Sunday, 8 March 2009

1997: What a year that was !! (Part One)

by johnofgwent

Earlier today I looked out from the top floor office window upon a landscape bathed in golden sunlight as the early morning sun shone down out of a cloudless sky. Regrettably as the morning has progressed the clouds have gathered and now the walkers treading the path along the river bank have a certain shiver in their step.

Oh well. Back to Business.

Yesterday was the first day I'd seen Green Arrow wearing a suit - apart from at funerals, that is, since 1997. I'll let him explain why he was wearing it in his own good time. But events and memories from the past are things that should not be forgotten.

1997 Eh. What a year that was.
  • Tony Bullimore had good reason to be glad to see February of that year. Hardly had the party poppers been swept from the streets of Trafalgar Square than his yacht overturned leaving him trapped inwhat might so easily have become his cold water coffin in the Southern Ocean.
  • Dolly the Sheep came into the world and lived six to twelve times as long as most "normal" sheep raised for meat according to the Quality Meat Scotland "Lamb Eating Guide Summary Of Good Practice" - a document I heartily recomend as required reading for all omnivorous true patriots not least because you won't find a single knife-wielding imam in any of its pages of detailed guidance for farmers, growers and producers of animal food, and slaughterhousemen on how to produce the perfect lamb shank.
  • Martin Bell, the "War Journalist In The White Suit" decided enough was enough and stood as an independent MP in the constituency of Tatton against Conservative MP Neil Hamilton, disgraced through allegations of having taken bribes from Mohammed Al Fayed and soon to be bankrupted after losing the libel case he brought against his accusers. Do you remember the days when the Labour Party presented itself as the party opposed to sleaze and corruption ? I wonder if Gordon would care to stand on the same platform next year and see how far he gets.
  • Four Days after His Glorious Leader evicted John Major from Number Ten, Gordon Brown "freed" the Bank Of England from "Government Control". At the time many pundits said of Brown "Greater Love Hath No Man Than This, Than He Lay Down His Party Leadership Ambition For His Friend" but the one-eyed scottish idiot did his best to make his imprisonment in the Treasury appearto be a move of his own choosing, and he was soon inflicting his control freakery on all and sundry. But of his allowing the Bank Of England to "do their own thing" ? Well that worked well, didn't it Gordon. For as I sit here now the Bank Of Emgland may be independent but it's bankrupt thanks to lending rather more than every wage earner in the country earns in the lifetime of a parliament in exchange for me having aone-fifty-millionth share in almost every other bank in the bloody country.
  • Hardly a fortnight had gone by before New Liebour made their determined view that tobacco sponsorship of premier sporting events should cease. A "determination" that required a certain Mister Ecclestone to "Bung Blair A Bernie" into party funds in order for the policy to be "slowed" somewhat. Now what was I saying earlier aboutBlair standing on a platform of no corruption. yeah that lasted a whole fourteen days didn't it.
  • OK enough of this, except perhaps I will leave two last parting shots. For towards the end of that same year The French showed us who really wears the trousers in the stinking midden of corruption that is the European Union and Jack Straw's son decided his meagre finances needed to be supplemented with the proceeds from a little drug-dealing. I suppose one cannot blame William Straw for this; had his father used the mechanisms fully available to him and exploited by Derek Conway, young William would not have been forced to peddle skunk to raise the funds to stay warm and fed in his Oxford Garret throughout his time there. Not that he seems to have been punished for his actions; five years later he would be Oxford Student Union President.
And so to the other reminiscences of that year.

As I said, 1997 was the last time I recall seeing The Green Arrow wearing a suit. Mind you, I was as well. For I'd just turned up on site to start what would turn out to be my penultimate decent, well rewarded freelance job of work and "GA" was managing the team.

We did a bloody good job, and it was just as well, because for him, there would be no more, and for me, there would be just one more job like this.

In a few short years Gordon Brown would implement a policy of sending tax inspectors to terrorise our clients into terminating our contracts upon pain of full blown tax inspection if they did not.

At the same time Blair handed our work to companies abroad "suggested" by his "good friends" (and party funders) the Hindoojah Brothers.

And meanwhile the third member of the unholy triumverate, Jack Straw, as Home Secretary, presided over the destruction of our industry from within through the issue of fast tracked visas to non-EU (mostly indian) IT workers to come here and fill a "skills gap" that did not actually exist.

