Category Archives: Politics

Political commentary and junk

2015 General Election

Polling_station_6_may_2010Here’s what I want.

I want a society that protects those who can’t protect themselves.
That supports those who can’t support themselves.
That helps those that can’t help themselves.

No matter the fiscal cost. I want to pay tax so that someone who can’t work can have an acceptable standard of living.

I reject the idea that the country is full of scroungers.

Frankly, I don’t care if there are scroungers, because for every thief there are many, many, thousands of legitimate people in need.

I want a government that ‘interferes’ enough to keep people alive, housed, warm and fed. I want a government that gets the fuck out of my private life.

I want a government that has scientific integrity.

And most of all, I want an NHS that gives the worlds best care to everyone who walks through the door – no matter the cost.

It’s not hard

(Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/25834786@N03/4585036818)

On “Hague: Law-abiding Britons have nothing to fear from GCHQ”

This is the quote,

“Law-abiding” citizens have “nothing to fear” from the British intelligence services, the foreign secretary says.

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22832263

I was going to tweet a response to this but it would have been longer than 140 characters.  I’ve seen some people say ‘why is everyone upset about the surveillance, surely we need to protect ourselves’ or words to that effect.  The view that it’s okay for your own government to spy on you, and in this day and age even Facebook knows what we’re doing.

There problem here is that I’m (ultimately) in control of how much I tell Facebook, for example.  The clearest example I can give of that is I don’t use the check-in feature, and I don’t post on Twitter or Facebook if I’m going to be out of the house for a few days.  I’m not in control of what phone companies decide to pass on to the government about me.

So here’s the real crux.  It’s only okay for your government to spy on you without transparency when they are a) beyond reproach and b) immune to fuck-ups.

However, since governments are made up of people, and a percentage of people will always be corrupt and not above reproach, and another percentage will always fuck-up, it is not okay for the government to collect data on all it’s citizens.  There will always be someone prepared to put themselves and money before your safety, there will always be someone who’s not diligent enough to protect you properly.  We should make sure we don’t, as a country, allow people to simply gather as much intelligence as they like, in the hope that they can take care of it properly.

They can’t.  Innocent people will suffer, because there’s not a year goes by in this country without a miscarriage of justice.

The Politics of the Self vs. the Politics of the Community

I am neither well read1 nor politically active.  My knowledge of history is woeful, my awareness of world events is limited, and frankly, I’m often quite dim.  So you’ll have to excuse my terminology, my words, and my shoddy sentence structure.

I’m tired of listening to what I have decided to call The Politics of the Self.  The current attack on ‘benefit scroungers’, unleashed by a Conservative government to support their austerity measures, is both insulting and depressing in equal measure.  The regular press releases telling us how awesome it’s going to be now that benefits have been capped make me sick.  The idea that people will be encouraged back to work, on the presumption that people are unemployed on a grand scale because it’s financially beneficial, is so flawed it’s laughable.

I’ve known quite a few people who were unemployed, and it’s not financially beneficial.  I know people who can’t work, for whatever reason, and people who want to work, but can’t find any.   Those folk won’t be ‘encouraged into work’ by a cap on the benefits they can claim.  It’s not just benefit scroungers though, it’s the constant attack on publicly provided services that benefit the community and yes, cost the government money.  Health care, social care, housing, transport, all these things cost money; and yet they all benefit the community, support the people who can’t, for whatever reason, support themselves.

The constant war on people taking the piss is pointless.  If you give something to the needy, there will always be people who take it when they don’t need it; there will always be a small percentage of people who abuse the system.  You can’t build the system based on that, you have to build the system based on supporting the people who need support, and then if possible, if you can, you stop the cheats, but you don’t make stopping the cheats the main aim of your policy, otherwise you lose sight of the whole point.

Helping people.

Helping people, who need it, is the duty of those who can.  That’s what I believe.  Because we, humanity, are social.  We live in societies, and we gather, and we look after each other.  The conservatives seem to believe that should be driven by the self, that we should support ourselves and those directly near to us.  But that’s short sighted and too small.  We already, naturally, support those near to us and around us.  We need structures and processes in place to help everyone, no matter how close they are too us, or how well we know them.  The world is too big now to rely on the person next to you being the only person who can help out.

I don’t believe communism works, and I think socialism has an associated stigma, but I do honestly believe that even within a capitalist financial structure you can still deliver socialism and socialist needs.  I pay my taxes, and some days I grumble about it, but I want that money to go to people who need it.  I want my tax to be used to pay for disability benefits, unemployment benefits, social care, the national health service, free medicine, transport, and all the other good stuff that goes along with caring about people you’ve never met, in the hope that one day, they’ll care about you.

Yes, it’s expensive, yes, it means that people have to give up quite a bit of the money they’ve worked hard to earn, but it’s worth it, because it improves the quality of life for everyone, overall.

I’m tired of the politics of self, I want the politics of community.  But I’m worried, I’m worried that none of the political parties in the UK (and by that, I mean only the 3 that count, and one of those is pretty much worthless) really believe in the politics of community.  Labour betrayed me in the last parliament.  They brought in policies which restricted liberty in the UK far beyond anything that was necessary.  They introduced policy that I believe moved us closer to a ‘big brother’ state.  I can’t support that, I won’t support that.

