I agree with Donald Trump, but not for the same reasons.

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This week was the 35th anniversary of the death of Mr. John Lennon; the man who sang at Christmas “War is.over if you want it”. Well it turns out we don’t want it, at least certain Powers-That-Be don’t. After multiple “military interventions” in recent years, in Libya, Afghanistan and twice in Iraq, it seems we still think dropping bombs will solve the problems we face – problems that our esteemed leaders created, by dropping bombs. Seriously, rats learn quicker!

Of course America is in this coalition against Cystitis (there’s so many names for these “Islamic militants” I thought I’d use the one comedian Adam Hills came up with), and in America there’s a man with a plan. A plan that he thinks will stop terrorist attacks in the United States. That man is Donald Trump, and the plan is to ban Muslims from entering the USA.

Now I know there are those of you that think this is total overkill, but I think Mr. Trump is right. Go on, do it. Ban Muslims from entering the US. Seriously, do it. And while you’re at it, why not ban Jewish people as well. And don’t stop there, why not ban homosexuals too? Add Hispanics to the list. Heck, just include any religious, sexual orientation, ethnic or other group of people that you blame for the problems in your America. Ban them all, and then sit back in your white ivory tower and watch as the problems you thought you could solve through banning select groups of people instead of, oh I don’t know – GUNS, continues unabated.

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We’re always told not to give in to fear, that we should rise above it – conquer it. If you have a fear of heights, you climb to the top of the tallest tower. If you have a fear of dogs, get a dog! (Friends quote there.) That’s what this is all about; fear. The very word “Islamaphobia” denotes a fear of Islam. And as the saying goes,’we always fear what we don’t understand’. So surely we should rise above the fear and try to understand Muslims and their place in the world, instead of demonising and destroying their way of life.

Now I know there a people out there who looks at these “militants”, guns and knifes in hand, faces obscured by headscarfs, and see them as nothing short of evil. That they’re trying to destroy our way of life  And you’re right to worry, but the actions of terrorists ultimately has nothing to do with their beliefs, ethnicity or anything else. At the end of the day I don’t care what group you’re from; if you’re black or white, Muslim or Christian, gay or straight, blonde or brunette, Star Trek or Star Wars – the minute you slit someone’s throat, or shoot them in the head, or drop bombs on innocent civilians, you lose the right to any of those labels and are stuck with just one: murderer. Hiding behind a twisted version of an ancient belief structure is nothing more than an excuse. Many believe that religion is responsible for many of the worlds conflicts, a view I also subscribe to. Heck, it can also cause conflict in the family – what about the adage of the two topics you should never discuss around the dinner table; politics and religion? Ever since the dawn of mankind people have subscribed to various belief systems, and it has always caused conflict. You would think that after a millennia we as a species would have been able to evolve past the ignorance and violence to acceptance and tolerance of other peoples views and ideas, but here we are in the 21st Century, still being held back by our fears. And it’s fearmongers like Donald Trump that are holding us back.

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In the wake of Mr. Trump’s fearmongering, there’s a petition doing the rounds calling for Mr. Trump to be banned from the UK – hardly surprising when you read that a quarter of the British public support Trumps immigration policy. Not surprising either that UKIP have jumped on the bandwagon, although even the party’s leader and Mr. Toad lookalike Nigel Farage called Mr. Trumps language a “political step too far”. Banning Mr. Trump seems like the right thing to do at first glance, but once again it’s ignoring the issue. It’s not addressing the intolerance of this man and those who subscribe to his view point, of which there are many. Like I said, people are afraid, and the only way to get past this fear is to discuss it – show evidence to the contrary. Maybe we should be discussing religion around the dinner table after all.

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Now with Mr. Trump, he knows exactly what he’s doing. He knows the mood of America right now, and he’s stirring it up – he’s creating a tidal wave of hate and fear that could well give him the Republican candidacy for the White House. Ultimately, no matter how much evidence and facts you present to debunk his arguments, he’s hardly likely to listen. It’s fascinating that someone so well known for “reality TV” seems to live in a world of such abject fantasy. So for him we make an exception to the rule; we ignore him. Don’t interview him, don’t give him the time of day, but don’t ban him either because then he’s the victim, that’s how he feeds – he draws power from negativity. Cut him off!!

This post was brought to you by The Wishful Thinking And Pigs Might Fly Society. Because sometimes, common sense really isn’t that common.

 

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Can we still call ourselves Great Britain?

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Right, I’m coming straight out with it – I’m embarrassed to be British.

