The travesty of Tuition Fees was the commercialisation of education, the myth of qualification-related Social Mobility and the creation of lifetime debt for those who can least afford it

November 5, 2018 Leave a comment

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Somewhere, there was a cheer last week. Quieter than the Government was expecting. Bringing noises that didn’t sound quite as expected.

Yes, the dropping of Tuition Fees does sound good. But the question we should all be asking – just as we should have when they were first brought into being is ‘at what cost?’.

Living in the age of political idealism made manifest as we currently do, it is all too easy to get distracted by the noise from the media as new public policies are launched.

We fail to look beyond and see the true consequences of what the Government of the day is doing with our money, and what the legacy – and yes, what the fallout will actually be from everything they do.

The creation of Tuition Fees was one of the biggest travesties of them all, simply because it all sounded so good, whilst the negative impact and knock on effects across so many different areas of policy were simply too-far reaching to justify anything about it which was tangibly good.

The UK’s Education System has been failing us all for a long while anyway. But the impact from Tuition Fees was never going to deliver much that really helped anyone in the way that the genuine concept of equality in education for all really should.

That so many former, existing and future students are now destined to have a lifetime of debt must surely now be a given.

Yet it is through the accompanying shift of emphasis from quality of teaching to fee-generation and profit alone within the Further and Higher Education Sectors which has secured the Blair era one of its darkest, yet most unrecognisable legacies as the true cost of ‘degrees for everyone’ becomes manifest and begins to become widely known.

It should come as little surprise that the leaders of the Institutions in these Sectors are now worried that a restriction on Fees may begin a process where ‘struggling’ universities are set to close.

That is the true price of making education a business, where money should never have been the target of a reprioritisation of direction. And certainly not in a place where the benefit to the student, our industries and the National interest itself are so very closely entwined.

Beware the siren calls and suggestion of this being an attack on Social Mobilty too. Academic qualifications have only ever been a very small part of what it takes to get any one person through the perceptual barriers which hold so many people back. Whether they be school-age students, young people, graduates, career changers, returners or retirees, we all have a part to play in everyone else’s future too.

The reality is that the State should pay for everyone’s education. But in doing so, we must be practical and realistic about how access to education is applied and how much benefit is derived to us all from the provision of each and every course.

We must recognise that there is just as much value to be gained by opening up truly vocational opportunities for the less-academically-inclined at the age of 14.

And that as a result of doing so, not only would we release many young people from the painful and unnecessary realities of being in debt, we can also exploit the opportunity to create a parallel track of time-served and experienced trainees to support all of our businesses in a way that the obsession with degree level education has all but denied.

It would be far more sensible to begin this process of change now, accepting that neither the student nor the Nation itself can afford the process of awarding superfluous and non-beneficial degrees. And help the Sector to change through reform, rather than through a process brought on by necessity, which is what is currently sure to happen, if Politicians continue to think that money is the only benchmark by which the future of education can and should be defined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Welching of Brexit finally comes into view, yet there is still no sign that the Cabinet will stop May’s intent to sell us out and set it all in stone as she does

November 5, 2018 2 comments

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Understanding, exploiting and manipulating the flaws of basic human behaviour and voter psychology has been one of the key strengths of the EU from the very start.

Strategically, EU Leaders have long known what has been required to make a United States of Europe an irreversible dream.

Until Brexit, the EU had achieved a near perfect record of doing so.

Yet, in the bizarrest of circumstances, it is our elected leaders and the civil servants around them who have and are doing all the work to ensure that Europe’s supranational club of control is delivered across the UK.

Even now, the Prime Minister, armed with the knowledge of how all of her so-called negotiations and the Chequers debacle have been received, is still working towards the outcome of a Brexit in name only.

Theresa May is banking on the prospect of what she now tells us is Brexit being accepted as so, simply on the basis that time and the war of attrition which has been waged by the Establishment against all those who voted to Leave will have finally worn us all down.

Reading the articles in yesterdays and today’s media, it has become only too evident that the Prime Minister believes that she has achieved her own plan for us to accept whatever truth she herself defines as Brexit as being the very best that we can now expect to get.

With so many different examples of May being outed as committed to a manipulated form of Remain, then let off the hook, just to come back with the very same set of proposals just in a differently worded form, we should have been able to hope that by now, the more genuine of the Politicians around her would have already stepped in and pushed this very contemporary form of treachery to one side.

Whether Trident Tongued Theresa’s triplicity is based on ignorance, stupidity or something far more maligned, there is no way that anyone should be the Political Leader of this Country in circumstances like we find ourselves now.

The Prime Minister is clearly in no way prepared to stand up for our interests, and is committed to selling out not only her own, but the futures of all of us, whether we are young or we are old, to a supranational state which is systematically succeeding in its aims by ‘legally’ removing all processes and apparatus which can be used to identify and facilitate our independence and by which our legal sovereignty can be maintained, if not defined.

That wording is even being considered for a so-called ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ which could be legally interpreted as leaving the UK permanently tied to a Foreign power, their influence and yes – leadership, is at its best the underhand act of someone with only their own future at heart.

It is certainly not the act of any Leader who has a true understanding of the EU strategy AND has accepted that their first loyalty and commitment is to the people who put them in power, rather than to the idealism of a broken ideology whose mast they have selfishly tied themselves to and continue to be inclined.

Within the frenzy of ideas seeking to delegitimise the result of the 2016 EU Referendum and our Democratic decision to Leave Membership of the EU, few of the speakers scrambling over each other in the race to get their voices heard even hint at recognising the true magnitude of the events which they are helping to fuel as they develop around them.

And as we enter the week which sees the 100th Anniversary of the end of the War which we are taught as being the end of legitimised European Empires and the trouble that the leaders of such monoliths bring, our own Prime Minister is looking to sell us out irreversibly into yet another.

The consequences and reality for future generations of seeking the exit from the influence of Foreign power that they inevitably will, may well include the experience of such similar horrors that in the modern day could become even far more profound.

It is not too late to honour the contract and instruction placed upon Government by the EU Referendum Vote and Brexit.

Yet we must hope that someone, somewhere in a position of influence and power will now finally step in and stop May and the self-serving who dwell around her, before this mess and the trouble that is destined to come for us all as a result is fixed and firmly set in stone.

Belief that cannot stand up to scrutiny or ridicule is a problem for the believer, not those who question it

November 3, 2018 Leave a comment

BeliefLike many people, most of whom remain very quiet and even tight lipped about it, I have a growing difficulty getting my head around the growing fashion for attacks on anyone who questions or ridicules any of a certain set of ideas and beliefs of others, whilst people exercising those same beliefs appear free to inflict them on everyone else, even though they are doing exactly the same thing.

Ask anyone how they would feel about having to keep their own views quiet for fear of being intimidated, ostracised, attacked, having their career destroyed or perhaps a lot worse, and very few will argue the benefits of being in such a perilous situation.

Yet turn that position on its head. Question people with a fixed set of beliefs about how those who don’t share their views should be treated and few of the responses will come out through a mirror which should unquestionably leave the outcome looking exactly the same, albeit in a projected form.

Belief, or what we as individuals voluntarily perceive as the world around us, how it works and the systems we have been conditioned to view as the bedrock that underpins it, is to all intents and purposes, the lifeblood of how the human world operates and functions.

Whether it be the extreme of a religious calling, the fashion trends that we follow, the eating plan that we have adopted or even what forms the basis of our basic road sense as we look to cross in traffic. Our whole experience is underpinned by a series of different beliefs.

Many of these beliefs, such as what happens if we place our hand in a fire are shared.

Others, such as Leaving or Remaining in Europe, what constitutes cruelty in terms of animal welfare, or who is the best film star to have ever lived are very much our own, even though we may appear to share them with others.

The former group, that’s the ‘what happens if we run in front of a car’ type of belief, is a practical, accepted or universally accepted basic truth. One which we will rarely question, and when it is, we would not feel a sense of being put on the spot ourselves or that our own experience is being called into question, because we know it to be true.

We simply have no reason to feel that our views or our integrity are being questioned when it comes to universally accepted basic truths, because we know that to question them is itself based either on ignorance, stupidity, or a reason which once investigated would make sense and never be deserving of a disproportional response.

To be in the latter group however, is to be in possession of beliefs based on our own truths, the sum of our own experiences, and could only ever be arrived at by someone who had walked exactly the same path, had the same conversations, seen the same events, been in the same places at the same times, and interpreted the words, teachings and views of others in precisely the same way as we have ourselves.

Oddly, the reality of the latter set of beliefs in others and what the differences present actually mean are increasingly being overlooked, and considered by a growing number to be of the same value as a universally accepted truth.

They see their own views as being above scrutiny, and of such legitimacy that they must not be questioned by others or ‘non-believers’ on any account.

Reading that back, it sounds more likely that I am writing about the Spanish Inquisition or the logic of the Albigensian Crusade, than I am about the behaviour of the Social Justice brigade or a frightened 21st Century Western Establishment bowing to their every demand, because the prospect of doing otherwise makes them too afraid.

But the transfer of unqualified personal, private belief into the realms of legitimised, common accepted truth is now our dangerous reality. One that we must put in check, before the lack of understanding that underpins it begins to dictate everything in the world around us, how we all behave and everything that we do.

This week we have seen a British Magazine Editor step down for making thoughtless comments in an email about Vegans. Yet another incident which overlooks questions about the role of the accused, the accuser and the ‘court of public opinion’ which has subsequently become involved.

You can be sure there has, is and will be a whole lot more incidents of this kind.

Underlying such events is a commonality of errors. A vein of social misdemeanours and blunders which I am afraid to say have, are and will be at some point committed by us all – often without even a hint of deliberate intent. And none of which we would ourselves be likely to find warranting of any form of punishment or unnecessary trial-by-media of it were just a universally accepted basic truth which was involved.

That some can react so very badly to the direct or indirect questioning of their own beliefs is not itself wrong. But such a level of response to that question, whether it was posed in the form of ridicule, analysis or any other form of scrutiny, does itself ask fundamental questions about how strong or indeed comfortable that individual’s own belief in the subject under question might actually be.

Anything perfect, which cannot be disputed, doesn’t need the protection of any form of belief for it to exist or for it to be maintained.

Belief is what you make it.

Cheltenham & Boots Corner: When things don’t add up, questions need to be asked

November 2, 2018 2 comments

BCWith the Boots corner closure remaining firmly in local minds, the Council attempts to write the concern off as nothing more than the views of a ‘vociferous minority’.

Regrettably, this is how Local Government glosses over disquiet in the UK today and hitting the spot when it comes to overturning undemocratic decisions is a very hard thing to do, as the whole culture has evolved to protect itself.

In reality, even elected Councillors that do have their local communities and constituents at the heart of what they do, can find it an almost impossible task to get the right questions answered, as the system is geared to allow the close-down of unwelcome debate.

That said, persistence is the greatest ally in achieving worthy aims in Government, and if you keep asking questions, and then the questions which then follow any answers that you might get, the right result is far from being impossible – even if it doesn’t arrive within a timescale that you might find comfortable or like.

If I were representing people in Cheltenham right now, there are a number of questions that I would immediately ask. I would anticipate having many more, depending upon the answers I received or found. They would be as follows:-

Why has Boots Corner been closed?

Whilst it sounds like the answer should be obvious, it isn’t. BUT it is in the interests of the Council and/or whoever benefits from the closure for members of the Public to think that it is. Be sure not to fall into the trap of reading or listening to opinion, such as the article in last Sunday’s Observer, which framed the whole issue as being about pollution. That is just a useful excuse that takes the debate in a very different direction and is designed to make the real issues subservient to those that are in vogue.

Who or what is the driving force behind the change?

Is it the whole Council? Is it one of the Political Groups? Is it Officers? Were there Consultants involved? If there were Consultants involved, who paid the bill and what was the Brief?

What is their reasoning and motivation for the change?

Why now? What do the changes to Boots Corner really achieve? Is the reasoning given the full story, or is there more that we should know?

Who are the real beneficiaries?

Who stands to benefit from the changes at Boots Corner? What will those benefits be? What evidence was used to suggest that these results would be achieved? What modeling was used? What real-life examples were used and how do they relate to the very idiosyncratic nature of Cheltenham’s Road Plan?

What else is happening which is related?

There’s no such thing as coincidence. What else is happening on the same timeline as the changes to Boots Corner? What bigger Strategy is at work?

How did the Council reach the conclusion that the change was necessary?

What was the process within the Council that led to the decision to make the changes at Boots Corner? What is the chronology and timeline of the events that led to it? Who was involved in the process? What influence did each of the Parties involved have?

What evidence or tests being met will confirm the change as permanent?

The changes have been portrayed as being temporary or as a trial. What evidence will be used to decide if the changes at Boots Corner should become permanent? How have those levels been defined? Who has defined them? Who will write up the final Report, Conclusions and table the Proposal for the Council to decide?

What has been used as the basis of those tests?

Where did the ideas or methods come from which have been used to define these tests?

What has changed?

What has changed since the last time the Council and/or other Local Authorities considered closing Boots Corner and decided not to?

What is the long term Strategy?

 Is the closure of Boots Corner part of a much bigger plan? Does the Council intend to pedestrianise the whole of the High Street and Centre of Cheltenham? Is there something on the horizon that isn’t Publicly known?

What consultation with the Public has taken place?

Did a Public Consultation take place? If so, how was it carried out? What questions were asked? Who took part? How many people took part? What were their responses? What questions were raised? How were those questions answered?

What consultation with local businesses has taken place?

Did a Consultation with businesses take part? If so, how was it carried out? What questions were asked? Who took part? How many businesses took part? What were their responses? What questions were raised? How were these questions answered?

What consultation with Developers and Landlords has taken place?

Were Developers and Landlords consulted? What role did they play? What influence did hey have?

What influence has the arrival of the John Lewis store had on Boots Corner and other changes to the Town Centre Traffic system?

Has the arrival of the John Lewis store and its opening this Autumn had any influence on the Council’s decision making? If so, how?

Who designed the current plan?

Who designed the revised traffic and/or road plan to facilitate the Boots Corner closure? What modeling did they use? Why was that modeling considered appropriate as the basis for the changes?

What work was undertaken on traffic displacement modeling?

What work was undertaken on traffic displacement modeling? (Literally, what were the recognisable alternatives for drivers?) Where are the plans and figures showing where the traffic would go when Boots Corner was closed? How do the Council know what alternatives people who used to drive through Boots Corner to access the North of the Town Centre and beyond would use?

What steps were taken in response to the traffic displacement modeling before Boots Corner was closed on 28th June 2018?

What steps were taken to address the impact of the traffic re-routing which was going to take place after the Boots Corner closure BEFORE it actually took place in late June?

All of this information should be available in the Public Realm, but it is far from an exhaustive list of questions, and I am sure that many more would arise as you go along.

The primary sources of information should be the Minutes of the Meetings of the Full Council and also any of the Council’s Committees which have been working on or ‘overseeing’ the Boots Corner changes.

This is where all of the decision making, the reasoning and the evidence that supported it should be open to Public view.

If not, Freedom of Information Requests (FOI) should enable access to anything else that isn’t disclosed because it has taken place outside of Public Meetings.

Please Remember: The Boots Corner Closure is a matter of everyday Public concern. As such, legitimate questions should always be answered when asked or presented appropriately. If the Council and any party involved has been fair, balanced and done everything properly to ensure that the best interests of local people, businesses and anyone it has a duty of care to are served, they will have nothing to hide and everyone working on their behalf will be as open and helpful as they can be. They certainly wouldn’t need to rely on or have reason to resort to ridicule or any other form of personal attack as part of their response – whatever the medium.

Mutual Aims:- The basis upon which a real people’s party would have to operate, function and aspire to genuinely succeed in UK Politics today

October 24, 2018 3 comments

MA3There has been much talk of a new Political Party being established in recent Months.

The idea has been branded ‘The People’s Party by the media. But whatever it might turn out to be, coming from the same old, same old world of British Politics as it is today, this name would be at best misleading, because the Public would simply be getting more of those same old things.

To be a genuine people’s party or party of and for the people, any new or reformed political grouping wishing to live up to the expectations of this title, will have to consider, address and deliver on a number of very difficult, but nonetheless key things.

For a genuine people’s party to be successful, their work will not just be about policy alone.

A real people’s party will be all about direction, principles, adaptability and always being mindful and accommodating of the real needs of all of those who form the entirety of the UK population. The place from which all UK Politicians draw their responsibility through the Vote.

Here follows an overview of the key areas where a real people’s party would have to focus its efforts if it has the genuine intention of rein-franchising not just the people that any one party would focus its call for support from, but for every one and every part of our entire population. Each and every Member of the UK Community – one and all.

Politics in the UK today isn’t working for anyone but the Politicians themselves

As I write in mid October 2018, UK Politics has been taken over by Brexit.

Everyone in politics is obsessed with their own ideas and plans, and their interpretation of what ‘Brexit’ actually means.

Many of the political class are simply too busy to see how they have become completely detached from their responsibilities to the Electorate – that’s doing what is right for people like you and me.

We, the normal people outside of the Westminster, media and the political bubbles, feel completely disenfranchised by everything going on around us.

We feel detached from what is going on not only at National level, where we continually find the news and social media out of touch with how we feel. But at local level too, where we are increasingly seeing public services slashed and decisions made by local councils and public service providers that are completely out of step with how we know things should really be.

We have a Conservative Party in Government, but not ruling.

We are led by a Prime Minister who has no idea how to lead.

The Prime Minister is surrounded by a Cabinet of ambitious Ministers who will not put the Country before their own desires to put off governing properly until a ‘safe’ opportunity comes for each of them to launch a campaign to succeed her.

We have an Opposition led by a dangerously idealistic Marxist, who gained the Labour Leadership on little more than a whim.

An anachronism of a time gone by, this is a protest politician who by doing little more than romanticising the values of a philosophy that talks the talk but only delivers pain, has changed the face of the political possibilities. We witness complete incompetence given credibility, and by some very unfortunate mix of luck versus misfortune, a career-backbencher has found himself in perhaps a once-in-many-generations position where the failures of others could see him make the once ridiculous reality and achieve an electoral win.

The answers coming from within the political sphere and the Establishment itself, raise even more questions than they answer.

On the one hand, there is the call for a Referendum on the result of a Referendum which was very clear in what it means. A new Referendum seeks to overturn that result. It’s not sold as that, but that’s exactly what it means.

And then there’s talk of a new ‘people’s party’, being born from the ‘centre ground’. The current or portrayed realities of a self-centred collective, constructed of all of the Political Party’s disgruntled Remainers. A place where the arrogance of a noisy few, set against the genuine will of the people, is manifested in the belief that all they need to do is rebrand themselves to be perceived as being different – yet a process which they are likely to pursue.

Politicians have completely lost sight of why they were Elected, and what the role of being a Representative of the People actually means.

The British Political System is completely broken. It is filled with people who only understand their own words and meaning.

The System is currently incapable of responding to the change that we all need from politics, so that its not just the Politicians, or the Political Parties, but all of us who are experiencing a real ‘win-win’.

Change has never been needed so much, whilst seeming so very far away

The Remainers or ‘centrists’ considering that break away from the Political Parties that only serve their own needs when they are themselves winning, are certainly correct about one thing.

They are right that there needs to be a new political movement. What makes them wrong, is that a new political movement needs to be all about change.

A new political movement needs to be very different and not just something else based on the kind of politics that we are all so very fed up of. Rehashed and rebranded, with the same value set and basically the creation of self serving politicians, in their own image, and created only for the purposes of allowing them to win.

Whilst we are seeing lots of arguments, gestures and words about being different, the people in power now have lost credibility.

They need to rethink the way that they see the worlds of the people they represent from a very different vantage point.

They must accept that the ambitious but necessary task of changing the British Political System is now very unlikely to be the kind of change which can come from within.

The kind of ‘change’ that we do not need in the British Political System

We don’t need any more of the same.

We don’t need the same politicians doing what they have been doing all along, rebranding their ‘new look’ as being different, when its all about them, the people who support them and gearing every decision towards winning the next election. There is already so much work to be done to address all the mess they have made since the last one without stopping for breath in between.

We certainly don’t need the creation of a new ‘people’s party’, only constructed from the Politicians and ideas that already exist. Yet another ‘club’ for the select few, created only to convince the majority of the British People through subterfuge, that when they Voted for a clean Brexit, they were wrong.

The kind of change that we do need from a political party which is going to do the right things

We need a new political movement that cuts across all of the political divides. That crosses the perceptual barriers of politicians who have become bogged down with political philosophy, with tribalism and forgetting what working for the people is actually supposed to be about.

When Politicians are thinking about everyone, there is no left. There is no right. There is no centre. There are no extremes.

There are just a great many different people, experiencing very different lives, with the genuine expectation that Politicians will rule and create policies for the benefit of everyone, rather than getting bogged down with ideas and focusing only on each and every divide.

We need leadership that understands the people that it seeks to lead. Decisions made which are respectful of all the realities which underpin the diversity of all our life experiences. The creation of thoughtful and intelligent policies that consider the overlap with all others. Recognition that addressing the causes of issues as well as the effects of them is the way to ensure fairness and success in public policy – The just aim upon which all political priorities should be founded and underpinned.

We need Politicians to get real. To get with a completely new script. To embrace a change which is not of their own making. Change that is not top-down in its thinking. Change that looks at reality from the grassroots up as the basis of affecting a real positive and cross-demographic transformation.

Above all, we need a model of being, which moves away from the obsessiveness of the political classes to be in control of absolutely everything. An agenda that identifies a direction of travel, a set of aspirations, standards and responsible guidelines to apply to all policy making, rather than getting stuck on every small detail.

We require a political system that will inspire and empower public servants to be all that they can be. To do their jobs properly and to not be obstructed by the fear of falling foul of a rights and political correctness. To be mindful that serving the public is not about personal gain, what looks good, or by avoiding any form of real responsibility, and that by deviating into the realms or protectionism and self-service, they will always be disadvantaging the people they serve.

How a real people’s party will get us all there

To get there, we must be practical about how a real people’s party would have to work and what approach it would need employ to achieve this.

To begin with, we must recognise what is wrong, what the fix will look like overall, and what steps must be taken in Politics for us all to succeed.

The reset requirement – It’s recognising that almost of the problems we have as a Society are about the way that we all think

Everything is relative to our experience.

Some of us feel like things are good.

Some of us feel like things are bad.

Some of us look beyond our own experiences; beyond our own bubbles to the experiences of others and to the realities of lifetimes around us, that we ourselves have never had.

Whether good or bad, everything we do is connected. It is easy to overlook or be unaware that when we ourselves gain a benefit from something, someone else might be losing out as a result.

It’s all a question of distance, whether we perceive that there is a human impact as a result of anything that we do, and whether there has been an impact upon somebody we have time and care about as a result.

Relationships are at the root of everything

The interconnectivity of the world today has already introduced significant distance between people, whatever the relationship between them might be.

Communication and the rise of the Internet is dehumanising relationships, putting reference numbers and categorisations in the place where simple humanity, care and thought for others and the impact of our decisions up until very recently would have been.

When we interact with our friends, families and the people know, we think and behave differently.

These relationships are based on interaction. They are real, they are tangible and above all they are human. They require us to employ the code for the people who are familiar to us and that we care about, that each and every one of us has developed as the way to live.

But once this familiarity is removed, we overlook the presence of this very same reality for everyone else outside this bubble of our own too.

We forget that the need for care and consideration doesn’t just disappear into the ether, as soon as knowing someone personally is one or more steps removed.

When we don’t recognise the value of others as being human, we place no value on the impact of the decisions or actions we take that have consequences for them.

Whilst modern technology and the diminishment of our communities is accelerating this process, it is nonetheless an age-old mistake to make.

A World around us that doesn’t care

Today, this behaviour is being acted out on a grand scale.

It has led to the world around us behaving very differently.

Far too many people are unaware of how making unnecessary profit or higher wages for themselves personally, is likely to result in making things harder for others, particularly where government or a third party interest like a business is perceived to be a middle man, making it very easy to forget that ‘real people’ are still involved.

Many of these self-focused people don’t see the impact or their actions played out around them – so their decisions are only made on the benefit of what is perceived as good or beneficial to them.

In life there are examples of this type of behaviour all around us, and it is regrettably all too easy for us to overlook it when it is behaviour of the people we consider close to us, or behaviour of our own.

To understand the impact of the unnecessary harvest of benefiting from the plight of others, or profiting without adding value to a product or service, we can cast our minds to one example, where things look different, but are relative and very much result in the same things.

The bankers and union bosses who take but don’t add value

Bankers and people working in the financial sector make money by creating debt.

They profit from someone else’s misery, and legally too. But they do so because the distance between them and the people they are exploiting means they have no concept or idea that the instruments or tools they create are pushing up prices for everyone else everywhere, causing distress, pain and misery.

Yet at the other end of the spectrum, Union leaders push for strikes, pay rises and action, framed as ‘it’s them against us’, whilst the impact of wage rises on employers, the frustration and worry caused by delays, the cost of living for others and price rises on the high streets are too easy for them to forget

These two seeming extremes may look different. But the thoughts which drive these actions are relative to the individuals and are very much the same thing.

Aims and principles, not just policies

Becoming an electable force is all about creating a manifesto for change.

A plan which is real because it has direction and cannot be tripped up simply by mistakes or misinterpretation in the way it implemented or rolled out.

Policies themselves must therefore be steps. Not the anchors upon which change itself is rested upon.

Policies must be open to change when they don’t work, further development when they do, and be receptive to all forms of criticism too.

Policies must also be interactive and made consultatively and with consideration for their impact upon other policy areas, without isolation and being collective in consideration and at every thought.

Aims, principles and therefore a genuine constitution are what a real party of the people will need to be secure in its direction, to be certain it knows what it is working to deliver and to be robust and adaptable enough to negotiate whatever terrain and environmental changes it might encounter as it seeks to evolve experiences as seamlessly as possible.

Fundamentally, the priorities of a real people’s party must be about the people, being committed to delivering something better for all. Being aspirational whilst also being practical and recognising that in a world built with free will, you cannot jump from where we are to where we want to be without taking many steps, some of which may resemble very different forms and directions on the roadway in between.

Aims and Principles are therefore the guiding lights that a real people’s party must use, choosing not to be misled by the devil in the detail, allowing through many forms of misinterpretation and interference for genuine direction to be overlooked.

 Law for Law’s sake

A legitimate people’s party that wants to deliver positive and far reaching change which will achieve real balance and true equality for all, will have no option but to tackle the rights lobby and the infliction of political correctness on almost everything that we now do, see and understand.

A real people’s party will also have to strike a balance between the forms of regulation and legal intervention that is required for the greater good, whilst removing the mass of bureaucracy which has not only changed the business landscape, but has been a constituent part of the modification of our culture and behaviours throughout.

A genuinely civilised society must have a framework of law to ensure that people are safe and able to thrive.

But beyond the basic requirement of ensuring that the right of any one individual or small group should never come before that of the wider community, that freedom should only exist as long as it does not come at involuntary cost to others, either in thought or material deed. However they may be applied, rules should only ever be used when there is practical need.

Everything else should be left to common sense, to people taking responsibility for themselves and their own actions, and the real time judgement of an impartial judiciary rather than using case history to create precedents upon which completely different circumstances can be viewed on a basis which is both inappropriate and wrong.

Increasing regulation and over regulation leads to decreasing levels of responsibility.

There exists a growing cultural phenomenon where regulating everything provides the perfect excuse for participants to see themselves as devoid of personal responsibility for anything they do that isn’t already regulated for. They do so on the basis that anything which isn’t covered isn’t regulated, and therefore isn’t covered by the Law.

At a time that so much distance exists between people who are interacting and engaging in relationships of all kinds all of the time, the need has never been greater to encourage and reengage people with the idea that they are personally responsible. That their actions cause reactions and have consequences. That whatever they do or whatever action they might take, just because a law or regulation doesn’t exist to cover a particular act or behaviour, the absence of a rule is not a get out of jail free card and certainly doesn’t make it right.

The saturation of regulation that we have in settings ranging from academia to the workplace, covering everything from how we must treat people during recruitment to the rules covering what bankers can lend as opposed to what they must have access to has allowed far to may people in positions of influence to behave irresponsibly, and to do so with impunity, well knowing that they can be seen to be doing what is expected of them by the rules – and that as such, what they are doing is actually right.

For a real people’s party to deliver on the aim of creating the kind of environment where people can live on a basic wage and do so without having to resort to getting into debt, or progress in their lives, being socially mobile and cross barriers without interference from people who have their own agendas but work around the rules, it is the responsibility of that party to create the environment where prejudice and greed are voluntarily extinguished, rather than a continuation of coercive attempts to do the same.

Brexit offers a significant opportunity to achieve the delivery of an environment where a belief in the good of everyone as part of the wider community exists. Where prejudice is reduced to nothing more than misplaced thought as a reaction to the perception of difference – which in truth is all that it is.

Many of the regulations which have created so many of the cultural problems that we are now experiencing in the UK have been introduced as either a direct or indirect result of EU legislation.

Nobody should be under any illusion that overturning rules which have been sold as being beneficial because they sound like they improve people’s lives will be easy.

Without manipulation or coercion, and by simply doing what is right, people will soon conclude for themselves and understand that no form of positive discrimination is delivered without there being negative consequences, often for many others, on the other side.

The role of Money

If rules and regulations are one of the key challenges which will face any truly legitimate people’s party working for the benefit of all people, the other will be addressing the impact, influence, role and perception of money which at one time or another, we all get completely wrong.

Within just a generation, virtually every profession you could name has lost its pure focus upon ethics and quality of delivery. The lines have instead been blurred for many operating within them by a juggling act between what is expected or what is considered ethically good, and how much money can be justified for doing what they do.

This is part of a fundamental problem for our wider Society which is closely aligned to the issue of the meaning and application of ethics itself.

However, it is also influenced by the lack of control and regulation on profit making from Government. Inaction which has also resulted in the growing presence of agents or brokers introducing themselves needlessly into supply lines, raising profits but adding no value as they do so.

This whole sorry affair, based on an obsession with money is having a significant effect on the cost of living for us all and is making it virtually impossible to create an environment where a genuine living wage could be identified and then maintained.

The freedom of markets from control and responsible capitalism are not mutually exclusive things

There is nothing wrong with wanting to do well. To have a good life and have the money necessary to allow that to happen.

But seeking far more than you could ever need for your own comfort only contributes to sucking money out of the system.

It raises all costs for everyone else who instead of hoarding, are no longer in the position to pay for what they have been used to having already, let alone being in the position to enjoy any more.

It is the prices at the top of the chain which set the financial values on life at all levels below and there is more than enough to go around.

Ethically, the drive to earn ridiculous amounts of money has been facilitated by the lack of regulation on a financial sector which is legitimately allowed to print its own money, creating profit from misery as it would be known if it were viewed directly in a non-monetary form.

Lenders and the sectors or industries they support push many normal people into debt by taking value out of transactions where it doesn’t exist, whilst using money that they never themselves ever had, and then push the same people into other forms of debt just so that they can service, or obtain whatever their diminishing salaries now fail to provide.

The financial industry and the sectors which are aligned with and support it are now farming people for debt.

This is a legitimate racket which must be closed down and de-sanitised by a party which is really working for the people, which respects the benefits of capitalism and growth, but in legitimised forms and not are simple forms of one person making profit by exploiting and riding off another persons back.

The role of Political Philosophy must change to one where ideas are a guide or reference tool, rather than being seen as a way of being

As soon as the word ‘politics’ is mentioned, you will have surely experienced that internal jolt that reminds you where your political loyalties lie.

Many of us are conditioned in our political biases by our upbringing. By the people we mix with and ultimately by the environment that we work in. These are all influences that help us to decide which political direction we are likely to target our votes in.

But how much do we really understand about the political philosophies which underpin key Political Parties like the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats?

How much do these ideas really influence the Parties and the way that they are run and what they do every day, rather than being just forms of words that they can use as a backdrop, or more cynically just as a message they can role out at Election time in a blurb which is designed to help them win?

The reality is that the philosophies which underpin, Conservatism, Capitalism, Liberalism, Socialism and regrettably Marxism too, are not practical plans for running a Country or putting problems right.

These ‘Philosophies’ are simply ideas which are based upon the outlooks of very academically inclined or theoretic people, created within very different periods of history and circumstances that are nothing like our own, and in almost every case were idealistic prose which had no understanding of the practical outcomes of applying or imposing them by law in real life.

A good example of how a very basic situation can be completely skewed and effectively rewritten as something completely different comes in the form of the European Referendum Vote, which by a majority gave the instruction to Government, that the UK was to leave.

Within a matter of days, and after the coining of the term ‘Brexit’, what was a direct and simple instruction had morphed into ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ forms, as the Establishment, the opinionators and the thinkers attempted to create meanings which had never before existed, simply because they were motivated to find another route which would suit their own aims. One which they could sell as being that of others, well knowing that their own plan had never been meant by those others as any such thing.

We can learn much from reading and understanding the works of people like Adam Smith, Keynes, Marx and John Stuart Mill.

But their writings were just a snapshot, and not a blue print for implementation in another era and time.

Like all academic work used responsibly, these writers inform, guide and help with practical application.

But these writings are teaching tools. They are very much open to very different forms of interpretation in how they might or could be used in practical plans and should not be considered as either a blueprint or process. They are a resource, nothing more, and there is no benefit beyond.

As we look across the political platforms, and consider what ideas and motivations lie within them all, we can soon start to see that there is much commonality in the depth and background of thought.

It is just the language used and differing communication, wrapped in tribal dress which can encourage us to love a certain perspective of an idea or a policy, which presented differently by others would provide us with nothing to which we wish to respond.

The Political Party System in the UK today has driven wedges between all of us, because Electoral success is derived from the politics of difference, not in working together and using what we actually have in common between all of us, which could in turn be used to deliver something meaningful for all.

What is common between all of us together, can always be used to bring us together as one

To be successful, a new Party of the People would recognise and embrace the true forms of commonality between all of us.

By establishing itself on the basis of what has already been identified as the difference between the ideas that drive it and other existing Political Parties, no matter where in the political spectrum they are perceived to exist – whether left, right, somewhere in the middle or out on the extremes, they will immediately fail, because the priority is not about people, but the gaps and thin air which sits in-between.

Taking ambition out of politics

Passion and ambition are not the same thing. Yet ambition can be misinterpreted as passion and being passionate in your ambition is essential when its all about getting a win.

Politics today has lost its way.

Not because the idea of government and public service is any less valid that it ever has been.

But because the politicians within politics have forgotten what public service is meant for and what being an elected representative really means.

It is regrettably the case that we have reached a point in time where people rarely enter politics to do something beneficial for their communities or the people who elected them.

People don’t seek election to a public decision-making body because they are motivated to deliver something better for all.

And that’s the way that politics should be, with the only ambition being that everyone should be able to feel that they can win.

Politics has become a career pathway, and a system has been created in which the participants are only subservient to the Political Parties which nominate them to represent Seats.

Members and the Seats that they should represent are seen as little more than pieces in a jigsaw to the Leaders of that Party, in a game of arithmetic in which the highest sum of seats, rather than the will of the people is the figure that wins.

To reconnect people with politics, create engagement and policies which really consider what should be, how it could be and what happens to those not directly involved if it is made to be so, a real people’s party must overturn the current view of politics.

A real people’s party must exist on the premise that the politicians that represent it cannot be in politics purely for themselves. They cannot be interested in only making decisions which are beneficial to them, to their careers, or in winning the favour of anyone else they believe will help their ‘career’ and support them to win.

Being a representative of the people is not a right and it is not a job.

Being a representative of the people is a responsibility and a privilege. One that should only be available to those who can see that responsibility to the people who elected them for all that it really is.

A genuine people’s party will be conscious of what it really is.

A real people’s party will be a framework to support the work of politicians who are focusing their efforts on working together, not for personal glory or the next electoral win.

It will be a support network, there to help committed representatives of the people to deliver hard decisions. It will recognise what it takes to win on behalf of everyone at the end when the objective is reached, rather than losing sight of the big picture and becoming obsessed with the small details in policy battles, which litter the roadway in between.

Great politicians and representatives of the people offer the greatest benefit to their constituencies through the accumulation of their other experiences. Through the time they have spent accumulating knowledge of the wider issues around life. In developing the communication and interpretation skills which enable them to explore, to understand and to interpret the experiences of others which they themselves cannot have, and to make reasoned analysis of the many grey areas that sit in between.

A genuine people’s party must select candidates for elected offices based on what they can genuinely offer and bring to the party and its way of being, which is to improve the lives of all people and be beneficial to all.

Selection should never be made simply upon how applicants present themselves or what they can show on paper as a currency which the shallow minds within the Political Parties of today see as qualification in their own image.

A real party of the people will never overlook the true needs of Voters and what it takes a good politician to be representative at all levels. Whether that’s dealing with a constituent who doesn’t know who collects their Council Tax, or managing a fraught relationship with the foreign minister of another country who is demanding that all of us surrender our culture and sense of being, placing our heritage and history in the bin.

A true party of the people, must cast aside any process of diminishing the responsibility of new entrants and be mindful of the responsibilities which each politician has to their own respective seat, rather than demanding a level of loyalty which gives the lie to the idea of democracy itself.

Compromise is not necessary when motivation and delivery are about what’s in the best interests of everyone, rather than just of those directly involved.

 Yes, politicians must group together for the purposes of getting things done. But if decisions are made mindfully on the basis of what’s best for everybody, all will be supportive.

 A new world – Respecting rather than surrendering to technology

One of the areas that a real People’s party must quickly come to populate with ethics and guidelines is the online world.

Today we live our lives in parallel universes with two totally different sets of rules. But there exists a dangerous imbalance of influence which sees the dehumanised rules of relationships created in the space of distance, back-flowing into real life from the online world.

Chaos is the natural state of everything. And when a world of chaos exists in overlap with one which was seemingly ordered, without safeguards being put in place, and through an increasing state of entropy, it is the chaos coming from the other unordered side that will overrule and win.

The aims of a real people’s party must respect the way that the world has changed and is changing, but must also shift the cultural perception that the online world has no barriers, because if it does not do so, then no barriers will exist in between.

Such an approach would be catastrophic with the ever increasing rate of rise in new technologies which are making contact with everyone and anything very simple. But with currently very little in the form of governance to ensure the safety of all, whilst encouraging developments and growth, we desperately need safeguards and devices which create balance.

The EU – Having friends and trading partners is one thing. Losing control quite another. We can only deliver true power locally, if we bring it back properly to its true source and where it begins

Very few of the Politicians who currently represent us genuinely understand the relationship that we have with the EU, and what Membership of the EU actually means.

There is a complete disconnect with both the history and detail underpinning events right from when and how the idea of a United Europe was created, to how EU Policy and its legislation is created and then implemented right across the Block of once independent Countries that now make up its Membership.

Power is steadily being taken away from the people, and centralised not in our capital cities such as Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh or London. But beyond the reach of us all in the European Centre of Brussels where democracy doesn’t exist.

However, it is not enough simply to rely on Brexit to deliver the level of change which the no vote against EU Membership instigated.

It wont.

Not because its not the right thing to do. It is, but it is little more than just a policy step and there is much more that a party of the people could realistically do.

Power must be brought back to as close to the people as it is possible to do so. Not through the creation of additional and meaningless additional political structures such as police and crime commissioners and regional mayors which have already had too much time and must go.

But by bringing real power back to County Councils, Boroughs and Districts and to the Towns and Parishes at the most local level, where people can be involved most closely in day-to-day decision making on behalf of our communities, instead of leaving decisions to be made under the umbrellas of polices made in London by people who will never experience the fall out from their ideas, which without practical understanding should be back for determination in our localities instead.

Those who argue that the EU is about democracy and people do not understand the affront to real democracy that it really is. Sold as being about peace standards and equality, its true aim is little more than centralised control. Yet the rise of political parties has done much of the same thing too, and this is why Brexit should only be seen as a step in the right direction and that direction must be bringing real decisions that will effect us on a day to day basis back to the level where those decisions can be made by me and by you.

The Electoral system

If the focus is shifted back to representation of the people, rather than selecting a party machine selling a raft of policies which are only relevant for a brief snapshot of time, First Past The Post (FPTP) will once again demonstrate how it is best suited to the needs of a real democracy.

Proportional Representation will only ever suit the needs of people who are only obsessed with getting elected so that they can impose ideologies on us all, and wherever possible without ever having to come to us for a meaningful Vote.

Proportional Representation is a travesty and a tool created to work the Political System. Popular only because Politicians are failing us all with policies and ideas that we don’t relate to and which are completely out of touch.

A real people’s party will bring power back to the people through genuine representation. Through power being given back through decision making at the correct level and as close to the people as it is practical for it to be. And by ensuring that the best people are elected to represent other people and communities by prioritising the needs of the whole community on an ongoing basis and not by being what appears to be the best choice on one day and behaving like you can do what the hell you like and call it in the best interests of everyone on the other eighteen-hundred-and-twenty-five.

The Executive

A real People’s party will accept that one of the greatest but most meaningful challenges that they will have to face will be the reform public services from top to bottom.

