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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

What Can We Really Do?

About a month ago I was sniffing around on the internet, and I saw this:

This video from Channel Four News’ Jon Snow had been doing the rounds on all social media a good week before I stumbled on it. This well respected journalist, usually a beacon of impartiality side-stepped the editorial shackles of mainstream TV news and put his thoughts and feelings on the internet. Watch the video and you can see that his return from reporting on what’s going on in Israel and Gaza has shaken him. You can see it on his face, in his demeanour. Seeing this conflict scarred him. I made the mistake of watching this at work – a mistake as I almost burst in to tears at the sight of the girl with the “panda eyes”. Mr. Snow says in his video that  “our United Nations, our Government, our world, is just not that interested”. That it is “for us, no priority whatsoever to stop”  the fighting. but the fact that we watch the news and read the stories from Palestine means we’re “motivated enough to do something”. Mr. Snow is not wrong, of course we want to do something. Being honest with myself I didn’t know what we could do about this, which is awful because, as Mr. Snow said, “this is the greatest hope the people of Gaza have”.

So what can we really do? Following random feeds on social media I found a link to a JustGiving page raising funds and awareness for the people of Gaza. Set up by London based charity worker Jennifer Robson, her “Pound and a Minute for Gaza” appeal is asking for just that – one of your pounds and one of your minutes, because it only takes a minute to make a difference”. Her target of raising £1000, which she herself calls “ambitious”, is working by using “our social networks to ask our friends, friends of friends, and their friends” to donate their time and money. 


On the evening of Monday 18th August 2014, when a ceasefire was still in place between Gaza and Israel, I got the chance to chat online with Jennifer on her progress. At that point she was at 80% of that £1000 total. She explained that she was, like myself and doubtless many others, inspired by the Jon Snow video. “Gaza had been in the news for a while by that point but that video seemed to be what caught people’s attention”.

She goes on to explain that the funds raised by her appeal will go to Oxfam to help charities within Gaza. (At the time of writing this article official figures 2,016 Palestinians and 66 Israelis have died since the recent Israeli manoeuvres, given the mantle “Operation Protective Edge”, began on 8 July) Given the tough security and sanctions imposed on Hamas controlled Gaza, and the reported monitoring and rationing of supplies by the Israeli forces, a natural concern from donors would be that their cash is going to the right people, and not landing in the hands of the military. “I think with this appeal, that’s been one of people’s biggest concerns” Jennifer agrees. “But I’ve donated to Oxfam before and I’ve read up enough to assure myself that the money is channeled to the front line.  And we can see the impact it’s having in terms of the aid that’s already being administered”. While she can’t see the impact first hand, she is able to follow the progress through the Oxfam Facebook page “which is helping me stay connected to why I did this in the first place”.


The Gaza conflict has of course been in the background of world news for decades, with attacks and ceasefires coming and going seemingly on the change of the wind. Like many other long running conflicts, it’s routed in a complicated political backstory. This was a connection that Jennifer was desperate to avoid. “I tried to write an appeal that was clearly not about picking sides, or debating the politics, but that was clearly focused on the humanitarian need.” She also mentions that some people have chosen not to donate or discuss the appeal because of the politics, sidestepping the humanitarian issue. Following the various forms of western media responses to the conflict, the politics have naturally come up for discussion. Russell Brand and Fox News’ Sean Hannity had an online sparring match. Penelope’ Cruz has been banished from Hollywood for seeming to side with the Palestinians, calling the Israeli bombardment “genocide”. This prompted actor Jon Voight to write his own open letter defending Israel, and condemn any support for the people of Gaza. Most recently “comedienne” Joan Rivers has been the subject of a UK tour ban for her “I don’t care” rant about the Palestinians. All steeped in controversy and very hard to miss, but Jennifer sees this as a positive. “It feels like this is the first time that the Gaza conflict has attracted that type of coverage. I think all of that has played a role in keeping the crisis on people’s radar, which can only be a good thing.”


Most recently media attention has shifted somewhat to other humanitarian conflicts in Ukraine and Iraq. where aid seems to have been made available from the West much quicker than in Gaza. “I think, however simplistic this may be, governments feel greater responsibility for what’s happening in Iraq, and of course they have their own interests located in the territories affected.” I ask Jennifer if she worries that the shift in media attention has or will affect the attention needed for continued support in Gaza. “It’s not headline news anymore […]  but I think that’s also due to the fact that people engaged very quickly with it – sharing and donating – and it’s perhaps reached it’s natural peak.” She also points out that the DEC (Disaster Emergency Committee) had started their own emergency appeal for Gaza which may have taken over somewhat from individual fundraising. Either way, money is still being raised and Jennifer has seen that the conflict is “still very much on people’s minds”.

From the current political instability, fundraising and awareness campaigns, and celebrity opinions, we look briefly to the future. There is an entire generation of people, in both Gaza and Israel, who have probably never known a day of real peace, always waiting for the next bomb to drop. In Gaza it’s well known that the Palestinians are rationed on food and water, and restricted from education. Gaza’s future, even if the missiles stop flying seems bleak. “This conflict has seemed like an escalation on recent previous conflicts, and that worries me too.  The issues preventing a lasting peace just seem so intractable.”

A whole generation may never know a day of real peace.

A whole generation may never know a day of real peace.

As we near the end of our interview, I bring Jennifer back to my original question: what can we really do for the people of Gaza? “Just to donate what they can to the DEC appeal, and if they don’t have the money then just raise awareness. And most importantly, don’t forget.”

