Archive

Posts Tagged ‘change’

Is this a Conservative Party or the Conservatives parting?

December 7, 2018 Leave a comment

If this was a perfect world, we wouldn’t need political parties. In fact, we wouldn’t need politics at all. Things would just get done without reference to anyone.

But we don’t exist in a perfect world, and after recognising that there is such a thing as mutually shared interests between us all, democracy, facilitated by the necessary evil which political parties (or groups of people working together) are, when it comes to getting things done on behalf of us all, is pretty much the next best thing.

At some point however, the working framework which political parties were only ever supposed to provide, got exchanged for something perceived as being bigger than that laudable purpose itself. Political Parties are now all about the Party itself, and they have forgotten one very big and fundamental thing.

Political Parties are not and never will be more important than the People that their elected members represent.

A vicious circle exists where we cannot get sufficient numbers of good people into Parliament because Political Parties work coercively to ensure that almost all of their elected members are on message, and because that message is simply wrong, it ensures that the Parties keep on recruiting the same kind of people in the very same image.

Whilst this problem is increasingly evident within all the established political parties, it is today the Conservative Party where this malaise is so clearly evident.

It is an example of a Party where blind ambition and nothing else has delivered us a Prime Minister who is out of touch with the People. She is so convinced of her own infallibility, that she is using the Party apparatus to try and force Members to agree she is doing the right thing.

Conservatism is not synonymous with what the Conservative Party is now doing.

The Conservative Party has lost its way under this and past leadership. It is blinded by the arrogance of power and many years of believing the self-prorogated myth that it is the ‘natural party of government’. Many Conservative politicians now carry an obtuse sense of entitlement and the belief that they possess a magic formula which means any decision they make will always be accepted by the People as being correct.

Pride comes before a fall.

In its current form and with the words being spoken and undemocratic action being taken by so many of its prominent Politicians, the Conservative Party’s days are very much numbered.

This itself is perhaps the biggest shame of all. Because out of all the Political Parties capable of being in Government with the peculiartities of our Electoral System as they are, it is only from the basis of Conservatism that Policies be delivered which will really be beneficial to and considerate of the needs of all.

May’s abuse of the Party apparatus and their combined attempt to force Local Conservative Associations to herd MP’s into the correct Voting Lobby over her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement now demonstrates how out of touch CCHQ itself is with its own people on the ground.

Without radical change, the Conservative Party no longer has the promise of a shared ideology with its own paid-up supporters, let alone the grassroots conservative-leaning voters who will be essential going forward if they are now to secure seats or victory in any campaign.

When the change comes in No.10, as it now surely must, the Conservative Party must embark immediately upon a process of comprehensive change taht not only supports the structure of a Party capable of winning terms of majority government. But actively engages, encourages and takes with it not only its local association network, but individual members and non paid-up supporters too.

If it doesn’t, the Conservative Party itself as a credible party in either power or opposition is almost certainly doomed.

 

Image thanks to clipartxtras.com

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 1 comment

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.

Read this Blog on your Kindle

Change is what we need; not revolution. And it’s all about getting the basics right…

November 13, 2014 Leave a comment

images-13For all politicians, the opportunity genuinely exists to revise and create new polices which will work for the benefit of all. It’s not an option which is restricted to Ed Milliband and Nigel Farage who both hope to have very different roles in power from May; but one which even the Coalition Government could begin to embrace right now.

Sounds quite a stretch when you think about it though. Tribal politics and the media chasing political circus that Westminster has become, has, after all created a cynical and disenfranchised electorate; one which in the majority experiences little each day, to make it feel that the system actually relates to any of us in any way.

Perhaps without even knowing they do it much of the time, even the most modest members of the political classes somehow succeed in exploiting this very real perception to their benefit, using the media and disingenuous rhetoric they employ to leave individuals and families feeling as if they are themselves alone in going through what for many has become a very trying experience.

It wouldn’t be so bad. But being left feeling guilty because you cannot afford to buy food; to pay bills; to buy clothes; to pay for transport or because you are having some other form of negative experience of life which you really shouldn’t be have in 21st Century democratic Britain is certainly in no way fair.

It is certainly not what you would call right in an age when equality has for a long time been sold to us as a given.

Its not what you expect when successive political generations have told us all that they, and only they, possess the holy grail to putting everyone first.

When you have Government after Government run by people whose only true priority is to gain or retain power, it stands to reason that many people do not see or feel that the electoral system is working for them.

Ignoring elections, or throwing support in the direction of a new Party which is at the very least attempting to sound like it is in touch with the issues that people are facing, then for many becomes an attractive proposition indeed.