A genuine people’s party will need to do this in order to ensure that government always working for the benefit of everyone is not simply another aspiration which can quickly be written off or denied.

The executive parts of Government, that’s the Civil Service, the Offices of Local Government and the roles which exist throughout the massive number of QUANGOs* must be refocused, reformed and re-tasked in order for a People focused Party to succeed.

Public servants must work within a non-protectionist culture that like the elected offices of this way of being encourages responsibility for others to be accepted as a privilege, not one where public service is treated as a myth, and roles exist as fiefdoms where blame for anything can be passed on to others with no worry about costs, which right now have escalated up into the sky.

*QUANGOs = Quasi-non-government organisations. These are the grey-area organisations like the Highways Agency, The Environment Agency and the Food Standards Agency which are jam packed with civil servants undertaking key work on public things, but effectively run without being answerable to anyone democratically elected.

The role of Media

One of the key elements of making politics what it should be for a real Party of the People, will be restoring the role of the traditional and main stream media (MSM) to carrying wholly factual news, rather than the overproduction of quasi-news programming which presents unqualified opinion and bias as qualified fact.

The assent of fake news as an issue has much to do with the role of the MSM being blurred with the developing role of social media channels where pretty much anything goes.

Well known stations have done this to chase headlines and clicks, which itself is more of a reflection of what commercialism is all about.

But it is not the responsibility of politicians to play up to this, and any collaboration in news sensationalism must be removed as a key part of the communication platform of a real People’s party so that the definitive line between factual transmission and fake news can be restored.

A system where an embargo system allow news channels to consider and even comment on speeches before they have even been delivered and have reached the public domain gives the lie to the legitimacy of the whole thing.

The cosiness has to stop, so that full public trust can be restored, and decision making on behalf of the public no longer viewed as a celebrity game.

From the Grassroots up

Above everything, a people’s party in government will remember and be mindful of one key thing. That every single person in this country has the same value and is as important as the next.

It is easy to become distracted by success, wealth, celebrity and popularity. But these states of experience or being are all transient at best.

Their prioritisation leads to consequences for all. Instead of judging the state of society by how people live and therefore influence at the top, a real People’s party will use the benchmark at which those who are experiencing their most difficult times in life, have had their lives defined.

Quality of life must be defined from the grassroots up.

It’s the metaphorical process of growing from seed to fruit and doing everything to nurture and provide the ideal environment for all who are so inclined.

A Real People’s Party will succeed by understanding and embracing the true reality of Mutual Aims

Ultimately, the priority of any genuine people’s party, should be to fulfil the expectations of the responsibility that they have been given, within the timescale which the electoral system has defined.

Put simply, if a People’s party Government has a five years term their priority should be the fullest commitment on the delivery of priorities, not the next election and the manipulation of public opinion in relation to everything that happens in between.

No matter what difficulties or challenges that a Government might encounter during the period of its elected term, if it is doing everything that it can to meet its responsibilities, its electability at the next election should be a happy consequence as a result of their actions, rather than just being a prioritised and all-absorbing future outcome.

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Small decisions have BIG consequences: How the outcome of the Brexit process could resemble nothing anyone intended or anything that has already been seen

October 19, 2018 1 comment

small decisions

One of the biggest items of fake news reaching our screens and pages right now, is the idea, suggestion and misconception that Brexit must now come back to the People in another Referendum or ‘Peoples Vote’ to somehow make it legitimate or fair.

On 23rd June 2016, the majority of Voters taking part in the European Referendum, a genuine ‘Peoples Vote’ instructed the UK Government that our collective and democratic decision was to Leave Membership of the European Union (EU).

Contrary to repeated suggestions by many parts of the Remain camp and actions such as making challenges in the Courts and distorting the facts underlining both the Leave and Remain Campaigns and what has taken place since, the Vote was fair. The Leave result was genuine. And yes, 17.4 Million members of the Electorate of this Country did know what leaving the EU means.

However, an outcome is rarely an event in itself.

An outcome is usually the sum total of a chain of many different events or decisions leading to them, which can result in the outcome itself looking, feeling or being nothing like what the original decision directed. The result could resemble something far from what was was intended, and what it should have meant, simply because of decisions, influences and actions that enter the chain in between.

In normal life, this evolutionary process is often natural, influenced by many factors added on the way along, which are not intended on the part of anyone involved. They sit completely outside of our control and often lead to outcomes very different to what had been at any point planned or intended, but the result is overlooked, because the non-contrived and unforeseen parts of life have been introduced to the picture as we have travelled through.

Where things go wrong, particularly where big, political decisions are made, is that when a clear outcome from a process is defined, somebody or many somebodies either deliberately, or indeed unintentionally attempt and perhaps succeed in exerting influence on the process leading to that outcome.

They take action which ultimately leads things to a very different place from where they should have by that point have been, whether part of the legitimate plan, or whatever was their own. Different, because whatever the intention, once an action has been undertaken, the consequences in such circumstances are often completely out of anyones control.

Brexit is one such outcome. An outcome which is likely to look very different to what was intended when people Voted for it and equally very different to what those who have been trying to frustrate it have been intending ever since.

Whilst we obsess about the future and what we think will happen, we habitually base our predictions on the snapshot of now. We overlook the events which contributed or created the pathway which brought us to this point in time right now, which with different decisions and influences could have already looked very different indeed.

We also overlook what pandering to the noisy fears of idealistic people without vision or responsibility could deliver in terms of the final destination, if the real priorities of our EU departure are not kept in mind and the direction of travel kept patently clear.

Brexit, and the decision which demands its delivery in its genuine sense, wasn’t simply created on that night when the Votes of the EU Referendum were counted in June 2016.

But just as the UK Leaving the EU as the result of a Referendum wasn’t foreseen in the days of Thatcher, it doesn’t now mean that there is a trouble-free license to interfere with, redirect or invalidate the will of the British people when it comes to delivering the Brexit process, by manipulating the pathway to delivery at every opportunity in between.

Looking back on the events since the UK joined what was the Common Market, it is worth considering since the last days of the Thatcher Government, how each event and small decision surrounding Government has resulted in the cumulative outcome which is Brexit today.

The Brexit result did not come about by design although many Leavers would now leverage the benefit of hindsight to say ‘We told you so’.

Yes, there was every reason to believe that the UK would ultimately exit the European Union through some kind of fracture like an economic crash or the destruction of the Euro. But nobody either within the Leave contingent or the Remain-led Establishment itself really thought it would be a democratic plebiscite which would drive a wholly different, yet legitimate wedge between the UK and Membership of the EU.

The point to consider, whether your bias is Leave or Remain, is that no matter the nature or motivation of your intention, when you interfere with a process or take a course of action where you are attempting to dictate the outcome, you can neither predict nor control what the final result or outcome will actually be.

These words of caution are aimed at anyone who is, has or will attempt to manipulate the pathway or destination of Brexit.

Brexit is a genie that is completely out of its bottle and the result of all the bad choices, deliberate deceptions and meddling is going to take the UK to a destination which has not been anticipated, cannot be controlled and will never again resemble a place in the World where even recently we may have been.

The first real divide which resembled what we now know as Leave and Remain found its genesis at the time of the Thatcher Government.

The fractures came about because of the way that what we now know as the EU has been constructed, how it operates and how so little about its modus operandi is understood.

The pathway, often littered with wholly pro-EU acts on the part of Prime Ministers and their Cabinet Colleagues who should have known better, ultimately led to the Brexit Vote result. An outcome that was never the Establishment’s intention.

If you want to give thought to how Brexit could now play out as a result of the fractures and differences in ideas between people who should now be focusing on what we have in common, rather than the temporary ideas that we do not, this is probably the best place to begin.

The European Referendum Vote was the opening of the door and the outcome of a chain of many different events.

It wasn’t an instruction for MP’s or other people with Establishment influence to try and negotiate the steps that we take to get out.

The Result was a call to action. The Vote was a command. The outcome was a clear instruction that we Leave and only then review what remains between the UK and the EU. We the Electorate had no reason to doubt that it would be delivered in a way which would be fair, transparent and above all would be diligently true to that instruction.

Here follows a look at the Chain of events which led to the European Referendum result; to May’s tenure, and to a future which is far from certain.

Just as the events discussed and speculated upon before the EU Referendum led to the requirement of a Brexit outcome, the impact and consequences of the events and outcomes that have followed leave us today in the position that we cannot be sure of what will come to pass. That is before anything else is decided or done, and the choices which lead to those decisions and actions may be small, or they may appear to be large.

PLEASE NOTE: The following has been written as a way of provoking thought about events and outcomes that have happened compared to what could have been if different decisions had been made and subsequent actions taken. It is not a suggestion that any of the circumstances outlined would definitely have happened if different choices had actually been made. It also doesn’t consider the impact of the many other options which those involved had, or the events and outcomes that did and could have influenced any one or indeed all of the events as they appear in this inexhaustive list.

 1990

Margaret Thatcher ‘Regicide’ by the Conservative Party Europhiles

‘No, No, No’ seems like ancient history now. But many of us overlook the key event to the creation of the schism between Conservatives who at any other time would be friends.

Like all of our new, ambitious and confident Prime Ministers since, Margaret Thatcher underestimated the resolve and deviousness of the EU to achieve their long-term aim of a European Superstate through a drip-drip-drip strategy built on ‘no-return’ for each and every power transferred to the Brussels based autocratic centre.

When the point came for Mrs Thatcher, when she knew things had already gone too far, many of her closest Cabinet Members had already gone ‘Euro-native’. They were committed to this supranational, undemocratic ideal and were unwilling to support the Prime Minister in doing anything to turn things around.

The key players in bringing down the last real Tory PM, such as the still vocal Michael (now Lord) Heseltine, didn’t themselves gain the Conservative Party Leadership as part of this first of many disengaging and disenfranchising processes with the public.

Instead, under the typical Europhile appearance of compromise, the post was given to one of the biggest pro-Europe Conservatives we have ever seen.

What if different decisions had been made: It is easy to look back and assume that things would have been different if Maggie had stayed. She may well have given us the Referendum that her successor never did before the Maastricht Treaty was signed and in 1991 or 1992. She could have easily secured the solid working majority Commons that Major was not destined to do. But after 11 years of Leadership including 3 General Election Wins, a war in the Falklands and many battles with the EU and domestically back home, we can only wonder if she had the energy and clout left to take the Conservatives into another Term. As any eurosceptic who was around at the time would honestly tell you, the public at large were not at that point really awake to the creeping control and danger presented by the then version of the EU, and it’s impact had not arrived in ways that put the issue firmly in people’s minds.

John Major ‘Crowned’ PM

In what seemed like an unexpected choice to those watching on from a distance, the open warfare in the Conservative Party following Margaret Thatcher’s ejection from Office led to the Election of what appeared to be a compromise candidate – John Major.

Coming immediately from the post of Chancellor, Major had just overseen the entry of the UK into the EU’s Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), the precursor to the Single Currency or ‘Euro’.

What if different decisions had been made: Although a growing element of the Parliamentary Conservative Party was becoming increasingly suspicious of the direction of EU travel, few had the understanding that Thatcher had belatedly obtained. The appearance of a split in the philosophical framework of the Conservative Party made what was sold as compromise in the selection of a replacement for Margaret Thatcher all but inevitable. John Major had a track record at Cabinet level, what was at the time seen as being an essential qualification for the ‘top job’. Another Conservative Leader could have been Elected, but Thatcher was likely to have been the only Leader capable of taking on the EU at that time. She was not supported by the ‘big beasts’ to do so, so any new Leader who was in anyway Eurosceptic was going to have a very troubled time. 

1992

Maastricht Treaty

John Major’s ‘big moment’ was committing the UK to the Maastricht Treaty in early 1992.

What if different decisions had been made: The significance of Maastricht along the road to surrendering more and more power to the EU cannot be overstated. It is arguably true that this was a point when a Referendum on Membership should have been held.

We cannot be sure that a Vote at this point would have gone against remaining and therefore further committing to the EU or that the result would have instructed Major’s Government to Leave.

With three distinct groups present in the European Membership debate i.e. those who are blindly committed to the EU superstate, those who don’t care or aren’t really sure what any of it’s about and those who are against it, it is reasonably safe to argue that in 1992, the deck was still stacked to what we now know as ‘Remain’.

Members of the second group are always more likely to endorse the status quo, whatever direction that might be.

If Major had gone to the People, what question would he have asked? Was it even possible to ask a question which wouldn’t then have created a debate in which the ‘European Dream’ could not therefore last?

As it was, Major doubled down and used every trick in the politicians handbook to push greater commitment to the EU through, ironically outing the Euroscpetics as ‘Bastards’ for using the same methods that he was too.

General Election

Major’s Conservatives win an unexpected, but wafer thin majority.

What if different decisions had been made: Neil Kinnock, then Labour Leader and perhaps an even bigger Europhile than John Major would have made it into No.10. Significant tranches of EU assimilation policy such as Devolution/Regionalisation may well have made it onto the Statute book sooner. We may not have been taken out of the ERM, which in turn could have committed us to losing the Pound and gaining the single currency. Labour may never have had John Smith or Tony Blair as Leaders. We could have had a Tory Government again at the end of Kinnock’s first Term in 1996 or 1997. There is no certainty that we would have become involved in the Wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, if in turn they had happened.

John Smith becomes Labour Leader

With Neil Kinnock having failed to Lead the Labour Party back to power in either 1987 or 1992, it was time for him to step down.

John Smith, the respected Scottish Labour MP was elected Labour Leader and settled in to taking Labour in a new direction.

What if different decisions had been made: Had another Labour MP been Elected Opposition Leader at this point, there is a very good chance that they would have led Labour into the 1997 General Election rather than Tony Blair. This could have presented the Electorate with a very different choice and may have been the end of the New Labour project before it even began.

UK exit from the ERM

John Major’s most regrettable moment was the day that then Chancellor Norman (Now Lord) Lamont had to take the UK out of the ERM.

What if different decisions had been made:  Our economy could have been destroyed by staying within the harmonisation system, owing to the ERM requirement for the currencies of Members States to be very tightly synchronised. Up and coming politicians such as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown might not have seen the obvious risks of adopting the Euro as a shared currency. John Major might have gone on to win the 1997 General Election, bearing in mind that it was events like this which allowed Major’s Conservative Party to be financially inept, when the truth was no such thing.

1994

Tony Blair becomes Labour Leader

Following the untimely death of John Smith, the Labour Party Leadership Contest that followed was a watershed moment for the Labour Party and was to become the point that the New Labour project as an electoral force was born.

What if different decisions had been made: Another Labour MP would have been their Leader. Gordon Brown may have taken the job. Labour may not have won the 1997 General Election. Labour May not have won three General Elections in a row. The Iraq War might never of happened or the UK might never have become involved. Labour’s 1997-2010 overspend and the 2010 onwards period of ‘Austerity’ might never have come into being.

1997

General Election

New Labour’s historic landslide victory decimated the Tory Party, destroyed Conservative confidence and committed the UK to the direction of a charismatic and equally ambitious Prime Minister who saw their career as being very much aligned towards a bigger ‘world’ stage.

What if different decisions had been made: John Major’s Conservatives may have won another Term. There may have been a hung parliament or coalition government. Devolution might never of happened. The Scottish Parliament might not exist. The Welsh Assembly might not exist. We might not have signed the Lisbon Treaty. We might never have entered the single market as it stands today. We might never have had a question over Free Movement and Immigration. We may never have been involved in Iraq of Afghanistan. We might never have had such a significant debt in 2010, that Austerity – even as an idea had been deemed necessary. We might already have been out of Europe.

William Hague becomes Tory Leader

20 Years after his famous Conservative Party Conference Speech as a 16 year old, William Hague is elected Leader of the Conservative Party.

Inheriting a Parliamentary group which felt itself destroyed by the Labour victory earlier that year, Hague effectively walked into a role where keeping the Conservative Party engine running was about all that he could reasonably do in the circumstances. His greatest unacknowledged success was likely to be preventing the Party from becoming the spent force that it could have been.

What if different decisions had been made: Conservative Party may never have returned to Government. Hague may have become Tory Leader later, and then even PM himself.

1997 onwards

Devolution

Probably one of the biggest fibs told by Blair, his Government and the Labour Party was the one about his idea for Devolution and the ‘devolved Assemblies’.

Always part of the ‘European Plan’ to break up National identities into smaller, controllable Regions that could never again seek to acquire or execute power in a national form, on his ascendency Blair immediately embraced Devolution to win favour with the heads of the EU. He actually sold it to the Public as being a process of bringing democracy closer to people.

The truth was that Devolution and Regionalisation was all part of a process of creating hollow forms of ‘localised’ Government with real power being taken away from the UK and deposited undemocratically in Brussels to be used in a very different and autocratic form.

The sprat to catch the mackerel was the things like big funding giveaways to local areas, all branded as being available only with European Funding. You’ve seen the signs telling you everywhere that it was European Money being spent on this project and that. But this was always British Taxpayers money, redistributed, rebranded and packaged as a way of promoting European generosity when it was quite another thing altogether. It was a bribe in its most basic form.

What if different decisions had been made: There might not have been a Scottish Parliament. The SNP might have never secured an Independence Vote. Nicola Sturgeon may never have been the Holyrood Lead. Ruth Davidson might already be an MP in the Westminster Parliament. The UK might not have been at significant risk of breakup as it is today.

1999

Establishment of Scottish Parliament

Following the Devolution process, the Scottish Parliament was first established in May 1999.

What if different decisions had been made: We may never have had the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum. David Cameron may never have weaponised the SNP by making unnecessary concessions the morning after. The Conservatives might never have won a majority in the 2015 General Election. The 2016 European Referendum may never have happened. Brexit as a word could have never been invented. None of us would now be worrying what Leave might look like. Theresa May might never have been Prime Minister. We might now have Ed Milliband as Prime Minister, working his way towards a 2020 General Election. Jeremy Corbyn might never have become Labour Leader.

2001

General Election

Tony Blair’s New Labour win an almost identical result to the 1997 General Election, leaving the Conservative Party well and truly stumped.

What if different decisions had been made: William Hague might have been Prime Minister. There could have been a completely different Leader of the Labour Party soon after. We might have left Afghanistan earlier. We might never have been involved in the Iraq War. We might now have had a Labour Government led by a politician who we will now never know.

Iain Duncan Smith becomes Tory Leader

William Hague steps down and hands over the Opposition Leadership keys to Iain Duncan Smith (IDS).

The only real commonality between the two is being the butt of press ridicule and the hard reality that under both periods of Leadership, the Conservative Party appears to be going nowhere.

What if different decisions had been made: It’s quite possible that another Tory MP would have become Conservative Party Leader. The Tories might have won the 2005 General Election. We might never have been involved in Iraq.

You are beginning to get the picture.

2003

Michael Howard becomes Tory Leader

IDS accepts that he cannot lead the Conservative Party as it is. Michael (Now Lord) Howard has previous Government experience, is a ‘seasoned’ politician and is Elected Party Leader.

Howard’s arrival heralds the first real indications that the Conservative Party is ready to embrace change.

What if different decisions had been made: The Conservative Party might have not returned to Government in 2010. David Cameron may not have been Elected Tory Leader in 2005 and become Prime Minister in 2010. The SNP might not have bee given a Referendum. Brexit may never have happened….

Are you starting to picture the links?

2005

General Election

Tony Blair wins New Labour Election Victory No.3. The Tories pick up a few seats and there is a sense of small change, but in practical terms, at this stage at least, it resembles none.

What if different decisions had been made: Michael Howard would have been Prime Minister. Gordon Brown might never have become Labour Leader and in 2007, the PM. David Cameron may never have become Tory Leader. The Lisbon Treaty may never have been signed. The Immigration issue might never have materialised. The Scottish Referendum might never have happened. Brexit might not have been invented. We might now have another Labour Government with a PM who would have been….?

David Cameron becomes Tory Leader

Following the Tories third successive defeat to New Labour, Michael Howard knows that he has to do what is best for the direction of the Conservative Party which means only one thing.

Howard remains leader whilst a Tory Leadership Campaign takes shape, leaving contenders ‘2001 new boy David Cameron’ and ‘Europhile Big Beast Ken Clarke’ to fight it out for a Membership Vote Win.

David Cameron wins the Leadership race and becomes Tory Leader.

What if different decisions had been made: Ken Clarke might have become Prime Minister in 2010. We might now be more involved with the EU than ever before and Brexit would for many still be a hopeless dream. Gordon Brown might have won a Labour Majority in 2010, or at worst, been the leader of a Labour/Lib Dem Coalition, with the Tories perhaps broken, reforming as a new party or doing something else somewhere in between. The Milliband Brothers might still have been on a Labour Front Bench. Jeremy Corbyn could still be out of sight on the back benches.

2007

Gordon Brown ‘Crowned’ PM

Awaiting his moment noisily in No.11, Gordon Brown became Prime Minister on Tony Blair’s Resignation in June 2007.

Without the same skills and attributes of his immediate predecessor, Brown was unable to wow the crowds. The biggest moment of his tenure probably came with the event of the 2007-2008 Financial Crisis when his Government bailed out the privately owned Banks using Public Money, thereby sending the National Debt stratospheric from the point where after 10 years of Labour profligate spending already, it should never ever have already been.

What if different decisions had been made: We might have had a different Labour Prime Minister from 2007 until the next General Election which could have come in 2009 or 2010. Labour could have won a majority in 2010 or been the lead player in a hung parliament. David Cameron might never have been PM. Nick Clegg could still be in frontline Politics. The Lib Dems could now have been the third biggest Party in Parliament.

2010

General Election

The result of the General Election is hung.

Backroom deals are the flavour of the day, and whilst Brown sits it out in No.10 hoping for enough support to patch together a ‘Rainbow Coalition’ which keeps the Tories out of power, Nick Clegg does a deal with David Cameron which creates the Coalition Government with Cameron as PM and Clegg as Deputy PM.

As part of ‘the deal’, Cameron agrees to a Referendum on an Alternative Vote system. The two also agree to pass the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, which technically secures a standard 5-year term for any Government, and removes the ability of a sitting PM to call a General Election without having to ‘work’ the Parliamentary system to do so.

A disproportionate number of Lib Dem MP’s secure Ministerial Office, causing significant upset within the Conservative Party.

Nick Clegg is forced to renege on his commitment to scrap Tuition Fees for Students.

Gordon Brown steps down as Labour Party Leader.

What if different decisions had been made: Gordon Brown could have remained PM and leader of a ‘Rainbow Coalition made up of Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP etc. David Cameron might have resigned. The Scottish Independence Referendum might have been held and Independence won. There might not have been an EU Referendum in 2016. There might have been a different Conservative Leader of the opposition fighting the 2015 General Election. David Milliband could have been the next Labour Leader.

Ed Milliband becomes Labour Leader

Now consigned to the memory of just a few, Gordon Brown’s departure left a vacancy which led to a fight between two ambitious politicians, but one of a family kind too.

Both David Milliband, who had ministerial experience, and his younger brother Ed, squared up to each other in a campaign which to this day has a cloud over it because of the way that the Labour Party attributed votes to this Leadership race.

Despite lacking the level of credibility of his older brother, Ed won the Labour Leadership.

What if different decisions had been made: David Milliband could have become Labour Leader and might now have been Prime Minister too. Jeremy Corbyn might never have become Labour Leader. Theresa May might never have become Prime Minister. Boris could still have been London Mayor.

2011

The Alternative Vote Referendum (AV)

Purely at the insistence of new Deputy PM Nick Clegg, and as one of the key ‘prices’ of 5 years support in Coalition for the Tory-led Government and David Cameron as PM, a Referendum was held in early May to consider replacing the First Past The Post electoral system with AV instead.

Based on Proportional Representation, the system favours small Political Parties and moves the emphasis from voting for a named representative to direct Party support.

Proportional Representation is a much less democratic system, focusing the shift towards supporting policy in a snapshot moment, which is always thereafter subject to change, in stead of providing the opportunity to select the best person to represent a constituency and be responsible in adapting to the changes during their elected term, but always doing so in respect of the common good.

The vote was lost by an overwhelming majority against the change of 67.9%.

What if different decisions had been made: It is likely that First Past the Post would now be dead, and all political offices would be elected using forms of proportional representation. We might never again have a majority Government sitting in the Westminster Parliament. Anything that the public now vote for might never again even have the chance to matter, because policy would always be decided between the Political Groups who make deals after each election to patch together a coalition, because none of them could achieve an outright win. We might never have had a European Referendum. David Cameron might have been the last ever Conservative PM. Jeremy Corbyn might never again have been elected as an MP.

2014

European Elections

I’ve included the European Parliamentary Elections in 2014, not because the European Parliament itself is influential. It is not.

The Parliament is little more than a patsy, created only to give the wider EU autocracy the appearance of being a democratic institution. It is not.

It is included because of the UK Result, which saw the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) win an additional 11 Seats, making them the biggest UK presence with 24 Seats in the European Parliament.

The result sent shockwaves through Westminster. UKIP was suddenly a real electoral threat to the Establishment ‘status quo’.

What if different decisions had been made: It is likely to have been the key deciding factor in David Cameron’s promise to hold a Referendum on EU Membership as part of his 2015 Manifesto for the General Election Campaign. It is likely that he thought the result would be another 5 years of Coalition with the Lib Dems at best, or at worst, a Vote he would have lost and seen Ed Milliband in No.10.

Would Cameron have promised the EU Referendum if he had been certain of electoral victory in 2015? We may never honestly know.

Scottish Independence Referendum

The result of the Referendum on the Question of Scottish Independence on 14th September 2014 was a majority against of 55.3% to yes of 44.7%.

The outcome itself may not have had any significant impact upon anything other than what the SNP would do next.

It was David Cameron’s decision to come out on to the steps of No.10 the following morning and make a range of commitments to the SNP, which was probably a lot more influential upon what was now in store.

What if different decisions had been made: Scotland might now be an independent Country. But the SNP might well have committed the Scots to Remaining within the EU at that time if the different chronology had given the EU a different view. That is of course if the 2015 General Election result had subsequently been the same.

2015

General Election

David Cameron’s Conservatives win an unexpected small, but nonetheless working majority in the Commons.

The Coalition is over. Cameron is committed to holding the European Referendum.

What if different decisions had been made: Ed Milliband would have been Prime Minister. The European Referendum would never have been held. We might ask the question what is Brexit? Jeremy Corbyn would never have become Labour Leader. Labour Momentum would never have existed.

Jeremy Corbyn becomes Labour Leader

No. It was far from being a certainty. Yet Jeremy Corbyn cleaned up in the Labour Leadership Election following Ed Milliband’s post-General Election Resignation.

Corbyn was never taken seriously as a Candidate, and it is regrettably likely that at other times sensible Labour MP’s gave him their support to run, with the intent of causing disruption to the Campaigns of more credible participants. Those who did so were blind to the even the short-term realities of the outcome if Corbyn actually won.

Which he did.

What if different decisions had been made: Labour might have had a more credible, mainstream leader, who isn’t a Marxist at their core. Labour may well have won the 2017 General Election. The Brexit Negotiations might have now been in the hands of a Labour Leader. Theresa May might never have become Prime Minister. Boris might now be leader of the opposition.

2015-16

David Cameron’s EU ‘Renegotiation’

The Renegotiation of the relationship between the UK and EU that never was.

It is likely that following on from the many dubious wins against an unknowing pubic in which ambitious politicians had previously used manipulation, spin and complete bullshit to win before, Cameron had concluded that big theatrics and dramatics suggesting real effort resulting in something meaningful, would line him up for a Referendum Win.

The reality was that Cameron never achieved anything even remotely meaningful in his ‘renegotiations’, and the EU was already viewing the intrsigence of a Member State which had the audacity to question its future with the EU as being insubordinate and behaviour which must quickly be consigned to the bin.

So sure of success was Cameron and his closest allies such as then Chancellor George Osborne, that they never even began work on putting together the steps of a Contingency Plan, if their attempted stitch-up leading to a Remain Win in the EU Referendum was then denied.

What if different decisions had been made: In theory, Cameron could have really gone for the jugular when he squared up to ask the questions of the EU, from which real results could have given him a genuine Referendum Win.

In reality, the EU has made very clear that every nation which becomes a Member is restricted to the same rules and must therefore consider itself without any real means of having separate identity.

Once you are in, it doesn’t matter what bullshit you give to Voters (or sleeping politicians), you accept that EU Members States behave as one.

2016

European Referendum

The Leave or No Vote wins 51.9% to 48.1% (A difference of 1,269, 501 Votes with a 72.21% turnout of the Electorate).

Britain’s Exit – thereafter known as ‘Brexit’ is born.

What if different decisions had been made: David Cameron would probably have still been our PM. We may well have now been on the way to adopting the Euro. We might well have been up to our necks in surrendering what’s left of the armed services to the new ‘Euro Army’. There would probably have been an increase in European workers coming to the UK. The rate of Public Services crashing through lack of funding may well have increased substantially. The list of more and more powers being surrendered to Brussels would probably now have been much much longer. It is likely that the true designs of the EU to become the United States of Europe would now be in the open, either directly, but more likely through yet more manipulative PR management which is designed to make all of us think that everything is staying the same.

David Cameron Resigns

Probably one of the most notable ‘oh fuck’ moments of recent UK political history, would have come at around 25 minutes to 5 on the morning of 24th June 2016, to the then occupant of No.10.

We know that Cameron didn’t see the No Vote coming. We know he didn’t because the Establishment didn’t expect it. And there are a great many Leavers who despite voting NO, didn’t quite believe it was possible to win our Freedom through a democratic process too.

To be fair to David Cameron, he clearly never believed in Brexit. Although he had given the impression that he would lead the implementation of a No result, accepting that he could not deliver something that he didn’t himself want and that resigning was therefore the right thing, was almost certainly the most responsible thing for him to do in the circumstances. Unfortunately, it was a point missed by Remainers in the Cabinet who coveted the top job.

What if different decisions had been made: If Cameron had stayed, there may have been many similarities to the current Premiership of Theresa May, in that his heart would not have been in Brexit and instead of building a relationship between two separate entities, he would have likely focused all efforts on doing the absolute minimum that would be seen to qualify as ‘Leave’. 

Alternatively, he might well have embraced the instruction from the British People in the spirit that it was given, and done everything to get the best from a situation where nobody from either side could genuinely predict everything that could be achieved.

The big difference is likely to have been that Cameron is unlikely to have called the 2017 General Election, which would have in turn given him choices with a working majority, that Theresa May would by now never have.

Boris knifed

It was an open secret that Boris had returned to the Commons as an MP with the Leadership of the Tory Party in mind.

So when Cameron lit the fuse on the Leadership contest, few were under any illusion that Boris wouldn’t be one of the two final contenders when the Vote went out to Conservative Party Members.

That was until on the morning of Boris announcing his Candidacy, Michael Gove’s change of mind in supporting him as a Leadership Contender came fully into view.

Boris had nowhere to go. And whilst the true aim of Gove’s decision to pull the rug from under Boris’s Leadership chances may never be known, the intervention did nothing to help Gove’s own hopes of becoming Conservative Party Leader.

Before anyone had the chance to take a second breath, the contest was already down to just two.

What if different decisions had been made: Despite the many voices ranged against him, Boris Johnson was likely to have become PM, and was almost certain to have done so if the question had gone out to Conservative Party Members.

The talk of Boris being nothing but ambition rang true, not simply because Boris was and remains ambitious – he does. But because it is the same ambition that is rife amongst all the senior Members of the Conservative Party, who are desperate for their leadership hopes to come to fruition – no matter the real cost.

Boris may be to some no more than a lovable buffoon. But what he has which beyond the pure, unadulterated form of ambition which drives many of his Conservative colleagues, is the skill to read and often be a step ahead of the public mood, just in time to make decisions that can actually work out well for Voters too.

This ability is likely to have served him very well during negotiations with the EU, and in delivering a clean Brexit. Because Boris being loyal to Boris, he would have ensured that he was committed to delivering what the real public – that’s everyone beyond the bubble of Westminster – has demanded that the PM and Party of Government should actually achieve.

Boris’ moment may come again very soon. But the terrain is now much different and outcomes that could have easily been very different if different choices had been made, will now influence the outcomes of responding actions and outcomes to come, whether deliberate or otherwise.

Whether or not Boris would be good leading the UK in a crisis situation, like the wartime Leader Churchill who he wishes us to see his behaviour modelled upon is a different question altogether.

Like May being ‘Crowned’ in 2016 to ‘take care of Brexit’, we might soon step into a very different kind of Government Leadership which will not be about Leave or Remain, but responding simply to a very long list of unknowns.

Andrea Leadsom exits Tory Leadership contest

Leadsom seemed to appear from nowhere and as such, didn’t appear to have the baggage of the other final contestant in the Tory Leadership Campaigns – Theresa May.

But where May had made keeping her mouth shut during the European Referendum an art form, Leadsom’s inexperience with the Media regrettably led her into a mess over making comments relating to her understanding as a mother which was unavailable to Theresa May. From that moment, her time as a Candidate to become next Prime Minister was pretty much done.

What if different decisions had been made: Theresa May might not have been Prime Minister, as Leadsom may have been much more appealing to the Conservative Party Membership, once the Campaigning side of Theresa May which we only saw in the 2017 General Election Campaign had come into general view. The 2017 General Election might never have been called. The Conservatives might now have a working majority to push through a meaningful Brexit.

Theresa May ‘Crowned’ PM

With Andrea Leadsom stepping out of the Tory Leadership Contest, Theresa May become the de facto Conservative Leader Elect.

Cameron quickly went to the Queen and stepped aside.

May entered Downing Street giving everyone the impression that when it came to Brexit, she was now committed and very much on the UK side.

What if different decisions had been made: Pretty much what has been discussed under Boris and Andrea Leadsom above. But May wouldn’t have been PM and the chances are that one way or another, we would not be in such a terrible mess as we are today.

2017

Article 50 Triggered

At the end of March 2017, Theresa May triggered Article 50, the device or ‘clause’ for a Member nation to Leave the EU.

This action started a 2-year countdown to 11pm on Friday 29th March 2019, when the UK would formally leave EU Membership.

What if different decisions had been made: Triggering Article 50 – assuming that the UK leaving the EU would always be conducted in relation to EU processes – was not a question of if, but was certainly a question of when.

May could have waited and overseen full preparation before doing so which would ideally have included a real understanding of what Brexit must achieve, therefore allowing the negotiations between Triggering Article 50 and Leaving to be meaningful in between.

Alternatively, May could have got on with triggering Artcile 50 much sooner, working on Brexit from the point of the UK being independent and then developing a new relationship with the EU for whatever would then happen for the future, rather than doing everything possible to Remain, whilst doing the absolute minimum to sell her efforts as a commitment to Leave.

General Election

It was so clear that Theresa May was sure of Victory and of winning an increased majority that would ensure her plans for Brexit were delivered.

Despite the Party machine not being ready, there already being a small but nonetheless working majority in the Commons in place, nor the fact her ability as a ‘street-fighting campaign leader’ had ever been tested, May listened to the Polls, went for the General Election, and assumed that like everything else, public support was no more than a question of applying process, and that her glowing future would soon be in the bag.

Things quickly began to unwind. Corbyn proved himself good on the stump, making hollow promises which appealed to aspirations without any respect for practicality, and the Lib Dems, still nowhere after the 2015 rejection, were not even in the middle and nowhere to be seen.

May couldn’t match Corbyn on the Campaign trail and was soon exposed as not being ‘natural’ with people, being far too scripted, meanwhile exhibiting all the behaviour which has made the label ‘Maybot’ stick – and in doing so seem very fair.

What if different decisions had been made: May could have had a working majority now BEFORE attempting to do deals to allow for the Conservative die-hard Remain faction. The Parliamentary pathway to where we are now might have been much smoother over recent months, giving the PM more room to play with as she dealt with the EU. Olly Robbins would probably not have been the Civil Servant leading the Brexit negotiations.

£1 Billion that could have been spent elsewhere on Public Services might not have been firehosed at Northern Ireland at the price of securing 10 DUP Votes for the duration of the Parliamentary Term.

2018

‘The Chequers Plan’

In the Summer of 2018, May’s true credentials as a Remainer Prime Minister and her Plan to welch on Brexit finally came into view.

Within days, David Davis, then Brexit Secretary and then Boris Johnson, then Foreign Secretary had resigned.

Yet all other Cabinet Ministers remained still and quiet, heralding yet more concessions on the part of the MP’s who had the real ability to stop this whole charade, and rescue Brexit from the mess it is now; the sell-out of democracy that in May’s hands, it is still likely to be.

What if different decisions had been made: More of the Cabinet could and arguably should have resigned.

The cumulative numbers of resignation at the top level would have soon made May’s continued Premiership untenable and a new Conservative Leader would have by now been crowned.

That there has only ever been talk of further Cabinet Resignations until now is a worrying sign.

For the Conservative Party, it may mean a bleak future. Culturally, the Cabinet incumbents are far more focused on lining themselves up ‘securely’ for a leadership bid, rather than doing for the Country all that is right. 

The thing that they all need to remember is that no matter what they do or choose, only one of the current crop of Conservative MP’s could replace May as Prime Minister, but the ridiculousness of their own ambition is now making even that option look very tough indeed.

In Summary & Ending

As I suggested earlier, these points are all a view of what has happened, set against just a few of the possibilities of what could have been if sometimes very small decisions had been made.

The point I am making is that from small decisions, BIG consequences are formed. And those consequences are rarely apparent in immediate view.

Consequences can be anticipated and accurately so. But they cannot be controlled and it is certainly true that every action will have a reaction, even when the person or persons taking that action are no longer involved.

Theresa May and the Establishment, along with the EU are currently doing everything that they can to manufacture a very different kind of Brexit to the one which the People intended, either deliberately or through acts of unintended stupidity.

These are actions that are not only going to impact on the true outcome of Brexit, but on many other things in both the UK and Europe which right now are out of sight, out of mind.

Because of their actions in trying to manipulate Brexit, they will ultimately deliver unintended consequences and outcomes which would otherwise unlikely to have ever been seen.

 

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The Civil Servant doth protest too much, methinks

October 16, 2018 Leave a comment

img_1583Hands up. I am one of the many. I think that May must go and that May must go now.

May must go before any last chance of an honest Brexit is destroyed and the UK is completely condemned to Remain in all but name.

It’s not personal. I don’t know her that way.

But this is not how a genuinely Conservative Prime Minister behaves.

This is certainly not the kind of Conservative Government that anyone who really cares about the future of this Country would knowingly vote for.

That said, I am under no illusion of the mechanics of how decisions at all levels of Government are actually made. There is a considerable team of politicians, advisors and civil servants or local government officers who have influence on – and therefore responsibility – for the choices, options and directions often presented as little more than fait accompli to the Political Leaders above them. Leaders who are also responsible, but the only ones who the Public will openly blame.

For those of us who know this and see the reality of how Government and the Public Sector works – up and down, Sir Mark Sedwill’s intervention in the form of an open letter to The Times today, attempting to distance the Civil Service from the chaos which Brexit has become, is both untimely and disingenuously made.

The inherent suggestion that Civil Servants only do what they are told, and carry out their instructions to the letter is at very best laughable. At worst, it demonstrates the farcical nature of an executive system that wants to dominate and exert its influence within every corner of Government and the Public Sector.

The executive or non-elected element happily takes credit in any way that it can when things are going well. But it seeks to distance itself and pass the buck to elected representatives just as soon as the self-serving, and self-aggrandised plans which have nothing about service to the Public at their core, go wrong and have the potential to wreck a gold-plated pension plan and the previously ‘clean’ CV.

It is a ‘Team May’ effort which has ‘live-time’ responsibility for the Brexit chaos. And within that ‘team’ there are many Civil Servants who share the responsibility for the perfect storm which is brewing, not all of which is itself is attributable to the actions of the current PM.

What’s worst about the role of the non-elected executive, is that for far too long culturally, the gift of being employed within roles which are blessed with misplaced impartiality, would normall leave any of them directly involved, immune from any form of punishment when anything decision making involving politicians goes tits up.

Brexit being the monumental clusterfuck that it has become, clearly doesn’t offer such levels of sanctuary. That is why we now have letters being published in newspapers from top Civil Servants which portray such ridiculous and pre-emptively pleading statements such as ‘It’s not my fault it all went wrong’.

 

image thanks to http://www.thetimes.co.uk / someone unidentifiable on the Net.

 

 

The EU intended to break up the UK all along and May is just another Remain PM singing along to the very same song

October 15, 2018 Leave a comment

img_1574

Divide and conquer is one of those old rules or strategies which has an uncanny habit of working in many ways. It is most successful when the parties subjected to it are so entrenched with their own priorities, they remain blissfully unaware of what is happening.

In the past 24 hours, the ridiculous nature of the so-called negotiations between our Government and the EU over Brexit have finally reached a stage where some of the more sinister aims of the European Union have been outed.

Incompetent and as duplicitous as Theresa May and her Team have been, the lack of understanding of the EU and its modus operandi has been ignored, or at best misunderstood. Not only by those who voted Remain. But also by many Leavers who with the British spirit of fair play, have believed that those in a so-called forty-year relationship with us would treat us exactly the same.

