As an ‘older voter’ myself I feel qualified to write this open letter to my contemporaries many of whom, it seems, tend to become more right wing and vote Tory in elections. Why this should be is somewhat puzzling and the purpose of this missive.
Older people it is generally recognised tend to be more set in their ways but political leanings fly in the face of this generalisation. Could it be that as life expectancy diminishes resistance to change increases along with a desire for security as represented by continuity, money and assets? If so and I can think of no other reason, this is illusory.
People of my generation, those born in the 40’s 50’s and early 60’s were indeed very fortunate in that during their early and middle years they had security of housing, they bought houses or were more or less assured of a Council house for life. They had good ongoing health care from the newly formed NHS, good and free education up to and beyond a university degree and perhaps most importantly, employment was all but guaranteed as soon as ceasing formal education. For those who trod the craft or trade route apprenticeships were long, meaningful, detailed and effective training with a long experienced time served craftsman leading to a worthwhile and life long well paid career.
In the early 1980s under Tory Prime Minister Thatcher, the big con trick of the Right to Buy Scheme was started, not because she thought it would be ‘nice’ but because of the ideology that people with a mortgage are de facto in debt, heavily in debt and that means over a 25 plus year period they will be handing over a huge amount of their earnings to Tory friends, the bankers. In addition people whose home may be at risk if they fail to make the repayments become servile and compliant and unless pushed to the limit will not go on strike for better pay or conditions; in fact will even accept a cut in income without much dissent. As more and more of the social housing was sold off, much of it incidentally ending up in the hands of Tory landlords, an obvious shortage of homes was created leading to ever increasing house prices that is unabated to this day.
Much has been written about housing, including some of my blogs here, so I wont go deeper into it except that the dash for home ownership resulted in and was encouraged by not only the Tories but also the Blair government, a slight feeling of superiority by owners over renters. It was interesting at the time to see some of my friends who had voted Labour all their life until getting a mortgage, almost overnight becoming Tories. Little did they know that they would be working harder, longer, for less and that it would eventually require two of them to work to pay the one debt. Mortgages today can now stretch beyond a lifetime into the next generation; the transfer of wealth from ordinary people to the rich elite gathers pace.
No one likes to be proved wrong or admit to being duped and so it is natural for most to close their minds to even that possibility, to cling to that superior feeling that brings comfort which by default means a resistance to change. This is how older voters come to be more right wing and how they come to vote for a Tory government and their ‘austerity’ that only applies to the working and middle classes but not them.
Wait a minute though my older voting friends! Most of you will have children and grandchildren perhaps even great grandchildren, what of them? Perhaps you are thinking you can leave them your house albeit split between however many offspring you have, less tax and fees etc. so they’ll still need a mortgage and a big one with prices increasing way above inflation. The same people that made you pay roughly twice the sale price for your home will happily do the same for your descendants. These same people also want the destruction of our NHS for their profit, do you want your descendants to have to pay for private health care or go without and do you want them to be denied the education they would like on the grounds of cost? Of course you don’t but to ensure their safety you have to admit to yourself, no one else, that you were duped and make the changes necessary in the polling booth.
It’s not often I agree with David Cameron, in fact this is probably the only time I have but he is right not to take immigrants from the masses pouring into Eastern Europe and mainly into Germany. He is correct when he says this will only encourage even more to attempt entry into the European Union, much better to take them from the overcrowded refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. I part company with him on the pathetic number he suggests we take in.
There many videos shown, from differing sources and differing locations of ‘refugees’ climbing into overfull trains in Croatia, Hungary, running at speed over border crossings including thousands chancing their lives and luck at Calais climbing under and into lorries heading for the UK.
These are not desperate families fleeing for their lives but fit, almost exclusively, young men, in their twenties or early thirties that any reasonable person would conclude to be economic migrants. I am not for one moment suggesting that there are no genuine refugees, far from it, there is a terrible situation in the Middle East and North Africa and we must do all that we can to assist and no one in real need must ever be turned away.
