A few weeks ago the members of Pussy Riot were freed, it would have been fairly embarrassing to have the two remaining members of Pussy Riot incarcerated during the Winter Olympics. The gesture was fairly hollow, three months of their sentence remaining is hardly a big gesture, though I have say if I was cooped up in Prison – Russian or otherwise – twelve weeks less would be welcome. The gesture was a calculated moved. As the world applauded their release Russia was busying persecuting its gay population, and more than that, using its propaganda machine to dehumanise its gay population.
I don’t define myself primarily as gay, and I don’t think the gay rights issue in Russia is a gay rights issue, it is human rights issue – and as such should be addressed as such. Reading a photo article in the Guardian today was struck by how ordinary the people were, two male couples, two female couples, two singles, two homophobes and how simple the story was – ordinary people in Russia are being victimised by the State whilst neo-Nazi groups kill people without sanction of the State. The pictures are well composed, the stories very brief and very simple. Whilst browsing the iPad newsfeed I also came across a story, well it had been in the news all this week of Thomas Hitzlsperger going public about his sexual preferences, this came a few weeks after Tom Daly made a moving announcement about his sexuality. As in the case of Hitzlsperger the political involved associated with the Football Player rushed to microphone to show their support – primarily Merkel and Cameron.
Digressing a little, I don’t think it should require any comment if someone says that they are gay, but we will live in a world – even Western Europe – where affirmation is still required to combat the hard rump of discrimination – where still feel it is required to say ‘some people are gay, get over it’. Unfortunately the same leaders and sportsmen and women that rush to media to show their support are very quite when it comes to gay rights in Russia. The simple fact is that those sports people who come out as being gay would not be welcome at the Winter Olympics at Sochi.
We unfortunately live in a decaying, well decayed, hegemony that requires us to support those oppress our values, and like armchair political activists just voice our support for human rights in the privacy of our own media.
What does rile me more is that journalists like Clare Balding are going to Sochi, it is more galling because she herself is Lesbian and apparently sees no contradiction in supporting Tom Daley (who wouldn’t be allowed to attend now), and commenting on the Olympic Games as if it was the meeting of the worlds greatest athletes. Of course we all have to make our own choices, but Clare’s is not one that I understand.
Freeing Pussy Riot, as welcome as it is, was just a gesture and we should remember that.
“You don’t have a choice to be gay, bisexual or straight but you do have a choice whether to be honest, open & proud. Respect @TomDaley1994
I am pleased to announce, well IPSA the independent body that sets the remuneration for MP’s will be recommending that MP’s receive a 12% pay rise, that is about £10,000 bring the salary of an MP up to around £76,000. This will increase the wage Bill by around £650,000 a year. Of course it is ‘us’ that pay ‘their’ wages.
The ‘us’ includes people living on the minimum wage, families that are struggling with increased fuel bill, and some of those paying an extra £14 per week because their Dialysis Machines takes up ‘the spare room’ and they have to pay the Bedroom Tax.
I appreciate that we are all ‘in this together’ and that austerity is here until 2018 because the Coalition Government has been really hardworking to ensure that the promise to lift austerity by 2015 has been exceeded, and we can all enjoy the austerity that little bit longer since we are all enjoying it so MUCH.
The fact that MP’s can claim for fuel allowances on their accommodation which they can rent at out expense, or they can claim the interest on a second mortgage (one MP had to use the facility because she lived a 30 minute tube ride away from Parliament) obviously means that they are probably enjoying austerity a little more than the rest of us.
I am actually quite calm about the rise, because IPSA has said that it will ‘crack down’ on expenses of MP’s and re-arrange MPs pensions (which they collect when they leave Parliament, and do not have wait until they are 65, 66, 67, or whatever the State Pension age is now.
I am glad that IPSA is going to crack down on fiddling expenses, I mean if you are an MP and get found out you’ve been ‘creative’ in claiming for work on a Moat around your house – an honest mistake we all make on our expense forms – you can just ‘pay the money back’ unlike the rest of us that would get sacked.
The argument that we should pay MPs more because it might encourage them to obey the law a little more is reasonable, unlike the rest of us who lose our jobs or get sent to Prison a better incentive is to let them get their nose deeper in the trough.
I hope, beyond all hope, that if my MP is getting 10% money extra that he will be doing 10% extra work, and when I say ‘work’ I don’t mean extending the baying chorus of Dingos at Prime Ministers Question Time – though if David Cameron answered questions – let alone 10 percent of them – at PMQs then I would consider that money well spent.
A ten percent reduction in the number of questions David Cameron asks at PMQs would be welcome.
(If you ever watch the political ‘Punch & Judy Show’ that is PMQs then take note of how many questions the Prime Minister answers that are not ‘planted questions’ from the Opposition – though he does seem to ask a lot of questions – Dave you are the PM, you shouldn’t be asking them you are there to answer them !)
To be fair to MPs this pay rise is being ‘forced up on them’ by IPSA, I am sure that that they will be crying all the way to the Bank.
Of course if they think it is too much then they could donate it to a charity, I am sure there are plenty of homeless charities that would welcome £10,000 a year extra – but that’s not going to happen is it?
Being a businessperson and an MP I am sure you can smell a good deal, and according to figures released to Parliament in questions to David Cameron – who did not, and has not disputed them – the SureStart scheme shows a 4:1 cost benefit, and to put it into perspective gives a greater return than HS2 is supposed to do, so sounds like a good deal.
Not only does Sure Start give a better rate of return than HS2 is is very much cheaper and is also universal (HS2 Ltd has recently released figures saying some areas may actually be dis-benefited).
Not only does it give a benefit to society it also gives a benefit to families and children, the most vulnerable.
I think we both agree it is a win win situation, perhaps why David Cameron promised not to cut SureStart and thought the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s accusation that the Tories would cut Sure Start was scurrilous. I remember emailing you regarding his comments ‘Call Me Dave’ made in Parliament in questions on the subject – so I know he actually said that Sure Start would be ring fenced because he understood its importance.
I appreciate that the Conservative Party has been deleting its promises (NHS, VAT, Sure Start, EMA, and Child Benefit) from its website but there is still plenty of evidence that the Tories made these promises – unfortunately for Tory MP’s.
Of course you can imagine how I felt when I heard that 570 Sure Start Centres have been closed, these figures are from the ONS, and confusion when the Government says only 45 have been closed (surely some mistake) and wonder how you feel about this. It is also happening in Swindon so this is very much something to do with you.
I really hope you will be pressing the Government to stop attacking the poorest in society and perhaps spend a little less effort on protecting Bankers bonuses in the EU – I am sure you understand that it is the weakest in society need help, and with a cost benefit of 4:1 you can’t claim it is frivolous ‘Nanny State’ interference?
Lets drag every woman who wears a Burqa into Top Shop and make them wear a pair of ‘Trakky Bottoms’ and Gold Lame Leggings, or if not then lets throw them into prison.
It is not a ‘religious garment’ it is not mentioned in the Koran, so the infringement of religious freedom is not an argument. The Burqa is a tool of male oppression (and I really hate it because the reason the Burqa is worn is because the men have their brains in their crotch and must be prevented from lusting after woman) and it is about control. Lets ‘Ban the Burqa’ because we all know that Muslim women come into this country and steal things and hide them behind their veils and also it stops Immigration Officials from actually seeing who is really behind the bed sheet. I think the Burqa is evil, I think it should be banned tomorrow, if for no other reason than it’s just ‘bad fashion’.
Before you un-follow I would march on the streets to save the Burqa, not that I am Muslim or even a Woman, but it is a fundamental touchstone of my belief that people should have the right of freedom of expression and that the State should not ban anything unless they is a really good reason to do so. The arguments so far have been verging on the racist, or at best ill-informed. Don’t get me wrong I think the Burqa is an evil piece of couture that is designed to hide women, but banning the Burqa will not solve anything, what will solve the gender imbalance is education and exposure to culture, exposure you will not receive if you cannot go outside and experience it because your faith system says you must wear a Burqa. Banning an item of clothing will do nothing but imprison women, incarcerate them either in their homes or, if it is taken that far, a stay ‘at her Majesty’s pleasure’.
