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Archive for June, 2020

There’s nothing new about Boris’ New Deal

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The penny hasn’t dropped for many that we are about to go over the edge of a very steep financial cliff. Figures of a 2.2% contraction in the economy in the first quarter followed by early figures of a 20.4% drop in April alone betray a reality that says the UK is economically dropping like a stone.

Of those many, the few who really shouldn’t be there amongst them are the Members of the Government themselves.

Yet to observe the way that Boris, Sunak and Gove are swanning around like they are on the verge of reinventing the economic wheel, it is impossible to conclude anything other than the people running this Country should be the last ones involved.

It takes more front than seven Boris buses to proclaim you are about to be the saviours of an economic crisis that you actually created. But front isn’t something that the Johnson Government is short of. And front is all they have when it comes to covering their tracks.

There was a distinct lack of originality in the thinking that has led to countless job losses, business closures and all the other reckless policies born of the mother of all avoidable public policy travesties – the Lockdown itself.

Now, when we are so very desperate for a change in thinking that will not only save us from collectively dropping any further, but will make the best of the opportunities that the crisis has created, we are instead being treated to yet more shoehorning of old political ideas. This time they come from post-depression American economics and are being pumped into an unprecedented scene where none of the usual or tried and tested economic theories or ideas will apply.

Talk of restarting the economy with huge cash injections and years of infrastructure projects might make great headlines for Boris et al. But these are not the policies that the UK needs as we head into what are sure to be very uncertain times.

The pretence that this mess will be simple to solve needs to be ditched right now. People should to be treated like adults. They need to be told what to expect and be engaged so that they understand that whatever their background, whether they are employees, self-employed, company directors or corporate leaders, we are all in this together and we all have to play a very big part in putting right everything that is now wrong.

To try and give CPR to a system that was already broken before it was thrown under a bus is very cynical. It would be irresponsible even if it were possible to return the economy to where it was before the start of the COVID Pandemic. Regrettably it is not.

With the UK now beyond bankrupt, we need political leadership that looks forward in very different ways and forms. The free market economics that the Government wants to champion only work when there is a fully functioning marketplace that is able to perform.

Right now there isn’t. And what the Conservatives need to do as a priority is rethink what they are going to do.

It doesn’t matter what source or political direction the ideas come from. Getting the UK out of this mess is now all about identifying and implementing what will work.

It isn’t about reading a book, studying classics or looking at the leadership giants of history and cherry picking what you think will work.

The system now provides capitalism for the poor and socialism for the rich. That must now change if any good is to come in the chapter of our history that comes next.

Policies that continue to promote this disparity simply will not do.

 

 

Categories: Covid, National Politics

Fire-hosing Cash into a Broken Economy won’t turn it around

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That the political classes are suffering with serious amnesia over the part they have played in creating this economic collapse would be hilarious if it were not so serious.

That they believe the problems they created can be erased by fire hosing public cash in every direction says as much about their inability to think as it does their reliance on their advisors’ ability to read.

With a diversity of thought that appears to go no further than Cummings reading a book by Keynes, Boris has used the parapet provided by this week’s Mail on Sunday to proclaim that he will pump ‘Billions to get Britain Booming’ and spend, spend, spend on infrastructure projects as if he’s spending his summer out in the sunshine making hay.

The real impact of what the Johnson Government has done may still take several months to hit enough of us and reach the critical mass where the media will openly turn on the architects of what will surely become a dreadful malaise.

They have crippled this Country, our businesses, and our economy with a disproportionate response to a problem that they still don’t understand. But the Government still wants to sidestep the biggest opportunity in living memory to unravel many of the injustices that people in this Country experience day-to-day. Yet again they are falling back on the political view that money is the only tool that can provide a fix.

It is easy to see why they think this way. Former Conservative PM John Major stepped in to say that the UK must borrow to pay for a ‘crusade’ to improve living standards for the poor. You really would have thought that 23 years out of Office would have been enough to understand that washing everything with public money doesn’t make it gleam.

Money can only ever play a part in solving the problems that the UK is facing. It will never be the solution in itself.

Together we are living through an age where we have capitalism for the poor and socialism for the rich. Continuing to use money as the cure for ills will only serve to extend this problem further. It lines the pockets of those who are already rich and lowers the value yet further of the incomes of the middle classes and the poor.

Politicians have got used to treating their responsibilities like being treasurers of some nice country club set in Westminster where all they need do is listen to requests for cash from club captains and the staff, then sign the cheques and watch the upgrades to the course roll out – never having to lift a finger at any point in between.

The big clue to where their responsibilities lie is in the name. Politicians are supposedly there to champion and develop policy. Not just solve every problem based on what they decide ‘we’ can afford, or what they can borrow to make their re-election secure.

Market freedom without regulation of ethical standards and morality, coupled with the impact of transactions that have real-life impacts taking place at distance in the cloud have made the life experience of normal people completely meaningless to those who control the processes and have a grip on the financial levers of life.

Attempts by any politician to address the ills of society without taking on the task of making big business, the banks and the financial sector responsible for all they do will do nothing to help anyone other than those whose interests who are best served without reform.