I was glad when Labour lost the last election, glad when many of their restrictive liberty affecting policies were repealed by the coalition.  I didn’t vote them out because of the handling of the financial crisis, I’m not sure anyone would have handled it any better, and it had been brewing for years, but I voted them out because they had forgotten what the politics of community meant.

It meant you could feel safe, but that you were free.  It didn’t mean you should live in fear of your own government in case they wrongfully believed you were involved in some nefarious terrorist activity, and being held in prison without trial for months.

So I worry.  The conservatives clearly believe in the politics of the self.  No publicly funded social care, a private health service that means you get what you pay for, no protection for those who are vulnerable, and no trust that those who claim benefits need them.  A growing cancerous fear that everyone on benefits is a scrounger and that it’s inconceivable that people can be too ill to work.  But I’ll vote them out next time, and I’m sure they’ll be going.  Labour will form a government, and I just hope they’ll remember what it means to believe in community and social care.

I know it’s not an easy balance, I know that if you raise tax then money leaves the country.  I know that if you spend too much you end up in debt that you can never pay back.  I appreciate it’s a delicate balancing act, and one that many countries have gotten wrong in the past few years.  But surely, you have to approach the whole thing with the right mindset first, and if that mindset is that Community matters, Social Care matters, Trusting People to do the right thing matters, then your policies will result in people getting the help and care they need.

Stop worrying about the people who cheat the system.  Catch them, prosecute them, but don’t build your policies around them.  They’re a minority, and they shouldn’t be allowed to cloud how we feel about people who need our help.

  1. unless fantasy and sci-fi count as being well read []

An Open letter to my Labour candidate

Dear Labour Candidate,

I didn’t vote for you in the 2010 General Election.  Previously I have always voted Labour.  I agree in principal with the philosophy of the Labour party and disagree fundamentally with the philosophy of the Conservatives.  However, over the last few years the Labour party has consistently brought in laws in specific areas which I can not support.  Those laws outweigh the good that the party can and has done.  I hate the idea of a Conservative government, but if I voted Labour it would have given you a mandate to continue eroding my rights and my privacy.  I can’t give you that mandate, you have to understand that the decisions your party has taken over the last few years in areas such as terrorism law, digital and copyright law, privacy and data retention laws are abhorrent to me.

This isn’t about the recession.  Nor is it about Brown.

The worst outcome for me would be a Conservative government and a Labour party who thinks the reason they lost was Brown.  It’s not Brown, it’s not the expenses scandal, it’s not finance.

It’s my personal freedom, my liberty, my privacy.  You have eroded my rights and I’m prepared to live with the Conservatives for four or five years to make you see that.

Expenses

So, the British Government are under heavy scrutiny due to apparent abuse of their expenses system.  I don’t want to write loads about it, I just want to say two things.  Firstly, there are always people who take the piss, there are people who make mistakes and there are people who do ‘what everyone else does’ because well, that’s what you do.  So I don’t think all the MP’s were corrupt, or that they were all intentionally defrauding the country using a system with badly defined rules to get away with theft, as some people do.

Clare Short has this to say (here),

She told the BBC she had switched from an interest-only to a repayment mortgage and had continued to send bills to the fees office – but had repaid the money when the error was pointed out in 2006.

I accept that.  I believe she’s being honest.  I work in a large organisation where this kind of thing is probably pretty common.  Confusing rules, mistakes, people paying things back.  But here’s the kicker, and the second thing I want to say.

Clare Short may not have been abusing the system, Clare Short may have made a real mistake, and may have rectified it.  Many MP’s probably did.  But those same MP’s knew their colleagues were fleecing the system.  They knew their colleagues were claiming stuff that didn’t add up.  They knew the system was too easy to abuse.  They may not have personally abused the system – but they didn’t make any obvious, real attempt to stop others doing so.

As a result, the entire establishment is at fault.  It should shut up, stop whinging and deal with the issue at the root.

Proposition 8 may not last

The language is a little confusing, but there may be some light at the end of the tunnel for people protesting against proposition 8.

From UPI,

It’s unfortunate, obviously, but it’s not the end,” Schwarzenegger told CNN. “I think that we will again maybe undo that, if the court is willing to do that, and then move forward from there and again lead in that area.

Ah America, shame on you

Well, not all of you, but anyone who voted for this,

California has voted to ban gay marriages only months after the practice was legalised, in a move which left thousands of homosexual couples stranded in a legal limbo.

The proposal to limit marriage to members of the opposite sex was approved by 52.1 percent of voters, compared with 47.9 percent who voted against, with 95 per cent of votes counted.

Obama did it, America did it.

Well, they elected a president with vision, intelligence and some respect in the rest of the world.  I hope it works out for us all.

American bloggers are writing “remember where you were when Obama was elected”, well, it should be easy for me.  I was in bed.

Good luck Obama, hopefully this is the start of eight years of not randomly invading places because it seems like a good idea at the time.