A Valid Question or Questions

Like many people we have all been shocked at the distressing scenes of refugees drowning trying to get to Greece, the state of the camps in France, and more recently the decision by Denmark to basically steal their belongings when they arrive in their country (more reminiscent of the Nazis if you ask me). We can also add to that the crass and disgusting statements made by our glorious leader David Cameron calling refugees a bunch of migrants, I know what I would like to call him if I got the chance, the man is a stain on us all.

However I have had many conversations with people about the crisis, and while virtually everyone I have met thinks that the UK should be doing more to help many have very valid questions that no one, certainly the politicians, appear to be addressing. People rightly say things like, where do we house all the refugees that we are able to help, how do we afford the health care, how do we provide the mental health support that so many will need when we can’t provide enough houses now, when mental health services are poor at best, when the Government are hammering the poorest and most vulnerable with Victorian punishments because they have the gall to be old, disabled, poor or unemployed. Some people have said that while many refugees might well be safer if they come here what will they think of this country when they see how it’s people are treated by its own Government.

Now I just don’t have the answers, as more and more cuts are implemented in the name of austerity, when we see our services coming under ever-increasing strain, when we see rough sleepers all over the UK, food banks on every street corner, a real lack of employment outside the South East in many cases, are we even able to help that many people at all. I would really like to hear what other people think of this situation, many people are afraid to speak their mind and ask the difficult questions for fear of being accused of something or other.

Now my view for what it’s worth, although I really don’t understand the complexities of it all, is that we need a world solution. Europe can’t cope on its own and the middle east should I suspect be doing more, as should the UN. I think the UK Government need to stop vilifying people, calling them a bunch of migrants and starting to explain to people how we do this, how we pay for it, how we look after refugees health, mental health etc. The opposition parties need to be doing the same, I believe we all need a little education as to the issues at hand because we do need to help these people, we partly caused this mess in the first place so we have an obligation, but we have an obligation as human beings too. However, we also cannot hide from the very valid questions and concerns that many people have in the street, they deserve answers too.

All Women Short Lists AGAIN

I have blogged about this issue before in relation to the SNP and now find myself blogging about it again as the Scottish Liberal Democrats begin the build up to their spring conference in Aberdeen and the issue being on the table.

Willie Rennie, and many within the party, feel that women are under represented in the party and were unhappy when the MEMBERS did not place Alison McInnes at the top of the list for the North East instead going for Mike Rumbles. Alison being the only female Liberal MSP in Holyrood, and by all accounts a good and effective MSP overall, could leave the Scottish Liberal Democrats with no female MSPs if the party is successful at all in the North East which is doubtful anyway given the momentum the SNP currently have in Scotland.

To be honest I can’t really comment on how good Alison is but the simple fact remains it has to be up to the members to decide.

So to revisit my previous post:

First of all, I still feel that all women short lists restrict the freedom of local party members to select who they feel is the best candidate at the time of the election irrespective of gender. The best candidate should win the nomination based on merit alone. Of course there should always be equality of opportunity, where a person’s gender, sexual orientation, background, colour, religion and age do not count as factors in restricting any person putting themselves forward as a candidate for selection and therefore election.

I also feel that political parties should be working harder to get more women involved in political parties and to support women into leadership positions within these parties should they wish, but through their work and skills, not their gender. I feel there is a risk that all women short lists not only demean women, but demean the position that they are standing for due to the suspicion that maybe they were not the best candidate for the nomination in the first place.

We should also make political parties, the working environment out with politics, local councils and parliament more female friendly around the times they sit, child care options etc. I am also not denying that there is need for a greater balance of women and minorities within politics and other fields, not just in the parties, councils and parliament, but across all decision-making structures from business to education etc.

However, you don’t end discrimination or the under representation of women, or minorities for that matter, in political parties by discriminating against men.

To deny myself or men in general, should they wish, the opportunity to put themselves forward for selection / nomination as a potential candidate based on the fact they are male is just plain wrong, as I said above, you do not end discrimination against women or other minorities in politics by discriminating against men and any argument of the greater good is just not good enough in my opinion.

There is also evidence to suggest that many agree with me, a YouGov Poll in August 2014 found that 56% of the public oppose the principle of all women short lists. The poll also found that 51% of women also opposed them.

No doubt many might want to lynch me for my views on this issue, some will consider me an old sexist no doubt, but it is how it is. Should the Scottish Liberal Democrats decide to follow the Labour Party and the SNP down this road I will be seriously considering my membership of the party. I cannot be a member of a party that discriminates against anyone, no matter how much they might argue that it is positive, it is needed, or if the majority in the party vote for such a measure in a democratic vote. I also appreciate you win some and you lose some in political parties, and that many believe you have to be unfair to be fair on occasion.

Discrimination is still discrimination.

