Walking in the middle of the road

I do enjoy twitter. You end up discussing and arguing points with complete strangers. Sometimes you or they are enlightened. Sometimes you realise people do not want their thoughts to be challenged, however much the evidence says otherwise.

This weekend I had an interesting conversation with someone who said that you need an ideological standpoint to be able to drive through policy in government. I disagreed. He also stated that ‘no ideology is to sit between whatever parameters the mainstream considers permissible and this is neither free, diverse or soulful’. Now this was impossible to unpick, on twitter on a Sunday afternoon, when I was out for lunch with my wife. She did not appreciate me trying either. But it is an interesting thought process that is worth exploring.

The basis being that unless you are ideologically driven, then you cannot affect change. That if you have an ideological aim, this will drive you forward when times get difficult. This was in the context of both left and right, although I felt that the respondent was on the right. This thought I find interesting because it is the antithesis of what personally drives me. I reject fundamental ideology because in the end it I feel it blinds you to the errors and inadequacies of that ideology. Religion is the obvious candidate of this, but in British politics, Margaret Thatcher is a case in point. She revolutionised the economy in the eighties and after winning in 1987, seemed unbeatable. Yet the arrogance in her belief of her ideology stopped her and her party from seeing potential problems, leading to recession and the decision to implement the poll tax. She was eventually removed and a moderate, more liberal PM put in her place.

The socialism (and communism abroad) of the 70’s showed how purity of one system leads to poverty and economic ruin of the UK and the eventual fall of the communist economy. Now with both examples you will find exponents of these ideas blaming people, external influences or any other excuse for why their system did not work. But for me it is that fundamental belief that they are right, that always leads to their downfall. The thought process goes that if they just do one more policy, if they go that one step further, then everything will be proved right. This road to Damascus really just leads them nearer the edge of the oblivion. It is also interesting that the sudden surge in popularity in Corbyn’s socialism seems to forget the hardships of the 70’s and the rejection of these ideas thereafter.

So, what is a centrist? First of all, I don’t think I like that term; one term that I was given was political triangulation. A new one for me, but the labour triangulation of Tony Blair, John Smith and Gordon Brown essentially took the view of supporting the public services, while trying to encourage business. Could we argue that the decade 97-07 was one of the most prosperous for the country? I am not intentionally ignoring the crash that happened afterwards, but that happened to all systems globally and so could not be pinned on one political movement.

In the two-party system the liberals are seen as centrists who don’t seem to stand for anything. Further harmed by apparently leaving their core aims once they helped formed a coalition. Maybe this is what the correspondent meant. They don’t own a piece of the political pie and are neither one thing or the other. Their former leader got stuck on the gay sex commentary meaning their message was lost. They have struggled to find a clear identity and liberals are seen to be woolly and nice, but not really effective to lead the country. This means, with the current first past the post system, they are not seen as credible and lose votes. Again, not helped when their leader said they did not want to win, just to be the effective opposition. A bit pathetic for me.

Personally, I think the centrist view is the ideal location. We should be a pro-business country as the entrepreneurial system drives change and is a true meritocracy. The successful can thrive on that success. We should also be there when people fail. This is the social side where government should be there so that when times turn difficult, people are able to live, get back on their feet and start again. This egalitarian approach does not mean we are jealous of people who work hard and earn money. More often than not they deserve it. We should neither look down on people who are poorer and who may only survive on benefits. The divisive politics that we are currently in is driving a wedge between many groups in this country and it is only getting worse. Pro EU v Brexiteers. Rich v poor. Right v left. Farage v decency and humanity. The last thing we need is the right-wing of the country taking us down the hard Brexit route, any more than the left-wing socialism of Corbyn, creating more debt. Both sides create walls which mean you are either with them or against them, which is utterly ridiculous and not what we need from our politicians.

There has to be a different choice. On the right, we have a Tory party, dying of the cancer of Brexit, and unable to see past austerity for any solution to the debt problem, because they refuse to increase tax. On the left, we have our socialist party, who would spend their way out of austerity, but our debt is £1.56 trillion. The interest alone is £43 billion, which is approximately 40% of our NHS spending. The dogmas of each party need re-assessing so that the country can move forward and prosper. Neither though is willing to blink first and so moves further away each day from the very position that the country needs.

This is where a new way needs to be found. I agree that something needs to drive you in terms of ideas in politics, where ever you find yourself on the political spectrum. Your driving principles. Yet when this inhibits your decision-making process because it is your way or the wrong way then that is where ideology has indoctrinated your thought process. This is where politics needs to learn from science. A politician’s ideas can be put forward, but they should then be tested. Parameters of success should be stated before the policy is enacted and a time period given for that success. It should be periodically reviewed, by the select committees, and improvements made to the policy. The problem we have had is the swings from one position to another mean we neither know whether it works as a policy and it wastes billions in the process. The prime example of this is the NHS and is the very reason why it struggles to do its job. The enlightened have already suggested that the politics should be taken out of the NHS and a cross party group should be there to run it and make the incremental changes over time to ensure it does its job, efficiently and cost effectively. The boom and bust regime changes over the last 20 years have not worked, left the NHS bankrupt and on its knees.

Have we evidence that this different approach works? Look at the conservative policy after the 1992 election(once we left the ERM), of aiming for low inflation and trying to provide stability for the economy to thrive. Labour, gained power in 1997 promising to keep this policy and extending it by giving the bank of England independence. This time period to the 2008 recession was the longest period of growth this country had seen. Stable centrist politics, giving continuity to business and so to the people in the country.