Regrettably, such a political environment like the one we are experiencing today provides a wholly fertile seedbed for popular voices advocating seismic change of a kind that would be more akin to opening the Pandora’s box which accompanies public unrest, rather than heralding the arrival of some new and golden age. However well intended, Russell Brand’s recent political outbursts and the publication of his book Revolution are in reality little more than an aspirational touch paper of anarchy – based on the views and interpretations of many other Writers – promoting the release of one terrible genie that any sensible person – however frustrated with the system they might be – really does not want to see let out of it’s bottle.

images-12Overnight change – which is essentially what revolution is, doesn’t usually end well. It is more likely to lead to a situation far worse than most will have experienced before, and one which will probably be a lot harder to change.

We have to work to make what we have better, rather than breaking up the workable framework that already exists; throwing it all in the air and then leaving it all to pure chance to see – and then experience where the unconnected pieces will then all fall.

It is top to bottom reform and change that are essential across public services and all areas of Government Policy, before people are in any way likely to feel they are being treated fairly.

This will not come about by continuing to base arguments and disquiet on wealth or demographic class, and whilst advocates of wealth redistribution may find an audience which is very receptive to the idea that either taxing or simply stripping wealth from the rich, and sharing it out equally amongst the poor may give them all a much better life; this idea is indeed as illusory as the money is itself.

Non-earned wealth will in most cases disappear just as quickly as it arrives – if not through private spending, then through the exponential and inflationary economic changes which would almost certainly accompany the instantaneous arrival of so much personal wealth.

The aim of solving the problems of breadline Britain or the cost of living crisis will no better be served by penalising the potential of high earnings, than it will be by enacting an unsustainable rate for the Minimum or Living Wage.

Such solutions may provide a temporary fix, and give a moment of perceived justice to many. But those with money will soon move away or lose the incentive to keep earning – whether they are companies or individuals; whilst those who have found themselves with more money in the bank at the end of one month, will soon lose it the next when employers and the suppliers of all the goods and services that they think they can now afford put their prices up to support the rises in wages that they have themselves had to pay.

No. Dealing with problems in isolation simply does not and will not work, because by attempting to solve one problem in this way, the process soon leads to the creation of many more – if it doesn’t just make the original one a whole lot worse for those who are experiencing it.

To build a better life for all, getting the basics right is the very first step. It is about reviving, living and promoting a sense of ethical balance and consideration for all.

This will most likely be achieved by ensuring that at the most fundamental level, adults can afford to feed, clothe, and house themselves – and any dependents that they may have – to a minimum and workable standard. A benchmark level which cannot be subjected to the influence of any third party.

Working to address the many issues that require policy changes will not be simple. But Politicians are elected with the expectation that they can deal with complexities on behalf of the people they represent, and if they have taken their election that seriously, this is exactly what they should now do.

The possibilities for solutions are probably endless. But solutions are indeed possible if the needs, benefits and consequences for everyone are considered properly.

If politicians genuinely want to help and provide a level-playing field where there is opportunity for all, why are they not looking at policy areas that have the potential to make an immediate difference. Examples might be:

Releasing the restrictions placed on employers AND employees through Legislation such as the European Working Time Directive: The days when legitimate business thrived on the unbridled exploitation of the working classes have long since passed and we today have some of the most restrictive working practices on the planet. If everyone in the workplace was completely happy, furthering and maintaining the cause of such horrific levels of bureaucracy would make sense. But many people want the opportunity to work beyond the requirements of their contracts of employment, whilst employers would benefit greatly from increased input and flexibility from existing – and often more experienced staff. The real key to ensuring fairness is simply allow workers to do additional work when THEY want to, or just as they have formally agreed. Employers have to be trusted not to embrace unsafe working practices and the nanny state has gone too far in basing industry-wide restrictions on the behaviour of the unscrupulous few, or upon idealistic views of bureaucrats of how business actually works. Imposing business-breaking fines – and being seen to do so, would be a far more effective way of encouraging good working practices and management, rather than allowing officials with no business experience to attempt to direct industry professionals on how they can staff their business.

Stopping the escalation of property prices:The UK is culturally obsessed with property and its financial value in a way that few other Countries are. Prices have continued to inflate at dangerous levels which keeps borrowing artificially high, and makes rental prices equally excessive for entrants to the markets who have to rent, but desperately want the opportunity to own. Government could and arguably should step in to regulate the property industry and introduce policies which keep prices as they realistically can. The potential need for a resetting of property values is very real, and whilst Government behaves as if the answer to all problems is to build, build, build, while prices keep on going up (When do you ever see new developments come on to the market with prices that are lower than the local comparative market?), Politicians are never going to solve the housing problem or the massive drain that property prices has become for young people entering the market. Putting this problem off until tomorrow has long been the way; but tomorrow may already be here!

