As George Osborne’s first Conservative only Government budget was being delivered yesterday my Twitter and Facebook feeds began to be filled with anger, pain and scorn, with an undercurrent of a deep sense of helplessness.
And I agreed with everything people were saying. I agreed with the sentiments and my emotions resonated. There was not a single post in support of the budget, in support of the Government, in support of the direction this country is being led. It really got me wondering, why is it this way? If the Conservative Party were voted into power last year in such a huge swing where are all the Conservative supporters now? I pondered a few thoughts, maybe there is some truth in the 7 statements below:
Lots of people say they don’t like what is happening to the poor but when it comes down to it they will put their own interests first and vote for what they perceive will make them better off.
Lots of people like what the Government are doing but don’t feel confident to express this for fear of being heckled, or even abused, by others.
There are many who benefit a little from current Government policies. This means they enjoy a little extra comfort and security. In comparison to the significant life changes that are imposed on many of the most vulnerable this raises no emotional response and therefore there is no impulse to express anything on social media.
Nobody feels inclined to support the Government policies because they are self-seeking, income gap widening, dangerous and loathsome.
Those who feel upset by the political situation have got it wrong and are caught up in a deluded whirlwind of conspiratorial negativity.
It is cool to bash authority.
By my own conscious and sub-conscious choosing my Facebook friends and those I follow on Twitter are skewed towards my own fairly socialist, left leaning political views.
I asked my Facebook friends and Twitter followers if there were any views that supported Osborne or the Government. There was silence for quite a while and then a few people gave helpful responses. The comments ranged from factual to mildly pleased and were certainly void of any of the emotion that was featuring in my feeds. Also, I know that those who helpfully commented also have strong misgivings about other aspects of Government policy.
I am pondering all this because my thought processes always take me down the line of anger and a desire for action. Yet, I don’t want to indulge anger or take action for a meaningless cause. I want to ensure I am objective in what I expend my emotion, energy and time on.
However, nobody seems to be able to come up with a strong and passionate reason for supporting the Government. The budget and Government policies may offer small financial gains for many but these benefits are, in my opinion, woeful in comparison to the destruction that I see meted out on our communities.
I can only conclude that the anger is necessary and the need for change is critical. If we care about our communities, and especially those who are vulnerable, then we must spend ourselves to see justice. Action will look different for different people but I believe passively continuing with the status quo will lead to generations blighted by poverty and social exclusion.
Intelligent comment from Giles Fraser in The Guardian on American Christianity. In conclusion – American doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ, it believes in America. Worth a read.
I particularly like this quote, “On the whole, I defer to people’s self-description when it comes to religious belief. If people say they are Christian then that’s good enough for me – unless we are talking about school places or running for office. Then it’s worth a little more scepticism.”
A couple of questions to Americans who love Jesus: Does this resonate? Is the commentary fair?
There is no profit in peace. And that is why we are on the verge of going to war once again.
Tomorrow the House of Commons votes on whether we bomb some towns and villages where we are told there is a threat to our way of life. Yet can we be sure it is not our own previous military intervention and consistent supply of arms to all sides of Middle East conflicts that has provoked and perpetuated the violence?
Only this weekend our own government lawyers warned that the UK could be prosecuted for war crimes following the sale of arms involved in atrocities in Yemen. Surely if we are so prepared to facilitate the destruction of innocents in one country we cannot complain when death comes shockingly to our neighbours.
I don’t understand the world out there. I just know that killing people is only going to breed more hate. The corporations and governments of the world are not stupid, they know this. Yet the pull of riches and power are too much and so war must continue.
“When the rich wage war, it’s the poor who die.” There is no profit in peace.
Arguably the best book on leadership I have read is Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns; the Abraham Lincoln political biography. It masterfully depicts the challenge, heartache and passion that goes into leadership in the face of cruelly fierce opposition. Lincoln’s steady strength and fortitude became an inspiration for me and I can’t help but think of him as I observe Jeremy Corbyn approach his new task of leader of the Labour party.
I care nothing for political parties but care deeply about the outworking of politics. And so in Corbyn I see a man who’s policies resonate with me and who also appears to have been thrust into a position of power he never previously had ambition for. At this he already differs from Abraham Lincoln – who had longed for the office of president, in order to achieve the abolition of the slave trade, his entire political career.