No dogma, no ideology, no extremism, no Brexit and no great divides opening up in the country. I challenge you to look at the division of the socialist era of the 70’s, the right-wing 80’s and compare that to the unifying time when Blair first came to power and the hope this brought(whether you agree with him or not). That is what will drive this country forward and putting in the safeguards so that parliament can stop the corrupt deviating from this (Iraq war). I also challenge you, whether you are with him or against him(!!), whether Donald Trump is a unifying force for the US or the world? Is this the politics that will breed success and bring unity?

The liberals have an opportunity to drive this change by reinventing themselves, as Labour did into New Labour. By giving the people what they want. Stability, a government for the people, a tax system that is seen to be fair and an end to the divisive politics which has dogged our system for the last few years. If they cannot do it then I fear for the future of our country, because both sides are currently more interested in fighting for themselves, rather than for the people of this country.

Is the world losing all respect for the USA?

The obvious answer is no. We do not judge the US by one man. However vile, racist and arrogant he is. Yet we are watching open mouthed as the land of the free turns into a de facto dictatorship.

The cornerstone of freedom is to have a free press. Yet the ‘fake news’ campaign is being used to undermine the press. It is not facts that are used to undermine the press but insults and pressure. It may be a bit far to claim he has Putin’s touch with dealing with the press, because Trump is not killing or imprisoning anyone who disagrees, but it is a fundamental principle that is being abused for his own end. The press is continually abused who don’t agree with him, while he feigns pleasure with Fox news as they pander to his sycophantic ways.

The irony is not lost when he criticizes a book about him, calling it lies, when he spouted so many about Obama’s birthplace or the never-ending changes to the Russian collusion story. He now wants to use the libel laws to curtail the press. This because he wants to hide Russia; sexual assault; money laundering and recently adultery. Freedom for the people or for Trump?

This is the man who is bad mouthing the US federal police force continually. Undermining respect for their work and the personal in their service. If he has nothing to fear then he should be happy for the investigation to proceed. Prove the doubters wrong. But we all know he complains too much.

Obama, the halcyon days. I wonder how much Americans crave the time when a president was coherent, calm and clear. Had the respect of the world, except Russia. Many thought it was because he was weak. Maybe it was because he wasn’t taking their money, sleeping with their women and colluding with them to steal an election? Anyone who still claims Obama was not capable, must now be seen as a racist. There is no explanation other than his skin colour. You don’t have to agree with his politics to see he progressed the country.

Every facet of the US constitution is under attack (apart from the 2nd amendment of course, no one seems to care in congress about 10000 gun deaths a year). Freedom of speech. Freedom of expression. The right to protest. All OK, good people on both sides, unless it is against president Chump. This poisonous regime is splitting the US into factions ready to fight, rather than uniting as a strong nation.

What can the US do about this? Obviously, Mueller is trying his best to find evidence so that Trump can be impeached. A senior diplomat resigned saying he could no longer serve under this administration. This is the time that the people need to look at the officials who just do as there told, even when they know it is wrong. The officials who follow and don’t question. I would suggest that there could be comparisons with Nazi Germany in the mid 1930’s. An appeasement to let Trump attack Muslims or the Mexicans, because it is not us. Eventually though these people, Trumps thugs, go for anyone that dares to disagree. You only have to look at Charlottesville and how he failed to condemn the racists who eventually killed a US citizen. Luckily the US is not Germany in the 1930’s. But the respect for its institutions is being seriously degraded by this fool and only the people can stop him. The politicians, especially the republicans, seem gutless to do anything.

How does this affect the UK? We have the Tories lying about Brexit and attacking our institutions for telling the truth. The ghost of Christmas past*, Rhys Mogg, is attending far right talks and attacking our foreign aid budget. The good Friday agreement is put in jeopardy to satisfy the right wing and a minority have driven wedges between groups so that they can peddle lies with little reproach.

The press, who have been guilty of expressing opinion rather than facts, need to focus on the latter and ensure the trust in hat they say is returned. This would allow the public to have more faith in what they read and then the serial liars, like Trump and Farage can be called out and seen for what they are.

One thing is for sure. No swamps are being drained and the US will have to work hard to correct the debacle of this current regime.

 

  • first seen on @37paday. An excellent twitter feed.

Buffoon Boris only in it for himself

Our Boris has had his say. What we thought was the big lie in the referendum was not big enough. He has tried an even bigger lie in January. What has Boris got to gain from this latest lie?

He is almost certainly vying for attention. He has had negative press because his comments led Iran to feel vindicated jailing Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. His foot in mouth diplomacy meant that this young mum spent Christmas in an Iranian jail, just for visiting relatives and she is still in jail. Normally one would expect this to be a sacking offence. But the cynical use of innocent people has never been a barrier for the furtherment of his career.

Let’s go back to the original 350 million the EU was stealing from us. We NEVER sent £350 million a week to the EU. Our rebate was always taken away before any money was sent. This would mean a gross amount of around £260 million. We also get just under £100 million back from the EU in subsidies and support for the poorest areas in the country. So, this figure is now £160 million per week. That is a lot of money and it equates to every individual paying £2 per week.

So, it is worth it. There is also money that goes to the private sector, supporting businesses. There is money that goes into research, a lot of which ends up in British universities, supporting local economies. Fish stocks recovering, the environment a priority for the farmers but still no food shortages. Depressed areas like Bradford getting around £12 million a year to support the community that the local and national government are neglecting, such as housing and our youth.

It goes to improve democratic processes throughout burgeoning democracies to the east of Germany. It supports the poorest regions in the EU. It has also been part of a continual peace in our region. There is waste, as in any democracy, but not as much as our hyped-up media would have you believe.