For politicians to believe that the problems people have are all about the amount of money is an ideological trap. Acting on them only serves the purposes of economists and money men.

The way to help everyone in the UK is for responsible politicians to take back control of the basic cost of living and regulate the way that prices of all things essential to basic life are set.

The aim MUST be the cost of essential food, transport, accommodation, and anything that always contributes to an individual being able to live self-sustainably without help from Government or charity being controlled and maintained.

Once we can all live in safety, without fear and free of debt as an absolute minimum, the UK will have crossed the threshold of all the societal problems that we have and be on the pathway to the ills we share being solved.

 

 

 

Categories: Covid, Poverty

Corruption in Planning isn’t just about financial gain

img_6717Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government Robert Jenrick has been skewered by his involvement in a local planning case in London that circumstances suggest benefitted a Tory donor.

A debate has flared up over the role that Jenrick has played. But beyond the smokescreen that his involvement has provided for the PM, questions have been raised by journalists and politicians alike over the Minister’s interference in a local policy decision. Lib Dem Leadership Contender Layla Moran has gone as far to state on Twitter that Jenrick has gained personally from the transaction and should as such immediately resign.

img_6682Ms Moran could be on very dodgy ground making such a statement if it is read purely in the sense of receiving a financial reward of some kind, and that is precisely the way that her Tweet reads when you relate it directly to the challenge from The Mail on Sunday’s Harry Cole.

When we hear the term corruption, most of us immediately assume that it only applies when there is an exchange of money involved. Yet corruption itself is by far a much more nebulous thing.

The term corruption arguably applies to any transaction in the public sector or government where any preferential interest or misuse of power in public office has been shown.

It is after all the cost of anything that has been done or any decisions made in the pursuit of self-interest on the public or the taxpayer – whatever that might be – that really matters. Because it is the outcome of that influence being applied that leaves the world around us and the experience that we have as mere mortals not turning out they should if all was being played fair that really counts.

The Planning system in the UK is fundamentally flawed. It has been for some time.

Unbeknown to many trusting local people, the decisions they think are being made by local councillors on a planning committee have already been framed by planning criteria that was set up and imposed by faceless bureaucrats in London.

It is therefore not decisions but interpretations of planning decisions that are locally made.

Regrettably, the way that the system is set up pretty much guarantees that dodgy decisions can be made with little scrutiny, simply because of how arduous and costly it is to appeal, particularly when powerful and malign influences or outright stupidity are involved.

As a former Councillor who effectively resigned their seat when they walked away from the Conservative Party over a local Group’s pursuit of a highly controversial planning strategy which was ultimately rejected by the Secretary of State, I am well acquainted with the dubious practices and decision making that defies all logic in terms of planning frameworks.

I may not have seen the passing of brown envelopes between councillors whose votes were for hire. But I am damned sure that with some of the decisions I saw made, there was too much smoke around the whole process and debate for there to have been no fires burning in between.

I have seen it happen frequently in other authorities too. Whilst it will always be very difficult for anyone without adequate power and influence to prove otherwise, the reality is that people in positions of power like Mr Jenrick can absolutely change the destiny of whole Towns, Villages, City suburbs and the people and communities within them simply by picking up the phone – if they so choose.

Yes, the whole system needs to change. But the fix is not so simple as letting Dominic Cummings roll in with the creation of yet another bureaucratic body to make decisions in a democracy that are themselves no longer democratic in any way.

Planning Committees are simply too big and there is too much scope for corruption in the broadest or pecuniary sense to be involved.

Corruption exists throughout government and the public sector. But this corruption exists as ideas, as behaviours, as preferences as well as picking up the phone or sending a letter, and there’s a lot more being lost by the public as a result than any money changing hands – if and when that is the level of corruption that is involved.

Categories: Uncategorized

The false floor economy: when will it fall through?

June 18, 2020 1 comment

Thin Ice

These are strange times. We know that things are not the same as they used to be. Our lives are being governed by a set of rules that seem to be changeable at political whim. We see the rising numbers of redundancies reaching out from our TV screens and know from conversations that many businesses are already struggling and looking ahead hopefully but suspecting that they will go bust.

Yet life continues and even seems to be returning to something like normality before the Lockdown began. The drive thrus are open. We have a choice when it comes to going out to shop or buying online. To listen to the media, it is as though Covid-19 has done all the damage to the economy that it possibly can.

Underlying all of this, economically at least, there is something very deep and very dark going on. UK GDP fell by 20.4% in April alone. High-profile business restructures like that of British Airways have pre-emptively begun and the Bank of England has today announced that it will pump £100 Billion into the Economy.

The people whose job it is to watch for the distant elephants as they cross the horizon are already extremely hard at work.

Somehow however, there is a shared feeling like this is all happening to somebody somewhere else. As if any of the pointers, red flags or warning bells that are telling us that the shit is about to really hit the fan are just another media headline that has been cooked up by story tellers for the benefit of someone else.

It feels this way simply because we are walking together through the existence of false floor economy. One that was created by the Government’s Lockdown alleviation measures such as the Job Retention Scheme and the ‘Furlough Money’ that has been fire hosed at any company or business that employs staff and has qualified itself for a Scheme.

