Saturday, 18 April 2015

The General Election 2015 - Killing Political Demons

The General Election in 2015 is nearly upon us. They are calling it the most important election for a generation. Let me shatter that illusion for you. It isn't. It is no more or less important than the previous one or the one before that and so on. Every election is important because it is an exercise in democracy. The problem is that it brings out the stupid and cynical in people like nothing else. These are political demons, problems that arise from the nature of our democratic media-fuelled society, that need to be killed. So while I am not going to tell you how to vote, I am going to dispel some things that exist in this election that are just plain nonsense.

Wrong. It is the electorate. We don't like their bickering but we will bicker with them. I watched Piers Morgan on Question Time say that politicians lose their audience by squabbling like little children. He proceeded to do that very same thing minutes later. So did the audience. If the politician sits there and waits to make their point, they will be relatively silent for a long time. They will get talked over, they will get heckled, they will be deemed weak. Why? Because we, the people, have allowed politics to become this. Politics is not detached from society. It is a reflection of it. We are an aggressive, rude, adversarial society. You only need to read a political discussion on Facebook to prove my point. We do not discuss politics rationally or politely. We do it emotively, no matter how eloquent it is. So stop lashing politicians for being like us. You just don't like the reflection of your personality.

And so is their right. This does not make them bad people. Nicola Sturgeon is not craving the crown and throne of Scotland. She honestly believes that Scotland would be better off as an independent nation. She has the right and perfectly sound logic behind that. Leanne Wood has a less compelling case but has every right to assert her belief too. I'm old enough to remember when the Czech Republic and Slovakia were one nation. They have coped with splitting up. The fact that they want independence from the UK is not a valid reason to show them disdain. If anything, it would certainly bring an end to the Barnett formula which, despite any argument, is unfair.

This will seem a contradiction but to lazily label UKIP as a racist party is nonsense. Every party with any kind of decent numbers will have racists and other prejudiced people among them. That's just an uncomfortable fact. UKIP want to adopt an Australian style points immigration system, which proves that immigrants can come here, sustain themselves and contribute positively to society. Do we consider Australians to be racist? I doubt it. Australia is one of the most popular countries for UK citizens to emigrate to. You may disagree with their policies but name calling only degrades the value of politics.

Politics is about compromise for the betterment of society. The countries with the most effective political systems tend to be those that run on coalitions. Those that tend to be less effective are adversarial schemes that let one side have their way for a few years and then the pendulum swings back. As the numbers stood and with the uncertain economic times, the Conservative- Lib Dem combination was the only viable possibility. Such a set up had to require sacrifice. The Lib Dems wanted plenty of things and have been able to execute over thirty worthwhile policies. To whip them for the tuition fees is ridiculous. Yes, the fees are triple but don't be fooled by the name. They are a graduate tax. You earn more, you pay more tax because you went to University and it is written off after 40 years. It is fairer than the previous system and it hasn't adversely affected attendance figures. You cannot batter the Lib Dems for their perceived errors and ignore the good that they have done. It is utterly churlish to do so.

As much as the Conservatives would like to remind us about the credit crunch and the economic crash that came from it was Labour's fault, and they may well be right, it is a hypocritical argument. The Tory Government that preceded Blair and Brown were responsible for Black Wednesday. For those who forgot, that put the country into a massive recession. The fact is both parties have ruined the economy at one point or another. The only party that has been in Government and not wrecked the economy at some point are the Lib Dems, and that's because they've only had 5 years in the job.

While it was set up primarily as a party to push pro-environmental issues, it is a party with credible policies. To dismiss them as such only shows your ignorance. Speaking of that...

Actually, it is not their responsibility to do so. It helps them if they do because they are more likely to secure your vote. However, if you value the political process in this country, the obligation is yours to read the manifestos of all parties and make a decision. Your right to vote comes with that responsibility. Don't shift the blame to someone else.

This is a horrendously small minded rhetoric. It is designed to demonise the Conservative party. If your politics are progressive and they improve the standard of life in the country, this should not be in your vocabulary. There has been a great deal of hypocrisy from those who have used this phrase. They would chastise UKIP for utilising fear inducing language and then use similar statements that suit their own needs. It is not something we should tolerate.

Owen Jones, a writer for The Guardian, is an odious character, who has taken it as a personal crusade to campaign against "the establishment" and the rich boy clique he supposedly believes it to be. When the supposed systematic attack on the working class kicked in, he leapt to the defence of those who claimed benefits, saying the biggest pull on the welfare bill were pensioners, like that should be the place we shave the welfare bill first. He would have you believe that we should be raiding the earnings of pensioners long before we demand that people find a job. To put this in perspective, pensioners are people who have worked for over 40 years, contributed taxes and more to our great society. The benefits they enjoy now, they earned. Policies for pensioners are policies for people who contributed consistently to society. Even if the argument is presented that they are more likely to vote, then surely they should benefit from a system that they invest themselves into. More so, if those people are voting Conservative, then that party should be serving their voter's best interests. Wouldn't you expect the party you vote for to do the same?

Do you really think that? If you do, shut up. Don't complain about how things are in the country. Don't share your insight about the political situation. Your opinion is no longer valid because you were not willing to do something about it. If you genuinely fall into that category who says that there is no one who you would vote for, and I doubt that argument has any basis, due to the diversity of parties and candidates on offer, then get involved with politics yourself. Just because you don't get someone into the House of Parliament does not mean your vote goes ignored. The elected official has to consider all of his constituents. Not voting for them means that they have to consider that and work for that vote in 5 years time. Make them accountable. Vote. Even if you spoil your ballot. Spoilt ballots are in the official count and are treated like an abstention. A failure to show up is treated as nothing. Make your vote count by making it part of the count.

