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Young people and rural voters could all be kept happy with solutions to the Foxhunting debate that are already hiding in plain sight

December 25, 2017 Leave a comment

images (5)Like Brexit, Hunting has become an emotive subject which is safest left far away from discussion with people we know little about.

Few of us consciously acknowledge why this really is, and the elements of a solution which has the potential to be one supported by all have become hidden by the polarisation of ideas. The inevitable isolation of facts which follows is seen as an unacceptable compromise for each party as they become ever reluctant to recognise validity in any idea which extends beyond the scope and value set of their own.

The biggest elephant in the room for Hunting, is that no matter what supporters or those against this pastime tell us, the debate has long since been anything to do with either the activities or survival of a fox. Yet the actions of both groups in the debate present a story which is very different. If a resolution that works for all is genuinely to be found, each side and the politicians in between them will have to accept that both sides will have to be far more practical in the way they manage the pathways of their respective idealistic ground.

With the various truths presented as fact by some and interpreted as myth by others, the objective reality of this ‘sport’ is that it has very little to do with being competitive and everything to do with a highly social and lifestyle movement, which to its own detriment has become obsessive about a perceived right to hunt our indigenous wild-dog.

The world has moved on. Very few of us believe that the most efficient way to control any kind of mammalian pest, is to become hierarchically attired, mount a very expensive and well-kept horse and then charge around what is left of the open countryside with forty or more others doing exactly the same. Trundling alongside a pack of perhaps a hundred English Foxhounds who are never as happy as when they are simply out for a very long run.

In the years since the implementation of the ‘hunting ban’ under the tenure of the last Labour Government, Hunts around the Country have been doing surprisingly well without any genuine need to reverse the purpose of the Legislation. Hunt protesters and saboteurs would beg to differ, as foxes can often be disturbed and find themselves at the mercy of a brutal, but nonetheless non-intentional act, and it is at this point that we should perhaps all be minded of the propensity of accidents and the fact that many, many more foxes are likely to be killed on the roads during hunting season, than those uncovered accidentally by any hunt which should happen to gallop past.

Open discussion regarding the experience of death for any human or animal concludes quickly for any rational person, as soon as the presence of any deliberate cause or intent is removed. Like it or not, we cannot control that which cannot be controlled, and seeking to prevent any form of accident would easily bring into question just about everything that we do.

Those against hunting – even in its current form should remember this well and be ever mindful of the progressive leap which has already been achieved. There now needs to be an acceptance that this fieldsport is nothing like what it once was and that any form of resentment based upon perception alone, whilst dressed up as a legitimate debate will help no one.

Hunts and the hunt lobby itself would likewise do well to recognise and accept that killing foxes at any costs by applying the law in its most literal sense is a self-defeating act. Using devices such as large birds of prey to kill foxes they have uncovered, gives the true lie to an unnecessary intention and mindset which itself continues to fuel the antagonistic fervour and physical-activist approach of those against whom they have in some cases become violently opposed.

Hunting in its current form and in the way it really should now evolve, is not just the preserve of the wealthy and the one percent which many now love to hate. It is a lifestyle enjoyed by people from all backgrounds and we are as likely to see a plumber, builder or chef taking part as a rider, as we would a landowner or a London banker out for a day from their country home.

It is time that we recognised that Hunting is not about foxes and can be enjoyed by anyone. The Hunts need to stop attempting to play the rules and accept the spirit of the hunting ban in the manner in which it was implemented. The anti-hunt lobby should accept and recognise that they themselves have no legitimate right to police the activities of any hunt, and that holding a set of different ideas to someone else doesn’t mean that we have no choice but to physically collide.