The crisis is indeed a huge problem and it is for huge problems that we have politicians, smaller ones we can sort out ourselves, joint multi national decisions are needed here. Most problems can be reduced by discerning what the real problem is and it is obvious that many people are, for understandable reasons, jumping on this particular bandwagon of gaining entry to Europe on the backs of genuine asylum seekers and they should be weeded out in rapid time and sent back to wherever they came from, thus reducing the problem perhaps to manageable proportions. It can’t be that hard to organise teams of interpreters and interviewers to quickly come to a decision in most cases, appeals could be allowed but heard within 24 hours after which transport arranged and return within another 24 hours. Their return would also act as a deterrent to others tempted to make the journey.
After this it is for Europe, the UK in particular along with the USA who is sitting on the sidelines doing nothing, to come up with humanitarian solutions to the mess they themselves created. In addition they might start to listen a bit more often to Russia who warned of this very catastrophe some years ago instead of trying blame everything on to them to take our minds off what is really happening.
You would have to be a machine or completely heartless not to be moved by the photo of the drowned little boy, Aylan, lying on a beach and a couple of people have asked me what I think about the horrendous situation taking place in the Middle East and in Europe.
Petitions are springing up like daisies asking Cameron and the Government to open our borders and take in thousands of these unfortunate people. So far, although being a weak prime minister he will probably do a U turn, Cameron is resisting and spouting on about how our Navy is in the Mediterranean to save people from the sea and how our foreign aid is helping in the middle east and north Africa. Quite true of course but picking people up and dumping them in Italy doesn’t seem at all neighbourly.
It’s perfectly natural, if you’re anything like a decent human being, to want to take them all in, to provide the means of a life free from fear of death, mutilation or rape, to build a life in a reasonably democratic country like ours (UK). It is, though, I feel, also essential for not only any refugees that we take in but for ourselves and the future of our nation that we stand back a little and consider the implications before we act in haste only to regret later.
Many of the people pouring into Europe are not refugees or asylum seekers but economic migrants seeking employment such as those risking life or limb climbing under lorries at Calais and this is understandable. The UK already has huge numbers of non EU immigrants from the Middle East, Africa and the Indian Sub-continent. Many have integrated, built businesses and contribute to the economic wealth of the nation; many have not.
Differing cultures add to and benefit us all add to our enjoyment and increase understanding between peoples but only up to a point, a tipping point. There are towns here already that are culturally non British, where the once indigenous Briton now feels uncomfortable at best or unwelcome to say the least. Mosques are springing up replacing the Christian based communities. Admittedly I’m an atheist and would like a fully secular society but in the meantime I would like to hear church bells not an Imam crying out a call to prayer from a minaret.
The distressing scenes being played out emanating from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Libya are in part at least caused by Blair, Bush and Cameron and so we do bear most of the blame and with it some responsibility for the result. There has been a suggestion that each council in the land could take in one refugee family which would mean 10,000 asylum seekers allowed in and I think this would be a good and fair idea particularly as being spread out they would hopefully integrate rather than grouping together and forming little enclaves of their past. I feel this is the maximum we could assimilate particularly as immigration seems to be almost out of control with over a quarter of a million being added to our population each year.
As well as this Europe (EU) needs to get a grip and provide refugee centres in the inwardly affected countries then send back without delay any economic migrants. The UN and EU countries must pressure the middle eastern governments to take in these desperate people, after all they have similar religions and way of life as well as climate. It should be remembered that the UK is more crowded than India. The USA has vast areas of land so why should it too not take in refugees given that it bears huge responsibility for much of the mess in this world?
Attacking Iraq (twice) was a mistake, attacking Libya was a mistake and gave rise to IS, ISIL, Daesh, whatever you want to call the power hungry, heinous, murdering hordes that are rampaging in the Middle East and giving rise to deluded religious fanatics in Europe and elsewhere.
