MPs want pay rise

During these tough times with benefits slashed in real terms, public sector wages frozen, services cut around the country and various other measures to help the public finances stay on course one would imagine that MP’s respect the sacrifices which are being made to help right the ship and accept they also have to make these sacrifices. However in a new parliamentary poll which has revealed that over 2/3rds of MP’s want a pay rise it seems the vast majority of MP’s do not feel they have to make any sacrifices at all and are happy for the public to take the pain. This new revelation isn’t a devastating policy (we have seen enough of those) and it won’t cause anyone any harm (except the MP’s) however it is a mind-boggling move from a group whose popularity is on a par with std’s at the moment.

After all these are not people who are on £15,000 a year and struggling to make the rent. These are people who earn over £60,000 a year excluding expenses and own two homes one of which is funded by us. I do not disagree that the people who effectively dictate the laws in our country deserve this amount of compensation, especially with the hours they work. However these are the people who refuse to implement a living wage so those in work are still in dire poverty, yet they believe that these salaries which are double over the median earnings even without the expenses are not enough. It shows how out of touch MP’s on all sides are and with politics becoming ever more important in our lives it doesn’t help the lack of enthusiasm in politics felt by our country.

MP’s have a responsibility to not just run the country correctly and to turn up to parliament but to keep people interested in politics and to serve the people. These values need to be reinstalled into politicians (that’s if they were ever there before). On the anonymous questionnaire one MP wrote “Media commentators should shadow a week in the life of an average MP to understand the pressure, breadth of knowledge and social skills that are required to do the job. They have no idea.” That is true but it seems this MP needs to learn people skills to understand that when everyone is struggling, MP’s cannot be expected to think dear me it’s been a tough year with only £60,000 in my pay pocket i need far more when the median wage is less than £27,000.

If MP’s do not buck up their attitude they will find themselves facing even more mass disenfranchisement and visceral hatred than they see now. As a politics student it pains me, i defend politicians every day however this cannot be allowed to stand. MP’s need to understand that the world has changed and if they do not understand this then they will kill the last vestige of peoples trust.

The government, morons and myself

Well a new year and the same old rhetoric from a fractured government, morons and well all of us because that is what we do as humans and i include myself in this. The government have been riding the lull of an economic storm for little over a year now without ever riding out of the danger zone, with the euro crisis easing up for the moment they need to make progress and fast. They are capping benefits below inflation (further making it harder to live, travel and find work), bemoaning at the lack of poorer students in higher education while taking away their EMA, refusing to install a living wage so people will be encouraged to find work and receive a decent wage and labeling anyone who uses benefits and cannot find a job a ‘scrounger’ (despite the majority of those whom use benefits are in work) This government has gone from incompetence to bitter and nasty within less than a year. Maybe it is the rise of the mad ukip and a fluttering Farage which has ruffled the feathers of this government along with the fact that the lib dems seem to be on the verge of open revolt because their party is polling as less popular than cholera and bankers. However with an election two years away Clegg feels he can turn it around for his party and maybe if he can control the Conservatives far right a bit better and try and wrangle more concessions he may have a hope of not being obliterated in the next election.

We have dealt with the government now morons, of course some of the government are for instance Simon Hughes believing we need to consult with religious leaders over gay marriage despite assurances they won’t be prosecuted for not conducting such marriages and that it is optional. Of course religious leaders believe they own the word marriage (they don’t) and the institution (they don’t it is property of the state). However other morons are those whom i occasionally debate (not my friends) but some random person on Facebook or twitter just typing tosh without researching what they are saying and getting it all wrong. I realize freedom of speech is important and that without it where would we be, however we also have a duty to make sure what we say is worthwhile or at least accurate. We all get it wrong from time to time of course, but some people manage to get it continuously wrong. The internet was supposed to free us however i feel it has just become another portal for shit.

Now to myself, I am currently in a bit of a malaise unable to really decide what i want to do when i am older, being extremely lazy and having a narrow skill-set has made me a tad nervous of the future. However as with all good men and women i shall try and just have some fun while it lasts because after-all we only live once. I will be continuing this blog for once a day from now on, i need something to keep my mind occupied and this shall be it.

People party manifesto

This is a bare bones document which will outline some of the ideas we believe would be immediately feasible in the present climate of government.

Education: While some of Mr Gove’s reforms have been for the better many more have been for the worse. We have a mass diversity of schools in place within the country but in reality very little choice as the different types are dotted around the county. Money is being ploughed into academy projects, free school statuses of which there are around 100, independent schools and grammar schools which require testing to gain access to while new buildings for state schools across the country were cancelled due to a lack of funds.  Our first policy would be to reinstate these building projects to give every child a world class facility from which to work from, many of these projects were cancelled two years ago, and now more building projects are being planned but with little variation and in a flat pack formula. We believe this to be unacceptable as these flat pack buildings are small, built at minimal cost and many worry it could mean there is more limited space which makes bullying more prevalent. We believe grand open spaces seen in the private sector are needed in the state comprehensive sector as well.