Working with Utility companies to keep prices manageable: The term ‘utility company’ has been a misnomer since privatisation, when the priority switched from the supply of services that are essentially supposed to be for the public good, to shareholders who will almost always be looking for a profit. No man can serve two masters, and the monopolistic strength of these companies has equipped them with the ability to write their own ticket, whilst ensuring their profits are secure. In the absence of Government regaining ownership, it should nonetheless step in to cap profits, or at the very least buy supplies direct for those who qualify at rates which reflect the wholesale purchasing power that the Government could and arguably should have on our behalf.

Buying services and goods direct from suppliers for those on benefits and low incomes or using smart card technology to deliver just the same: A massive opportunity exists for Government to step in and buy products and services on behalf of those on low-incomes and on benefits. Without the need to provide subsidies, Government could easily realise all the benefits of procuring food, fuel and essential goods as a significant bulk-buyer, just as big companies like supermarkets already do. The immediate concern that would be raised by the implementation processes such as administration, distribution and monitoring could be easily overcome through the use of IT, and whilst we hear horror stories about the stupendous cost of government-wide software implementation projects, the technology already exists to provide such a system through the use of personal smart cards, without big business profiteering, or the end user having to collect goods from anywhere other than the stores that they already use.

Creating a ‘retail’ arm to the Bank of England: Provide full current account services and not-for-profit based lending for pay-day-loans and to support small business – just seeking to return the operating costs for the benefit of everyone.

Lining up what are just a handful of suggestions makes it sound simple. But nobody would have unrealistic expectations for delivery from a Government that communicates with the public using openness, honesty and respect.

People do know that they deserve something better than what they currently have, and the time has come for a kind of Government which actually gets the basics right, rather than just talking about it before the usual grandstanding begins.

Whether income for those on low incomes comes from earnings or in-kind from benefits, there exists a cultural expectation for British Government to ensure a Basic Standard of Living.

Whatever the Political Party in Government might be, it is time for the philosophies, protectionist policies and ideas which benefit only the few to be binned and replaced with delivering something better as the priority for all.

When Government has these basics right, the many dominoes which stand beyond will very quickly begin to fall.

 

 top image – imgarcade.com

Education is currently failing the UK because the system we have in place today is based on the flawed idea that Equality is about sameness. True Equality comes with acceptance of the real differences that exist between us and in giving each and every one of us the best shot possible…

December 17, 2013 1 comment

images (2)Equality is one of the greatest aims for any Country to have, whilst perhaps one of the most misinterpreted and therefore destructive concepts that that the UK has embraced.

Negative forms of discrimination have made many thinkers believe that the solution comes in the form of their positive counterparts. Yet the point has been severely missed that prejudicial forms of discrimination always relate to a form of favouritism or bias as a flipside on the other, and that this inevitable partnership necessarily follows wherever a form of positive discrimination may be used.

Just as racism and colour prejudice, sexism, discrimination against the elderly or disabled have and arguably in some cases continue to been a problem for many, giving special treatment or creating favourable circumstances for specific or what some prefer to call ‘underrepresented groups’ can be equally destructive and in some cases will actually affect many more, through little more than a legitimised form of disadvantage which many are simply too afraid to even talk about.

Social engineering is nothing new. But the silent subjugation which hides beneath the velvet glove of political correctness and an often misguided war for equalities is something entirely different. It now risks the identity of culture which has been at the heart of British life for many generations and which arguably kept us at the forefront of world industry, science and learning well in to the 20th Century.

Of all the parts of life where we should be getting the fight for the equality of opportunity ‘right’, Education is probably the most essential, because of the key role that it plays for individuals, communities, industries and therefore the evolution of our entire culture – en-masse.

But at some point, somebody somewhere confused practicality with idealism. They exchanged the reality that being fair to everyone by giving them the educational opportunities that most fit individual need will give us all the best start in life, with the idealist view that putting everyone in the same environment and using the same forms of education, would somehow lead to everyone turning out the same.

It doesn’t. And the reason it doesn’t is because the only difference that should matter when it comes to education is that whatever the circumstances or how we are physically perceived by others, we are all different and we all learn differently.

So no matter what background we come from; whether we are rich or poor; black or white; male or female; able bodied or disabled, we all accumulate knowledge in different ways and will only achieve the very best that we as individuals can, if diversity within educational opportunities matches the diversity that exists with learning ability and indeed counters the factors which are external to learning but upon which learning and the ability to learn have been for too long so foolishly placed.

Whilst ‘dumbing-down’ or developing an educational standard based upon little more than ‘the lowest common denominator’ fills those who abhor anything even perceptively elitist in nature with complete joy, lowering academic standards for the more-academically-inclined simply reduces the numbers of those who would otherwise excel and therefore contribute differently and arguably more greatly to our society as a whole.

