £100,000 or less – could double their pay. Which is nice, as I'm sure you will agree.
It's reminds me that the head of HMRC, who 'resigned' after the personal data of 25 million families was lost, swiftly found another job at the Treasury. Which is also nice.
Another piece of news today comes from that paragon of political correctness, The Observer newspaper. - which I used to write for - . Apparently up to a million migrants have gathered in Libya, from where they will attempt to sail across the Mediterranean for Europe and, ultimately perhaps, the UK. Rather too many to fit in the Nayland Rock Hotel perhaps but I'm sure we will play our proper part should they arrive.
The issue is highlighted in tomorrow's BBC Panorama programme, which details how European leaders tried to reach an agreement with Libya, a country that until recently was named by Britain as a state sponsor of terrorism. we might joke about the enormous numbers involved but it raises pressing questions for the countries that lie between Malta and the English Channel, where the majority of economic migrants will be heading. Given the turmoil in Africa and the Middle-east, Europe is now effectively under siege and the defenses, in the shape of the Human Rights Act and immigration services of the EU states are quite inadequate.
If a million doctors, scientists, plumbers and software engineers were coming this way, that might be another matter but Europe isn't short of unskilled migrant labour, what it needs is a new generation of skilled workers to replace the 80% of the workforce that will retire over the next decade. without these, our welfare state will start to collapse under the strain of pensions, benefit and health provision. It's a mathematical certainty. Europe and in particular Britain, has to act decisively before it's too late. I'm not optimistic given the poor track record of achievements to-date.