A cultural enlightenment that means many young Britains (below 40) feel European and part of a greater community. The same youth who voted against Brexit are the very ones who will have to live with it. This week the Berlin wall has been down, longer than it was up. Astonishing, peaceful change in Europe with very little bloodshed and democracies starting up. How much did the EU support this political process? Would it have been so peaceful without something to join?

So, the lie is clearly a lie and yet the Buffoon still repeated it and has now upped the ante. He is also now claiming to want to build a bridge to France after burning our own with the EU. How irrelevant is he feeling at this moment in time? Theresa May cannot last past March 2019 and I would suspect may go before this. The government is paralysed by Brexit and blinded by the shining light of a disaster facing this country, that the NHS, education and the people are being left to rot while they fight to find a cohesive Brexit strategy and our Buffon schemes to lead.

So, Boris can’t find anything positive about Brexit so deflects with nonsense. As with any great Trumpism, don’t worry about the lie, just say it long enough, make it wild enough and no one will ever doubt it. When though will this country wake up to the lies, manipulation that is alienating the people in the country, causing poverty on an unprecedented scale and will only benefit the few who avoid their taxes and want a far-right agenda in this country.

We need to stop being deflected and start focusing and getting our media to ask the right questions and not let this nonsense go unchallenged. Only then will the paucity of their arguments be obvious to all.

The Tory Suicide

I feel the whiff of election disaster in the air. The Tories seem to be pursuing political suicide and think a quick apology here or there will suffice.

The NHS has been starved of funding and the much vaunted ‘350M per week’ has quickly evaporated, fundamentally because it was lies. There is a lack of doctors, because of the ridiculous junior doctor’s contracts forced through. There is a lack of nurses because of pay, conditions and poor recruitment. 1 in 8 emergency patients are left in the ambulance for 30+minutes. How often do we have to put up with this? How many additional deaths will be reported before people take this seriously? Should you ignore it until it is your relative who dies in a corridor or in the ambulance?

Schools have been cost cutting for 7 years now. Parents are buying more equipment so that schools can do their job, bigger class sizes, less teaching assistants, longer periods for CAMH’s appointments, affecting the mental health of children. Money wasted on free schools and faith schools that could be used to fill the shortfalls in the system. The education of our young people affected by this government.

Brexit shows incompetence and delusion to the extreme. Everything the Tories have said would happen has been rejected. We would pay nothing to the EU. (50-60 billion). The easiest trade deal ever. (not even started). A minister who leaves meetings early to meet the Daily Fail editor. Finally, unelected bureaucrats are negotiating for the UK because the EU was being run by unelected bureaucrats!! A trade minister who has so far visited 43 countries and has zero initial agreements in 17 months. Yes, he cannot agree a trade deal until we leave, but he could have those initial agreements lined up showing how much other countries want to trade with us. He has none.

Finally, the infighting and low majority. Yes, we can find £1 billion for the DUP so that we can have a minority government, but not for the NHS, education, mental health, tuition fees…

You would have thought the annihilation of 1997 would have taught the Tories that Europe only brings about disaster for them. Yet they have been driven by an infected minority, who have been pandered to, when they should have been ignored. They would have done much better to let the activists and MP’s leave for UKIP and start afresh with new candidates. The reason this did not happen is because the people with the power have the money. They are the ones who keep their money off shore, who would be most affected by the EU closing the tax havens down. So, the EU irrationality has been funded and fuelled in the tory party and in the papers.

I ask any Tory if they are currently happy with the debacle? Anyone who says yes is so blinded by their partisan mentality they would follow them to oblivion. If not, then how do you stop this carnage? My personal feelings are that I could never vote for them again. There saving grace is that Jeremy Corbyn is running labour. Where would the Tories be if David Miliband had won the party nomination rather than Ed? Where would the country be? I know some labourites were happy that they did not do badly, but even with all of this happening they still could not persuade the majority to vote for them. Corbyn is as much a fundamentalist, which will always alienate a majority in the end, as the far-right Tories are doing. This is why I have joined the Liberal Democrats. The 2-party system is failing this country. First past the post is failing the country. It is creating a system that panders to influential minorities rather than focussing on the majority. It is creating a parliament that fuels rhetoric rather than honesty. It creates dissolution with democracy because people do not feel part of the system. Hence the Brexit vote. I know the coalition is brought up as an example of how the liberals did not work. But I would ask these questions? A party that won 15% of the nation’s vote is constantly criticised that it did not push for tuition fees to be removed. One policy compared to the many the other parties constantly back track on. Also without Nick Clegg’s liberals steadying the ship, would Austerity have been far worse and the countries public services in a worse state than they currently are? I doubt it.

It is time for this current government to be removed from power and to give the country the chance to move forward. Dare I say that this is actually the will of the people.

Anyone want to leave the Brexit train?

We are 17 months into our Brexit future and I wonder how the 17.4million (26.7% of population) who voted for Brexit still feel. The mounting evidence of our impending economic downturn and the fanatics with their hands over their ears shouting loudly ‘I’m not listening’, seems bizarre in the extreme.

I have several questions that I think show the insanity of the situation, and whether anyone who supported Brexit could realistically answer with facts rather than blind faith.