However, the real tragedy in all this is based upon all those who are not academically attuned at school age. Many who are unequipped to rise to such theoretical standard, perhaps because of nothing more than circumstances in their lives. Many, who just need their learning to be more practically and vocationally inclined – perhaps only at that time.

We all lose from the approach that has been adopted, as what is in effect manifest ignorance of those whose ability lies not with their heads but with their hands, is or has created a lost generation which unwittingly and in most cases unwillingly lend themselves to many of the welfare, benefits and crime statistics that so many of us know to be so wrong, but have to accept as being just the way that it is.

The lack of foresight and basic understanding of our fellow man that has led these socialist agendas which have pursued this ideology of everyone being the same, are not only destroying the lives and future chances of individuals who could make a considerable contribution to our society – were they given the fullest opportunity to do so; they are contributing to the creation an entire sub-culture of socially disadvantaged, socially inept and socially immobile people who are blighted by the media propagated caricatures that have been landed upon them by the same libertarian and quixotic idealists who inadvertently put those same people there.

Glorification of celebrity, fame, sensationalism and money have led many of us to forget that the very basic forms of all occupations are about us; about life; about putting food on the table; about being healthy; about being happy; about getting us where we need to go. Our values have somehow gone wrong and we have forgotten that every job or occupation is important and that we should all value them as such for the contribution that they make in our lives and the value that they bring to our society.

The ironies of this saga do not stop there. If we continue to flat-line the contribution that we make to the opportunities we give to the up-and-coming generations in the form of free education, the best opportunities really will be left as the preserve of the financially rich who can arguably afford a tailored level of education for their children which simply becomes unavailable anywhere else. If you are of those who think that Politics is skewed in favour of a privately educated elite right now, look what could soon begin to follow in the not too distant future.

Both socialism and liberalism as they exist are flawed. They are little more than idealistic philosophies that make no allowance for the realities of cause and effect, and if we don’t address this failure to address the need for balance in every aspect of life and policy that Government touches soon, the results simply do not bear thinking about.

The role that education plays in all our lives and how it reaches and extends into all parts of our culture, make it probably the very best place to start in addressing what could easily be called the regressive steps that the drive for ill-considered forms of equality have so far engineered.

Every part of the education system needs reform, which will only be controversial for those who continue to put their own ideas first, above the needs and requirements of others. Perhaps we could:

Reintroduce Grammar Schools in every District: The pathway of education for children to which so many parents aspire, Grammar Schools offer a benchmark in education and discipline that it has become unfashionable to appreciate vocally. This social anathema should be dispelled for the foolishness that it is and the opportunity should exist for all academically able children to gain a place at a Grammar School if they can attain the examination standards required and do not have alternative means to access a like-for-like education.

Reintroduce the 11+: With Numeracy and Literacy Skills at a low point, we simply must return to an acceptable level of basic education at this key age so that children are equipped to engage fully during adolescence in our increasingly information-based age, and employers can be sure that young people can not only understand, but also be understood. (Please follow this link for an insight on the 11+.)

Reintroduce real and vocationally based Apprenticeships at 14: Probably the most vital step that needs to be taken is to recognise that not all children are academically inclined and that the system today is failing too many young people because it has not nurtured them in a way which fits their learning processes. In simple terms, children are usually ‘head or hands’ and therefore more theoretically or practically able in their learning processes. In isolation, neither of these qualities is a sign of intelligence, yet children who simply aren’t academically able to make the best of the school environment are all too often considered disruptive and can of course be an unnecessary distraction for those who are suited to school learning. As we grow older, we can all appreciate how little we knew but how much we thought we knew when we were in our teens and providing a stewarded environment from 14 for young people who are better suited to life outside the academic environment would give them the opportunity to take guided steps into the adult world, whilst earning an appropriate level of pay and giving a staffing option to commerce and industry that could make a significant difference to business. Either subsidising roles or supporting complimentary training courses at Tertiary Colleges could still deliver a saving in real terms, whilst providing an investment in the individual, taking them off the streets, whilst supporting British industry with a potentially parallel vocational route to age 21 that would more than adequately make up in time-served experience and the hands-on accumulation of skills for life what academically biased young people gain via a complete route of full-time education.

Reintroduce National Service: With a break or shorter form of Apprenticeship, those young people taking the vocational route could perhaps choose to finish their training in the Armed Services from 18-21, with the option being there as a requirement to attend for all young people not being in education or Apprenticed vocational training between those ages. Those ‘finishing’ training could bring skills from industry that the armed services need at a time that a pool of such experience could be highly beneficial. Either way and however those young people came to join, there is no question that a military grounding would provide a sense of value and self-worth for people who might otherwise never receive it. Such a pathway could open the door either to an extended military career or to the motivation and direction to move forward and make the best of the other opportunities that are on offer to those who value themselves and what they will inevitably gain to do it.

