10 articles Tag politics

Jeremy Corbyn – A New Hope

Yeah, okay, so the title of this post seems rather Star Wars related and I won’t deny that this meme had more than a little bit to do with it:

Obi Wan Corbyn

Aside from mildly amusing internet memes though, there does seem to be an air of jubilance and hope surrounding Jeremy Corbyn’s appointment as the leader of the Labour Party. In fact, whilst sitting here on Saturday morning with my daughters, waiting for the announcement to come in, I must admit that I shed a tear when the results were finally revealed. I had to explain to Sausage that my tears were tears of joy (BB was mostly okay…she gave me a hug and then carried on bombing around shouting “CHIPS” at the top of her voice). For the first time in years, I feel hopeful.

I have to admit, I was an Ed Milliband supporter when he was leader. I felt that he was the closest thing to socialism that we’d seen in years and felt that his values matched mine…almost. However, when I first started reading about Corbyn, back when he was struggling to get enough nominations to even run for leader of the Labour party, I felt like my eyes were opened. Ed may have had his heart in the right place, but his version of socialism was down-right wishy-washy compared to Our Jez.

Many of my friends, people I respect greatly, after the general election commented that there was no point voting either way because there was so little difference between what the big parties were offering. Now, that is no longer the case and it feels like we genuinely have a CHOICE. We can choose austerity, big business, decimation of public services.

OR.

Or we can choose ‘Corbynomics’. (God, I hate that phrase. I hate how the Tory rags are STILL using it to denigrate Corbyn despite the fact that the vast majority of those in the know agree that it’s sound economic policy and that, actually, AUSTERITY DOESN’T WORK.)

We can choose to have an NHS which doesn’t want to charge us at the point of delivery.

We can choose the possibility of an education for our children which won’t leave them in crippling debt.

We can choose the chance to live in housing which won’t be astronomically expensive.

We can choose to say “NO” to exorbitant energy prices.

We can choose to live in a country where mental health is taken seriously.

We can choose to say “NO” to prioritising nuclear weapons above education, health and housing.

We can choose to tell the likes of Amazon and other wealthy global companies that they MUST pay their taxes.

We can choose a leader who will put a halt to what can only be described as “economic cleansing” by making rents and house prices in London so high.

We can choose to tell our kids that The Arts aren’t only the privilege of the wealthy.

We can choose a leader who won’t take us blindly into wars-for-profit which will benefit no-one but his mates.

Above all else, we can choose to make a move towards a kinder society.

So that’s why I shed a tear. Because the thought of a future like that for my kids, my family and my friends is something worthy of tears of joy. The Tories are running scared, that much is obvious from the horrible smear tactics that they’ve employed in the past few days. The right-wing press seems to have lost its damn mind, printing stories and headlines which look like they’ve been copied and pasted straight from The Onion. It seems obvious to me that they’re pooing their pants.

There may be 5 years until the next election, but those are 5 years in which we can feel hopeful about a brighter future.

Since the General Election, I’ve been feeling pretty disillusioned by what I perceived as a societal move towards cruelty. However, this has buoyed me immeasurably. I’m going to leave you with a quote which says it far more succinctly than I can:

 

“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Dear So and So…The Political Edition

General-Election-2015My friend Mich over at Mummy From the Heart has recently taken over the Dear So and So linky, where people write open letters on their blogs and link them up with everyone else who’s joined in. Obviously, this is a big week in terms of British politics and although I’ve been refraining from blogging about it too much up until now, I’ve got a few things I’d like to say…

Dear Voting Public, 

It’s been 5 years since we all had the opportunity to have a say in who’d be running the country and I think the majority of us, if we’re being honest, can all agree that we made a mistake. Against my better judgement, I voted Lib Dem last time, sick of the Blair “New Labour” agenda. There was no way I’d be voting Conservative, but I thought I’d try the other lot for a change. I’ll hold my hands up and say that I, in part, was responsible for the terrible cock-up that has been the last 5 years.