Secondly while only 7% of children go to private schools these children take up around 50% of the Oxbridge intake and dominate the top jobs in the country, I do not believe for one second that this is because they are brighter than children who go to a state school. We would take one of two approaches, the first option is to remove the private schools charitable status and tax the school at 65% redistributing all the funds from this tax to the poorest schools and areas in the country aimed at educational resources like buying grander buildings, funding more teachers, buying new equipment, giving kids a voucher for books and many more options which can be chosen by the head teacher of that particular school to suit the need of the pupils and that particular area.  This first option would be accompanied with an idea from Andrew Adonis where private schools foster a co-operative relationship with local state schools, however we would go even further and ensure state school pupils and private school pupils swapped schools for a term every year up until year 10 when GCSE’s start.  Teachers from the private sector would also run workshops and guide the state school teachers and vice versa so a true co-operative stance with schools and staff could work and foster achievement. The second option would be to abolish private schools altogether, sell off the buildings and the land  to gain revenue for the state sector to buy up cheaper land so every school has a good playing field and to build more state schools for smaller class sizes and to deal with the extra capacity from the private sector.

Thirdly we would reverse the disastrous decision by the government to scrap EMA and return it immediately. All of the government’s plans to increase higher education attainment in the poorest areas exemplified by policies like the pupil premium will go to waste unless EMA is restored. The poorest will see college as too expensive and not a worthwhile experience, the government claims they reduced the EMA budget and replaced it with a fund given to each college for the poorest. There are a number of problems with this which I shall not go over now, however I shall state the main one which is that the bursary will only reach a tiny percentage of the people who will need financial help. While EMA may have been mismanaged the whole point was so children didn’t have to work in jobs while attending college or feel pressured to leave college to get a job from low income backgrounds, the 16-19 bursary only targets the very  worst off leaving many still poor people on their own. We believe if EMA of 25 pounds a week along with a free bus pass is given to those whose parents/carers earn a combined total of  less than £30,000 per annum and have assets of less than £10,000 outside their own home then that will help them not being pressured to try and find work.

The idea to replace GCSE’S with a baccalaureate system is a dangerous one, the idea behind an end of year exam showing the grand sum of someone’s efforts simply makes no sense in the 21st century. Academic achievement is too important a subject just too simply let it ride on a single exam. While exams should play a part in grading them should account for no more than 50% of the final grade, coursework should account for 25% and a presentation to the class should also account for 25% of a final grade. A review into exams should also be undertaken so they are less of a memory test and made more creative. Coursework should be in the form of an essay, using skills which are now more generally applied at university than secondary school, forming opinions on empirical evidence is a key of any thoughtful person and that needs to be reflected in the coursework. Also a plagiarism system used at universities across the countries needs to be passed on to schools urgently for it to work. We agree with the idea that only one examining board should exist instead of multiple ones.

 

Equality: We stand fully behind the proposal on Gay marriage which has been initiated recently. Churches won’t be forced to participate so we see no problems with their rights to disagree and not be forced to participate. We would further push for all marriages to become civil and only put a religious aspect within marriages if the specific person wants one. We firmly believe if this method was implemented then the churches simply wouldn’t have an argument. We also feel that if churches cannot accept gay marriage especially the Church of England then steps need to be taken to go down the route of disestablishment firstly by abolishing the Bishops in the lords then looking at its property portfolio to see what they stole from people centuries back and to give the land back to whom it belonged.

 It should be made easier to employ people who are disabled in all kinds of jobs, legislation should go through rewarding companies who employ people who are disabled with a minor tax break on their salary which can be used to hire more employees and put more money back into the economy while improving equality. This is of a vital necessity because despite the success of the Olympics, people with disabilities are far more likely to be in poverty and jobless than those who are fully able.

 

Foreign policy: Under foreign policy we shall also talk about international aid. First of all with Iran being the most newsworthy international story we feel a strategy of pressure on the Iranian government for inspections would work. Sanctions especially economic will do the job to bring the Iranians to the table. However the sanctions must not come at detriment to the Iranian people, so bans on medicine and food supplies shouldn’t be implemented. Contact should always be kept with the Iranian government so they know that the door is always open for negotiations and if they can prove that their intentions are peaceful we would pressure for sanctions to be lifted.  

International aid is an extremely important part of our role in the world, where aid is applied however it cannot be used fruitlessly. Aid needs to be maximised to ensure economic growth can ensue and make lives better. In the past the UK have been criticized for giving aid to developing countries like India, however we would continue giving aid to these countries as we believe the very poorest need help wherever they are and whatever country they are in. We would not increase the aid budget, but keep it in line with inflation until we had worked our way out of the economic crisis we are in and then if in power we would review the money given to international aid and seek to increase the budget by 1% above inflation year on year. However we must do more to help countries with our aid, if countries want to receive our aid certain criteria must be met. Firstly they cannot have laws which discriminate against minorities; we feel this is important because any country which genuinely wants to grow and get better will not persecute those who aren’t the same as everyone else. Secondly we should be more forceful on issues such as free speech, countries which threaten British citizens with a fatwa like Iran with Salman Rushdie should be dealt with seriously and withdraw any aid immediately.