Return to more challenging forms of Exams at 16 and 18: The earlier part of this Coalition Government saw a series of attempts by Education Secretary Michael Gove to reform exams and return to the former O’ Level and A ‘Level or Baccalaureate standards. It’s a desperate shame that he was prevented from doing so as the realities of the flaws in our Education system would quickly become evident and would perhaps highlight just how severely our children are being failed by a system which is currently geared to treating everyone as if they were exactly the same; a system that is benchmarked for its quality not by aspiration, but by the rule of the lowest common denominator. Life is by its very nature challenging and the exams that we take at 16 and 18 should genuinely represent the milestones that they are, rather than just being something that we do. If degrees are to again have the meaning to industry that they once had, it necessarily follows that these checkpoints of the educational pathway should be high on expectation too.

Restructure the way that Higher Education is funded: The Government cannot afford to fund the number of places within Higher Education that the drive to give everyone a degree has required. The fallout from this has of course been the creation of Tuition Fees which in themselves are creating lifetimes of debt for students who may have been a great deal happier taking other routes to learning. The fragility of funding streams has driven many Higher Education establishments to behave more and more like businesses as their focus moves from providing the best education for students to ensuring the survival of the organisations – and the jobs that they provide. This does not contribute to society on a wider level and the focus needs to return to providing the best Degrees possible and not necessarily the ones that generate the best fees from providing them. Bringing the return of value to pre-University level and parallel vocational forms of education would counter much of this, but as with areas such as the NHS and Local Government, there has to be a recognition of the need for overall change as part of a new bigger and reforming picture. This could realistically mean the loss of University Status or even closure for some institutions. But what was really wrong with polytechnics anyway.

Refocus on exam-based scholarship entry opportunities to all private schools for children whose families would otherwise be unable to afford them: Whilst some would happily see the demise of private schools in much the same way as Grammars have all but disappeared, Private Schools should always have their place, if nothing more than to allow those who can afford to pay the choice to do so. However, such institutions should also be available to children who would thrive with the support of such an environment and the schools themselves should be required to make a certain number of places available through exam-based scholarships each year for children who have the academic ability to meet the standards of each specific school, but would otherwise be held back by lack of financial resources.

Stop bringing the blame-claim-culture into schools and let teachers get on with educating: Parents do have a role to play too and I will not be alone in remembering the absolute horror which our parents would experience upon learning that we had been in trouble or had been reprimanded for being disruptive in school. The balance has changed and there is now an unwritten expectation that all children are perfect and that they can never be at fault. The complaints culture and accompanying insinuation that a complaint is just a step away from a claim is paralysing disciplinary standards with the creation of fear on the part of Teachers to act against unruly children who only 30 years ago would have had a string of detentions or worse from the school, along with a right good rollocking from their parents just as soon as they returned home.

Introduce standard educational apps on all electronic devices which will be used by children: Technology and the influence that it has upon us all is marching ahead at a hellish pace. Children are already using tablet computers before they can do many other things. We are currently missing the opportunity to work with manufacturers and potential sponsors to utilise these devices which immediately make fascinated children a captive audience.  The development of standard apps which can be used to develop reading, language and other skills for the benefit of children and that of the education system which will very soon follow could be immeasurable. There is no doubt that Government should be working closely with manufacturers and Companies such as Google, to develop acclimatised software which is included within the operating platform of the machines at the point of sale and makes the very best of the learning opportunity which is literally presented for them there at hand.

Education by its very nature is supposed to assist the evolution of people, rather than becoming a tool which does little more than help a society to regress. Great ideas will not help all people if they are not developed with the needs of every single person in mind and education is currently failing in the UK because the system we have in place today is based on the flawed idea that Equality is about sameness.

It’s time that we stopped trying to force people to change in ways that they simply cannot be changed; accept the good that exists in the real differences between us, and start giving each and every one of our children and young people their very best shot.

images (31)

Source of top Image unknown

Payday Loans: Profit from misery and the throw back to the age of the Debtors Prison – but this time without brick walls

July 1, 2013 1 comment

payday-loansDesperation, the emotion it brings and the knee-jerk response to any opportunities that might even just temporarily stop the cause of that pain, can lead those of us experiencing it to do what others may consider to be some pretty illogical things.

The prospect of escape at any level can certainly lead to the failure to consider detail that any one of us would normally think about. And when events feel like they have brought our lives to the edge of a precipice and no other answers are coming, would we really care anyway?

The point is being tragically missed in Government that disposable income is falling fast for everyone who is unable to obtain anything beyond standard ‘cost of living’ pay rises; that  ‘standing still’ or ‘treading water’ financially has become all but impossible for a great many people, and that this downward slide is hitting those with the smallest incomes hardest of all.

