Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Confessions of a Tesco Clubcard Holder

Rachel Stalker discusses her own experience of moving south under the current economic climate

Two questions for Ed Miliband:
  1. How much does a tin of Tesco Value Baked Beans cost?
  2. (Roughly) how much did a tin of Tesco Value Baked Beans cost in 2001?
My move from West Cumbria to the Home Counties commuter belt has been a challenge for my personal budgeting as I have adjusted to a much higher cost of living. I feel “squeezed” between being unable to expect welfare or charity and finding it harder to save for a “rainy day”, for a house deposit or a pension. I’m fortunate to have survived the threat of redundancy but I haven’t had an inflation-busting pay-rise for at least 3 years. I spend 10% of my net salary on a season ticket to work and I’m not guaranteed a properly functioning train – let alone a seat. I spend 10 hours per week commuting to work – time that might be better spent building the “Big Society”. I say this not to beg for sympathy but to articulate the reality of life for millions of people here in the southeast.
In order to straighten out my finances, I’ve sought to relearn the grocery shopping techniques I picked up as a student. The problem is that a tin of Tesco Value Baked Beans now costs 28p. When I was a student they cost roughly 9p. That is a more than 300% increase over the course of 10 years. People who shop on a budget know this. They also know that buying a tin of baked beans at the local store will cost much more than 28p. So, however nostalgic they might be about supporting local independent traders (as Ed Miliband indicated in his speech to Progress on Saturday), it is for many, a luxury they cannot afford.
It would be wrong to assume that Tesco Value is the preserve of students and benefit claimants. When I made my latest trip to Tesco’s in “True Blue” Hertford I noticed that they were sold out of Tesco Value Bread and Tesco Value Weetabix. In both cases, there was a gaping hole with surrounding brands piled high.
I have also signed up for a Tesco Clubcard. It makes me feel like a slave to big business but it’s another way to save money – something I can’t afford to turn my nose up at. The proverbial “hard working family” can a save a fortune in vouchers with a Tesco Clubcard.
Everyone I know is finding ways to cut costs –whether that’s cycling to work or not eating out. It’s how we are managing to keep afloat without decent pay-rises.
Farmers are also receiving a raw deal from the supermarkets – another reason our conscience pricks at propping up supermarket chains. When I lived in West Cumbria I used to buy eggs from a teenager who lived on a farm and kept his own hens. He sold them to me for less than Tesco Value, they were much tastier and the hens were better treated.
So perhaps the way forward is not oppose the building of supermarkets but to encourage and empower farmers to trade directly with consumers. Or perhaps local councils can issue cards similar to Tesco Clubcards to be used in local independent stores.
Our nostalgia for a bygone age ought not to make our future more expensive. But if it can make our future cheaper then it will never be short of buyers.

History of Presidential Visits to the UK

Obama's visit today is following a line of tradition going back nearly 100 years. Of course Woodrow Wilson was not the first US President to visit the UK or meet the sovereign, that was John Adams in the 1780s, but he was the first sitting US President to do so

Monday, May 16, 2011

Arrest Warrant for Gaddaffi

It may take months but this is another mark towards Gadaffi's days in power being numbered. The warrant puts him on international pariah status and he cannot cope with that for long, bearing in mind the efforts Gadaffi made to come in from the cold a few years ago. Within two-three years we shall see a new form of government in Libya

Another Milestone for the Queen

Many congratulations to Her Majesty and God willing, in 2015 she will beat Queen Victoria's record. Although there is another milestone and that is for February next year when the Queen beats Richard Cromwell's record as longest lived Head of State

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Human Sheld That The Lib Dems Are!

Some might say that Norman Lamb's talk is that of hubris. But consider Chris Huhne's spat with George Osborne in cabinet, or Conservative MP Peter Bone saying we shall soon see the end of the coalition.
Make no mistake, the Cameron/Clegg love-in is currently going through a spat. How deep and how long that will last is a matter of conjecture, but the grassroots in both parties have never been comfortable with this liaison and if it falls apart then Labour had better be ready to pick up the pieces.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Bin Laden Dead

One doesn't quite feel the relief that you'd think. There is still his organisation and any sensible person will know that we still have a major fight on our hands.
I for one would have liked to have seen Bin Laden face trial and given life-long imprisonment, but that has not happened and now he will have to face the Almighty and explain his actions. For the friends and relatives of those who died on 9/11 and subsequent terrorist attacks, this will not heal their grief by itself, and our thoughts and prayers must remain with them, as well as the impressionable who can get easily sucked into Al Qaeda