There are potentially millions of people who are today employed within jobs that no longer exist. Employers are keeping them on the books for as long as it is not costing them their own money to do so.

As the Government money dries up or is reduced to a level where continuing to live the lie no longer makes sense, this whole situation will change.

The difference between where the economy is and where it appears to be is significant. As things stand, there continues to be a common belief that things will simply return to how they had previously pre-lockdown been. The media and political commentators who should know better have made it worse by reporting the queues outside shops as non-essential retailers reopened on Monday as being illustrative of the British Economy recovering and the Country getting back to work.

At best, what we have seen this week is the effect of little more than a bubble or overhang from the pre-Covid time that will continue to exist until the impact of the massive recession that we are now sleepwalking into has impacted a critical mass of people that will be enough to push the media to begin reporting in a very different way.

The key ignition points will be when the need for employers to contribute to the existing levels of Furlough Money comes into force at the beginning of August and then when the Schemes have ended in October, when the full six months of this artificial reality that Politicians have created come to their end.

The false floor economy will soon become a trap door for everyone. Not just the people who have already been made redundant or the incredibly significant number of business owners and company directors who have not been catered for by the Chancellors various initiatives. Policies made by a Government in fear of everything other than the consequences of what they were doing for everyone else. They never helped in the way they should, and their only real success has been to hide the arrival of what is going to be a very painful reality for all of us in plain sight.

 

Categories: Business, Covid

The genuine need for Free Meals is something this Government will never understand

 

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The Government U-Turn on providing Free School Meals during the Summer is one that only a different set of politicians could have avoided.

Yes, we have seen Boris led once again by powers outside of his control. But where the Labour Party is concerned, they have also spent many years in power too, never once taking the opportunity to extend provision beyond the end of School Terms.

Political philosophy has become so malleable these days that it is difficult to identify where the left begins and where the right starts.

In fact, so transparent has the motivation of all politicians to secure and then maintain power at any cost become, we have entered a new chapter in British Politics where the leaders themselves are not leading and instead are being led.

Scientists and the Media led the Lockdown. Protests are now leading a national identity crisis. A Footballer has led the policy on Free Meals for Children to be changed.

The increasing need for Free School Meals and support for households suffering from food poverty during the Lockdown has drawn attention to the deepening impact of the Government’s farcical decision to deliberately engineer a recession. But also, to the reality beyond the current crisis that there is a huge demographic in the UK that simply cannot afford to eat.

For reasons unknown, the Conservative Party manages public policy under its control with the clear belief that unemployment and poverty are one and the same thing.

It may not be intentional. But this callous and disengaged approach to social disadvantage in the UK leads the politicians responsible to provide on our behalf for those in need with the idea that once an unemployed person can be recatagorised as having a job, the problem is no longer theirs.

A clear and dangerous disconnect exists where decision makers really have no understanding of what it is to live in poverty. They have no idea of the experience of a life where the simple basics must wait until a payment arrives or often are something that you simply cannot afford.

Indeed, it was very sad to hear the mocking of queues outside of shops like Primark and Sports Direct on Monday when ‘non-essential’ retailers reopened, as I can relate well to what it is like when shops like these are the difference between standing in rags and being properly clothed.

I grew up in a one parent family, in social housing and received Free School Meals. I left school with no qualifications at 16 and could very easily have been one of the ‘statistics’ that this debate has been all about. I went on to become a senior manager with a national charity and launch my own successful start-up when I was 30. But I became a Conservative Councillor and Licensing Chair too and saw the inner workings of what politics, politicians and political parties in this Country do.

Politicians on all sides of the political divides do not possess the experience required to make the decisions that will affect the lives of people other than their own.

The political party system has turned Westminster into a quasi-monopoly that splits three (or four) ways and the majority of candidates endorsed by the Parties do not have the skills or knowledge necessary to understand and empathise with the lives of people who will continue to find themselves going short for as long as this way of doing politics in the UK remains in place.

You cannot fix a problem if you do not understand or will not accept how it was caused.

The problems that riddle society like social mobility, racism and food poverty are simple in their complexity. They require a level of 360 degree thinking and empathy from Government that this political culture collectively does not encourage in any way.

The rot is now so ingrained within the system that Politicians like Boris. Keir Starmer and the London Mayor are all being led by events. They have resigned responsibility for taking the lead without having done the right thing and stepped down.

The Conservative Government of today does not understand that the need for Free Meals for Children does not only exist when children from deprived backgrounds are in school.

Boris may have caved into this amongst other demands since his tenure in No10 began. But the policies that are needed will not be written and the changes that the whole of our society needs for the future will not be implemented until we have a very different type of politician driving it and standing at the helm.

 

Boris’ Commission on systemic racism is a diversion that will not help or change anything

img_6290These are desperate times for the Government. The narrative that Boris is in control of a Country going through a national crisis is still being pumped out through every medium possible.

The truth is the Conservatives are anything but in control and to everyone outside the establishment bubble it certainly shows.

The ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, the trashing of statues and the far-right response last weekend have shown how weak the Government UK political leaders really are.

Events have exposed the truth that senior politicians and the Police answer directly to mob opinion or the loudest voices that the media gives airtime to.

The regrettable truth is that we are at the mercy of whimsical leaders who are not leading but are themselves being led.

Distraction is one of the key chapters of the political playbook that the current Westminster culture relies on. So, it was perhaps inevitable that Boris would start pulling white rabbits out of the hat so he could start telling everyone that he is once again ‘getting the job done’.

Boris has identified that the problem for him to solve is systemic racism in Government and the Public Sector. He has launched a Commission or race equality inquiry, even though like most politicians, he is unlikely to be consciously aware of the cause.

The hard realty that we must face is that if we go looking for racism in Government and the Public Sector, is it will be found as sure as night meets day.

Yet what we are being pushed to accept as racism by the media and by activists is not all that it seems.

We are being sent on a witch hunt for a prejudice that in its most basic form simply does not exist.

All that Boris will achieve by setting up this Commission is give legitimacy to a dangerous yet widespread whim. One that has power to deliver a solution that has nothing to do with the cause.

Commissions and consultative instruments that the Public Sector use have outcomes and solutions that are all too often designed before they have even been launched.

The upshot of what will inevitably be an expensive project will see newsworthy recommendations made and a series of measures implemented, championed as a breakthrough result for all those concerned.

Yet all the Inquiry will really achieve is the creation of more measures and regulations. Making jobs more difficult, creating more distrust and furthering the resentment that many have about so-called rights and diversity measures that sow greater levels of division between people rather than addressing the very issues that they were created to resolve.

Racism exists throughout Government and the Public Sector as part of a much wider problem within society that the rights and measures that were created to address have ended up making even worse.

Laws, regulations and processes cannot address and overcome the way that people think subconsciously. They will not address the many prejudices that exist not only within the workplace but across life itself.

To address racism and all innate prejudices effectively, every one of us would have to become self-aware at a very enlightened level. Nothing less.

Regrettably, there will always be those who use that awareness to further their own cause.

Intelligence used without love and consideration for our fellow man is not intelligent at all.

The only way to begin to address the racism we experience as people being held back from jobs, opportunities and the basic human decency that we all deserve in any situation is for there to be top-to-bottom reform.

Leaders must lead and demonstrate by example how we all should really behave.

Only then will people begin to think differently about the people around them and the interactions that they have.

Legislation and rule books have their uses. But unless people consider them respectfully and accept that they are there to benefit everyone in every sense, there will always be those who look for and will find the ways around them. They will hide their prejudices in plain sight whilst proclaiming that they are furthering this right or that cause.

The upshot of what Politicians are doing in response to the protests and the momentum of Black Lives Matter, is to keep themselves in power and live to blag their way through and make excuses for their inaction and ineptitude on another day.

Until we have changed the political system and removed the cuckoos who sit within democracy’s nest, we will never be able to begin the process of dealing with the real inequalities that the British People face.

To do that, this Government and the Parties of power must be replaced.

 

Welcome to the deadly age of Groupthink where groups and ‘leaders’ aren’t thinking at all

June 14, 2020 1 comment

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Whilst none of the usual suspects have produced work that reflects this from the US, the chances are that when they do, it will show that there has also been a giant leap to the left in political direction since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis Police.

Polling that has suggested that Keir Starmer is already doing as well as the early days of Blair may well be the reflection of this shift without those same questions being asked. This being the guaranteed landslide at the General Election of December 2024 that Labour supporters so desperately want is however a different question altogether.

Social Media in recent days has been an experience to behold. The cancellation of TV comedies such as the ‘Germans’ episode from Fawlty Towers, the planned removal of statues like that of World Scouting Founder Lord Baden Powell and the boarding up of Winston Churchill’s Statue in Parliament Square at the behest of London Mayor Sadiq Kahn demonstrate just how overpowering the Groupthink underpinning what began as the Black Lives Matter protests is. It also shows how overpowered the Politicians and the Police have actually been.

Yet the speed with which this whole ‘movement’ has gained momentum gives the lie to the solidity of the foundations upon which what the leaders of the protests would hope a direction of travel has been built.

When events are studied in as much detail as we might like to think those advocating anarchy have done so before trashing everything that the UK has been built upon, incidents such as the removal of PM Winston Churchill from a Google Search of British Prime Ministers might have at least demonstrated that those responsible were wise and experienced enough to know that the great man had returned for a second term.

That groupthink has become so powerful that an horrific injustice in a foreign Country where police and government operate in a very different way with openly sanctioned gun use by the police and members of the public is worrying enough.

But the herd-like actions of British people who we might otherwise consider to be very intelligent and above all human, to become violent, involved in public disorder, to damage property or even attack the police on what appears little more than the spur of the moment should tell us that we have indeed entered very dangerous times. This is how inexplicable changes to the collective consciousness of whole Countries or an entire race are created and become formed.