In some cases, cutting back on luxury items simply isn’t enough to counter the escalation of monthly, weekly and even daily costs which must be met just to survive. Prices on items like fuel for travel, car parking, travel tickets, basic food, clothing, utilities and communication escalate with what feels like jaw-dropping regularity and very few of us other than those charging the fees actually believe that such inflation is genuinely sustainable.

Even those with comparatively good household incomes have cut back and whilst some would argue that reducing the regularity of nights out, buying new clothes or downgrading the annual holiday will hardly make a difference, many of these same people are now using savings or high street credit cards to balance their household books in the hope that things will soon change. But for some of those with less, hope of that kind simply isn’t an option.

Living hand to mouth is a phrase that many will consider an anachronism and borne of a different era. But for many on the lowest incomes, the reality that money is gone as soon as it comes into their hands is very real indeed, so the prospect of ‘a couple of hundred quid to keep things tied over til the end of the month’ coming at you from the TV screen can for many seem a very easy, perhaps timely and almost certainly an attractive way out. But a quick yes followed by the receipt of cash within minutes can easily overshadow the realities of what may be sold as a ‘Payday Loan‘.

With interest charged at a rate of let’s say 1000% calculated as an APR against a loan for a year (per annum or P.A.) of for example £100, the charge without any repayment over one calendar month would be a fee of £83.33. And when you take a quick visit to the internet and see that ‘Representative APR’ or interest rates go up to nearly 6000%, you can see how easy it is to make a difficult situation one which will quickly become completely horrific.

With perhaps as many as one million UK households using Payday Loans each month, you would hope that the Coalition would be doing much more to address the financial issues which everyday people are facing generally. At the very least it would be more than reasonable to expect them to take real action to address what some would argue as being a sanitised form of loan sharking by casting a legislative net across this very dark and murky pool.

But with a Government which has gravely missed the point that real savings in the long term requires the pain of real and meaningful reforms in the short, they also appear to have very little idea how passively influential they are being in guiding ever more people towards the first steps of the negative debt spiral, that in today’s economic climate seems all but impossible for many to then escape. Put simply, no action is action all the same and this action is helping nobody but the loan companies themselves.

There is no simple or isolated solution which will solve this growing problem and protect many more people from the virtual enslavement which is experienced through being the victim of what is arguably a legalised form of crime. However, Government could:

  • Regulate the Payday Loan ‘product’ and enforce a ceiling on interest rates to a manageable level. The fact is that a £25 charge for £100 over a month would still equate to an APR of around 300%. Even at half that if you give generous consideration for what are probably very small administrative costs via the Internet, that still leaves a profit of £125 on every £1000 lent every month or £1500 over the course of a year. Pretty good money even then!
  • Take greater control of the credit assessment processes run by the finance industry which have disqualified many Payday Loan users from gaining mainstream credit and effectively pushed them into the hands of the unscrupulous.
  • Push for mainstream lenders to begin offering the Payday Loan ‘product’. If necessary develop a method to provide a level of guarantee through direct access to the users source of income and Legislate accordingly.
  • Create a Government owned ‘Peoples Bank’, run as a not-for-profit on commercial lines, which has an appropriate level of altruism in its approach to support those who really need it, whether they are domestic users or even small businesses who need the financial leg-up that nobody else seems willing to provide.

There are many more ways that Politicians could help the people in need who Elected them to Office if they really wanted to try.

The biggest step they could take would be to acknowledge that the power of any Government extends way beyond the services that it pays for and then act, knowing that this influence should and must be used to its fullest when the behaviour of any person, group or business is having a negative or detrimental effect on any part of our wider community for no other purpose than making unreasonable levels of profit.

The reality is however that increasing numbers of Taxpayers are now paying for a system which is failing to support them when they need it most, and then paying way beyond the odds for an alternative form of support which isn’t actually supporting any one of them at all.

Without the Coalition even talking about the need for Britain’s lowest wage earners and genuinely-benefit-dependent to be able to maintain a basic standard of living between payments, it is not only finance companies who should be branded for irresponsible practice.

Failing to deal with just this one of so many different problems facing this Country is simply storing up more trouble for yet another day and in all likelihood another Government. And whilst the absence of an overall majority may suit Politicians who don’t have the heart to do their job, everyone else is still suffering.

If you have found and read this blog because you are experiencing financial hardship in any way and are looking for help, please know that there are real people out here who care; who want to help; and that some of them might even be Politicians!

There are some really helpful Charities and Debt Advice Organisations who will do everything that they can to support and guide you through the issues you are facing, or possibly help you to find even more people who can.

A couple worth trying are the Citizens Advice Bureau who may have an office you can visit near your home and the Step Change Debt Charity (Formally the Consumer Credit Counselling Service or CCCS) who can also be called on 0800 138 1111.