Sadly, literally hours since I spoke to Jennifer, the peace talks that were taking place in Cairo, and had been extended three times and lasted ten days, broke down, with Gaza and Israel blaming each other for the talks collapsing. Rockets have been launched, guns have been fired, and more people have been killed on both sides of the divide. You only need read the news, or click on the links on social media to see the varying degrees of brutality, so I won’t go in to what I have seen in the last few days. Suffice to say, the violence has escalated once again, with neither side willing to back down. As money is being raised to help the innocent people caught in the line of fire, and plays a fundamental part in the relief effort, the fact remains that these funds can only help in the short term, it won’t fix the problem. Awareness is the best form of defence for these people, be they in Gaza, Israel, Syria, Iraq or any other place in this world caught up in violence. The best thing we can do for these people, is remember them.

Never forget. 

A full transcript of my interview with Jennifer Robson can be read HERE.

Her JustGiving page is www.justgiving.com/GazaAPoundandaminute

The DEC Gaza Emergency Appeal is HERE

The Oxfam Facebook page is HERE

Interview transcript: Jennifer Robson

The following interview with Jennifer Robson on Monday 18th August between 21:45 and 22:45.


Thanks for agreeing to chat with me. I’ve just seen on your FB profile you did a final push on your Gaza appeal. How’s it gone?

Very happy to chat about it!  I’m up to £792 last I checked, which is incredible. That’s nearly 80% of my (very ambitious) target
What made you want to start this appeal?

It was inspired, as you were, by the Jon Snow video and how fast and how widely people shared it on their networks.  Gaza had been in the news for a while by that point but that video seemed to be what caught people’s attention

And do you work for any charities or was this completely seperate?

It was completely separate but I do work for a charity.  It’s a UK-based children’s charity

You mentioned the ambitious target – £1000 – and you are so close. What’s going to happen to the money?

It will go to Oxfam, who I chose  mainly as, even before the DEC appeal, they were working directly on the ground with those affected in Gaza (and continue to do so)

Do you have concerns about the money getting to those who really need it? Are there any guarantees  that the funds won’t end up going to paying for arms or falling in to the hands of others?

I think with this appeal, that’s been one of people’s biggest concerns.  But I’ve donated to Oxfam before and I’ve read up enough to assure myself that the money is channelled to the front line.  And we can see the impact it’s having in terms of the aid that’s already being adminstered

A lot seems to have changed since we first started talking about this. As we chat Gaza and Israel are on an extended ceasefire, and attention has shifted slightly towards Iraq and Syria. Now it was in the news pretty quickly that aid was on the way to Iraq to help with the latest terrible crisis, and yet Gaza really seemed to take a long time to get that much attention. Do you think Gaza is an afterthought for the public and the media? Do you think the west have a less vested interest in Gaza than they do in Iraq?

I was discussing this with people just today.  I think, however simplistic this may be, governments feel greater responsibility for what’s happening in Iraq, and of course they have their own interests located in the territories affected.  But my feeling with Gaza, in terms of the general public’s response, was that the deeply entrenched politics overshadows the human crisis, and it’s only been in this most recent conflict that the human story has felt stronger, partly thanks to Jon Snow’s reporting.  It’s not headline news anymore but the DEC appeal is still urgent, and the same suffering persists on the ground

Has it been more difficult to keep awareness of your own appeal going since the shift in media focus from Gaza to Iraq?

Yes, but I think that’s also due to the fact that people engaged very quickly with it – sharing and donating – and it’s perhaps reached it’s natural peak.  In my everyday conversations though, it’s still very much on people’s minds Also, I think the launch of the DEC emergency appeal took over somewhat from individual charities’ fundraising, and some people are donating directly to that now

Just reading through the comments on your justgiving site, everyone who left comments have voiced their support. Has there been any moments during your campaign, speaking to people where they didn’t want to support the cause?

Yes, there has.  And in each case it was because it was too ‘political’. I tried to write an appeal that was clearly not about picking sides, or debating the politics, but that was clearly focused on the humanitarian need. However, I respect that nobody is obligated to support it, and indeed that some people may choose to do something privately in their own way

Because the situation has been going on for so many years, it carries that weight. It’s gotten so complicated and I see that some people have tried to over-simplify it. Have you been following people like Russel Brand when he chatted about the reaction from Fox News? Or even Joan Rivers?

I have, it’s been hard to miss it!  It feels like this is the first time that the Gaza conflict has attracted that type of coverage. And I think all of that has played a role in keeping the crisis on people’s radar, and perhaps engaging those who haven’t thought much about it before.  Which can only be a good thing

Obviously we’re chatting amid a ceasefire, and everyone hopes that stays in place and peace continues, but because of the length of the conflict there will undoubtedly be a generation that has known nothing but conflict. Do you worry about the future of Gaza, even if (hopefully) the peace is maintained?

Yes, of course.  This conflict has seemed like an escalation on recent previous conflicts, and that worries me too.  The issues preventing a lasting peace just seem so intractable

This is brilliant thank you. Do you have a closing deadline for your appeal?

You’re very welcome, i hope it’s been useful.  I’m keeping it open-ended as the money is passed on to the charity as it’s donated, and I’d like to reach £1000.  If not, I’m going to top it up myself anyway!

And will you get to see how the money is spent?

Sadly not directly, but I’m following Oxfam’s progress every day on their Facebook page, which is helping me stay connected to why I did this in the first place

And finally, is there anything else people in the UK can do to help the people of Gaza?

Just to donate what they can to the DEC appeal, and if they don’t have the money, then just raise awareness. And most importantly, don’t forget.