We have all been misguided to believe that the EU would be reasonable over negotiations which would always have been easy to secure benefits that specifically went their way.

If a clearer message was ever needed to spell out just how dangerous the EU really is, it must surely be the demand for a ‘backstop’ set against a ‘backstop’ for Northern Ireland.

We should be under no illusion that this would be an agreement that once confirmed would almost certainly guarantee the break up of the United Kingdom, rather than keeping it as England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as it now is.

Whilst painted as a ‘backstop’, neither of the two forms of this misnamed safety net or facilitation device is what is appears to be.

The EU has a time-served history of using and abusing anything or any term that it manages to insert within Agreements.

Its deviousness is always anchored within the deliberate ambiguity of terms which it uses. It always uses language differences and what deliberately appear to be basic issues of interpretation to do all the painful work for them. Meanwhile painting themselves as having always been very reasonable and committed to some high-flung community-cased ideal.

It’s all hokum. The EU knows that the most effective way to build its own idea of a union, is to break down the constituent parts of member Countries, into Regions or by placing emphasis on publicly identifiable regional areas appearing to give them a sense of their own identity, destiny and self-determination.

They do so whilst removing any of the tools which would allow any of these Regionas to actually achieve such seemingly reasonable aims, whilst directing true power even further away to Brussels, where the futures of every ‘European Citizen’ will be decided by autocrats. A technically non-reversible process by design, where true democracy will become all but a memory, and very quickly left behind.

Yes, I agree that a statement like that doesn’t sound right. And to many it doesn’t.

But many will also remember the push for the development of multiple UK Regions, which included the processes of Devolution for Scotland and Wales, and what without a struggle on the part of many would have seen England also carved up to resemble the European Parliamentary Constituencies – a victory that we should all at some point be grateful that the EU was denied.

Devolution itself was not the great giveaway to the people or an act of political generosity on the part of Tony Blair as he and his Government then wanted us all to think.

It was the price that an overly ambitious and self-serving Prime Minister was prepared to pay as he attempted to curry favor with the hierarchy of the EU.

It was an act completely devoid of either foresight or concern for the consequences of what in terms of our National Union, the process of Devolution had the potential to do.

Devolution and Regionalisation, sold through the dubious lens of devolving power and of creating ‘localism’ as Cameron painted it, was never what any of these white elephants of governance were really about.

They are nothing more than dubious tools to create a pyrrhic connection and public misconception of close interaction with a federated structure of government. A patsy sub-decision making governmental structure, free from the ability to conduct any meaningful form of decision making at National level – the consequences of which I shall leave for you to ponder.

Where Blair and the last Labour Government failed as the EU’s stooges, May’s intransigence has brought us critically close to allowing the EU to achieve what the Brexit Vote should have in one moment permanently denied.

If in the process of ‘delivering’ an agreement over Brexit with the EU in the coming days Theresa May finds a way to leave any question remaining over the integrity of Northern Ireland’s relationship with the rest of our Country, rest assured that it will be our very identity as a Nation – not just the Conservative Party which will be well and truly screwed.

Dear Cheltenham, a Petition to stop the Borough’s ridiculous changes at Boots Corner is a great start. But if you really want to make the Council think again, start HERE

October 13, 2018 Leave a comment

 

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For me, one of the most challenging and frustrating experiences of being a Local Councillor, was talking to people I represented who had genuine grievances and reasons for stopping a poor policy from going ahead, who couldn’t understand why the Council wasn’t listening and basically didn’t care either.

Please believe me when I say that the only way to really have any chance of understanding what is wrong with Government and the Public Sector, is to experience it from within.

Even then, it is essential not be taken in by anyone who tells you that ‘this is just the way that things work’. It isn’t.

But most people who enter as Officers or newly elected Councillors with high ideals and aspirations for doing something good, simply accept everything that they are told and quickly become part of the problem too.

Over the Summer, talking to people whose lives have Cheltenham at their very centre, I again saw one of those massive issues coming into view. A completely unnecessary ‘created’ problem that makes sense to nobody who exists in the ‘real world’ outside of our own version of the Local Government system.

I’ve experienced the Boots Corner travesty first hand. I have had to make the same detours as you probably have done yourself and know that this whole project is benefiting nobody or nothing other than the ego’s of the people who dreamed this foolishness up.

I’ve already given my view on the whole thing here a couple of weeks ago. And whilst it is great to see Cheltenham’s MP Alex Chalk talking openly about how unwanted the Scheme is and a Change.org Petition now in place, we should all be under no illusion about how entrenched the mentality of those responsible for the Boots Corner fiasco is now likely to be.

If you want the Boots Corner plan overturned, the road reopened to all traffic and no more ridiculous schemes like this one to simply arrive without genuine consultation, there is only one thing that you can now really do.

You have to work to change the whole Council and replace them with people who have the same interest in what’s truly beneficial for the people in Cheltenham. That’s getting people elected as Councillors,  who put Cheltenham before themselves and any Political Party they might represent. People who have the same real-world view as you.

If one person is prepared to stand in the next Local Elections within each Cheltenham Borough Council Ward, take Party Politics out of the equation and then start working as a representative for something better for the People and Businesses of Cheltenham, we might all be surprised just how quickly the Campaign to overturn this stupidity will start to gain results.

Don’t be fooled by thinking that the Elections don’t matter in Cheltenham because they are a long way off. It doesn’t matter because it’s the cumulative effect of the work and effort talking to people, knocking on doors and getting real people engaged that will grow the very best fruit.

It is important that you or anyone prepared to do the work necessary to represent a Ward as a Councillor are committed enough to be ‘in it to win it’.

You must also be prepared to do everything that it will take to see this Campaign through until Boots Corner is fully reopened, normal traffic is flowing and the target result is achieved.

Being told that the Borough Council is prepared to change its mind will not be enough. Like politicians generally, Councils have a habit of quietly changing their mind as soon as any noise goes quiet.

To be sure of success, Boots Corner must be fully open before you can think about whether you then want to stop campaigning for what’s best for Cheltenham.

Being a Councillor or even taking on the responsibility of working to get elected as a Local Councillor isn’t for everyone. There’s a lot to think about before anyone can decide.

If you want to run a successful Campaign and then be a good Councillor too, it is essential that you know, understand and are fully committed to what you are getting yourself into.

I’m not making the suggestion lightly. I’ve been an Officer within a Local Authority, a Councillor and Senior Member of another.

I’m putting this on the table for people who live and run Businesses within the Boundary of Cheltenham Borough itself. Local people who are eligible to become a Candidate and are motivated to represent the real views of the people and businesses of this great Town.

What I can do to help you is offer you the benefit of my experience, through advice and suggestions.

I can provide you with direction and a guide to what you need to think about. An outline of the reality of what it takes to get elected and everything that you will find when you are successful – which you can be if you are ready to do all that it will take.

How to get Elected is available to read FREE on a guide-to-area Website, and a page-list-based Blogsite which is also FREE for you to use.

If you want to read How to get Elected on your Kindle, it is available from Amazon too.

 

 

 

 

The Welfare covenant is broken and Universal Credit is not the answer when it already creates victims

October 12, 2018 Leave a comment

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It is regrettably all too easy for some to overlook the realities of life for others when  everything is going well and there is no need to look to anyone else for help.

Sadly, this is not the case for many. At one time or another during our lifetimes, there is every chance that we will need a safety net in place for when plans don’t work out quite as we thought they might, and we find ourselves in need of money, food, clothing, transport, warmth and maybe even a home.

State provision of such a safety net within a civilised society is not only right. It is also necessary when government is convened, managed and operated with the greater good, benefits and consequences for all are firmly in mind.

However, our Welfare and Benefits system has and is being continually abused.

It is being misused by those seeking help. But it is also being mis-purposed by those who have been given the responsibility in Government for providing that help on behalf of us all.

The Welfare covenant between those helping and those seeking help has been broken. And for the benefits system to work beneficially again for all, there must now be a new way of thinking.

No form of Government provision can truly be beneficial to all if victims have been created of any kind.

Universal Credit has therefore proven itself flawed before it has even began operating fully.

With many struggling recipients identified already, we should all be asking questions about the many more who are yet to come and the consequences that will surely follow.

This doesn’t mean that the system we have had until now is good. That it is working. Or that we should just stay tied to the same old thing.

We shouldn’t, because the current DWP Benefits regime really isn’t working for anybody, and we are all in desperate need of a solution which really can be seen and experienced as a ‘win-win’.

Now before we get lost completely with how Politicians are getting Benefits and Welfare wrong, there must also be an acceptance on the part of us all of what it is fair to expect to receive, how we receive it, and under what circumstances that help will actually come from the State if we should ever find ourselves in the position where we genuinely need it.

As we look at what is really wrong with the system as it is, we must also understand and accept that if the Law allows certain types of behaviours to exist, it is inevitable that there will be people who will employ them.

It doesn’t make their behaviour right. Their actions are not inevitable. Everyone has free will and can choose how to behave, even when a rule covering that action or behaviour may appear to be absent.

If the system doesn’t accommodate for the misuse of Beneficiaries and those affected, it is the people who are responsible for its design and implementation who are equally responsible for identifying what is wrong, putting it right and ensuring that either good or bad, nobody who should be receiving help gets missed or is able to slip in between.

Why the benefits system isn’t working, isn’t simply about something structural, the technology used or the people who administer or receive Benefits of any kind.

Like most policy failures today, it is a combination of factors which are not being considered. Many of them overlooked for the cause of political expediency, or because their place and influences sit outside of the specific or central theme – in this case the Benefits regime.

The real cost of a Basic Standard of Living is not understood by Government

The greatest injustice visited upon the unemployed, is the Government and DWP assertion that in 2018, one person can live on a basic income of £73.10 per week.

They can’t.

And when the Government itself has set the Minimum Wage at £7.83 per hour, which at a 40 hour week would be the same as £313.20, who exactly do they think is going to step in and replace what for some will be the destitution-busting £240.10 per week which sits so ominously in between?

Yes, there are many other Benefits other than and beyond the scope of Jobseekers Allowance.

But Universal Credit is being sold as a method of simplification by rolling everything into one, when the true aim of saving money will not stop a similar way of allocating money to the very same things from then existing, just under the umbrella of being just one application.

Government must provide a Basic Standard of Living income to those who qualify and need it.

If it is too expensive to do so, those in Government would do well by beginning to ask themselves the question ‘why?’

Government has surrendered responsibility for setting the prices of goods and services essential to a Basic Standard of Living to the private sector

Sadly, little attention is paid to the elephant in the Benefits room. That being the escalating prices of goods and services which provide for everyone’s basic needs in life.

That’s food, clothing, accommodation, transport and utilities.

Not First Class or on the upper side of ‘Taste the Difference’.

Just the stuff that anyone would need to be kept fed, clothed, warm, able to get themselves to a job and home again, and knowing that at night they will have a roof over their head.

Control of all of these goods and services is now completely under the infuence of commercial interests which have money as their one and only god.

Free Marketeers and Neo-Liberals will tell you that the Markets will look after everything when they are completely free to do as they choose. They don’t, they won’t and they will continue to do everything to make profit from every opportunity, for as long as they are gifted with the freedom to choose by gutless Government. Government filled with Politicians who see ethical intervention in the Markets and Financial Sector as a problem because they believe that they have too much to lose by doing so.

No service which is essential to the public good should be placed in private hands or under the undue influence of any self-serving cause.

No food supply essential to basic, healthy survival should be subject to the whimsy of the Markets where multiple traders, agents and handlers are seeking to add one profit margin on top of another, just on one item supplied within any one producer-to-plate supply chain alone.

If the Government genuinely wants the Benefits system to work, it has to find an effective way of controlling these two essential areas of daily life so that once a system that does work has been identified and implemented, it is then not rendered useless by private interest, based on nothing but profit.

We are culturally conditioned to assume that all Benefits Claimants are in some way bad

Mud sticks, as anyone who spends any time on social media or reading the news will know.

But the phenomenon of people assuming the worst of others based on the first story they are told is nothing new. And when it comes to the unemployed, being work shy is basically the accepted view.

The truth is not as straightforward and anyone at any stage of their career can find themselves out of work and having to ‘sign on’ in order to get help.

The problem with the ‘accepted truth’, is that the system itself, both mechanically and culturally treats everyone who comes through the Jobcentre door as if they don’t want to work, cannot be trusted in any way and that they all fit into the same mould as each other.

This approach overlooks the fact that people find themselves knocking on the door of the Jobcentre and the administrative centres of the DWP for very different reasons.

Some are poorly educated. Others have grown up in conditions that reinforce a world view that this is all they are worth. But there are others too who have landed themselves with significant debt to gain degrees that have proven to be of no use. People suffering illness and mental health problems which restrict the work that they can do. And even highly experienced and very well-educated professionals who cannot provide anything like as simple an explanation for what life has put them through.

Sit in a Jobcentre for long enough and you will hear claimants complain about having to wait for the money they are entitled to. You will see others lose their rag because they have not conformed to the regulations that they are supposed to. You will also witness the presence of so many security guards, it clearly suggests that behaviour of this kind is not only possible, but actually the expected constantly and all of the time.

But not all Benefits Claimants are a burden. Many want to work. But they are branded as ‘no-hopers’, instead of gaining the help and support which reflects them individually.

It is little wonder that those outside of the expereince of having a ‘down period’ in their lives take what they have for granted. Then look on and see all these people as being worthless and occupants of society’s bin.

Taking this approach is little more than deliberately setting up Benefit Claimants to fail.

It is not the action of a Government which respects and fully fulfils its role as the representative body of a civilised society. Nor is it illustrative of a Civil Service which is fully considerate of its role.

We can hardly expect the general population to think differently when the system so demeans.

A significant element of Claimants consider themselves entitled to what they receive

Because the system has been so poorly thought through and has not evolved positively in a way that sees its role strategically and as a way to raise expectation from the ground level upwards, it encourages the belief that it can be used as a substitute for real life. For not taking part. For resenting the success of others and as such seeing Benefits as an entitlement or a worthy redistribution of wealth from others.

The Benefits system only works for those who surrender themselves completely to it, leaving no incentive to escape and provide us all with that so far mythical ‘win-win’

Because the Benefits system has been so poorly thought through and has not evolved positively in a way that sees its role strategically as a way to raise expectation from the ground level upwards, it encourages the belief that it can be used as a substitute for real life. For not taking part. For resenting the success of others and as such seeing Benefits as an entitlement or a worthy redistribution of wealth from others.

The Benefits system only works for those who surrender themselves completely to it. It  leaves no incentive for Beneficiaries to escape and benefit anyone but themselves.

With restrictions placed upon how many hours a Claimant can work without losing Benefits, and the process of reinstatement being long and arduous – even before Universal Credit begins, there is zero in terms of incentive for people to take on more hours and work towards self-sufficiency.

Because the 6 Benefits together are so very complicated for one person to qualify for already, the further any Claimant journeys into this portfolio of direct and indirect income streams the less and less likely they are then to leave.

We can only ask ourselves the question if we were to find ourselves in the very same position. When everything is taken care of already, what serious advantage is there to be gained by going out and working for a wage which might never come to anything near the total that becoming subservient to the system and therefore being a Benefits slave can achieve?

Again, we cannot blame people for responding this way when the system itself not only allows but facilitates behaviour of this kind.

Help should always be given to those that need it.

For those who currently choose to be beholden to the system, there must be a process of incentives which doesn’t leave them without all the basic essentials.

It must also encourage them and accept and appreciate that they have responsibility for themselves as well as the wider community. A community which is ready to help, but is itself entitled to see those who voluntarily choose a life on Benefits as a drain on resources that we desperately need focused to provide other Public Services and that they are as such disadvantaging others on little more than a whim.

As taxpayers, we are effectively subsidising the employers of low paid workers by providing the in work benefits which allow them to survive

I have already mentioned what it costs to live and the need for a basic standard of living above.

Yet the conversation and discussion needs to go even further than the power of commercial interests over the essential goods and services for life.

The debate and the action that follows also needs to recognise the role which our Government is playing in keeping wages low and propagating a system where profit margins for large companies are exploding, whilst the millions of people on low incomes are now being farmed for the debt they have to carry, just to survive.

The money that lower income workers receive is in many cases too much to allow them to be on additional Benefits, yet not enough to allow them to be self sufficient. It keeps them ‘functioning’ at the behest of others, somewhere within the ‘in between’.

If we could freeze the prices of goods and services right now, so that they no longer rise, and we could focus in on what it actually costs a normal person on their own to live, self sufficiently, to feed, clothe and take care of themselves, put something by, have a holiday, a realistic pension and have a life which reason would tell us would make a normal person happy, we can soon begin to see the disparity between where wages sit and where right now, in these ‘static’ circumstances they would need to be.

At £10.20 per hour in London and £8.75 per hour outside, without the help of Government with Housing Benefit and Tax Credits too, even the Living Wage Foundations advisory level for a basic income doesn’t come close to what self sufficiency – that’s what complete independence from Government support –  would actually require.

Such a reality where Government support for the growth of small business is concerned alone would probably make the whole thing more palatable.

But the real beneficiaries of this State-sponsored in-work poverty are the big Companies making significant levels of profit that would in reality only dip slightly if they were to pay wages to front-line staff which would allow those employees to function within the overpriced society which their Employers have helped to create.

That this situation has been allowed to exist is beyond questionable.

That successive Governments of all kinds have allowed a situation to exist where the Taxpayer is paying over the odds for products in services in their face value alone is simply wrong.

That customers are then paying again to subsidise the wages of the staff serving them would be funny, if its implications and the reality which surrounds it not so very serious indeed.

This whole process has only been possible because Government has either borrowed incredible amounts of money, or has cut other and arguably more essential Public Services in order to allow them to provide this massive giveaway. A free-for-all that has broken the Country financially and is one of the key reasons why unfettered immigration of low skilled workers from Europe has been possible. Itself an issue which is seen by many Remainers as key to the majority vote for the UK to leave the European Union and the one which they are still obsessively attempting to resolve.

There would be some sweet irony in this if this financial mismanagement had really been helping people and UK communities, rather than being overtly beneficial to commercial interests, private profit and yes, the EU all along.

But there hasn’t, and in terms of management of expectation, this and previous Governments would appear to have hamstrung any future Government which wants to take a stand and do the right thing.

Be that as it may. Doing the right thing, is the only way that all of this is going to end up working right for everyone involved.

The solution

Like almost everything that Government and Politics touches, the key to delivering change in the Benefits and Welfare system is thinking differently.

And it’s the thinking and ideas at the top of British Politics which needs to change first before it can change anywhere else.

The responsibility of Government

Before the Benefits problem can be fixed, the understanding of what the problem actually is, must be broadened to include the wide range of factors which feed and influence the issues which those claiming Benefits experience.

Right now, there is an obsession on the part of decision makers. One which leads them only to attempt to address the effects of any problem, rather than to tackle each and every one of the causes.

Until all of the causes of problems are addressed, the Benefits system will only ever work temporarily at best, until those factors which are outside of the scope of that consideration inevitably change and then exert their negative influence once again.

A Basic Standard of Living level or the real Living Wage will only be achieved and maintained when all contributing factors fall within the reasoned influence of non-idealistic Government that considers the consequences of policy making upon ALL.

Politicians simply do not understand the power they have to change things. They do not see the scope of their roles and they have no appreciation of the influence that they could really have if they were to put the interests of ALL the people who have elected them first, rather than themselves, their Political Parties and whatever ideas or interests sit around that self-serving mix.

It will not matter how simple or complicated existing of new systems like Universal Credit might be. If they fail to consider and be considered as part of the bigger picture, they will always fail – and our Politicians have both the ability and responsibility to ensure that this is no longer the case.

It is their choice to now decide and it is their choice which must come first.

The responsibility – and acceptance of Claimants and Beneficiaries

For any solution to gain traction, it is also vital that ‘being down in your luck’ is accepted as a normal part of life, rather than being a condition which renders any of us as being sub-standard to it – the position under which Benefit Claimants are often perceived.

Those claiming Benefits fall into two predominant groups. Those who are or should be  temporary claimants and are able and willing to work. And those who are longer-term or permanent claimants who are unable or unlikely to be able to consider working again because of disability, illness, or other genuine debilitating circumstances.

All of us as beneficiaries must accept that there is and never has been a magic money tree of any kind. That the support that is given can only be provided through the act of others contributing through taxation on earnings, whether they themselves earn little or some extraordinary figure that might blow our minds.

Whilst it may currently behave as if it is, and some Politicians continue to seek election on the basis of perpetuating this myth, Government and the Public Sector is not a separate and ‘benevolent’ entity which doles out cash to Welfare recipients on the basis of being kind.

Government exists to represent the best interests of ALL British people. Government is there to help us all to succeed in whatever way that might be possible for us as individuals. And on  behalf of us all, it is there to help and provide support to those of us who cannot do so, in such ways that we may never feel like an after thought or something that others have in some way been left behind.

Government is the formal community power which represents and is therefore ‘for all of us’.

Those of us receiving help should therefore be mindful that the help we receive comes from the people next door, up the street and across our Cities and Towns.

As recipients, we are not ‘entitled’ to anything. It is simply that looking after those in genuine need is the basis upon which our civilised society can be found.

 

 

 

 

 

The PM’s Tory Conference entrance was one giant tell and the air is thickening with the stench of a political fudge

October 9, 2018 Leave a comment

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Treating people like mushrooms; keeping them in the dark and feeding them on bullshit, is likely to be the greatest epithet of the EU.

Despite the result of the 2016 EU Referendum in the UK, the message that the general population has grown wise is still not getting through.

We now see the EU engaged in one of its classic bluff-based, interactive dances with one of its greatest disciples, Theresa May.

Last weeks entrance to the Conservative Party Conference should really be read for what it was. Not merely the pretence of  hamming it up to try and look cool for a tired and trivialised audience on the part of an incompetent Prime Minister. But the meaningful strut of a confident peacock certain that the audience is about to be taken in completely by a very colourful and expansive display.

As many will already know. The EU has well-documented form when it comes to creating the impression that things are going differently to how they would like them, and by double bluffing or even doubling-down when they sense they are at the point of a win.

Over recent days, we have not only witnessed the arrival of the great pretender in all her glory, but claim and then counter claim that a deal on Brexit is getting closer and closer. Then we are assured that the truth is not any such thing.

Meanwhile the obsessive talk of a second Referendum is becoming so frequent that its inevitability is being deliberately painted into our consciousness whilst we are being coerced into questioning the original first and legitimate democratic win.

Chequers was never based upon an honest principle of ‘Brexit means Brexit’. It was a calculated way to bluff up a storm at the end of which once unacceptable concessions would then be seen as being perfectly reasonable, keeping Brexit in name only as the only option saved from the bin.

Regrettably, politicians from all areas of the political spectrum and from both sides of the  EU Membership Debate seem to be buying into this either emotionally, or just logically to save theor own necks.

Many sense that the only way that Brexit can be delivered legitimately will be if there is another General Election – one which with Theresa May in No. 10, the Conservatives have little to guarantee them that they can win.

We cannot be sure what form it will take. But the devil will most certainly be in the detail of any agreement that May attempts  to persuade us that she has negotiated and achieved.

One of the greatest political fudges and injustices is now in the making. And its success was ushered in with a gawky, inelegant rendition of Abba’s Dancing Queen.

Improving Social Mobility is about addressing the way decision makers think, not about academic education alone

October 8, 2018 1 comment

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The three key misunderstandings and fallacious barriers to Social Mobility are:

  • That Social Mobility issues only affect young people who are in their career development years
  • That the only way to improve Social Mobilty is through ensuring that everyone achieves a ‘full’ academic education and that the attainment of degrees is key
  • That Social Mobility issues relate to the achievement, progress or outlook of the individual and nobody else

With one evolution of the Social Mobility Commission having resigned because of lack of Government support and another now appointed in the image of all the same Establishment ideas, the key issues underpinning lack of progress in tackling the barriers to Social Mobility are still being overlooked and this travesty is set to continue further still.

As is often the case when a cause is given a label, the Social Mobility problem is an issue which has become closely aligned with just one interpretation of its cause. This closes down debate and dialogue about the much wider range of issues which attribute to reducing opportunities. It also excludes consideration of a wider malaise and certainly overlooks the real impact on not only the individuals affected themselves, but also upon the wider community as a whole.

Yes, many young people are overlooked because of the start they had in life. The place in which they lived. The schools which they did and did not attend. The qualifications which they did or didn’t gain.

But the reality is that it is a very long list of factors which prevent any one person from progressing.

The interpretation of someone’s validity on the road to progress and passing these barriers is not simply restricted to that of employers, educators or any of the external gatekeepers of opportunity.

No. The perception of not being good enough to overcome any barrier to Social Mobility can be that of the individual all on their own.

The obstruction to unhindered Social Mobility, is the many prejudices which are not and cannot be managed by regulation or by the methods of review and reform which have become the cultural norm in this Country.

In a society which has learned to make effect synonymous with cause, we overlook the real causes of societal problems and as such have no way to address the consequential effects.

The social justice warriors, the politically correct, the rights lobby and liberal left all congratulate themselves on the strangle hold of regulation which decades of manipulation and social engineering have helped them impose.

Yet the rules which govern Equality of Opportunity in their purest sense have actually made prejudices easier to employ.

Only now, beyond the scope of the processes which assure us that prejudices have been all but removed, they are less likely to be evidenced and hide in plain sight.

Yes, we have regulation against gender and sex discrimination. Race discrimination. Disabilities discrimination, Religion, Age and sexual orientation too.

But in creating these frameworks or safety notes, the idealistic engineers of this ill-considered social plan have provided the perfect opportunity for people to surrender ethical responsibility to being seen to adhere to the set of rules which now exist. They have been given a set of pillars that once worshipped, allow them to do whatever they want to by behaving in ways which legitimately go around these rules or sit somewhere in the spaces in between.

We now not only have a situation where decision makers can quietly be racist, sexist, or are allowed to quietly indulge any other prejudice we might not collectively like. They can continue to do so unimpeded.

The consequences of this ‘big vision’ engineering project create many other problems too. Problems which include disadvantaging the already disadvantaged and building barriers to progress which the very same people will now never cross.

And guess what. Yes. We find again that achievements exist only for the same few to easily win all over again.

Take for example the assault on the education system that the Blair Government undertook, with the overt aim of giving everyone the opportunity to gain a degree.

The result has been the commercialisation of the further and higher education system, leading to the prioritisation of winning fees, rather than focusing on the quality and commercial durability of the education provided. Running education as a business has almost certainly put its future in serious doubt.

It is a process which has already led hundreds and thousands of hopeful young people to begin professional life in serious debt and with academic qualifications which are to many businesses completely worthless.

Yet the debt-laiden graduates only find out too late that these quack qualifications don’t mean much at all to the world around them once they have left the supposed safety of the academic universe behind.

The world of big business and its new world of ‘created roles and specialisms’ has responded to the glorifying of academic qualification over the benefit of time-served experience by recognising degrees as a standard for anybody worth looking at. Not as a way to recognise specialism in itself. But as a like-for-like replacement in recent years for what would previously have been well illustrated by the attainment of 3 A’Levels, and only a few years before that just 5 GCSE’s.

Not everyone is cut out to be a CEO, Director or even a manager and non-academic people bring value to business which only when added to the contribution of real academics can it add up to a formula which is so much more.

The dangerous mix created by this non-stop meddling has fuelled the entitlement culture. Qualification has become more valuable than experience and experience is not of value to those who have qualifications.

Letters on a CV are seen as more important than attitude, motivation, or the many other life skills which business used to intrinsically value, which they now overlook. The system now unwittingly leads them to place applications from people who would should be the next generation of commercial superstars straight in the bin.

It doesn’t stop there, and within a tick box, risk-averse culture where Recruiters and HR Officers – that’s people who have and never will do these jobs themselves – have overwhelming power over recruitment processes, there is an untamed focus on identifying reasons to not even shortlist candidates – usually because they don’t have a degree.

Good people are now denied jobs where they can thrive and the employers and companies themselves never gain access to the wider pool of candidates where the real benefits of selecting people with the right experience rather than just a paper qualification lies.

The consequences of this social meddling are already far reaching indeed and because the UK could never afford to provide education to 21 years as a standard – which in itself was never needed, it was inevitable that a new form of educational discrimination would introduce itself. And it’s the worst one of all. The preclusion from opportunity for even more young people based simply on cost.

Just in this one example of social meddling focusing on education alone, where impractical idealists have tried to impose a system of restrictions based upon no experience that they have or have in no way never known, we can see how far reaching the impact on consequences of quixotic thinking can be.

This is a pattern which is unfolding itself over and over again within all the areas of our lives where lack of consideration has been applied to the consequences of imposing the ‘consideration’ of rights and ‘positive’ discrimination on a society which will always have its own mind and not the one which political busy-bodies which to create for it.

The barriers to Social Mobility are all about the way that we think.

But the change needed and the tools which will enable us to break down those barriers and make that change will only come when decision makers with the power and therefore the ability to oversee that change go through a voluntary process of accepting that they themselves need to think differently.

That change will come about as a direct result.

That change cannot and never will be imposed.

 

The Principle of Charity is all but forgotten when we hear others, yet we would all prefer to be given the benefit of the doubt ourselves

October 3, 2018 Leave a comment

Context is always at risk of misinterpretation, unless you are one person who knows exactly what you mean.

What we say, what we write or what we do in our interactions with others can always be viewed in at least three ways.

Until very recently, it was usually the third party to any experience or event which would be the best bet on introducing forgiveness and understanding when something was misunderstood or taken badly by either key party, whatever the circumstances happened to be in between.

Not only seeing, but respecting the reality of a bigger picture is something that in conversation, experiences and life in general, older generations once took for granted.

Young people, or ‘millennials’, as our unforgiving media as now branded them, are unlikely to recall the time when there was an alternative, yet unspoken rule. An acceptance that hanging reality upon just a word or a sentence wasn’t an appropriate call.

Communication was a sum game. Understanding something was all about the way that the words are said. Where and when they had been used. The backdrop which stood behind them and a whole picture made up of many different things, which together added up to something different.

The truth is often much greater than the sum of all parts and usually much much more.

Today we experience and endure something completely different. A selective form of deliberate, yet increasingly conditioned non-understanding. A way to make anyone or anything we disagree with well and truly wrong, in an attempt to unwittingly mislead others and influence the way that other people will think.

Culturally we are now attuned to look for anything that’s wrong with any point of a message, no matter how isolated it might be. We do so, rather than hearing and making a conclusion upon the content of all of that message, where determining our interpretation of the outlook or principle, and whether the direction of travel might provide a meaningful level of insight.

This is not even the preserve of the amateur, uneducated or unskilled.

Even writers, journalists and opinionators, the professional wordsmiths are now closed in their reasoning when it comes to studying the words, social media interactions, and interviews of the people that the truly objective would know better than to despise.

They do so not for the measure of the content, but for the mix of words which can be used to wrong the speaker, who will often have blundered into this trap unwittingly, no knowing they have fallen into an elephant trap built with malevolence which will soon revisit them in the form of a very dark surprise.

This habit has already destroyed careers. It has been used to change discourse. To eliminate realities which would benefit us all. It has become little more than a lesson in how to become professionally mean.

The opposite of this behaviour was once known freely as the Principle of Charity. And we would all do well to refresh ourselves with what the Principle of Charity actually means.

For when the time comes that we find ourselves on the receiving end of this cultural malaise which builds its own truth in a place where the genuine story has never been, we may wish that we ourselves could be in receipt of the benefit of the doubt from others. To be understood for what we have offered the world as a whole and honest picture. Rather being the target of someone’s else’s reason for being and becoming the focus which they need to apportion their own blame.

Change has the appearance of being hard, where once the first step is taken it becomes easy. Instead of looking for change to come from others, we have to accept that genuine change comes from within.

We can begin by treating each other, as we would wish to be treated ourselves.

It may require a little more thinking, but it soon feels good and we quickly remember that the opportunities are available in every situation where everyone can walk away, having bagged a genuine win.

Cheltenham BC and Boots Corner: Like local government across the UK, officers and councillors aren’t listening to the real boss, and change is well overdue

September 29, 2018 4 comments

Boots Corner

I’ve been out of local government for nearly three and a half years. But I have continued to watch the continuing chain of messes being created within our Gloucestershire Boroughs and Districts. Usually because someone or a very few people with power and with influence have personal ownership of and therefore investment in some ‘great’ idea. Ideas which are nearly always in some way about them, their career, their legacy or future. Wholly impractical ideas which are then misrepresented as being beneficial to the people they are actually responsible to. The people that they all represent.

There is some rich irony in the fact that lessons are never learned by these same people who have responsibilities not only to themselves, their jobs or their Political Parties.

Lessons are there to be taught through everything these public organisations do. They may appear to arrive in different form, but the same mistakes are being made time after time, over and over again.

Planning, for all the questions which surround it’s often arbitrary processes, has regrettably become the most day-to-day example of all that’s wrong in local government.

The Local Planning Process continually demonstrates all that is wrong with the wider system itself. But the problem is only in small part due to laws and regulations, and actually more about the people who manage and implement government processes, their ideas, motives and yes, the ties that bind them to their ‘interpretations’ within the protectionist culture and environment in which they work.

Watching the Boots Corner fiasco unfold over recent months has been like reading a text-book example of what happens when Planners and their Political Masters get things wrong. What people experience when Councils come up with a ‘great idea’ to improve things, but overlook the most important consideration in the room: What the impact and consequences will be for the people and businesses whose interests they are actually paid and elected to look after.

It doesn’t take many conversations with local business people, residents, employees and regular visitors from local feeder Towns to know that these changes at Boots Corner are idealistic at best, but practically awful.

The changes are having an impact not only on the Centre of Cheltenham itself, but are loading traffic onto the already congested main roads around the Town at rush hour, and now jamming back streets and almost certainly creating rat-runs unseen at every opportunity in between.

The change at Boots Corner is unnecessary. It’s not improving the Town Centre and nobody apart from the Planners and whoever on the Council they have convinced of the validity of this Scheme really has any idea what the real benefit of these changes are to anyone using Cheltenham Town Centre.

And that’s right now. Just wait until the long-awaited John Lewis Store opens its doors and visitor numbers really do burst through the lid.

Now don’t let anyone tell you that the Council is not aware of how people feel. If you follow local news, you cannot miss the disquiet that the changes in late June have raised. This is not Nimby-ism. It’s real people voicing genuine concern over the impact of poor decision making which is now having meaningful impact on their everyday lives.

The travesty is that instead of listening, and for fear of admitting being ‘wrong’, the Council is doubling down and now adding oversized flowerpots, cycle racks, benches, a lot of unhelpful white lines and yes, some artificial grass sat on the lump in between.

And there’s unlikely to be any mistake about the drawn-out nature of the timing of additions either.

Why? Well it’s all to give a repetitive sense to us all that this change is permanent. That when they tell us all that the trial was a success, that with hindsight it will feel like its permanence was always inevitable. That there was no option or reason to change their minds at any point in between.

But this simply isn’t true. And any tales you are told about decisions taking a long time to reverse in Council, or that a trial period must be seen through to its end to be valid are disingenuous at best.

There is no inevitability of confirmation for these changes at Boots Corner or indeed permanence of this change. It simply hinges on what the Officers and therefore the Councillors ultimately decide and however they choose to harvest and then interpret their ‘data’.

The fact is the Council could reinstate the pre-June road system within a few days if they really had doing what’s right for Cheltenham, in mind.

However, it is only fair that no Officer or Councillor be singled out and in some way blamed for what is happening in the Centre of Cheltenham right now.

The whole Government system is rotten with a protectionist and self-serving culture, only made worse by the quasi-bankrupt state of the Government and Public Sector, with austerity being a big part of the problem, but a significant way from being the cause.

But this in itself doesn’t mean that Cheltenham and indeed any of our Local Authorities cannot choose to be different.

The Council has the choice to be big about it. To listen. To gain respect from local people and businesses for trying something new but recognising it doesn’t work, for listening AND HEARING what is being said and quickly responding. To be adaptable to changing things that aren’t right and not get hung up at a personal level about what appearing to take a step back might look like.

Decisions are being made big and small within local authorities up and down the Country which have very little to do with with the people. And in case anyone isn’t sure, that’s the boss that Officers and Politicians ALL ultimately work for.

Locally the latest one is Boots Corner. In terms of direction, this one is definitely going the wrong way, and poor decisions which are having a real impact on daily life in Cheltenham are not the kind of change in local government that we all so badly need.

How about surprising us all and doing what’s actually right, rather telling us that’s what you are doing?

 

You can read some more of Adam’s writing about the realities of Local Government and the wider Public Sector here and here.

 

Parliament exists to be representative of the People, not the wants of the Government of the day. Reducing the number of MP’s will only increase public disenfranchisement as power is centralised further

September 28, 2018 Leave a comment

download 22In amongst the din of the Brexit chaos, you may detect the odd snippet of news concerning the proposed reduction in the number of MP’s.

Under a supposed process of making representation more fair, by redrawing Parliamentary Constituency Boundaries, the current Government is seeking to complete the process began by David Cameron to reduce the number of Parliamentary Seats.

As has become normal practice with the Political Classes of today, the story focuses on what they want us all to hear. Not what they don’t want us to think.

Hear ‘balance’, hear ‘fair’, hear ‘equality in representation’.

Don’t hear ‘more people per MP. Don’t hear ‘greater distance between voters and their representatives’. Certainly don’t hear ‘redrawing the political geography of the Country to favour one political side’.

Its pretty normal for us all to have political allegiances of one kind or another. Thats the way that the UK has worked culturally for a long time. But whatever side we support, there is nothing positive to be gained by attempting to tip the balance of the electoral system to place one Party in front, with the indirect aim of ensuring that for the opposition, becoming a government will almost always be denied.

One of the greatest struggles of contemporary politicians is understanding why they don’t get support for their ideas and policies. They don’t consider that their policies and ideas might be wrong. They certainly don’t entertain the thought that they are so completely out of touch with the electorate that they represent, that they have lost their way from the pathway that they should be taking. That of ensuring the impact of policies and decisions, and therefore their consequences are considered for their impact upon us all.

Instead they have concluded that it is the system which is broken. It is the system that is wrong. Their solution being that the system should be fixed. That everything will be much better if they can ensure that their own side can achieve a guaranteed and majority win.

It doesn’t matter if its redrawing electoral boundaries, or introducing proportional representation or a derivative form of it. All these ideas are about gaining more control by dubious means, rather than simply doing the job that all of these politicians have been elected to do.

The problem is that each and every step that is taken in this way is ultimately making the disconnect, the disenfranchisement between us, the Government and the Establishment more distinct. It will not make things better. It will give voters even less of a chance to speak.

image thanks to unknown

The EU is the idealists’ nirvana. That’s why Brexit is visceral, instinctive and for some Leavers hard to explain, whereas many Remainers are simply addicted to the EU and will do whatever it takes to keep things the same

September 18, 2018 Leave a comment

Wolf Sheep ClothingIts not often that I find myself laughing about anything to do with Brexit. A no-deal, or rather the position from which negotiations should have started is where we should actually be. Yet over two years later, Theresa May’s Government is still pretending that the UK can be independent whilst maintaining the functions of a member state.

I laughed this morning, when I heard that a high profile Remainer had branded Leavers as idealists, knowing full well that nothing could be further from the truth.

When people who should know better are busy calling people names, they do after all often betray the way that they really see themselves, deep down and at a level our conscious world is all too happy for us to miss.

The European Union has, is and will continue to be the idealists nirvana, both strategically and functionally until the day that it ceases to exist.

The EU’s history is much better documented than the behaviour of most Politicians and Opinionators would have us think.

A little reading would soon uncover the true origins and chronology of the European Project. Its original, its evolving and its often self-interest-laden aims. And how like the work of all quixotic idealists, the central tenet upon which the whole thing is built, is the pathway to complete control, cleverly camouflaged as a way to maintain peace, prosperity, a sense of belonging and of course gold-laden career opportunities for politicians who have forgotten where they came from.

The European Commission’s cultural mindset is that it understands the function of the world, all businesses and people within it, better than the people and businesses which are functioning within.

This is best demonstrated by the endless train of regulation that nobody in the UK actually asked for. Rules and standards that often make little sense, but make life increasingly expensive, politically correct and devoid of humanity in relationships because some rule created by a bureaucrat with a great idea in another Country has been introduced instructing us how people they will never meet should interact in between.

The European Union not only works, but its influence in every part of life fervently accepted, because we are trusting and assume that ideal measures introduced to manage anything can only ever be a good thing.

They are not.

Since we joined the Common Market, an earlier stage of the United States of Europe’s life-cycle, life for us all in the UK has began to become unrecognisable, with behaviour, morals and values smashed in pursuit of nothing more than the idealist EU’s dream.

That the British People, and a majority of them at that, have recognised that there is an alternative truth and within it a better way to exist and prioritise the people, businesses and communities that we care for is not idealist.

It is being real and knowing that we have already for too long been on a destructive legislative pathway which without immediate change will soon control even more of our lives and the way that we think.