So therefore I cannot accept the view of the need for all women short lists, there needs to be another way. I can accept something like a 50/50 quota for candidates put forward to the members to decide whom they want or even just put forward everyone who passes selection for a given area, for me that would be a way to find some common ground, but to discriminate is wrong. It’s how I feel.

Bits and Pieces

Thought I would make a few wee points today about a few things that have gotten me interested over the last wee while.

Jeremy Corbyn

I am not a Labour fan at all, especially the Scottish branch, but the continued vilification of Jeremy Corbyn in the media, mainly the BBC (surprise surprise) has become predictable and boring. They appear so determined, as many within the Labour Party, that this man should never get the chance to become Prime Minister. Now I accept that he hasn’t started very well and his views on Scotland leave a lot to be desired. However, he has been given a huge mandate by the members and it will take a while to weed out the Tories in the party and return it to something the genuine left wing members of the party want. I also suspect that after another 4 and a half years of this right wing Tory nightmare that we have right now, that if the 34% of voters in England who didn’t vote in 2015 come out and vote for change, and vote for Corbyn, he might just pull it off. I am not writing him off and hope that he can find a way to use his party and work in partnership with other parties to bring this shitty government down. However the media onslaught demonstrates how badly served we are in this country with our very own across the board Pravda. They must be very afraid of him succeeding and the thought of ordinary people actually having a say in how this country is run.

David Bowie

Like many, I found it sad to hear that David Bowie had passed away, as it is when anyone passes away. However I did not feel the coverage needed to be the extent of what it was, the language being as flowery as it was, and some of the reported comments by celebrities and ordinary people were a bit awful and took up far too much airtime. The reports of alleged comments on social media by nationalists in the Daily Rancid and Torygraph were really predictable and again sums up the media in this country now. They struggled to find any really bad comments at all but that did not stop them trying to find anyway they could to denigrate a whole part of the population in Scotland, again really predictable and so very very sad yet again that the Unionist media in Scotland would use the death of David Bowie to press home their own right wing agenda. Now while not a huge fan of his music I accept that in many ways he changed the culture of music in the UK, and I am sorry for his family, my father passed away due to cancer and I know how tough that is to go through, but again the coverage I felt just did not really merit the extent it did and in many ways did not really respect the man, just my opinion.

Dundee Utd

Now being a Dundee FC fan I must admit that I am enjoying both our recent derby win and being above Utd in the league. Where I differ from many Dundee FC fans is that I do not want Dundee Utd to be relegated at all. The derby is the best game throughout the season, the derby I suspect generates a lot of income to both clubs, but also I do not want to see anyone lose their job which is what will happen if Utd go down. Dundee as a City can ill afford any more job loses or the human cost and devastation that losing your job brings. We will soon be facing the prospect of redundancies from the local council and this City just cannot take much more and no matter how many V&A’s we build they will not replace the jobs that will be lost. So I want Dundee FC to win all the derbies, to finish above them in the league but not for Dundee Utd to get relegated, so come on Utd finish 10th.

BBC Charter Renewal

Currently watching a bit of the committee from Holyrood, Tony Hall (Director General of the BBC) and Ken MacQuarrie (Director BBC Scotland) are facing questions from committee. Neither are coming across well at all but saying that the questions asked so far have just not being that great. I want to know why the BBC in Scotland is perceived as being bias by many of us, why there is no political balance, why Scottish Football is short changed compared to Match of the Day, why we don’t have a Scottish Six o Clock News rather than the awful Reporting Scotland and why that really awful Scotland 2016 is actually on at all. It’s really important that the BBC in Scotland is held to account but they also need to be asked the right questions. Holyrood has just been cut off to go to an empty House of Commons, see what I mean and what is the f point. The BBC is not fit for purpose anymore and should be sold off.

Moving Forward

This blog has come about from a response I wrote to http://munguinsrepublic.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/is-what-little-bit-of-democracy-we-once.html and kinda captures what I am thinking at the moment about where we stand right now.

Our non democracy is under attack right now more than it has been for a long time, maybe more than it has ever been in the past. With EVEL (English Votes for English Laws), the fiscal trap that is the Scotland Act, the EU Referendum, the threat of coming out of ECHR, the new surveillance laws proposed by the Home Secretary Theresa May, the SNP super database, boundary reforms, the continued use of sanctions to remove much-needed social protection under IDS, the continued existence of the unelected House of Lords and the unelected head of State means our democracy is in a mess.

As I have hammered home in my blog previously, and on twitter, we do not and never have lived in a democracy in this country. We might have a vote, but that vote comes with the conditions laid down by repeated Conservatives and Labour Governments over the years, a vote which has been weakened more and more over the years, and a vote under attack like never before by the above in as far as removing more and more of our rights and protections from the state and from employers.

I agree with sentiments made in Munguin’s Republic, Margaret Thatcher would not have dared try to do what David Cameron is doing to our limited democracy right now, not because she was not smarter than he is, but because I do think she may have seen what he is doing as a step too far, plus Westminster at the time of Thatcher was filled with far smarter people and in Labour you still had many of the old guard from the 70’s who still had an ounce of socialism about them, so the results would have been very different.

