Some of my thoughts the day before voting

On top of my mantelpiece my polling card sits where I can see it waiting to be used, I’m glad I’ve got the freedom to vote, but I also feel generally disillusioned with politics. Over the last few weeks I’ve observed and heard trends that are concerning to me.

A few weeks ago I saw one of the main leaders being approached by someone who made their voice heard but the response was atypical of many politicians, the response was the usual script that many leaders adhere to on their campaign trails, I wish the response was more personal and direct, I wish the leader concerned bore in mind the person they were dealing with that they were not just a potential voter but a human being.   It struck me as distant and showed a lack of empathy.  We’ve all heard the same thing trotted out of politicians mouths we just want that politicians to be real not sounding like robots. Yes I completely understand they have to sell their various manifestos, that’s fine when dealing with the media, but when dealing with potential voters, that same tactic shouldn’t be used.  I like politicians to talk to people like they are one of us not above us but as us.  just maybe that’s too much to ask.

My other concern is more troubling its something that erodes are democracy, that’s extremism, sometimes it’s obvious sometimes it’s very subtle and sneaky.  It manifests itself through playing on people’s emotions, such as fear anger or desperation and pain, gives them false hope, they are often sold a vision without any substance, then swept along by emotion and encourage those with strong emotion to take action. Now I don’t see anything wrong with activism  as such but one thing I’ve noticed is they become so narrow in their thinking that anyone who is outside of their bubble is a threat to them and they resort to tactics such as intimidation to deal with that threat, ultimately they will try and shut down any real debate or anyone with a different opinion, which I believe is undemocratic.  I believe everyone has a right to a voice but not at the expense of everyone else’s voice. Minority groups are often targeted by these extreme groups, seemingly giving people the power to get their voices heard over everyone else’s, because they haven’t been heard, yes those who are minority’s should be heard but not be encouraged to go to extreme lengths to make that happen.  Ultimately they will probably lose because whoever shouts the loudest will not necessarily be heard, because they don’t want to listen to anyone else, so completely defeating the purpose.  Nothing wrong with being passionate about what you believe in but not when you become intimidating.

Thank God for secret voting,  I can shut the door on both these concerns as well as the noise of the confusing and muddling media. for as I walk into the peace and quiet of the polling booth tomorrow with my ballot paper, knowing that I can vote with a clear conscience knowing who I’m voting for and why.  I hope others entering the polling station will be able to do the same. I can then walk out with a smile on my face because I’ve used and allowed my democratic freedom to choose for myself without any fear or intimidation or frustration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A satirical look at the last few years of UK politics

As things have been heating up in politics in the land of the British Isles for a while now, there’s never been a more exciting time to be alive and everything happening in Westminster and beyond proving to be of great stimulation not just to my intellectual side of my brain but my satirical one too.  I don’t think the British people have had so much opportunity to visit the polling booths and cast their influence on our government in years.  I wonder how many people have even thought of setting up  a polling station in their own homes particularly in Scotland where the voting addiction began and is set to continue for a few years to come.

Scotland was first to get their people to mark the spot on their ballot papers in 2014 for Independence , the decision to create an ocean between Scotland and Carlisle or maintain their travel links to any English destination.  It’s a wonder whether if they had decided to create an ocean there if they would have the capacity to swim in it, or try and look for lifejackets made by English manufacturers to rescue them.  Now they are trying to find access to the channel tunnel independently without travelling through Kent first to use the channel tunnel but their mentality is probably fly a plane as  it’s a great shortcut even if it places huge strain on the oil reserve.

Next came the general election but there was  some dispute over tv debates, I was starting to feel rather green when Cameron started to find every little excuse to not participate, and it left me feeling a little jaded after a while too.

The general election result surprised everyone including the pollsters who must have been taking hallucinogenic drugs because they obviously seeing some strange colours depicting their results.  Paddy Ashdown must have sold all his hats because I’ve never seen him wear one, I wonder if he ate anything at all after the results came through, maybe he went to live in a stable for a while as theirs plenty of straw to eat there enough for many hats.  Mind you I wouldn’t have wanted him ending up with a messiah complex that would not go down too well with many in the Lib Dems, even if their new leader claims to have some links with the messiah.