And all those MP’s and Establishment idealists who are singing to the EU’s tune during these so-called negotiations, instead of carrying out the process which the Electorate instructed should be aware of just one thing.

The EU is reliant upon the principle that when you finally begin to wake up from aiding and abetting what is in reality a foreign power to win, the EU’s measures of control will have progressed simply too far for any rebellion against it to be even mildly fruitful, should any one of you then be brave enough to even begin.

image thanks to unknown

TV Election debates are great if showmanship is the only standard set for Political leadership

September 17, 2018 Leave a comment

download (23)I’ve written about televised leaders debates before and I continue to have doubts about their validity, and whether it is even possible for them to be truly fair.

With talk of another General Elections becoming ever frequent, probably because of Labours obsession with finding a way to cause one, it comes as little surprise that somebody, somewhere is obsessing about how people will feel in a very specific, but what will be painted as being a wholly comprehensive way..

That looking to ‘big up’ a certain point of view is a process of little more than confirmation bias by people with the public ear is no great shock. But it is ironic that the subject matter here is the focus of the media, where a lot of the symptoms or effects causing upset amongst not only young people but the wider population too, was generated in the first place.

No, there’s nothing wrong with young people being in favour with television debates. In fact, I defy anyone to suggest other than it is what we can all safely expect.

After all, TV and all forms of media are now to many representative of the world we live in. From that perspective alone, we would be foolish to overlook the way that to so many people the world of politics is now perceived.

What happens is we all forget or overlook one massive and inescapable truth when when the infinitesimally small, pure, unadulterated level of fact provided through these mediums is acknowledged and put to one side.

Every other bit of content on the news, on TV, on the internet and on social media isn’t real. Its words. Opinion. Spin. Someone else’s way of interpreting events in the world. It’s the way that other people want us all to see AND interpret what is going on around us. And even then what they say and what we hear may be very different things.

We have created the illusion of all illusions. Instead of measuring our life decisions with the facts hidden below the surface of this pretend veil, we are mistaking illusion for fact. We have fallen in to the trap of creating a parallel universe where nothing really exists except the many perceptions that we have differently as individuals. Perceptions that we experience as genuine which are misleading is about everything.

No, I do not blame young people or anyone living a normal life outside the bubble where this is all created for the misunderstanding, the frustration and yes, the injustice which sits in between. I don’t even blame those creating the problem from within it, because these are people who are so clearly lost from the impact and consequence of what they are doing, that they cannot really have any idea of what it all means.

The biggest problem in amongst all of this is that our political classes do not see the reality of what is going on and what this all really is. Despite it not being unreasonable that we should be able to expect all those holding elected office to be savvy enough to see the wood for the trees AND act upon it, they have become obsessed with making all this noise real. They simply overlook the responsibilities that they have to us all and obsess about what looks good when it is presented to us

Watch Politicians on Twitter. Observe them on Facebook. But above all take note of how little sense any of their answers or statements really make when they are asked reasonable question about the work they are supposed to be doing for you.

Our political classes have become so obsessed with playing up to what they think people think, rather than doing the job they are supposed to do, that it really comes as no surprise that things have got as bad as they really are for us all. This is wrong.

The establishment didn’t see Brexit coming. Many of the Politicians belonging to it are still convinced that everyone outside Westminster and London actually wants to remain. They certainly haven’t got any real idea of what it is to be a normal person trying to make ends meet, or to be a young person struggling with the prospect of taking on a lifelong debt to obtain what will probably be useless qualifications before their adult life even begins.

So if we focus only on how a Politician or would-be Prime Minister performs on TV or all the other forms of media, we are overlooking a great many things.

Yes, good media performance is important for Politicians. But it is only just the cherry on a very large metaphorical cake. It’s not even the icing, or the most important part, the middle, which itself needs to contain real quality ingredients. All in one what should really be a many great things.

None of this can really be seen within a televised debate forum. Seeing is believing only if you believe the idea that the camera never lies. And if any of us use this example of judging the suitably of a prime ministerial candidate and the substance of the Political Party that backs them, we should not be surprised when the results are policies which only inflict pain within our lives, because the illusion of credibility that being on a screen gives then wins.

 

image thanks to independent.co.uk

A housing market correction will be nothing to do with Brexit, Gov’. A lot of people would actually like a 33%+ drop in prices and those who would suffer could and should have been helped by preventative regulation long before now

September 16, 2018 Leave a comment

images (12)Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England has become a divisive figure, despite some protestations that his efforts are the only thing keeping the Government sound.

Appointed by George Osborne, some would have been surprised by the recent extension of his Contract, but less so by his intervention this week suggesting that there could be a housing market crash, post ‘no deal Brexit’. He has form when it comes to ‘Project Fear’ after all.

First things first. Bank of England Governor or not, nobody has the level of knowledge of the future that it would take to make a credible prediction of this kind with such clarity and yes, conviction too.

The great irony surrounding Mr Carney’s latest projection is that a great many people throughout the UK would not only welcome a drop in house prices of the kind he has suggested. They would probably go out and celebrate it too.

A correction in the massively over-inflated UK housing market is long overdue and We can be sure that with the experience and background that Mr Carney has, he jolly well knows this too. It’s just very easy right now for him to link anything bad with the all absorbing process and negativity being peddled about Brexit by key people who should really behave better.

Houses in this country have been vastly overpriced for an entire generation already.

The gap between income level and the borrowing necessary to secure home ownership grows exponentially every year.

Yet the people who could do more to bring into check the out of control monster that is the housing market – that’s people like Mr Carney himself, have long since given up on trying to tackle the issues creating the housing crisis head on.

They instead rely on hollow excuses to create policies like aggressive house building which won’t actually solve the housing problem through our Country but will certainly ensure that the green parts of England will soon never ever look quite the same.

Ask yourself this. When was the last time you experienced house prices falling in your local area when a new and probably large housing development was built nearby?

No. House prices are drastically over-inflated and it is only because so little meaningful regulation is placed upon the banks and finance houses, that their unbridled processes of money creation have been allowed to build and consolidate a mountain of private debt for the general population.

Meanwhile those responsible for what is to them a distant reality live gilded lives which are only possible because they have been allowed to create a culture of financial oppression for others which is progressively enslaving the masses whilst the benefits push up prices for everyone but only deliver benefits for the few.

The false world which has been created by the work of the financial sector really is a wonder to behold. But it is not real and it is dangerously dependent upon the security and stability of the financial markets which are intrinsically linked to the wants and whims of traders and government appointed officials, leaving little in terms of cushioning or a safety net located in between.

The correction in the housing market for which many are now waiting could as easily come after a no deal Brexit as it could at any other time.

But if the housing market correction should appear to arrive at the time of our leaving the EU, it will not be because of the decision made in the European Referendum in 2016.

It will do so because of the catalystic behaviour of officials and politicians in the European Union and our Government who have and continue to resist the democratic decision of the British People to complete Brexit.

They have worked tirelessly instead for a mismatch and mess of measures which cannot possibly work as a solution as it has always been their aim to place the UK within a mythical no mans land between us and the EU which could never actually exist, even though they would continually tell us all that it was so.

 

image thanks to thetimes.co.uk

 

No Minister, you don’t need another consultation about Railways to tell you what Voters already know. Isn’t it time to leave Westminster and simply ask a few?

September 15, 2018 1 comment

download (20)We can only imagine the thought process that a Minister must go through before declaring that their answer to a significant, cross-demographic problem, is to commission yet another report and delay action for at least another year.

What can it possibly be that tells a representative of the people who has been in the job long enough to secure a Cabinet Seat in No.10, that getting a conclusion upon the state of our Railways can only come from just one person who they obviously look up to, rather than those who elected them, and who we might not unreasonably conclude from their behaviour, that they look down upon too?

Before you get carried away and think I’m suggesting that we hold a Referendum over the state of the Railways, I’m not.

What I am saying, is that it doesn’t take a lot of effort to talk to and then understand the perspective of the public and how we see and experience the problem daily, and grow increasingly frustrated with the transportation nightmare which seems to be getting worse before our eyes.

Have a conversation with a commuter. Have conversations with many. Don’t leave it at just a few.

Speak to the people who run the railways, that work on them. Talk to the people who live by them. Consult the motorists held up at level crossings too.

You don’t need a supermarket guru to understand that the Railways aren’t working. A big part of the problem which faces commuters and tourists on our Railways every day was created by a past Government doing something very similar in the early 1960’s to what Chris Grayling is doing now.

When the Beeching Axe fell upon lines and stations across the Country, the UK’s entire Rail Network was cut back to such a level that very few of us could now deny that it would have made travel so much easier for all at both local and national level, if this wasted infrastructure had still been in use today.

Falling back on consultants or setting up some elaborate consultation which will cost lots of public money, delay things needlessly and end up with a report which will have come to whatever conclusions the Government want it to anyway, won’t solve the problem. It won’t change the fundamental issues facing Rail Users. It won’t escape the real problems which need to be addressed, that politicians find too hard to address when the only passion they have is for winning power again at the next election.

Politicians from Town and Parish Councils, right up to the Cabinet Table in No.10 Downing Street are failing to connect policy with the people they are elected to represent. They fail because they do not speak with or communicate with the very people they represent (And no, Party Members in an MP’s own constituency don’t really count on their own)

If those responsible for Railway Policy did so, they would soon understand that:

  • HS2 should be scrapped. It is a waste of time, money and is upsetting far more people than it will ever help. It will not solve the problem of limited capacity on the Railway network anywhere other than in the areas adjacent to its immediate route and this improvement could be gained within other improvements which could be made to the existing infrastructure.
  • There are not enough Platforms and/or ‘Terminus’ Stations. We need more trains running more often on key commuter journeys. Technology is no longer the problem as trains can be run, scheduled and operated digitally and London Underground is a good example of this. More trains cannot run on key lines because there simply aren’t the platforms available at stations where trains terminate to be ‘turned around’ in greater numbers at the same time. Opening up and building new platforms and corresponding lines at existing ‘Terminus’ Stations, or building new stations to accommodate more platforms would address the capacity problem on the existing network immeasurably.
  • Management of public services for profit doesn’t work, but nationalisation or public ownership is its purest or accepted sense doesn’t either. People cannot have two masters. They are either focused on service or focused on profit. Public services, where a level of service should be the same for everyone equally, should never be placed in the hands of decision makers who are set to make a profit, as they will always be obsessive about cutting elements of the service or product where they see no profit, or where they perceive that a monetary loss will be made. Quality service delivery requires fairness and balance and in fiscal terms, that means that sometimes, some parts of a service will appear to run at a ‘loss’.
  • All Rail Operating Companies should be non-profit-making trusts run on commercial lines with staff incentivised to deliver the best results, but with all profit ploughed back into further development, renewals of rolling stock and bringing ticket prices back to a realistic level over the longer term.
  • Unions have too much power to disrupt strategic decisions. Businesses and organisations exist to provide products and services. They are not normally created as a vehicle to create jobs and the Unions are completely out of touch with this. Employment and Union Law needs to protect employees from poor management practice, but also needs to be conversant with the requirements of a business and the reality that it is in the interests of both the employer and the employed for work to be carried out in the right conditions, which are not ones which prioritise the experience of employees over that of the customer.
  • Health & Safety rules coupled with the blame and ambulance-chasing culture are compromising passenger experience for no benefit greater than being able to tick a box on a risk assessment. 
  • Derelict and unused Railway beds should be put back into use, with heritage Railway Companies, Charities and Trusts encouraged and supported to run commuter services wherever they can and with help would have the ability to do so.

Yes, this is a simplification of the facts as they stand. But that’s all a politician needs before asking executives or civil servants to get on and do their jobs.

No MP is going to stand up against genuine improvements to the services provided to their constituents and its time for them all to grow up and stop using politics as and excuse and a phoney divide.

Nothing will change for the better by delaying things for 12 months.

It’s time to drop all the talk and get on with some action.

 

image thanks to telegraph.co.uk

The rise & times of the Opinionator

September 14, 2018 Leave a comment

I have to admit that I do enjoy watching political programmes. I have a habit of reading my twitter feed 2 or 3 times on weekdays and mirroring that with a flick through my Facebook Feed too.

What has been noticeable, particularly since the European Referendum in June 2016, is that there has been a quantum shift away from news content which was actually focused on news. Even sources once respected are now firmly biased towards opinion as the key part of their content in a wholly comprehensive way.

Yes, news has always had opinion as a strong and often influential element. Thats why we have newspapers recognised as being left, liberal or right wing, and therefore being of greatest appeal to the people or readers who political feel those areas are where their allegiances belong.

But already have experienced what may continue to be a cultural shift way from people being asked to answer questions about a subject, simply because that subject is something that they have very specific experience of or are perhaps academically qualified to talk about.

Those who once had real-life or academic experience at the very least have been replaced by a range of speakers. Some of these are even journalists themselves. All have become the go-to interviewees and public speakers, modelled as the people to got to who can explain everything going on – often within areas of life where they themselves are little more than spectators.

In the right place at the right time or so it would seem. It’s just the case that they have found themselves in jobs where they are paid to create engaging comment and little more.

There is no comfort in making comparisons between what is supposed to be quality news mediums and a trip down the pub. But the near farcical reality is that with the way that opinion is now being presented as fact by almost every outlet in every way, we really would get better value from having a beer or wine fuelled chat about everything down at the local with people who are out in the world and living real lives.

At least there we can give speakers the benefit of the doubt from there being alcohol involved, rather than being otherwise fooled into thinking that because we are hearing this noise on TV, reading it in a paper or on a social media feed, we are wrong about the interpretations of the experiences that we have and that these opinionators represent the real views of the public and the majority of people.

Categories: Uncategorized

Giving employees mandatory ownership of companies will contradict everything that business and economy is about

September 14, 2018 Leave a comment

download (18)If you sneezed this week, you may have missed Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell announcing that an incoming Labour government will make it mandatory for companies with 250 employees or more to have shared ownership of the business.

Businesses are not started with job creation in mind. Businesses are established to provide products and services.

The creation of jobs is just one positive consequence of a process which is driven by exploiting opportunity. An entrepreneurially driven process which for most has little to do with inclusivity, a sense of community or any conscious aim of creating future opportunities of any kind.

It simply doesn’t matter how socially attuned or in possession of an alternative truth that political leaders may imagine themselves to be. That’s the way that commercially viable business works and the principle which underpins the forward-looking economic success of any Country.

The role of Government is to create the environment in which businesses can thrive. The circumstances in which commerce can deliver positive consequences for all and to therefore be of benefit to everyone as a whole. It is not the role of politicians to micromanage business governance in a way which will then inevitably dictate how a company strategy, direction and therefore viability is determined.

 

image thanks to Reuters / http://www.dailymail.co.uk

 

 

 

The problem with the plan for Brexit, is that Brexit has become all about having a plan

July 19, 2018 4 comments

When Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrived in Downing Street in May 1940, he didn’t have a plan or a date in mind for the War to end in 1945. He just knew what he had to achieve, and took the initiative to lead.

Right now, Brexit has effectively fallen on its arse. Not because the instruction given by the Electorate on 23rd June 2016 wasn’t clear. It was.

Brexit seems to be going nowhere because almost everyone has become obsessed by the ‘plan’ that will get us ‘there’.

Having a plan in itself isn’t a problem. Having plans is pretty normal. But when you allow yourself to become paralysed and glued to the spot, just because there isn’t a plan in place which appears to suit your purpose, there is little wonder that everything soon begins to resemble one giant mess.

Plans, or creating plans for any aim or desired outcome is a very deceptive process. Having an ‘agreed’ plan gives a false sense of security, built on the complacent view that everything will then work like clockwork and turn out as good as you could possibly hope.

In practice, or perhaps I should say the real world, plans rarely work out as anticipated, particularly when it comes to Government or running anything which involves the input or influence of more than one person.

Roll that idea out into a negotiated peace with the European Union, its advisors, negotiators, commissioners and 27 Nation States in between and we can begin to get a very real idea about how hard agreeing a plan which will suit all of them – and don’t forget us – would actually be.

The elephant in the room with all of this process of working up and then waiting for the EU to agree a plan, is and always has been that it is completely unnecessary.

The result of the European Referendum was a clear instruction. An instruction to Parliament and our MPs to take every step necessary to facilitate and then implement the specific action of rescinding, and therefore leaving Membership of the EU.

That instruction wasn’t advisory. It wasn’t just a view. The Electorate’s instruction was not a request for MP’s to go away and spend two years arguing over what the word ‘leave’ actually means and dream up excuse after excuse to excuse themselves from doing that which they have been told to do.

It certainly wasn’t an invitation to delay, divide and destroy a legitimate democratic process by creating the pretence that you don’t need to be in or out, but can hover happily somewhere in between. You can’t.

Even attempting to create a comprehensive or exhaustive plan to undertake such a complicated process as returning full sovereignty, law making and responsibility for our own trade, was always going to be impossible to achieve. But that is no reason to fall into the trap of thinking that without a plan, Brexit or rather leaving the European Union is something that we should not or disingenuously then have an excuse not  to do.

In 1940, Churchill had no plan for winning World War 2. Yet one way or another, dealing with each and every battle, set back, resource issue and foreign affairs nightmare as it came, he achieved for him his aim and for us as a Country, much more besides. As our leader, he just took each and every step, looked each and every day in the eye and didn’t accept defeat as an option which was on the table, let alone a choice which was his alone to decide.

It didn’t take one big plan to win that War. It took a whole series of many smaller plans to do what adds up to being the same.

It’s simply the case that hindsight has allowed the story to fit together snugly when the words of history overlook the mistakes, blunders and blind alleyways that lurked continuously in between his appointment and our Victory.

What the delivery of such a giant task did take however, was leadership. And when we look at the way that we are being led into Brexit today, compared to Churchill’s take on being ruled from Europe from 1940 to 1945, there remains an almost universal gulf sitting in between.

image thanks to Wikipedia

What the Carillion collapse tells us about the unspoken truths governing public sector contracts

January 18, 2018 Leave a comment

Carillion

Carillion is the big news this week, and is likely to remain on the media radar for some time, given the impact that the collapse of a Company of this size is almost certain to have on commercial relationships that are now an integral part of the public sector.

Moments like this are important for reasons which go way beyond the impact that Monday’s announcement is already having on jobs and the potential closures of many small businesses.

It is providing one of those very rare opportunities to glance inside the incestuous workings of contract delivery on behalf of government and gain an invaluable insight into why private interests working at any level within the public sector is in clear conflict with very ideals of what public service delivery is fundamentally about.

Regrettably, the clear focus of the media and political classes has already fallen upon the question and avoidance of blame. Yet if they were to begin to look just a little further and be open with what have for too long been the unpalatable truths, there would be just the merest hope that questions such as whether there can be a future for the NHS when it remains in a perpetual state of financial crisis could perhaps be genuinely answered.

So why are contracts going to private companies outside the public sector?

The best place to begin thinking about the contracting or privatisation problem is to look at why private business is really even involved in the delivery of government services of any kind, when government exists to operate for, on behalf of and for the benefit of only the public.

Man can only ever have one true master after all, and if money is the true motivator, then public service will at best become an oversight – the unwelcome relative left trailing way behind.

Whilst it may feel counter-intuitive to believe or accept it for many of us, the ‘privatisation solution’ has been in the main part created by Conservative governments in response to the consequences of policies created typically by Labour in order to enhance the rights, working conditions and influence of public sector employees.

Positive discrimination and rights, enhanced working conditions, gold-plated pensions and union indulgence within public sector organisations all cost an ever evolving sum of money in an increasing number of different ways, which usually create even more roles and dilute responsibility further and further still.

The cost of employing people within the public sector on conditions which exceed those of the private sector outside – even when salaries appear to be less, has simply made the delivery of services too expensive for government itself to provide.

Against this backdrop, all areas of he public sector have had to go in search of more cost effective ways to deliver services, and have had to do so in ways which also meet the rigorous requirements of providing services and employing staff as a government based organisations.

This has made the ‘marketplace’ fertile for the entry of private contractors who don’t have the same considerations as these former public sector based service providers.

When you consider that private contractors are providing arguably the same level of service, just without the same levels of bureaucracy – whilst making what in some cases is an outrageous level of profit besides, you can soon begin to see that something is inherently wrong with the way that the government system is now designed.

So how does public sector contracting by private contractors become a problem?

Business loves a contract. Contracts give surety. Contracts themselves can be used as a solid-gold guarantee – and particularly so when they are agreed and signed with government. This gives business confidence which can be misplaced, misused, abused and is almost certain to breed a feeling of complacency.

After completing what should be a rigorous ‘tender process’ – the company will sign a contract with the government organisation which agrees what, when and how the ‘contractor’ will provide a service, whether that just be 1 person to sweep a street or 32 bin lorries to collect your rubbish every fortnight for 5 years. On signing this contract, the company will know exactly what it will be paid, know what it will in turn have to spend, will have worked out its costs and borrowing, should have kept back a little for a rainy day and then know what it will make in profit – from which it will pay bonuses to staff and dividends to shareholders after it has paid any tax requirement.

Good managers know that some things change during the lifetime of a contract – such as fuel prices going up, which would be a real concern for a bus service provider or a private ambulance services. But contractual devices or clauses that allow for some variation in charges are usually built in to any contract to allow for this.

As such, genuinely unforeseen events or those which could not have been predicted by anyone within the contracting company itself are very rare to find.

What government contracts don’t allow for however, are lack of knowledge or understanding of the service delivery area on the part of those designing and agreeing a contract. They don’t make allowance for unmitigated trust on the part of either party. They certainly don’t consider the potential greed or indeed malpractice of a contractor or its decision making staff, which cannot be planned for or predictably defined even within the scope of a government contract process.

When a contractor has only a single contract, transparency is bizarrely much clearer and for the management, much more important and kept clearly in mind.

But when you have many more and perhaps and ever increasing number of contracts, the potential for complacency and overconfidence can lead to otherwise unrealistic opportunities, which in more focused circumstances would have been denied.

It may be as simple as paying senior executives massive, over-inflated salaries. But it has the potential to be much much more in terms of investment, questionable projects and big payouts for shareholders when little in terms of adequate checks and balances has allowed an adequate safety blanket to be retained from payouts and quietly put aside.

The overriding problem with a company which has grown to the size, reach and responsibility of Carillion is there is so much in terms of questionable financial activity that it has the ability to very easily hide.

The responsibility for contract design and management doesn’t just fall on contractors themselves however.

In the background to all this and within the protectionist culture in which contemporary public sector commissioning is currently enshrined, purchasing officers simply don’t have the motivation or willingness to do their jobs as effectively as they should. When the money you are allocating isn’t yours, public service and best value isn’t always the overriding priority. Sometimes it’s all about doing anything which proves to be easier, and who gets what doesn’t always work out exactly as it should.

Whether its building maintenance, bin collections, public transport, prison management, forensic services or interim and temporary staff services that contractors provide, contractors are all making unnecessary profit at the ultimate cost to us as taxpayers.

So what can be done to solve the problem and when will anything happen?

What has been outlined here provides little more than a simple snapshot of a very big and complex problem, which those in power are through their actions are continuing to deny.

For these problems to be addressed, it would first be necessary for politicians to accept that the whole system of government delivery is broken, riddled with management focused upon self interest, making decisions based on theoretical premise, and that there are simply too many people operating within the system who are ultimately being allowed to take us all for a ride.

The ‘too big to fail’ mindset has now permeated through political thinking to a level where contracts are being awarded despite very clear warning signals which would tell even very junior civil service staff that something is not right.

This is no longer a question of let’s bail them out so that they don’t fail like Labour did with the Banks in 2008; this is all about awarding contracts because there is a view that they never will.

Solving this problem is far from simple. It is not just about political thinking. It’s about getting the market’s to think differently. But just as much, it’s about getting employees to see their roles differently; to accept that they have a part to play too.

In simple terms, the free for all has to stop.

This bonanza based on self-interest is no longer sustainable.

The perpetuation of the lie that government genuinely works selflessly for everyone has got to be stopped.

No business can perform effectively on the basis that it prioritises the working conditions and needs of its staff before the priorities upon which it was created to deliver. Yet this is how liberalism and rights culture has manifested itself within all parts of government and the public sector.

Not only has the NHS become hamstrung by lack of staff and inefficiency, it is being cut up by the cost of the staff it hires through contracts – thereby being destroyed by the supposed solution itself; by the very respite that additional money is supposed to provide.

Meanwhile local government has its own substantive bogeyman too, finding itself tied up in knots by the cost of the local government pension scheme – the destination of the better part of our council tax, in many of the Boroughs, Cities and Districts where most of us reside.

Then there are the PFI contracts upon which the last Labour Government so heavily relied. A coarse, deceptive instrument designed to hide public spending, whilst fire hosing cash at private contractors over 30 year terms. Just another financial time bomb legacy like the raid on pension funds by Gordon Brown which we overlook daily on the basis that out of sight is very much out of our minds.

The power rests with government to change all of this, if only they would try.

Regrettably, the will doesn’t even exist to even begin doing so today, even if the Government could begin doing so – something that a hung parliament which could last until 2022 will simply deny.

With a good chance that the next Government will be based upon or built around a militant form of Labour, the chances are that politicians will only continue to try and hide the truth thereafter, because action which doesn’t just look responsible is not a pathway to which they are inclined.

As Jeremy Corbyn made clear in his questioning of Theresa May at Wednesday’s PMQ’s, the answer is just to do everything to return everyone to employment in government jobs. No doubt based upon further borrowing, which to those who don’t understand business or economics is a perceived as a policy which when sold looks bullet proof.

images thanks to independent.co.uk, bbc.co.uk, wiltshiretimes.co.uk

Trashing distasteful parts of history puts us at risk of repeating the same mistakes in the future, which only the same level of hypocrisy would allow us to then deny

January 12, 2018 1 comment

download (14)The debate over Virgin removing copies of the Daily Mail from sale on its Trains in the past week highlighted the worrying trend for people to attempt to remove anything from their sphere of influence which they find in some way unpalatable – doing so without any level of regard for the real cost or consequences of doing so.

Whilst this vogue appears new to many, it has been within our awareness for a good period of time. It hinges on blame culture and the overindulgence of the personal slight. It takes the self-righteous influence of the myopic ever nearer the creation and manifestation of a very twisted and unrealistic worldview.

One of the reasons why it is so unrealistic is because it is built upon the foundation of idealism; that of denying that which cannot be denied.

Even in politics now, we have reached a point where apparently well-educated people with significant responsibility placed upon them by many others, believe and apply the fallacious principle that “if I say it is so, then it will actually be so”.

An eye on the future is however one thing, but looking back turns the same coin on to its other side.

History is planned, created and experienced in the present moment by us all. Yet it is an infinite chain of perspectives or opinions, based upon what are almost always a very small number of facts – some of which even the very people who were present and involved may not themselves have actually known.

That we live in a world where opinion has a level of power which just tolerates the occasional fact should really be far more alarming to us all that it really has become.

That individuals have the power to blight the lives of others, simply because they hold a conflicting view, should be something that concerns everyone.

That others are now trying to rewrite history and remove our heritage is a risk and threat to the future of us all and once completed may never be undone.

Culturally, we indulge the notion that only bad news sells, in almost everything we do – almost to the point where is becomes only the bad news about anything itself that we remember, overlooking many more good-news-stories that are available to us as we do.

The most dangerous of steps now being taken – usually by people who believe that they have been in some way slighted by the actions of people that not one of us has or will ever know – is to apply this approach to history, focusing only upon the bad parts of his story, so that the good which may have come will automatically be overlooked and quietly denied.

The politically correct form of censorship manifesting itself through the attempted removal of historic names from buildings and even trusts, like those of Rhodes in Oxford and Colston in Bristol may look like the delivery of justice to the shallow depths of the egocentric. But in terms of what this action overlooks, it is to all of us as a culture and society – in no way any such thing.

Nobody can realistically refute the pain and suffering that colonialism and slavery visited upon many millions of innocent and powerless people over tens and hundreds of years.

Yet the industry and commerce that both were part of also brought prosperity, wealth and yes – learning to all corners of the globe.

It supercharged the path towards a more enlightened and civilised way of being which itself allows the same individuals the freedom and platform to influence the world around them – for better or worse today.

There is no escaping the dark parts of this Country’s historic chapters. But there are also many beneficial lessons to learn by looking them in the eye – not least of all for the purpose of ensuring that we have enough awareness of what can happen when the conditions for oppression and exploitation are right.

The irony of the drive to trash these parts of history, is that they are being repeated all around us in many ways, albeit wrapped differently today. They may not look the same, but they have very much the same effect emotionally on the oppressed within the quiet of their own minds.

Indeed it is a great shame that the energy and passion focused on the drive for political correctness is not itself redirected to help others who are alive and need real help – but in ways that this same lack of human awareness on the part of social justice warriors leaves them unable or unwittingly unable to define.

People are increasingly being enslaved and oppressed by the world around them, financially, by rights, quixotic ideas and by the bureaucratic systems that political correctness is slowly ratcheting around all of us, like a slow pull on a closing cable-tie.

To try to destroy the lessons of history, whilst overlooking live-time oppression is one of the most hideous forms of hypocrisy in action today.

Focusing on events to learn lessons and use them to help others going forward would be much better for us all than playing a disingenuous game of out of sight, out of mind.

image thanks to unknown

Idealism has given young people unattainable expectations within a land of the financially enslaved, where unhappiness is enhanced at a push-button rate

January 11, 2018 Leave a comment

download (13)Verbal head scratching has for many months dominated the media, as our influencers and opinion writers try to come to terms with what really happened for the Labour Party at last Summers General Election.

Of course, the perplexity doesn’t stop there. Somewhere in an office near the Palace of Westminster, a Conservative Party which looks rudderless and without any sincere intention, is desperate to emulate a link with our Nation’s young people; one which appeareances tell them only Jeremy Corbyn could invent.

That people of any age can be intoxicated by drink, drugs, or by the romanticism of the political ideal that everybody should be treated in a same-size-fits-all category is nothing new. Joining a group to further the interests of ourselves is after all hardly something new. Yet the motivation for doing so for each of us will never be exactly the same.

Sadly, politics in the UK has been without real substance for a long time. Policy is made reactively in a very focused way. It does little more than address the effects of issues, rather than going any great distance towards tackling the causes themselves.

Against such a backdrop as this, it has become very easy for politicians to make hollow promises. Corbyn’s soon rescinded promise over scrapping tuition fees for university students was clearly one such gesture. But a population which has been conditioned to believe that we can trust in our leaders and political parties without question simply doesn’t look beyond the words as they are heard – whether it considers itself to be left, right, leave or remain.

Labour’s vote winning stunt is pertinent not because it is political or because it appears to have worked as it was intended. It is illustrative of the complexity of this real problem because it highlights the presence of many questions that politicians should not only be asking – but also answering. Questions about why the various experiences of the politically disenfranchised are now being so well exemplified by the experience of the young.

Higher Education is just one area affecting real lives which has seen its value overturned, whilst giving the surface deep appearance and sense of even greater opportunity being presented to all.

Young people are being actively encouraged to commit themselves to lifetime borrowing to take a wide range of degrees which themselves are increasingly considered by industry to be worthless in terms of the skills that they teach. The students themselves understandably believing that they will automatically find themselves within a glittering career just as soon as they leave full time education.

The commercialisation of the higher education sector has added to the problem considerably. The priority of what at one time would have been arguably some of the best academic tuition available in the world, having now been shifted from the quality of teaching itself, to the accumulation of profit and nothing else. The recent cases of outrageous pay for university leaders is all you will need to read.

Whichever way you look at it, the emphasis is about money. And the experience of education is just where this process begins.

Having been sold the faulty bill of goods which a degree education for many has now become, the opportunities to secure work which will enable young people to quickly move on without a need to go home to their parents is increasingly hard to find.

Profiteering in the housing market has made entry level purchases and tenancies impossible for many. Property prices being exponentially inflated beyond even their realistic ball-park level, with values now being pitched at the ground in the next town and probably way beyond.

The work which is available to many graduates offers career prospects way below what a degree level entrant had been taught to expect when they made their academic choice.

With the attainment of all degrees being deliberately sold to everyone as an academic elixir which will make a graduate in some way better than anyone else, it is little wonder that many see some occupations as simply being beneath them, not only as a job title itself, but in terms of the tasks they will now accept even as they are being on-the-job trained.

Effortless attainment has become the expectation of the next generation. It is backed up by an instant response culture of a click-button-world. And with media saturation reaching the point where we can perceive almost anyone as being accessible to us on our phones or in our own front room, it is little wonder that every young person who is prepared to do what they are told, expects that life will instantly reward them by appointing them as a rock star, MP or CEO.

The young and therefore all of us have been failed by the creation and propogation of a land of unattainable expectation. A fallacious future based on hollow promises, so that politicians can bathe in the glory of transient electoral and policy wins which add up to little more than pyrrhic victories.

For an entire population, a value set which reflects a practical, obtainable and satisfactory level of reality has now been denied. Aspiration has now been usurped by the need for glory and this is a prize you can only win if you make it big financially too.

Generations of politicians are responsible for this perfect storm. They represent all parties, and even those who are today continuing to perpetuate this evolution of chaos, would not recognise a pathway which for many others is already beginning to feel like doom.

The impractical idealism and romanticism of the left has created the illusion for some that a utopia exists where each of us can be equal whilst becoming a king or queen over all. This has been no less devastating than the unleashing of unregulated markets under the increasingly influential neoliberalism of the right, which demonstrates that it really is only those who have unfettred access to money who have any perceived form of real power. Very few of us believe in or have faith in the ability for us all to experience something beneficial in-between.

If government continues to do nothing to resolve this problem, we remain on target to become a Nation lost.

Yet resolution is not just as simple as the exchange of a few simple ideas.

After all, any person who would just like to live a simple lifestyle, without money, is in a position where they simply cannot.

 

image thanks to unknown

New houses never lower prices within their local ‘market’ and the Persimmon CEO’s £110 Million Bonus gives our ‘housing crisis’ the lie

January 9, 2018 1 comment

Money HousesHousing has become one of the hot political issues of our time. To read and hear about it in the media, it has become easy to conclude that the Government, our Councils, Housing Associations and Builders alike all share the view that we are in a housing crisis. The picture they paint suggests that they are all doing everything that they possibly can. But should we all really believe?

Laid bare, the lack of housing really does look nothing like the story we are being presented. Immigration inflating real need exponentially has become as much an unspoken truth across the whole country, as it has that 2nd homeowners are leaving seaside and rural property empty for much of the year, whilst they add nothing financially to the communities in which they don’t have time to genuinely reside.

“We need to build more homes” has become the mantra of the many. Yet the real beneficiaries of this process will not be the people who will end up living in many of them. Nor will it be the Government which is operating on the premise that money is the only way to solve any problem, no matter what it might be.

The real beneficiaries of the push to create housing will be the builders and the bankers who finance them, whose real take from all the public money which is being fire-hosed at them is only too well illustrated by the bonus payment being made to the CEO of Persimmon Homes.

Under the auspices of self-serving government at all levels and the ineptitude of policy making and long term strategy which has been rolled out in real time within current planning policy, Builders and Developers of all kinds have found themselves within what can only be described as a smorgasbord of discount and profit and the epitome of the one-sided win-win.

Deals are and have been done, not on the basis of what is best for us all. For if that were the true intention, there would be little need for deals of this kind.

Deals are being done, because the focus of this housing crisis is little more than money and profit itself.

People young and old are being out priced in all parts of the housing market, not because prices reflect the true value of houses and the market, but because the system and government policy is facilitating house builders, mortgage lenders and private landlords to take us all on one massive, great big bubble-building ride.

The evidence is not difficult to find. Wherever we may live, new housing developments are never far away. Yet when homes are released, we never see prices being lowered nearby.

Lower house prices within the communities in which these additional homes are built would be the logical outcome within any localised market which was genuinely left to itself to determine and decide.

Instead this so-called ‘crisis’ continually goes on unsolved, whilst we are being sleepwalked into a national travesty in the shape of an unsustainable housing price bubble which is guaranteed to explode.

When it does, those profiteering and responsible now will be the first to run and hide.

image thanks to unknown

The political class still doesn’t understand the reasons for Brexit, and until it does, we Remain at risk

January 8, 2018 Leave a comment

imagesThe background of the Government reshuffle today lends itself well to many different explanations. Depending on which publications you read, listen to or just review, you are bound to get at least a slightly different take on someone else’s interpretation of what will one way or another end up as doom and gloom.

How Brexit is or will be handled continues to be the topic of choice even where new jobs for Cabinet Members are concerned. It seems the most controversial possibility which comes with Theresa May’s changes, is that of the creation of a Minister focusing on the realities of an outcome which will be know universally as ‘No Deal’.

Yes, it all sounds very scary. In no small part due to the continuing noise emanating from the Remain camp, with high profile figures such as Tony Blair making it known that it has now become their latest life’s work to overturn this travesty that nobody who voted for it democratically could possibly understand.

It would be easy just to veer off and have a rant about Remainers ignoring the will of the people. Yet, the Leave brigade are no better. And if we look closely at what each side says, it becomes ever apparent that none of these speakers really understand the reasons that millions of anonymous people walked into a polling station on 23rd June 2016, and against the flow of what even the most ardent Brexiteers at the time believed, looked at a future remaining in Europe and simply said ‘NO’.

Finding evidence to say everyone is now a lapsed Brexiteer or more in favour of leaving the Union than ever is not really all that hard.

Polls continue to be presented and taken as read, even though their true validity has been brought seriously into question during recent political campaigns. Even those of us who rarely feel inclined to question the overuse of statistics are now looking at them with the same level of faith as a TV weather forecast; instead choosing to take a quick walk and a look at the conditions outside.

The biggest error that politicians, pollsters and journalists are all making about Brexit, is in attempting to explain it all in terms which are culturally acceptable, rational and what we equate with being the ‘norm’.

Such an approach does not lend itself well to the human condition. It overlooks our propensity to place our own truths in the mouths of others, and neglect anything that sits outside our accepted or documented level of understanding. It bypasses everything else that simple human behaviour hides.

Brexit was about far too many different things to mention. Yet all of our leaders and opinion makers continue trying to distill a highly complex decision down into basic questions, which can then be answered with solutions or arguments which cannot ever be so simply or intelligently defined.

Getting caught up in the cases of for and against immigration, sovereignty, trade, our place in Europe and much more besides, is an elephant trap of gargantuan proportions. One that only adds fuel to the fire of dissention, disaffection and disenfranchisement that everyone feels beyond Westminster – from whichever side.

Brexit represented so much more than any of these tangible areas of policy – even though they are real to us all, but for each of us in very different ways.

Brexit happened because it was an opportunity for so many of us to say no to everything that is wrong with politics. The chance to speak and be heard without fear of reprisal and without fear of enabling just another set of politicians to gain influence over our lives in ways that could make our already difficult set of experiences much, much worse.

The privacy of the ballot box enabled a rebellion of a kind which nobody really believed possible. The irony being that it was devised and brought into being by politicians being caught out by their lack of care for others and having overconfident faith in the reasons for creating their lines.

That none of the political establishment are getting it right now is no great surprise. But the fact that they aren’t also leaves the door open to even greater mistakes being made. Mistakes that will only serve to over amplify the real problems – the ones that both the Government and the opposition are still through lack of awareness and understanding – continually attempting to hide.

image thanks to unknown

Followed to its ultimate conclusion, the only satisfactory outcome in the Under-representation in Democracy debate would be for everyone to become an MP

December 29, 2017 Leave a comment

download (12)Whilst ‘minority’ groups have increasingly found their long overdue voice and platform in recent times, we must be aware of the danger that seeking to control and impose a membership of the House of Commons which reflects all members of society and is distilled down into 650 Parliamentary Seats to do so, will neither reflect the true nature of our society at National level, nor give a truly reflective representation of the voters of each Constituency which elects each of those representatives or MP’s alone.

We feel let down. We feel misunderstood. We feel that our needs are not being fully considered. We feel that other people’s needs are being prioritised before our own. We do not feel that anyone without our experience of life could represent us as well as one of our own.

But this is not the experience, perception or outlook of just a member of a minority. It is an experience which is shared by and common to us all.

It doesn’t matter if we are English, Welsh, Irish, Scottish or from someplace else. Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or Jew. Straight, Gay, LGBT. ‘Able bodied’, disabled or suffering from a condition or disease. Young, old. Married, single. Rich, poor, employed, unemployed and much, much more. We all feel the same about the way that Government and politics is failing us.

Yes, lack of effective representation is a real issue. There is a tangible disconnect between us as voters and the people who lead us. But that will not be fixed by positively discriminating to deliberately place individuals into positions of power who are qualified only by being labelled as different to the rest of us. After all, it is the very fact that politicians are already behaving and making decisions differently to what we already expect, which is causing the problem now. Why would we want to encourage this problem by promoting focused thinking even more?

All women shortlists have been in existence for the selection of parliamentary candidates for some time now, but even when we look at the issue of representation of women in parliament today, we are still embracing positive discrimination which whilst it looks good to some, will continue to be prejudicial – perhaps to us all – in some other way.

There is no question that the role of becoming a Parliamentarian should be open to anyone. But it is not gender, colour, race, sexual orientation, religion or any other ‘definable’ difference between us that qualifies any one of us to be better as a representative of all.

Seen or unseen, each and every one of us is in some way different. So the only way we could genuinely ensure that every viewpoint is accurately represented politically, would be for each and every one of us to be elected as an MP.

It is having the ability, ethics and motivation to provide a genuine voice for all which counts most in a democracy. But it is the state of politics which has created a lack of this and makes a lack of good representation for all a real problem.

 

image thanks to standard.co.uk

The ‘rent’ economy is enslaving us all, creating money for nothing for the ‘asset rich’ and progressively extending poverty to all the ‘paying poor’

December 28, 2017 Leave a comment

download (10)Every day we are hearing and reading stories about wage stagnation, price escalation, homelessness of the kind where young people can’t afford their own place, spiralling personal debt and a whole range of stories which relate to the cost of living. Stories that are repeatedly telling us that maintaining a basic life in the UK is very quickly becoming a luxury that many of us simply cannot or will not be able to afford.

Alone, each tale told can and often is attributed to a range of causes which are nonetheless real, but also overlook a common theme throughout all of these issues. The commonality between them all is the economic concept of ‘rent’. The impact of third parties taking ownership of all or part of a product, the delivery of a service, or some other form of purchase at some point in the process from where it originated to where we use or in consume it in some way.

Rent is of course a term we use in daily life to describe paying to use something which belongs to someone else. The most common usage is that of renting of a house, where instead of there being a simple relationship between an owner occupier and their house or property, the occupant rents the property from the owner, essentially increasing a basic two part relationship into three.

In just this example alone, we can take it one stage further and add a bank or mortgage owner of a buy-to-let property (1) which is rented by the occupant (2) from the owner (3) who borrows the money and pays interest to the bank (4), which may itself have borrowed that money from another bank (5).

Whilst we would normally think of just the transaction between the occupier and the property owner as being ‘rent’, in economic terms, any additional party taking something from an overall transaction or supply chain between its origin and use who isn’t essential to the core process is receiving rent of some kind. They in turn may split their role between themselves and others, each adding their own profit as they do every time it happens. Ultimately each additional participant in the chain raises the price of whatever we as users or consumers will be expected to pay.

Sometimes, a number of stages appear necessary. For instance the food we eat might have to be grown by a farmer (1), which is bought by a manufacturer (2) who pays a haulier (3) to transport it to where they will process it. The manufacturer then sells the prepared food to a wholesaler(4) and pays another haulier (5) to deliver it to their warehouse. The wholesaler then sells it to a supermarket (6) and pays another haulier (7) to take it to their distribution centre. The supermarket then pays another haulier (8) to deliver the product to its store, where it sells the finished product to us (9). Do believe me when I say that the chains are usually much more convoluted than that!

Of course, we are all guilty of falling into the trap of forgetting how complex the process is which brings us our food and most of the items that we consume or the services we buy, because for us the process seems to be so very easy. But look closer and we will soon see that even a supply chain of this size may involve unnecessary parts and people taking ‘rent’.

So what does this all this talk of rent really have to do with the cost of living?

The real problem with the provision of goods and services is that the UK operates within what is called a ‘free market’ environment, which it has been since at least the time of the Thatcher Government (1979-90). Within this free market, reduced levels of regulation and influence from the government – who we expect to guard and protect our best interests – provides the opportunity for additional 3rd parties and in fact many more of them to involve or add themselves to the chain of many of our daily transactions. By doing so, they can make significant profits from what in some cases will be as simple for them as a click to buy and another to sell.

Whether it is food, clothing, fuel and oil, transport, communications, borrowing money, or just about anything we can imagine that we can buy, there are now speculators buying and selling products and services, sub contracting responsibilities to others, all of them taking additional profit by taking ‘rent’ which there is no practical reason for anyone needing to pay. They indirectly inflate the prices we pay for the end product, increasingly making those things which should really be quite affordable, simply too expensive for us to buy.

These speculators do this because they can. There are no real rules to stop them, and they are making as much money as they can without any consideration for the impact of their actions on the end users – that’s us. And they have little concern that they will have to stop doing so, because the banks simply continue to lend money to the people who have been forced by this process to borrow – if indeed possible – in order to survive.

Think about what really caused the 2007-08 Financial Crisis, which was the sale, resale and resale again of financial products or debts which became so complex, even the financiers themselves didn’t really know what they were buying and selling on.

Bankers were making massive amounts of money – all because nobody was monitoring exactly what they were doing, whilst their own ‘success’ blinded them to how value was being created by lending to people at one end of this elaborate chain who simply didn’t have the ability to pay back what they had been lent.

The Bankers didn’t care before it happened and they don’t care now. They are still not regulated in the way that they should be, and were actually saved from going under in 2008 by the Labour Government at the time by giving them Billions of Pounds of money in bailouts and rescue funds that the Government itself borrowed, and which we are still paying for through the accumulation of public debt.

These are people, banks and companies who are quite literally making money for nothing, and its all at our expense.

The ‘rent’ economy has been evolving as the reality in which we live for many years now. But it is only as more and more products and services have come under the control of those with the money and unrestricted influence to speculate, whether it has been through privatisation, the development of near monopolies or money simply being placed within unscrupulous hands, that the real impact of ‘farming everything for profit’ has began to become fully clear.

 

 

 

Even if the Government has ‘reports’ on the UK’s future after Brexit, it would remain foolish to rely on expert opinion about an event which hasn’t already taken place

December 27, 2017 Leave a comment

download (9)Brexit has been created by a phenomenon, the elements of which many of us are still failing to understand. For non-decision makers, this is just a social problem between people who are usually friends. But for our politicians it has now become an elaborate game of pin the tail on the donkey which risks much more than a simple prick to the finger if they get their blindfolded judgement wrong.

The exquisite mix of having a government led by people who do not believe in what they are doing, trying to deliver working solutions to problems that they do not understand would in any other situation be recognised for what it is. But politics has regrettably moved on from an age when it really was in some way chivalrous – if it ever really was, and power being all, is all it has now become.

This insidious environment does not lend itself well to the power of original thinking. Trust has become as interchangeable with myth as proof has become with fiction, and unrelated history has become the benchmark of reliability against the future that we can also not personally see.

Measuring the possible impact and consequences of Brexit against such a backdrop is therefore down to either fortune telling – which is at best no more than ‘an educated guess’, or of relying upon economic viewpoints and philosophies which have been developed on the basis of events that have already passed, rather than what will actually happen in the future.

Put simply, nothing like Brexit has happened before and nor will it happen again, as even the smallest difference – perhaps down to the outlook of just one of the key players involved, could deliver an outcome which we could never imagine.

That the Government and Ministers responsible for any part of the Brexit process may or may not choose to rely upon reports which have been devised in this way and within this unique set of circumstances, is perhaps more about their own take on the opinion of others, rather than anything we could really label as setting out to deceive.

Whether they be Specialists, Experts, Economists or not, it is little more than opinion that they actually give and we would all do well to remember that even then, nobody has the ability to offer such ‘expert analysis’ of an event which has not already taken place.

Yes, we all have concerns about what is to come as a result of Brexit. But staying within Europe would not in any way have meant that a stable future of any kind was assured. And it remains worthy of note that whilst Brexit may prove to be temporarily challenging for us, for the UK to have remained a member of the EU may in time have proven to be truly catastrophic.

image thanks to fortune.com

Let’s break the bubble of political perception, join-up policy making and see ideas like Universal Basic Income for what they really are

December 26, 2017 Leave a comment

As a culture, we are obsessed with the value we apportion to everything big. Big gestures, big careers, big houses, big bank balances and of course big impact.

Perception is everything – even when it is often wrong, and the absence of objective reality – the ‘real’ truth, rather than just our own, is the ultimate power behind every form of decision making that effects each and every one of us in our daily lives.

img_3014The rich irony is that it is the small things – the details, ingredients or constituent parts of everything, that inevitably become the building blocks of anything we perceive to be big.

In an instant, we see or imagine big end results, seldom giving any real thought to the creative process which will get us there. We overlook the need for a precise mix of elements to be ready and in place. We then forget that the absence of just one domino could abruptly break up a falling chain and render a shot at glory useless before we have even journeyed part of the distance there.

Against this backdrop, it is too easy to perceive others with ‘big’ roles as having the ability to see the world differently. To think that they have a different, more objective view. To conclude that they must possess knowledge that will enable only they themselves to make decisions at a level that will affect us all.

What we most often miss however, is that those making big decisions are usually very much like us. We perceive them to be different, but they are human all the same.

Many years of a self-serving political climate have created an inter-generational range of active politicians making and influencing decisions on the basis of a very limited scope of perception which barely reaches beyond that of their own.

As we watch, read and listen to the mainstream media, we can quickly attune ourselves to a snapshot of current political thinking. Yet that gap we can detect and feel between how we ourselves perceive things and where they appear to be is not present because we are in some way wrong. It is there because our decision makers and influencers are dangerously overconfident in their own perceptions of the world and everything around them. They have literally bought in to their own beliefs, whilst losing touch with both the perceptions and the realities of the very people whom they have been entrusted to represent.

If the perception of a politician such as the Prime Minister mattered only in so much as how it would affect their own future, the decisions which are now being made would impact upon nobody but themselves.

Regrettably, this is far from the case and decision after decision has been made by those in power over a series of generations and under the auspices of governments of all kinds that are made in the absence of any consideration for the reach, width and breadth of consequence or what can simply be summarised as the law of cause and effect.

All of us normally operate within perceptory bubbles where reality stretches only as far as the people and experiences which present themselves within. Everything else presents itself like a giant video where images can be observed and sounds can be heard, not unlike like going to see a film at the cinema, with the same absence of touch, taste, smell and everything else in anyway sensual, leaving any emotional response to run riot within.

With the evolution of e-living, this developing concept of life will only continue to grow, leaving the dehumanisation of relationships and communication to become all the more pronounced, as we lose more and more touch with the reality of the world outside and around.

Decision making at the highest level being conducted without the emotional intelligence and behavioural understanding necessary, and without the genuine motivation to deliver balanced policy provision for all.

It is little wonder then, that we have a conservative government which equates poverty with unemployment. A labour opposition set on a Marxist agenda which overlooks the natural capitalist which resides within us all. And a looming exit from the European Union which was delivered as the result of many millions of personal responses to life experience which extends way beyond our Nation’s membership of just one thing.

The obsession with big ‘wins’ leaves real suffering running rife within society. It’s overlooked for what it really is because the understanding of what life is really like and what it will really take to resolve our problems is absent from the minds of those whom have been trusted to protect us.

For example, on one side, Food Banks are viewed as little more than an unnecessary indulgence. Whist the other makes no mention of how so many more would be needed if they were in power, using them as an excuse to face down the Government in an attempt to win votes that would inadvertently increase this travesty whilst they do little more than pour scorn and deride.

images (7)Policy made in isolation and without regard to the effects of its implementation is now commonplace. This is sticking plaster politics where layer upon layer of quick fixes have become necessary. Each one laid upon the other to tackle the fallout from the last myopic policy, itself only created for expedience without due regard for what might lie beyond.

We are in a mess. A profound one at that. And we have at no time needed politicians to up their game and focus on what is important for everyone more than we do right now.

The good news, is that if the law of cause and effect and the age of consequence were really to be considered and embraced, the possibility and potential reach of the subsequent change would soon become apparent. Things have the potential to change in ways which could have many positive consequences for everyone, as well as the decision making politicians themselves.

How we support our poorest and most deprived members of society would be the very best place to begin. It is therefore perhaps no accident that we hear much talk of big policies aimed at people like the ‘just about managings’ and any one of a number of media friendly terms besides.

Universal Basic Income would provide an ideal start. Not because it is the free giveaway which Conservatives fear and Labour and left-leaning political parties might unwittingly embrace as a quixotic dream without further thought. But because getting it right would uncover and require intelligent communication about so many different policy stones which need to be turned over and addressed, whilst also dealing with the need for updating and change which has become overdue and very necessary in terms of the Government’s policy on Welfare for all our citizens in the 21st Century and beyond.

To begin with, the fact that peripheral chat about a Universal Basic Income has progressed beyond discussion in peripheral forums to open consideration by The SNP and governments beyond our borders suggests that a problem exists which such a model could address. Easy to dismiss as a left-wing giveaway of the kind which could easily break our fragile economy – because it certainly could if delivered without real thought, full consideration of the need for such a measure is nonetheless warranted.

A Universal Basic Income could ensure that everyone has sufficient income to live a basic lifestyle, free of the worry of debt and able to survive in times of hardship without having to become dependent upon others or government agencies of any kind – should they choose to do so. Its success would however be much dependent upon the restrictions and controls over the pricing of goods and services which are essential to basic living, and this is where the escalation of impact and consequential policy making would become most defined.

Housing, utilities, basic food and drink, clothing and appropriate transport provide the key cost areas essential to living a basic lifestyle. The problem today is that in the case of most essential services which were once publicly owned, they have been privatised. The others have too many parties adding themselves to ever complicated supply chains, making profit or ‘rent’ from little more than placing themselves in a mix which really should be kept quite simple.

Ethics simply don’t exist here and the impact of free-market profiteering within these sectors is visiting the same level of chaos and breakdown at a personal level for many of the kind which was visited upon us all by the same kind of gaming that created the 2008 financial crisis, in a very relative way.

These few facts alone give measure to the complexity and reach of just one policy alone. They also illuminate the work and communication which would be required to create a change which would ultimately only be the enemy of self-interest, if created with the care and consideration that each and every government policy truly deserves.

That politicians, influencers and decision makers would be required to work intelligently and beyond the scope of their tried and tested political philosophies of today, would be no excuse for them not to do so. The potential and existence of good and bad policy is present across all the Seats represented at Westminster and none of those representatives of our political parties have any kind of exclusive right or indeed the evidence supporting them which would suggest that they alone can deliver anything that is fundamentally right.

The noise which is populism has been created by the evolution of an unbridled public disconnect. It is a case of simple cause and effect.

Cure the causes. Quiet the noises.

 

Young people and rural voters could all be kept happy with solutions to the Foxhunting debate that are already hiding in plain sight

December 25, 2017 Leave a comment

images (5)Like Brexit, Hunting has become an emotive subject which is safest left far away from discussion with people we know little about.

Few of us consciously acknowledge why this really is, and the elements of a solution which has the potential to be one supported by all have become hidden by the polarisation of ideas. The inevitable isolation of facts which follows is seen as an unacceptable compromise for each party as they become ever reluctant to recognise validity in any idea which extends beyond the scope and value set of their own.

The biggest elephant in the room for Hunting, is that no matter what supporters or those against this pastime tell us, the debate has long since been anything to do with either the activities or survival of a fox. Yet the actions of both groups in the debate present a story which is very different. If a resolution that works for all is genuinely to be found, each side and the politicians in between them will have to accept that both sides will have to be far more practical in the way they manage the pathways of their respective idealistic ground.

With the various truths presented as fact by some and interpreted as myth by others, the objective reality of this ‘sport’ is that it has very little to do with being competitive and everything to do with a highly social and lifestyle movement, which to its own detriment has become obsessive about a perceived right to hunt our indigenous wild-dog.

The world has moved on. Very few of us believe that the most efficient way to control any kind of mammalian pest, is to become hierarchically attired, mount a very expensive and well-kept horse and then charge around what is left of the open countryside with forty or more others doing exactly the same. Trundling alongside a pack of perhaps a hundred English Foxhounds who are never as happy as when they are simply out for a very long run.

In the years since the implementation of the ‘hunting ban’ under the tenure of the last Labour Government, Hunts around the Country have been doing surprisingly well without any genuine need to reverse the purpose of the Legislation. Hunt protesters and saboteurs would beg to differ, as foxes can often be disturbed and find themselves at the mercy of a brutal, but nonetheless non-intentional act, and it is at this point that we should perhaps all be minded of the propensity of accidents and the fact that many, many more foxes are likely to be killed on the roads during hunting season, than those uncovered accidentally by any hunt which should happen to gallop past.

Open discussion regarding the experience of death for any human or animal concludes quickly for any rational person, as soon as the presence of any deliberate cause or intent is removed. Like it or not, we cannot control that which cannot be controlled, and seeking to prevent any form of accident would easily bring into question just about everything that we do.

Those against hunting – even in its current form should remember this well and be ever mindful of the progressive leap which has already been achieved. There now needs to be an acceptance that this fieldsport is nothing like what it once was and that any form of resentment based upon perception alone, whilst dressed up as a legitimate debate will help no one.

Hunts and the hunt lobby itself would likewise do well to recognise and accept that killing foxes at any costs by applying the law in its most literal sense is a self-defeating act. Using devices such as large birds of prey to kill foxes they have uncovered, gives the true lie to an unnecessary intention and mindset which itself continues to fuel the antagonistic fervour and physical-activist approach of those against whom they have in some cases become violently opposed.

Hunting in its current form and in the way it really should now evolve, is not just the preserve of the wealthy and the one percent which many now love to hate. It is a lifestyle enjoyed by people from all backgrounds and we are as likely to see a plumber, builder or chef taking part as a rider, as we would a landowner or a London banker out for a day from their country home.

It is time that we recognised that Hunting is not about foxes and can be enjoyed by anyone. The Hunts need to stop attempting to play the rules and accept the spirit of the hunting ban in the manner in which it was implemented. The anti-hunt lobby should accept and recognise that they themselves have no legitimate right to police the activities of any hunt, and that holding a set of different ideas to someone else doesn’t mean that we have no choice but to physically collide.

The Hunting Act desperately needs intelligent and considered reform. There is nothing to be gained from it simply being overturned. The direct and related steps that a government seeking to deliver a revised act that would appropriately consider the rights, welfare and respect for the genuine rule of law for all – including the fox itself, could however include:-

Making it illegal to:

  • Intentionally and/or proactively pursue a fox as, for or as part of a social gathering, either directly with dogs or indirectly with alternative measures such as firearms or birds of prey.
  • Intentionally and/or proactively interfere with the activities of any hunt, its members, supporters or guests so convened as a social gathering

Recognising that:

  • Genuine intent is everything. That accidents do occur and no hunt, officer, member, guest or supporter thereof should ever be held liable for the result of any fox or other mammal being uncovered by a group of hounds during the course of a social hunt

Reviewing the role of the RSPCA:

  • Either restructuring the Governance structure of the Charity’s ‘Council’ to ensure that appointments are democratic and reflective of the impartial and non-political nature of the responsibilities with which the RSPCA has been entrusted
  • Or removing the responsibility and prosecutorial role of the RSPCA altogether, perhaps passing them to local authorities where democratic transparency and professional impartiality would be easier to monitor and define

With the current political environment having made hunting feel almost impossible to discuss, it is little wonder that our embattled Prime Minister is looking to secure votes by being perceived to be considering switching sides. The irony of such a choice is that divisive as Foxhunting may be, the very best solution will be making the effort and winning the arguments which will deliver a less than perfect, but nonetheless beneficial win for all.

Odd as it may seem to many of today’s political class, solutions which work for all of us are always possible, whenever there is a genuine willingness to talk.

 

image thanks to businessinsider.com

 

 

 

Social victimisation has become the cultural norm and we are all unwittingly at risk of becoming the bogeymen

November 1, 2017 Leave a comment

social victimisationBlame has sadly become the watchword of our evolving 21st Century culture, and unless bad experiences have literally been caused by nothing more than the weather, it has become a social norm to pinpoint the individual or organisation that is identified to be ‘at fault’.

In the early days of this ‘progressive’ revolution, many of us fell into the trap of seeing the ambulance chasing phenomenon and the surge of ‘where there’s blame, there’s a claim’ litigation as nothing more than an americanisation, not unlike the commercialisation of Halloween which has become just another timetabled roll-out on the shelves of every supermarket store.

But something far more sinister has unfolded alongside the developing sense of personal entitlement and the rejection of responsibility which has gone with it. Culturally, we have started to believe that others can be held responsible for our own feelings and emotional response to any incident, whether there was meaningful or wilful intent to hurt, control or abuse on the part of another or not.

Whilst the Internet age continues to deliver many advantages and benefits to our lives on an almost daily basis, it also has brought with it a regressive flip side that in no small way sees the near 100% opinion content of news channels and their pretenders being taken, absorbed and often regurgitated as pure fact.

The destructive force and exponential amplification of skewed viewpoints within this new world of echo chambers, coupled with an unconscious form of confirmation bias on the part of many, has led to social and mainstream media alike becoming judge, jury and executioner in one. Careers and even lives are being wrecked with little or no thought for the facts, circumstances and the subtle realities and nuances that we all know to exist within real world interactions when we pause for a moment and think about them. Perception is everything and whether we like it or not, when two people interact, there will always be at least two truths created.

The strap line of Dr Frank Luntz’s book ‘Words that Work’; “It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear’ sums up the reality of this situation very well. As we look upon the explosion of the Weinstein scandal, the sharing of #me too and now the outing of what is being portrayed as a sex-pest insurgency at Westminster, we are all in danger of elevating poor social skills, overstimulated egos and downright stupidity to the level of deliberate criminal intent. By doing so, we risk the trivialisation and dismissal of genuine crime against vulnerable people who are already too scared to seek help.

Many doors have thankfully now been opened to equality within all workplaces. Yet the counter-intuitive nature of the response that such sensationalism promotes, could be far reaching.

An increased reluctance on the part of high profile and senior level managers or employers to place themselves at what many of them will now perceive to be an increased risk of spurious accusations, will not encourage the enlightened thinking that will promote open access to the opportunities for all that silent prejudices have obstructed the most.

This reality makes uncomfortable reading. But the fact remains that no level of regulation or control will ever counter the way that any individual privately thinks.

No matter what their background or outward views, people operating at this level in any organisation or capacity will always have the opportunity to say and be seen to do one thing, whilst quietly, perhaps even less than consciously doing quite another.

‘Out means out’ is the clear message that would give certainty to the Brexit Process

August 4, 2017 1 comment

Unspoken words illustrated by actions, almost always speak more loudly than the words which accompany them. The approach which has been taken by Theresa May’s Government towards Brexit is certainly no different.

Management of expectation should be fluent practice for the politicians who have reached the heights of having a seat at the top table in the land. So it would be reasonable to conclude that the jumping off point for the Brexit Negotiations provides us with an accurate picture of the priorities of the Government for delivering our exit process.

Begin-with-the-end-in-mind.

It is of no great surprise that many people are concerned, given that Brexit looks like an unholy mess. One which is playing into the hands of ardent Remainers such as Vince Cable, given that the whole approach to the process has been in many ways portrayed as being about doing the minimum necessary to qualify the UK as no longer being an EU Member.

The current approach could more accurately be framed as over-promising with the quiet or unintended expectation that they will ‘be given no choice’ but to under deliver. The alternative would be the more robust and arguably honest approach of being clear from the start with us all by stating that we are now going to be completely out of European Union Membership once the Article 50 Notice Period is complete, and that anything we gain in our interests thereafter will be a benefit.

What could then accurately be called an under-promise leading to what anyone who sees our true relationship with our European Partners will know will be a significant lessening of expectations in terms of what the Government will then assuredly over-deliver.

While more than a year may now have passed since the EU Referendum with Negotiations in Brussels now appearing to be underway, it is far from too late to adopt this approach.

Yes, giving this level of clarity to the overall message would draw criticism from Remainers who continue to be convinced that they can influence the Negotiation Process to a degree where Brexit would occur in name only. But it would also provide a distinct level of certainty within what for us all will remain a fluid situation for a long time to come, where stepping off now with the worst case scenario providing a basis for our negotiating position going forward being a far more productive place to begin.

To continue managing the public perception of the Brexit process in the way that it is, the Government appears to be either attempting to be all things to all people – which even when well intended is unlikely to work; or is playing the rather dangerous game of planning for the UK to remain technically tied to Membership of the European Union via a relationship which the majority of British people do not want.

Yes, there are very big interests with equally big voices making very loud predictions of doom and gloom, openly threatening to leave the UK if their needs aren’t prioritised.

A perfectly sensible question in response would be to ask them why they are here anyway if the European Market is that much more important than our own.

The reality however, is that these self-serving overtures are really nothing more than a plea to a political class to keep everything which works profitably for those interests basically the very same.

These businesses have had influence and power over Government for a very long time due to the role that money is seen to play in just about everything. Yet in terms of Brexit, Money has now come into direct conflict with democracy and the will of the People. Nobody should be in any doubt about the interests which will benefit most if the UK should in any way now Remain.

The message is clear. Things can never be the same as they were before 23rd June 2016. Obstructive as these other interests may be, they also deserve to receive a clear message from the Government about the direction of travel, so that they can work with their own worst case scenarios. Scenarios which you can be assured will prove to be a lot better when we have formally left the EU, than they would willingly have us all suppose now.

The damage being done daily with the current lacklustre approach in terms of the relationship between Westminster all British People – who have an evolving distrust of the establishment, has the potential to be far reaching, particularly if the Negotiation Process should ultimately result in an avoidable fudge.

Whilst no British voter has knowingly endorsed the process of ‘ever closer union’ which successive British Governments undertook to create an increasingly closer and subservient political union with the EU, it would be utterly foolish for political strategists to believe that they can somehow delay or prevent the distinct and clinical reversal of that unsanctioned action, when the democratic instruction given by the Referendum Vote was very clear.

Of course, any ardent Remainer reading these words can and will pick holes in an argument like this by using their own view of Brexit and the Referendum itself to justify alternative reasoning. Democracy does after all only work for some when they are getting the results that they themselves want.

As a supporter of leaving the European Union from a time long before it ever became politically fashionable to be so, I can nonetheless say that I did not feel comfortable with the polarity delivered by the Referendum Campaign. Yet it has become ridiculous that a follow-up debate about ‘what Brexit will look like’ should then have been allowed to develop by the establishment and then framed as an optional change which can come in a choice of shades, wrapped up as either a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit.

Accepting that we are leaving – as most Political Parties now at least indicate that they do, would sound much more sincere, convincing and less like they were paying mere lip service to this inevitable change if all were to adopt a more definite tone such as ‘out means out’, rather than ‘Brexit means Brexit’. One which not only makes clear but endorses the otherwise universally held understanding that you cannot remain attached and at the same time be genuinely separate or no longer a part of something – as the British Electorate have commanded that we must now be.

In my last blog, I discussed the reality and impact of ideas or ideologies in politics rather than management according to all the facts. Brexit has regrettably come to fall under the same umbrella of ideas. It should be clear that our perspective of the process and creation of policy right at this moment in time and how things will actually work when we arrive at March 2019 will not then be the same as now or at any point thereafter.

The only certainty is that we are leaving and that is why it would be far more productive to talk in terms of the relationship that the UK then aims to have with the EU as being an aspiration, instead of a fixed relationship that we the or they in some way have the power to guarantee.

Acceptance that all sides of UK Politics have something to bring to this debate is essential and must replace the virtue signalling and disingenuous assumption of moral authority adopted by some, who fail to understand the expectations of everyone with views and feelings from outside their own bubbles. Especially so, as they refuse to work with those who do or have an alternative view to their own.

Just as if we were destined to travel to the top of a hill, it would be generally accepted as inevitable that there would be a climb involved in getting there. There may of course be different routes, choices of gradients or even helicopter rides to assist us to ascend. But one way or the other, we know that we will have to have reached the top of the hill itself before we ourselves know and everyone else will fully accept that we have got there.

In terms of our exit from European Union, complete UK Sovereignty is the top of that hill.

Regaining the power for our Westminster Parliament to determine all rules, laws and the obligations under which we live and operate as a Nation must be the red line above which nothing is acceptable in terms of influence from any other European Nation, combination thereof or indeed any foreign power.

To allow this key component of honouring its obligation the British Electorate to appear in some way negotiable – depending upon whether we can secure ‘agreement’ over certain things such as access to the Free Market, the need for a ‘Customs Union’ or the method under which we ‘can’ allow people to move across our Borders – The Government has perhaps unwittingly embarked upon a game of high stakes chess with the sanctity of the democratic relationship between it and the People.

To the Government, to the Opposition and to the other Political Parties with seats in Westminster beyond, it is the agenda of the British people which must be prioritised, first and foremost before any of their own, or indeed the very specific and self-serving interests which all too often support and therefore have influence over them.

All the Government really needs to do is change, make clear and evangelise the core message to one which reflects ‘out means out’ and then the support and understanding of how we can all work with and benefit from Brexit will soon begin to appear.

Whilst the siren calls of public figures such as the Archbishop of Canterbury may suggest that the devil is in the detail, the real challenge for those across Government is to now genuinely commit to the journey. They will then find that the seemingly impossible level of technicalities to consider as part of the Brexit process will be much simpler to decide – even within the significant volumes that they will come.

The overreach of Libertarianism may deliver a dystopian future that even those who lead us greatly fear

August 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Pendulum of LibertyMany have suspected that TV, Films and Games can influence real-life behaviors and there are certainly studies that have been carried out which suggest a link. As we watch programming like Coronation Street, Eastenders and now the ‘reality TV’ gems like The Only Way is Essex, Geordie Shore, Made in Chelsea and of course ‘Love Island’, the entertainment for some defiantly comes from the anticipation that anything deemed now acceptable on TV will soon find its way into ‘real life’.

As a rule, TV today has become prescient in a way which is surprisingly quick in its delivery and the mediums of social media running shotgun alongside, have only served to increase the speed with which ‘artistic license’ has become manifest as a reality from which none of us can hide.

Seldom however, does a programme like The Handmaid’s Tale come along, which has all the hallmarks of being exactly the same as a programme which creates real life out of thin air, but feels all the more possible, because it identifies the destination of a process in which our otherwise increasing ‘freedoms’ have been religiously denied.

That the story alludes to and carefully anchors itself in a picture and to experiences of life with which we can all already identify makes the whole possibility more terrifying as we realise within the surety of our own thoughts, how easily a way of life for us all which has been created from nothing more than fear and its bedfellow hate could eclipse the ‘never had it so good’ world that the establishment complacently equates with our own.

But how did we get here, and how could we really jump from a world so apparently full of freedoms into another where freedom could mean nothing at all?

Perhaps most surprisingly, it is the relationship between these ‘freedoms’ and rights that we now have; the way they have come into being, and the impact that they are quietly having on everyone, rather than just the few for whom they were genuinely, but nonetheless idealistically intended, where the real genesis of the problem may lie.

Uncomfortable to read as it may seem, this argument is not about attacking any form of equality, as equality should be the natural approach we intrinsically employ as individuals towards everyone else, one and all.

Regrettably, such levels of selflessness in our consideration have never been the default or conditioned form of all people, whether as individuals or as groups at any point in the history of the World.

This is the very reason that legislation and forms of positive discrimination have been employed in the coercive attempt to put this right and avoid the future wrongs that can and sadly sill continue to be committed.

What is being seriously overlooked and in many cases ignored, is that discrimination comes about not because of colour, gender, race, sexuality, disability, culture or indeed anything else which has now become the focus of rights.  Discrimination is present in almost every interaction in some way and at some level, because the self-interest and nucleus of fear which ultimately feeds it within every individual is and will continue to be present universally because it is delivered culturally and in conditioned form. It therefore becomes a default setting which can never be completely coerced into being under the control of others, unless it is given voluntarily, consciously and willingly so by each and every individual concerned.

Whilst the eradication of any form of prejudice is a laudable goal, human nature dictates that with the realities of what we call free will, freedom of thought will always prevail beyond the objectives of setting models of behaviour and can all too easily be manipulated by being overtly adhered to whilst the true intentions of those concerned are cleverly hidden, usually in plain sight.

It has been said that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and it is the reality of this statement which has driven the culture of transparency to a level where even Conservative Home Secretaries are now insisting on unworkable levels of bureaucracy for the Police to ensure that no rule or freedom for suspects, the convicted or prisoners has been denied. The imposition of rights, which in the minds of their architects should have precipitated an instant result simply did not do so. And so the culture of monitoring was created and continues to be unrealistically and impractically refined.

This whole process has played itself out in so many ways and in so many different directions, but the result has ultimately become the same.

The views of some individuals, their feelings, their opportunities, their ‘rights’ have now and are being openly paraded as being more important than those of the communities in which they live, work and in some cases even themselves would otherwise closely identify.

Somewhere in this process, a definitive line was crossed. A line where a genuine balance could have been established and set to evolve, where people really don’t see difference as a threat. A line where a genuine respect for every other individual and their place within the wider community could have thrived.

The obsession with rights has seen the point where balance could have been achieved, not only crossed, but to a point where the rights of minorities have been flipped and now supersede those of the majority, who have themselves by default and the process of positive discrimination, become those inadvertently discriminated against. Discrimination, however it is applied, always affects others with the opposite consequence.

Some would suggest that such a response or feeling of fear on the part of the majority, when any number of minorities have been repressed for such a long time would itself be fair. But this is certainly not so and whilst an understandable emotion on the part of those who have been victims of prejudice to the point that they might see things this way, to mirror an injustice in any way is to pick up and continue with the very same form of attack – just going in a different way.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Particularly not when prejudice against others is typically born out of the fear of difference between people and aspects of others that they simply don’t understand, or has come about simply because certain actions and views are understood as the way that we are culturally expected to do so. Indeed, the dehumanization of relationships which is steadily evolving on a minute by minute basis by the impact and assimilation of internet, smart phones and by response-at-the-push-of-a-button technology, is almost certain to make things much worse.

Rights have for a long time been costing Government and the Economy a lot of money. Nobody should delude themselves into thinking that there isn’t a price to be paid by us all – financially or otherwise – when business and the public sector becomes less productive as a direct result of rights being enhanced or government officers effectively refusing to take and execute their full responsibilities – passing them on to others such as highly paid consultants – simply because they are living in fear of what will happen if they should be accused of wrongdoing on behalf of someone who as a result of this whole corrupting process believes that their rights have in some way been denied.

The inaction and professional ineptitude which is now common throughout the public sector has far more to do with the insidious nature of the rights culture than it does either because of lack of skilled people or lack of money through the Government’s Policy of Austerity, which has become a very useful and much less risky scapegoat for political activism on all sides.

What has been achieved by this giant overstep and attempt to achieve coercive control is the emergence of two populations within one. The majority which falls increasingly silent as it witnesses attempts by others to even have its thought processes denied. The other, a hybrid minority of over-empowered victims who aggressively and successfully interpret the actions of others within what we used to know as normal life, as being insulting, inconsiderate and unquestionably set against their own ‘human rights’.

Some suggest the fear that this insidious culture has created as Britain having become a Nation without an identity. It isn’t that. The majority of people are just too afraid to openly identify with our National Identity for fear of what injustice towards others they might then be ridiculously accused.

The real harm to our democracy, is the unspoken and dangerously complacent conclusion on the part of those who Govern to conclude that silence itself is equal to acquiescence.

People are much savvier than their actions might otherwise deny, and whilst Westminster continues to misunderstand and misread the electoral actions of the public, it is little wonder that the European Referendum result came as such a surprise because such little account if any is being made for the fact that within the confines of a voting booth, there is a distinct level of anonymity and unhindered choice which even within friendships and families can otherwise be at the very least emotionally denied.

What also appears to be complacently overlooked by the establishment and in particular the liberal elites, is that Government, law, order and social cohesion is on every level dependent fully on the voluntary consent and support of the British People, who continue to respect the idea of democracy and the voluntary surrender of decision making responsibility for affairs affecting us all communally to our so-called elected representatives of the people.

The real problem with the ascendency of the ‘self’ culture and the empowerment of this hybrid mentality where minorities now look upon the majority who they are led to believe have intentionally scorned them, in a way that suggests they can now impose their own values and morality unequivocally upon us all.

For example criminals and prisoners alike are now able to deflect attention away from whatever they have done, simply by complaining that their own rights have been infringed. They do so knowing that they have blithely and wantonly done exactly the same to innocent others. Innocents who more often than not remain out of the spotlight for fear of what reprisal they will experience as a result of the application of law now being toothless, simply because the rights of the individual are placed before the best interests of the community and therefore openly denied.

People will not go on indefinitely allowing an unjust system to exist. The civil order which is voluntarily maintained on the part of the wider community is as fragile as that of those and their supporters who feel themselves to be justified in taking to the streets and rioting because they now feel it safe to assume that when an opportunity for blame arises, it will always be the party which represents authority which has committed the true crime.

However, whilst we have cause to be genuinely concerned that the good will of the majority of the British People could and does have the potential to snap, we are culturally a very patient People, even beyond that which fear would deny.

As such, the break down of civil order and rioting on the streets simply over the issue of overstretched rights, may in isolation thankfully remain a long way off.

But that isn’t to say that the resentment and true feeling against rights culture and the belief that the silent majority are obliged to play-court to the emperors new clothes which liberalism has made could not itself be the straw that breaks the camels back, should any one of a number of other pressing issues such as a financial meltdown or a consistent run of terrorist attacks increase the feeling that the genuine will of the people is being denied in such a way which precipitates people taking to the streets.

Revolution is a word which means many things to different people and the misguided romanticism with this idea of instantaneous change leaves the true meaning and impact of this type of societal transition completely denied.

Yet the feelings of mistrust and resentment against what is now widely considered to be an entitled political class and the interests of big business which rightly or wrongly are generally perceived to be behind it, could easily lead to circumstances where social behaviour lead those in power to believe that its genesis is progressively and proactively implied.

Fear leads even the leaders of people to do silly things. In such circumstances, with anarchy considered likely, or even if it is by then present on the streets, it is the immediate denial of the rights which will have previously been seen to promote any idea of complete freedom that would be quickly denied.

Whilst a model of governance like that of the Sons of Jacob may not appear to be on the cards, the power vacuum created as any voluntary form of democracy falls would indeed create an opportunity for any group which can organise itself where its own ideals for living can be implemented and then refined.

The building blocks are already in place for a fully functioning dystopian order and the predictive connotations of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four are playing themselves out daily within the technology that we are inviting into our homes, supported by the attempts of Government to remove anything which could be considered a safety net for our individual independence by paying lip service the idea that in this one instance, they will be protecting the greater interests of society as they do.

We haven’t got there yet. We must all hope that we do not.

But if we do, it will be clear that the price to be paid for the results of a liberalised society  which delivers equality for one by taking it away from many others will have proven to have been inhumanly high.

Brexit and the influence of Corporate Business: Money talks and the rest of the business community walks

Brexit 2The result of the European Referendum was a surprise to many, and that includes a substantial part of the leave side itself. Yet over a year on, with Article 50 Triggered over 3 Months ago and David Davies now participating in regular sessions of ‘negotiation’ with the European elite, nobody seems to know what impact Brexit will have on any of the key issues, and whether any of what are being considered as the obvious problems which led to the ‘No’ Vote will really have been resolved.

With Brexit constituting a polysemic reference point which in the imaginations of everyone will look as different as the number of people you might ask, it is perhaps no wonder that there really is as much confusion as there appears to be about the whole process.

Some do of course interpret what is already the natural anxiety which is accompanying these early stages of our departure from the European Union as change in the minds of the majority that initiated this whole process. Yet they would do well to remember that none of the reasons which prompted that significant choice on the part of so many have as yet been resolved, and especially so in the case of the many more beyond those generally accepted and not least of all the spectre of corporate and political self interest.

It should really be of little surprise that things have looked like such a mess in these circumstances and genuinely forgivable given the lack of pre-Referendum preparation for its outcome and the chain of events including a change of Prime Minister and an arguably unexpected General Election which has distributed power in peculiar directions.

What is less easy to overlook, and perhaps should be of great concern to us all, is the readiness of former remain-backing politicians to focus upon the opinion and input of sources from the corporate world who also sought the same outcome when considering what will or wont work for business-full-stop, when what they appear to hope will be an indefinite period of transition commences in March 2019 and we formally leave the Union.

Input of organisations such as the CBI, whilst important in its capacity as a member-based industry voice, is nonetheless representative only of the executives and companies for whom they work, and therefore the highly subjective and specifically profit-led interests that they all have in conjunction with their own trading arrangements with Europe – rather than what is objectively in the better interests of us all.

Whilst it may be to some degree inevitable that UK-European trade will come at a greater cost to all businesses in the future, these changes will in real or financial terms be no different than the changes in costs of manufacturing, supply and service provision which have accompanied change after change after change which have been instigated by a continual flow of new European Laws and Directives when they hit relevant businesses. In fact, it is only the fact that this is an industry-wide phenomenon, rather than just another hitting one sector or another, which really marks leaving the European Union itself as being markedly different from changes that to real business, would really be ‘just one of those things’.

It would be disingenuous to suggest that the Government is listening to the wrong people, but it certainly does not appear to be taking into account the realities facing the complete range of the right ones either, and when the views of Remain-lite big business are put into their true perspective, the news is arguably far from as bad as the comparatively few companies which are big enough to swim in the pool with the CBI and have influence on its own Policy would like us and the Government to think.

Motivation is regrettably key, and whilst it is considered normal to talk about the individuals who give voice to CBI membership and the corporate business community as being representative of the ‘business view’, very few, if indeed any of the people who have reached the top of these large Companies will have really cut their teeth in the furnace of SME business start-ups, development and management. It is here where you ultimately have no choice but to accept, get on and work with legislatory change, or get out of the market and let someone else have a go if you can no longer make it work.