So what of our democracy?

The Windsor’s (Royal Family) is a disgusting institution and I hate everything it stands for, it is undemocratic and has no place in the modern world. I might have more time for them if they had as much to say about poverty and the attacks on their poorest and most vulnerable subjects than they do for buildings. They have far more influence over decision-making than most people realise and I could not give a shit if they give pleasure to anyone. This awful institution doesn’t even pay the minimum wage to their staff, they pay little tax, they are much the same as Mike Ashley at Sports Direct in that they have awful employment practices, but less honest because they have underhanded and secretive power over me and you, supported by our politicians but hidden away in secret. Some people might like to look at all the plundered jewels from the old empire and believe they are wonderful and stand up for them but their influence over decision-making is wrong, undemocratic and unacceptable. As long as the hereditary principle remains in this country we will never live in a democracy.

The HoL (House of Lords) needs reform but it won’t be reformed, Cameron will weaken it but will not make any major changes to its numbers or what it does. Labour and the Liberals will do nothing to push for reform as it will soon be the only place they actually have any power in. While they may have played a small part in raising the issues of Tax Credits, what they actually did was bring in an even worse system where tax credits will actually be gone within three years, our compliant media of course played this up to try to convince us that we need this unelected chamber.

Moving Forward.

While I remain a committed member of the Liberal Democratic Party the party remains a disappointment in so many ways. I suspect it has some more falling to do before any real change happens. The reason I think this is because it has failed to learn from past mistakes and continues to follow the Clegg line which has virtually wiped it out. It continues to say it is a federalist party while filling the House of Lords, it supported the bombing of Syria, it continues to push the myth that the Scotland Act is the Vow being delivered, it has supported Alistair Carmichael even though the comments from the judges could not have painted a worse picture of an untrustworthy politician. They choose to stand up and say this was all a nationalist attack, which is was not, but the result and their actions were an attack on our local democracy in the that local voters should have the right of recall over a lying politician. The party leadership in Scotland continues to push ahead with all female short lists, how illiberal can you get. That may well be the thing that pushes me over the edge this year if passed at the spring conference, I do not and will never support all female short lists. While they are correct in raising concerns about GP numbers, mental health services, the plight of refugees, the super database, these are wiped out by the above. Sad to say but I suspect the Scottish Liberal democrats will do well to keep what they have right now come May.

Jeremy Corbyn needs to get a grip of the Labour Party, he was naïve to think for one minute that Tories like Hilary Benn would fall into line, he needs to weed them out. He has been given a mandate like no leader before him and if that means many break away then so be it. It is time for the members to control that party and rebuild it, we do need a Labour movement and a strong one, but one that actually represents poor and working people in England, an opposition to the awful Victorian Tories, and one that offers real opposition to the SNP in Scotland. In Scotland they are miles away from any sort of recovery, Kezia Dugdale is not a leader, people like Jackie Baillie are poison and the so-called left like Neil Findlay are only left in name, they are still more Tory than the Tories in so many ways. David Cameron played them like they have never been played before, the posh boy put them back in their place and didn’t they just accept it like the good subjects they are. Their SNP bad mantra won’t work but they will keep at it.

The SNP are in real danger of becoming complacent, while they have handled the bridge situation really well for example, the budget, although limited in what they could do because of fiscal traps, was virtually a mirror of Osbourne’s. By passing on billions of pounds of cuts to local authorities they have avoided the wider issues to a degree on how we pay for public services. This budget may result in thousands of job losses in the public sector, with the resulting impact on local economies all over Scotland, what I think is needed is a real debate around how we fund public services. While I am for universalism in entitlements, we do need to have a serious debate on how we go about that. The SNP Westminster group also need to be far more radical in how they approach their role, they have meekly accepted, in my opinion, outdated traditions in the so-called palace of Westminster and need to be seen to be more radical in how they go about their business. Some might argue that in doing so they will achieve little, I would argue that given the hatred towards them they will be allowed to achieve little anyway so they might as well be a real pain in the arse and keep the issues that are important to many in Scotland very much in the spotlight.

The Tories in Scotland, well I don’t really care, but they might come second in May as more Labour members return home to the their real party, but overall they don’t expect to do well and are really just in place to give Cameron some sort of illusion of presence in Scotland. This also gives the excuse of a media in Scotland an excuse to keep pushing the unionist mantra that they love so much. It will be an interesting year but lets not forget that this interesting year will bring with it so much pain and suffering to the many that cannot defend themselves, and to many thousands away to lose their jobs because of this so-called union.

Sorry for the length, and for the doom and gloom of this blog. I am not looking forward to 2016 in so many ways, I am not looking forward to the next four and half years of politics under the Victorian Tories or the meek opposition from failed unionist parties in our country that ill serves us so well. They have all let us down, we deserve so much better than this shit.