We cannot defeat poverty until we remember our humanity

I’m lucky.

I am half of a couple that hasn’t been struck (to date) by any tragedies.

Whilst we have several hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of mortgage debt (don’t ask the exact amount, it’s far too scary to say out loud) ; we were young adults in a generation where it was possible to get on the housing ladder based on multiples of our salaries; at a time where there were lots of mortgage options and we didn’t have to wait for someone to die so we could inherit a deposit or house.

We’ve never been in a situation where we’ve had to default on a mortgage payment; so we’ve not seen our home repossessed due to a sudden change in our fortunes.

Hubby and I are happily unmarried and have been so for 22 years, so I haven’t found myself in the situation of being a single mother.  I haven’t had to make the decision to not work because the jobs I can get hardly pay enough to cover the childcare.  I haven’t had to justify staying at home to raise my own child or been forced to take minimum wage, zero hour jobs because being a ‘mum’ is not considered work.  I’ve not been forced to go to work to spend all my wage on someone else who gets to see my child grow up.  I’ve not been shamed for making the choice to be a stay at home mum.   I have a partner, I had family around for childcare support so I had choices.  I was not a waster in society for having kids I couldn’t afford, or having kids just so I could claim benefit.  Oh no I haven’t had to wear those labels.

Whilst we’ve both been made redundant in the past, it’s never been in a town or city  largely supported by one specific industry so hundred/thousands of people with similar skills found themselves on the job market at the same time.  We did get other jobs.  We hadn’t slogged the years away in mining towns or manufacturing towns where the whole industry disappeared.  Where the job market didn’t exist any more.

We’ve also not been out of work and whilst been prepared to take anything, found every single employer considers you are too skilled for the job  and won’t take you on because they think you’ll leave for something better.  We’ve never not been rejected job after job after job because we’re too old (although they’d never tell you that); we’ve never had to experience the indignity of sitting in front of a job search advisor (or whatever they are called this month) and had to prove that we’ve applied for X amount of jobs no matter how inappropriate in order to get a little bit of money to feed ourselves.

We’ve always worked and paid our taxes but never earned enough to take advantage of the tax evasion loophole the corporations, bankers and fat cats have access to.

And, whilst we don’t have a penny of savings and our credit cards are maxed out but we haven’t been in a situation where we’ve defaulted so, we haven’t had bailiffs at our door. Or had to take out extortionate debt enhancing payday loans  We have had the good fortune of having parents who could help us in difficult times. And despite no savings and huge debts, we’ve never been struck down by illness that has then forced use to the food banks.  We are not vilified by the media and government as wasters or scroungers because we haven’t found ourselves in any of these situations.

There have been periods of time where I had to give up work because of my health, but we have always managed to sustain ourselves; so I’ve not had to justify myself for ESA or PIP and suffer the shame and embarrassment of assessments and trick questions, and assumption that I’m a benefits cheat when I’m at my lowest ebb.  I’ve not been threatened with sanctioned because I’ve missed an appointment at the jobcentre which is 20 miles away and the bus didn’t show up or I had no money for petrol in my car.  Or been too unwell, or confused to turn up on time.

I never been in a situation where I could choose private healthcare to avoid the long waiting list in the NHS due to the continued cuts in funding.  I’ve not had to be on benefits for years because my health was such that I needed an operation or medical intervention but the waiting list was so long I had no choice but to claim social support.  So I’ve not been stuck at home wanting to work but not fit to be there, physically declining in fitness as my movement deteriorates from the long wait and my mental health deteriorating from the lack of social interaction.

I can occasionally (maybe once every month or so) go out for a nice meal with my hubby and kids. I can afford to meet my friends for coffee and cake or grab a pint at the end of the week in the pub.  I can even afford a cheap holiday abroad every year.

My son did get a good education to A level.   and although we couldn’t afford to pay for him to go to university ourselves we’re in Wales and he worked hard and got A’s in his A levels, so he did get a good amount of financial support as a grant plus several bursaries.  So whilst he’ll still leave university with several thousand pounds worth of debt from having to get student loans, it will be nothing like the amount many students have.  And because of this he has gone to university, he hasn’t had to worry about starting his working life with £20-£30 K of debt and bottled out (and I don’t blame those who do).

I’m so lucky that I was born in the UK. I’ve not found my family in a war zone or under tyrannical rule. I don’t fear every day for my life, We haven’t had to risk our lives on treacherous journeys because the risk of dying in transit is less frightening than staying where we are. We’ve not arrived in the UK looking for a safe haven, where we won’t be raped, tortured or killed; only to find ourselves in the UK in a border ghetto, or sent back.   I’m not considered a drain on society. lazy, a freeloader or a terrorist just because of having the good fortune of being born in the UK.