The Government is actively doing all it can to distance itself from the decisions that it has made, now that the impact and consequences of the Lockdown are manifesting and finding their way into the light. But he reality is that public unrest has been all but guaranteed to kick off right from the start. It was just a question of when and what it would be that would set it all off.

That Boris and the Establishment are being led by the nose is only too well demonstrated by the delay and pyric nature of the statements that Government MPs all too frequently now make and by pictures like those of the Labour Leader and his Deputy Angela Raynor ‘taking the knee’ make.

A vacuum now exists in the top tiers of Government, the Public Sector and the Police that shows there is a massive void in public leadership that is begging to be filled. Not by Black Lives Matter or anything else which has so far only really made sense to an inexperienced and emotional few who are desperate for the World to make sense. But by whatever is coming and will come very soon that achieves a critical mass in opinions across society because no matter how hollow, it makes collective sense and comprehensively connects.

For those of us who want and advocate genuine freedom for every one of us to be who we are and be all that we can be without anyone else being able to impose their own ideas of what that looks like as a framework upon us first, these really are very troubling time indeed.

We don’t have leadership in Government, nor across this Parliament as things stand. And whilst this particular dynamic of MPs remains seated and the British Political System remains broken, our future may be imperilled by whoever manages to start talking the right talk, get a media platform and start reaching and engaging the masses with the most clear and compelling voice. Because sadly, as we can see from the front benches at Westminster today, it is more often than not the case that empty vessels make the most sound.

 

What Makes Anyone Racist?

June 12, 2020 1 comment

Of the words and actions most noticeable during the riots, protests and unrest that has followed the death of George Floyd in the USA, it has been the trend to use some process of transference to make just about anything relevant to the anger that protestors have by branding it as being racist too.

A significant group of mainly young people rightly feel disenfranchised from a system that cares little about who they are, where they are from and what they do.

What they do not realise is that beyond Westminster and the Establishment system, we all feel this way. We just have a different way of looking at the World because we have had more time looking and thinking about it.

Groupthink has taken over to such an extent that racism, like many other isms that represent prejudice against certain groups is now being identified and attacked like it is a conscious, considered and deliberate dark political philosophy.

Yet racism and all these innate prejudices that so many of us unwittingly carry are a basic animalistic or intrinsic level reaction to difference.

Too many of us possess prejudices against others for the world to be as fair as it should be. But few are self-aware enough to understand and value the differences in the way that they feel about others and everything that appears to be outside of them.

We do not like anything that is different to the image and perceptions that we have of ourselves. As we look outwards. the easiest way to define or differentiate ourselves against others is by the colour of our skin.

But that same process works at different levels and in different ways with wealth, sexual orientation, race and nationality, level of education, social standing, demographics and even our view and approach to any gender different than ourselves.

Difference is important because it is the easiest way for us to define ourselves and our state of being against others who will then either elevate within our perceptions so that they stand above us and we look up to them – perhaps as celebrities and people we look up to, or we use as leverage to elevate and place ourselves above them and look down upon them – perhaps as if they have no value or do not qualify to have the same things or same experiences that we do in some way.

The recognition of differences between us and the process that goes with it runs like a background computer programme. No matter what anyone might say if they are challenged about the innate prejudices that they may or may not have, few will really be able to identify the real cause of what makes them prejudiced and the assumption will remain that it is either a cultural thing or they have been conditioned in some way.

Prejudice works in all directions too. A viral spread comes into play where the racism or prejudice about one will be mirrored towards everyone who looks or behaves similarly in some way.

The flow of prejudice is not one way and cannot be defined so simply as the oppressor is racist to the oppressed as the intrinsic reaction of the oppressed is to be equally racist about their oppressor(s) too. The harsh reality of what protestors are doing is that they are practicing an inverted form of racism and prejudice too which is invariably just as bad because they are accusing whole sets of people or professionals of being exactly the same, often in very sinister ways.

Confirmation bias is a big part of the problem too and steps in at every opportunity that it can. Any behaviour or action that can be interpreted negatively to reinforce that initial feeling of discomfort and doubt which was genuine, grows automatically and evolves itself at an emotional and therefore highly charged and dangerous level too.

As we look outside ourselves, it is rare that we realise or understand the way that we are constantly being conditioned by the media and by the world around us to think and behave. But it is the behaviour of the media that opens the floodgates that allow prejudices to come marching in.

The process is very nuanced and begins at a level where there is either extreme positive prejudice or on the negative scale, there is simply none.

Think in terms of how you view the actions, behaviours, misdemeanors and even crimes of the people who are most like you. Your family.

No matter what your family members do, can they really do any wrong? Would you stick up for family members and fight their corner because you know and trust that they are intrinsically good, no matter what they do?

If family are level 1, then your friends and the people you most closely align yourself are level 2 and within these groups you will overlook differences because whilst you have a good relationship, you see them as being the same as you. ‘You make allowances’ in the same or a similar way, and there is a bizarre reality that whatever you are used to in life becomes normality and it is everything else beyond that normality where your prejudices will be found.

As you look at what could be a series of many levels the differences increase too. We look for the easiest way to stereotype, identify and anchor those differences and skin colour is probably one of the easiest that we will ever identify.

