So why would you buy a jumper?

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I have recently started knitting. I have made a selection of things some big, some small. I enjoy it and I get something unique I can wear at the end of it.

Plus it’s cheap! My mum knitted me a fab bright green jumper for my birthday and the wool cost her £12. I saw some similar jumpers in the shops today that cost £40! The home knitted things are warmer and if you get fed up with it you can pull it down and start again.

So why not try it? I knit on the bus, in the pub, on the train. It gets you talking to new people and there are some fab yarns and patterns out there! 🙂

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Removing red tape doesn’t build houses Dave…

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Today David Cameron gave his speech to Tory Party Conference.

Last week I spoke on behalf of UNISON at the housing voice “how to tackle the housing crisis” fringe. A similar event was held at Lib dem conference.

At the fringe event I told my story. I am a low paid worker, I am 28 and I still live with my Mum. I can’t afford a privately rented house and I certainly can’t afford a massive deposit and a mortgage. I told a packed room that failing to give housing a high enough political priority was a mistake and that money spent building houses stimulates the economy and in its own way pays for itself.

Today David Cameron said this:

then there are those who say “yes of course we need more housing”…

…but “no” to every development – and not in my backyard.

Look – it’s OK for my generation. Many of us have got on the ladder.

But you know the average age that someone buys their first home today, without any help for their parents?

33 years old.

We are the party of home ownership – we cannot let this carry on.

So yes – we’re doubling the discount for buying your council house…

…we’re helping first-time buyers get a 95 per cent mortgage…

…but there’s something else we need to do – and that’s accept we need to build more houses in Britain.

There are young people who work hard year after year but are still living at home.

They sit in their childhood bedroom, looking out of the window dreaming of a place of their own.

I want us to say to them – you are our people, we are on your side, we will help you reach your dreams.

David Cameron seems to think that buying your council house and relaxing planning regulations will solve this deep and serious problem. Well I don’t think it will.

If you allow people to buy their council houses, then that council house isn’t available for the next generation to occupy. Meaning another council house needs to be built and in general they aren’t being built.

Then there is the relaxing of planning laws. Meaning developers can build the houses that will deliver the biggest profit rather than houses that fit the need of the population. Last week Ed Balls said that a labour government would built 100,000 new houses with the money raised from the sale of 4G. These would be a variety of affordable and social housing. Although I think that doesn’t go far enough and we would need that many houses every year, it tackles the issue more than David Cameron’s lacklustre attempt.

So David Cameron, where are the new houses going to come from and will hey be for for purpose? You didn’t say because you don’t know seems to be the sad truth.

Have you had a “film worthy romance” lately?

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A friend and I were discussing what constituted a “film worthy” romance after watching Love Actually the other day. He said he had never had a film worthy romance. But this made me question. What is a film worthy romance and are they a good thing or not.

By virtue of the fact they are in a film the romance can’t be straightforward.

The romance must have some form of turmoil otherwise the film would either be very short or very boring. Boy meets girl and they live happily ever after doth not a film worthy romance make. More boy meets girl, girl hates boy, boy lusts after girl, girls dog gets stuck in a car about to be destroyed by a flesh eating robot and then the boy saves the dog and the girl has a massive change of heart and finally falls for the boy.

But then again the above implies that the romance must ultimately be successful. Film worthy romance can be unsuccessful and yet still film worthy. For example; boy meets girl, girl likes boy, boy likes girl, so far so good. Yet then tragically girl discovers the boy is a serial romancer yet the girl has fallen for the boy and deems that this time it will be different. The boy continues to see the girl but also continues to see girl B. The boy feels he can continue to date both girls and indeed falls in love with both of them. Girl A and Girl B become best friends after meeting at a yoga class and soon discover they share more than a love of yoga. The boy is confronted and the girls remain life long friends.

Or;

Boy and girl meet, girl realises that the boy is unavailable yet the become good friends, the girl lusts after the boy and one day confesses her love of the boy. The boy feels flattered and sleeps with the girl, the girl sees this as a sign the boy is now available and pines after him, yet the boy continues to be unavailable.

To conclude I feel that having not experienced a “film worthy romance” is no bad thing. Although these romances would make a good film the reality is that they are not easy and often lead to heartbreak.

Pickles and the Commies

Eric Pickles said the following in his speech today… So who are these Commies of which he speaks?