On the problem of Afghanistan we wouldn’t use this conflict for political ends as many others do. We believe Afghanistan is an important war of emancipation; however we would consult advice by the former ambassador to Afghanistan Sherard Cowper-Cowles and other experts on the situation in Afghanistan. However we would have a starting base of strategy of which we would use as a baseline, we wouldn’t withdraw in 2015 and we would stay until the people of Afghanistan had complete confidence in their army and police forces to do the job which is required. Even after that period we would stay for a further 2 years as a backup peacekeeping force and to concentrate our efforts on building a country. Afghanistan has come a long way in education, infrastructure, democratic votes etc and we need to ensure that this progress isn’t lost. Women’s rights needs to be improved as do many others, however 76% of Women from a guardian survey found Afghanistan to be a better place than 10 years ago so something must be going right despite all of the negative reports. On the issue of the Taliban it is clear they are at a crossroads, different factions support different things, however the abhorrent attack on a 14 year old in Pakistan shows a tiny minority are hard-line and shall not change. Of course we have to question whether Mullah Omar the leader of the Taliban is one of these people; if he is then we cannot negotiate with the Taliban while he is in charge of the general forces.

The way we deal with China in the modern world is very important; while we cannot simply blow off such an important trading partner we cannot also stand back and allow flagrant human rights violations to continue in the second biggest economy in the world. We would pressure China through any means necessary to allow a liberal democracy to be implemented and to ensure workers’ rights are respected. Any company found knowingly using methods which excludes their workers’ rights abroad or at home shall be subject to a heavy fine of between £100,000-£10,000,000 depending on the size of the company for illegal practices in our country. If we feel our workers’ rights are important then surely everyone else’s is. Pressure internationally is needed if we can properly implement this and we hope governments around the world believe dignity is important. We believe China will change in time, and through trade agreements, political settlements and military agreements we shall be in a better position to leverage China into a better more democratic system of governance.

The way we would deal with the EU would be to co-operate fully with all their intentions and to offer our help wherever we can. We would pledge for more money, considering we give a large amount to the E.U and our final aim would be to become a net exporter instead of a net importer into the E.U. We would also encourage British companies to look to their European counterparts to see if they can make a bigger effect together while sharing their profits in both countries, this could be a good way to show European integration at its most effective.

Economy: The economy is in a state of shock, when a person is in a state of shock we don’t take things away or do nothing to revive it. What we do is zap it with electricity, so we give the economy the electricity that it needs I.e. we put money into the economy. We would do this through a massive social housing building programme which would not only invigorate the economy with millions of building jobs but it would also replenish our social housing stock and relieve the housing crisis. These homes would also be designed by the best architects for small budgets; we want our social housing not only to be affordable but also stylish and respectable.  We would target areas across the country where housing is needed so it just doesn’t affect London. Because we would be building social housing this would give people more money into their pockets because the rents wouldn’t be astronomical this would also help increase spending in the economy. Young people not just out of work but university graduates could move in along with families and youngsters just getting on the job market so we could have a wide diverse range of people so social housing isn’t stigmatized like it has been in the past. We believe if this was implemented properly not only would it help the economy but also help deal with social problems which are too prevalent where council housing exists. We would restrict planning laws for green belt land and some brown belt land which was near green belt land, however we would also open up building spaces for brown belt land across the country which wasn’t near the green belt. We would also knock down properties in areas which no-one lived and rebuild whole streets so people could move in rather than seeing homes sitting empty such as in Liverpool.

We would also build a British investment bank to help out small/ to medium sized businesses as well as buying up shares in bigger corporations. This bank would be funded through a number of ways, firstly to try and alleviate the pension’s crisis people could give a percentage of their pension to the British investment bank to invest, this investment would be protected by a guarantee by the bank of England similar to the one they have given to the big banks to try and increase the amount of money they lend out. Through the money these people would invest they of course would receive a percentage of any profit made through the British investment bank, we believe this could not only help the pension’s crisis but stimulate new business. If the bank failed to raise enough capital from people investing, then a boost from the government to compliment it could be worked through, mainly through the money saved by the scrappage of the pupil premium which is being misallocated at the moment. We would use other measures to stimulate business especially through manufacturing in opening up enterprise zones across the country and encouraging local government to invest in business much as derby county council did in bringing Toyota to Burnaston.