The NHS is in a worse state than ever. More publicly run companies have been privatized. The poorest and most underprivileged amongst us have been hit the hardest, which is absolutely typical of a Tory government and they’re absolutely unapologetic about it, planning even deeper cuts if they get in for a further term.

We have a chance to do something about it. I don’t care if you vote for Labour, Green…The Monster Raving Loony Party if needs be, but I don’t think I can cope with another 5 years of right-wing rule. Do me a favour; do the right thing.

Thanks,

Jayne

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Dear Non-Voters,

GET YOUR ARSES TO A POLLING STATION. There is absolutely NO excuse for you to not vote and your apathy is what left us with the wishy-washy coalition last time. People have LITERALLY died for your right to vote and for you ignore your obligation just because you “can’t be bothered” is disgusting. Not knowing who to vote for is also not an excuse – if you can read, you can have a look at the manifestos. Decide which one speaks to you the most and VOTE FOR THAT PERSON.

Yours,

Annoyed of Southend

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Dear Ed Milliband, 

Please don’t let me down. I have great faith in you, I respect your policies and feel that you’d be the best thing for our country at the moment. I know your hands will be tied and that not everything you’ve pledged to do will be possible within five years. I know there’s red tape to get through. I know there’s a room full of ancient, out of touch Lords who have to have their say before things get done. 

You have a huge opportunity to change the way this country is run and to undo all of the damage that’s been done by The Coalition. You have the opportunity to reduce the burden on the millions of families who are overstretched and underpaid. You have the opportunity to restore some dignity and peace of mind to the disabled people of Britain who’ve been forced back into work despite obvious unsuitability. You have the opportunity to make Britain great again by restoring the socialist values which have underpinned much of our society and stop us from rolling headlong into the consumer, capitalist driven heartlessness which has reared its ugly head. 

I have faith in you. Don’t let me down. 

Yours Faithfully, 

Hopeful of Southend.

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Dear UKIP voters,

I have to admit, you’ve unsettled me. I’m genuinely scared of the momentum that UKIP has gained in recent years and feel hugely disheartened by the thought of raising my daughters in a country which is being governed by a party who bases its policies on fear and hatred. If you’ve a modicum of intelligence and the ability to Google, you can quite easily see that the vast majority of the statistics they use for their scare tactics are highly manipulated and inaccurate.

I know that many of you felt that a vote for UKIP was a protest vote against the “main three”, but please, consider a vote for Green or someone else as your protest, if you’re that way inclined. Even spoiling your ballot would be better, just make sure you get yourself to a polling station and refuse to be manipulated into thinking that “immigrants are the enemy”.

Yours in hope,

Concerned of Southend.

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Do you have an open letter you’d like to write? Please link up with Dear So and So… over at Mummy From the Heart and also read the rest of the posts over there. 

Has the Coalition Government Betrayed the Elderly?

Brought to you by Stannah Stairlifts

The care of our elderly citizens has been a popular news topic for some time now and the most recent reports are beginning to throw accusations at those responsible for allocating state-funded care to those most in need. Going under fire for betraying the elderly on earlier promises, the coalition government has come under great scrutiny lately – but are they really guilty?

Broken promises

According to a report on The Daily Telegraph, thousands of pensioners will be forced to sell their homes despite being promised that this wouldn’t happen. The scandal first gathered pace when it was announced that the government’s flagship scheme to stop old people having to sell their property while they’re paying for care at a residential home or in their own property would be means-tested.

The Government claims that this will improve prospects for the elderly so that they’re not facing unlimited care costs or being forced to part with their homes but other authorities have different opinions. They have claimed that thousands of pensioners could be put at risk but not qualifying for the scheme under the new means-test.

This would mean they would have to run down the value of their personal possessions and savings until it reached a figure lower than £23,250 at which point they would then qualify for the scheme.

Funding care

For those wondering what all the fuss is about, the crux of the issue lies with the cost of care. This has been rising for some time now, leaving older individuals struggling to cope with the bills. This led the Government to introduce a cap of £72,000 for the amount of money anyone should spend on their care over their lifetime with new rules on who can qualify for benefits and state-funded support.