  1. Why when we are so close to the most successful trading block, are we leaving the single market and scrambling to be part of smaller trading blocs in the pacific ring?
  2. Why do we include students in immigrant figures, inflating those figures, when they bring income to world leading institutions and therefore local economies? Is it to create a problem that does not exist?
  3. Why are the people who wanted Brexit so lacking in ideas about its future?
  4. Why have those same people completed no impact assessments for leaving the EU?
  5. Why are the people who wanted sovereignty, so scared to debate this in our sovereign parliament?
  6. Why do they want an open border with Ireland and free movement of goods, but refuse to allow it elsewhere?
  7. Is any industry excelling since we have voted to leave the EU?

The cancer infecting the Tory party, which has been eating away at it for over 30 years is now directly impacting on the United Kingdom. Where before they were simply voted out for 13 years, they are now causing the country to be ruined by lies and deceit. Even chief Buffoon Boris didn’t expect or want to win, he was mainly positioning himself for leadership in the future. In fairness, he would have been successful, except of course he won the vote and lost all chances of being PM.

If we look at each question individually we can see the shambles that is occurring in front of our eyes. It is economic suicide to leave the 2nd biggest trading block in the world. It is the largest economy in the world and the largest trader of manufactured goods. The same trading block that is outperforming the US and other major economies and we want to leave it. It has meant that the UK has dropped to the bottom of G8 countries for growth in that short 17-month period from the top.

https://www.ft.com/topics/themes/UK_GDP (please read articles, rather than headlines)

Have the Tories and the tabloids been stoking the immigrant card to enrage a public. Area’s, such as Gosport, with little immigration invariably used immigration as an excuse for leaving the EU. Immigration does impact locally, but only if government does not plan for it. As the public services, agriculture and service industries struggle to cover for immigrants leaving, is reduced immigration worth the cost to the economy? We are also finding the Brits are not wanting to take over the immigrants jobs.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/british-workers-wanted

Where are the inspirational ideas and leaders for Brexit’s future? There are non, because it was driven by hate and ignorance. This kind of thinking only breeds the accusations about patriotism, traitors and abuse of Judges, MP’s and anyone else who disagrees. It does not fuel enlightenment and progress because it is the antithesis of this.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/11/brexiteers-trade-brexit-molly-scott-cato-greens

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexiteers-economics-crash-pound-trade-deals-incoherent-a7189901.html

In terms of impact assessments, the ridiculous part is they have been done. The governments own economic assessment in 2016 was abused as fear mongering. Unfortunately, it has been shown to be accurate in terms of reduced growth and a falling pound. The £350 million each week for the NHS has now disappeared by lower tax receipts and the cost of Brexit. Apart from it being a fabrication from the start and a third went to our poorest areas, the promises to the farmers, fisheries and car industry make that amount a deficit now. The other reports, which will have been completed, will show a negative for the economy. Otherwise the brexiteers would have them in their tabloids, highlighted, and paraded with parties in the street so we could look forward to our utopian future of isolation.

https://fullfact.org/europe/brexit-impact-assessments/

Of course the EU have completed impact assessments. They are all negative and so shall be ignored or because they are derived from facts and honest assessment.

You cannot have your cake and eat it. The arrogance of these Tories and Farage, that blame everyone for not accepting an open Ireland border, but their refusal to accept the single market and the ECJ to monitor that border. You cannot pick and choose international agreements and this reality has still not sunk into this old colonial bunch.

There are no positives to this, unless you have a view that the UK is for white English speakers who drink tea and attend church regularly and almost certainly believe in the class system. These people would not be persuaded by zero employment or any fact that shows the wrong decision has been made, so I would not try.

Some though still see the EU as bloated and undemocratic. I agree. Yet this is not the way to change or improve it. There are millions of people in Europe who agree with us, but cannot support an arrogant nation who only argue for themselves.

We must stop Brexit and we must then look to change the EU for the better politically. If we have to leave, we must stay in the single market and keep the benefits of this. We can then hope that our politicians can focus on the british people and deal with our NHS, education, mental health, the housing market, reduced incomes, higher costs, looking after our aging population, infrastructure to improve productivity……

Here’s hoping.

Exclusive Daily Mail extended interview: Nigel Farage ‘man of the people’

Man of the people, Nigel Farage spoke extensively to Paul Dacre, Daily Fail editor, about his life before and after the referendum. These extracts failed to make it into the Mail, but they have exclusively been revealed today.

Paul Dacre (PD): Nigel, man of the people, why do you think you connect with all the common people of Britain, like what we do?

Nigel Farage (NF): I think it started at Dulwich College. Although this is a fee paying independent school, it’s not like Eton, which needs serious money to attend. Us nouveau riche were never accepted by the ruling class of Britain. That’s why I didn’t bother with Oxford or Cambridge. It was nothing to do with intellect, I just knew I wouldn’t fit in with the ruling elite. Anyway, someone I knew in the city had offered me a job because of the school I went to, so I was fine.

PD: So did that rejection hurt?

NF: No. The real rejection came when the Tories refused to have me as an MP. Too racist they said. I knew then that the establishment was against me, so I left and created UKIP. I had seen a niche in European elections, where no one really voted. I knew that if I could galvanise the racist and ignorant, then i would not need a majority to get in. I was always described as loud and ballsy, so I just moaned about the EU constantly and no one seemed to check what I was saying was lies.

PD: So you had over twenty years as an MEP, what is your biggest achievement?

NF: Well I’ve screwed the EU for every cent I could get. You know I live in a multi million pound house. I have increased the far right in the EU and I knew once I got the eastern Europeans in, I would really accelerate the hate towards minorities. These peope who say I achieved nothing need to look at that record and weep.

PD: Have you always been seen as racist?

NF: Well this is political correctness gone mad. I mean, in the 60’s and 70’s it was fine to call the  blacks and Asians by whatever name we liked. Now we can’t say anything like that.

I am not a racist. I know some blacks and I would even have a black person as a servant or something like that.

PD: What was the biggest driver for you personally  to get the UK to leave the EU?

NF: I just don’t agree with foreigners setting rules that we have to follow. Its wrong. We now have to follow what the french and germans tell us. We are the empire and we can again rule once the EU breaks up and Trump dismantles NATO and the UN. We again can be the white force running the world in our interests.

PD: And what about your future?

NF: I’m back to where I began really. As a common man. My loss of pay to only £70000 is like those northerners and the poor having to go on universal credit. There suffering is my suffering. I don’t know how I will cope. Barring a couple of holidays for me, somewhere hot obviously to keep the tan up, I will have to beg to people like the daily mail owners, so I can stay in their tax break off shore houses, now the EU wont get to them obviously. ( wry smile on NF face)

I am a bit depressed though. I don’t understand why people hate me so much. I never said I was telling the truth, just jousting the establishment and bringing out the British superiority complex about foreigners, so I could get my knighthood and retire. Now everyone hates me and I only have my EU pension to survive on. It’s ironic that the people I hated and fought, have to pay me until I die. One big laugh really.

PD: Finally, any more political activities?

NF: I’m a big hit with the racists abroad now. I went to a far right rally in the Germany recently and obviously Trumps my BFF. I may go and live over there. As I campaigned for the paedophile Roy Moore, I thought this southern america suits me down to the ground. They know how to treat the inferior and can say what they like. No political correctness. Its great.

 

That’s it for this extract. You can see more later when Nigel talks to Paul about how the daily HateMail has used its influence to galvanise the little Englander in us all and how Nigel worked with Russian Bots to seed the hate in Britain and the US.

Please note: NF is definitely for Nigel Farage and not the National Front, who in no way want to be associated with these comments.

 

Brexit: Falling down the Rabbit hole

Well, this process just keeps getting stranger. I have described it as Alice’s Rabbit hole before and the we seem to be getting further down it. The question is, will we be able to wake up from this dream?

All through the vote, we were told that we would never leave the single market and we would be like Norway. We had no need to worry with the “easiest” negotiations in history. They need us more than we need them. Awake yet?

  1. WTO tariffs will be fine. Yes and no to this question. The country will be able to trade under these rules. The downside no one seems to mention is that it will decimate the manufacturing sector. No one has mentioned it because no Brexiteer cares that these lower wage jobs will go. Except of course the people who will be out of work.
  2. We should be able to trade like Norway. Yes and no again. We can trade like Norway, but this means free movement and being in the customs union. All fine in my opinion. We have left the EU. Tick. We can trade with the EU as before. Tick. Except the hard brexiteers do not want this  and so have turned the referendum into people voting for this and not to leave the EU. I would suggest at this point a second vote may be needed, but this terrifies them and so they will fight this at every opportunity.
  3. The easiest negotiations EVER. Always a curious one for me. If the EU took the hit, the trade with the UK is spread over 27 countries and the imports from the UK could then be created in the EU itself. We on the over hand lose 42% of our trading partners immediately. I would suggest this will decimate our economy. But i know this is project fear so I should not even try and be unpatriotic. We are already losing EU jobs and funding to our institutions as we have seen this week. When will reality bite.
  4. If only people just believed, it would become true. At this point I roll my eyes and curse these idiots. If the argument is right and has been won, then it would move forward with gusto and determination. Yet what we have found, with the Brexiteers driving this, is road blocks, car crashes and an EU who do not need us, who are driven by their principles of free movement and who’s house has not collapsed when the UK voted leave. If anything, it has galvanised the EU citizens, realising what a devastating event the leave vote was. They do not want that and have shown that in how they have voted in national elections. We are alone.

I am happy to go with the decision to leave the EU, in the sense that it did get a majority vote. We did not vote for any particular type of leave. In a balance to the whole country, we should look to have the Norwegian approach in the short-term, 5 to 10 years. This would allow business to continue; we would have left the EU and it will allow us to trade elsewhere. No cliff edge, no hard-line, just a smoother exit. Almost sensible. Yet what we have is maniac’s blaming Ireland; blaming the EU; blaming judges; blaming anyone who they think they can smear to take the light off what is the worse the decision this country has made. Not only that, but they keep on telling what this vote was. A vote for no immigration; a vote to pay nothing; a vote to control our borders ( reminder: they did not say reduce immigration after the vote); a vote to stop the ECJ having jurisdiction in the UK. Let me repeat, all we voted for was leave or remain. Binary choice, and no definition with it. It is now up to this country and the EU to negotiate what we have.

We could always have another vote to decide.(sorry)

Of course what i would like is to wake up from this divisive insanity, where a small tribal group push to be out of the EU because they do not like others having power, that they feel they are entitled to. Whether that is the tax exiles, who are scared of the EU rules on tax havens(media moguls and the wealthy within the Tories) or the racists and xenophobes who fear an integrated community. In my woken state, i will see a second referendum, with proportional representation and a non binary vote, which gives us an opportunity to give the people a choice and allow the country to progress with Hard Brexit; Soft Brexit (norwegian model) or retract and stay. This third option is obviously mine allowing us to use the event to change the EU for the better, inside the organisation. Lets hope that queen does not catch us and we wake up safe.