We do believe that the way we tax people is very important. We also believe that the scrappage of the 50% tax band was a mistake which the coalition failed to explain properly why they did it. They stated two contradictory reasons, 1) it brought in no money and 2) it drove rich people off because they didn’t want to pay 50% tax. We believe that the 50% tax will bring in around £3 billion pounds which is vital money and this cannot be ignored. We shall also introduce a general anti avoidance and anti-evasion rule, which rules out any loopholes in current tax law. We believe people who earn less than £10,000 shouldn’t pay tax however this should only apply to households with an income of less than £40,000.  Not only do we want the best business but we also want the most ethical business. We would reduce corporation tax to around 15% so business could expand; pay better wages and this would lead to a vast improvement in the economy. If on an individual level businesses could show wage increases for the employees of 3% above inflation while their top level execs had a wage increase of twice that or less then corporation tax for a particular company could be reduced to 5%. We believe any losses made would be replenished by an increase in spending not only by businesses but by the workers.

Not only do we believe that workers should get better wages but we also believe that they should own more shares in companies. If people own shares in companies then they shall be more invested in succeeding, they shall have more of a say over wage levels and everyone shall get a fair share. We believe a race to the top is better than the race to the bottom which is currently underway. We would hope for a balance where the workers had just as much power as the bosses so a broad consensus of where the company should be going could be reached.

In order to try and get the banks’ lending again the incumbents have tried many schemes, the project merlin and government backed money are just two examples. It is clear that while banks have little confidence in the market and people then they shall not loan money out. We need to rebuild confidence in the system, this needs to be done with urgency. Rather than focusing on record low interest levels which are an emergency measure by the Bank of England we need to focus on growth and the GDP of the country. Of course through our policy on social housing we believe this shall give confidence to the banks to give people mortgages because they will be sure they can afford it. Money from banks for small and medium will be less important through the creation of the British investment bank so we can concentrate on mortgage lending which is currently stifling any movement in the property market.

On the questions of pensions, we applaud the fact that pension schemes are now under a triple lock and on the best rate they could be for pensioners. We also applaud the recognition that people who are living longer also need to work longer and save longer as well. We would hope to encourage saving amongst people who are working not only through the British investment bank but also through other schemes such as a special interest rate account for savers introduced by the government and given out by major banks. The working age should be placed under immediate review every 5 years to see if we need to readjust our retirement age. The idea behind the lack of an age is certainly appealing however it leaves open the problem of a lack of vacancies for younger people. However to save money we do also need to review the view that bus passes are available to all for free which for millionaires is not necessary, that richer pensioners receive free winter fuel allowance is also something which needs to be tackled as well.

 

Crime and Justice: We believe crime and justice should be looked at through a rehabilitative framework. This isn’t done through slave labour but through encouraging prisoners to look for jobs and get jobs while in prison for a decent wage, education programmes within prisons and to make sure every prisoner takes citizenship lessons on what it is to be a good citizen. We also believe that votes for some prisoners could also be managed as the court of human rights has ruled. We also need to encourage greater social equity as poverty is a big cause of crime and through better education, monetary advancement and social cohesion this can be averted to a degree. Prisons need to reflect Norway and Sweden’s latest concoctions rather than the old hard justice style of England. This isn’t about prisoner comfort but about putting them into an environment where they can learn from their mistakes and help to turn their lives around and become productive members of society again is vital. Of course there are a few prisoners who are psychopathic and who will never change, however we believe quite rightly that these are in the vast minority.

We would be opposed to any kind of law that allows people to use unreasonable force on burglars within their homes as this would only escalate the arming burglars take with them, the same could be stated for why we oppose arming the police. Sentencing for sexual crimes such as rape and paedophilia would need to be taken under review and looked at in the strictest possible way.

We would set about legalising drugs starting off with Marijuana and other hallucinogenics’ such as LSD, we would nationalise the production and regulate it which would make taking drugs implicitly safer for a start. This would also greatly reduce crime as we would tax it at a small cost which would mean a lot of drug related to crime would simply end. We do not believe taking drugs would necessarily increase in the short or long term, people don’t in our view refuse to take drugs because it’s illegal, we believe they do so for other reasons. We would encourage greater responsibility with all intoxicants through changing the way citizenship is taught in education and having reviews with doctors about knowing the dangers, safe amounts etc etc before being given a license from the doctor to be able to buy that specific product. The age of usage would be made at 18 with a review to implement it at 16 or 17 if that could work. We don’t believe prohibition works as seen in the United States with alcohol and seen more recently in Mexico with cocaine it simply criminalises and starts violent wars. The black economy is worth a 1/3rd of the legal seen economy, we believe if we could draw out a significant proportion of that with the legalisation of drugs it could be a win-win for everyone. The money gained through this legalisation could be used in a multitude of ways and the money saved through not locking up drug users could also be of great benefit.

Immigration: We believe immigration needs to be handled in a way which is conducive to all. Due to the fact that we are in the European Union which means free roaming for European citizens we have in reality very little say in how we can control our borders. We also need integration, currently we have mass monocultures spread about the country we need to try and change this as fast as possible for true multiculturalism to take place. We can do this by instigating a massive cultural change in the way we view immigration in this country, instead of seeing people as a threat we need to enhance a more co-operative spirit in the country. Immigration from outside the E.U should be granted based on refugee status and employing the best and brightest from outside our country, this enables economic growth and is a good thing for the country outside of that. As a nation we need to become more tolerant of others, while standing up against the minority who don’t believe in free speech. Multiculturalism has to an extent broken through in this country, in art, music, poetry, literature, sport all kinds of areas, however we hope to see greater success through people living together and not in gated communities.