If things already feel like they have gone too far to try and make sense of, there are also the Samaritans. Contact any of these Organisations and you will speak to real people who are genuinely there to try to help and are not there to judge you in any way.

image thanks to http://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk 

Until Bankers and those within in the City regain some sense of what is right and wrong, Government must intervene so that the many in the world outside do not continue to suffer because of the profit hungry few left within

March 21, 2013 Leave a comment

images (52)The Banking Sector has become an object of hate for many. The accepted perception is that it equates to a world of greed; that it represents all of the bad things that we associate with money in its worst form and that the Sector is immune from the impact of its own actions; a fact demonstrated only too well when private Banks are bailed out with Public Money and bankers get bonuses even when the businesses under their control are failing.

Recent headlines and the role of bankers in the financial crisis and Libor scandal demonstrate a clear need for real and meaningful reform, even before the impact from the domino-effect of unethical practices is considered upon our lives elsewhere.

With Finance and the role that Banks play being so important within our lives, bankers can no longer consider banking services to be ‘products’, as it has never been a ‘product’ that they are providing.

Services are themselves measured by the direct and indirect impact of customer ‘experience’ and the physical risk to all others, and the Banks must now begin considering this in the same way that any other service industry is by its nature required to do so.

There is nothing truer than the phrase ‘money talks’. But the Banks and Financial Sector have failed to take a long view of their actions and now Government must legislate to provide a Regulatory Framework which allows profitability, but does not do so without consideration of unnecessary impacts and the unacknowledged consequences for businesses and individuals within the wider economy.

Here are a few thoughts:

RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland)

In response to the Banking Collapse, the Government at the time provided money to a number of the well-known Banks to prevent their closure, primarily because of the risk to the money that we all have invested in them.

One of the Banks which was ‘bailed out’ was RBS and this Bank is now effectively ‘public owned’.

Recent talk in the media suggests that the Government is now looking to sell off the Bank. However, with a significant need for a Bank which is not profit, but rather service-led, and can therefore take a more altruistic approach to lending and the provision of the banking services that it provides, Government should now take the opportunity it has to provide a ‘peoples bank’.

By doing so, they can provide the options for everyone that other Banks and Financiers are not prepared to provide such as ‘payday loans’ and higher risk start-up lending without unreasonable levels of interest or surety being required.

This will surely help the economy to progress forward by providing lending and support to small business in a way that other Government-backed schemes simply fail to provide.

A publicly-owned, people-centric bank would provide a cornerstone to people, to business and to Public Services alike when run only with the end-user and sustainability in mind. This is what Britain needs.

Credit Rating Agencies

In a recent blog, I talked about the unrealistic level of influence that Credit Rating Agencies now have upon us all.

Ironically, the UK had its Triple A Rating downgraded soon afterwards and Politicians really must now consider the influence that 3rd parties have in dictating the levels of interest that people pay to borrow from lenders, or indeed if they will be considered ‘credit worthy’ in the first place.

Government lending aside, nobody would sensibly deny that different levels of lending risk exist depending upon the financial history of an individual or business.

But it is often poorly managed lending which contributes to higher risks in the first place and improved regulation must therefore be used to restrict this process.

Through the Bank of England, the Government currently defers the setting of the base interest rate in a way which reflects needs in the wider market. All lending should reflect this rate; be realistic; be proportional and Government should drive Regulation to support this.

Pension Fund Management

Pension Funds are significant Shareholders of well known PLC’s across the Globe.

In the UK, their influence is felt by many of us each and every day through the profits we provide to Companies such as the big Supermarkets and Utility Companies, which is reflected in what few would disagree is a continual and disproportionate rise in the Cost of Living.

Businesses are of course created and managed for profit. But it is not normal for profit to be guaranteed within any business, and neither should the circumstances exist where any business can manipulate a market in order that it can be so.

It is therefore essential that Government Legislate to limit the influence of Pension Funds (owners) on the Management of Businesses which provide essential goods and/or services.

Prices of such goods and services should reflect their true value and not a level of profit that businesses of smaller size and with less influence through market share would not be able to reasonably sustain.

Futures

Buying, selling or speculating on products which do not exist would sound like madness to anyone but those who are actually doing it.

Gambling in its most basic form, futures offer a guaranteed level of income for producers, and the promise of significant profits for those who are prepared to invest in what is little more than thin air over a period of time.

However, they also extend the number of links in each ‘virtual’ supply chain along with the number of businesses or agents looking for a profit. Basic prices for commodities and food are inflated way beyond their true market value as a result and the end-using customer suffers most.

Government must legislate against the misuse of Futures in goods which are essential to daily life such as crops which have not even yet been grown, or energy which has yet even to be created.