The Hunting Act desperately needs intelligent and considered reform. There is nothing to be gained from it simply being overturned. The direct and related steps that a government seeking to deliver a revised act that would appropriately consider the rights, welfare and respect for the genuine rule of law for all – including the fox itself, could however include:-

Making it illegal to:

  • Intentionally and/or proactively pursue a fox as, for or as part of a social gathering, either directly with dogs or indirectly with alternative measures such as firearms or birds of prey.
  • Intentionally and/or proactively interfere with the activities of any hunt, its members, supporters or guests so convened as a social gathering

Recognising that:

  • Genuine intent is everything. That accidents do occur and no hunt, officer, member, guest or supporter thereof should ever be held liable for the result of any fox or other mammal being uncovered by a group of hounds during the course of a social hunt

Reviewing the role of the RSPCA:

  • Either restructuring the Governance structure of the Charity’s ‘Council’ to ensure that appointments are democratic and reflective of the impartial and non-political nature of the responsibilities with which the RSPCA has been entrusted
  • Or removing the responsibility and prosecutorial role of the RSPCA altogether, perhaps passing them to local authorities where democratic transparency and professional impartiality would be easier to monitor and define

With the current political environment having made hunting feel almost impossible to discuss, it is little wonder that our embattled Prime Minister is looking to secure votes by being perceived to be considering switching sides. The irony of such a choice is that divisive as Foxhunting may be, the very best solution will be making the effort and winning the arguments which will deliver a less than perfect, but nonetheless beneficial win for all.

Odd as it may seem to many of today’s political class, solutions which work for all of us are always possible, whenever there is a genuine willingness to talk.

 

image thanks to businessinsider.com

 

 

 

‘Out means out’ is the clear message that would give certainty to the Brexit Process

August 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Unspoken words illustrated by actions, almost always speak more loudly than the words which accompany them. The approach which has been taken by Theresa May’s Government towards Brexit is certainly no different.

Management of expectation should be fluent practice for the politicians who have reached the heights of having a seat at the top table in the land. So it would be reasonable to conclude that the jumping off point for the Brexit Negotiations provides us with an accurate picture of the priorities of the Government for delivering our exit process.

Begin-with-the-end-in-mind.

It is of no great surprise that many people are concerned, given that Brexit looks like an unholy mess. One which is playing into the hands of ardent Remainers such as Vince Cable, given that the whole approach to the process has been in many ways portrayed as being about doing the minimum necessary to qualify the UK as no longer being an EU Member.

The current approach could more accurately be framed as over-promising with the quiet or unintended expectation that they will ‘be given no choice’ but to under deliver. The alternative would be the more robust and arguably honest approach of being clear from the start with us all by stating that we are now going to be completely out of European Union Membership once the Article 50 Notice Period is complete, and that anything we gain in our interests thereafter will be a benefit.

What could then accurately be called an under-promise leading to what anyone who sees our true relationship with our European Partners will know will be a significant lessening of expectations in terms of what the Government will then assuredly over-deliver.

While more than a year may now have passed since the EU Referendum with Negotiations in Brussels now appearing to be underway, it is far from too late to adopt this approach.

Yes, giving this level of clarity to the overall message would draw criticism from Remainers who continue to be convinced that they can influence the Negotiation Process to a degree where Brexit would occur in name only. But it would also provide a distinct level of certainty within what for us all will remain a fluid situation for a long time to come, where stepping off now with the worst case scenario providing a basis for our negotiating position going forward being a far more productive place to begin.

To continue managing the public perception of the Brexit process in the way that it is, the Government appears to be either attempting to be all things to all people – which even when well intended is unlikely to work; or is playing the rather dangerous game of planning for the UK to remain technically tied to Membership of the European Union via a relationship which the majority of British people do not want.

Yes, there are very big interests with equally big voices making very loud predictions of doom and gloom, openly threatening to leave the UK if their needs aren’t prioritised.

A perfectly sensible question in response would be to ask them why they are here anyway if the European Market is that much more important than our own.

The reality however, is that these self-serving overtures are really nothing more than a plea to a political class to keep everything which works profitably for those interests basically the very same.

These businesses have had influence and power over Government for a very long time due to the role that money is seen to play in just about everything. Yet in terms of Brexit, Money has now come into direct conflict with democracy and the will of the People. Nobody should be in any doubt about the interests which will benefit most if the UK should in any way now Remain.

The message is clear. Things can never be the same as they were before 23rd June 2016. Obstructive as these other interests may be, they also deserve to receive a clear message from the Government about the direction of travel, so that they can work with their own worst case scenarios. Scenarios which you can be assured will prove to be a lot better when we have formally left the EU, than they would willingly have us all suppose now.