I’m not one of the millions of people in this country who have slogged their entire life on a below average British wage, unable to save and reliant on a decreasing government pension despite having paid in my whole life.  I’ve not slogged away my whole life and paid into a pension I believed was ring fenced only to discover that a fat cat corporation  has squandered my cash or the finance companies have mismanaged my money.  (Actually that’s not true,  Hubby has lost tens of thousands from his pension pot due to financial mismanagement – but I’m sure those boys still took their admin fees and bonuses as his pension  money was frittered away)  However, we are not retired yet, we’re not yet reliant on our underfunded and dysfunctional social care system.  We’re not yet having to live solely on our State pensions, although we won’t know yet if our compulsory NI contributions through our life have been spent elsewhere and we may yet find there is nothing in the pot for us.  However, we do own our house or rather the bank does) but if the worse came to the worse we are in a positive equity situation and could move somewhere smaller  But my heart bleeds for those who did their best on their low incomes and paid their stamp and having planned for their future only to have arrived there to discover the coffers are empty.

It’s easy to (mis)judge others. Especially if you are one of the ‘lucky ones’ like me.  Even more so if you are one of the 13% of the population with private healthcare.  Or someone who can go to university without taking out a student loan; or if you earn enough to accumulate savings,; or have inherited substantial wealth; or have no rent to pay; or no mortgage debt; or never have to think twice before eating out; or take luxury holidays as a given.

It’s easy to (mis)judge others. Especially, in our society that uses a politicised media to spread propaganda and fear to terrorise and control us.

It’s easy to misjudge and to formulate a view based on your own life and how good the system is for us as individuals.  But we are all people living on the same planet, going through our daily lives with our individual and shared joys and struggles.

We should remember that wealth is often a matter of luck: the country in which we are born; the location in which we are raised; the education system to which we had access; the wealth and education of the parents we are born to; the pay rate for the job in which we have to or choose to work;  the health issues we may have inherited or befallen…..

If you have been fortunate in these and other areas and the system leaves you comfortable, then that is fantastic, but as human beings we have an obligation to care for those who are less fortunate; to advocate for those who are less articulate; to subsidise those who are less healthy; to feed those who are starving; to protect those who are in danger.  We should not just swan along in our rose-tinted little worlds where “we’re alright jack” is the order of the day, and the issues around us are not important because they do not affect us.  We have a human and moral obligation to care.  And if you have a religious faith, you also have a God-given duty to do so.

Anyway, I will end this rant in the hope that just one person in the ‘I’m all right jack’ camp reads this and thinks ‘bloody hell, look at what this government is doing to our middle and poorer classes, look at the shame and pain and disregard it is affording our disabled, our sick, our children , our future” .

If one person reads this and properly looks out beyond their own comforts to see that the current system does not work for the majority. If that one person then takes action to change the current course; if that happens then this long prose has been worth its while.

Thank you for persevering and reading to this point.  Much love, kindness and consideration to you and yours.

This blog was inspired after I read a very long but rather wonderful article yesterday by someone called Killy S Jones “The erosion of democracy and the repression of mainstream media in the UK”, I’ve linked to it and you may like to scan though it, but I can understand if you don’t, its pretty full on.  At the end are a few excerpts tha may peak your interest.

“…..Neoliberalism always gravitates towards increasing inequality, extending and deepening poverty. Fear mongering is sometimes used with a diversion or misdirection propaganda technique to mask this,……. …… The process often begins with a marginalised group being singled out and held to blame for the socioeconomic problems created by the system of socioeconomic organisation itself. Using the construction of folk devils (welfare “skivers” , “workshy” “something for nothing culture”, “culture of entitlement” or “dependency” for example), the political class and media generate moral panic and outrage…..”

“…The Conservatives commonly use a nudge technique called “social norming” …..or “bandwagon propaganda technique”…… It’s about manipulating a false sense of consensus, and normalising (their)  ideology……Political slogans like “a country that works for everyone” and the previous “all in it together” are examples of poor attempts at social norming. …” 

 “….(The media) process of delegitimisation occurred in several ways: 1) through lack of or distortion of voice; 2) through ridicule, scorn and personal attacks; and 3) through association, mainly with terrorism….”