Small business, which suggested by Federation of Small Business (FSB) figures makes up at least 60% of industry, thrives on being adaptable and embracing each and every change that it will face, which for most will come to them pretty much on almost daily basis. What it doesn’t have – even with membership organisations like the FSB  – which are again only technically representative of the views of their members with a voice – is a seat, or what should be a significant number of seats around the ‘top table’ when it comes to getting the ear of Ministers and indeed our Government.

This is a travesty, as the business environment which they inhabit is the real engine room of our economy, and the place where industry feedback is most open and reflective of the concerns and realities which really do face all businesses.

SME’s are the business equivalent of the electoral grassroots and the only place to go if Government really wants to establish the priorities of British Business to inform our negotiations with the EU as we transition through Brexit to what may then prove to be a much more productive world for the British economy beyond.

image thanks to news.sky.com 

Public outcry over Grenfell may ensure prosecutions, but the root causes of public sector indifference are cultural and injustices are destined to continue

July 24, 2017 5 comments

Residents of Kensington and Chelsea are right to be very concerned about the conduct of the local Council in their handling of events leading up to, during and after the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Yet we should all be concerned with the reality sitting beyond and concerning the state of the whole Public Sector, which leaves Grenfell unique only because of the size and obvious impact of this horrific event, which has captured the public imagination for all the wrong reasons.

It would be difficult for anyone not to picture the horror of the event and to at very least attempt to consider just how significant the impact of an experience of this nature would be. But the race to apportion blame and the politicisation of this disaster for purposes which reach way beyond those of helping or supporting the people directly involved are diversionary at best, and belie the indirect culpability which lies at the feet of politicians of all backgrounds and officers alike, who are operating and making decisions within a system which might appear fine beyond without the presence of Austerity, but is otherwise quietly failing us all miserably.

Yes, the criminal inquiry which the Police are now working on may well identify individuals who will be charged and subsequently found guilty of having some kind or level of criminal liability. Just as the Judge-led inquiry into the technical aspects of the event, construction and renovation of Grenfell Tower may identify problems with wider policy which will then be used to inform changes which will be intended to make structural development safer for users.

But as I have written before when then Prime Minister David Cameron was talking up Jail-terms for the individuals responsible for the failures of the Local Council and Public Sector in Rotherham, there are cultural issues present right the way through local government and the public sector which make incidents that continue to disadvantage the public all but inevitable at all levels, and in many ways that people outside of Government may never become aware of.

Did anyone get jailed over Rotherham? Has anything changed since then? Have any of the parliamentary political parties demonstrated even the slightest hint that they are in touch with the greater problems caused not by Austerity alone, which persist far more significantly in the background and way beyond?

No being the answer to these questions is of course a travesty in itself. Yet even worse is the misleading direction that this whole debate will be taken if sound bites and labels such as ‘social murder’ continue to be taken literally by followers of the media who rely on news mediums – rightly or wrongly as it may be – to provide them with an accurate view of what is really going on, when all they are really getting is very little fact and one hell of a distorted view.

If the complexity of the issues which make our public services arguably unfit for purpose in all but name are not understood by the very people who hold the responsibility to lead us at all levels of Government, how can anyone who does not even have the slightest experience of the inner workings of the public sector be expected to have even a remote idea of what is really going on?

If they did, we would surely be now looking for names for a whole range of crimes either carried out or instigated without intent otherwise known criminally as corruption, embezzlement and fraud, to name just a few.

Some might like that idea greatly. But the very regrettable reality is that the problem spanning the public sector is culturally embedded and the result of many issues which to address will take political leadership of a kind that we have long since seen on offer.

Ultimately, an embedded problem of this kind must be addressed by action taken at the very top and this is why I previously asked if the last Prime Minister should himself be the one facing the jail term.

Until there is an acceptance and willingness on the part of politicians from all political parties to address the greater problems which sit behind not only events with the level of notoriety of the Grenfell Tower disaster and Rotherham, but also the ‘unintended’ injustices of all kinds which are visited upon taxpayers daily, we remain destined to have future events of this kind continuing to unfold.

This is at best unjust and it is a very long way from what we should all be able to expect from any form of government which actually works for the people it is supposed to serve.

10 Years on from the 2007 Gloucestershire Floods: Some things are different, but out of sight is still very much out of mind for the politicians and this is what must really change

July 20, 2017 2 comments
Floods 2007 1

Unloading water at the Wheatpieces Community Centre, Walton Cardiff, near Tewkesbury, following the July 2007 Floods

With 10 years now passed since the Gloucestershire floods of 2007 we cast our minds back to the magnitude of those events that affected significant numbers of people and communities across the County and surrounding areas in the middle of July that year.

Only a matter of weeks into my first term as an elected councillor at Tewkesbury Borough, I remember well that the significance of what felt like a tropical rainstorm parked overhead for most of that Friday would go way beyond a vast extension of what sadly remains a regular local event.

So much water trying to find its way to a natural watercourse created rivers and lakes in the most unexpected locations and seeing upended cars by the roadside and in ditches the following day, like some scene from War of the Worlds left a picture in my mind which was at the very least quite surreal.

But it was on the Sunday, when word really began to spread that there had been a problem at the Mythe Water Treatment Plant as a result of the Flooding which meant tap water was about to run out, that the real consequences of what we were afterwards told was a 1 in 100 year event really began to unfold.

After an unexpected phone call from a constituent that afternoon, asking where they could get water I found myself spending over two weeks delivering water and coordinating drinking water supplies around my Council Ward, increasingly conscious of how very thin the veil of individual social responsibility, commonly known as civil order actually is, when it was pricked in so many other areas by people fighting over water, steeling it and even urinating in bowsers where communities had been supplied. We can only begin to imagine what would have happened if the emergency services had not won their battle against the rising floodwaters of the River Severn when just centimetres from flooding the Walham Electricity Substation just outside Gloucester.

From my own perspective, the contact with members of the community I then represented that getting so directly involved gave me was of incalculable benefit. Not only did I see the impact of the breakdown of our utility service supply at first hand, I also gained real-time understanding of flooding and also what can be the very localised nature and requirements of our arbitrary Planning system, which continues to fail local people, and the communities in which they live every day.

The news channels have today made use of the good-news stories which followed the 2007 Floods, such as the permanent flood protection and defences that have been erected in places such as Upton on Severn, just a few miles upstream from Tewkesbury. Yet the bigger story beyond remains the lack of understanding or failure to acknowledge the real impact of building not only near or on flood plains themselves, but also on ground which in extreme weather events, would or has historically become the natural channels where a rainfall overload will find its way to our local main rivers via the floodplains in between.

Sadly, consideration of the issues which sit behind those which are most obvious is not something that Government at National or Local level beyond is happy to embrace, particularly at a time when the politically expedient route to solving our housing supply problems is to simply focus on everything that encourages people and businesses to build.

Events like the 2007 Gloucestershire Floods are not rare events. This fact has been only too well illustrated by the many different experiences that Towns, Villages and in some cases even Cities have been continuing to experience ever since, and yet we still have a Planning system, environmental policies and public sector approach which is in real terms not even fully reactive in nature.

The pain, loss and suffering which people suffer, often much longer than during the time of these flooding events themselves should have by now resulted in a proactive approach to flood prevention. But 10 years now gone – a period in which even the very slow wheels of Government could have delivered the creative and fully considered policy changes and developments which might at least have future-proofed existing properties from what might be avoidable disaster – Politicians are still failing to adapt to dealing with the biggest issues which are facing communities, albeit the ones that are far from being obvious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am a conservative through and through, but I do not identify with anything that the Conservative Party currently does or stands for

UnknownFinally, after 5 years of a Coalition, unexpected majority government and subsequent referendum results which completely re-wrote ‘the script’, soon followed by an apparently bomb-proof prime-ministerial-tenure being turned to little more than wobbly jelly in just one night, the Conservative chatter has began to focus on the health of the Party itself.

For a few moments as I glanced upon one of the latest articles to outline some angle upon the need for change, I found myself hopeful that this consistent run of electoral shocks might now at last be about to hit the right spot.

Regrettably, my momentary lapse of reason disappeared as I realised almost instantly that the Party continues to perceive its problems to be completely outside of itself and with the way it communicates with others, rather than being anything intrinsic, or even slightly in-between.

It’s not to say that the thoughts of prominent Conservative Politicians such as Bernard Jenkin and Robert Halfon don’t make sense, because the symptomatic problems they identify are certainly there. However, as has been the case both Nationally and Locally for a very long time, decision making within the whole Party has and is being made without any relationship to core conservative values, leaving both policy and approach with an identity crisis which far too many seem unable to understand.

That is why no message – no matter its medium of delivery – is going to genuinely captivate a wider audience of any age or demographic, if Conservative Party Politicians and the Party itself continue to exhibit and practice a belief system which is increasingly focused upon the self .

Until this week, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour had done a very good job of doing the exact opposite – arguably to a point where in a post-General-Election-panic, the Tories have been trying to mimic them without even hesitating to ask themselves why.

Convincing as this few week period of a new compassionate politics was, the cat was well and truly let out of the bag when senior shadow frontbenchers came clean publically to reveal that Labour’s electioneering ‘promise’ of ending student tuition fees was only ever an ‘ambition’ after all.

We can only begin to imagine what that revelation might have now meant when applied to any or indeed all of Labour’s Manifesto ‘commitments’, had those voters who had trusted this now debunked document been sufficient in number to see Mr Corbyn now resident in No. 10.

Possessing the front to tell such whoppers in order to secure a majority in any election should not even be an aspiration of a Political Party which will take its role in government seriously when called upon to represent the interests of ALL voters with equanimity, let alone one that could even come close to gaining that considerable trust.

Sadly, the common ground which all of our Political Parties share seldom touches on the provision and creation of policy itself and they are today all too alike, for all of the wrong reasons. This would almost certainly no longer be the case the very minute that the political direction of any significant part of these groups were focused upon a cause which were genuinely focused beyond their own electability.

The clear differentiation between a Conservative Party motivated to deliver and take responsibility in every way that it can without prioritising its own electoral prospects before non-newsworthy need, and an apparently resurgent Labour Party focused only on attributing blame on anyone who doesn’t share their views and inspiring generations of young people to do exactly the same, would be striking.

But gaining and maintaining power for nothing more than the sake of having power itself is the position which the Conservative Government has reached, just like many of the Councils the Party and its Local Associations ‘control’ right across the Country.

Until conservatives with decision making responsibility can once again accept and exhibit the behavioral responsibility they could and should reasonably be expected to have to others once elected, and take difficult decisions outside of their comfort zone as well as those that feel expedient or easy, nobody within or supporting the Conservative Party is going to find it simple to inspire or engage others at grassroots level and on the doorsteps, irrespective of what the message or method of delivery the Party marketing machine might employ.

The precarious nature of the Prime Minister’s ‘working majority’ today should bring no happiness to anyone on any political side, as the implications tomorrow may prove to be particularly far reaching for us all. Yet the increasingly game-like nature of government and the crowd-pleasing nature of politicians of all sides leaves the serious side of governance in this Country being extremely weak within an increasingly fragile world where real strength would serve us all very well.

If elected Conservatives really want to make, live and evangelise change that will deliver something genuinely better for all people, whilst inspiring the whole electorate by giving them something truly conservative to vote for, they must all ‘dare to be different’, rather than continue to live and propagate the lives of the caricatures that the majority of the people outside of the Westminster bubble really do today see and believe them to be.

Categories: Uncategorized

MPs who voted against triggering Article 50 contradicted the will of the relevant constituency

February 4, 2017 Leave a comment

brexit-voteWhilst the realities of our Legal system have allowed the wishes of a group of individuals to delay the implementation of the democratic choice of the British people, any individual seeking to bolster the strength of their own argument against Brexit on the basis of this ‘technical truth’ will certainly not be putting the interests of the wider community before their own. Regrettably, those MP’s who have sought to thwart or destroy the process of Brexit in all but name are effectively misusing their responsibilities to the point where they may well bring their own incumbency into question.

Remainers persist in arguing that leaving the EU can mean that we don’t actually leave, or suggest that the Electorate will change its mind simply because the Remain Campaign was the only one telling the truth.

They argue that these reasons justify their refusal to accept a democratic mandate, but they risk shattering what is left of the already fragile status quo in which the disenfranchised majority has made clear they do not wish things to simply continue as the are.

Democracy isn’t perfect because it inevitably leaves those who have not achieved the result they were supporting feeling let down and disappointed if they fail to get their way.

Were democracy to be perfect, it would render itself obsolete simply because everyone would agree upon everything already and therefore have no need to engage in any such process.

The downside of democracy not being a perfect system is that those who disagree with a result will always look for leverage to dispute a result, just because they may have perceived that in some way they have been robbed.

To be fair, close results in elections – where perhaps just a handful of votes stand between one candidate and another – have been turned on their head just on the basis of a recount alone. But these instances are rare, and when they occur, are more likely to do so where a result has been drawn within an electorate of a very low number.

The smallest constituencies are the most likely to experience such events with the likelihood reducing as elections range from the wards of a parish councils, through those of a district level authority to the divisions of a county council and then the parliamentary constituencies themselves. Even then however, one seat ultimately being decided upon the flip of a coin is unlikely to effect the fortune or result from similar elections held on the same day within 649 others.

What all these constituencies have in common, is that no matter how small or how big, they all represent the majority view of the people who live within a specific geographical area. The result or election of an individual or individuals to represent that particular area are based on the votes of the people in that specific area alone.

Because of the current nature of British politics, it is easy to forget that even in a General Election, we all vote for an individual to represent us locally, rather than the political party they belong to.

Voters can hardly be blamed for this when the party which gains the most seats forms the government, and the leader of that group then becomes Prime Minister.

We might not even notice when our chosen candidate is not elected, simply because it can still be the case that our choice of Party for Government does. However, only one person can ever fill one seat and this means that at least one and possibly many more will not.

The practical realities of administering government require that district level authorities are responsible for the mechanics of elections. It doesn’t matter what the election and what the boundary of its constituency may be, the chances are that you will always go to the same place to vote. Other than being given one or a number of voting slips which have to then go in different ballot boxes when different elections coincide, very few of us have to think about much more besides, as the local monitoring officer manages the process which leads to the conclusion of each and every local electoral result that our individual vote contributes towards, to decide.

However, in the case of European Elections, which are decided on a Regional basis and require many different district level authorities to feed in their own locally harvested results which contribute to a much larger area, a strong result for one or more parties in that area may not be reflected in the Regional result itself, because the majority of people in other areas have within their own constituencies voted for another party or parties.

A National referendum is similarly no different, taking the process one step further to a point where every single vote counts directly towards the national result, with the relevant constituency being the entire UK.

The familiarity of the Electoral System lends itself to significant misunderstanding, particularly as many people are simply unaware of the different tiers of government which operate and certainly have no greater awareness of the geographical differences or enclosures which exist between any number of the different authorities or individual politicians who are elected by them in the same way.

This administrative anomaly works well in terms of operating a practical and effective non-digitised election management system. But it also allows data collected for specific areas such as that of a Parliamentary Constituency to be interpreted in terms of relevance just to the area in which those votes were counted alone, rather than against the backdrop of the wider, or indeed narrower area. However, in elections where a candidate or multiple of candidates is selected for a particular ‘seat’, a conflicting result for a parish ward would not allow or facilitate the election of a ‘part-candidate’ when the results of all others would provide a majority for a county council candidate and thereby ensure that individuals election.

Whilst many of the 114 MP’s have used the excuse that their own constituency voted to Remain as the logical reason for voting against triggering Article 50 in Parliament this last week, the fact that the European Referendum was itself never about the individual result or interpretation of votes from any specific Parliamentary Constituency, but rather the combined will of the nation itself, arguably renders this interpretation completely void.

The same can be said of the Scottish Constituencies too. What is more, whilst the SNP can argue that they have a distinguishable mandate, the result of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum has made the position of the Scottish region clear in terms of its relationship within and as part of the rest of the UK and would as such be no different than any other single parliamentary constituency seeking to Remain in Europe, when the Referendum was only ever about the relationship between Europe and the UK entire.

It would be ridiculous to completely overlook the alternative reasoning of these MP’s as from a certain point of view, it is arguably true. However, it is based on a subjective and arguably self-serving view, rather than the more objective one which has been adopted by many more on all sides of the political divide. One which respects the nature of the Referendum Vote and the specific constituency within which it was held.

Had the democratic view been accepted by all in the first place, the will of the majority of the British people would have already been respected. No MP would have found themselves facing a dilemma of whether or not to support their own Party, or alternatively risk the potential of being black-balled, all because to a few, democracy can only work when they believe that they alone are winning.

image thanks to thesun.co.uk

Using money to thwart democracy is dictatorship wearing different clothes

January 26, 2017 1 comment

gina-millerInequality is a current and far reaching issue in the UK today. The difference between rich and poor, the educated elite and those with ‘poor education’ or the 1% and the rest are topics which are never far from the news, even if they are presented in an indirect but nonetheless similar way.

Whilst it would now be easy to challenge any portrayal of imbalance within ‘normal’ life across in the media, the fact remains that wealth, education, housing, employment, healthcare and the opportunities to access just about every method of support which can make a difference to any one persons quality or experience of life is not available to each and every one of us in exactly the same way. The same opportunities are not given to everyone, and however unacceptable or unpalatable this may seem, it remains an almost universal fact.

The social disparity which people experience today is sadly just an evolution of a problem which has been consistent throughout history, albeit at varying levels and presented in terms which have been contemporary for the times.

Beyond birth and death, our shared reality offers no genuine equality between any two people.

Whilst the rights lobby and so-called ‘progressives’ are unlikely to agree, human experience and free will render the possibility of true equality obsolete.

Democracy and the process of giving everyone within a community the same choices – even within the framework of restrictions which is imposed, is likely to be one of the most equal of opportunities which are the same for everyone. Whatever somebody’s background, address, bank balance or work status, they equate to the very same thing when it comes to placing a voting slip in the ballot box. We are conditioned to expect the same of the Law in this Country too.

The relationship between democracy and Law is all too easily overlooked. This has been alarmingly well illustrated by the decision on triggering Article 50 by the Supreme Court.

In the UK today, democracy franchises the Law. Yet the Law has now inadvertently been used to franchise an alternative to democracy; one which is being facilitated by money, which has been supplied by just a few people who have the financial means to manipulate a process which places emphasis upon technical truths, in order to promote and deliver upon their own view.

Dress it up in whichever way you like, by challenging the instruction which the result of the European Referendum provided, those who funded the Court action against the Government have used independent means to frustrate democratic process. They have successfully played the process of Law against the very people it is there to consider, to support and intended to represent above any private interest.

In this light, we can clearly observe the relationship between wealth and influence. Money is power and the injustice that befalls far too many everyday people, simply because the views of the few who have sufficient wealth to facilitate a decision which frustrates the will of the many is very frightening indeed.

At best, it appears that money can now be openly used to manipulate the result of a democratic process which will effect the lives and future of everyone in the Country.

If such ignorance of the majority view were to be as blatantly replicated by a handful of politicians or the prime minister who leads our Government by misusing their power – no matter how valid they believe their own argument to be, we would be justified in using terms to describe such behaviour as being akin to dictatorship.

The question we should all perhaps now be asking is what is the difference here and perhaps where else is this approach being used?

image thanks to telegraph.co.uk

Trident-tongued Theresa……..Maybe?

January 23, 2017 5 comments

may-marr-tridentLeading the UK right now is a role that few would be envious of if they took the responsibilities of being our Prime Minister seriously. Even within lucid non-partisan moments, many of us would struggle with the implications of a juggling act which can at its worst require the incumbant to knowingly sacrifice the lives of others in order to deliver a result which is focused upon a much greater good.

As a people, we are culturally and unwittingly trusting of our political leaders. There being some kind of unwritten understanding or expectation that those who have been elevated to the greatest office in the land will have the integrity, set of values and robustness of character to fulfil a role which has been occupied by titans of history such as Winston Churchill.

However, we have also become deeply suspicious of the political elite and quietly look for that moment when the true colours of any new occupant of 10 Downing Street are shown in the open, perhaps confirming our hope-against-hope based fears.

We should make no mistake that leadership does require information to be held back from a wider audience, and sometimes in ways with which we might not automatically agree. But whilst good strategic management might require a government not to tell us everything – even because it might give credence to a counterproductive argument which could have serious implications as a result, it doesn’t necessarily follow that when challenged about such an event, it is ok for a Prime Minister to lie as a result.

The Trident question does indeed have all the hallmarks of Theresa May’s watershed moment. Not because she kept quiet about the June misfire of a £17 Million weapon. But because she has now deliberately ducked the question about the incident when challenged by a respected journalist on National TV.

Some will be jumping up and down, demanding to know why the story didn’t surface in June. But others will appreciate that the vote on Trident renewal which followed soon afterwards in the Commons, would almost certainly have suffered the same fate as the missile had it done so.

Yes, it may well sound like a suitable conclusion in the circumstances. But it would not account for the many successful previous tests of Trident Missiles from our Nuclear Submarine Fleet, the excessive costs of testing them each time we do, nor the fact that as everyone knows, machines of every kind break down or ‘go wrong’ at the most inconvenient times.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but on balance, the Prime Minister was indeed right to sit that incident out, purely on the basis that renewal of the Nuclear Deterrent had been delayed already for far too long, and hollow arguments do not account for the true responsibilities of government – even if they make exceptionally good headlines.

That as they say, should really have been that. Theresa May was fortunate that the story didn’t leak before now and the Government – quite rightly – achieved a good majority vote in Parliament to drive the Trident Renewal Policy forward and ensure that our would-be enemies will continue to have to be minded of our existential threat.

Politics is however a game, and it does as such have rules. Sooner or later, the Trident story was always going to break, and it was inevitable that the way which the Prime Minister handled it would shine a clear light upon the quality of leadership therein.

When Theresa May was challenged not just once, but four times by Andrew Marr on Sunday, an honest and comprehensive response could have easily justified the action of not publicising this now historic event.

Members of the public are much more attuned to the credibility of the baseless arguments that many politicians employ than those MP’s grandstanding to the media might like to think. Yet the public would also have valued an honest and genuine response which demonstrates that the Government and the Politicians who are part of it, thoughtfully but nonetheless respectfully take the burden of quiet responsibility when needed, in order to prevent stupidity and political point-scoring from becoming a tangible risk to the safety of us all.

Instead, Mrs May has now brought the whole process into question and will have to accept that she will be responsible for any whirlwind that comes from the seeds which not in June, but on Sunday morning were almost certainly sewn.

image thanks to standard.co.uk

Truth, post truth, lies or one persons truth is another is another mans lies: falsehoods and technical truths are the order of the day, but filtering for fake news will just take mass manipulation to a new level

December 23, 2016 1 comment

truth-2

Whichever way we turn, we have started to hear the media using the term ‘post truth’ as a label for just about every piece of news with which someone, somewhere disagrees. Some are more direct and call these stories lies. But politicians and activists have been using the same methods that they do now that they have for generations before the events of 2016 were even thought as being the remotest of possibilities. The only thing that has changed is that this method of communicating politically expedient truths has simply been given a name.

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that this as happened, given that both the result of the European Referendum and the US General Election went completely against the establishment script, leaving many of most skillful users of this manipulative dark art crying foul, simply because the very same weapon that they have used against so many, has been so effectively been used against them.

So what is the ‘post truth’ – It literally sounds as if we have entered an era where everything now being said and done in government has progressed beyond the point of being true?

To be fair, we often say to others observing and discussing the same events that we experience, that they are ‘unbelievable’. But this is a turn of phrase that doesn’t suggest that these events or what has been said is untrue. It reflects a reality that the acts of the political classes often defy logical explanation; that they present outcomes it would be unlikely to imagine, or that the stories we hear are of kind ‘that you simply couldn’t write’.

Words present a different challenge again and we must be mindful of the fact that a story which one person’s experience tells them is true, can all too easily be dismissed through the eyes of another who has had an alternative or perhaps wider level of experience.

Sadly, the world of politics long since arrived at the point where saying that something was true – but in reality only just from the point of view of the speaker, would mean they could make what are wilfully misleading statements, whilst ‘honestly’ painting that particular perspective or alternative reality as being true.

Doubling down or the art of sticking to the story or script makes watching media interviews with politicians from all sides absolutely cringeworthy. I am sure I have not been alone in wondering ‘why the hell don’t you just tell them the bloody truth?!’

Unfortunately that’s how today’s unethical and morally devoid political establishment operates and how it expects new entrants to always behave. Whether always being ‘on message’, accepting that as a junior politician you will be told what you will think, or simply becoming a vote to be used in government at the will of the party leadership as soon as the elections are over, that is the distasteful and utterly dishonest way that the current political regime works.

Trump, Cameron, Farage, Osborne, Johnson, Gove, Hannan, May and every figurehead politician we can identify as having played a role in key events this year have all been telling us their very own truths. What they are not however, are genuinely or completely false. And we should all be very concerned that there is now a growing movement at work which is looking to filter ‘fake news’ from the material that we read. A development which has been spearheaded by the work which Facebook is now doing.

Fake news in its genuine sense is a concept which social media has facilitated and a source of satire and ridiculous comedy that most of us thoroughly enjoy. The Poke, The Southend News Network, Newsthump and The Onion are but just a few of many more that we can as easily have posting to our newsfeeds each day.

We access them just the same as the apparently legitimate sources we read like the BBC, Sky News, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Times, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, or again a great many others too. Yet even they all promote the truths of the journalists, the editors, the companies that own them and the advertisers who pay the bigger part of their wages within them too.

People do know and understand the difference between ‘real’ and ‘fake’ news already. They do not need filters – which will inevitably contain the bias or prejudices of the people who run or program them – to ensure that they are only exposed to news that they can ‘trust’.

In a certain manner of speaking, no form of news can really be trusted today, as very little of the news we read or hear arrives on the screen in front of us without some hint of opinion being present. This has always been the case on a broader level within the various parts of the national press. But it does now seem to have become that bit more unpalatable to dissenters when a reader’s exposure to the ‘wrong’ stories through targeted material they often really want to read removes the chance that the alternative – or to others the ‘acceptable’ or ‘correct’ point of view will not be revealed to them.

If every reader or viewer were to engage with the news that reaches them by thinking critically today, the media industry would simply cease to exist overnight. But that doesn’t mean they are unaware of the realities and truths at some level.

It has long been accepted socially that opinion is what makes news sell and what turns ‘news’ into a product that we then want to buy. However, we certainly don’t want to read, watch or hear anything with which we don’t identify, and this is the indisputable truth that all of those who now want to control news for their own purposes will be very quick to deny.

image thanks to unknown

Degree level entry for all Police Officers is a retrograde step which will push a common sense approach to policing even further away down the bureaucratic queue

December 22, 2016 1 comment

police-training

With everything happening across the political and public sector world feeling so very uncertain already, it will have come as a surprise to many that the Government has allowed the College of Policing to announce that candidates wishing to become Police Officers will be required to have Degrees from 2020.

The reasoning cited behind this move is the increasing level of activity within the role including the research which Police Officers are required to undertake online. But is this itself really justification enough to raise the bar to an occupation and public service which in recent years has been a key target to become a lighthouse of diversity?

Information Technology and ‘web fluency’ levels are arguably highest within the generation now reaching the workplace at 16 and above – irrespective of the level of formal education they have attained, simply because use of smartphones and PCs to access the web has now reached a point of social permeation where children are culturally conditioned in their use. To suggest otherwise would arguably demonstrate just how seriously out of touch our policy makers have now become.

Cyber-crime has become increasingly prevalent. But it has not in any way superseded the need for real-world policing, which has itself become painfully absent in recent years as a mix of bureaucracy and the public sector funding crisis have hit the Police Service very hard indeed. The widespread perception exists that the physical presence of our Police forces have now dwindled to a point where it would logical for us to ask if our communities are really safe.

The concept that more can be delivered using less is one that is now followed in every sector. In some cases there are significant efficiencies that can be made within organisations of all descriptions, particularly when new technology can reduce the workload or requirement of staff numbers. However, this is not without consequence as the current raft of strikes in the UK have arguably displayed. There is also a significant question to be addressed regarding these economies being made when the financial benefit has become the priority over the experience of the customer or members of the public.

Like many, I grew up with a respect for the Police which is increasingly hard to justify, given the level and type of interaction which Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers now have within the community. The focus on a system of delivery where you once felt that a Police Constable really did have autonomy as they enforced and represented the Law appears to have long since left the building. It appears to have been replaced with a bureaucratic nightmare where Officers now have to look over their shoulders before they decide either to engage or to act.

It may seem romantic, but an age where a Police Officer didn’t have to resort to making arrests or presenting Court Summons to achieve a real-life result with ‘petty crime’ was not so long in the past. Yes, these Officers of the Law did not have to chase their quarry online, but they also engaged with would-be criminals in a much more meaningful way. One which was adapted to the specific circumstances they were addressing and did not result in so many young people being tarred by acts of stupidity which with the arrival of the net itself, have become far too accessible to the people looking for controversy who need no degree to go searching for any mud that can easily be used to stick.

Most of those less senior Officers had very little formal education. But what they did have was life experience and common sense by the bag load; the essential ingredient for constructive interaction with people of all levels and of all kinds.

Being ‘streetwise’ isn’t something that can be taught from a text book. One of the simple facts that the College of Policing may be seriously overlooking, is that degree level students want to earn their money straight away. University leavers will not have the world view or wherewithal that the public should be able to expect any Police Officer to have, whilst waiting for the graduates who would make ideal police officers to gain experience in other occupations first may prove to be a fruitless exercise given that they will probably stay in other safer, more lucrative and perhaps even more rewarding careers if they have by then already found them.

Police Officers in the UK already undergo extensive training to support them in their roles, and extra modules to support non-specialist officers to fit their IT skills to the purposes of our Law enforcement regime would be no quantum leap for those who have qualified for entry by today’s terms.

Sadly, this move towards elitism within the Police Service has all the hallmarks of taking one very large step in the progress of bureaucracy too far and risks disenfranchising communities from those in power beyond that too.

 

image thanks to http://www.telegraph.co.uk

The Living Wage is as much Labours’ child as it is the Conservatives’ and their MP’s Band Aid parody highlights the political culture of creating policies which deny the realities of consequence

December 21, 2016 Leave a comment

labour-band-aid

The principle of the Living Wage or rather the concept that everyone should at least earn enough to provide them with a basic standard of living is a good one for many reasons. But in isolation, the coercive nature of such a policy being unleashed upon business and industry was always going to be seriously flawed.

The indirect impact and ripple-effect of this Policy – which have led to consequences outside of political control, were as poorly considered when it was launched and implemented by former Chancellor George Osborne as it was when it was first mooted by Labour Leader Ed Milliband.

That big business has adopted a rationalisation of employee terms and conditions as a method of offsetting the additional expenditure which the Government has effectively imposed upon them should not come as any surprise.

Profit is for many organisations a god after all, and whilst to many the implementation of the Living Wage appears to be a highly positive step in making life better for the lowest paid, it also overlooks many facets of its knock-on effects or indirect impact upon those it was not designed to benefit. Above all, it fails to consider the responses and choices that employers of all kinds would make as a result.

Whilst the behaviour of successive Governments and the City would suggest otherwise, for the rest of us, money doesn’t simply grow on trees. The impact of paying employees more money has many effects besides using up a company profit margin and whilst it may be a principled idea to expect business to warmly welcome such an apparently altruistic move, it is also extremely naive. Would these very same companies not already be paying everything to staff that these politicians expect them to, if the owners or managers making the decisions already believed the idea or principle was right?

Perhaps most concerning when considered in this context, should be the fact that in April 2017, the Living wage will rise by another 30p to £7.50 an hour, and that a further rise will follow the next year. The consequential impact of the Living Wage will become continue to become worse as it becomes more widespread, and the economies and efficiencies that have been made to service the inflation-busting rise so far, will simply become unsustainable as the costs escalate beyond where they are today.

There are currently too many factors outside of the control of government, such as the escalating prices charged for services and goods that are essential to a basic standard of living, for isolated meddling to have a genuinely sustainable positive impact. And that is without even factoring in whether the many marketplaces in which different organisations operate can sustain low margin companies paying their staff more.

As things stand, MP’s and activists can bitch about the injustices of the Living Wage all they like, as the story they are telling will in some ways certainly ring true. But until they accept that they must all think differently about how they address the impact of all that they do, it will continue to be the very same people they are telling us they are going to help who will be the ones who will ultimately suffer as a result.

image thanks to http://www.totalpolitics.com

‘Soft Brexit’ or ‘Hard Brexit’ are no more than a Yes/No choice to a question which no longer exists

December 20, 2016 1 comment

brexitIf you are driving a car and find yourself in the unfortunate position of knowing you are about to hit something, time and space might momentarily slow down as you brace for the inevitable impact, but you don’t get a choice over the damage it will cause and whether the impact will be soft or hard. You just deal with the consequences thereafter.

It’s an analogy which some will quickly dismiss in relation to Brexit, but the parallels are there for all to see. The distinct difference being that in relation to the European Referendum, the result – and therefore the destination to which we already know we must travel, is a genuine exit for Britain from the European Union.

Much is now being made of the difference between the two terms ‘soft Brexit’ and ‘hard Brexit’, yet they are discussed in a way which suggests a choice about leaving the EU continues to exist.

If we respect the will of the majority of the British people, we will also accept that it does not.

What will be discussed when Article 50 has been triggered, both with the remaining Member Countries of the European Union and also the many Countries beyond will be the relationship and the way that it will work between all of us thereafter.

On the part of some, it is intentionally misleading. With others it is the the effect of a process of engagement being conducted by politicians who simply do not understand the impact on the general public from what they are doing. But either way, talk about dictating the terms under which the Government will negotiate Brexit do little more than indicate that the ‘remain lobby’ intend to halt Brexit in all but name, simply by insisting that the key qualifications and requirements of membership will ultimately be retained.

For them to succeed would be a political fudge of momentous proportions, not least of all because it will be representative of the same manipulation and game playing, focused on self-interest and political expediency by those in power, which inadvertently created the disillusionment and disenfranchisement which led to the choice for Brexit in June.

The choice was not simply about Europe, even if the question was framed that way. Outspoken Europhiles as well as those masquerading as born-again leavers within the political bubble would do well to remember this. People know their minds and they are not going to accept a giant backslide of the kind being advocated under the auspices of the disingenuous suggestion that anyone sensible or without prejudice who voted for Brexit didn’t have a clue what they were doing.

Talking up technical truths may well have been a big part of what the success of the Leave Campaign message was about. But these messages resonated so well with people because as any good marketing man knows, the adverts that really sell are always the ones which play on an element of a story which is inherently true.

Remain failed to connect with a working majority not only because they relied upon events that had no guarantee of ever happening – no matter how scary they might have been presented to seem, but because they were not able to sell or even speak of benefits to the lives of everyone in this Country which as a majority we could either see or believe.

It is a mistake to believe that a different campaign on EU membership dressed as ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ Brexit will now yield a different result, just as it is foolish to imagine that the European political terrain of before the 23rd of June 2016 still exists.

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Our focus should now be well and truly upon developing the best post-Brexit relationships that we possibly can, whilst recognising that the remaining Members of the EU have as much to lose from a bad deal with the UK, if not arguably more so than we ever could, given the position as a self-governing, unrestricted and fully-open-for-business entity that this Country will then actually be.

images thanks to http://www.inthenews.co.uk, http://www.dailymail.co.uk

An Oath of Allegiance to a broken system will legitimise the punishment of scapegoats whilst the real problems within public services will remain unresolved

December 19, 2016 Leave a comment

oath-1It was perhaps inevitable that with the publication of messages which were supposed to result in a public-wide swift and audible intake of air, Dame Louise Casey’s report on social cohesion would provoke the Government into making a knee-jerk but nonetheless media-hyped response.

Reviews and Reports of the kind which are commissioned by a government are of course expected to make recommendations. But can we really have confidence that the implications of adopting any policy which logically represents a very narrow and isolated point of view have been considered in the widest context just a couple of weeks after its publication?

Comments from The Casey Review did indeed resonate with many more people than the Government may realise, purely because it was stating in many ways what many already know to be clearly true. But that doesn’t in anyway mean that Dame Louise has the answers to those questions.

We all want to see decisive government action of the kind that we can be sure Sajid Javid intends this policy to be. But it is not in anyone’s interests and least of all his own, for the social injustices which we are now experiencing throughout society, to be compounded by legislation which will legitimise witch hunting and provide a focus for irresponsible leaders who to publicly point the finger of blame.

After all, when we make an oath, the mere act of breaking it becomes a verdict of unquestionable guilt. One that for others makes an easy target upon which to attribute much more negative association besides as they draw attention away from their own roles and [lack of] responsibility.

The whole public sector is in a mess, and it desperately needs top to bottom reform initiated in the form that only the Government can provide. However, making anyone associated with delivery itself liable for actions which personally, professionally, culturally and in some cases contrary to social acceptability are outside of their control, is surely a giant step upon a very slippery slope to a dark place indeed.

I am not arguing against taking action in any way. But the suggestion being made by Mr Javid is no better than the discussion initiated by David Cameron following the child abuse scandal in Rotherham in which he suggested that public servants who overlook their safeguarding responsibilities should simply receive jail terms. I wrote about the issues facing the Sector then, and nothing has been improved by the politicians with the real ability to do so in any way since.

If public services operated as effectively as they could, and were underpinned by processes and localised standards of governance which really worked to ensure the very best deal possible for each and every end-user, yes, an Oath by all employed or elected to represent us within would be a fair and appropriate benchmark.

However, they don’t work effectively and they are certainly not underpinned with the continuity and levels of service to make it possible for only one person to be branded as being at fault when so many more are always, if not inadvertently involved.

 

image thanks to unknown

Trump & Farage: The heralds of change, a final warning or an opportunity to put things right?

December 18, 2016 Leave a comment

trump-may-farage

2016 will surely be remembered for the watershed electoral events which have taken place on both sides of the Atlantic. But can we really say for certain just how people will view the impact of these historical moments, perhaps in just a few years time?

Churchill once said that ‘History is written by the victors’. Many of us would agree that such sentiment is true. But a problem arises with our view of 2016 when we look upon the British European Referendum in June and the US General Election in November and try to identify who, or perhaps more accurately what it was that actually won.

Yes, it is easy to look back at recent weeks and conclude that Trump won in the States – even if there does remain a question mark over Clinton’s result in terms of the popular vote. But if we look closer to home and back to what has become known colloquially as ‘Brexit’, such definition is far from easy – if indeed possible at all.

The figurehead whom most would recognise as having been the defining leader or agent of change which led us to ‘Brexit’ is Nigel Farage. However, the reality that key individuals such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove played highly significant parts too, surely attests to the reality that this seminal moment was about far more than the impact of just one person or three, and was in fact about a significant and great many more.

It sounds simple. But people and even the politicians who apparently lead them have a habit of hanging results or actions around the necks of the one person they identify as being responsible for something, rather than recognising the many contributing events, factors and the influence of any number of different people which may have contributed.

Whether the circumstances be good or bad, there simply is no difference. Change must have a face, and therefore a name.

We cannot take away from him the impact that Farage has clearly had on the rise of whatever this evolving collective is that won the European Referendum. It is almost certainly fair to say that the Prime Minister may regret not ennobling him far sooner than she might comfortably think.

However, the face and focal point that Farage has provided this otherwise undecipherable ‘movement’ for change, is also one which has multiple personalities. And it is perhaps this imaginary friend in which a truly diverse, yet massively significant range of choices for both the public and those in power now really lies.

People have responded to Farage because he has spoken with a voice which has sounded different to the political establishment, using language which has made people feel it is ok to have the feelings about the world around them that they do. He has dared speak terms loudly which we have all quietly become afraid to use, and demonstrated that a choice to what a silent majority have been quietly coerced to accept, does in fact exist.

Indeed, Farage and a growing number of key influencers from across the political spectrum are now providing a voice which is in varying ways representative of the anger and frustration which so many people feel.

He has elucidated his message well. However, while they may be late to the game, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and many others in politics are regurgitating a range of these specific truths.

They are doing so simply because the frustration and anger we are now experiencing after years of willful indifference and political neglect are now touching the lives of everyone, whether they would ‘naturally’ vote Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat or UKIP.

But there is a problem with this too. Placing our faith in people who may be seen to be the heralds of change when they do not represent real change itself is very dangerous indeed. Many of these same faces have not only been present, but have also provided a voice for the very establishment which created those difficulties for us in the first place.

It is surely the case that those who are responsible for leading the change that will make our lives better, should fully understand and appreciate the complexity, nature and impact of the problems that must as such be left behind. Otherwise, it might only been seen as natural for them to reject everything associated with the period before, whether good or bad, simply because it represents the time when they didn’t possess the level of power which they have now come to cherish and enjoy.

We only need look at the last Century to recognise the warnings from history of how dark our lives could quickly become under the leadership of people who say much, but are completely out of touch when it comes to the world outside of the bubble that surrounds them.