The damage being done daily with the current lacklustre approach in terms of the relationship between Westminster all British People – who have an evolving distrust of the establishment, has the potential to be far reaching, particularly if the Negotiation Process should ultimately result in an avoidable fudge.

Whilst no British voter has knowingly endorsed the process of ‘ever closer union’ which successive British Governments undertook to create an increasingly closer and subservient political union with the EU, it would be utterly foolish for political strategists to believe that they can somehow delay or prevent the distinct and clinical reversal of that unsanctioned action, when the democratic instruction given by the Referendum Vote was very clear.

Of course, any ardent Remainer reading these words can and will pick holes in an argument like this by using their own view of Brexit and the Referendum itself to justify alternative reasoning. Democracy does after all only work for some when they are getting the results that they themselves want.

As a supporter of leaving the European Union from a time long before it ever became politically fashionable to be so, I can nonetheless say that I did not feel comfortable with the polarity delivered by the Referendum Campaign. Yet it has become ridiculous that a follow-up debate about ‘what Brexit will look like’ should then have been allowed to develop by the establishment and then framed as an optional change which can come in a choice of shades, wrapped up as either a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit.

Accepting that we are leaving – as most Political Parties now at least indicate that they do, would sound much more sincere, convincing and less like they were paying mere lip service to this inevitable change if all were to adopt a more definite tone such as ‘out means out’, rather than ‘Brexit means Brexit’. One which not only makes clear but endorses the otherwise universally held understanding that you cannot remain attached and at the same time be genuinely separate or no longer a part of something – as the British Electorate have commanded that we must now be.

In my last blog, I discussed the reality and impact of ideas or ideologies in politics rather than management according to all the facts. Brexit has regrettably come to fall under the same umbrella of ideas. It should be clear that our perspective of the process and creation of policy right at this moment in time and how things will actually work when we arrive at March 2019 will not then be the same as now or at any point thereafter.

The only certainty is that we are leaving and that is why it would be far more productive to talk in terms of the relationship that the UK then aims to have with the EU as being an aspiration, instead of a fixed relationship that we the or they in some way have the power to guarantee.

Acceptance that all sides of UK Politics have something to bring to this debate is essential and must replace the virtue signalling and disingenuous assumption of moral authority adopted by some, who fail to understand the expectations of everyone with views and feelings from outside their own bubbles. Especially so, as they refuse to work with those who do or have an alternative view to their own.

Just as if we were destined to travel to the top of a hill, it would be generally accepted as inevitable that there would be a climb involved in getting there. There may of course be different routes, choices of gradients or even helicopter rides to assist us to ascend. But one way or the other, we know that we will have to have reached the top of the hill itself before we ourselves know and everyone else will fully accept that we have got there.

In terms of our exit from European Union, complete UK Sovereignty is the top of that hill.

Regaining the power for our Westminster Parliament to determine all rules, laws and the obligations under which we live and operate as a Nation must be the red line above which nothing is acceptable in terms of influence from any other European Nation, combination thereof or indeed any foreign power.

To allow this key component of honouring its obligation the British Electorate to appear in some way negotiable – depending upon whether we can secure ‘agreement’ over certain things such as access to the Free Market, the need for a ‘Customs Union’ or the method under which we ‘can’ allow people to move across our Borders – The Government has perhaps unwittingly embarked upon a game of high stakes chess with the sanctity of the democratic relationship between it and the People.

To the Government, to the Opposition and to the other Political Parties with seats in Westminster beyond, it is the agenda of the British people which must be prioritised, first and foremost before any of their own, or indeed the very specific and self-serving interests which all too often support and therefore have influence over them.

All the Government really needs to do is change, make clear and evangelise the core message to one which reflects ‘out means out’ and then the support and understanding of how we can all work with and benefit from Brexit will soon begin to appear.

Whilst the siren calls of public figures such as the Archbishop of Canterbury may suggest that the devil is in the detail, the real challenge for those across Government is to now genuinely commit to the journey. They will then find that the seemingly impossible level of technicalities to consider as part of the Brexit process will be much simpler to decide – even within the significant volumes that they will come.

