Sunday, 28 May 2017

Manchester - Campaigns Suspended (General Election 2017 - Week 6)

Such a waste of young life, we're all agreed, as the gallery of mainly young female youth looks out on us from our TV screens. Photos taken in happier times.  Immortalized in tragedy. We can hardly pin down our feelings - beyond raw disbelief and shock. Children and young people enjoying themselves at a pop concert, children who should be tucked up asleep now, or riding home with their parents, relaying the songs, the atmosphere, the joy at seeing their idol perform.  Young parents waiting for their children to hear all about the above, but mown down in their loving parental duty. Those of us over 50 may never have heard the name of the young female star - but we all know of her now.  We all know the face of the youngest child, brown-eyed, smiling gently at us from our TV screens - fresh, beautiful, a life barely begun...
We watch the news for developments, disbelieving it to be true, that here in Manchester, such an atrocity could unfold. We watch the spirit of Manchester rise in love, queuing to donate blood from their bodies to help the injured, people offering lifts backwards and forwards across the city and beyond through the night to bring home the stranded and frightened and confused, people offering their homes and flooding social media with kindness.  All nations and ethnic backgrounds coming together to lay flowers and pink helium balloons, heart-shaped. This is Manchester. A diverse city. We stand together.  We won't be cowed.  We won't be divided. The Moslem community rise to condemn, non-Moslems stand with them in solidarity.  An elderly Jewish woman and her Moslem friend walk the streets together, publicly condemning.

Political divisions and aggressive general election campaigning is laid aside. None of that matters, for today. For tomorrow. What matters is the spirit of Manchester.

But how quickly that those in supposed journalism show their true colours, wasting no time to find a cheap and obscene opportunity to score political points.  Did The Sun really think they could curry support from the sister city to Liverpool - where it has already been disgraced and banned for its vicious campaign against Liverpool fans at Hillsborough?

They wanted a cheap jibe at Jeremy Corbyn's approach to terrorism and his multi-pronged approach.  Peace is never achieved by war-war, it is achieved by jaw-jaw, and getting round the table.  How else did we reach the Good Friday agreement?  Two petitions were started to boycott The Sun but The Sun threatened the petition sites with legal action and so the sites were forced to remove the petitions. Never mind The Sun committing slander against Jeremy Corbyn. But Murdoch money talks - the Murdoch empire does as it pleases.

In a week where we have all been devastated by the wicked loss of life, we should all remember the spirit of Manchester.  That must be the legacy.  That even in the face of the unimaginable, good will shine through and win.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

For The Many Not The Few - General Election (Week 5)

So this week we saw the launch of Labour's manifesto to a rapturous applause at Bradford University and what a great progressive one it's turned out to be. Jeremy Corbyn described it as a manifesto 'for the many not the few' and 'a programme of hope not fear'.

In order to put together the manifesto, Labour have consulted with loads of different people including experts, researchers, charities and of course ordinary members.

Just to recap on some of the proposals:

- Higher spending on the NHS (this must surely be one of the most important things to consider when casting your vote - the NHS is not safe in Tory hands and has been consistently underfunded as well as seeing creeping privatisation, especially as a result of the Health & Social Care Act 2012 which removed responsibility for the health of citizens from the Health Secretary and created Clinical Commissioning Groups, partly run by GPs but also private service providers.)

 - Reversal Of Welfare Cuts (this is equally as vital as the above because Labour voted against most if not all of the Welfare changes that have impoverished the lives - and worse - of many long term sick and disabled people since the Coalition in 2010).

 - Building of over a million new homes

 - Renationalization of the railways (when present franchises end), water, and Royal Mail

 - The creation of a National Education Service along the lines of the NHS to include free learning from the cradle to the grave and university fees will be scrapped making 'education a right and not a privilege'. Schools will be properly funded

 - There will be free child care for all 2 year olds

 - Voting age to be reduced to 16

 - A guaranteed triple-lock on pensions

 - A planned rise in Corporation Tax and a levy on firms paying very high salaries (this is a measure to reduce ridiculous inequality within society)

 -  No tax and national insurance rises except for the richest ie raising taxes to 45p for those earning over £80k and 50p for those earning over £123k

 - Scrapping exploitative zero hours contracts

 There were many more things in the manifesto including Brexit negotiations, helping the environment, making the country a more inclusive place and so on.

