The stupidity of Lord Bichard

I assume it probably won’t ever see the light of day but the proposal by Lord Bichard to put pensioners on workfare was nauseating and indicative of a deeply malignant, unrealistic and obsessive culture that exists in our political establishment. (Bichard’s career, which is summed up on his wikipedia page, is basically a list of well-paid but slightly fuzzy, difficult-to-define roles and vast quantities of establishment brown-nosing. His connection with the working lives of most of us is tenuous at best, and most interestingly he was able to retire from the civil service aged 54 with a £120K per year pension pot if the Daily Express are to be believed……….)

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but political discourse in this country is in thrall to The Cult Of Work. Everyone must work (although the definition of work is always a very narrow one……) Work is great. Work gives meaning to otherwise meaningless lives. Work makes us more righteous. Everyone, whatever their circumstances, must work. Carry on past the retirement age. Work until you drop. Etc etc. If you don’t work (in the wage-earning sense) you’re nothing. Redundant. A waste of oxygen.

The whole routine is one big guilt-trip for the retired or the unemployed by politicians desperate to find scapegoats and mirage-solutions to deep-rooted social problems, that can only ever actually be addressed by returning our focus to the central division in society: social class.

 Bichard sums up pensioners, who have spent their lives working and paying taxes, as

 “a negative burden on the state”.


Let’s sum this proposal up in a line: people who have worked all their lives are being asked to spend their last years, their earned retirement from work, to do more work. Why? Who knows. Do we have too many jobs to go round that we need extra people? Emphatically not. Are we really so dysfunctionally utilitarian that we only see people as vessels who must make a net contribution to society? Apparently so.

Pensioners are parents and grandparents. Volunteers. Campaigners. But I suppose as none of these relationships and socially productive activities matters to Bichard as there is no cash transaction or measurable product at the end of it.

It’s always interesting that most of the people who celebrate the innate value of work are usually people whose jobs are undemanding or people doing their dream jobs. Or morons.

And of course the wealthiest, who have no need for state assistance and therefore no need to justify being in receipt of it, will automatically be able to opt themselves out of any proposal like this. For example: Lord Bichard himself.

What a surprise.

The scary thing is that myopic clowns like Bichard actually have an influence on public policy.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. NJH
    Oct 25, 2012 @ 13:01:04

    As someone who is charging towards retirement I rather resent being termed “a negative burden on the state”.
    Since starting full time work in 1978 I have had three periods of unemployment. None has ever lasted more than six weeks. So since 1977 to date, with the exception of less than 18 weeks, I have been fully employed and paid taxes and national insurance. So that would be 35 years less 18 weeks that the government has taken taxes and national insurance from me. Prior to that, from 1972 to 1977 I worked as a Saturday boy in shops or office cleaner, where I was not paid enough to pay tax but still had National Insurance stopped from my income.
    My understanding was that I paid NI to pay for the NHS and a pension, should I live that long. Now I have worked through Thatcher’s “you should be paying into a pension” over and above my taxes and NI. At that time the great and good were suggesting that I should be putting £100 per month into a pension fund. From a total wage of just over £300 per month! They did not have any suggestion as to how I was supposed to do that, continue to buy food, clothing and get to work to continue paying my taxes and NI but it was obviously my fault for not earning enough.
    Actually, in hindsight, I am glad that I could not afford to do it as I may have been tempted and history has shown what has happened to private pension pots!
    Someone ought to take this muppet out and point out that we are not all independently wealthy. We have not all had posts paying in excess of £100,000 pa for doing a non-job. Someone, somewhere has to do the menial jobs; the cleaning, the filing, the building. Most get on and do it on the understanding that if we do our jobs and reach 65 or 65(!) then we would have earned our pension. Never, ever do these scumbags ever suggest that we (at the lower end of the wage scale) stop paying tax completely but that we have to put a bit aside for our old age. No, they do their absolute level best to keep us poor all our lives. Yes, they juggle the tax rate a little bit here, a little bit there. They change the benefits system just a smidge here, just a smidge there but the net result is that we are kept relatively poor but rich enough to stop us rising up and revolting (just that little bit too much to risk losing).
    I will not be a burden. I have paid what I should. If there is too little in the pot, then that is not my fault. It is his and his peers. They have had access to the money, the forward planning initiatives, the information to make decisions. They got it wrong, consistently. The life expectancy in this country has been rising for years and back in the 60s it was known that we were going to be living a lot longer. He and his cohorts chose to ignore, obfuscate and hope that this problem would go away. It has not and it will not. We have paid our dues, we want what was promised. If he and his band of merry imbeciles got it wrong for the past 50 years then that is their problem (but also mine, unfortunately).
    One last thing, it never occurs to them that it is those very same “negative burdens” that have paid their vastly inflated wages over these years.


  2. Clare Hartley
    Nov 06, 2012 @ 19:15:30

    If any government withdraws my state pension rights after paying into my national insurance over the years I was working, I would fight it right up to the European Court on Human Rights if I have to.


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