 

 

 

Keeping it real has become the key ingredient of electoral success and Capitalism vs Socialism is a battle which no longer has meaning

Capitalism vs Socialism 2

If you keep an eye on enough of the different news and commentary outlets, it will have been easy to pick up that one of the latest themes amongst those supporting the Government and Conservative Party, is to talk up the righteousness and benefits of Capitalism in comparison to the Socialist agenda of the Labour Party and the wider ‘progressive’ left, which we can be assured will be making the same arguments somewhere completely in reverse.

The backdrop of a General Election Result which has wrecked the confidence of a Party that thought it was safely assured of probably more than a decade in power has indeed set many injured cats amongst the electoral pigeons. On the other hand, it has also elevated the levels of chutzpah employed across the Left to a level which simply defies the true dynamic of their electoral return, in a race decided by factors which sit way beyond the control or influence of either of the political ideologies that either the Tories or Labour would like us to believe they pin their hats on.

What people were quietly thinking to themselves as they entered the Polling Booths across the UK on the 8th of June will long be debated. But you can rest assured that for most it will not have been either the manifestation of Marxist policies or the benefits from implementing the works of Hayek or Freidman.

No. The ideas that will have meant most to those voters who really made the difference to the fortunes of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn will have been far more aligned with imagining the difference that one Party in power vs the other could make in Pounds and Pence to them on an individual level, rather than upon some high powered economic idea which all of the political parties seem destined to believe will get us all ‘there’.

Whilst it would be a lot less painful to be able to confine these ‘isms’ to being no more than the ideological myths that they perhaps should be – being the ideas and musings of a few ‘great thinkers’ that they actually are, the horrid reality is that the Twentieth Century saw misguided politicians and activists implement nearly all, with benefits to all but the relative few being very hard to find, whether those concerned have become substantially wealthy or alternatively live the life of a despot or their ‘chosen few’ within non-democratic regimes like North Korea as a result.

In itself, the travesty of one set of politicians romanticising over socialism when it has been tried, tested and demonstrated to be the flawed ideal for any wider population that it actually is, whilst another set continue to believe that markets ruled by money will consciously cater for every not-for-profit need of the wider population upon which its rapidly growing financial wealth is almost certainly now farmed, is simply too significant an injustice to put into words.

Yet the bright young things, the think tanks and the party leaderships of all political persuasions remain fixated on the idea that clever, confusing and complicated ideas can always win, never accounting for the reality that ideas are themselves developed on perspectives, which when created looking upon a destination from the benefit of distance are never the same once we have completed the journey to get there.

Socialism, Capitalism and the forms in which they are delivered are all based upon subjective but nonetheless real truths. Truths which are themselves prerequisite in order for any follower or exponent to believe in or more likely identify with in terms of their own life experience, in order for an ‘ism’ to become a ‘movement’ of any kind.

But these specific or myopic truths are far from all encompassing. They do not make allowance for the nuances of change and they certainly do not make account for the rules of (mis)interpretation, which for the roll out of any idea through the process of transformation to their practical form or policy, present a very real and all too often realised form of serious danger.

In uncertain times like those in which we live, the smallest self-serving truth shared between many through the process of group-think can be enough to eclipse the many others which should for us all have far more meaning, and it is here that any ideological fights between right, left and anywhere in-between should really be seen in their true perspective as the journey and outcome that they ultimately are and guarantee to be.

Socialism can only succeed by forcing the masses to behave as if they are all the same, whilst Capitalism relies on allowing the few to believe that they are fundamentally different.

Objectively, neither philosophy or pathway is genuinely truthful and both are for those ‘selling’ them as self-serving in purpose as the other.

The void created by the long absence of original thought in British politics over a number of decades and through Governments constituted by politicians of all sides does not need to be filled by ideas drawn from text books and the bookshelves of old.

Yes, history needs to be fully regarded for ALL of the lessons that it can teach us, and amongst this, the thoughts of the economic ‘giants’ should be gleaned for the value from each and every perspective, whilst we maintain a healthy regard for the fact that in the case of all these widely lauded ideas, individual perspective is exactly what they are.

What all of the political parties can no longer escape – should they genuinely wish to ensure their long-term-electability, is that the war of ideologies has long since been lost. The electorate may indulge ideas when to them there is no possibility of personal cost, but will always look for the policies which are going to make a positive impact upon their own experience of life in the ‘right now’.