Health: We believe the NHS is the most valuable asset this country holds and the success it has gained it rather remarkable. We would do a number of things not only to protect the NHS but to improve it. We would also recommend measures based on health which goes further than the NHS in itself. First of all to tackle the obesity epidemic which has hit the nation we would place a new fat tax on foods. Foods which exceed 60% of the daily guidelines in fat or salt shall be subject to a hike in price. This is not only to try and warn people off consistently eating unhealthily but to tell companies that good quality produce is better than fat and salt laden rubbish. Secondly we would like to introduce programmes in giving parents lessons in how to cook. We believe this would lead to various benefits such as giving kids a healthier diet which leads to less problems in various areas of their life, spending time with children in this work focused world can be difficult. Cooking together as well as eating tea provides much needed time face to face which can be lacking. These are just two measures which we believe with the right funding would vastly improve the NHS and could mean savings in the future not only in terms of life but in economic gains to the NHS which could be put to better use elsewhere.

In the NHS we would set about reforms to help it make a better service. We would introduce measures which gives nurses and other front line staff a voice to management in how to run the hospital. Those who are on the frontline very often they know best in what the hospital needs and how things can be improved. This will also give members of staff an extra incentive to be confident in the running of the hospital. Secondly we believe in the field of health co-operation works better than competition. We believe that if the private sector can intervene based upon quality not price then there is nothing wrong with that happening. However we would scrap the PFI scheme as it has been disastrous by anyone’s standards.

We don’t believe a top down reorganisation at the moment is a good thing for the NHS, what the NHS needs is more beds, more nurses and more doctors not less. We will strive to improve existing NHS hospitals with quarterly checks on their standards where prior notice of arrival shall not be given. It shall work slightly like Ofsted inspections work in schools. We feel this would bring up to speed more hospitals to produce better care on the ground.

 

Afghanistan: We cannot give up

With the police shootings of soldiers in Afghanistan having escalated recently renewed calls to leave the belated country have been heard. This post will try and mute those calls for making the case of staying in a country which has known civil war for over 3 decades. The calls for a quick exit are not only misguided but downright dangerous. It is of extreme naivety people assume we can just pack up a military campaign and a civil campaign we have been engaged in and just tell Afghanistan it can look after itself. The three main things we need to do are remarkably clear even to the Lehman observer.

Firstly we need to negotiate with the Taliban, Al-Qaeda have been driven with the country and many in the Taliban believe Al-Qaeda was a curse from above. The Taliban were ill at ease with the 9/11 attacks by the raving mad Osama Bin Laden and believed it would lead to the invasion of Afghanistan which it did. Bin Laden believed he could destroy America economically and militarily. The Taliban isn’t one organisation and many in the Taliban are ill at ease with continuing to fight a war they know they cannot win. The New Statesman have conducted various interviews and many state similar things, the Taliban isn’t as radical on issues as it used to be. For example some would now support direct elections instead of an Islamic Emirate. We need to use these sections within the Taliban because the Taliban itself isn’t going away and we need to work with them. They know they cannot take the capital, they know they cannot overthrow the government. Maybe this is a stalling tactic until they can? After all everything in the history suggests as soon as they can wage a war they are confident in winning they do. However we must give them a degree of trust in a free democracy which we wish Afghanistan to be. If we conduct talks it must be a give and take procedure, the Taliban want changes to the constitution which is heavily rooted within a centralized state ideal, if we can negotiate terms maybe we can include some of what the Taliban wants depending on what it does want.

Secondly for a real free country to exist it needs fair elections and a functioning police and army, in 2011 the ANSF had 200,000 men and 13 of the 20 brigades were named as semi capable. This shows remarkable progress has taken place within Afghanistan’s own national security forces. They far outnumber the Taliban, the Haqqani network, HIG, and all of the other minor insurgents in the area. The largest estimate of the amount of insurgents in Afghanistan is currently around 80,000. This includes the Afghnaistan Taliban, the Pakistan Taliban, the Haqqani network, the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan and numerous others. The ANSF currently has more than double the amount of insurgents, this shows the willingness of the people of Afghanistan to become a free, fair and functioning democracy. These results need to be continued and money and advice needs to be kept pouring in to maintain this. Many will state the vetting procedure for these men hasn’t worked and many Taliban sympathizers have leaked in, while the attacks have continued and become more endemic the numbers are still small. The vetting is being rechecked and the attacks will soon be cut down as those sympathizers are rooted out.  Now to my second point for this paragraph which is for free and fair elections, this is something that didn’t happen in 2009 due to Mr Karzai and his rigging specialists. It is believed that while there is an army of 150,000 civil servants who try to do their job for the country their is still widespread corruption within the country. This is something which has failed to be clamped down on by Mr Karzai and one could argue even exacerbated by him. We alone cannot remove Mr Karzai from office, that has to be done by the people of Afghanistan in the next election under international supervision.