The idea was that those who faced the idea of selling their homes to afford care would be able to talk to their local council and have their care bills settled via a long-term loan which was repaid from their estate so that they weren’t forced to relocate.

The means-test was introduced as a way to ensure that local councils were able to support this move financially but it is unlikely the battle will end here. With elections on the cards for parliament, social care is expected to be a big bargaining tool when different parties but their arguments forward. The coalition has already introduced a new model for elderly care payments with labour indicating that they are devising their own plans.

For those who rely on this care on a day to day basis, whether it be in the form of entering residential homes or adapting their own property with reconditioned stair lifts, this news is well worth monitoring. Checking eligibility for any additional financial aid or funding is vital if you need to pay out for regular care costs and the most important thing to remember is that the quality of service should not be sacrificed due to financial constraints.

Do Artists Need to be Poor to be Relevant?

Banksy

On our way to Liverpool on Friday, Husband and I were having a bit of a music sesh in the car, playing lots of CDs and going through some albums that we haven’t listened to in a while. We’re both massive fans of The Streets and one of the albums that got a play was Mike Skinner’s first, Original Pirate Material. I said to Husband that it would be on my all-time top ten albums list and he agreed, but we went on to discuss how Mike’s later projects didn’t have nearly as much of an impact as his first.

We decided it was because, when Mr. Skinner made his first album, he was young and ‘real’ – he didn’t have a lot of money, he was just an average lad making his way in the world and writing about his experiences. When you listen to his music is has a reality to it, a grittiness that makes it so unique. Our hypothesis about the subsequent albums is that as his success spiralled, he took a step away from the normality of his life and it made his writing less relevant to normal people and the audience with whom his previous work had resonated so deeply.

It reminded me of a conversation that I had with two of Husband’s cousins a couple of Christmasses ago. The conversation had got onto Banksy, the infamous yet anonymous street artist and political commentator who has taken the world by storm in the last few years. At the time, another ‘outing’ had happened where someone had claimed to the press that Banksy was not, in fact, a normal bloke from Bath who’d worked his way up in the street-art subculture, but was actually privately educated and from a wealthy background.

Both of Husband’s cousins were disgusted that he was potentially middle class and almost seemed to feel betrayed by his apparent class status. I asked them both at the time if artists needed to be poor to be subversive, especially given that a lot of Banksy’s art is so political, but they couldn’t quite come to a conclusion as to why it was unsuitable for someone of means to be commenting on politics in such an ‘urban’ way. And if Banksy was a rich boy, was his social commentary less authentic, because he lacked first-hand experience?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m by NO means advocating the middle and upper classes, I’m a working class girl from a background of union members and hard-grafters, but I do find it interesting that there seems to be a correlation between how people view certain artists and the class that those artists would most identify with. I looked back through the ages too, and it’s not just a recent phenomena – Picasso is one of the most divisive artists in history, but I’ve heard many an anecdote about him having to burn some of his early canvasses just to stay warm, during times of abject poverty when he couldn’t afford wood for his fire. Van Gogh died without a penny to his namem having never found fame during his life, only to be one of the most celebrated impressionists of modern times.

It’s not just artists either – Jimi Hendrix, Ringo Starr, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley all came from poverty and I can’t help but wonder if their individual impacts on the music world would have been so great had they been born middle or upper class? If they’d have had the edge and drive that they needed to become superstars? Sure, there are plenty of actors, artists, comedians and musician (especially in The UK) who were afforded the privilege of money and good education,  but I find it interesting how much more respect people are given when they appear to have ‘come from nothing’, and how the relevance of their music is increased by it.

So, how about you? Would you be disappointed to find out that Banksy was from a rich family? Would it make you think less of his art, or is the message the same regardless of what he came from? Does a person’s origins give them more of a right to comment on society, and does poverty make that opinion more authentic?

Let me know, I’m really interested in your opinion!