In, Out, Shake It all About

I’ve refrained so far from blogging about this but I can no longer contain myself. Sorry!
I’m sure we’re all just about sick to death of the EU Referendum and its spin, scare-mongering, slagging off and assumptions about each side from each side.
My main though is that if it were to make any significantly dangerous difference we would not have been given the chance to vote.
My second main thought is that its important to vote… especially the younger and new voters…  have a political/economic interest in your future, you have earned that right
And my third main thought… well, I’ll share that at the end if you make it that far!
Personally I’m voting leave, but you may think differently, that’s fine, it doesn’t make me a racist or you an idiot, or any other personal attack comments being flung about.  Find out as much as you can.  Don’t think you’re the only one who feels like they’re lacking enough facts to vote.  Trust your gut and go to the polls.
Be sure of this though. There’s no unbiased information out there . There CAN’T be any factual information about the future of a post brexit UK because it hasn’t happened yet; plus we’ve never left the EU before and nor has anyone else in the same way ; plus it will depend very much on actions and decisions yet to be taken after the vote if the Brexit is a majority. We also CAN’T be factual about what will happen after if we remain. again it hasn’t happened yet; it will depend heavily on how the EU treat us if we stay after being so vocal about wanting to potentially leave; and the decisions our representatives make on our behalf post-referendum.. so everything is best guest and biased to the views of the side presenting the statistical analysis…. remember all the fear created about not taking on or taking on the Euro – all bullshit in the end but presented as fact!! The banking collapse, etc etc …we are not good at predicting the future even when it potentially involves no significant changes…. the world is like that.
ANYWAY:
The information below is borrowed from a chap called John Wright (many thanks Mr W)
Democracy doesn’t exist in the EU especially if anything it’s a secret dictatorship.
 
This one of the best explain actions I’ve seen so far about the EU referendum Credit goes to John Wright.
 
There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about June 23rd, and people want to know the facts. Here are some:
 
You are not voting to leave the EEA or WTO, meaning all of the UK’s trade and benefit agreements will remain unchanged should we leave, until such a time that the UK decides to renegotiate them for any reason.
 
You are not voting to leave NATO, meaning our security agreements remain unchanged. Should we receive an act of hostility from a non-NATO member, then NATO countries are obliged to come to our assistance. This does not change.
 
You are not voting to leave the UN, G8 or G20, meaning Britain will have the same voice on the world stage as it does today.
 
You are not voting to leave Europe!! The UK will still, geographically, be part of Europe. Non political organisations aligned to Europe will still extend membership to the UK (I.e. sports governing bodies, and so on).
 
You are not voting to stop recognising Interpol, Europol and neither are you voting for SIS / MI6 to stop dealing with other intelligence services in the fight against terrorism and global, organised crime.
 
You are not voting against being able to travel to Europe, contrary to the belief of some fools recently on TV. The UK has always maintained stricter border and passport controls than many EU members. This will not change. You will still use a passport to go on holiday and you will still be allowed entry to countries in Europe. You may even get chance to skip queues by using the non–EU queues at the airport (the only point so far that is my opinion, and not necessarily a fact).
 
The UK economy will benefit to the tune of £billions in the first year after we leave.
 
Medical and science research will not simply stop. The UK pays into the EU to then get money back in the form of funding. The UK will now be in control of this money and can choose to fund whatever UK-based medical, science, art or other research it chooses.
 
Farming will not lose money because of EU funding being cut. The UK negotiated a rebate of some monies that the UK pays to the EU, in order to subsidise UK farmers. Instead of asking for our money back, we can give it straight to farmers. No change there.
 
You are not voting against human rights. The EU Convention on, and European Court of Human Rights are not part of the EU. Until parliament passes a new bill of rights for the UK, these will still apply, as will precedents already passed down to UK courts from Brussels.
 
You are not voting to kick anyone out of the UK or block access to anyone. Neither are you voting to stop recruiting valuable European workers into things like the NHS. Like my other point about passports for travel, the UK is already outside of the Schengen zone and so migrant workers must enter the UK with a valid passport before and after June 23rd. That will not change. British borders maintain full control of who comes and goes. Should someone have the skills to apply to work in the NHS, then they will still be permitted travel and given an opportunity to apply for a job. Worst case, points based assessment, like the US, Canada and Australia use, will come into effect. The UK is likely to negotiate freedom of labour movement though, in exchange for freedom of goods movement.
 
You are not voting to move jobs nor production out of the UK! The EU actually helped fund the move of Ford Transit production from the UK to Turkey… Yes, the EU helped give UK jobs to people in Turkey by giving Ford a loan of £80m with very generous terms!
 