Lastly but not least we need to educate the country, in 2011 only 28% of the country was literate, 46% of men were and only 12.6% of women. This needs to be changed for the economy to grow, to ensure we can settle arguments and problems with words instead of guns and to ensure respect is grown within a deeply divided country. In 2001 only 5,000 girls went to school, the Taliban didn’t believe it was right that these girls should go to school. However in 2009 now 2.4 million go to school, for boys the figures were 905,000 now up to 4.2 million. In many provinces around 60% of the children go to school and in only one province is it below 20% in a few provinces the intake is above 80%. Not only have numbers of pupils gone up but so has the number of teachers to 156,000 the number of schools to 11,500 and the number of universities to 17. We have created with the help and willingness of the Afghanistan people a small army of educators.  These figures are simply astounding to think that within less than a decade school rates have increased as they have is for me the most important figure which shows the country’s progression, the battle for Afghanistan has been building a nation more than fighting an opposition force and many simply do not realise this. If these results are continued and not hampered, then the country in time will become better and better and shall lead to prosperity. With education and the freedom of women ( in a better state it was 76% of women in a guardian survey said the country is better now than it was) poverty will be reduced and so will the fighting which has plagued the country for over three decades.

These are three simple things that either need to be done or to be continued and it shall take two or even three generations to see real changes. Those asking to see real progress in the form of results now are not only naive but damn right wrong. Nation building cannot be done overnight and while the amount of money put into the country hasn’t been enough real change has been enacted which you can see just above. Other infrastructure projects like 600 million dollars worth of roads have been built, the US has funded 300 million into keeping all day electricity in Kabul on through building a power plant. There were problems with the time it was built in but it is up and running. These all show a commitment to the people of Afghanistan which cannot be broken. We cannot just pack up and leave, we have to keep supporting the people, the government and we have to keep building a new nation. Otherwise it won’t just be us who will pay the price it will be the 40 million people of Afghanistan.

Nick Clegg’s apology

Yesterday it was announced that Nick Clegg is profoundly sorry for making a pledge he couldn’t keep. In other words he is sorry he has been a politician canvassing for votes in an election where he needed as many MP’s for as much leverage as possible. The tuition fees saga has been one of the most overblown in recent political history, the student unions who came out against the fee’s and protested upon London were blatantly wrong, they misled students and they didn’t represent students on the issues that really did matter. People got distracted by the headline figure of £9,000 fees without looking into the actual policy, if they had been bothered and yes Arron Porter I mean you!!!! then you would have seen something far more devastating than the tuition fees which is the maintenance loan. If you come from a background where you don’t have as much money as the median earner then the maintenance loan works well and manages the job it’s intended for, however progress beyond that to just above and that is when pain and financial hardship hits.

My parents earn around £51,000 in total, that’s an average of £25,500 each per year. The median income is £21,000 a year, my student maintenance loan is £3578 and my accommodation which is the cheapest available at my university comes to £3,000 a year which leaves £578 for 40 weeks of living. This is the unseen and unprotested cost,  the unseen bullet which slowly bleeds you to death. How will I fund my living? well mainly through the massive overdraft from the bank which the bank will cut off the minute I leave higher education, interest will continue to gather and they will demand payment and with graduates flooding the market meaningful and well paid jobs are as rare as rubies. Many will ask why aren’t my parents funding me? I mean you’re well off aren’t you? well like many in the lower middle classes as I like to call ourselves we are being hit by wage freezes which is a wage cut with inflation, rising gas and food bills and all the other rising costs like petrol which leaves little money left in the bank. So why aren’t the students unions apologizing for failing to represent and publicize the cost to people like me? instead they wasted time on a reform which the real danger  lies within the under-funding of universities which could lead to amalgamations, staff losses, course cuts and far far fewer places.

 

So why is Nick Clegg saying sorry? Is it because he is sorry? or is it because his party is on the path of electoral destruction rarely seen in British political history? It scores on a par with Labour’s famous longest suicide note in history and Michael Foot’s leadership of the former party as well. The Lib Dems are stuck on 11% in the polls and have gone as low as 8% which is the same as the UKIP right wing nutters whose solution for everything is to shut down the European Union.  However groundwork can be done, in opinion polls Clegg is now above Osborne by a singular point on -53 which is hardly a rousing achievement but it is a start and when it comes to MP’s they failed to add as many as they wished so the core MP’s will most likely stay as constituency’s are loyal to Lib Dems because of their local work.  Loyal they must be however, the party is part of an extremely unpopular government which is seen as indecisive and callous by a big majority of the population which is a rare combination and award given to those most inept at their jobs. Along with 80% of spending cuts to come Clegg is going to need all the ammunition he has to deal with Labour indignation and dislike from his own party. So it’s rather clear why he said sorry he needs his students back to try and galvanize his own party ahead of the election to avoid electoral catastrophe which would be the equivalent of Hiroshima for the Lib Dems.  He also needs to clear the decks and start afresh. Along with the fact that he actually is sorry, he sold himself as the man of change only to discover he’s the same as everyone else.