I did agree with Jack Straw a few years ago when he asked a Muslim Lady to remove here veil so he could understand what she was saying, and I did agree with the Education Authority that said a Muslim Teacher (well all Teachers) need face contact with their pupils, it is one of the ways we communicate, and the branches of Islam that insist on women wearing the Burqa need to address these issues. The situation of wearing the Burqa and functioning in a western democracy are complex and far from perfect – but needlessly banning something is not the solution – education is, and in this country it is compulsory that everyone is educated.
Can someone explain why get rid of the Burqa would alter national life, or make me feel safer, or feel that I live in a tolerant society, please explain it to me.
Of course whilst we are banning the Burqa we can ban the Kilt and the ‘Trakky Bottom’ whilst we are making legislation, why not burn a few books as well to make it a ‘bit of a celebration’?
A quick look on Twitter reveals that the main proponents on banning the Burqa have a Union Flag on their avatar (they would probably call it the Union Jack, because they are so dumb about their own culture that they are steadfastly trying to protect) – I have to say I detest my country’s flag,to me it is symbol not of national pride (even the word ‘national’ has chill overtones) but a symbol of racism, intolerance, of a country that is squalid and insecure in itself and refuses to celebrate its cultural diversity).
To me the ‘Ban the Burqa’ campaign is about demonising the Muslim faith, it is about creating an evil spectre of the ‘other’ of the ‘unknown’. It is the other side of the telephone conversation we cannot hear, it is the whispers in the office, the sudden silence, it is the fear that we do not know everything, that there is something hidden in an age where everything is revealed. No other faith wears the Burqa (as far as I know) therefore it has to be against one religion, and yes lets reiterate that the Burqa is not required religious apparel, and the vast majority of Muslim women in this country do not wear the Burqa, but does the state want to take away their choice?
I am taken back in this debate to an Alpha Course I went on, yes the Christians, and one woman there declaring ‘all Muslims want to kill the Christians’. I was a little worried as I worked with a couple of Muslims and wondered if I should have someone taste my food, but apparently they didn’t, in fact quite the opposite the faith says to live a peace with everyone. The point is the debate is based on misinformation, very few Muslims wear the Burqa and if they want, why should that worry me?
I was asked a few weeks ago whether, all things being equal if I had any problem with a private company providing health care instead of the NHS, to be honest I do not care how the health service is sourced as long as it is free at the point of need and puts patients care as its primary objective. The problem is a ‘free market’ solution does not, and cannot do this, the motive is profit not care.
Whilst competition will, theoretically, produce improvement as people can shop around for healthcare it will always find the lowest common denominator, it will also tailor its product to its customer, which is not the people it is treating, but the Government, therefore it will tailor its treatments to producing figures. The German health service has already found this, it will provide the simple, cheap, operations to say ‘this is how many patients we have treated’ rather offer the complex time consuming operations.
Profit also has to be a motivation, this can be achieved through efficiency – which is both laudable and desirable – providing the bare minimum of care and cutting costs to patient care. It’s Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) will be at the forefront of its methodology, not patient care, it must be profit before care.
The problem with the Government’s strategy of market reform of the Health Service is surprisingly that is that a company can simply ‘give the keys’ back if they are not making a profit, it then the State that has to step in and ‘pick up the pieces’. The default of National Express East Coast franchise shows that the Government cannot leave utilities to the mercy of market forces, so theoretically they cannot fail, and there is no incentive to invest and ensure that a franchise is inherently stable. The same mentality that caused the Banking Crisis of 2008 is now being forced upon the Health Care system.
The ‘Free Market’ appears to be taking no risks, only profit.
Before the privatisation of Health Care earlier on this year we were witness to a Retirement Home going into liquidation, and it was the State that was the ultimate guarantor of public health. Healthcare is not a free market, and it should not be there to make a profit.
As with NHS111 it is the State that takes the risks and the private takes the profit.
The question that needs to be answered is why does the Government want a system that does not necessarily benefit the end user and that does not ensure that the risk remains where the profit is? This is the question that needs to be answered now that several operators of the NHS 111 service have literally told the Government ‘we don’t want it, we can’t make money’. What is even more strange is that the operators of the services that have decided the operation is not profitable will be able to bid for more contracts.