You will always get the naysayers who say the figures don't add up and the amount of borrowing but consider this: the Tories have borrowed more than all previous Labour parties!

At the launch of the manifesto, many of the media were present to pose questions and here is a flavour of some of Jeremy Corbyn's responses to their questions.

Somebody asked if anything could be done about 'the shockingly biassed media against the Labour Party.'  Jeremy Corbyn said he wanted to ensure there was diversity of all our media and that he thought freedom of speech in a democracy is important.

Then, when a journalist from some right-wing platform, posed a question on immigration he was immediately booed and heckled. But Jeremy Corbyn said 'Please, let's have respect for journalists - I'm a member of the NUJ.' But responding to the question on immigration, he went on to say that immigrants made 'an immense contribution' to our society and 'without immigration in the NHS, most of us would be far worse off in our health'.

Jeremy Corbyn likes to lead by example.  He quite rightly says that 'being strong doesn't mean shouting, dictating and insulting...I don't indulge in personal abuse.'  He just wants to 'debate the issues'.  But it is a sad reflection of affairs when so much of politics is about the 'cult of personality'.

Finally, there have been all those comments about 'taking us back to the 1970s'.  Corbyn's response was a comment in relation to the Conservative plans: 'fox-hunting and grammar schools...that's really forward-looking, isn't it?'

But whenever people make that comment I always say, better the 1970s than turn back the clock 100 years ago which the Tories seem to be doing - when inequality was rife and none of the rights that have been hard-won in the last few decades even existed.  For those of us old enough to remember the 1970s, great changes were made, such as The Sex Discrimination Act and The Race Relations Act which paved the way for a fairer kinder society.

So let us return to a fairer, kinder society.  We have had thirty years of Monetarism and it's failed.  Not everything that went before is bad and should never be revisited.   Let us learn from all that was good that went before. It is time to look back in order to move forward.

If you would like to read the Labour manifesto in full - please follow the link here:


Friday, 12 May 2017

A Picture Tells A Thousand Words (part 1) General Election 2017 (Week 4)

Well, what a week it's been, with the 'leaked' Labour manifesto which backfired! Backfired inasmuch as it will give Jeremy Corbyn double the publicity and double exposure for the manifesto.  But as I've had a bad week in terms of health I thought I would post many of the memes, satire and pictures which I have collected over the past few weeks and months (mainly from Facebook).

Here's just a small selection and they all include a few succinct words, too!

More memes to follow next week!

Friday, 5 May 2017

The 'Strong & Stable' Mantra - General Election 2017 (week 3)

    This week I thought I'd share a poem that came to my attention via 
    Disability Arts Online. It sums up for me the tactics the Tories employ to 
    get their message across. They use soundbites and mantras like a refrain 
    which sink into the public psyche. But they have little substance. 
    This wonderfully satirical poem sums it up perfectly and demonstrates 
    how hollow it all is and deflects from what's really going on. Do not be fooled.

      All Together Now - A poem by Judith Milburn 

      Theresa May has kitten heels 
      And legs like Betty Grable;
      Of COURSE that proves her leadership
      Is really strong and stable!
      Let's wheel on Boris for a laugh
      On Sky, Beeb, Mail or cable.
      His jibes are bound to make us look
      Big and strong and stable.

      Who cares about election fraud -
      Best swept under the table.
      (Just make sure no-one's charged 'til June,
      To keep us strong and stable!)

      Don't dig below the headlines, now,
      Don't question if we're able;
      Just repeat the same old riff:
      'We're very strong and stable!'

      Our strength is putting others down,
      Our sympathy's a fable;
      We bully, harm and isolate -
      And call it 'strong and stable'.

      We hate what we don't understand
      And box it with a label.
      So if you disagree, we'll say
      That you aren't strong and stable.

      Don't be 'foreign', poor, ill, old,
      Raped, unemployed, disabled -
      That doesn't fit with our idea
      Of being strong and stable.

      For God's sake don't be taken in
      By their 'strong and stable' lie;
      Value humanity when you vote -
      Or hope, and people, die.

      Poem shared courtesy of a member of Disability Arts Online