The real problem was the large software houses wanted to pay a pitttance to the "employees" they recruited" for one contract then threw back onto the dole when that "package" was done, before they could acquire redundancy rights, while all thetime charging their clients three times the independent freelancer's daily rate.

And while true independent frelancers like The Green Arrow and I were in the market, offering our high degree of skill and our years of experience to any who would wanted our help as a skilled workforce of master craftsmen, willing to mentor their own workforce in our skills just as skilled men of all professions and trades have ensured the skills survive to the next generation, and willing to do so without any of the office politics and power gaming the large organisations play, and while we were willing to do all that for a third of the price those companies wanted to charge because as small businessmen we understood all about overheads and waste, we had to be exterminated.

Well the companies we both ran may have fallen by the wayside thanks to Brown's insane ideology and Blairs' corrupt party financing but the men that sat behind the wheel of those organisations both survived the "accidents" this shameful government arranged to engineer our demise, and now we're both mad as hell and fighting hand to hand in the streets to make a difference.

And, as my next post will show we have very long memories


Anonymous said...

Fellow freelancers eh?

Let me remind you of something gentlemen:


Enough said I think.


The Green Arrow said...

I still have somewhere the First Issue of the "Freelance Informer".

I said at the time of IR35 that if they put the IT Professionals out of work then we would find a way of striking back.

I also said that after the IT people, they would go after the plumbers, electricians and eventually the builders. All this has come to pass.

Anonymous said...

I still have the last issue of the same magazine.

My answer to IR35 was to first be a guinea pig allowing St Austell to "vet" my contract (for 28 days work) which they said was "caught" despite their press officer saying contracts for less than 30 days would not be.

THEN when they demanded they send someone to "test" the openness of my substitution clause I let the Inland Revenue send one of their men to discuss it - inside a naval nuclear submarine base.

The stupid bastard agreed to come.

Of course I neglected to tell the security police he was coming. Or give the mandatory 72 hours notice for access to the site.

The stupid bastard then cut up stroppy when the ARMED UKAEA POLICE would not let him in.

He was marched to the guardroom and I believe latex gloves were called for.

He wrote back to me a few weeks later agreeing my substitution clause was perfectly valid despite the navy demanding the right to "vet" substitutes before allowing them onto the base.

For some strange reason I never had any more trouble with the revenue men over IR35. They tries S660 next. And they lost that one to.

It took Fast Tracked Visas and threats to the clients to take me down. And as you can see I did not go gently

Anonymous said...

Spot on GA.

You know what used to piss me off good style? When the bastards would decide to "outsource" and then say to highly-skilled sys progs such as myself:

"We'll need you to transfer skills to their support staff so the transition runs as smoothly as possible."

The very transfer that would kick me on the streets and cost me my beautiful home and my relationship along with others whose marriages collapsed, who had to move home, who had nervous breakdowns, and in one case an ex-colleague committed suicide because the stress just got too much for him. When you lose everything you've built and then you lose your family and you can't see the point anymore, I guess suicide offers a better option. Poor bastard.

Some of those who took over loved it of course. They weren't so happy when what was done to us was then done to them when their jobs were outsourced to India.

Thoese who sold out their own and who are ultimately responisble for it are absolute scumbags GA and like you I won't forget what was done.


Anonymous said...

Reconquista you are spot on with that last comment. The very last job I did before the company went under was for a bank's IT centre. They had already "outsourced" the jobs to a UK based software house. And it was that organisation that did not have the staff and skills in sufficient quantity. I cut a deal with the software house that suited me, and went in "masquerading" as one of their own.

The job was like painting the forth road bridge. It was one requirement after another, and would have kept me going until retirement....

.... except the bank decided to "re-outsource" the job. To India. What made me laugh was that the people making the loudest protest noises about this were the "permanent staff" from the outsourcing software house who were about to find their jobs weren't anyting like as 'permanent' as they thought.

But I had the biggest laugh. Two years later I had a call. The bank had brought the job back from India becaue it had been a complete and utter disaster. They had a new UK based company sorting it out and pleaded with me to find a couple of guys I could trust to come and rescue them.

At the time I'd literally just signed a deal with another bank to come in from the "dark side". A deal that wens sour last christmas but hey it was fun while it lasted.

So I had to tell them to stuff it. And I'm SO pleased I did. Because the software outfit was dropped like a hot potato, got sold on, and sold on again, and last time I heard they were part of the RBS Group.