 

The madness of Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney has finally showed his true face to America and the world but not by choice. He was filmed speaking at a $50,000 a head dinner boldly claiming that 47% of Americans see themselves as victims, don’t pay income taxes and that it isn’t his job to manage them, everyone greeted this outside the Romney camp with a heart warming surprise knowing that he had finally been caught out. However I have no doubts the Romney camp were engaging in a collective Homer Simpson “Doh” moment suddenly realising the inevitable slip up is out in the public and that normal people know what this lunatic is all about. You may think I am too harsh to call him a lunatic after all he is a very important public figure and he is running for president, however it’s a charge which does stand up. The charge sheet is seemingly endless these are a few terse complaints,  He is like Bill O Reilly in the sense he is a pathological liar, he believes in a religion which was created by a known conman who tried similar ruses in the same state and had an arrest warrant put out for him,  he gave the Randian Paul Ryan a VP spot which should be enough to disqualify him from any sort of critical thinking and he accepted the nomination from a Republican party that is sinking faster than the Titanic and Sarah Palin’s political career.

 

I shall amplify the short points made, firstly on Mr Romney being a pathological liar. Mr Romney opens his platform on believing on equal rights for all except for gay people of course this is the republican party, yet until 1978 Mr Romney was in an organisation which believed in no such thing, this is called the Mormon religion. The church had a sudden revelation just before civil rights laws were brought into law when they finally decided to let black people become priests and other higher ranking officials within the church. Before 1978 the church was labelled an official racist organisation and Mr Romney a prominent member of that church was still a part of it at that point and an adult. It’s almost like Nick Griffin running for office in 20 years time proclaiming he loves immigration. It has been said that when Mr Romney heard the good news he jumped up in his car, but the question has to be asked if you felt deeply upset at a policy wouldn’t you stop attending the church? the book of Mormon is in itself  a deeply racist text saying being black is the mark of Cain for instance so for him to believe in this religion is certainly concerning. Other signs that he is a pathological liar are deep rooted within his past, in 1994 when fighting for the senate he sent a letter to the log cabin republicans proclaiming he would be a very strong advocate for gay rights and would make it a mainstream concern. This was quite a statement for 1994 after all, however fast forward to 2002 when he proclaimed his support for discrimination in terms of rights to marriage for gays and lesbians along with abandoning the idea of a civil partnership,  go to 2007  and he didn’t want to repeal don’t ask don’t tell which led to brave serviceman and women being discharged for being gay if someone found out. These are just two examples which show the deep nature where he can lie to himself and then others, there are many more including his ‘job making’ abilities at bain capital and his questionable tax returns, this isn’t the same as changing your mind changing ones mind is an admirable trait but Mr Romney seems to have a trait of stating deep held beliefs and ideas and then when another group may not like the idea he crisscrosses to suit that particular person or group. He is one of the only examples of a human chameleon.

 

Now is the time to look into Mr Romney’s religion which is Mormonism. Let me say first off someones religion should not and does not stop anyone running in a presidential race or a similar event, the first amendment protects them and so it should. However I think someone’s beliefs do need to be scrutinized if you are choosing the leader of a country with a vast nuclear arsenal. Mr Romney believes a well known conman at the time called Joseph Smith went to New York and found some golden tablets written in 17th century english which only he could translate because after he did he gave the tablets back to the angel which had directed him which is rather convenient for say a charlatan who wanted to gather followers. He stated he had been visited by an angel named Moroni where he would also find breast plates, however he later claimed that the angel had stopped him from taking them. What many do not realise is that the state of New York issued an arrest warrant for Mr Smith http://www.utlm.org/onlinebooks/changech4.htm after various other scams occurred using a stone and a hat to find buried treasure similar to his apparent texts. If someone will believe that what won’t they believe? Hezbollah has nuclear weapons? Iran wants to invade America? all are more probable than the fraudster and charlatan which Joseph Smith was discovering plates, discovering two glass shaped objects to translate them and being visited by an angel and correctly translating these texts which contain large sections of the book of Abraham. Mr Smith was once asked to translate a hieroglyph he stated it contained large sections of the bible which NYU found in 1995 to be blatantly false and untrue of course. Mark Twain once famously stated that the book of Mormon was like chloroform in print maybe that is all we need to know about this belief?  On this basis he has to be asked about his beliefs and one has to take them into consideration when you’re putting your vote down, Americans have already experienced what it’s like to have a religious fanatic in office and he was the most unpopular president of all time.