A while ago I was staying in a hostel in New Zealand, and I saw a couple – blatantly American – checking in, trying to convince the receptionist they were Canadian. It wasn’t like the couple were going to get banned from staying there or anything, they just wanted it to be made clear – they were from Canada.  I ended up speaking with them a few hours later – nice couple, properly patriotic but at the same time embarrassed by what their country, or rather their President had been doing. It might be prudent to mention at this point that their president at that time was George W. Bush, so you can kind of understand their wishful anonymity, sad as it was to see. It was like watching a lion trying to convince the rest of the zoo he’s a vegetarian – cute but sad.

I’m embarrassed to be British, and for me that’s not cute. I was never the biggest patriot in the world to begin with, but watching the gradual and systematic destruction of our country’s values and ideals has made me realise just how great Britain is, or rather how great it used to be. And I’m not talking about the grand old days of colonialism and how our great nation ruled the seven seas. Our greatness came from our morals and beliefs. Unfortunately we have a group of people running our country who have done nothing but abuse the country’s systems, infrastructure and people, and then lie with the pretext that they are doing this to make the country better, safer and more financially viable. While I include previous governments in this, all the evidence from the Conservative governments recent activities suggests this is far from the case.

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There’s the tax credit cuts – something that David Cameron swore blind before the election wouldn’t happen. It hasn’t – yet – but not for the Tories lack of trying. When you parachute in as many of your honourary peers to vote for the cuts in the House of Lords, and it’s these lords who show they have more in common with the general public than those got voted in to power, then you must know something is wrong.

There’s the government secretly changing the rules – having recently altered their own ministerial code to effectively exempt themselves from international law. This mean that the UK is not obliged to observe any international laws or treaties that would prevent them from using military force in other countries. or even answering to a United Nations investigation believing that tax credit cuts are a human rights violation. This effectively means the government of the United Kingdom answers to no one but itself.

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There’s the recently passed Trade Union bill that will, among other things, greatly restrict the rights of professional individuals and their unions to vote on and participate in industrial action. It is also so draconian as to set back equal opportunities in the workplace, with women workers the most affected by the divisive bill.

There’s the Investgatory Powers Bill, or as it’s become known The “Snoopers Charter”. A piece of legislation drawn up by Theresa May and the Home Office that we are told is there to make us safer, by monitoring all of our personal communications. People are naturally sceptic of this, and the government has been accused legalising invasion of privacy. The act has been further questioned in light of the recent and horrific attacks in Paris by So Called Islamic State, with many noting that “keeping everyone’s online history for a year and passing that to the intelligence service will not make us safer.” Even IT business leaders have said it’s a “bad idea”.

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It will soon be a lot harder to vote the Tories out

There’s also the worry that the game is being rigged. Again, behind closed doors, this government is changing more rules, and this time it’s on how we as a nation vote. If you think they’re doing the sensible thing of scrapping First Past the Post in favour of proportional representation, I’m afraid it’s far more troubling. They are planning to cut the number of British MP’s, presumably under the cloak of streamlining the parliamentary system. This will also change how we register to vote, which has the potential to leave thousands of UK citizens unable to have a voice in an election. Effectively the Conservatives are making it more difficult for those citizens who are more likely to vote against them to vote at all.

Plus there’s proposed changes to the Freedom Of Information act, which will greatly restrict access to vast amounts of important data and will further entrench the government whilst covering up potential scandals. Remember the MP’s expenses story? That was published through gaining FOI. This new act will mean such stories that are well within the remit of public interest will be harder to divulge.

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And finally, my personal (for want of a better word) favourite: the NHS. The UK’s health service has been chipped away at since the 1980’s, and now it looks like rhyming slangs best friend and current Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is packing the whole thing with political dynamite! He wants a 7 day NHS, he wants to reform the NHS, he wants to impose new contracts on junior doctors…..and there’s the final straw. 53,000 doctors, ranging from the “just out of uni” stage to the “about to be a consultant” stage, have said no, with 98% of those balloted (76%) of all junior doctors) saying quite clearly they are “prepared to take part in industrial action” – something that if the previously mentioned Trade Union Bill was currently law would be much more difficult, nay impossible. And before we start saying “how dare junior doctors talk about striking, they have a duty of care”, it’s worth noting that our police force got to this stage back in January 2015, for similar reasons. Plus given that further cuts to the force are on the Tory agenda, I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear of more disquiet from our hard working law enforcers either.