Warning: Men under attack

What are men to do? In clubs they must be gibbering wrecks unable to cope with only being able to talk to their person of interest. How will they cope not being able to touch a woman inappropriately? What about the boss who can’t touch his colleagues making them feel uncomfortable? The MP’s who want to touch up the odd young journalist, because that’s what they have always done? I really do worry how men are coping at the moment.
Some men feel this is an attack on them. Their masculinity. That it undermines further the patriarchal society. That feminism will have all men hated and arrested in the end, for being men.
What utter rubbish.
The #metoo campaign and other revelations seems to have united the majority of people in identifying what is inappropriate. Is it an attack on men and their behavior? In a sense it is, but did these incidents need the scrutiny?
It has created many conversations about what is appropriate for men to do to women. So, I will keep it nice and simple.
Men should not do anything to a woman that makes them feel uncomfortable. A simple rule of thumb is whether you would be happy if a man was doing this to your wife, daughter or sister. If not, don’t do it yourself. This is not about 2 young people in a club, flirting with each other. This is men taking advantage of position and power to take advantage of women, or men in the case of Kevin Spacey. Does it undermine men by all this talk? Of course not, but hopefully it makes them think about whether they should be touching strangers, friends or colleagues in the way they are.
Should we be prosecuting the MP’s who have been inappropriate (but not sexually harassing anyone) or have pornography on laptops? Of course not, but we should be able to make a judgement about their character. If they have ever promoted family values, then they should resign as a minister, due to hypocrisy, and the voting public can then make a decision as to keeping the individual as an MP. Otherwise they should keep their job. Each case should be judged separately and not dealt with on mass, with the hysteria from the media.
So, what should we take from all this man hating. First and foremost, it should give women confidence to say when they feel uncomfortable. It should give them confidence to go to the police when it is indecent. It should make men think twice about their own behavior. Then, like many changes in society, we will start to have norms about behavior and acceptability and these discussions will slowly diminish and be resigned to history as acceptable.
This is not man hating. It is not even radical feminism. It is society clearly stating borders that are acceptable. Men are not under attack, but they are losing their power over women. This equality should be celebrated as another step forward for an egalitarian society.

The Humanist in us all

Why do I choose to call myself a humanist?  I could be many other labels. I am a Husband, Dad, Brother, Son, Atheist, Bradford City fan, Teacher, Man. Yet I would choose this label because even at this very time where I occasionally lose my faith in people, I know that humanity will win through.

Our current political problems, in this country and worldwide are from an identity crisis for states and politicians. What it is to be British, American, Turkish or Russian? What stereotype do we need to follow to allow ourselves to be called this label? White? Christian/Islamic? Democratic/Theocrat?

These countries, and many more, use rhetoric about nationality to galvanise their core support, yet the frightening thing is they are just dividing the country into the bullies and the victims. I could not imagine trying to force students in the UK to pledge allegiance to the flag or that they had to stand for the national anthem. How weak must some Americans be if they feel this is what makes America great? It makes a mockery of democracy and has nothing to do with nationalism, just bullies telling supposed weaker members of society what to do via mob mentality. In the UK individuals who oppose Brexit are called undemocratic and this week it was suggested the Chancellor should be ‘tried for treason’, because he dared to speak the truth. Yes, it is rhetoric, but it creates an atmosphere where fear to speak one’s mind is becoming the norm.

Humanity at its best is always moving forward. Intelligence and reason have been the drivers of reform and equality. We will look back at these times, even if they get worse, and learn from the mistakes of ignoring knowledge and democracy and putting our trust in the loudest voices or cower to the bullies.

The current crop of politicians are struggling because of globalisation. Throughout history free trade has brought peace and enlightenment*1. This is the very reason the EEC was created. It was logically always going to become more political. Just look at Winston Churchill’s remarks on Europe. *2 He recognised that although we will never be central to the development of Europe, that we had to be part of it so we were not left behind and to support through our experience of democracy.

The lack of vision is causing the current problems in the west. We need to see ‘foreigners’ as humans who are no different from ourselves. As humans who will want the same as ourselves; security for our family and security in our lives with jobs, crime, health and education. We need to stop seeing people as commodities and see them as people who are striving to improve their lives. That is not to say we should have open borders, but if we showed our humanity to Africa especially, then maybe many would not need to leave their country to try and live here. We continue to ignore their plight, and so we have the repercussions through the mass immigration and modern-day slavery in Europe.

It is disturbing how Putin (anti-western/homophobic), Trump (liberals, immigrants, anyone who dares to disagree with him), Erdogan (anyone who speaks against him) and Brexiteers (politicians and tabloids screaming at anyone who has issues with the vote) try to deal with dissenting voices and galvanise support. They all follow the same principles. Bully, abuse and diminish the roles and views of anyone who disagrees with them and threaten them if they fail to back down immediately. This is because they see themselves as superior and drive the idea that their country is superior, more patriotic and more capable than any other state. It is pathetic. The problem with these people is eventually your group could soon be the one that they don’t like anymore. As this post war US video shows.

https://archive.org/details/DontBeaS1947

This is why I like the label humanist, because I don’t identify with my label solely, but identify with all my labels and quite often identify with many other groups. Politically I see the benefits both on the right and left. Just not the extreme ideology. I even agree that the EU is not democratic, but I would change it within, not leave like a spoilt child. I sympathise with communities who are directly affected by immigration and struggle to cope, but know that better government support would greatly ease those issues. I also recognise it is not the immigrants fault for these issues and that they need our support as well. It should never be a choice of who to help, but how we can help all in our communities.

I also don’t think because I am British I am better than anyone else. It is not my nationality that defines me, but the way I treat people, which makes me the person I want to be. I am heavily influenced by my Britishness, but not defined by it. Anyone who thinks differently is deluded and will have their opinion swayed by the current political rhetoric.