Next up is addressing his decision to give the VP nomination to Paul Ryan a lowly Conservative senator who some in the far right believe to be their personal savior from the ‘big state’. What many in England have to understand is the Republicans are not like the Conservatives, they make the Conservatives look like Communists with their policies. Ryan in his opening speech made various untruths appear true (Romney likes a good lie it seems) he complained how Obama had a lack of action on the economy yet when Obama came up with a plan he voted it down. His economic plans to make medicare into a voucher for one are disastrous as many realise. The economists who backed his paper have been rounded on by critics like Paul Krugman of not only professional incompetency but bare faced lying. The idea to make 12 million jobs in 4 years is cited by David Branchflower professor of economics at Dartmouth as very dubious in the extreme. The American economy has only made 3 million jobs a year in 4 of the last 20 years and despite the claims from the opposition Obama’s administration is creating more jobs but it is taking time they are coming out of a depression remember. Ryan is a massive fan of Ayn Rand a women who believed being selfish was the greatest good, who hated compassion and charity, she wrote many novels including the fountainhead and  atlas shrugged both are mediocre and leave a message which astounds even the biggest egomaniac. She even managed to shock a 1970′s conservative audience on her thoughts on Palestinians  which was quite something to watch, she compared Palestinians to savages. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uHSv1asFvU    She also ended up broke, on government benefits under a false name ending up as everything she hated and one does have to question a man who supports her theories. Romney didn’t need to give the VP to this fanatic he had the Tea party in the bag as many look on Obama as the worst thing since cholera.

Last but not least in the madness of Mitt Romney his decision to run now?  well he has been trying to run for a number of years he tried in 2008 but lost narrowly to McCain whose campaign must be amongst the worst in living memory. The Republican party are splintering into two main groups, the Tea party and those who are more traditional republicans who have a brain. This is most likely the worst time to run for the Republicans in recent history, the party is fractured and divided they make people in middle America turn off and they are a smaller minority then they realise. To win the election Romney needs to convince a good lot of middle America and with the ensemble of the Republicans behind him it’s hard to see him win this election no matter how much money they throw at it. Romney as expressed above isn’t fit for office and neither are his companions his decision to run now within this mess shows his deep lust to gain power and control however he can. I implore Americans not to let him have it.

 

 

Freedom or rather the lack of it

Rosa Luxembourg once stated that freedom is and always will be freedom for the one who thinks differently, this week that maxim was shown to be true. Indeed it is always shown to be true when something or when someone dares to  insult or doubt the Islamic prophet Muhammad and when it goes viral on the internet or some other source freedom of speech is always thrown out. The eruption of violence from around 20,000 people around the Islamic world because of a crude film was distasteful, disgusting and abhorrent.  Before anyone tries to defend the angry response because of the content of the film this isn’t the first event of its kind. In 1989 the author Salman Rushdie was given a fatwa by the former grand Ayatollah of Iran a man who ran his country into the ground and had not only not read the book but probably couldn’t, a bounty was even offered to the person who could murder the historian and novelist. This was met with wide condemnation in the world which was intelligent and literate including those in Iran, however the bounty has recently been increased and the Grand Ayatollah has stated that if Rushdie had been murdered then this new film wouldn’t have happened it seems he believes that murdering writers is a good way to go. Mind you this is a regime which backs up Mr Assad and hangs homosexuals so is anyone surprised? Rushdie had to have round the clock protection for years for daring to write a book and still could be under threat. Various other incidents also include the murder of a dutch film-maker in public for daring to create a film critical of the faith and the Danish cartoon incident which I’m sure everyone knows about.

The reason why I gave the numerous examples is because I am sick of hearing people failing to overwhelmingly condemn rioting, murder, threats and intimidation on the basis that they are offended by a piece of literature which doubts a faith, or a crude film which is insulting. I am offended almost every day by something I read, here or listen to, yet I do not resort to trying to kill someone, violently protest or intimidate anyone and if I did I would be rightly arrested and condemned as rather intolerant.  However I haven’t yet heard mass condemnation of these violent protests and instead I have heard apologetic hogwash which wouldn’t be fit for consumption even amongst the daily mail crowd. I think we all agree freedom of speech is one if not the most important asset we hold and without it a society cannot flourish and neither can ideas. With this agreement it must also be recognised that we should unite against this violence and intolerance which plagues those who hold it and condemn the nonsense which is taking place by simply saying no, you cannot be that offended and act like that. This has been vigorously stated by a few but by no means many and it was the same 20 years ago with Mr Rushdie it seems we haven’t progressed in our condemnation of violence and intolerance.

We have experienced this frightening action too many times, it is time we actually endorsed freedom for those who want it and stop the madness which engulfs much of the world. Like Miss Luxembourg stated freedom is and always has been the freedom for those who think differently. This basic freedom is denied in many parts of the world, from the apostate in Pakistan who is targeted because he has fallen foul of the faith and is hunted for this fall from the faith to the 10 year old christian girl who was harassed by a mob and then arrested after allegedly burning pages from a Koran. The real way to end this nonsense is to print Rosa Luxembourg’s quote across the world and hope that others take the message of tolerance of other ideas.