It is about time that we ended the school playground mentality of politics. Learn the policies. Avoid the slander and hyperbole. Inform yourself and vote. Because the most important election is always the one that is about to come.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Unanswered Question

There is one question that people ask me a lot. I don't answer it. The fact is no one wants the answer. They think they do but as soon as the answer starts to come, they realise that their real motivation was to change you. They don't care, they just want you to comply. That is why the question goes unanswered. Because the failure to listen to the answer only makes it more true.

The question is "Why are you so miserable?"

I get it a lot. Now I could put the answer here but there really is no point. You see, the "miserable" among us know that we are not interested in attention seeking. If we did, we would have answered it. Or you would have listened to us. Fact is, we have tried the former so many times and seen the latter part fail so horrendously, time after time, that we don't bother.

You see, the unanswered question teaches us a lot about society and how it is anything but societal. We do not care about each other. We just want life to run smoothly. We do not want to face the trials of other people. If anything, we want to facilitate an attitude of "Do you what you want but don't bother me." When someone is miserable or anything less than someone else's perception of how you should feel, they will not so much want to help you change. They just want you to know that, really, deep down, you're wrong. They are not really interested assisting you. They want to point out that you can't let life get you down, that you've got plenty to be happy about and that you need to get over yourself.

That's because they don't listen.

If someone who is sad, grumpy or miserable decides to talk about how they are feeling, let me give you a sound piece of advice. Shut up. Learn the awesome power of silence when it is accompanied by listening. When you stop trying to convert someone to your way of thinking, the person in question will start to tell you everything. From that, they gain a catharsis that they long for. Interestingly, you will find that they start answering their own questions, solving the dilemmas that make them so depressed.

So before you ask that question, ask yourself, do you really want to know? Do you really care? Because if the answer is no, the question will be left unanswered. And a question with no answer is a miserable thing indeed.

Monday, 6 April 2015

The Danger of Rights

Human rights. What does that mean to you? Because it seems that it is an ever changing thing. Let me tell you what my answer is. There are none.

You see, what most people call rights, I call them privileges. Human rights should be a collective set of privileges extended to all to allow a conducive and tolerant society to exist. These can be withdrawn after a misuse of them. However, they have been heralded as sacrosanct. Granted to all without question. And the floodgates are creeping open, worryingly towards a state where society will accept the disgusting and depraved.

Louis Theroux did a documentary on transgender children. I didn't watch it. I felt it would give credence to do so. Children are fragile minds that are developing and continuing to change. I have seen young girls act in a boyish manner and young boys behave in an effeminate way. There is nothing wrong with either. Part of the development of a child's character and ultimate destiny is to allow them to try certain things. However, boundaries also should exist. When a child's age is in single digits, they should not be making decisions as to whether they should have surgery to change their gender. Before you think this is a anti-transgender rant, let me pull you up there. That is not my point. I am worried that allowing children to have this supposed 'human right', we open the Pandora's Box of other things that they have a right to.

You see, if we say that they have the right to dictate their gender, what right do we have to hinder other actions? Some groups, indeed a majority, insist that people have the right to enjoy sexual intimacy. Does a child have that right? Because I will tell you what will happen if we say yes to that. An adult will have sex with a young teenager, say thirteen years of age. If the teenager consents, we will have to say that is their human right and should override the crime that has taken place. Suddenly, paedophilia has become acceptable, even a right. Think I'm crazy about that? Is it a completely unjustified stance? The age of consent is 13 in Argentina and Spain. In Germany, Italy and Portugal, it is 14. I don't even know where the notion that sexual intimacy is a human right came from but it seems to have sprouted up of late. This is NOT a right. It is a privilege extended to consenting adults. People who have had chance to develop emotionally to comprehend the action and consequences involved.

It also seems that rights can be dissolved when they do not suit. For example, the freedom of religion has long been upheld as an example of this. Such a right is well on its way out. Why? Because some religions are deemed harmful to society. Fair enough. Let's do away with the freedom of religion because it harms other people. While we're at it, let's do away with the right to smoke a cigarette. That causes other people harm. Let's abolish alcohol and with it any notion of any other drug use. It harms others, through crime, drink driving and increasing the tax burden by heightened use of the NHS. I will be told that I am asking the unreasonable but I am applying the same precedent.

I don't know if you have noticed it but after those two examples, you can see how one set of rights actually start to erode other rights, freedoms and liberties. The child's right to be protected, gone. The right of a parent to be involved in the rearing and raising of their child, over. The right to worship who, what, where you may, finished. It goes on.

What is startling is that people talk about rights as freedoms and seem to think that means they are free from consequences. No. No, you're not. Every action has a reaction and it can never be contained to the individuals involved. It permeates through all society because when we find it acceptable for a few, it is a matter of time before we find acceptable for the many. This can lead to a perversion of long standing rights.

For example, it used to be acceptable to make casual homophobic remarks. Kids on the playground would use the word "gay" like it was an insult. That isn't and never was acceptable but society let it slide, so we did nothing for a long time. However, we changed, supposedly we evolve to a more reasoned understanding of why that is not permissible. Yet now, we can bash on people for having religious beliefs, long standing opinions and differing political outlooks. This should not be acceptable, except if they actively preach hatred. If you don't like someone's religious or political beliefs, your rhetoric should be about the positives of what you think. Instead, we have taken to the destructive attitude that requires us to tear the other person's stance down. In the run up to the 2015 UK General Election, I have seen more posts about why one party is stupid. That is a right, apparently. Free speech, designed to uplift society, used as a weapon to polarise it. But these are all within the rights of human beings.

The danger of rights is that they become so precious that they turn into ways to punish and pervert society. That is not freedom. That is not reasoned. That is a catastrophe waiting to happen. We have to abandon this rhetoric of human rights and go back to something far more simple, far more pure. Simply, what is right.