What you are voting for is UK sovereignty. You are voting to stay in or leave a political union of leaders and representatives that you British people did not elect. You are voting against a commission of unelected, elite men that nobody at all voted for and yet they make decisions on our behalf. You are simply voting to bring sovereignty back to Westminster, and that is all. If you worry about that because you don’t like the Conservative government, look at the reality. Their majority in parliament is very slim. They have been blocked on big decisions already. You are therefore not giving sovereignty to David Cameron, but to the UK House of elected representatives. Do not be fooled by the fear campaigns that are simply run by the wealthy, who need EU money to thrive! Think about the future, and your family’s future
And finally, as promised, my third main thought…
…is that whatever the result; whether we end up in or out , we will have certainly shaken it all about!! As we in the Official Monster Raving Loony Party believe, that is our raison d’être.  As people in a democratic country it is our job not to let the representatives, beaurocrats and powers that be become complacent and any more egocentric than they already are….
BE LOUD,
QUESTION EVERYTHING.
REMEMBER, THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWER
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO THINK FOR YOURSELF
immigration joke

I’m Serious, UK Politics are Insane… (point 1:the voting system)

Politics is complicated.

I don’t profess to understand it nearly enough.  But unless you’re a career politician (like  most of those running our country), then you probably don’t understand much of it either.  Its almost like its deliberately really really complicated so we think we don’t know enough to have an opinion or we can’t possibly understand so our opinion might make us look silly.

I don’t understand most of politics.

I feel that much of the system is about misrepresentation, and playing the system.   Its a power game, involving a lot of spinning (ie; sales speak) to get us to think that one person might represent us better than another and that our vote might make a difference.  We are lead to believe we have a choice

I don’t think the political system is fair. Not everyone’s vote counts

Because its complicated its hard to see how we can make a difference.  Here’s some points – made simple so I can understand them and do the maths!

There are 650 seats in the House of Commons. A party needs to win one more than half to form a majority government.

Everybody lives in one of the 650 constituencies that the country is divided into. Anyone living in there who is over 18 should be registered to vote

Say (to make it easier for me to do the maths), where you live there are 1000 voters, and there were 5 parties to chose from (blue, red, yellow, green, purple).  Let’s assume everybody makes a vote. Say 240 voted for blue and the other 760 votes were split between the other 4 equally so all the others got 190 each.  The blues would win this seat even though they only got 240 of the 1000 votes. That means that slightly less than a quarter (25%) of the people wanted the blue team to represent them but now they do..

This is the system of politics in the UK and it’s called “First Past The Post”

An election is won if one ‘colour’ gets more than half the seats. So if blue get 326 seats then their top man (or woman) becomes Prime Minister

So they could win half the seats each with a quarter of the voters.  That means only 1/8th (12.5%) of the voting population wanted them to be in charge.  OK this is very extreme but with our system of politics it could happen (eek!!!)

Politics is not democratic

In the last election only 65% of the population, who could vote, did vote.

So lets do the maths again.  If in your area of 1000 votes only 650 turned up to vote for one of the 5 colours.  If blue got 170 votes and the other 480 went equally between the other 4 colours (120 each) . Blue would get that seat despite only 170 of the 1000 people voting for them (that’s only 17%).

Again if only half the seats need to be won by blue and each seat is won by only 17% of the votes, then the blue team runs the country with only 8% of the people wanting them there.

In theory, worse case scenario.

Bad isn’t it.

As only 65% of the voting population actually voted in the last election. In reality at best our current Government, The Conservative Party is representing the country , with, at best only 35% of the voting population wanting them there

That’s not fair is it?

There are probably a million reasons to not bother voting

With 35% of the population that can vote choosing not to, I would, if I were in charge, wonder why.  Why is it that one out of every three voters doesn’t want to, chooses not to, or can’t be arsed to vote?

I don’t blame them.  With the system we have its hard to see what the point is.  First Past The Post is not representative of the populous however you look at it.