The US and UK are engaged in air strikes against ISIL in Syria and Iraq in the US case and currently only in Iraq by the UK. The UK government is about to consider expanding strikes into Syria also. Another mistake? I think so. Attack by air can never defeat these thugs and more importantly thousands of innocent people will be killed in the process giving rise to even more hatred of the West and so becoming a recruiting sergeant for more terrorists. There is an argument that troops on the ground is the only way to defeat them but as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, you can defeat a nation and impose a new government under the guise of a flawed democracy but you cannot impose peace. Thousands of bombs have been dropped in the last year and yet ISIL is unmoved and the lack of western triumphalist videos and news reports rather make the case for me.
So if air strikes can’t ‘win’ and using western troops on the ground is politically unacceptable to the electorate, as is the case at present, what should the West do? This is always the question asked but never the question “Should we do anything?” We first have to accept the fact that the West is Capitalist and Capitalism cares nothing about the suffering of people and only has an interest in money. Having accepted that point we can move on and see that the death and destruction wreaked upon the Middle East was not to free a people from Saddam Hussein or the Taliban but to ensure reliable cheap oil supplies from Iraq and the hope of building an oil and gas pipeline across Afghanistan. The result as we can see has been utter chaos; we may be getting cheap oil by way of repayment of Iraqi debt (incurred by the war) but the pipeline is still too risky a project and ISIL has been born and is a bigger threat to Capitalist hopes than before.
As I said and history has shown, peace in the region cannot be forced by western arms so just suppose we pulled right out and indeed did nothing. Middle Eastern nations are awash with wealth and stocked to the skies with armaments, supplied by us of course. Leave them all to get on with it and maybe, just maybe, the two wings of Islam might cease their squabbling and co-operate against the common threat of ISIL and with the excuse of Western infidels removed it would focus their minds. We may have to cut down a little on oil imports which is no bad thing but the Arab need and greed for cash would ensure it kept flowing. In addition by removing ourselves as a perceived threat to the region and also to Islam we would vastly lower or remove the risk of terrorist attacks in our own cities. We would of course, be morally bound not to supply arms to any other nation and perhaps there is the rub. Arms sales equals deaths equals Capitalist profits.
He could grow up to be a doctor or an architect, a famous artist or a bricklayer, an airline pilot or a fisherman. In fact he could grow up to become anything he chooses and is capable of.
This is another baby boy. He is called Prince George. He could grow up to be a doctor or an architect, a famous artist or a bricklayer, an airline pilot or a fisherman. In fact he could grow up to become anything he chooses and is capable of. Except! He won’t be allowed to, he won’t have a choice at all. He will be brainwashed right from the beginning of his life to believe that there is no other choice than to become a king when he is 50, 60, 70, who knows when. Every aspect of his life will be manipulated towards this one expectation of heading the family business. Should he eventually wish to marry then he must choose from a selected group of women and even then she will be carefully vetted for suitability and in her turn trained to be the incubator of the next unfortunate for brainwashing.
Whether you believe in the monarchical system or like me a republican there can be no other words to describe the treatment baby number 2 receives as anything less than CHILD ABUSE.
Let me start by telling you a little story. Some years ago I was involved in an accident, no one was hurt but I was charged with ‘Driving without due care and attention’.
I went to the Magistrates Court and pleaded not guilty to the charge, maintaining that it was an error of judgement on my part not as charged and was indeed an accident in the true meaning of the word. Having made my opening statement the magistrates paused proceedings and the Chair pointed out to me that if I maintained my not guilty plea then there would have to be another hearing and a witness would have to come from Southampton and should I be found guilty then I would be responsible for his travel expenses, loss of earnings and in all probability an overnight stay.
The hearing was adjourned for a tea break to give me time to think. I changed my plea to guilty as I couldn’t afford to take the risk. Just for interest sake the magistrates said they would fine me the minimum allowed in law with the minimum points on my licence.
Now Grayling, that unqualified disaster of a Justice Minister, has brought in new fees, which come into force on 13 April, are not means-tested and will start at £150 and can rise to £1200 for anyone convicted of any crime. As my example above shows many people will plead guilty to something they have not in fact done rather than risk the extra penalties that may be imposed.