The most intriguing part of Team of Rivals is where Lincoln is having to bring together the huge bruised egos of flawed characters to form a cabinet that can see his nation through civil war. The stakes are not quite as high for Corbyn – he is only leader of the opposition, the talent at his disposal is generally unproven, and the critical situation of the United Kingdom in 2015 cannot be compared to that of the United States in 1860. Nevertheless, Corbyn will need to employ all the guile, stubbornness, wisdom and resilience of Lincoln if he is to pull together an effective shadow cabinet that he can lead through to achieve some of the political goals that he has fought for his entire life.
I really wish Jeremy Corbyn every success. Certainly because I desire to see in this nation and world many of the same things he is working for, but also because he deserves it. He has brought a real honesty, vulnerability and humility to the messy and brutal world of 21st century politics. These are characteristics of a true leader and if he is able to persevere can only be a good thing for this nation and beyond.
It seems that the immigration debate has been building up a greater head of steam this year – all the bluster of the election along with the sad and worrying crises we have seen in the Mediterranean and the port of Calais. Murderous high profile violence such as the massacre in Tunisia adds to the confusion and anger.
The news story overnight of migrants ‘storming’ the Channel Tunnel generates warlike imagery that only heightens our sense of fear and defensiveness, as we imagine brown skinned foreigners streaming through the tunnel claiming benefits, abusing the NHS and forming sex gangs.
We’re caught in a difficult position. We want to have compassion on those in difficult situations but we see the strain with which our public services are already under – not to mention how we hate the thought of being taken advantage of by those who need no asylum but just want to live an economically more advantageous life. We could debate the various approaches the Home Office could take but I honestly think even with the best ideas at our borders and in our legislation would barely be a sticking plaster solution.
We live in a huge and glorious world rammed with incredible opportunities and resources. Yet what we reap in terms of immigration concerns is only the result of generations of selfish and greedy foreign policy. We have exploited the riches of Africa and Asia, turned brothers against one another, and now complain when these damaged continents overflow with people desperate for a bit of what we took from them. Globalisation and technological advances mean the whole world can look on as we flaunt our gadgets, cars and entertainment.
The problems that occur from people wishing to move from one country to another cannot be solved in this generation. A stand against migration now is only going to condemn your own grandchildren to face increased tensions and issues. If we wish to make our own country a better place then we have to start by addressing our superiority complex and begin to understand that we must help others to prosper and thrive. Only when we seriously attend to our foreign policy, radically turn it upside down and treat our fellow human with respect and love will we begin to see the a reduction in the numbers trying to get into the UK. Except by then, we’ll recognise the humanity in our fellow humans and be hungry to exchange our lives, culture and opportunities with our brothers and sisters from all over the world!
With the majority of constituency results announced it is clear that we will be seeing a Conservative formed government. The polls leading up to yesterday’s election had the Tories and Labour neck and neck but I was expecting that many of our population would put an X by their Conservative candidate within the privacy of the voting booth. We’re a rich country which means those in work will always be fairly comfortable and it’s difficult for people to vote against that and to stick up for the vulnerable.
I’m disappointed. However, political involvement is not limited to voting in a General Election. We all have a new or a newly re-elected MP who is accountable to us, the same goes for our local Councillors. Engage with your MP and with your Councillors, get to know them and ensure they make your voice heard. Even if they don’t represent your political views they are still your public servant.
There are also opportunities for those who feel powerless in an election to come together and make a collected voice heard through marches, letter writing and other peaceful protests. If you feel helpless now then resolve to continue to campaign for the issues that are important to you.
Personally, I am most gutted for those who are more vulnerable for various reasons – the young, the elderly, the poor, the homeless, the unemployed, the disenfranchised, the asylum seeker, the looked after children, the disabled, those with mental illness, the addicts….. These categories don’t generally vote Conservative, if they vote at all, and will undoubtedly be further down trodden. If this bothers you then get ready to serve these people in your local community. They may not be able to rely on their government for support and empowerment but they must be able to rely on their neighbours.
We spend a lot of time talking about our politicians but even once elected they do not have to be the ones who direct and shape our country. Stand up and make a difference!