There are loads of reasons you might not bother:-

  1. maybe none of the parties say anything that means anything to you… most of it may as well be in a different language
  2. maybe there is just so much ‘spin’ you can’t work out what each party stands for. It’s like advertising for sanitary products … do any of them really do the job better than the others
  3. maybe each party is just so busy slagging of all the other parties they all seem like bickering in a playground
  4. maybe the system is so unfair that you think your little vote won’t make a difference… but there’s always a chance 9i bet you sometimes by a lottery ticket).
  5. maybe none of the parties are even talking about the issues that are most important to you
  6. maybe you just don’t trust anything that any of them are saying (after all they so often change their minds once they win)
  7. Maybe politics don’t interest you (I have to admit I’m even boring myself now)
  8. maybe you’re sick that day or something happens and you meant to go but couldn’t
  9. Maybe you don’t have a polling station near enough to you and you don’t drive and you didn’t consider a postal vote
  10. Maybe you can’t read and the whole idea is too intimidating
  11. Maybe it was raining and you just didn’t want to get wet

In the past (and because I don’t know much about politics I can’t tell you how long ago), if you turned up at least and spoilt your paper at least you could register your distain for the system.  A spoilt paper was like a vote for “None of the Above” and when the results were announced you would be told how many papers were ‘spoilt’.  at least as a disgruntled voter you had a voice, even if it was a little squeaked that might just turn the odd head for a second or two.

These days those papers just get discarded.  And if you don’t turn up at all you go down merely as part of the overall statistic. so in the news it will say ‘election turnout , 65% of the electorate turned out to vote”… you would be one of the 35% they didn’t mention

Why am I a Loony? (The eternal question…..)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Apart from the obvious, “I blame the parents”…….

I have been accused that standing as part of The Official Monster Raving Loony Party, is making a mockery of the hard won fight for our right to vote.

However, in my mind our system of politics is downright unfair, crazy even. Positively insane, in fact.  And if we’re going to run with an insane system then I suggest why not vote for it.

I don’t know why the other ‘Loonies’ are loonies.  Unlike members of most political parties we don’t have to think as a collective.  We are allowed to express our own opinions, we do not have to ‘tow the party line’.

I stand because I want to highlight the hypocrisy, injustice and minimal input of democracy in the UKs governing process.

I stand because I want to encourage people who, like me, don’t know everything there is to know about politics, to vote anyway

I stand because I want people to start talking about politics.

I stand because the system sucks, its not fair, it’s not fit for purpose and I want to rebel against it

I stand because I can.  Despite the system and its failings, we live in a country where we still have the right to free speech.

I stand because EVERYTHING is political.  EVERYTHING is affected by politics.  EVERY SINGLE ASPECT OF LIFE.

So its important

Anyway, my message to you is this: DO VOTE.  Whenever you get the chance. Let’s not have the decision made by 65% of the voting population, lets have it made by all of us.

On the 5th May 2016 there are the Welsh Assembly Elections.  It may seem complicated.  When you go to the polling station you will have THREE voting slips.  One is for individuals standing to represent their Party in your constituency; One will be for Parties representing a Regional seat. There is also the vote for the new Police Commissioner. 
You may have been lucky and been visited by representatives of parties… sometimes this is because they care, or because they want your vote, or both.  Some Parties will not have visited you, that might mean they don’t care, or they think they’ll get your vote anyway so are a bit cocky ; or it may be that their party doesn’t have the resources to send people out (like many of the smaller parties).  I personally think that within Wales, particularly within Brecknockshire and Radnorshire our Conservative MP is a waste of space, he only turns up if there’s a photo opportunity or an election and he rarely stands for the individuals in his patch.  I also think our Welsh Libdems do a fabulous job.  I think Kirsty Williams is the best representative we can have for Wales;  she turns up , she shouts out and she genuinely cares for the individuals within the area.  But that’s what I think, it might not be what you think. What I think might completely get your back up, but thats Ok , you have your own opinion and you are allowed to think and vote how you like , that’s my point.
As Lady Lily the Pink, I am 1 of 7 Loonies standing for the Mid and West Wales Regional vote… on the slip alongside the other parties it will say “The Official Monster Raving Loony Party”… .  There’s a group of Loonies standing in each of the 5 Welsh regions.  There are no Loonies standing in this election for the constituency vote… I told you it was complicated, politics is like that.
Well done for reading this far, I have a tendency to waffle (why use 3 words when 30 will do it more annoyingly!!).  Anyway, consider this (why not): if you don’t usually vote, why not vote unusually.

The Official Monster Raving Loony Party

Vote for Insanity, You Know It Makes Sense

 

 

Disclaimer: This blog post represents the views of her Ladyship, Lady Lily the Pink and her more serious alter ego, Bernice Benton , and may or may not have any bearing or relation to the opinions of the Monster Raving Loony Party or the individuals I like to think I am representing. I speak for me , as me , and through me…. maybe some of my thoughts and opinions work for you too…