When we finally sit down and talk to each other we rarely struggle to find something in common and this is what should drive us, not the petty differences. I have been fortunate to travel to a lot of countries and it is these common values that I have constantly found. We are a unique species, and we should remove the additional labels and drive equality and democracy forward. Stop building walls between people and start accepting we are in a global mix that can thrive with unity and diversity.

*1 Steven Pinker: The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined- Great book uniting numerous sources showing how free trade is part of the drive to a more peaceful existence.

*2 What Churchill really thought about Britain’s place in Europe – The conversation.com- Shows how both sides have tried to manipulate Churchill’s words, but there is no doubt he was pro Europe increasing ties in trade and politics.

An Englishman’s castle is his Home.

I am starting to feel sorry for the Englishman. Once he used to rule the waves and now the Scottish have their own parliament. The Welsh have their assembly. They don’t even rule at home anymore as Feminism has brought equality there. These lost souls have been struggling for years to find something they can fight for and so we were given Brexit.

It is interesting how the majority of Brexit voters are white males, lost and fighting their demise into equality. What I find most interesting is the convoluted arguments they make to justify these feelings of hurt, one of which I would like to tackle. Sovereignty.

Sovereignty: The Authority of State to govern itself or another state.

As ever, this is not about fairness or democracy but about power. There are people who feel we are losing our power to influence and control. Yet the move towards shared sovereignty, where we join groups to ease trade, travel and politics, is to give a little away to gain a lot. Are we soon to abandon the UN and its international court of justice? We have moved from fiefdoms, to the first king Egbert in 827, to eventually having a king of England. Wars were a constant blight on England from all parts, stopped by a Union with Scotland. Strength in numbers allows peace, which allows trade, which allows innovation, equality and freedom. This is why Winston Churchill was a driving force for the broken European states to join together after the war to create a trading alliance. He also foresaw that this would eventually become political. It is the logical conclusion to maintain peace and prosperity. Each step in our long history has led one area to lose some sovereignty over themselves, for the greater good of peace. We are currently throwing this away.

So, does the UK even make its own laws anymore? If you listened to the Brexit debate you would think Westminster have been twiddling their thumbs for the last few years as up to 70% of our laws come from the EU. It may not shock you anymore, but this insane use of statistics to manipulate public opinion is simply not true.

The first point to make is that there is a difference between law and regulations. The EU predominantly creates the regulations for Agriculture, Fisheries, external trade and the environment. This is what we joined in 1972, that as a trading bloc we would all follow the same rules. British MEP’s are part of this democratic process to create the regulations. There are many who argue that the common agricultural policy and fisheries have been bad for the UK, but with both, a scientific approach is prevailing and improving the policy. Some may have noticed Cod is back on the menu in the UK and I would suggest poverty in farming is more to do with the supermarkets than the EU, with their subsidies. Even the house of commons library warns “there is no totally accurate, rational or useful way of calculating the percentage of national laws based on or influenced by the EU”*. Therefore when you hear UKIP/Brexiteers say ‘they know’; you know they are lying.

It seems then that the laws that genuinely affect our lives: Welfare and social care, education, criminal law, family law and the NHS have little influence from the EU*. It is the failure of westminster that causes the issues in this country, not Brussels. Except, I hear you cry, the convention of human rights Act in 1998 which has so blighted our country. Without it terrorists would not be free and that european court would not be continually changing our decisions.

This is again wrong. The first mistake is to confuse the European court of Justice (ECJ) with the European court of human rights. Something I did until researching this blog. There is a brief description about the differences in the attached link.

ukandeu.ac.uk/explainers/the-court-of-justice/

The ECJ is mainly concerned that the countries within the EU follow the regulations that have been set and queries from this. This is not the courts creating laws for us to follow, just making sure we follow the rules that have been agreed. This will probably make little difference to the hardline brexiteer because they did not make the rules, so they are not fair. We obviously did, just that we agreed them with 27 other nations. A tremendous achievement in my book.

The European court of human rights is independent of the EU and ensures we treat people with equality and respect. I can understand how the ruling class have an issue with equality in terms of gender and race, feeling that they are losing their supremacy must hurt their feelings and ego’s. It is just a shame they were able to hide it behind the sovereignty issue.

So, we have a situation, that as a club we follow the same rules and we have become very successful as a nation being part of this club. From the sick man of Europe in the 1970’s, to ones of its powerhouses all while in the EU. We have the ability to pass laws to affect the nation in the way that will truly support a fair and egalitarian society and if we don’t follow the rules of the club, or we don’t treat people properly then a higher court than our own will tell us to sort it out. We may feel we lose a little of our sovereignty when this happens. Good, we should be treating people properly in the first place. So the questions is; is it worth it? A strong economy, a diverse population, human rights and an empathy for others is enough for me to say yes. I dont think the EU is perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is merely 24 years old, compared to the hundreds of years we have had to create our own democratic system. We should be in the EU driving change for all the people of the EU and being a strong voice within. Not allowing ourselves to look back and turn into the sick man again, but worse, sulking in the corner because we can’t have it all our own way.

* Fullfact.org – an independent fact checking website, run on donations if you can support.

 

 

 

Just another brick in the wall

All children are equal, but are some more equal than others

Failure in education is a view expressed continually by politicians, pundits, OFSTED, unions and parents in the time I have been a teacher. Schools are failing; white boys are failing; 10,000 teachers are failing. Surely the whole system is failing? It is interesting to find that opinions keep coming about education but no real questions that can be tested so answers can be found.