Whether it was the European Referendum or the General Election in June of this year, ‘keeping it real’ – whether policy is perceived to be good or bad – has become the key ingredient of contemporary electoral success.

Capitalism can only work for all if it becomes responsible and reflective of consequence, whilst the Socialist ideas which are genuinely on the side of right can only do real good for all if there is an acceptance that idealism has to be kept in practical check and be considerate with the ideas, hopes and fears of each and every individual too.

 

 

 

 

Trident-tongued Theresa……..Maybe?

January 23, 2017 Leave a comment

may-marr-tridentLeading the UK right now is a role that few would be envious of if they took the responsibilities of being our Prime Minister seriously. Even within lucid non-partisan moments, many of us would struggle with the implications of a juggling act which can at its worst require the incumbant to knowingly sacrifice the lives of others in order to deliver a result which is focused upon a much greater good.

As a people, we are culturally and unwittingly trusting of our political leaders. There being some kind of unwritten understanding or expectation that those which have been elevated to the greatest office in the land will have the integrity, set of values and robustness of character to fulfil a role which has been occupied by titans of history such as Winston Churchill.

However, we have also become deeply suspicious of the political elite and quietly look for that moment when the true colours of any new occupant of 10 Downing Street are shown in the open, perhaps confirming our hope-against-hope based fears.

We should make no mistake that leadership does require information to be held back from a wider audience, and sometimes in ways with which we might not automatically agree. But whilst good strategic management might require a government not to tell us everything – even because it might give credence to a counterproductive argument which could have serious implications as a result, it doesn’t necessarily follow that when challenged about such an event, it is ok for a Prime Minister to lie as a result.

The Trident question does indeed have all the hallmarks of Theresa May’s watershed moment. Not because she kept quiet about the June misfire of a £17 Million weapon. But because she has now deliberately ducked the question about the incident when challenged by a respected journalist on National TV.

Some will be jumping up and down, demanding to know why the story didn’t surface in June. But others will appreciate that the vote on Trident renewal which followed soon afterwards in the Commons, would almost certainly have suffered the same fate as the missile had it done so.

Yes, it may well sound like a suitable conclusion in the circumstances. But it would not account for the many successful previous tests of Trident Missiles from our Nuclear Submarine Fleet, the excessive costs of testing them each time we do, nor the fact that as everyone knows, machines of every kind break down or ‘go wrong’ at the most inconvenient times.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but on balance, the Prime Minister was indeed right to sit that incident out, purely on the basis that renewal of the Nuclear Deterrent had been delayed already for far too long, and hollow arguments do not account for the true responsibilities of government – even if they make exceptionally good headlines.

That as they say, should really have been that. Theresa May was fortunate that the story didn’t leak before now and the Government – quite rightly – achieved a good majority vote in Parliament to drive the Trident Renewal Policy forward and ensure that our would-be enemies will continue to have to be minded of our existential threat.

Politics is however a game, and it does as such have rules. Sooner or later, the Trident story was always going to break, and it was inevitable that the way which the Prime Minister handled it would shine a clear light upon the quality of leadership therein.

When Theresa May was challenged not just once, but four times by Andrew Marr on Sunday, an honest and comprehensive response could have easily justified the action of not publicising this now historic event.

Members of the public are much more attuned to the credibility of the baseless arguments that many politicians employ than those MP’s grandstanding to the media might like to think. Yet the public would also have valued an honest and genuine response which demonstrates that the Government and the Politicians who are part of it, thoughtfully but nonetheless respectfully take the burden of quiet responsibility when needed, in order to prevent stupidity and political point-scoring from becoming a tangible risk to the safety of us all.

Instead, Mrs May has now brought the whole process into question and will have to accept that she will be responsible for any whirlwind that comes from the seeds which not in June, but on Sunday morning were almost certainly sewn.

 

image thanks to standard.co.uk

Trump & Farage: The heralds of change, a final warning or an opportunity to put things right?

December 18, 2016 Leave a comment

trump-may-farage

2016 will surely be remembered for the watershed electoral events which have taken place on both sides of the Atlantic. But can we really say for certain just how people will view the impact of these historical moments, perhaps in just a few years time?