BritMums Blogging Carnival – Current Affairs

Today, I have the esteemed honour of hosting the BritMums Blogging Carnival, a round up of all of the posts that fit my chosen theme, which is ‘Current Affairs’. If you’re a regular reader of Mum’s the Word, you’ll know that I love nothing more than to ride the highest of horses, sharing my opinions on just about everything in the loudest of voices, so I thought it was probably time to turn the tables and see what everyone else has to say about what’s going on in the world at the moment.

So, to kick off, ‘Orli, Just Breathe‘ tells us all about what it’s like to live in Gibraltar. The British Overseas Territory has been in the news a lot of late, owing to the dispute over the British Government attempting to create an artificial reef just offshore, while the Spanish government claim that it’s actually an attempt to thwart Spanish fishing efforts, but Orli gives an insight into what real life in Gib is actually like, behind the headlines.

If you watched this BritMums Hangout before the birth of the Royal Baby, you’ll know that I’m not exactly a Royalist, and this post from ‘Over There to Here‘ is a brilliant example of how the Royal Family is still stuck in the dark ages, with its attempt at placation when it comes to sexism.

Back on a more family-oriented note, Bod for Tea wondered last week if children of these modern times are losing their imaginations, and whether outdoor play would encourage them to use their creativity a bit more. It’s an interesting point that I’ve talked about myself in the past, and it’s good to know it’s an issue that’s being considered on a wider scale.

This next post by Single Mother Ahoy! is one that I absolutely loved when I read it. I must confess to having been guilty of tweeting the odd picture of unusual names that featured on a Coke bottle, but only because my awkward spelling of ‘Jayne’ means that I never get my name on anything and am insanely jealous! This post exposes the kind of parochial, sanctioned racism in the best way possible.

One recurring current affairs hot-button is social media and technology, especially children’s usage of either, and Emma and Three is questioning “how much is too much?”. In a refreshing twist, she acknowledges that social media and technology are as much of an addiction for her as they are for kids.

Jenny is tackling health issues, over on Cheetahs in their Shoes, specifically how difficult it can be to get a diagnosis for a rare condition, and how that process can be made even more difficult when the NHS is stretched almost to breaking point because of budget cuts and staffing issues.

Ellen at In a Bun Dance is entertaining with a humorous post about David Cameron and his waxed chest, which may be funny but makes a very serious point with which I wholly agree. Should the private lives of public figures be aired for all to see? You may say a strident ‘NO!’ but as Ellen so eloquently demonstrates, it’s not always that simple.

Domestic abuse has been all over the news recently, after the whole world saw Charles Saatchi’s very public assault on his wife, Nigella Lawson, but perhaps the scariest thing has been the public reaction to the incident, which ranged from the right and proper ‘outrage’ to downright flakiness. Lexicon Lane puts an excellent perspective on it all.

There’s been an influx of ‘shock’ journalism lately, mostly by women associated with the Daily Fail who don’t care who they hurt as long as they make headlines, and Autism Mumma tells us why Liz Jones’ latest fountain of bile is a step too far.

Finally, Five’s a Fellowship has been giving an honest and insightful update on her anxiety and depression and showing how, while there can be down-sides to anti-depressants, it is sometimes possible for people to regain balance when opting to go down the medicinal route. Given that it’s estimated that one in 4 Britons sufferes from some form of depression, I hope this post can help a lot of people.

So there you have it, my pick of the bunch! If you know of any other posts that you’d like to share, on a Current Affairs theme, do leave a link in the comments below.

BritMums - Leading the Conversation

Lest We Forget

As with most people, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love how it can spark and nurture debate and communication, I love how it can bring people together and I love how easy it is to find a friend when you need it most, long nights with colicky babies or times when you just need to click the ‘like’ button to know you aren’t the only one and someone out there does relate.

I don’t know if it’s just indicative of the way the world is at the moment, or maybe it’s just because of who I choose to follow, but my timeline has become a lot more politcised of late. I see a lot of meme-style photos and captions which make a point in a funny way and I share a lot of them too as I think other people will appreciate them. The cost in doing this is that everyone has the right to share and not everyone shares my politics, so there’s an element of tolerance all-round (unless you just hide people…).