In the UK, the chances of Farage having his hands on the levers of government do as such seem as remote as the possibility that Theresa May will steer us through the entire Brexit process trouble-free. On the other side of the Atlantic however, Trump may already be placed perfectly well to assume powers which he sees as being perfectly justified to prevent a return to the bad days of old. He does after all have a mandate to do so, based upon all of the truths that have been told – doesn’t he?

Nonetheless, to award Trump and Farage the status of demagogues as some have already tried, would be insulting to the realities and hardships of people that have for too long been openly denied.

Rejection of the status quo is after all no less populist than the election wins that facilitated their legitimate arrival via the policies of governments that came before and led to it.

And so, it is arguably the case that Trump, Farage and May are all riding a wave that they simply do not understand. But it is the direction and the choices that they make next that will decide the fate of all us when this ‘new tide’ really begins to break upon the shore.

The evidence may not look too promising so far, but let us hope that any power or responsibility that these three or any like them who follow will have over us from now onwards, will be exercised with a level of care and consideration which is ultimately beneficial to us all. For it is here that the true opportunity to address the problems which society faces truly lies.

images thanks to http://www.businessinsider.com, http://www.independent.co.uk, http://www.thetimes.co.uk

Festive Strikes defy sense and reason, but we should all be mindful of the unspoken issues behind them which serve as a warning for us all

December 14, 2016 1 comment

download-1We should all recognise the value that Unions historically had in influencing positive change in the workplace. But times change and the question over whether they have continued to provide a genuine voice for poor treatment or have simply become little more than an archaic nuisance to business and government alike will certainly lend legitimacy to the arguments against Union power by the more neoliberal within them.

The effect and reach of equalities legislation has permeated through every part of society and our lives to a point which has arguably gone well beyond its point of good, and to a level where its influence has become fundamentally regressive.

From this standpoint alone, you could make a reasoned and valuable argument against any organisation or movement which seeks to progress the work of the rights lobby further, and beyond that see the power of Union Leaders as the menacing anti-business device that the untimely raft of strikes by Southern Rail, Post Office and Argos Staff this December would ultimately suggest that they are.

It is certainly true that in relative terms, there is no difference between bankers creating profit-focused financial devices that speculate the cost of products or services, indirectly raising the cost of living for us all, and a self-serving union rep who places a stranglehold strike on an employer simply to get a pay rise or a perceived improvement in terms for their fellow staff.

But should we really dismiss any kind of industrial action by narrowing cases down and concluding that personal gain is simply what its all about?

On the face of it, it really doesn’t matter if a debate is framed as a matter of health and safety or fairness over holiday conditions and pay. Gain does play a significant part, but so does the fear of loss, and both these two debates are representative of much deeper seated root causes of problems at work around us which are building up as a significant time bomb, whilst they continue to go unchecked.

Union leaders do not help themselves by behaving as if business exists only to create and facilitate jobs. It doesn’t and never has. Yet the drive to pay less for the same work to be done or to do away with specific jobs entirely in order to cut costs when profits are maintained and prices are soaring, rather gives the lie to where a public service provider’s priorities focus. The more concerning element of the Southern Rail strike debate however, is what the introduction of technology which immediately halves the staffing requirement for managing just one train alone will mean or may have already meant when considered outside of this specific context and becomes representative of the impact its is having in every area of business and employment.

Immigration is blamed by many for the loss, or rather diversion of jobs to foreign and particularly Eastern European workers, with the caricature of the Bombay-based call centre worker being used to account for the export of many others. The inference being that jobs are in some way set in stone and that it is just the terms under which they are awarded to an employee or contractor that changes.

What it doesn’t account for is the genuine loss of jobs due to technological advances having literally removed the need for a particular role to exist.

We would perhaps like to think that his march of technology is researched, developed and delivered purely on the basis of improving many different aspects of production and service delivery. That is certainly how the benefits are sold.

What is rarely mentioned – the elephant in the room, is that jobs have been disappearing for a very long time as a result of this pathway of progress, whether it has been within manufacturing, agriculture, public transport or any one of a multitude of industries and skilled areas where services or production have been highly labour intensive.

Up until now, the change has not been noticed. Workers have retrained and like the once redundant miners who moved into call centres in the North, many manual jobs have been replaced by others within newly defined service industries which are focused on producing an experience, rather than some kind of definable or tangible product we can buy.

It sounds good, and little is said when jobs are there for those with apparently transferable skills when a factory closes. But what happens when the new jobs do themselves become the target of efficiencies and the technological breakthroughs which leave a machine doing the job of many different people over its amortised lifetime at a fraction of the cost?

This whole idea will to some sound far-fetched. But the change is very real and is now becoming present as a very clear danger to a broad spectrum of jobs.

Take for instance Amazon Go, which is set to be launched in the United States early in 2017. This forward looking and innovative Company is not standing still when it comes to the platforms from which it seeks to acquire new market share. Within weeks, it will move into location-based grocery stores which do not require shoppers to use tills or a check-out system when they visit. You simply use the smartphone based Amazon Go App which does the work for you and the system even knows and calculates the change when you put an item back.

We need only consider the number of tills at a standard sized Asda, Morrisons, Tesco or Sainsburys near to where we live and the inevitable irritation that queuing to pay causes us all to appreciate just how quickly this new way of shopping could explode, taking many jobs from any one or all of these stores as the concept is rolled out and goes viral throughout the retail industry – which it inevitably will.

In business terms, this development by Amazon can only be commended as the groundbreaking step that it actually is. But the dark realities behind this very appealing change for our instore shopping habits is that its true benefit will be profit to shareholders. It will be masked by a transient benefit to us all as shoppers, but it will ultimately lead to the loss of jobs which may simply never be replaced or made available elsewhere.

The very difficult message that needs to be swallowed, fully considered and then acted upon by policy makers as a whole is that the story which underlies comparatively simple squabbles with the Unions over pay and conditions do indeed relate to the range of still unanswered questions over the continuing cost of living crisis, but are in fact just the tip of a very large iceberg indeed.

In recent weeks, highly respected British Scientist Professor Stephen Hawking and US Tesla CEO Elon Musk have both alluded to these issues with Mr Musk going as far as to suggest that government may have to consider providing a basic income. He is absolutely right.

If industry continues to deliver efficiencies via technology in the way it that it is already doing so, whilst religiously maintaining or increasing margins and raising prices despite the savings being made, profit for the few and the effect it has on the many will unquestionably result in the Government paying the bill to finance a significant workforce which has become unemployable and left without choice.

Less people paying tax will exacerbate the difficulties that the Government faces and families in genuine need will not be sustained on a level of income which doesn’t meet the increase in the cost to maintain a basic standard of living which is being dictated by and large, by the very companies who will benefit from the implementation of the technology that enables them to shed so many staff.

The alternative will be that Government must take the concept of responsible capitalism seriously and consider the steps that may need to be taken to prevent businesses growing to a point where their market share enables them to become a monopolistic menace to the very society that buys its goods or services.

In the mean time, the methods, approach and lack of consideration for the impact of their actions upon people who are struggling in the very same ways as union members are themselves in the run up to Christmas may well make any feelings of support for the Strikes feel somewhat unpalatable. But we may all nonetheless do well to appreciate the value in the story which is not being spoken by the Unions, the media and Government when for far from obvious reasons, the voice of militancy leads an employee to act.

 

image from source unknown

 

Social labels and media-friendly umbrella terms are misleading everyone and politicians are too scared or too lazy to communicate the truth

December 13, 2016 1 comment

umbrellaYou’ve perhaps heard it said that the simplest use of language is the most intelligent. Great writers such as Orson Welles have been quoted for their direction in trimming unnecessary word use too. And within a culture where the use of subtext allows many of us to make guesswork of messages that we could all too easily say, it might sound strange to suggest that this process could go too far.

Words are truly fascinating things. But we are experiencing times when simplification and the focus of broader meaning down into one or very few words – often for the purposes of marketing or political expedience – has created a cult of watchwords or polysemic terms which overtly mean just one thing, but do in fact hide a multitude of different meanings, which can be as diverse as the number of people reading or indeed using them.

It doesn’t sound like much of a problem when we think about the way we see the world, because its all too easy to assume that everyone uses the same words for the same things as we ourselves do.

The problem is that they don’t.

On a day by day basis, those differences may not be so big as to cause any great problem, and discussing the structural differences and the relative meanings of there, their and they’re, probably creates more humour than it ever will do some level of dangerous misunderstanding between two or many more people.

So what is it I’m trying to say so simply here?

Well, oversimplification of language and/or meaning is not only flawed, it is also fundamentally dangerous. That narrowing dialogue down in to terms which the speaker or author understands takes for granted that the reader or listener will do so too. That people with responsibility to communicate a message should be mindful that the words they use may not generate the same understanding for those who hear.

The profundity of what is becoming a menace, cannot be illustrated better than the use of the term ‘immigration’, and the significance that its use has and continues to have in relation to the debate over Brexit, our relationship with the European Union, and also the different lenses that we are all using to picture the political viewpoints of people across the political spectrum.

So let me ask the question; what do you think of when you hear the term immigration?:

  • Welcoming refugees?
  • Being burdened with unwelcome economic migrants?
  • Creating cultural diversity?
  • Destroying our National identity?
  • Helping those who need our help the most?
  • A source of cheap labour?
  • The loss of British jobs?
  • Long queues in A+E?
  • The source of the housing problem?
  • The reason its so difficult to get an appointment at the Doctors?
  • No place for your children at your most local school?
  • An opportunity for our children to learn other ways of thinking?
  • An opportunity for us to learn other ways of thinking?
  • We are importing terrorists?
  • Being made to feel like a foreigner in your own country?
  • Everything that is wrong about Europe?
  • Everything that is right about Europe?
  • That everything will change for the better if its stops?
  • That everything will go wrong for us if it stops?

The chances are that it could be any one or perhaps more of these or many others., and almost without exception, there is a duality to the particular meaning that it may have, which depending on which side of the Brexit coin you may sit, will be conversely mirrored by someone who sits on the other side.

Knowing that immigration is a word with such diversity of meaning, and that it also makes people think as it is said was in some respects the greatest genius of the Leave Campaign message. However, it may also have been the most dark, bearing in mind that it is clearly the case that the use of a dog whistle of this kind has inadvertently let a rather large genie out of the bottle in terms of the broad misunderstanding of other people that we might previously have thought we understood.

For instance racism in its genuine, un-nuanced and non-pc promoted sense is thankfully rare. But immigration to those few amongst us has always represented the unwilling acceptance of difference within our communities and its end, the removal of all other kinds. These are the few who have shamefully found new confidence in their ignorance and bigotry, taking their vitriol to our streets and transport since the 23rd of June to offend people who have done nothing to deserve such intolerance.

However for those looking on with the moral certainty that Remain was always the enlightened path, this intolerance of immigration must surely be representative of all people who voted Leave on the basis of the immigration question.

Call it being tarred with the same brush or death by association, the fear and frustration that the collapse in public services which has correlated with the arrival of mass immigration is seen as excuse enough to cast many people who want to do nothing more than go happily about their normal lives in safety in the light of thugs who desire no such thing. And all because these issues have been narrowed down into just one thing, which itself overlooks the reality of the role of the EU in immigration in the first place when the matter is correctly put into context by the role of Globalisation.

It seems there is a lot to be said about simplifying language into more accessible terms. But the access can itself can go too far, and the travesty is that simplification of this kind is not rare and is continuing within the government and media sphere all the time.

Take ‘hard Brexit’ and ‘soft Brexit’. What do these terms mean to you?

Whats about JAM’s (Just about Managing). Isn’t that the experience that most of us are having too?

The travesty of using terms like these, is the damage that their being misinterpreted or misunderstood creates. It is distinctly unintelligent to heap so many meanings into such basic terms and then expect everyone else to understand them.

They don’t. and social, demographic or political labelling of this kind is merely serving to create even greater distrust and disenfranchisement than that which shook the establishment with the No Vote in June.

People are never wrong when they understand things their own way, using the lense that their life experience has given them. Some of us would risk simplifying this to the term ‘living in the real world’ and until our leaders begin to respect the people they collectively represent and stop treating us all like an audience which is a seedbed for manipulation, the electoral shocks will continue to come.

Make the effort to put ideas, problems and policy into terms that are easy to understand. But please do us all a favour and stop being lazy as you do.

 

image thanks to source unknown

Cameron names his nemesis populism, but the Westminster set still refuses to accept that it was a rejection of self interest which was the key to Brexit

December 13, 2016 1 comment

imagesAs I stepped into the polling booth at a local church hall on the evening of 23rd of June and looked at the voting slip in my hands, the feeling that crossed my mind couldn’t have been further from the thought of being part of something populist, even if I had been confident that my No vote would contribute to an unscripted win.

I know that I am not alone, and whilst the bizarre polarity which now exists between Remainers and Leavers has reached the level that you will find friendships broken and even online dating profiles telling would-be suitors not to waste their time if they voted the other way, it is certain that David Cameron continues to do a great disservice to all voters by now suggesting that such a momentous decision could be made under the influence of a populist cause.

It isn’t cool to be a Leaver for the same reasons that our former Prime Minister came to draw that very conclusion.

Labelling and the use of umbrella terms to cover a multitude of different interpretations make life easy for politicians and the media alike. But they mean different things to different people. They provide an ill-considered opportunity to stereotype, and there is a very dangerous assumption that everyone who voted one way or the other did so purely on the basis that it was a populist choice and that we therefore think alike.

We don’t.

One of the most significant errors being made by politicians from across our range of political parties and even the USA beyond, is to believe that workable solutions to the root causes of the problems which have created these inappropriately labelled ‘populist’ votes can be narrowed down to focusing upon or addressing these tent-like terms such as ‘immigration’. Indeed, as we now progress forward from the Referendum they believe it sensible to use the newly coined ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ Brexit with the inherent suggestion that there is again some kind of black and white choice which still provides an ‘in/out choice’.

It doesn’t.

Not only are these terms misrepresentative and wholly misleading about the life-experiences which people are having across the Country, they are exacerbating the level of confusion that the mishmash of issues surrounding our relationship with Europe actually presents. And that’s the end of the story only if you are prepared to accept that the Referendum result was itself only ever about Europe.

People are neither one thing nor the other as leave or remain has been darkly painted suggest. The majority of people are in the most part probably sat somewhere in between.

But even ‘somewhere in between’  would be far too specific a way to try and position the basis of a debate or the questions which support it, when the European question relates so differently to so many people, depending upon just how the plethora of issues involved may have impacted upon their own lives on perhaps a very meaningful basis.

The European Referendum arrived at the front of what we will perhaps look back upon as the beginning of a perfect storm. One which has been created in no small part by many years of neoliberalism in its ascendancy, and the evolution of a political and governmental culture of self-interest. A self-contained entity which has seen decisions and policy making made within bubbles of understanding about the life experience of others and a narrative of the world outside which in relative terms operates no differently to the insular online realities that so many disenfranchised people feel falsely empowered by, and as such enjoy.

Many voters do not themselves understand the true complexity of the issues at hand, such as the role of Globalisation in freedom of movement, nor the impact that new and improving technology is having on the decimation of well-paid jobs which are disappearing rather than being awarded to some foreigner who is always guaranteed to do the job for less. They certainly do not consider the unrecognisable role of the taxpayer in subsidising low paid jobs through the benefits systems for the corporate businesses that could afford to pay more along with the impact on small ones whose owners would genuinely like to do so.

It is correct that we should all be able to expect those who have been elected to represent us would properly do so. Not only should they understand fully the issues before them, we also have the right to expect that they would legislate with balance, fairness and the full reach of consequence in mind.

Regrettably there is scant evidence that they do, and with the secret now open that political parties work only towards the delivery of a beneficial result in the next election, Westminster should be in no way surprised by the fact that continuing to do things the same way that they always have, will continue to yield results which beat to a different drum.

No. Many people voted ‘No’ through the feelings of isolation which our political establishment has dealt us over many years and Governments, and it is the frustration building up inside which in one way or another to each of us said ‘No, I can no longer go with what I see as this hollow and populist status quo’.

Brexit and the Supreme Court: What will be the price of ‘objective’ judgement if no new precedents are set?

December 13, 2016 1 comment

technical-truths

Dipping into the proceedings of the Supreme Court last week was hardly the emotionally charged experience that Leavers and Remainers had been conditioned by the media to expect. But should we really be surprised when case law is being used to define arguments that have never previously been made and do in fact need our Judges to make a judgement in the purest sense?

As with all too many arguments in the political sphere these days, there is no small amount of semantics in play. Labelling of one kind or another has progressed to a level where the very act of simplifying language has progressed beyond the point of being intelligent and really given the lie to the idea that one word really can and does mean the same thing to all people.

Never mind ‘hard Brexit’ this or ‘soft Brexit’ that. Judicial process is itself hiding the truth that case law did at one point or another have itself to be created. It was at these very moments that it was the objectivity of the Judiciary or other high-level-offices of responsibility upon which we have relied and trusted to make the decisions which would today become the precedents that the debate over parliamentary interest in the triggering of Article 50 has rested.

At a time when the level of public confidence in politicians can be generalised as being the core issue that brought Brexit about, we all need to see leadership within the system of law which reaches beyond the scope of sticking to what is considered safe, or fundamentally right, simply because it’s the way that it is expected to be done.

So when we look to the Judiciary for the impartial type of leadership which is sadly lacking from government, why have the Courts not focused on the chronology of events, and above all what cannot reasonably be disputed as the democratic will of the people?

The easy response would be to suggest that the Judges concerned are expressing views which have been informed by bias. Indeed many of our media outlets have gone to great lengths to explore the backgrounds and links of the Judges who sat on the case previously, as well as the 11 who have sat in the past week at the Supreme Court.

The upshot of this approach which is inherently linked to the Brexit camp, being the inference that a decision which goes against the perogative of the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50 directly and without further reference to Parliament is pro-Remain.

Be it right or wrong in terms of principle, the hardest pill to swallow for anyone looking in from the outside who supports Brexit is that the Judges have not done anything wrong by ruling the way that they already have. Nor will those sitting in the Supreme Court do so if they then uphold the previous ruling.

Yes, the Judiciary may well be hiding behind process and this could indeed give legitimised cover to the less objective members of a bench who might put personal or subjective views before what Brexiteers would see post 23rd June as being clearly right. But that is their gift and we are unlikely to ever know the truth to this question and the fact is that the system does – as its stands – both allow and facilitate an intelligent form of responsibility-ducking which sadly permeates all forms of government today.

Technical truths are the harsh and uncompromising reality of a protectionist and self-serving age where taking responsibility is considered dangerous and actions are legitimately excused by reference to the precedents set by others rather than what experience tells us exists in front of our own eyes.

The objective view would recognise the democratic decision and therefore the mandate of the people above all else. Equally it would reference the fact that Parliament has already had its say when it passed the legislation for the Referendum in the first place and then made that choice directly subject to the will of the people. Ironically, it would also reproach the significant transfer of legislative power which has been undemocratically transferred to the EU beyond the previous mandate given by the British people for a common trading relationship, respectful of national sovereignty, which people on all sides of the argument still actually want.

It is possible that the Supreme Court will support the Government view and allow the triggering of Article 50 without any further debate. But it is unlikely.

Like it or not, we simply do not exist within a time of true leadership. If we had, we would not be anywhere near the constant two and fro of discussions surrounding our exit from Europe and the rise of a new American President whose arrival together in 2016 are being heralded as the turn of a populist tide.

We certainly wouldn’t find ourselves questioning what constitutes good judgement.

The questions of Scottish Independence, English Devolution and voter disenfranchisement could be solved in a matter of months. But control freakery at the top will only pay lip service to genuine devolution and it would be far too simple for them to use a solution that already exists…

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Last Fridays meeting between David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon will surely prove to be yet another monumental milestone in the future of the Union.

Attempting to take the whole mile after they had been given Cameron’s proverbial inch may well have been Ms Sturgeons modus operandi all along, but the Prime Minister would do well to bear in mind that the momentum is all with the SNP at this moment in time, and especially so when it was the manipulated public awareness of that very fact that arguably put the Conservative Leader more comfortably back in No. 10.

The words of hollow statesmanship may be contrived to sound like the PM is being tough. But the word ‘no’ can all too quickly be overused and the only way that the Union may now be truly saved, will be for the Government to begin saying yes to the questions that the grassroots Scots have not even outwardly asked.

Devolving power only as far as the Scottish Parliament will do much to enhance and progress the march of the SNP towards the Independence which many of us no longer see as being any more than perhaps a few years away if things continue politically as they are. Scotland’s leaders will surely get closer and closer to attaining the level of power that they so badly crave but could never realise as long as they continue to be part of the UK.

But the people, the voters, the electors who have facilitated this Westminster-bound charge will see no real change in the lives that they live. Indeed, they may well find themselves much more poorly off and continuing to be just as disenfranchised, all because another set of politicians have sold them short as currency for their own personal and self-motivated gain.

The sweet irony of all this is that everyday people across the UK feel just the same and just as disenfranchised as the Scots, but do not experience the same kind of tribal feeling of belonging or commonality between people which has been supercharged in this instance by the promotion of Scotland’s national identity.

Nationalism in this sense truly has become far more of a danger to any semblance of a healthy basic standard of living or status quo than even austerity in time could prove to be, and the reality is that the Scottish Question could be solved in exactly the same act as any questions that have arisen about English, Welsh or even Cornish devolution.

So why exactly, are the politicians not pursuing what is arguably the most simple, straightforward and easy to implement solution. One which would connect people with decision making on their doorstep, whilst removing any need for side-stepping ruses like City Mayors. A change that could bring talk of independence to the immediate halt that anyone living in the real world knows is where it should actually be?

When you consider that this solution already exists right across the Country and would have the ability to administer the devolution of decisions that should be made locally, rather than by a Parliament that seems to many so very far away, any sensible person would be hard pressed not to ask the question.

So then; consider that below the tier of Westminster based government, there is not one; not two, but three tiers of localised government operating, with representatives in most cases already elected by the people, who could and no doubt happily would assume much more responsibility for the decisions which really matter to the localities in which they live, if the Government were to relinquish the appropriate powers and let them do so.

Parish and Town Councils are the most localised and arguably most accessible form of Government in the UK. Yet their responsibilities seldom extend beyond buying and locating dog bins or bus shelters and looking after community assets like small play areas, recreation fields and perhaps an historic Town Hall.

Next comes the District level authorities which harvest our council tax and assume responsibility for matters such as Planning, Licensing, Environmental Health and collecting our waste.

Then there are the County level authorities which look after the not-so-important roads, Education, Social Services and interact closely with services such as the Fire Brigades.

They all sound very administrative or bureaucratic and that’s because they are. People vote to elect the members or councillors that represent them on all of these authorities. But much of the responsibility many people understand them to have isn’t theirs at all. It actually reflects Laws and Policies which have been created by Westminster.

The wriggle room or space for decision making which is truly independent of the Westminster influence is scarce within local government. In reality, it is just sufficient enough that central Government can blame Councils or use them as a convenient scapegoat for political expediency. For instance, Westminster happily passes the buck over the true causes of cuts to local services whilst reducing the size of the bottom line they themselves have to account for in the drive for greater fiscal austerity.

The irony should not be lost on any of us that like most areas of government, local councils are being forced to change the way they work to save money, but the powers to instigate the changes that they really need are held back by a distant political elite which is obsessed with monetary cost rather than the real-life impact from a lack of meaningful reform.

As power is increasingly centralised towards London through the sharing of services and amalgamation of local authorities, power is being taken further away from people at every turn and it is this very act which is continually fanning the flames of discontent within an electorate that quietly knows its influence over even the most practical parts of their lives is becoming ever more remote.

The reality however, for those who have worked closely alongside all the lower tiers of government, is that when those rare moments arise when people sense there is a real chance to influence change, the presence of that opportunity can literally electrify interest in local administration and reconnect the electorate in a way that even the phoney wars which serve as our elections cannot do.

For those who have experienced this connection first hand, there can be little doubt that bringing real power back to street, neighbourhood, village and suburban level would quickly re-engage the electorate and have the potential to bring in a whole new generation of politicians from the grassroots level who didn’t simply join a political party one day because they thought they would be a pretty good prime minister.

The question is of course, why is Westminster not using the existing machinery of government to solve the bubbling crisis created by the SNP leaders and the mishandling of the issue of devolved power, when every thread of common sense and voter-centric thinking says that is exactly what they should do.

Indeed, we might also ask why the promise of City Mayors and the creation of yet more tiers of government and the political stooges that will inhabit these roles is necessary, when many councillors are already in place across the UK, who have distinct connections to our localities that focussing power on just one person at a greater distance could never achieve?

For those who have swam around the political goldfish bowl with their eyes open the answer is regrettably simple.

Its all about control, and despite the political system being infested with the self-serving at every turn, you could quite easily say that there are no greater control freaks at work right now than the occupant of no. 10 and the leader of the SNP.

Both stand to gain personally by concentrating as much power as they can within the realms and reach of their particular roles.

To one, devolving real power to potentially thousands of others who they cannot control politically makes absolutely no sense at all. To the other, giving credence to the idea that power should be focused as near to people as it is possible to do so would instantly destroy the dream of becoming the player on the international stage that British politics is otherwise currently only able to allow of the leader of one of the two main Political Parties.

Some would quickly argue that the lower tiers of government are not equipped to deal with real decisions; but that is exactly what they have been elected to do.

Others would say that responsibility needs to be taken by the people who are most capable of using it with the hint of blind acceptance that MP’s should automatically be assumed to be ‘the right people’ to govern our lives. But we might rather ask, who is better qualified to choose those representatives than the people themselves, when Westminster is now constructed of people who did no more than tick all the right boxes for their political parties and thereafter, did not do a great deal more than sign a series of forms. Can we really say that career politicians with no experience of the world outside are really the people we should entrust with the decisions that affect us all in every way?

The danger of Cameron playing power games with another political leader who is arguably far more awake and attuned to the realities of playing the public song than he could ever do so, is potentially very severe indeed.

Empowering existing councils and creating new ones where they don’t exist could potentially remove the need for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly in one swift stroke. It would undoubtedly answer the question of voter disenfranchisement across England too. But it would also require true statesmanship of a kind that many of us have simply never seen.

The very regrettable and destructive alternative is the continuing empowerment of a different kind. That of Scottish, then Welsh and then potentially even English Regional or County Independence with a widow’s web of bureaucracy and additional cost that simply doesn’t bear thinking about. A concept which may play very well into the federalist plans of a politically united Europe, but would ultimately leave the real power for issues that matter to real people in their everyday lives, lying in the hands of a majority of non-elected bureaucrats and foreign politicians who were neither born here, nor have nor ever will live anywhere within our great and currently unified land.

 Top image thanks to http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk 

Labour’s coercive plan to fix the living wage is as real world as the Tories apparent belief that unemployment and poverty are the same thing….

March 16, 2015 1 comment

SNN0713XA---280_1419151aAt first glance, Ed Milliband’s promise to roll out a requirement for employers to pay the living wage sounds like it recognises the biggest issue facing so many families across the UK.

It could work. Or rather it could be seen to work temporarily, and that’s the most cynical part about it.

If our economy was on track, managed by politicians who considered the real impact of policy and performed as it could and arguably should, a working adult would be able to financially support them self on the most basic wage, without any need for support from the Government, or any third party organisation such as a food bank.

The political tomfoolery or short term opportunism which Labour are investing in their manifesto plans as part of their General Election Campaign doesn’t however recognise or consider the role that such policies play within the ecosystem that business and the economy around it actually is.

Like the Conservatives flawed idea that poverty evaporates the moment the unemployed are offered a job, fixing a basic wage for all gives absolutely no consideration for all the other factors that come in to play, nor the consequences which will almost immediately follow.

Whilst the suggestion of an apparent £1.50 an hour raise will give the lowest paid the feel-good factor that might win their vote, Labour’s sound-bite gives no thought for the fact that small businesses might have to reduce their workforce, just to pay the higher wages for fewer staff that the law would require.

This fag-packet plan gives no thought to the likelihood that the productivity of small companies could inevitably reduce because there would be less staff hours available to do the same amount of work.

It doesn’t consider the reality that profit margins may be so low for some small businesses that being required to pay the living wage to employees might actually force them out of business because they cant compete with bigger companies which have the economies of scale and significantly wider profit margins to help them out.

For big business, that might be seen as good news. Companies that thrive on the use of low-paid, low skilled workforces such as the supermarkets and branded coffee bar chains do after all have the ability to raise prices almost at will. They would certainly then be able to cover the rises that the living wage would require, as they inadvertently make the cost of living more expensive for the lowest paid workers, preserving the profitability of their business models.

Put in these terms, we can soon appreciate that the living wage as it is being presented by politicians is in fact just another one of those red herrings that they keep on spinning. It doesn’t accurately reflect what it costs to live. It certainly doesn’t reflect the manner in which the government continues to subsidise large company profits by providing the many welfare incentives for those on the lowest pay, such as tax credits and housing benefit – even if it keeps some small businesses afloat by doing so.

Many people would simply not be self-sufficient on Labour’s Living Wage, any more than they are on the Minimum now. Its coercive implementation would just begin a spiral of inflationary rises that would once again hurt the members of our society who need a basic level of income which genuinely reflects the cost of living the most.

In real terms, we would in effect very quickly be back exactly where we are again right now, with some politician promising yet another quick fix which isn’t actually going to ever solve the problem, just keep the wheels turning by moving the goalposts and them themselves in government (or knocking on the door of it) until another day.

We need the political establishment to begin taking the longer view. To consider the concept of cause and effect. To appreciate, recognise and work with the reality that all decisions they make, and that all policies they implement will have consequences that when made in isolation, often have the result of hurting the wrong people whilst benefiting those don’t actually need any kind of financial assistance at all.

Decision makers must become conscious of the fact that money may be the common thread which runs through almost all of the problems that we have in the UK, whilst money is not the problem in itself.

Westminster has to accept that fire hosing money into problems – and in this case, not even the government’s money – is not a solution. Unhinged spending only extends the magnitude of the problems that already exist, whilst increasing a mountain of debt that for any organisation other than the government would have long since have resulted in bankruptcy.

Whether it is wages, Welfare or the NHS, reform needs to take place on a wholesale basis and comprehensive scale; throughout and across the system of government and everything it touches or ultimately has responsibility for.

Real lives are not completely populated by one-off black and white decisions and even when they are, the ripple effect of consequences will go in all directions and often end up hitting completely different – and usually innocent things.

Above all, government must lead on the reassertion of ethical practices throughout business and government itself. This needs to travel from the top to the bottom of society and remove any suggestion of there being one rule for us; for you another.

The best place to begin would be for the Conservatives to stop behaving as if telling people they are no longer poor will make them believe otherwise when everything they are experiencing says not, and for Labour to stop pretending that barking an order will make a free-thinking business world sing happily without consequence to its nanny-state tune.

The real living wage – or point where the lowest paid can live self-sufficiently, can only come into being within an economic system which produces its own equilibrium.

Government must stop interfering where it shouldn’t, and do more where it should, preventing other forces from manipulating or skewing the balance which has already travelled so very far away from a point of being good.

Poverty, immigration, radicalisation, unemployment and many more serious issues which the UK is facing are all made worse and worse by the behaviour of short sighted and inconsiderate politicians. Its time that they all realised that life is not like a bedtime story book for those who live outside the Westminster bubble, and real life for real people doesn’t simply hinge on getting re-elected every five years.

image: http://www.thesun.co.uk

Jail terms for public servants who overlook their safeguarding responsibilities sounds tough. But if the cause of the problem is actually government wide, should David Cameron be volunteering himself for 5 years in prison rather than another jolly in No. 10?

March 9, 2015 6 comments

Rotherham has already reached such levels of notoriety in local government that the place name has itself become synonymous with the darkest aspects of our society and the lack of responsibility taken by those who we all somehow know simply should have done much better.

At first account, David Cameron’s announcement that any public official – whether an officer or politician – who is shown to have overlooked child safety issues may soon face a jail term, sounds exactly like the kind of tough-minded policy making that we all really want to have coming out of Westminster.

Many of us will agree with the sentiment.

But then, what if those responsible didn’t actually see a problem? What if they didn’t ask questions, because they didn’t see it as their job to do so? What if those individuals were more sure of difficult consequences as a result of speaking out than they were of being any help to others by doing so?

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We do not know the specific circumstances and chronology of all the events and actions that contributed to Rotherham. But neither are we likely to do so, given that inquiries will reflect the often-accepted perception that all decisions are black and white in nature, and that the evidence will speak for itself.

On one level it will, and particularly so when there is a kneejerk response from Central Government to the idea that an individual can always be blamed.

However, the thought processes we all have are still thankfully just our own. Very few of us would willingly provide a word-by-word account of what we have ever at any one time thought – even if we could remember the exact detail for long enough to do so.

Regrettably, in terms of getting tough on those who neglect their responsibilities to the public is concerned, the PM’s plan is a measure which neither accounts for the inadequacies of the government system as it exists today, nor the people who are and who have been in the position to actually do something about it – even now.

Let us be in no doubt, child abuse is horrific however you consider it. Public officials failing to protect, safeguard and prevent the abuse of vulnerable people of any age within our communities is an inexcusable act in every sense.

But it has happened, and it is probably happening in places where we wouldn’t dream it to be even remotely possible, right now. And it may well have been missed because public servants were doing exactly what they understand their job requires them to do.

Whilst this one emotive subject has captured the public imagination and the vote-seeking cynicism of one political party as it thinks of the General Election in May, lack of responsibility on the part of public servants extends way beyond the realms of what government currently calls ‘safeguarding’.

There is an institutional failure at work, which permeates every part of the political, executive and administrative tiers of government, NGO’s and public services.

Decisions effecting the lives of you and I are in no way guaranteed to be made in our best interests by the very people we have elected and who have been employed to serve us.

Just as children have and may still be being abused when someone might have been able to stop it from happening, other people may actually be dying because people with responsibility for others at many different levels are not considering the real impacts of their decisions on the people in their care, when we all objectively know that they should.

Outrageous as this all may sound, tackling this problem, whether it is the way that a medical product is purchased within the NHS, a planning decision is made within a district council, or the action taken within social services means that a child is left exposed to the influence of someone who is considered as the member of an ethnic minority first and a pedophile second, may in no way be as simple as it may look.

Solving these many problems facing our public services is not as straightforward as punishing individuals for overlooking, or deliberately ignoring information or experiences that that public servants have had in their roles.

Before anything else, we have to understand at least some of the basic rules of the protectionist and ineffectual culture, which exists throughout our Public Services.

Only then might we begin to find solutions without automatically attacking those, whose actions would perhaps look very like many of our own, were we to find ourselves working and considering where our own responsibilities would stop in the very same circumstances.

Government is not a happy place. It stands to reason that if the people who are sat at the top of the tree behave in a certain way, the same kind of behavior will soon begin to manifest itself throughout the branches and departments of the organisation below, often with consequences that could never have been foreseen.

My own experience comes directly from working within a local authority, with a national charity, as a politician, and anecdotally through third hand contact throughout. Its real, its tested and I have experienced first hand how the whole system is failing us all, because it is fundamentally, institutionally and culturally sick.

What follows is an overview or perspective of Local Government alone. However, many of the points raised will be applicable to any government body or what we would call a public service.

Whilst I have attempted to focus my thoughts on specific areas, the reality is that there is significant overlap, and the behaviors, processes and methods discussed are very much interdependent, effecting and effected by many different factors and the input of Officers, Politicians and Central – or Westminster-based Government alike.

  • Managers are increasingly becoming qualification rich and experience poor, as part of a ‘textbook technocracy’. The system rewards those who dedicate themselves to playing the progression game, much as it does the politicians. Those climbing the career ladder are usually specialists in one area, rather than having had a grounding in a variety of operational areas where they will have gained a broader understanding not only of the technical aspects of other service areas, but of the life issues and behavior of the wide variety of people from different backgrounds that the staff they will soon manage are interacting with daily. This is not a problem that is exclusively attributable to the most senior levels of management. With an increasing push to share services and responsibilities both within and with other authorities, lower tier managers are now finding themselves with roles where frontline experience of service provision can be critical across many disciplines. The results are plain to see, and as experience is lost through natural wastage, redundancies and attractive jobs with private business, good management is increasingly becoming reliant upon luck, rather than good judgment. When you have deficient management, you then become reliant upon political leadership and that is often as inadequate, if not more so than the relevant officers within the executive itself.
  • Many people are unaware of how desperate the financial circumstances facing the Public Sector actually are. In local government, funding for services is not solely raised by Council Tax alone, and what we pay each month is itself shared out between our local parish, district, county and police authorities. Central government provides an annual settlement or grant to our councils which is being continually lowered and this process has been speeded up throughout the period of Austerity. Some of this is being given back in the form of incentives, such as the New Homes Bonus, which relates to the number of new homes built in the area of the Authority during the year. Unfortunately, payments like this are a two-edged sword and are effectively a way of coercing local authorities to implement government policy and keep doing so, simply to maintain income which is otherwise irreplaceable without cuts.
  • Current Government Policy is not normally to allow rises in Council Tax above 5% annually. But even with this, there is a tendency for many ruling Political Groups to keep this figure as near to zero% as possible, simply as voters are likely to respond to this form of taxation and the way it has been decided than any other. The downward side to this ‘crowd pleasing’ approach is that Council Tax income is often not increasing in line with normal price rises (inflation), whilst other forms of funding are also being cut. This means that authorities aren’t even financially ‘standing still’, and have no option but to cut services, reduce staff or share services with other authorities, which is a process which ultimately takes power further away from the people. Money is tight and decisions are being made that are effecting lives, based upon funding alone. It’s not necessarily because the person on the other end of the phone doesn’t care, but because they have to decide who gets the fixed amount of money (the budget) that they have available.
  • Politically speaking, ‘can do’ is actually ‘can’t, don’t’. As is the case nationally, local government is experiencing a critical shortage of politicians who are ‘in it for the right reasons’. Of those who are – or get first elected on the basis that they are, many are simply not equipped with the experience or leadership-related–confidence that ALL politicians, at every level of government need to effectively represent the people who elected them – within what is actually a leadership role. This functional naivety leaves party dinosaurs unchallenged from within their own ranks, and officers increasingly able to guide policy on the basis of what works most safely for them, or for the furtherance of their CV’s. The situation is growing progressively worse and is only becoming enhanced further by the policy coercion which comes either from Government, or from the National Party HQ’s.
  • Despite the perception that local government makes decisions, much of its responsibility lies in the form of interpreting law and legislation which has been created by MP’s and civil servants in Westminster. Central Government retains the right to overturn local decision making that doesn’t meet the rules that it has set. The reality of this is that decisions are increasingly made on the basis of strictly adhering to central legislation, rather than what local need may actually require. The most obvious manifestation of this can be seen within the Planning and Licensing functions, where decisions are made that are openly transparent within a process with which members of the public or business community interact. When even our local policies are made very much on the basis of frameworks which have been set in London, politicians and officers alike are becoming more and more inclined to defer reasoned judgment on real life decisions they are facing on behalf of the public, to a subservience to a ‘greater power’. The financial, cultural and institutional aspects of the problem play heavily into this process also, but the greatest irony of the controlling way in which Central Government runs every part of the government, is that the structure already exists which would allow power to be well and truly devolved to local people – were it able to work as it could. The legislative problem is reflected in the attitudes of politicians and officers alike and is becoming ever more obvious to observers. Policy making has become a truly questionable process, the machinations of which were once only thought of, or perhaps spoken about behind closed doors. It is now openly discussed in public in a way that simply beggars belief.
  • The bureaucratic structure within Government is continually tightening, despite the messages we hear in the media to the contrary. Common sense; being allowed to think on your feet; taking into consideration all that factors which are specific to each and every case. These are all no more than ideas in a heavily proscribed environment, which leaves officers and increasingly elected members also having to adopt a highly arbitrary approach to decision making. The Influence of the rights culture has come significantly in to play and the creation of increasingly detailed and instructive processes are removing the human touch from interaction between councils and their customers, all to ensure that risk is limited to the remotest degree. Put simply, decision-making has become increasingly black and white when real life is a very grey area. Managers report upwards through respective line management to their CEO, who in turn reports to the political leadership of the council. Less senior politicians have very limited means to address performance issues relating to officers, which have to be passed to department heads, or to a council’s delegated committee which deals with employee issues – one which is often assembled politically. When both the political and executive leadership are incompetent, there is no robust system in place which will enable anyone to do anything about it. For a complainant, speaking out to the media is a highly risky approach to take, and one which is seriously frowned upon, when you are effectively bringing in to question the actions of the Authority of which you are yourself a part.
  • Officers operate within a protectionist system where responsibility is the equivalent of risk and where risk is to be avoided at all costs. Staff are closed down to wider issues affecting the organisations they work for and operate often with a kind of tunnel vision which effectively thrives on passing the buck, or more often than not, simply assuming that someone else will pick the issue up departmentally or organisationally – either because the person who raised it will just assume they need to go elsewhere, or because they just don’t have to deal with anything that sits outside of their job description. The way that we see this manifested most clearly is by the way that consultants are often employed – at great cost – to write reports, giving conclusions or recommendations which departments and whole organisations already understand and will normally have had skilled staff employed to know very well before. The views of a third party are somehow and mistakenly perceived to give a level of legitimacy that nobody employed to actually do the job could provide. Decisions often become assignments for ‘contractors’ by being passed from one level of management to the next. Nobody wants to rock the boat and put at risk what has historically been one of the safest occupations to have, with gold-plated consequences at the end of a highly uneventful career, doing all that it takes to keep your nose clean.
  • Managers have a clear distrust, and in many cases open contempt for the members of the authorities that they work for. This is a situation which has been exacerbated by the lack of interest that many politicians actually show in the areas of responsibility that they have – if they understand them in the first place. Managers often forget that they are employed by the council itself – which is the body made up of the elected members. Indeed, even a CEO is technically the clerk to the council, a point which is well illustrated by the role and position they often take up in council meetings.
  • The business of government today is more autocratic in nature than it is democratic and could easily be compared with the feudal system. Democracy leaves the building almost as soon as the votes have been counted in elections and then decisions are nearly always made under the guidance of those politicians upon whom power has been centralised. Genuine debate is stifled by restrictive procedures and processes which effectively enable officers and politicians to duck drawn out examination processes which would allow real answers to be produced within public forums.
  • Scrutiny processes are generally very weak, ineffective and are failing to serve the public interest in any way. Scrutiny is often treated with distain by controlling political groups who believe that their elected majority gives them and specifically their leadership a level of legitimacy that should not be questioned. Scrutiny cannot be relied upon by opposition groups who are unlikely to successfully influence the decision of a majority using what is currently an arguably worthless ‘checks and balance’ process, unless there is a problem so clearly obvious with a policy, that it almost certainly wouldn’t have been adopted anyway.
  • The political system does not currently encourage strong leadership – usually based upon experience, which is often perceived as divisive in a system where it is normal for politicians to be working to an agenda of some kind. Ineffectual or ‘all things to all people’ styles of leadership are however in practice very weak, opening the door to poor guidance from officers which in such circumstances could be viewed as almost being coercive. When that executive leadership is itself weak, inadequately experienced or just as self-serving as many of the politicians, the results will speak for themselves.