I can’t leave the topic of the Messiah out without talking about the next unforeseen event by the psychics.  In September of 2015 came the Labour leadership elections which resulted with out with the seemingly old new into the seemingly new old,  the reincarnation of Michael Foot came to win the leadership context from completely out of the blue or rather the 70’s, with many of his followers who had suddenly found yes you’ve guessed it their new messiah who they had been seeking for, some of the disenfranchised in society who had  never had champagne or never liked the taste of it, were instead swept along or rather rode along on their bikes to see their leader speak of change or rather history repeating itself.  I wonder if that record will break or will it continuously be on repeat who knows. I’m not sure if it will be God save the Queen as Jeremy Corbyn would be left standing in silence for a very long time.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Audience

During the time I’ve been writing my blog, I’ve realised it’s not been entirely easy.  Coming up with ideas is one thing but when to post them and how to write them is another.  Throughout my blog posts one thing that is continuously at the back of my mind which is actually quite crucial is my audience or readership.  Part of my audience who read my blog posts are people that I know including some family members and a few of my friends.  I am conscious of the fact I don’t want to write anything that would cause offence to them particularly if a post may contain stuff with any of them involved or in mind,  it might just be an event which I relate which involves someone who reads my posts, if I relate it incorrectly or inaccurately, it could be deemed inappropriate and I might unwittingly cause offence which could even be due to misinterpretation.

I also have a wider audience of people I don’t know, I don’t know their backgrounds outlooks on life their beliefs or persuasions.  Can I write with them in mind?

Another area where audience is something that rumbles on in the background is in the realm of social media,  in some groups I’m in you don’t know your audience or you may know some, I find that it can be easy to forget that it isn’t just you and a few of your mates reading your posts it’s people from all walks of life, cultures and systems.  With that in mind you find you have to think carefully before you post or comment on a post  because you really don’t know your audience.  Sometimes you see people come out with statements which are purely black and white without any thought to the people reading them.  A thought is stated without much filter.  People feel they can get away with saying what they want  because they don’t see or know their audience, I mean it doesn’t matter, I mean the audience and the person messaging or posting may never meet.  That appears to be the mentality from some I’ve seen.  I’m not saying that anyone who posts comments things in this way are deliberately setting out to upset people or shock people, but maybe a small proportion need the attention of an unfiltered remark to get the acceptance or attention they need.

I’ve also seen this where public speaking is taking place, the person speaking has no thought about how to address their audience, who they are speaking too, for instance I know there have been several occasions where a speaker has made unkind comments about people who live in a particular area of the country and it wasn’t in jest either, fine if that is a comedy event that sets out its about knocking the area your living in, but not in general meetings or conferences.  I sometimes wonder if people who are involved in public speaking in any way are trained to think about their audience.

Filtering is normally necessary in social media, blogging or public speaking or in most forms of communication because by its very nature it’s public.  In private you have the freedom to say what you want, in public that’s a different matter.  Does that mean that we have to censor everything we say, no of course not, it’s purely about thinking about how those who do these things deliver what they are going to say to the audience or readers they are dealing with at the time.  I’m not suggesting here you always have to  walk on eggshells all the time,  but you have to test the temperature of  the people your addressing,before running headlong into saying or writing something that hits between the eyes or ears.  Believe me when I say at times I wish I had applied wisdom to something I’ve either said or written  and thought I wish I hadn’t of said or wrote that.  So first consider whether they would be ready to read or hear that or not, as the old saying goes there’s a time to speak and a time not too.  Remember though that no matter how much thought you put in what you are going to say or write you can’t guarantee that you won’t offend or hurt someone sometimes.  Well with all that in mind and so much to ponder I think it’s time for me to sign off before I write anything that might offend anybody 😀

My intrest in politics

I’ve posted in the about me section of my blog of my interest in politics but only completed one post on the subject.  So I thought it would be a good idea to elaborate on the subject of my interest in politics and that of my approach to it, where it came from.

As a child my Dad and I would watch news and current affairs programmes on the tv and talk about what was being shown,  he wouldn’t sit there and start  educating as such it would go something like this some news item would come up and then he would just respond to something that was being reported and get irate with what he saw and I think I would then ask why, he would then inform me about his opinion related to the topic.  I also remember journeys out when I was older in the car going somewhere or other or when he took me on the seemingly long journey back to school conversations around current affairs, politics, history or religion would come up, as a teenager and adult these would become heated.  But I don’t want to go marching ahead here.

At both my primary and the first secondary school I attended we listened to a programme called in the news which explained news items in a way which children would understand and promote discussion.  I thought this was a great way to introduce children to politics, I used to watch Newsround as well with the other children but it wasn’t as good as in the news or watching programmes with my Dad.

I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s both extremes of the loss Labour 70’s and the super rich 80’s depending on your view of the situation.  I remember particularly the power cuts in the 70’s and  early 80’s of the Thatcher years, the strikes, the Falklands war, newsreaders who were rather serious and the interest in nuclear disarmament.  I didn’t have a particular view on these things at the time,  but knew of them.  The one thing I do remember during that particular period is my dad saying that under the torys the rich get richer and the poorer get poorer.  For some odd reason I always thought he was a tory, strange I would think that as that would not be the kind of comment a tory voter would make.  Maybe it was because we were the sort of family they would want to get their vote my Dad was the sort who believed in aspiration, he worked hard and climbed the career ladder, plus things  he said that led me think he was a tory.  However my mum and nan would talk about the politicians rather than the policies.

As I got into my teens I would still watch the news with the Berlin wall and communism apparently falling, during that time I started hearing people talking about the more left wing side of politics and that continued into my college years.  This was my favourite period.  When I was at college at the beginning of the 90’s I found myself with a group of friends who like my Dad were interested in the kind of things I was, we would sit at lunch times discussing American and European politics and some sharp disagreements would follow, however we were still great friends underneath the debates we were all feeling our way not just in our lives but in our concept of the world and the complex political arenas we were trying to navigate.  I found these conversations stimulating and at times memorable and they were happy memories.

I had various small stints in the public sector completing work experience or short term temporary contracts which gave me a small window of the work of local councils.  As a teenager I took GCSE Economics and both my BTECS were in Business and Finance, in these I came to understand  the government’s influence over the economy.  Interestingly having a faith impacted my political feelings, I would hear discussions that the torys would be the government Christians should want to have in power I suppose because of the security aspect and probably upholding Christian values at the time, equally I heard from the labour Christian left of upholding social justice and the poor etc.  Over the years I would meet spatterings of Lib Dem supporters or equivalent, which I learnt to understand more many years later.

During the mid  to late 90’s It was new labour and I was unemployed. I got involved with a local access group for disabled people which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In 2000, I got a job working for a media business during the years I worked at that company with people having strong political views,  my job involved research I got to find out what kind of things our Government at that time was spending its money on, I was always having to read politically related documents, publications and media, we were supposed to be apolitical which I believe we were, but we did have some trouble getting hold of various government departments to write for us some of it I believe was politically motivated unfortunately.  For instance we often had trouble getting hold of edit from Scotland, so the company had to open an office there, to raise our profile and credibility amongst certain Scottish Ministers.

Just before the torys came back into office the recession hit, which once the conservatives got in, started to have impact on the company I worked for.  Due to public sector cuts, private companies were concerned work would dry up for the them as a result.  The strange thing is much as both sides of the Government argue over spending both sides of the Government HAVE to spend money on public services, so there is always work for private companies.  Now you may think that I’m blaming the Conservatives for the eventual collapse of the company I worked for, but I found the joint impact of a decision by the government and the media to report it had a negative impact on the business I worked for, I think there had been some cuts just before the conservatives came into office, but more pronounced when the torys got back in again if I remember correctly .

So I ended up out of work again my own frustration of having a dual disability and being unemployed and listening to the radio got me interested in politics again, hence I set up a group for visually impaired people to have a voice politically, but it’s not a political organisation rather it’s just a network for information and support for that particular endeavour.

Throughout my life I’ve seen the way politics has weaved in and out of my life in various ways and means.  Although my Dad was the first to get me interested in politics the way he influenced me was more on my approach to politics rather than what he believed.  One thing he said that was helpful and I’ve always took it on board is look at both sides and you will get the truth somewhere in the middle, the more I’ve looked at politics and the things I hear the more that seems true, the extremes concern me, when I look at the extremes of politics its  either full of emotionalism or people who have irrational views that don’t have much grounding and don’t want to hear anything that’s not their point of view.  As one friend said recently the funny thing about extremes is that they change over time.  At one time one view was acceptable now would be considered extreme or vice versa.  My other approach is just to listen and seek to understand where someone comes from, even if their view is vastly different to mine .  To me different political parties have their strengths and weaknesses, this is where for example my contrary nature comes in, who do I really want in power, a government that wants to promote a strong economy where jobs are a plenty and a better standard of living or another that promises to take care of you when you are ill, or another which seeks a more consensual form of democracy.  Ultimately I’ve struggled to vote before because what I may want locally may not be what I want nationally or vice versa.

Ultimately I get tired of politics when words are often the measure of a politicians worth, not their actions, unfortunately that’s what they have to do to get the vote talk their way into a job, I suppose that’s a cynical view but there’s truth there, how can we really judge a politicians worth really, by their words or by their actions, as words can be deceptive but so can actions be misconstrued.  All I know is that I still enjoy listening to the debates on how to deal with difficult issues and vote on who will represent the things I care about the most locally, to watch how politicians respond to unexpected crisis.   To me a leader is only as good as their backbenchers as they have the word on the ground and have the best influence to make change.

To end my rather long post a quote that is valuable about any leader is this by John Maxwell

“People don’t want to know how much you know until they know how much you care”

I think that about sums up my politics.

Independence what does it mean to you? Part 1

Recently I was listening to a woman talking about the issues she was having looking after her husband who has some form of dementia, obviously looking after someone with this illness is difficult at the best of times.  I was listening to her sharing her frustration about her lack of sleep, the fact that her husband keeps waking her up during the night as he keeps getting lost. The following day she ends up tired out, amongst other things she was sharing.  She felt alone, abandoned, at her wits end, frustrated, angry, and most importantly trapped. I am certain her husband feels many of those things too, angry, frustrated, alone, confused and above all trapped.  They are both trapped for different reasons, one for being ill and the other for being in the role of carer.

The thing that came into sharp focus for me is the thing that upsets them both the most, the one they both share  is their loss of independence.

Independence to me is  the ability to do anything without restrictions from others or circumstances. Well this begs a questions. What does independence mean to us? and do we value independence?

Sometime in the first year of my life it was discovered that my life would be different from that of others, my parents discovered I was blind.  This meant some changes which would impact my life for good.  My parents I’m sure wondered how I would get on in the big wide world, what adjustments would need to be made in order for me to live my life as independent as possible yes as independent as possible.

From the day we are born we are learning and are encouraged  to become independent, to gradually learn to navigate our own way in the world, everything from feeding, clothing ourselves, to move around on our own, making important decisions about our future etc.  We are forever progressing towards independence.  But how many of us ever considered that there is a strong possibility that once we gain independence that we can lose it in an instant or gradually and how we would cope if that was lost, how many of us have really faced that possibility.

I’ve been in the position that although I have some form of independence, it is hindered.  I can’t drive so I have to rely on a good transport system and have to plan my journeys more than most, accounting for time allowance, busy periods, cost, engineering works if it’s a train journey.  I can’t go abroad on my own unless it’s to see my relatives, or an expensive travel service, other groups aren’t disability friendly the mobility problems are magnified if I tried to go on my own.  In other words I do have to rely on others, services etc to be truly independent.