In the last week, since the death of Margaret Thatcher, Facebook has been awash with hyperbole and opinion from all sides of the debate, but I’ve noticed a growing number of people using the “You weren’t even alive” argument with regards to other people’s opinion on her. I know I’m probably going to upset people I know by saying this, but I’m aghast at this attitude.

At the risk of going all Godwin’s Law on your asses, you have an opinion on Hitler, right? Were you born after 30th April 1945? I know using Hitler as an example is real ‘lowest common denominator’ stuff, but he’s as good an historical figure as any to use to make a point.

I thought that the point of teaching history was to observe and learn from the past? Do we now just teach things to kids and expect them to have no opinion on them? Fine, the people in your timeline weren’t standing on the picket lines with the miners, they weren’t the first in the dole queue and they may not have punched a copper in the poll tax riots, but if the passing of the most divisive British political figure is what it takes to make people give a shit, shouldn’t this be commended?

As a person in their late twenties, I like to think that I’m not SO far off the planet in terms of ‘the kids of today’, and I can say that I genuinely worry about the disenfranchised generations that are bringing up the ranks behind me. The majority of them may never vote because they feel that NO political party understands them or has their interests at heart. What these young people need is something to make them realise that a change needs to be made. They need to be able to look at our history and feel passionate about something and while it may seem like bandwagon-jumping to people in their 40’s and 50’s, these are important times and things could be headed right back to where they were in the 80’s, unless we do something about it.

The phrase ‘Lest We Forget’ comes from the poem ‘Recessional’ by Rudyard Kipling and is generally used in reference to the soliders who were lost during the First World War, urging younger generations to remember the sacrifice made by these brave men and women, but it is something that should be applied here too. The sentiment is the same; learn from the mistakes of others and be grateful for sacrifices made on your behalf.

So, just for the record, I was born in 1984. I wasn’t politically conscious when Thatcher was in power but I sure as hell have an opinion on it, and of that you should be glad.

Modern Britain?

I was nosing around Husband’s desk last week and I found, as I often do, a scrap of paper with a doodle on it. I always love his doodles but I thought this one was very poignant, given the current political climate, and has a huge heap of cynicism to it.

(excuse the slightly blurry photo, I had the HDR setting on my phone and must have moved at the last second!)

Changing Our Political Options

It seems appropriate that I should be writing about politics on the day after we heard news about Margaret Thatcher dying, but this is a post I’ve been planning for a while, so the timing is coincidental.

What I want to talk about today are options.

I’ve been old enough to vote for 10 years now, but my political education began at a much younger age. I grew up in a staunchly left-wing family, a family of Trade Unionists, working class people who survived a Conservative regime which promised to ruin them. As far as my family were concerned, the UK wasn’t a two-party democracy as it would have been totally out of the question to vote for anyone but Labour.

As an adult I’ve had the opportunity to vote in two General Elections, one in 2005 and one in 2010. In 2005, I placed a family-influenced vote and helped Tony Blair get a second term as Prime Minister and then watched as the country got handed over to Gordon Brown. The less said about that, the better.

I didn’t place this vote because I knew about Labour’s policies, I placed it because that’s what I’d been taught. My vote automatically went with Labour and anything else was out of the question. I was 21, young, free and single and had no real interest in what was going on in the country, so long as the price of clothes, Benefit mascara and petrol didn’t go up by too much.

The General Election of 2010 met a completely different Jayne. By then, I was 26, a married mother of a two-year-old, renting a house and things like Tax Credits and funding for Education were suddenly a concern for me. I, like MANY people, was sick of the two-horse race and thought that a third party should be given a go, so my vote went to the Lib Dems.

Three years into this coalition Government and I imagine that most Lib Dem voters from 2010 are feeling rather like their fingers got burned. Instead of the Nick Clegg we wanted, we’ve ended up with a snivelling Tory lackey and one of the most shocking attacks on the working classes that we’ve seen in modern times. It’s no surprise, given his systematic dismantelling of public services, that Dave Cam is a huge fan of Maggie. I’ve been left feeling bitterly disillusioned by all concerned.

But here’s what I’ve realised; there ARE other parties.

Until 2010, we hadn’t had a party in power which wasn’t either Labour or Conservative for almost 100 years, which incidentally was another Con/Lib coalition government, but as long as we continue to regard the Big Two and the Main Straggler as the only two and a half parties worth getting our votes, the country will NEVER change. We need to alter the way we think and stop letting ourselves be led up the garden path by people who don’t care about us.

The three main parties have had their chance to prove themselves as worthy leaders, a task at which they seem to have consitently failed over the last few decades, and our cynicism at other parties not having the chops to run the country are quite frankly laughable, given the dross we’re still voting in, election after election.

The Green Party will be getting my vote next time. Having taken the time to give their policies a proper read, I think that they best represent my values and what I want for my family and our future.

This isn’t me telling you do vote for the Green Party, this is me telling you to investigate your options. Voting isn’t just putting a cross in a box, it’s about what is going to happen to us for a minimum of four years, and for me that merits a bit of thought and consideration. I know we’re stuck with the current bumbling halfwits for another two years, but educating yourself now might mean that you don’t walk into a booth in 2015 and just put your cross next to any old primary colour.

I’ve attached a copy of the short version of the Green Party policies below for you to read or download if you want to.

Green Party Manifesto

Silent Sunday – The Democracy Edition

Race Relations

I’d like to start by saying that although in the past I’ve written about some controversial subjects, I tend to stay away from the biggies because blogs can so often be taken out of context and come back to bite us on the arse. Subjects like sexism, homophobia or racism are always going to be emotive and I don’t expect to unite the world with one little blog post. However, I’ve become more aware of, and more shocked by, the levels of racism that seems to have become acceptable in so-called civilised society, amongst well-educated and usually moderate people.

I’m by no means a naive person, I know racism exists in all walks of life and have written previously about idiots like the English Defence League. Before I go on, I’d like to say that I do believe that racism is subjective and because of certain liberal values, political correctness has gone a bit mental. I remember a few years ago my friends’ Mum, who is a social worker, came home and told us that they’d been given a new language directive at work and they were no longer allowed to use the expression ‘mixed race’, and that they must now say ‘dual-heritage’. This seems rather an excessive way to go around the issue of ‘what to call someone’ to me, but I don’t make the rules.

But I think i was first made aware of “middle-class racism” when the furore over Rastamouse started. I saw several people complain about the use of patois in a children’s programme, bloggers and tweeters up in arms that their children would turn into thieves and layabouts. Aside from being a massive, glaring generalisation of an entire culture of people, their short-sightedness floored me. Surely, learning other accents and cultures enriches the lives of our children?

Since the riots, I’ve seen a shocking amount of Facebook statuses and Tweets, talking about how immigrants and people of non-British ethnicity were “99% responsible for the riots” and was shocked when my best friend (who is of Nigerian heritage) went on Facebook to say just how disappointed she was that no less than seven of her online friends had been making racist comments about the riots and surrounding events. I don’t want to get into a row about the cause of the riots or the politics surrounding it, but I know this; I watched HOURS of live news footage of those riots and I saw just as many white faces, or mixed race faces (you know, those people who are still HALF WHITE) in those crowds as I did black, asian or a.n.other faces.

But it’s not about the perpetrators or what percentage was foreign or domestic. It’s about the way we choose to react. It’s about the fact that yes, some were black, some were young, some were old, some were women, some were men….the only pattern is that they were all PEOPLE. They all committed the same crimes, so what the hell does their ethnicity or economic standing have to do with it? Don’t bemoan the colour of their skin, bemoan the fact that they were violent, opportunistic tossers.

I know I’ll never get everyone to agree and I’m sure you all have a scathing response to write, stating immigration policy and crime statistics, but I don’t want to be part of a community where colour is more important to people than criminality. It’s not a race issue, it’s a ‘raising your kids the right way’ issue.