The only advantages will be money for the government and a sharp rise in police conviction rates.
However! JUSTICE WILL BE DENIED & JUSTICE WILL BE PERVERTED.
Let’s put aside for a moment the actual and terrible events in France last week and take a look at what has happened since.
Thousands of people gather in demonstrations on the Saturday following and on on Sunday (11/01/15) over a million citizens march through Paris and World leaders fly in to France from all points of the compass in, as they say, a show of solidarity with France and in support of free speech and expression, including Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel where 17 Journalists were killed last summer 2014 by the Israeli Defence Force, plus four more languishing in Israeli jails. Journalists who reported the atrocities carried out by Israel in Palestine. This Paris march is not a spontaneous demonstration of anger, of collective grief or any other emotion, it was organised by the French government and they who created this mass hysteria. Why would they do this?
They do it for the same reason that the UK in London projected the french Tricolour onto buildings and the UK Prime Minister expresses the ‘need’ for more controls, more surveillance of the Internet and to close borders that are at present open for business and inter nation interaction. Governments generally seek more and more control over their citizens and seize upon any and every opportunity to increase their grip. The deaths of the 17 people in France is a tragedy of course but is a golden opportunity for governmental control freaks. Here in the UK we are the most watched people on Earth with CCTV cameras on nearly every corner, our emails and telephone calls are recorded, through various requirements our very existence is monitored from birth to death. Demonstrations are again controlled, filmed and participants ‘kettled’ to ensure maximum discomfort in the hope of putting people off taking part in the future. New laws are proposed to make strikes all but impossible and so forcing workers into virtual slavery.
They need the population to be afraid because the people will turn to government in hope of protection and will accept even more curtailment of their rights and their freedom. Without diminishing the horror of the terrorist killings, if looked at calmly and rationally it was no more than a couple of nasty traffic accidents and the chance of similar happening to any particular individual are miniscule almost to a vanishing point. Most people though do not react rationally but with emotion which is so easily manipulated by the powerful.
It is not the terrorists we need to fear but our own governments.
The trouble with posh boys from Eton is that they think the rest of us are stupid. Well, Osborne, if you think we believe you got the £1.7bn bill halved then you are the stupid one.
I know you haven’t any qualifications in finance so let me help you out. EU Bill = £1.7bn OK? Annual rebate from EU = £850 million, still with me George? Use the rebate to pay some of the bill and you’re left with a Bill for £850 million, keeping up George? So the Bill hasn’t been halved as you say, it’s just that you’ve actually paid half. No? Haven’t quite got it George? Let me go through it again a bit more slowly……………
Ten Years! What has he done, committed murder, bank robbery, rape, Banking fraud (oh no you don’t get done for that) GBH? No, none of these, he just defends his right to walk across the country without clothes although with the amount of camping gear his carries on his back he’s almost dressed anyway. He is also making a statement that nudity is not offensive unless you have a very peculiar mind set in which case it’s your problem not his. Out of a global population of say, 8 billion it follows that around 4 billion have dangly bits between their legs so I’d call that normal, ordinary and completely unremarkable and about as offensive as beans on toast.
Being nude in the UK IS NOT ILLEGAL but under our often ridiculous laws it only requires one person to say they are offended and that includes one policeman feeling vindictive, then the person without clothes can be arrested for ‘conduct liable to bring about a breach of the peace’. Note ‘liable’ not ‘has’.
Were Stephen to be walking around with an erection then yes, that could be reasonably construed as offensive or threatening but he doesn’t, we are talking about a perfectly normal bloke walking for pleasure without clothes. It has been said that children could be upset but this is only because under generations of conditioning people have hidden away parts of their body so that they become mysterious, considered ‘dirty’ and taboo. Children brought up in a naturist home or one where the parents don’t bother to cover up after a shower or a bath are not at all upset or bothered by a naked body, they just accept it as normal which, of course, it is.
There is controversy about the Human Rights Act but if we can’t choose whether to wear clothes or not whilst walking from Lands End to John O’Groats as Stephen has then I suggest we have no rights at all.