Junior doctors have had enough because the contract being imposed on them – not offered to them – is unsafe, both for them and their patients. Mr. Hunt has said that he wants to negotiate, but has a funny way of showing it; from describing junior doctors as “militant” for balloting on strike action, to offering an 11% pay rise that is actually a 26% pay cut. The health secretary, aided by Conservative media cohorts Daily Mail and The Times, also tried to launch an ill advised smear campaign against British Medical Association leaders, which quickly fell apart (I mean Heaven forbid that medical professionals have interests outside of their career. MP’s would never do that #sarcasm.) There’s one thing you should never do if you’re going to pick a war of words and ideals with people: don’t start one with a group whose very job involves examining and scrutinising hard data and facts. It will win out against lies and spin every time.

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This isn’t another prolonged piece on the state of the NHS and defending junior doctors, because their doing a bang up job themselves. It’s just another piece in a very disturbing puzzle, and while what I’ve written here is by no means a complete picture, it must at least make you question the Conservatives true agenda for the UK.When you see the Prime Minister shaking hands with leaders of countries who have at least questionable records on human rights (China and Saudi Arabia) then you know that what it means to be British has changed for the worse.

Fear and lack of leadership alternatives got the Conservatives in to power, and now that they’re in they are doing everything they can to keep themselves there. They are taking steps to minimise any chance of a response from the public that disagrees with them, whilst making dangerous decisions on our behalf that may not affect us directly now, but may well affect the next generation. It’s not a dictatorship because it’s more than one person, but it’s pretty close.

Like I said, I’m embarrassed to be British.

 

Fear and Loathing in Great Britain: The Real Legacy of David Cameron

4It’s totally normal that when a person is nearing the end of a job, they would want to leave knowing that they had some kind of impact. Barack Obama is clearly thinking of his time in office. I’m sure Zayn Wotisname from that boyband my little girl likes did the same thing. Our illustrious leader, still with four and a half years of premiership left, is clearly doing the same. After all, he said even before the election he would be stepping down after this term in office. He clearly wants to leave the impression on the world stage that he created a “Greater Britain”, yet as I sit here now, I can see David Cameron’s legacy as British Prime Minister will be one of scaremongering, manipulation and segregation (and to a certain degree, swine based debauchery). He believes in a country that cares nothing for its own citizens. He believes in a country more concerned with money than with humanity – a country that he is turning in to a corporate playground with little hideaways for tax evaders. Now you could probably say that this is just the angry rant of some anti-Tory leftie who doesn’t respect the democratic process. You’d be wrong. I accept the result of the General Election. What I deplore is the lies Mr. Cameron told to win that election. I have no problem with the Conservatives. I know many Tories and they are genuinely nice people. What I question is whether the party in power is really a Tory party, or is it like it is in America, with the Republicans being infiltrated by the infamous Tea Party? Now I’m not quite sure what our version of the Tea Party would be called, but I’m pretty sure it would still begin with a ‘T’. Heck maybe it’s UKIP, I don’t know. Either way, if you look at the actions of our six month old government (not the lies we have been told), they do appear to be very similar to a small section of our American counterparts.

2David Cameron’s new Conservative party claims to be the party for working people; that they have the UK citizens best interests at heart. This years Conservative Party Conference seems to suggest otherwise, with every major speech or claim made by a senior Tory minister expertly dissected, derided and more often than not, dis-proven.

1Theresa May stated that we need tighter controls on immigration, repeating the claim she made back in November 2010. It was seen as nothing more than an attempt by the Home Secretary to lay blame on the (apparent) state of the country on people from other countries; people whom, as it has been proven time and again, make more of a contribution to our society than they do a drain. (A full dissection of the Home Secretaries claims, and evidence to the contrary, can be found here). Her speech, whilst trying to make clear that there needs to be a difference between refugees seeking asylum, and “economic migrants”, still left many, including myself, in doubt over David Cameron’s pledge to take 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years. This renewed demonisation of migrants, which is “almost devoid of a single factual accuracy”, coupled with the governments increased attacks on the low paid, hard working families, public sector workers and the disabled goes completely against the “cohesive society” soundbite that the Home Secretary coined, with great futility.
imageThis leads neatly in to George Osbourne, as he continued on his austerity journey by announcing he will cut tax credits, despite Mr. Cameron promising before the General Election, that no such cuts would be made. The Chancellor has also gone to great lengths to ignore serious human rights violations as he negotiated trade deals with China recently. A step that even former Tory party chairman Chris Pattem described as “lax” and describing Mr. Osbourne as “very far from traditional Tory instincts”. Showing support for China, as well as Saudi Arabia in a recent back-room deal that saw the worlds dominant oil producer gain a place on the UN Human Rights Council also calls in to question our governments feelings on human rights in this country. This remains a concern as Michael Gove continues to work on repealing the Human Rights Act – a fact that was carefully swept under the Party Conference carpet but is due to progress in the Autumn. It remains to be seen how much the public will find out about this step from the government directly, but I suspect little will be made by them of our links with countries that flaunt human rights to secure multi-million pound trade deals for oil and arms.