Anyway I don’t want to make it sound like my life is terrible it isn’t.  The point is I VALUE the independence and freedom that I have, and I know some people have it worse.

I think that so many people don’t consider what it would mean to lose their independence, they take it for granted, and some particularly dare I say our Government see no problem in removing anything or anyone that helps people who are sick or disabled to live their lives independently.

When people lose their independence I find most people can’t handle it and few really come to terms with it.  They’ve never thought it would happen to them or refused to face the fact it could happen to them.

When my lovely nan was unable to walk into town anymore, she had to rely on my aunt to get her shopping for her and would soon get upset if my aunt got her the wrong things, she couldn’t do her own shopping anymore, she didn’t have the freedom of choice she used to have and her frustration and resentment of not being independent would boil over.

For those who are independent now think about what you are free to do now on your own without having to rely on anyone else, think about what you would do if you lost it.  Finally don’t take your independence for granted you don’t know how long you’ve got it for.

This is looking to become a 4 part series.  The next blog entry will be addressing the irony of independence.  

Two Jobs or one?

Listening to the news last week, I heard that there were MPs in our Government in the UK were taking up  two jobs rather than one. I thought I would write about this as it is a rather interesting subject as it raises many issues and questions.  Here are my thoughts

Why would anyone particularly those on alot of money have more than one job? is it OK for anyone to have more than one job?

Well if someone is on a low income to keep the wolves from the door they may well need to have more than one job, and that’s understandable but it must be exhausting for some. Unfortunately in the UK there are many jobs which have minimal hours.  I know there was a job going for 10 hours a week in a supermarket which I thought was ridiculous but for someone who need another job that would be suitable.

As someone who is currently out of work and has a dual disability one job would be really appreciated, having two too difficult for many reasons, least of all juggling transport.

I’m sure many who are out of work would appreciate having just one job and seeing MPs on such high salaries would beg the question why do they need another job when we don’t have ONE. and having to survive on such a small amount of money too and the MPs are on such huge amounts  of money.

Here’s the problem an MP is most likely to serve a minimum of four years after that its all down to us voters to decide whether they will stay in their job or not.  What would I do if I had a job for the minimum of four years, it’s not necessarily job security is it unless I earn  more years in the job through my constituents votes?  Quite an issue methinks.

There are some MPs who were GPs or nurses or in jobs where regular updates in training is necessary. and some may want to keep that up if they lose their job, and I think that’s fair, it also means they still are not far removed from what’s going on for people in their everyday life, instead of being just an MP where they can become far removed from reality, which I think can happen to MPs once they become ministers.

The trouble is what happens when most of their time is taken up with their other job rather than serving their constituents in the house of commons or surgeries, should they really be an MP?  Labour MP Rachel Reeves MP put it well when she said on BBC Question Time

I think our job is to represent our constituents.  It’s a full time job, that’s what we were elected to do.” .

That’s the point if they are representing us, what are they doing working elsewhere.  If a constituent wants to see an MP and that MP  are away  working on a building site,  are they really serving the public therefore fulfilling their role as an MP?  I don’t think so.

I get that MPs jobs are not secure, but whose is these days.  I get some want to keep up their training and I get that, and equally I understand that some MPs want to show that they are still approachable and continue in jobs where they are still in contact with the general public on a regular basis other than at a  surgery.  But £60,000 a year over a 4 year period is alot of money, particularly if they have spouses/partners too who are also bringing in money.  And for many MPs there will be more opportunities once they leave parliament in all sorts of sectors.   How many times have you heard of an ex minister or MP being offered a job with a huge salary elsewhere.

In conclusion I don’t think MPs should have a second job unless it doesn’t take up alot of time and as long as it doesn’t impact on the work they do for their constituents.  Me being the contrarian person that I am, I suppose you would expect that conclusion, but I think that’s a fair view, you may think differently, so what do you think?