The issues are different for each and every public service organisation, and will almost certainly cover areas that go way beyond what has been described here.

There are also many exceptions. There are some truly exceptional officers and politicians in local government who are doing what they can to ‘get it right’.

There are many more officers and politicians who could be just as exceptional. But the system simply doesn’t encourage them to give the public service that they are capable of giving, and that we, as taxpayers should reasonably be able to expect.

If you consider all of the points that have been made; allow for them to be adjusted, moved or even considered in a different place, you might begin to be able to visualise just how complex the institutional crisis facing all government or public sector organisations actually is, and how critical it has now become that meaningful reform be enacted throughout, for the best interests of all.

The required process of change can only begin from the top. The legislative levers that must be moved to instigate change, are more than ready to be pulled.

The change needed has to be undertaken with the level of understanding, impartiality and diligence that will be essential in ensuring that all forms of self-interest are not only removed, but no longer tolerated within an extremely complex system that exists and should only ever exist to serve the public.

Decisions are being made right now on the basis of ‘what if’ and ‘what will be the consequences for me’ throughout the system.

Officers and politicians are not working within a culture which equips, enables or encourages them to empathise with the people they are supposed to help, or to look beyond and consider the consequences of their decisions and actions for others in any sense.

This is itself highly reflective of the processes which successive Governments have inadvertently nurtured, maintained and developed, and there would be great difficulty in criticising officers within any authority operating at any level for taking this approach, when the example that they continue to be set by Westminster is simply telling them that this is an acceptable way to carry on.

Public servants who fail the people they are employed or elected to protect should be expected to take full responsibility for their actions.

But when the institutional culture of government and public services tells them to do everything but make reasoned decisions alone, it must logically follow that those responsible for the system itself must take responsibility for the faults that lie within it.

So before doling out 5-year jail terms for the people who may just be scapegoats and the easiest to blame, should David Cameron perhaps be volunteering for 5 years in Prison rather than another jolly in No. 10?

image thanks to unknown

Televised Debates for the 2015 General Election: Shouldn’t we hear from all those who could have power after 7th May, rather than just those who have won an Election before?

January 12, 2015 1 comment

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Just a week ago, the odds on Ofcom giving David Cameron an excuse not to enter the pre-General Election TV debates may well have looked pretty remote. Seven days on; one pull of the Green flush in the rules-room of the communications regulator and to some people, that is exactly what seems to have happened.

But however hard the PM might argue the moral justification of his apparent support for the Greens, few are buying into the apparent magnanimity of this gesture, even if for other reasons, he may unwittingly have a significant point.

The reasoning behind the decision to preclude the Greens and the smaller Parties has been based upon polling and previous electoral performance. It is a decision that would work favourably well if we were all looking to maintain the status quo, and only concentrate on the ‘establishment’, which itself now apparently includes UKIP, a Party that will arguably be assisted in fighting this Parliamentary Election on the basis of their electoral successes in Europe alone.

Polling does indeed seem to have become a science and dismissing this branch of statistics and the benefits of its use would be foolish however you might feel about it. However, polling is based upon people’s responses to questions regarding information that those people have about a situation, circumstances or what they are experiencing at that exact moment in time. It is little more than a snapshot and not one which can accurately predict how those same people would behave or react if they are given what they genuinely consider to be different options, or they find themselves having had an experience following the poll which would change their mind about the choices that they have.

All well and good if you are a ‘national-election-winning’ political party. But we are reaching the end of a 5 year Coalition Government, which came into being simply because none of the Parties running in 2010 with a chance of winning offered a platform which gained a decisive response from the public.

So when polling itself suggests that we are on course for the same, or perhaps an even greater dispersal of Parliamentary Seats amongst Parties, should it only be those same Parties, that by default then become the predominant members of the planned political telethon which could well influence the outcomes for our future?

The elephant in the room that political expedience fails to recognise was that in 2010, people didn’t feel convinced by the choices that they had. Voters didn’t anticipate a ‘hung parliament’ and very few would have been hoping for the final outcome, even if those who follow politics more closely will have seriously considered its probability as an outcome.

Whilst the Liberal Democrats paint this as being a choice, the unintended selection of indecisive Government burdened by compromise, arguably just because it suits the interests of the Political Parties who have most to gain, doesn’t really reflect upon putting the best interests of the Voting Electorate first.

Further compounding the ineptness and arguably self-serving nature of the decision by then introducing minimum 5 year Parliamentary Terms has not exactly given anybody else the feeling of legitimacy that was obviously intended either.

People want change. Voters want choice. The Electorate wants to see and understand the differences between ALL of the choices that are on offer.

With this in mind, it would perhaps be the case that the fairest way to select candidates for a televised debate would be to wait and see how many candidates have been accepted to represent each Party within Constituencies, and then in turn whether the number seeking election could form a majority Government if they were all elected.

In 1992, the Natural Law Party gained national exposure by fielding enough candidates across the Country to trigger access to Election Broadcasts. Yogic Flying may well have added an element of intrigue for some and outright comedy for others. But it certainly gave a televised forum to a Party that at the time could have painted a very different picture of Nineties Britain if they had collectively been elected to a position where they either held, or could influence power.

It’s a bit of a stretch in terms of what we might consider a likely outcome to view small Parties as contenders to form a majority Government on May 8th. But on the other side of this two-edged electoral sword, UKIP were of course never supposed to have won 2 Seats last Autumn, and the numerical requirement to get David Cameron or Labour‘s Ed Milliband in to No. 10 could turn out to be a lot less than the 57 Seats that the Lib Dems added to the Conservatives biggest-party-with minority-status last time around.

The truth of the peculiar political reality which may follow this General Election is more likely to rest in the hands of Nigel Farage (UKIP), Alex Salmond (SNP), Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru), Natalie Bennett (The Greens) or perhaps even them all, than it is with the existing mainstream Parties who are not even trying to sound different in the way that some of their smaller competitors certainly are.

On this basis alone, and knowing the havoc that could be inflicted by the trade-offs that might include a black and white, in-out referendum on Europe; greater steps towards the independence of Scotland, or even the scrapping of the Nuclear Deterrent at a time when World stability is far from secure, should we not really have the opportunity to listen to what the potential kingmakers really have to say?

image: theguardian.com

 

Explaining the Deficit: Let’s call it the Overspend instead…

December 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Red-HerringYou are probably feeling quite fed up with politics, politicians and all the talk of May 2015. If not, the chances are you may be one of those planning to run in the General Election.

Wherever you look, the Parties are sounding off in what they are calling the ‘long campaign’ which runs from now until April, and the Deficit is something we are already hearing a lot about.

But when a Westminster politician starts talking about Deficit reduction, or making statements that indicate they ‘plan’ to reduce the Deficit to zero by the year XYZ, you may be one of the many people left wondering what they are actually talking about and what it really means.

You might not be sure what the Deficit is. You may not understand the difference between the Deficit and the National Debt. But whatever question you may have, don’t worry. Even MP’s have struggled to explain the difference when they have been asked to do so.

Giving new names to existing products, services or methods of working isn’t a new idea. In fact, it’s not just Westminster politicians who use new names to sell their ideas and many of the new products you buy will just be a re-hash of an old idea using new words to describe something differently; just so it sounds like something better.

Selling is one thing. Misleading us another. The term Deficit is perhaps one of the biggest red herrings that Westminster has created, and especially so when they use it to draw attention away from the spiraling National Debt.

So what is the Deficit?

Perhaps the easiest way to picture the Deficit is to think about the Government as a person. A person who earns money and then spends that money on house-keeping and all the things that it might need.

Where we might run a home, the Government’s house is the whole of the UK.

Where we might spend our money on food, the mortgage or rent, clothes, transport, paying back loans and maybe going out, the Government’s housekeeping bill is public services such as the NHS, the Police, Armed Forces, Education, Transport and Local Government.

Whereas we would do a ‘job’ to earn a salary or perhaps an hourly rate of pay, the Government ‘earns’ its money through Income Tax (PAYE), National Insurance, VAT and all the other types of Taxation which we all pay.

Whilst most of us can only earn what our employer agrees to pay us, every year, the Government sets itself a Budget for all the money it will spend on public services. The Budget should ideally not be more that what the Government has ‘earned’ or will ‘earn’ from Taxes during the year that the money will be spent.

When a Government decides that it wants to spend more in a Budget for a year than it will ‘earn’, it has two choices. The Government can raise Taxes so that it has more income than it did before, or it can borrow on top of what it has earned and ‘overspend’ – even though we are normally told that they are spending within Budget.

The difference, value or balance between what the Government ‘earns’ and what it has planned or does actually spend in its Budget, is what Westminster politicians call the Deficit.

Each Budget Deficit – or the Deficit for that year, is what we would call a loan*.

The Government pays interest on that loan*, and this interest – and the money which has to be paid back each year is then added to the housekeeping bill for the term or lifetime of the loan.

When the outstanding balance of the loan* and interest for the year isn’t paid off, it becomes the National Debt and every unpaid Deficit or overspend for each year is added to this.

Surplus

Another term you may hear used by Westminster politicians in the coming months as one of their ‘aims’ is ‘Budget surplus’ or just ‘surplus’.

A surplus in this sense would be the sum of money left over if the Government did not use all of the money it ‘earned’ from Taxes in a year and then had some left over.

Reaching a surplus would be the only point that the Government could then begin reducing the National Debt.

The Conservative Chancellor, George Osborne is suggesting that this will be achieved by 2020 if the Conservative Party are elected with the majority of seats in Parliament in May. Being in Government with a majority and not as part of a Coalition as they have been since 2010, will allow them to make even more cuts to public services than they have so far and this is how the Conservatives plan to reach a point where they have a surplus.

Whether you support the plans that any of the Political Parties have or not, the fact is that this Coalition Government and the Labour Government before it have both had an annual Deficit or have overspent each and every year for a long time.

We wouldn’t be able or allowed to spend money like this ourselves unless we had savings to fall back on, and neither would the Westminster politicians if they were dealing with their own finances.

 

* The way that the Government ‘borrows’ money is not normally the same as going to a bank and asking for a loan. To borrow money or ‘raise funds’, the Government usually sells bonds, which banks, other financial organizations and sometimes even other Countries buy on the basis that they will get the value of the bond returned to them at the end of the lifetime of the bond – probably 3 or 4 years, and that they will receive a fee or fixed amount of interest on top of that for the period too.

When a bond comes to the end of its lifetime and the Government is unable to pay off the balance or value of that bond and its interest because there is not a Budget surplus, the Government then sells more bonds to cover the cost of doing so.

 Image: Source unknown

 

Britain’s Political Crisis: Set up a new political party; stand to be an independent MP; but however frustrated you are with Politics, do bear in mind…

December 2, 2014 Leave a comment

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Even the most fervent political party supporters will struggle to avoid acknowledging the general disillusionment and feeling that many people now experience with British Politics.

The fact is that all of the mainstream Political Parties – even UKIP, will continue the same way that they currently do so at their own peril.

For many of us, seeing yourself as being cut off and without even the remotest hope of being able to influence anything in Government is not a pleasant experience. Least of all when we see decisions being made which we can in no way relate to, or changes taking place in our own communities or neighborhoods which simply have no reflection on what we or anybody else that we know seems to think.

A lot of people toy with the idea of putting up or shutting up where today’s political mess is concerned.

It is also a pretty safe bet that whilst they may not openly talk about it, many of the people that you know will have experienced one of those moments where they just ‘know’ that things could somehow be a lot better and that the way things are today, simply aren’t right.

Some already have the platform to speak loudly about the injustices of a political system that serves its own interests before anyone else. Yet many more normal people outside the world of politics and celebrity are frustrated by the seemingly endless status quo where nothing ever changes and politicians happily tell us that everything is improving when quite frankly, just about everyone but them seems to know that it isn’t.

It comes as little surprise then, that in Elections, a growing number of people are voting for Parties and Independent Candidates outside of the ‘traditional’ remits of the Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat Parties, and that there is in fact a growing number of political parties being established right across the Country.

Very few politicians are prepared to openly acknowledge the lack of balance and consideration for the consequences of ill-considered policy making throughout Government. But those that do almost certainly share the desire of all people outside of politics to see something different to what everyone else today seems forced to experience.

However, those that do understand both the situation and the way that British Politics works will also probably question just how much benefit the creation of a plethora of new movements will bring to us all, when what the UK needs is change of a very radical and meaningful kind. Change that we all need to experience right now.

The realities of starting a new political ‘Movement’

To get some real perspective on the impact a new political party is likely to make, the history of UKIP provides a very clear guideline.

Born from the embers of the Anti-Federalist League in 1993, it has taken the Party 21 years to get its first MP genuinely elected to Parliament and then, only through the focus of the electoral magnifying lense which is a Parliamentary By-Election.

As a single-issue party, it is arguably only what would be at very best a rare and perhaps unique combination of a cause célèbre – which gives UKIP a nationwide profile – and the current political climate that leaves the electorate looking for change, which now places the Party in a position of being ‘mainstream electable’.

Had Europe not been the UK’s political bogeyman for such a long time, UKIP or indeed the anti-European movement itself would have almost certainly been absorbed by one or perhaps all of the main parties long ago, if indeed the creation of a new political stream beyond that of the others had been necessary in the first place.

This fact probably demonstrates the greatest threat to any new party, as finding traction with any issue that is palatable in mainstream thinking is unlikely to take place much before one or more of the other Parties adopts a position on the same footing.

We only need to observe the way that the Conservatives and Labour are struggling to regain or rather recapture the initiative from UKIP over issues such as Immigration in recent weeks to understand what happens when an issue finds its way from the outside into what political commentators might call the centre ground.

However, in this instance, we are again seeing party political machines maneuvering themselves with the objective of securing future power, rather than engaging in any kind of meaningful change that demonstrates an understanding of the real issues which sit behind the public discontent.

Were it not so, David Cameron would hardly have been off to Europe to ask the permission of 27 other Countries to change laws which the electorate of his own Government so clearly want.

The Party Political Paradox: We want change. We all know this. We also know that the establishment isn’t working for us. But it’s called the establishment for a very good reason.

When you consider the history and conditions which have supported the longevity and then the rise of UKIP, you soon begin to realise that the biggest problem facing any new party will be its ability and likelihood of it becoming big enough to reach and engage enough people to gain the national level of recognition and momentum which could see it effect the kind of change that we all now actually need.

Nobody should be under any illusion that UKIP may well be poised to win anything from a handful to perhaps 30 seats in May 2015, but that in doing so, the very best that it could hope to achieve would be to win the support of the biggest Parliamentary Party for perhaps one or two key policies, as it then sells itself in compromise against everything else, just to have that moment of power.

In reality, this is an opportunity that UKIP may otherwise never have, as the de facto choice or established parties will continue to morph or adapt their policies to be seen to answer the ‘UKIP question’ and in doing so, work to assure themselves a working parliamentary majority again at the earliest available opportunity.

You may think that one moment is all that it will take. But we are all already experiencing the fallout from the political stalemate which ensues from a hung parliament, and this is at a point when most of the Westminster political Parties are culturally the same, even if their philosophical viewpoints don’t quite appear to match.

The hard fact is that we are facing a situation where we need a majority of MP’s to work together to address all the issues and to change all the policies which will impact upon those issues, whilst ensuring that the impacts of those changes do not then themselves cause other problems that people looking for balance and fairness in their lives simply do not need.

The situation creates a dilemma and significant paradox.

We are all either consciously or subconsciously aware that we do as such need political parties in the sense that they exist today – or an acceptance and appreciation of common ground between a majority of politicians, in order to effect the change for the better that we need within a genuine democracy.

However, we are all just as equally aware that it is being of the establishment that provides the platform or powerbase to enact change; ground which is currently infested with a self-serving political culture and party political system which quickly excludes voices for change and sings the song of populist thought whilst giving it nothing more than a hollow meaning.

So how can we really win?

The circumstances surrounding traditional politics in the UK dictates that it functions through a culture of compromise.

Furthermore, the contemporary Political Party machine puts submissive compromise at the core of its recruitment and management processes.

However, if compromise is necessary in any way at all, the policies which result will not have genuinely been created with consideration of the best interests or of the consequences for all truly in mind.

In order for us all to win, it necessarily requires that there is a genuine change in mindset, whether that be for the incumbent Political Parties – which would arguably be a much more productive situation for everyone; or that change itself manifests within the many new and existing groups and independently minded people out here in our communities who so desperately want to see that change, that they are ready to stand for political office.

Moving forward

You may have heard the saying ‘you can’t beat the system’, and if you have come up against the way that Government and all things Legal work, you will probably be able to see the truth in this statement – even when you know that the system is itself flawed and fundamentally wrong.

For those who have been burned by the frustrations and the ‘banging your head against a brick wall’ that comes with it, there is no pleasure in seeing new and enthusiastic people entering politics who either quickly become disillusioned with the realities of the system, or simply buy in to a culture where all those that follow people who lead only for themselves then come to live and believe the idea that ‘this is just the way that things are’.

It may seem that way to those who are prepared to accept the status quo as it is and not take any risks.

But that simply isn’t the truth, and all it would take is for enough of the people already within the system to say ‘no more’ for a real difference to begin unfolding.

Change the system from within (But don’t buy in to the propaganda…)

The easiest way that we could create change, would be for that change to come from within the system itself and that would mean influencing politicians at all levels by becoming the voices that they have no choice but to listen to, i.e. part of the Parties themselves.

The problem with this approach is that it has been tried all too many times, and some very good people have failed or ultimately have become part of the very problem that all of us ‘out here’ are currently experiencing. As they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely…

Today we are experiencing the outcome of decades of the development of a party political system which favours the ascendency of a whole generation of politicians who treat political office as little more than a job and career, rather than being the responsibility to the electorate that most of us outside of the ‘bubble’ know that it should actually be.

Most Westminster party politicians get selected and promoted thereafter by saying and doing the right things for the right people, and most sitting MP’s today will have made it to Parliament by going along a career pathway which equips them to progress within the system extremely well, but gives them little working knowledge of what the real world is like outside.

How can they make genuinely good decisions effecting the lives of others when they have no real life experience themselves?

The very sad and highly regrettable reality is that getting enough of our sitting MP’s to change and give the British people the real voice that they should have through a majority is very unlikely.

The political culture of today says ‘don’t rock the boat or you will get thrown out’ and very few politicians are brave enough to take on a system which takes control freakery into a whole new realm.

Change the system from without (But don’t look at your fight as being one that you can win alone…)

This is where the creation of a new movement or party becomes the attractive option. But with the realities of establishing just one party that could make a difference covered above, there has to be an acceptance that creating a whole plethora of organisations will in time prove to be no more effective than getting a similar number of independent MP’s elected to Parliament.

On their own, small, localised and local community-based-issue parties will very occasionally gain enough momentum to get an MP Elected. But as just one of over 600, you can soon see how little chance there would be of making any measurable kind of difference for us all.

Working together is however a very different situation and if it were to be the case that the genuine commonality could be found between all of the disparate groups that are currently ‘out here’ already, or which may be launched at some point in the future, the potential would then exist for something very special to happen.

Knowledge of the Net and Social Media makes the task sound very easy. But without a formula which lights that spark between a whole range of people who have had the independence of mind and motivation to get something ‘of their own’ started, the prospects for success are pretty slim.

After all, some may simply be falling into the trap of thinking that politics is all about one idea ‘winning’ against the ideas of someone else and it is likely to be the case that for many, that very idea is based upon an issue which is personal to them and perhaps just a few people that they know.

The truth of the matter is that if every politician made every decision and promoted every cause on the basis of what will serve the best interests of all, whilst also considering and making allowances for the impact of those decisions on everyone else as they do so, we would no longer require left-wing or socialist politics, parties of the centre ground, or indeed the politics of the right.

Tribal politics makes debate a competition, rather than a process of exploring the methods and plans which will genuinely solve the problems that we all face.

The cold hard reality is that however fair, just or right the ideas might be which underpin the motives of a new party; without losing the idealism, the philosophy and the ‘my idea is better than yours’ mentality, any new movement is unlikely to prove itself to be any better than the Conservatives, Green, Liberal Democrats, Labour or UKIP Parties given time.

Thinking a different way:

As a culture, we have been conditioned to look at everything we experience in terms of how it either relates to or affects us personally.

This has taken place at a subconscious or even subliminal level and anyone who really wants to effect change by creating a new political movement, must themselves become mindful of the processes which sit behind this for themselves, and then begin encouraging others to also be mindful of the impact that everyone and everything has on us, the people in our lives and the world we live in.

This is no mean feat and has to be achieved without getting sucked into any of the idealist elephant traps which litter this road, such as green energy, which while being very laudable, has significant practical implications for a society of 60 Million+ people and a situation which simply doesn’t advocate the immediate binning of all other forms of energy or raising taxes on other things to subsidise it.

More and more people are waking up to the lack of balance and fairness in their own lives and those of others. But just as in the case of the Hundredth Monkey or what we colloquially call ‘memes’ that virally attract attention in what seems like the blink of an eye, the kind of awakening and preparedness that we are discussing here will have to reach a point of critical mass or the seminal moment when a positive direction of travel which cannot be influenced by any of the powers that are aligned against it is achieved.

Regrettably we have to accept that this may not be a realistic prospect on an organic basis alone.

Wait for the wheels to fall off from the inevitable meltdown (that has probably already started…)

Bleak as it may sound and as unfavorable as it may be, change itself may well have to be precipitated by a meltdown or history-changing event which opens the general population to thinking in a very different way. One that also leaves politicians who are not prepared to put the genuine need of the electorate first, with no power to prevent the ascent of those who are.

Today, there are a considerable number of issues which at one degree or another could easily prove to be the catalyst or forerunner of an event, or series of events which create the seedbed for this situation.

These could be:

  • The economy: The UK is effectively bankrupt and accumulating debt at an unprecedented rate. Politicians are continuing to write cheques on the basis of winning elections, rather than doing what they really need to do. The Chancellor’s spending spree this week does not reflect the perilous state of both the Deficit and the National Debt and the irresponsibility of thinking that borrowing can continue to grow at the current rate, just to keep a small number of people in power takes stupidity to a whole new level. Interest rates rising alone after the next General Election could be enough to blow the Deficit wide open and to a level which cannot be sustained by putting the problem off for someone else to deal with. What happens when the Government can borrow no more?
  • The Cost of Living Crisis: Beyond the Labour Party’s attempt to hijack a real issue and hollow it out for political gain, the disparity between rich and poor, the housing crisis, price rises on essential goods, cuts in public services, energy prices, low pay, the broken welfare system, non-reform of Banking and the City, and the cultural inclination to look at every transaction and relationship in terms of the profit it will make, could all lead to civil rest of a kind which would eclipse the Summer Riots of 2011 and potentially make Revolution seem like a very real prospect.
  • ISIS & Terrorism: We really do not know what lies ahead and what the impact will be of the growth of this rogue state, and indeed what its real impact will be upon our own society if terrorism should return to the UK at any great and continuing level.
  • Other: Issues such as the overextension of ‘rights’ and what this is doing to our society could also have an impact of a kind which right now may seem fanciful to those with their heads buried firmly in the sand.

The West’s deteriorating relationship with Russia and Ebola also come to mind, and whilst it may sound alarmist to even suggest thinking about the realities which could all lay behind, the fact remains that any of these issues could blow up into something which could become very meaningful to us all at any time.

***

We do need new people to come forward; to bring change and to introduce a new dimension in politics; to create a new paradigm which genuinely serves the best interests of us all. But those who want change also have to see the situation for what it is, and ‘play the game’ that it has all become.

As a population, we most certainly do deserve something better and it is possible to have it too. We just have to be realistic about the route which we will have to travel to get there and what the true cost and implications of that journey might be.

But if you are thinking about starting a party or standing in an election and you think that your own ideas are the best, or that your own interpretation of someone else’s political philosophy is the only way we will win; the fact is that we are already one person nearer to everyone losing a whole lot more.

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Image: Top – telegraph.co.uk, Bottom – absolutesocrates.com

Bankrupt Britain: Is the death of Local Public Service provision avoidable and will it lead communities to provide their own not-for-profit services?

November 26, 2014 Leave a comment

Whilst it may not be generating the media frenzy or sensationalist prose that usually grabs everyone’s attention, recent days have seen a number of different stories emerge that confirm much about the state of Local Government and the services we contribute towards with our Council Tax.

The common theme is of course money – or rather the lack of it.

Those of us taking the collapse of local public services seriously may already be well aware of the perilous state of funding and how bleak the outlook actually is.

However, despite the many cuts and reductions in services that people have witnessed across the UK already, it is the continuing reliance that today’s politicians have placed in using yesterday’s methods to solve tomorrows problems should perhaps give us even greater cause for concern.

This week alone, one Police & Crime Commissioner covering a Conservative area has suggested that he will seek a referendum on raising the local Police Precept element of Council Tax by no less than 25%, whilst the Leader of Newcastle City Council is now on the record as suggesting that the reduction of funding may soon lead to social unrest, with an expectation that an incoming Labour Government will simply change the ‘settlement’ – and thereby solve the problem after May.

Whilst both of these Politicians are in unenviable positions, neither plan would work in the best interests of the electorate, even if they were to be seen to solve the problems in the immediate term. And by immediate term, we are probably talking just 12 months before the very same problem is there to be solved all over again.

Adding yet more to the Tax burden of individuals and households may be an easy decision for politicians, but isn’t sustainable for the people who are paying.

Meanwhile, more money coming from central Government when the Country is already effectively bankrupt spells disaster of another kind, as the accumulation of National Debt simply cannot continue with each successive Government that comes along attempting to shelve today’s problems for tomorrow by printing money like it was all some kind of game without any real cost.

The system of local public service delivery is broken not just because of a lack of funding today, but because of decades of mismanagement focused on targets, working conditions and the development of the protectionist culture which serves everyone’s interests but those of the very people who the services were initially created to serve.

These cultural and institutional problems have not been created locally, but they are certainly propagated locally.

One of the most serious ‘injustices’ served upon every Council Tax Payer, is the seismic amount of our contributions that actually go into the Local Government Pension Scheme. It has increasingly done so since the then Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown raided Pension Funds in 1997 and left the general public to pick up the tab for the subsequent deficit which would otherwise have surely obliterated gold-plated Local Government Pensions.

It would certainly be advisable to have a look at your Local Council’s Annual Budget and see just how much of your money goes into this Scheme. A good guess would be that rather than being anywhere near the red, your local services would be well and truly in the black if you weren’t funding someone else’s retirement plan, just because of the last Labour Government’s fiscal free-for-all, which removed many of the regulations that actually helped a great many of the very people who supported them.

Solving the problem of how to afford what local public services cost us without losing services, reducing services or there being a need to dispose of assets which basically belong to us all, may have already reached a stage where it will seem impossible to do so without the measures already discussed.

But with such options not being real choices, we will all soon have to accept that the way local public services are delivered is going to change; and that the change that comes may not be in anyway better.

Service sharing between Authorities and even Police Forces is now well under way and is likely to accelerate significantly as the reality of the UK’s financial predicament continues to bite hard.

However, the distinct irony of this pathway is that sharing services does indeed take the management and handling of public services further away from the people themselves. And the point should not be lost on anyone that the real cause of much of today’s political disquiet – i.e. taking decisions further away from people will only be made worse by what is yet to come as a result of this.

The political and government infrastructure that could have solved problems like those raised by the Scottish Independence question has already existed for at least two generations in the forms of Parish & Town Councils, District Level Councils and County Councils.

The problem is that Westminster based politicians do not want to empower local representatives at any cost.

Whilst continually paying lip service through concepts such as ‘Localism’ – which has been such a big sound bite of the Coalition era, the reality has been that all changes within Local Government have simply been pushing more and more power back to London, rather than devolving local decisions to local people as any Government focused upon what is really best for the electorate surely would.

This reality may well give the lie to the ‘vow’ which we all awoke to on the morning after the Scottish Referendum. It almost certainly paints a picture which doesn’t look good for us all locally. But when local politics is itself arguably just as rotten and as focused on itself as Westminster is, what can we really expect?

The reality of what lies ahead should hit us hard, because much of what we today take for granted in terms of services supporting both communities and individuals may soon be simply unaffordable – even though we seem to be paying through the nose for it.

With Government Organisations and structures maintained by a culture which nobody is willing to reform, Local Authorities are likely to lean ever more heavily in the future upon contractors and trading companies.

This is a considerable leap in the direction of privatisation and one which could very quickly lead to the token ability of Local Council’s to affect change and decision making on the part of the communities that they represent to be seen for what it really is.

It is a very real prospect that the only services that many people perceive as being what they receive for their money will be handled by private contractors. Companies who are delivering services to the public whilst making a profit at a lower price than what it would cost the public to deliver itself.

With even fortnightly bin collections now at risk, it is not in any way hard to imagine paying for your rubbish to be collected by a company you pay directly – as you would do with electricity, gas or your phone. Indeed it may be little accident that ‘utility’ companies already run such services on behalf of Councils and many of us will quickly wonder what we are paying Council Tax for if we don’t see any Police on the streets and have our rubbish collected by someone else.

Without immediate and meaningful reform, it is a good guess that social enterprise will be the only way that we will be able to have local public services delivered, which are seen to be free at point of delivery or kept at a cost which is both affordable for users and sustainable for the organisations delivering them.

This is unlikely to be restricted to just local service delivery, and whilst utilities, transport and communications are currently little more than the cash cows of the City and its Pension Funds, keeping it real dictates that sooner or later the political classes will have to accept that allowing our society to function at its most basic level requires nothing less than that all services provided for the benefit of the wider community and the individuals within it must be provided on a not-for-profit basis and with best value to the end user firmly in mind.

Regrettably, with much of the infrastructure already disposed of which will facilitate this at National Level, and the same process now progressively happening through the back door at local level, it is communities themselves that may well have to raise the funds to create the new trading companies that will do this.

With crowd funding a good example of the options now available, it is certainly possible to do so.

But as we also wonder why we are paying more tax on everything but receive even less for what we give…won’t we all be asking the question why?

 

image: dailymail.co.uk 

 

Is progressive liberalism sleepwalking us backwards into an age of tyranny?

November 25, 2014 Leave a comment

 

businessman was scared  person in his inner emotionsHow often do you find yourself in a situation when you hear that inner voice questioning whether you can do, say or act in a particular way, just in case it directly ‘offends’ someone, or perhaps ever more likely could inadvertently be seen to offend that someone – but only in the eyes of someone else?

Chances are that you will have this experience a whole lot more than you realise and if you are aware of the influence that ‘rights’ and the instances when something you say or do could offend someone else, you may just begin to understand how even our thoughts are beginning to be affected by political correctness to such a degree that it is influencing the way that we function as a society.

No right-minded person can question the validity of the principles of balance and fairness which accompany the right to be treated equally – irrespective of any difference which can be seen or perceived by others. But where does the just protection of that right for an individual or group end, and what has become the very real reflective prejudice against all others actually begin?

This past week has seen some worrying developments relating to the way that political correctness is changing and indeed threatening the fabric of our society in just the one area relating to religious and cultural background with Ofsted denying a School an ‘outstanding’ rating because it lacks diversity, and the latest news of radicalisation risk at 6 Muslim Schools in London.

On one hand, we are hearing the message that it is no longer right or correct to be as we are and as we have always been as the indigenous or historical population. On the other, we are seeing evidence that supports the view that not only are new cultures within our own most welcome to comprehensively retain their own identities and remain separate from a system which we are ourselves told must continue to be opened. We witness all of this taking place at potentially great cost to the very culture that opened its arms and warmly welcomed so many others to join us here.

The nature of the way we now ‘think’ as a society suggests that to even acknowledge the reality that many Governments have failed to encourage and maintain fully integrated communities, is to be prejudiced or indeed to have a right-wing outlook.

But the reality is that such statements are neither prejudiced nor judgemental in any way. A statement like this is observational.

As well as reflecting what is actually happening, it also demonstrates the cause of much fear and yes – misunderstanding, which could have been avoided if politicians had actually been thinking about the implications and consequences of everything they were doing all along.

Instead, the situation we face together, whatever the structure of our communities may be is very real; it threatens us all – no matter our background; and it is risking our future in ways that the liberalist elite will never have even considered as they philosophise and grandstand over what they think is right and should be seeking to inflict upon everyone else next.

What seems to have been missed by the idealists is the fact that freedom and liberation for one soon becomes the oppression of others if respect for that freedom is not then reciprocated.

It doesn’t matter whether the question concerns colour, race, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender, disability, education, background, wealth or other status. The dangers of focusing benefits for the few at the cost of the many should be only too apparent and we are together experiencing neither a fair nor balanced society at large.

Yet even given all of the other problems that the UK is currently facing, the self-righteous belief of the liberal elite to push for what is itself a system of legitimised privilege, created through the inappropriately named course of positive discrimination, seems to also leave them strangely unable or equipped to speak out and say enough is enough – or indeed, accept that we have reached a place called stop.

It might not be so bad if the very same people were not so quick to ridicule and encourage the isolation of those who do speak out. It is as if the principles behind what is in fact driving a tyranny which oppresses people from within by enslaving the way they actually think can still end in some place which will be happy for us all.

The growing acknowledgement of people that something is fundamentally wrong with the way the system works is well illustrated by the rise of UKIP, which now appears to be on a roll, despite every chance taken by the establishment to write them off as bigots, racists and loonies.

In time, they may well be proven to be little more than the focus of the protest vote of the Coalition era. But their popularity today says much about the fact that people want change and no longer want to feel like they have reason to be afraid of their own shadows.

It is political idealism which has been propagated by the established political parties which has led to this very situation, and irrespective of what philosophies we may be told exist as the backdrop of the Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat machines, it is the lack of real principle within them all which is allowing the real threats from the monster they have together created to manifest in forms such as the radicalisation of the young, and the risk that they now pose to the communities in which they have previously been encouraged and nurtured.

Through the personal prisons of the mind that progressive liberalism and the age of rights has created, a tyranny is manifesting of a kind that all of the worst characters of history could have only dreamed about for its power and ability to control; one which could soon make Orwell’s 1984 look like a standard entry in a daily diary.

Worst of all of it is the fact that those who have responsibility for it have now bought into it themselves and whilst nobody leads us who is prepared to take the risk of standing up and saying ‘no more’, the situation is only going to get a whole lot worse and may lead to tyranny of a fully totalitarian kind.

Whether they accept it or not, the liberalist project has long since passed its point of good and as we are led further and further into living an idealist and impractical nightmare, we must surely now ask, is progressive liberalism sleepwalking us backwards into an age of tyranny?

quote-there-is-no-greater-tyranny-than-that-which-is-perpetrated-under-the-shield-of-the-law-and-in-the-charles-de-montesquieu-166586

 

image top – source unknown

 

Homes are not commodities and treating them as if they are shows the level of contempt that investors have for the lives of the people who live within them…

November 20, 2014 Leave a comment

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The obsession that the Nation has with property may be paying dividends for builders, mortgage companies and investors alike, but the cold hard reality is that we are on the road to making many people homeless.

With whole developments now being snapped up by private companies who are only interested in maximising the level of return, escalating prices will inevitably lead to increasing numbers of applicants for social housing, whilst pushing the next occupants ever closer to the circumstances which would have led to the last tenants having to leave in the first place.

Owners may not have anything to worry about now as they concentrate on the apparently lucrative areas of today such as London. But this problem will almost certainly fan-out across the country, and will become ever bigger for as long as house prices continue to grow and people cannot afford to buy the homes which we are continually told are being built to help them. When have you ever seen newly built houses sold at a lower price than other houses in the area with comparable value?

With local authorities potentially unable to afford to house people in the very near future, the idea that having a home is only a luxury could again soon become a reality for many people. Even the remotest prospect of the return of slums in Great Britain should be sending a shiver down the spines of us all, yet politicians have far from even acknowledged the true depth of the problem.

Like it or not, Government will soon have to accept that there must be controls over the way the property market operates.

This may at the very least require formal regulation to ensure that prices can no longer be inflated by the commission on sales for estate agents; an industry that almost certainly carries a high portion of the responsibility of pushing prices upwards at every opportunity since the time that Right to Buy arrived.

However, steps are also likely to be required to freeze prices and possibly even begin to reduce them so that owning or renting a home is affordable in all areas of the Country for those who are earning a basic wage.

The money men may not like it. But the irresponsible creation of the hollow money which is being used to effectively price people out of their own homes can no longer be countered by the continuing creation of money by Government. The National Debt of over £1 Trillion is accumulating at a rate of over £5000 per second in the interest payments alone – before we even begin to consider the Deficit.

The days when politicians could keep borrowing money today and by doing so defer problems for those who will be in power tomorrow are coming to an end.

The question is, how many more people have to experience their own personal hell before those in power realise that tomorrow was a when, not an if, and that it has already arrived?

image: source unknown 

Politicians and Political Parties should never automatically assume the respect of the people, nor that when they do, it equates to silence…

November 19, 2014 Leave a comment

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Getting a true glimpse of the true nature of the respect that our politicians have for us isn’t an everyday event by any means. Yet recently, we have been treated to a series of insights in to the way we are all viewed by the people who either do, or soon hope to govern us. It doesn’t make particularly happy reading.

The fairytale halving of the £1.7 Billion bill from the EU and the Parliamentary vote on the European Arrest Warrant that never was, were both perhaps very telling of the way the current Coalition Government does its business. But it was the comments from the Labour Party following Ed Milliband’s workout with Myleene Klass on the ITV’s ‘The Agenda’ on Monday night which may have represented the lifting of a much bigger stone.

Watching the programme made good viewing. We rarely get the opportunity to see the kind of challenge which Myleene made, telling Ed why Labour’s Mansion Tax Policy isn’t going to work and effectively showing the whole idea up for the hollow, headline-grabbing and socially-divisive-pigeon-holing stunt that it is.

Apparently unable to deal with the broadside at the time, Tuesday morning not only saw a belated attempt by Ed to try and turn it around with a parody relating to Ms Klass’s time in the Band Hear’Say; it also brought comments from the Party suggesting that she had failed to show Mr Milliband respect, and also tweets from a Labour MP apparently suggesting that she should leave the Country.

All well and good to demand respect if you have actually earned it. But these guys all seem to think that being an MP is qualification in itself. Isn’t it right that we should have the right to question what they do?

The fact is that the UK is in the perilous state that it is right now, in no small part because of the inability of Party-affiliated MP’s to safely ask the kinds of questions or make points of this nature without fear of reprisal from their Political Parties.

Ed Milliband may well walk in to 10 Downing Street as the next Prime Minister in less than six months time. But if Labour will not accept the legitimacy of questions which show the lack of thought and consideration which has obviously gone into their policies now, what hope will there be for us all when they start to enact them?

image: itv.com

Royal Mail & Privatisation: Its called privatisation for a good reason and politicians need to wake up and realise that privately owned business will never have the general public as its point of primary concern…

November 19, 2014