1jeremy-huntAnd then there was our trusted Health Secretary and rhyming slangs best friend, Jeremy Hunt. A man who has made no secret of his ambitions to be Tory party leader once Mr. Cameron steps down (Mr. Osbourne and Mrs. May are also considered contenders). A man who treats the country’s health service, its employees and its patients with such contempt you have to wonder if keeping Cameron around as leader a bit longer is the lesser of two evils. Mr. Hunt has had a busy month; from insulting Junior Doctors with an enforced (non-negotiated), unworkable, immoral contract, (a story I will be looking at in greater detail in my next piece) to insulting anyone in this country with a pulse by saying they need to work harder, like the Chinese. I’m all for hard work, but that alone isn’t enough. You need investment as well, plus recognition that there are those that are physically unable to work. What happens to them? This poisonous rhetoric of ‘survival of the fittest’ spouted by Mr. Hunt and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Ian Duncan Smith (or IDS as he’s become known, which doesn’t at all sound like an expensive treatment for infected hemorrhoids) is just another spit in the face for those who struggle, who need help. People who genuinely need a welfare state that is being ripped out from under them. Never mind this being un-British; it’s inhumane.

Then there was the grand finale of the Conservative Party Conference, where David Cameron stood up on stage and performed the biggest work of modern day fiction over seen in a party conference. From describing Jeremy Corbyn as “a threat to national security” by cleverly quoting the new Labour leader but removing any context, (you can see Mr. Corbyn’s full thoughts, in context, here) to proudly declaring that his policies are helping the country’s poor when the opposite has been proven, he has shown nothing but barefaced contempt for the people of this country through twisting facts and figures, or just outright lying to support his own self/friends serving narrative.
imageMr. Cameron has this dream of turning the UK in to a country of “high wage, low tax and low welfare”. In theory this is something that I’m in favour of, well two-thirds anyway. I mean what family doesn’t want more money in their pocket and less to go to the tax man? The thing is that we have tax for a reason; to fund our schools, our hospitals, the upkeep of our roads and waste disposal services etc. This government, as with several before, have gone out of their way to demonise tax when they should be relying on it, championing it. People want more money, obviously, but they also want to live in a country that is kept functioning properly, You only need to look at a survey showing that a vast majority of people in this country would back a tax rise to support the NHS. I honestly do believe that if we could see our tax money in real action, making a difference to our country’s infrastructure instead of just lining politicians pockets, then we would have no real problem with it, but to live in one of the highest taxed countries in the world and to have the problems we have is just plain negligence, It is the reason why we are losing our welfare state and our other vital public services, and it’s clear evidence that the government is not listening to and does not represent the people of the UK.

3There is also the divisive subject of national defense, in particular Trident. Now I totally understand the need to defend your nation’s borders against external threats, but you have to ask if nuclear weapons are really the way to go. Mr. Cameron has gone on record as saying that he would have no problem pushing the button, and that Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to commit to such a stance undermines national security. Be in no doubt, this is scaremongering at it’s best. Firstly, if David Cameron were to press that big red button first he would be nothing more than a highly paid murderer. Secondly if the Trident missiles were to be launched in retaliation it would not have been that much of a deterrent in the first place. We are constantly told that the biggest threat to our national security right now (current Labour leader excepted) is So Called Islamic State. They don’t have nuclear weapons, they have propaganda, ideology. There is more chance of an IS member already in this country getting in to the Trident system to launch the missiles on our own soil than there is of us needing to fire them off to Syria, Iraq or any other middle eastern country our government has a vested interest in. It makes no sense. Trident isn’t a nuclear deterrent, it’s a political one – something our government can shake to make themselves look big in front of other countries.