Michael Gove found the rhetoric and political will to change the examination system to have a higher academic focus because exams were all becoming too easy; freed up the ‘market’ for schools to open as Academies or free schools and we are coming to a point where we can start to make judgements about whether this has been a success or a failure. All driven by the failures stated.

The key question though, which I rarely hear, is what do we want from our education system? The problem with that question, is that it opens up a whole can of social worms, which is a politicians biggest fear and why they look for easy answers. There is plenty of evidence about this, as the last parliamentary report shows, from an all party committee. But its failure is that it looks only at teachers and parents, without regarding the key to the system, which is the individuality of the students inside it and what is best for them.

http://www.smf.co.uk/publications/commission-inequality-education/

Our education system should allow all students to flourish, enjoy and be educated to the level they can achieve. It should ready students for the world they are about to enter as adults, with the skills required for their jobs and private lives. As a meritocracy, the brightest and /or hardest working will rise to the top and be the drivers of our economy and future. So lets unpick this.

What are the skills required in our modern economy? Algebraic equations or to have read Shakespeare or to know poems by heart? Current government requirements to drive up standards.

http://www.learndirect.com/business/news-events/our-newsletter/archived-newsletters/september-2013/the-top-ten-employee-skills-to-look-out-for/

The CBI published a report indicating the top 10 skills required for work. 2 out of 10 are academic, while the others are those softer skills; yet they are the very skills being removed from the curriculum because of Gove’s reforms of the exam system. So where is the right balance and more importantly, how can we test if we have the right balance, without it becoming a political dogfight.

Are students all the same? The simple answer is no. Therefore if students do not start equal, there will always be inequality. We then burden the education system with trying to remove something that is inherently there, criticising teachers and the system for a problem not of their creating. If we start with acknowledged truths, we should then look for a system that can improve all students, whatever their personal circumstances.

  1. Children learn in different ways and they have different intelligences. Yet we have a system that only rewards academic success and casts whole groups of learners as failures for generations because they do not fit into this system.
  2. Exams are only one way to test ability in subjects. Again, policy makers who excelled at exams, favour exams. They tend to be the ones who move into power and so skew what they think is important. Practical skills are just as important and we need to find ways that are trusted to assess these.

Image result for image of test to climb a tree3.    Behaviour/apathy is the single biggest issue holding back attainment in schools. The best schools work with parents to improve this, but some parents do not have the skills/will to improve the attitude of their sibling. This is what the current commons report above tried to tackle.

4.     The poor are already a year behind their peers at 5, because in general, the poor are poorly educated and so struggle to support their children, at best, and don’t care at worst.

So how do we allow for social mobility, push the poorest students to achieve, ensure the system is fair for everyone and have a system that can test a range of skills for all students. Well here goes.

The first and most controversial is to ensure the poorest children are not left behind; this means greater state intervention from a very young age. This would mean nurseries run by the state to nurture a love of learning and reading. If you do it at this age, you will remove many problems further down the system. This does cost, but think of all the additional costs in schools, society and prisons created by this issue.

The second is to remove the feminisation of the primary sector. There are not enough men who teach primary education and the lack of role models is clearly a problem, especially where male role models are lacking at home. This can be remedied in a number of ways. Financial incentives for teachers; allowing more male secondary staff into the primary system to teach Core subjects and PE.

More removals from the main school system, into facilities to cater for the students who cannot cope in the classroom. This is predominantly boys, but should not exclude girls as well. Again for these students, the state has to intervene to support the family. It should not be seen as a failure to move, but a positive to a more appropriate school, where students can learn in a more kinesthetic environment. Yes this would be less academic, but would look to create students who felt their worth in education, rather than seeing it as the enemy.

These would all be for primary education. At a secondary level, we need to take one of the biggest fundamental changes to our psyche in modern times. Over the last 30 years the way to success has been to go to university and be a graduate. In this time period the percentages attending university have increased from 15% to 40%. This has been a massive increase and one fuelled by an increase from the ‘middle classes’ sections of society. This then is a success and one that should be recognised. But does this mean the other 60% are a bit thick and failures of the education system. In many ways this is what is portrayed, which is obviously not true and potentially removes a lot of confidence from our society. Is it clever to be able to take apart and fix a car engine or boiler? To be able to plaster or rewire a house? It takes skill and training to do that job and yet they are not valued in society as much. The proof is the number of plumbers/plasterers/electricians/bricklayers we have coming through the system in this country. At present you only do these if you have ‘failed’ at school. This is wrong and our perception as a country needs to change on this. This is the single biggest failure that Gove has given the education system, the perception of failure for many students.

To change this we need to give students a choice of a vocational route through school. This should not be about students who can’t do anything else, because at 11 they will still learn the core subjects, but we will value their education in learning a trade. I would also suggest that the most able engineers should consider the vocational route as well, and this should not exclude academic ability from this particular route. I would also suggest it should not be the dumping ground of the poorly behaved. Again, state intervention should be there to support the families, with the very worse cases being sent to boarding schools. The poor behaviour is learnt at home and/or in the community and removing them from that area, may be the only way to deal with the very worst offenders. If we don’t deal with it at this point, they become the criminals of the future.

Suddenly, we could have a system that caters for our children’s and countries needs, that allows them to excel at what they are good at and gives them confidence for their futures. This is what the education system is supposed to do. The biggest stumbling block though is that it wont win votes and i doubt any of our current politicians have the ability to argue the case.

Back to blaming the parents, teachers and students in the vicious circle of failure!