Churchill once said that ‘History is written by the victors’. Many of us would agree that such sentiment is true. But a problem arises with our view of 2016 when we look upon the British European Referendum in June and the US General Election in November and try to identify who, or perhaps more accurately what it was that actually won.

Yes, it is easy to look back at recent weeks and conclude that Trump won in the States – even if there does remain a question mark over Clinton’s result in terms of the popular vote. But if we look closer to home and back to what has become known colloquially as ‘Brexit’, such definition is far from easy – if indeed possible at all.

The figurehead whom most would recognise as having been the defining leader or agent of change which led us to ‘Brexit’ is Nigel Farage. However, the reality that key individuals such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove played highly significant parts too, surely attests to the reality that this seminal moment was about far more than the impact of just one person or three, and was in fact about a significant and great many more.

It sounds simple. But people and even the politicians who apparently lead them have a habit of hanging results or actions around the necks of the one person they identify as being responsible for something, rather than recognising the many contributing events, factors and the influence of any number of different people which may have contributed.

Whether the circumstances be good or bad, there simply is no difference. Change must have a face, and therefore a name.

We cannot take away from him the impact that Farage has clearly had on the rise of whatever this evolving collective is that won the European Referendum. It is almost certainly fair to say that the Prime Minister may regret not ennobling him far sooner than she might comfortably think.

However, the face and focal point that Farage has provided this otherwise undecipherable ‘movement’ for change, is also one which has multiple personalities. And it is perhaps this imaginary friend in which a truly diverse, yet massively significant range of choices for both the public and those in power now really lies.

People have responded to Farage because he has spoken with a voice which has sounded different to the political establishment, using language which has made people feel it is ok to have the feelings about the world around them that they do. He has dared speak terms loudly which we have all quietly become afraid to use, and demonstrated that a choice to what a silent majority have been quietly coerced to accept, does in fact exist.

Indeed, Farage and a growing number of key influencers from across the political spectrum are now providing a voice which is in varying ways representative of the anger and frustration which so many people feel.

He has elucidated his message well. However, while they may be late to the game, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and many others in politics are regurgitating a range of these specific truths.

They are doing so simply because the frustration and anger we are now experiencing after years of willful indifference and political neglect are now touching the lives of everyone, whether they would ‘naturally’ vote Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat or UKIP.

But there is a problem with this too. Placing our faith in people who may be seen to be the heralds of change when they do not represent real change itself is very dangerous indeed. Many of these same faces have not only been present, but have also provided a voice for the very establishment which created those difficulties for us in the first place.

It is surely the case that those who are responsible for leading the change that will make our lives better, should fully understand and appreciate the complexity, nature and impact of the problems that must as such be left behind. Otherwise, it might only been seen as natural for them to reject everything associated with the period before, whether good or bad, simply because it represents the time when they didn’t possess the level of power which they have now come to cherish and enjoy.

We only need look at the last Century to recognise the warnings from history of how dark our lives could quickly become under the leadership of people who say much, but are completely out of touch when it comes to the world outside of the bubble that surrounds them.

In the UK, the chances of Farage having his hands on the levers of government do as such seem as remote as the possibility that Theresa May will steer us through the entire Brexit process trouble-free. On the other side of the Atlantic however, Trump may already be placed perfectly well to assume powers which he sees as being perfectly justified to prevent a return to the bad days of old. He does after all have a mandate to do so, based upon all of the truths that have been told – doesn’t he?

Nonetheless, to award Trump and Farage the status of demagogues as some have already tried, would be insulting to the realities and hardships of people that have for too long been openly denied.

Rejection of the status quo is after all no less populist than the election wins that facilitated their legitimate arrival via the policies of governments that came before and led to it.

And so, it is arguably the case that Trump, Farage and May are all riding a wave that they simply do not understand. But it is the direction and the choices that they make next that will decide the fate of all us when this ‘new tide’ really begins to break upon the shore.

The evidence may not look too promising so far, but let us hope that any power or responsibility that these three or any like them who follow will have over us from now onwards, will be exercised with a level of care and consideration which is ultimately beneficial to us all. For it is here that the true opportunity to address the problems which society faces truly lies.

 

images thanks to http://www.businessinsider.com, http://www.independent.co.uk, http://www.thetimes.co.uk

 

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