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When you have watched a video like that of the ‘arrest’ of George Floyd, it is easy to understand how so many can conclude that racism is a very conscious and highly malevolent act and that anyone who can be deemed to be racist must either be punished or have their behviour changed or doctored in some way.

As Hanlon’s Razor says, we should “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”.

Whether it is the people who project or behave in ways which we consider to be racist, or it is those who look on and accuse them of being racist, it is a hard truth to accept that it is mostly stupidity or downright ignorance that makes all of us prejudiced about others in some way.

Solving the problem of prejudice should never have been easier than it could be today.

But what we collectively fail to understand is that the championing of difference and the messages that are crafted to promote the interests of any group with the aim of promoting equality makes the differences between groups even more profound.

The message being heard is that we are all different and need to be the same. But it is the people who are not in these groups that are the ones who are wrong to be different and that it is they who must now change.

If we really want to have and experience the kind of equality between all peoples, all races and all groups in each and every way that we can, we will have to be led and inspired to understand, believe and live the reality that differences between us are nothing more than perceptions and that whatever they might be, we are all, collectively equal and we are fundamentally just the same.

It is all about creating a condition of familiarity and conscious acceptance of difference that can only be facilitated if we learn from every angle that the differences between all of us are no big deal from the start.

 

 

 

 

 

Our leaders aren’t leading. So who’s really in charge?

The one thing that many people in leadership positions fail to understand is that if they are having to look outside themselves for every answer,  they aren’t leading anything at all.

Events have led to reactions by the Police and Politicians which they all believe are examples of good leadership.

Two Metropolitan Police Officers ‘took the knee’ to show they were ‘with the crowd’ a couple of hours before their colleagues were attacked.

Keir Starmer and Angela Raynor provided Twitter with their fully choreographed version on Tuesday afternoon too.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees did a grand job of making an Interview with the BBC about the drowning of Edward Colston’s statue all about him, whilst Sadiq Kahn has pretty much picked up the phone and had a Slaver’s Statue in London’s Docklands removed overnight.

Since the weekend itself, Boris has rolled out Home Secretary Priti Patel to talk tough at the Despatch Box whilst he has provided plenty of the baffoonal bluster over the topic that he has now become renowned for.

Left or Right, supposedly impartial public servant or politician. What all of these actions share in common is they are not acts of leadership. They are the actions of people in positions of responsibility with a remarkable level of power to do something good, but are instead being led by the mob.

Covid-19, The Lockdown and Social Distancing has taken over life to such an extent since March that the Black Lives Matter protests feel like they have come completely out of left field.

From this point of view, some would argue that these actions are an appropriate response to the public mood. They are not.

As Boris did with the Leave Campaign, with the pre-Covid-19 phase of his Premiership and his response to the Coronavirus Pandemic too, these actions are opportunistic. They are responsive to events and what people are already doing, rather than defining a direction of travel and being used to inspire people to think differently before these supposed leaders then back up the words with action that can really deliver and get things done.

What we are witnessing through the absence of leadership during all the events that seem to be taking over our world is all symptomatic of a systemic rot.

The mealy-mouthed words and platitudes to Black Lives Matter haven’t been constructed with any great thought. These are not the sentiments of people with responsibility who care about the injustices within our own society, let alone any place else. They are about managing the fear that these individuals have for the loss and threat to their own positions, about the safety and reduction of risk to themselves, and in the case of the Politicians about ensuring re-election just as soon as they can.

Police Officers and Politicians are not appointed to demonstrate that they are one with us. They are appointed to show impartiality, integrity and an ability to think beyond us as they go. that will allow normal people to go about and enjoy their normal lives knowing that they are safe and being looked out for in ways of every kind.

We expect the police to watch over us and maintain the interests of the common good.

We expect the Politicians to translate the events that are happening into words and meaning that we all understand, make sense of it and then lead and inspire us to all be better in our relationships with others wherever we can.

We expect public servants of all kinds and at all levels to do the things for us all collectively that we as members of the public simply cannot.

Right now, The Government, The Opposition, Local Politicians and the Police are all failing us and failing the mob that wants to inflict its own form of justice on us all by erasing history as a part of what they do.

Nobody can lead when they are already being led. The people that we have elected to lead us along with those who have been appointed to watch over us are all being led by events.

It is the crowd and the media that sensationalises their actions that is leading our leaders today.

Those who are leading our leaders are being led not by any form of experience or logic. They are being led by emotions and responses to the events of a cruel world that with the right leaders in power for the right reasons, they should and would never have to try to understand.

The lack of leadership that is the result of a broken political system has just about circled itself once more. It’s anyone’s guess what will happen when all of this hits the floor.

 

 

 

 

 

Do businesses make staff redundant now or delay using furlough money until October?

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The Financial Measures that the Government implemented as a follow up to the Lockdown are a piecemeal response to a universal problem.

Even now, organisations such as Forgotten Ltd are fighting to highlight for a response from the Treasury over the lack of provision for Directors of Ltd Companies forced to stop or severely reduce trading, losing their incomes as a result.

They are not alone. There are many people already suffering in silence from the impact of the Lockdown.

As the so-called help from the Government is reduced and then stopped, there are going to be many more.

Of the businesses able to apply for ‘furlough money’ under the Job Retention Scheme, many jumped in as quickly as they could, knowing only too well that if their turnover ceased or was severely reduced, it would be the jobs of employees that would be out of the door first.

In principle, the Scheme well for companies employing significant numbers of staff who are paid around the average wage. Or at least that’s how it seemed before the realities of what the Government has created with the Lockdown began to actually sink in.

What is not being reported in the media yet, is that all sorts of unforeseen consequences are beginning to unfold for business.

One business I am aware of that employs around 750 people has began to end furlough, re-starting around 200 of their most qualified and experienced staff. They have already concluded they are achieving 40-50% of normal productivity and turnover with just 25% of the workforce and they are now re-evaluating their business model, even before the coming recession begins to kick-in.

However, the wider marketplace has changed overnight. Jobs that were needed and even considered critical until March no longer exist on the whiteboards in the boardrooms. But because the Government is paying the wages – or the biggest part of them, they will technically exist until October. That is unless Business Owners, Directors and Managers turn away the ‘free money’ that the Government is providing for those staff until and bring forward mass redundancies now.

At first glance, it is easy to conclude that if a job no longer exists and the Company knows this, they should make those staff redundant now and stop claiming the money from the Government.

But life is seldom as straightforward as it looks at first glance. We must be careful over how and where the answer to what is fundamentally a question of morality, wholly dependent and conditional upon where our own perspective lies.

With the Spectator Magazine, the dilemma that is at work was put into full force yesterday when Chairman Andrew Neil announced that they had done much better through the Lockdown than expected and had decided to give all their Government Furlough Money back.

Kudos to the Spectator as far as the fortune of their current position goes. But an elaborate form of virtue signalling like this – no matter how genuine the reasoning might have been, in itself helps no-one. Simply, because for too many other businesses, the decision they make over the money they claim and pass on to people who are currently on their books have real-life outcomes involved.

Yes, it is Public money that the Government is handing out. But the Government created the Lockdown in the first place.

No, an employer shouldn’t claim money from the Government that it doesn’t have to spend. But they are doing nothing legally wrong and after October, the many thousands if not millions of people living on furlough money today, may find themselves beginning many years without jobs.

What is very clear is the Government has entered a minefield of its own making where it could and should have made the effort to really think these things through.

A universal problem requires a universal solution.

We should have been given a a simple one, rather than the complicated one that we have got.

Nobody should be falling through the gaps in provision. Nobody should be made to feel wrong or guilty for taking any or all of the help that has been offered when they didn’t choose to stop trading.

Taking whatever is on offer is all that they – and many of their employees – have still got.

 

Sturgeon: Any path to Scottish Independence will do

These are strange times politically. The key players on the political scene that we do have are shining out. But the real news or the opportunity to flag it still sits very snugly under the cloak of Covid-19.

One of the political heavyweights that we should perhaps be paying a lot more attention to than we are is SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon who really does have to be flagged for how effortlessly she manages to turn every opportunity she is given to make it all about her.

When I say her, I of course mean making it all about Scottish ‘Independence’. Because frankly, that’s all the SNP Leader is about.

Whilst the viewing figures are now dictating the demise of the daily briefings from No10 – albeit only from air over the weekends, the public interest in the Lockdown and Social Distancing is clearly waning, it wasn’t always the same.

Indeed, it was notable from the start that once the SNP Leader had managed to create enough media attention to get a seat at meetings with Boris in No10, she then deliberately went out of her way to abuse the trust or protocol of the arrangement and make unilateral announcements that to the untrained eye looked like real leadership whilst she was deliberately making every attempt to show up the actual PM.

It would be a challenge for anyone to criticise Sturgeon for trying to big herself up into looking like a world statesman when that’s pretty much what all of the current political class does.

However, the track record of the SNP beyond their collective attempts to reflect any interest in their own unfolding legacy in Scotland by criticising everyone and anything else is something to behold.

Indeed, if the SNPs track record with leading the Devolved Administration was showing their form of Government as a beacon of integrity, diligence and putting public need first, we might all struggle to be critical of anything that they do.

All we see instead is the passing of the buck when there is a problem, without fail carefully placed in the vein of Westminster does it worse than we do or something along those lines. Whilst anything good that happens is immediately owned as if the Westminster Parliament’s signature on the UK Taxpayer’s Chequebook has zero to do with anything that the Scottish Parliament can do.

Devolution was of course the bastard child of the EU, regrettably administered, re-wrapped and rolled-out by Tony Blair and the 1997-2010 New Labour crew.

All this form of localisation achieved was to take more power away from the Scottish people and place it in the hands of yet another set of politicians who are in it for themselves.

Just like Blair and the Remain-obsessives who are doing all they can to make the Coronavirus Pandemic yet another re-run of the question of Brexit and Leaving the EU, the SNP see their best chances of glory being aligned not with the destiny of their own people, not even with Independence from the UK or anyone else, but with that of the EU.

 

 

 

Solidarity is not reprisal.

img_6200Very few things make me stop and think quite the same way that the video of looters in the US attacking a shop owner who pleaded with them to stop did so on Monday.

Yes, we can all understand how angry and frustrated normal Americans feel after seeing the way that George Floyd was treated by Police. But crowds making themselves judge, jury and potentially executioner over the proxy offenders they have appointed help no one, least of all themselves.

Nothing justifies an aggressive and violent response. No matter how bad in one particular moment of time those who feel they are being oppressed or mistreated as if they were the victim themselves might feel about what they have heard about or seen on TV.

Fear drove the actions of the Police. Fear drives the actions of those rioting and looting.

The reason that Government systems around the world aren’t working and people of all backgrounds feel injustices like they do is that the politicians in charge are driven by Fear too.

Put yourself in the shoes of a leader for a moment. If your aim is to maintain the appearance of control, which scenario is more likely to unsettle your mind, question your resolve and really make you think twice before you act next?:

  1. Rioters across the US burning cars in showrooms, attacking police and shopkeepers, causing as much damage as they possibly can
  2. Hong Kong residents continuing many months of protest against a regime set on removing their freedom without damaging anything
  3. Thousands of Colorado protesters lying face down on the floor with their hands behind their backs for 9 minutes simply saying ‘I can’t breathe’.

Those that have taken the law into their own hands in the US have handed the initiative straight back to Donald Trump – who had until this week been on the back foot because of his handling of Covid-19.

No matter how broken the system might be, physical reprisal or retaliation at any level simply returns the power to those who appeared to have it all at the start.

Through reprisal, you simply hand your power back to them as you crash to the level below.

The alternative is genuine solidarity. But genuine solidarity is a thinking mans game.

Solidarity is not reprisal.

Solidarity is being the voice and the peaceful action that makes a statement without inflicting any kind of material or physical cost.

In Colorado what do you think the authorities who were in fear of a mob reaction were thinking when the violent protest they expected never came and they instead found themselves observing a peaceful protest that marched straight into their minds instead?

Solidarity has the power to make the perpetrators of injustice and oppression know that they are wrong.

Reprisal against them just gives them the opportunity to demonstrate to everyone else that they were right and you were wrong all along.

The World today is a fragile place. Peace, whether between communities, people and authorities or between whole Countries themselves is no longer a given – if indeed it ever really was.

The Coronavirus Pandemic is changing the field of play around us whilst we stand upon it. We must all start to think differently about what is happening and the roles we can and should play. 

 

What will the true cost of the Lockdown be for our kids?

June 1, 2020 1 comment

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As the ties loosen, shops open, horse racing returns and we dare to hope that the pubs will be open before the end of June, the questions that have been troubling many for the duration of the Lockdown are finally finding their way into the news.

It is troubling that only after 9 weeks of the Lockdown have senior Tories recognised openly that there may have been a related increase in abuse for children vulnerable in their own homes.

The voices speaking out against the Lockdown from the start are a comparative few to the number today. But the realities and consequences of a universally-applied Lockdown with a piecemeal response from the Chancellor were openly being discussed back in March.

What the suicides, job losses, bankruptcies, cases of abuse, evictions and a seemingly endless list of personal tragedies that have yet to unfold all have in common is that they will be suffered most often only by individuals, their families and the people immediately around them. These are not stories that will make the mainstream news.

Yet there is one story that is very different to all of the above. That is the question of the impact that the Lockdown is having on our children, their education and what home schooling for the better part of half an academic year is going to involve.

It was disturbing to learn that a Union boss has gone on the record over the weekend to evangelise that Teachers deserve their full summer holidays on the basis they have continued working ‘flat out’ to ensure that the children continue to be taught.

I dont know what parallel universe this so-called representative came from, because it is does not contain the same world where I and many parents like me are from.

Children of all ages and from all backgrounds are completely switched off to education today, and have been since the Lockdown began.

It is impossible for parents to replicate the school environment in the home – no matter how motivated they are to do so, unless there is ongoing proactive intervention from teachers and educators, sufficient enough to keep education and learning real for their students during a period that has been confusing, unnerving and completely strange for adults and children alike.

Some teachers are getting it right. They are using all the great resources at their disposal to get the messages and encouragement through. Yet in the majority, these diligent educators represent not the state system, but the Private Schools that the very same Unions would like to see destroyed.

The disruption to the learning process and backwards leap for children who will only get this one chance aside, the psychological damage that children are suffering from having the life they understood switched off like a light, taking their friends, grandparents and many others out of their lives in one stroke will be very VERY profound.

As adults, 9 weeks of this strange reality have passed very quickly. But to a 9 year old, 9 weeks are an eternity that makes what we perceive as a temporary change, one that feels very permanent indeed.

Parents are beside themselves. They can see what the Lockdown and the withdrawal from life is doing to their kids, but they are dependent on those with responsibility providing the way out.

The majority of parents know it would be much better for children to be back in school learning. Because the benefits of consistent education far outweigh the risks from Covid-19 that only Unions and those with a vested interest in pursing their own agendas are still choosing to see.

 

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