5It’s the same argument as in America – calls are growing louder for stricter gun controls because of multiple mass shootings this year alone, yet the trigger happy faithful believe such a move will strip them of any defense against ‘the enemy’, constantly invoking their second amendment right to carry fire arms – an amendment that was invoked in 1791 when muskets were the weapon of choice, not semi-automatic rifles. Times have changed, war has changed. I wish I could say war will stop one day, but I can’t honestly say that, simply because we’re so damn good at it. We always find an excuse to pick a fight, and as we all know, nothing drives the economy faster than war. So why would we stop? The way war is fought has changed – much more divisive, much more guerrilla-like than ‘the good old days’ of the Cold War. Trident is irrelevant. Even military spokesmen have said this, saying that funds would have greater effect being used on weapons and equipment for soldiers on the front line, the ones in all the conflicts we have our feet in around the world. We sit here and berate the Americans for their stupid, antiquated, 200-year old guns laws, and yet we have exactly the same problem here with Trident. The governments priorities are totally out of touch with those of the people.
wpid-img_20151007_175119.jpgDavid Cameron’s legacy will speak for itself when the political dust has settled around his tenure as Prime Minister. The facts above will break through the spin and innuendo that this Conservative government relies so heavily upon, but by that time it will be too late. Austerity will have pummeled those already in financial hardship. Our hospitals will be run by profit hungry conglomerates rather than care providing doctors and nurses. Our children will be packed in a hundred to a room because of the 50% reduction of teaching staff.

One of my favourite phrases is this: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. So what if it’s from Star Trek that’s how it should be. For so many people that’s how it is. You only need to look at the public reaction to the plight of the Syrian refugees to know that in spite of our own problems, when there are others in trouble we step up to help. Even if it’s just to give a terrified kid a stuffed toy, we step up. Sadly, there is the minority who thrive on secrets, lies, under-hand trade deals and ill-gotten gains. Mr. Cameron and his government has taken that powerful line and changed it to something far more sinister, but appropriate for their view of this world – “The wants of the few outweigh the needs of the many”. Maybe that should be the real New Conservative logo. At least then we’d really know where we stand.

When Humanity Rises

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As we get in to September there will doubtless be many looking back over this year known as 2014 and starting to compile their own End Of year Review. You know the one’s, where we are reminded of various events and facts from the previous 12 months, often using a mildly witty and amusing point of view. Thing is, as I look back from my point of view, 2014 could be seen as, well, not the best year we’ve had. In fact I could go on record and say 2014 sucks. Look at what’s happened recently (no, Wonder Woman’s costume in the Batman V Superman film or someone leaving someone elses ice cream out of the freezer did not make the list. And yes, that was a Great British Bake Off reference!):

  • Escalated conflict in Gaza
  • Chemical warfare in Syria
  • Militant uprising in Iraq
  • Race related riots in Ferguson, Missouri
  • Plane crash and invasion in Ukraine
  • Young girls forcibly taken from their schools and still missing in Nigeria
  • A 9 year old girl killing her gun instructor with an Uzi
  • The Ebola outbreak in Western Africa
  • The mysterious missing Malaysian Airlines plane
  • The prosecution of many public figures for abuse charges, and their subsequent convictions. 

In many of these examples, and many I’ve not even mentioned, you could argue that this year has not been humanities finest hour.

Or has it?

I started thinking about this when I saw this recent excerpt from the Adam Hill fronted “The Last Leg” (Channel 4). For those who haven’t seen the preceding clip, a certain extreme church in America (I’m not even going to write their name on this article as they’ll probably take it as some kind of promotion) announced they were going to boycott Robin William’s funeral. Adam Hill was so outraged, he announced live that he would “personally pay for every member to fly first class to Iraq”. And then this happened.

This is just one of hundreds of examples of basic decent humanity standing up to any form of negativity, any form of hate, and turning it around. It happened when Jon Snow returned from Gaza and put his feelings on YouTube which kickstarted a massive outcry for more awareness to be raised. It happened with the #BringBackOurGirls putting social pressure on Nigerian powers-that-be to find kidnapped children. It happened with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which incidentally caused some in Gaza to do their own Rubble Bucket Challenge. Yes it was a blatant sarcastic jibe at the ALS campaign, but at least it proved they still had a sense of humour!

Humanity is flawed – governed by emotions feelings and beliefs that not everyone can agree on, but as we’ve seen through the various awareness and fund raising campaigns, humanity always rises to the occasion. Many of the events in this year have been of terrible, catastrophic, heinous levels, the likes of which should make us ashamed of ourselves as a species. But it’s our reaction to these events, how we’ve been so outraged by these acts and what we’ve done to make even a small difference to the outcome that proves we do care. We want to be better. We want to do better. As long as we can hold on to that desire, then humanity can defeat it’s own inner demons, and when you see the inevitable 2014 End Of Year Review you will know that we are not beyond hope. 

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