Conference chums,

In my Ministerial office, I’ve placed reminders of what it means to be a Conservative.

A bust of Disraeli.

A poster of the great Winston.

A momento of the magnificent Margaret.

But over my left shoulder is a photograph that often catches the eye of visitors.

Ché Guevara.

The Cuban Revolutionary.

Smoking a very large Havana cigar.

It’s there to remind me: that without constant vigilance – the cigar-chomping Commies will take over.

Well, that isn’t going to happen on my watch.

After more than two years in government, I’ve learnt that cigar-chomping Commies come in many guises.

George doesn’t get it.

Following reading this article I feel I must question the logic of George Osborne and his determination to hit ordinary working people. I’ll comment on the worst aspects which will be in italics.

“Businesses will be allowed to remove “gold-plated employment rights” in exchange for handing out shares to employees which will be exempt from tax, George Osborne has said.”

I wouldn’t call employment rights “gold plated” this implies that they give workers more than they deserve and should be reduced as much as possible. This is wrong our employment rights mean we have the right to challenge when our employers wrong us and that works to “put off” unscrupulous bosses. Exchanging employment rights for shares in a company won’t work. It should be an absolute right to challenge when your employer wrongs you and shares which could be worth very little are no comparison to laid down legislation which protects you at work.

The chancellor’s plan would allow businesses hiring staff to insist they forfeit employment rights in two broad areas in exchange for the shares, which would be exempt from capital-gains tax. Existing employees would have the right to refuse.
Employees would:
• Give up their rights under UK law on unfair dismissal, redundancy and the right to request flexible working and time off for training.
• Women would have to give twice as much notice of the date when they want to return from maternity leave. Women currently have to give eight weeks, but this would increase to 16.

The language used here is concerning “insist” meaning only those who would be willing to give up employment rights would be offered employment. This is a dangerous path and is surely nothing but an excuse to erode working conditions.

Then there are the aspects of employment rights that they would seek to erode, unfair dismissal – where you lose your job and it is found to be unfair, redundancy – that safety net when your employer has to make cutbacks, the right to request flexible working – where workers reduce their hours or adopt flexi time to care for relatives or their families and finally, time off for training – meaning that workers would end up unable to progress as they would lack that vital on the job training.

These measures don’t appear to achieve anything other than keeping working people in their place. It’s wrong and I hope there is a famous government u-turn on this.

Another cracking line from this article was

He said he wanted the Conservatives to be a one-nation party that speaks for the corner-shop owner, the teacher, the commuter and pensioner. “They are all part of one nation – one nation working together to get on.

The Tories are clearly rattled by Ed’s one nation and are trying to claim it back as their own. Yet can the tories be a one nation party when they do nothing but seek to widen the social divides in out country? I think not.

So she read “that book”. So what?

So Harriet has admitted to reading Fifty Shades of Grey. She told us in her speech to conference this year. And the Guardian felt it so newsworthy they did a little video of it…

Harriet confessing to reading “that book”

In other news the Pope has finally admitted to being a catholic.

So it’s a book that contains some sadomasochism some “making luuurve” and a hint of a plot. Pretty much every woman had read it. Yes even the one sat next to you on the bus. And yes we know it’s badly written but needs must.

What I found more interesting was what she said towards the end of the clip. “I don’t think it’s very realistic (well durrr) what we really want is a man to unload the dishwasher (dishwasher? What dishwasher? I don’t own a dishwasher do you?) while we watch the Great British Bake Off (ahhh now that’s more like it – I don’t own a dishwasher so could you just do the pots as well?)”

TUC headed by all female team – will things change?

For the first time ever both the president and general secretary of the TUC will be women. I really hope that following this move that the dynamic of the TUC changes.

At this years TUC congress I spoke in the health and safety debate. I was one of the last speakers and only 4 or so female speakers. There were however a multitude of male, pale speakers from each of the unions. For such a diverse movement this was depressing. The average trade unionist is these days a low paid woman worker so why most unions put up a male speaker is beyond me.

My union has rules on gender representation that mean that every level of our union is proportionate gender wise. This is from the NEC to delegations to even interventions to conferences within that delegation. Other unions should follow suit and ensure they are speaking for the sisters as well as the brothers within our movement.

So next year I hope Frances and Lesley make a difference and TUC Congress becomes more representative of our membership.