Doing so will remove speculation of this type, which always has an adverse affect upon the end users who inevitably pay the most. It will also protect producers and the markets from unforeseen circumstances that nobody can control.

***

As with many other industries, the Finance and Banking Sector has simply lost its way. Growing distance from the customer leaves decision makers without any true master other than profit, and this situation can only get worse if it is left unchecked.

Bankers must ultimately be left to make their own decisions. But until they regain ethics; a sense of what is right and wrong and the responsibility not to abuse their position, Government must lead by example and intervene where necessary so that the many in the world outside Banking do not continue to suffer because of the profit hungry few within.

image thanks to http://www.thisismoney.co.uk

Government is not the same thing as a business, and should never be run like it is one

AU491810_942longThe word ‘business’ conjures up different meanings for different people, depending on their background and of course what exposure they may have had to its use or application.

Most will agree that its use as a term suggests enterprise and methods of working which would sit snugly within a commercial environment. But should this word actually be applied to the modus operandi of any form of Government when the two terms are completely incongruous?

Much is made of the idea that the best people to run Government at any level are those who have a business background. One of the current arguments against the demographic makeup of our MP’s today is the substantial lack of solid business experience possessed by those who lead the Country from Westminster, with the accompanying notion that MP’s who have run or owned businesses of their own would somehow automatically have an almost esoteric level of understanding and midas touch which would solve just about any problem. They wouldn’t; they don’t and they never have.

With years of Local Government experience as both an Elected Member, an Officer and from working within 3rd Sector Organisations alongside, I have also often heard the term ‘business case’, ‘business plan’ and the idea often suggested that Councils are now run ‘like a business’ in meetings.

The problem with this is of course that the political leadership and members of Councils rarely have ‘hands on’ experience of running any kind of business you could draw reasonable parallels with themselves, and when they do, it is often the case that it has been so long since they did so, that any lack of an appreciation that time moves on or that things continually change will soon erode any tangible benefit.

Perhaps worse is the ability that Officers and Civil Servants have been gifted by political demographics and the opportunity to use such terms in plans, which are then taken as read by those who simply don’t know any better as being a true ‘business case’, when such ‘business’ cases could never be any such thing.

Recognising the differences between running a business in its purest sense, and running Government under the delusion that it can be run as business has never been more essential for today’s politicians, because neither Central or Local Government are businesses, and the people running them have to stop believing and behaving like they are.

A business is of course run for the profit of an individual or shareholders. All decisions will normally be made with the form of pay-off that they will receive firmly in mind. It can be expanded or changed to meet the demands of customers as it sees fit, and a business can choose which customers it may wish to target and how much profit it will seek from delivering any particular product or service. Its revenues are never guaranteed.

On the other hand, Government does not run to make profit, but to provide services and support for all those which it has been elected to serve.

Run properly, Government would not actively target any particular group of customers to provide a different quality of service depending on the feedback or profit that it gets from that group, and would work to meet demand for services as best and prudently as it can, well knowing that it has a duty to do so without seeking payment from one customer to pay for the benefits of another, or to irresponsibly borrow money from lenders that it knows it doesn’t have the appropriate levels of revenue to comfortably repay.

However, Government revenues – as long as they remain sensible – will always be guaranteed, and it is with this significant difference that come the even greater levels of responsibility than no one business should ever realistically be able to have.

One of the greatest dangers facing us as a society comes from the fact that politicians at all levels of Government have either failed to recognise these basic differences and therefore maintain them, or have willingly abused their ability to raise revenues to cover badly managed services or implement policies without any due regard to striking the balance for every member of this society or in applying fairness to all, while they have given every thought to political expedience and electability.

The British political system is broken, because it has adopted those very same values of a profit-making business, which are to further the interests of that business. For politicians, this comes in the form of power, whilst they have ignored the basic rule of business as they have done so; the rule which states they must deliver profit to every single one of the shareholders rather than to themselves. Profit in this sense should always be seen as the delivery of the same results for all.

So if our politicians really feel that they have to treat Government like a business, they then must also realise that if they continue to keep raising the fees on the same old products time and again without offering new products and value for money, they will soon price their offerings way beyond the purse of the people who normally pay, and the cash will soon start ceasing to flow.

Government is not run for a financial profit, any more than it should ever be so for the bottom-line benefit of just the ‘staff’.

Whatever their backgrounds, experience and level, politicians must remember that they are the managers; the facilitators; the decision makers; not the beneficiaries themselves – and especially so where the end profit is not even perceptively the same as what it would be for a business.

The time has long since passed when the electorate could continue to live decent lives, whilst those within Government continue to focus on the end result for themselves. Government is not the same thing as a business, and should never be run like it is one.

%d bloggers like this: