Letters to my sons.

Trying to explain the world to two very small children.

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

1983 Election

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Dear Boys,

I wrote about the first general election that I remembered and now I want to share some thoughts on 1983’s election.

By 1983 the family had moved from Grimsby to the North East and by the time the election came around in June 1983 we still hadn’t got used to the colder weather. Margaret Thatcher won the election by a huge majority for a number of reasons. The main reason was the Falklands War the year before.

I remember waking up one morning and hearing on the radio that Argentina had invaded the Falkland Islands as well as South Georgia. We were still living in Grimsby and I my first thought was: Scotland has been invaded. I had no idea where the Falkland Islands were but they certainly sounded Scottish. Also I wasn’t really sure where Argentina was so in my mind it was quite clearly possible for Argentina to invade some Scottish islands – why they would want to do so didn’t enter my mind. My father explained that the Falklands were in the South Atlantic which didn’t help much. He then explained that the Islands were about 8000 miles away. I felt safer at that point as we used to go on holiday to Scotland and stay in cheap and grotty cottages. Argentina were more than welcome to dusty, smelly cottages without TV’s, central heating and had burn water coming out of the taps, that tasted rank by the way. Of course not all Scottish self catering cottages were in such a state, it was all my parents could afford at the time.

As an eleven year old child I really wanted a war because war was exciting. Bombs, bullets and airplanes. As the diplomatic efforts sped up many people around us, my parents especially, were hopeful that war wouldn’t come. They had both lived through World War 2 and many of the older people at church had fought either on the home front or the actual front. When an old man asked me what I thought about the Falklands, I told him that I wanted a war. I didn’t understand the look on his face at the time by I know now: pure pain.

Before long the boats were off to take back the Falklands including two aircraft carriers, HMS Hermes and Invincible. Military bands played as the boats left port in a “Task Force” and different news readers tried to pronounce “junta” correctly. Even with the Task Force sailing 8000 miles, peace was still a possibility because it would take 6 ot 8 weeks for the Task Force to get into position.

We were the last family to get a colour TV in our street but we were the first to get one with TeleText. TeleText was a massive revelation at the time. While watching TV you could press the “Text” button and you would get a “page” of information usually a menu on Page 100. From there you could enter page numbers to get the information you wanted. News was on pages from 102 to 125 and if you went to page 150 you got a news flash. The news flash page allowed you to see almost all of the screen and a few lines of news. If you pressed the Recall button the news flash would disappear and you could carry on watching the TV until the page changed and then it would pop-up again. The problem was you couldn’t change channels because the TeleText was tied to the TV channel you were watching. This wasn’t really a problem for us as we tended to watch BBC1. One night we were watching TV when the News Flash come up on the screen. I read it incorrectly as I though it said that Sheffield had been bombed by the Argentinean’s, in actual fact the ship HMS Sheffield had been hit by an Argentinean missile. My heart fluttered at the thought of a city being attacked, could it be Grimsby next? Our teacher at the time had been a little mischievous in the run to the war telling us that if things got bad and escalated we, his class, could be drafted in to the army to fight. It had happened elsewhere in the world he told us. This information didn’t dampen my desire for war and when I re-read the New Flash and saw that it was a British ship that had been sunk I really was excited. I asked my dad: “Does this mean war?” “Yes it does” he replied with much foreboding. I looked at Uncle Phil and we smiled at each other – nothing like a good war to get an 11 and 13 year old excited.

It must be remembered that in 1982 we only three channels on the TV and no rolling news. Before the news every night there was a half an hour program dealing with the days war news. During the conflict the Argentinians claimed that they had sunk Hermes at least three times. They also claimed that they had shot down a considerable number of Sea Harriers. This lead to the famous quote from John Hanrahan: I’m not allowed to say how many planes joined the raid, but I counted them all out and I counted them all back. They used this quote during the opening titles so it was repeated every night and soon learned.

I remember watching some war footage with my mother not long after the conflict finished and it showed a Harrier launching an air to air missile that followed an Argentine plane before hitting it and blowing it up. I let a “YES!” at that point but my mother rebuked me: “That was someones son that just died” she told me. I think that was the point that it all started to sink in. War isn’t a game, it isn’t fun – it is about people trying to kill while not being killed themselves.

The British eventually won the war and returned home to massive adulation. I remember being at South Parade Middle School on the day victory was announced. The lads who played football in the top and second to top year spent the morning play time singing songs about beating the Argies. I’m sure where the songs came from – someones dad probably went to football matches as there was plenty of swearing. Being only 11 and knowing that “your” country has just won a war, against the odds and thousands of miles away from home filled me with euphoria. Along with other feelings I experienced as a child, I have never experienced anything like it again.

My mothers reaction to the death of the Argentinian pilot has stayed with me because it showed a little split of her personality. She was born in 1937, two years before the Second World War kicked off so she got a full dose of the anti-German propaganda that was pumped into the population from 1939 – 1945 to justify the bombing of innocent German civilians – in the same way that the Germans were busy de-huminising their own population in order to justify murder. Some of this propaganda stuck as, from time to time, she would come out with something very anti-German and then laugh it off as rubbish. I remember just before we left Grimsby we were looking at tapes in Woolworth’s and she found one that had lots of songs on it that she liked. She showed to me and said “I was going to buy that, then I saw that it had ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ on it. I don’t want it now” and she put it back.

I went to a ruby match between England and Argentina recently and I was a little perturbed to see Sea Cadets holding an Argentina flag.  War propaganda leaves it mark. And so it did with the electorate. Just over a year later Margaret Thatcher was re-elected with a massive majority which she used to pass the most divisive of legislation. She was able to satisfy the needs of the people with money while pushing whole segments of society into poverty – poverty that remains today.

Not that I understood all of this at the time. On the day Thatcher won I cut out her picture from the paper and attached to the car window on the way to school. I understood what Thatcher said when she said that the country must compete with other countries and that meant reducing wages. As a 12 year old this made sense and it’s true. Unfortunately there is no way to compete against countries like China that use political prisoners as slave workers although this escaped me at the time as I was caught in the smoke and mirrors that is capitalism – or the version of economics that is called capitalism. But these are my memories of the 1983 election.

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May 13th, 2010 at 3:33 pm

A change of government.

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Dear Boys,

after my last post things have moved on. Gordon Brown resigned and David Cameron become Prime Minister.

The first change of Prime Minister I remember was when Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979. Mr Robinson, the head teacher at South Parade Middle school, told us in the morning assembly that we now had the first woman Prime Minister in the UK although she wasn’t the first woman Premier in the world as there had been others. I remember the election being called, the front page of the Telegraph had a picture of a calendar showing the date of the election. In those days at home we used to have tea while listening to “P.M.” on Radio 4 and they used to broadcast a lot of the debates in Parliament. I remember something about the Liberal’s not being allowed to use a dispatch box because some MP’s put their feet up and wouldn’t let him past.

Parliament wasn’t televised in those days and as a child I had no idea what it looked like inside. I had this idea that all the MP’s were all in a large hall like the church hall at the Haven Methodist Church, were Grandpa John was the Minister. The church hall had a large set of both brown and blue chairs made from tubular steel. When we had boys brigade in the hall we used to get out blue chairs – the colour of the Boys Brigade uniform and not brown – the colour of the Brownies uniform. In my minds eye the rows of chairs were put out and angry men would stand up and try and shout down the man speaking at the front. The rows neat rows of chairs that would have been put out in the morning but with the all the anger and shouting they would have been higgledy piggledy. I would love get some tapes of parliament from that time so you could hear them – the shouting and the anger. As a young child during the winter, when it was already dark, I found it quite frighting. The shouting was hateful, loud and constant – well the stuff they broadcast anyway.

In the morning we also had Radio 4 on and the time I needed to leave to for school was when the “Yesterday In Parliament” segment started with an “Order Order” from the Speaker. When I eventually did get to see the inside of Parliament with it’s green seats I was very surprised as it looked nothing like the image in my mind. For a start there were benches, not tubular steel chairs covered with cloth and the benches were set out in rows facing each other.

When I listen to you William talk about how you image things work I think about my ideas of parliament and how wrong I was but it was fun to imagine.

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May 11th, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Posted in Memories,Politics

Malcolm Rifkind espouses fascism?

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Dear boys,

after yesterdays turn of events the Tory press and politicians went into a tizzy as it looked like a deal was about to happen between the Lib Dems and Labour. By the time you are able to read and understand this blog Rupert Murdoch, if there is any justice in the world, will be long dead, but no doubt his influence will still be felt. And yesterday his mouth piece, Sky News, was touting that a deal between the Conservatives – who he supports – had done a deal with the Lib Dems and his favourite – Cameron – was going to become the next Prime Minister. Just a few minutes later Gordon Brown announced that he was going and that Labour and the Lib Dems were in negotiations.

This lead to this bizarre piece of TV:

The Murdoch press simply spat out their dummies and got annoyed.

Other Tories came out and said some quite bizarre things. Malcolm Rifkind then came out and said that the Lib Dems were some how traitors because they were concentrating on electoral form and not the economy and that working together on the economy was in the best interests of the country.

So it is the view of Malcolm Rifkind that economics is more important that extending democracy, in fact we should ignore democracy because economics is more important. There is a word for ignoring democracy and focusing instead on “economics” for “the benefit of the nation”: fascism. It would be much better for the economic good of the country to force people to work for long hours for poverty pay. That way the UK could compete with China. In fact slave labour would allow the UK to become the manufacturing giant of the world. Unlike Malcolm Rifkind I believe that people are more important than market economies and that extending democracy is better than finance.

The latest news coming out is that Labour have thrown in the towel and that David Cameron will become the next Prime Minister but the question remains – as part of a coalition or as a minority.

It will be interesting, if there is a coalition, to see how hard the Lib Dems will work to keep the Tories honest.

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May 11th, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Posted in Politics

Gordon Brown goes!!

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Dear boys,

we still don’t have a new government but things are really hotting up today. The Lib Dems and the Conservative spent all day in talks and it seemed that a deal was possible between the two parties. But things were afoot between the Lib Dems and the Labour Party. The funny thing about this election is that nobody won it and at the same time nobody lost it as the result was a hung parliament. Some have said that because Labour didn’t retain power they must have lost but this is false for two reasons:

  1. No other party won an outright majority.
  2. Just on the percentage of votes cast, combined with the Lib Dems, the two would have over 50% of the votes.

The idea, put about by the Tories, that they “won” the election is laughable. They got 306 seats out of 650, 47% but only received 36.1% of the popular vote. According to the Tories everyone else should just stand aside and allow the Tories to rule for 5 years – meaning that 63.9% of the popular votes cast should be ignored. Claiming that ignoring 63.9% of the population is “the democratic voice of the people” is utter rubbish.

Gorden Brown’s decision to resign today is a master stroke of timing. He had to go at some point but the timing was exquisite – the Murdoch Press was trumpeting that Cameron and the Tories were due to take power via Sky News, that the deal was done and that a new Tory era was due to begin. But, unbeknown to them and behind the scenes, the Lib Dems and Labour were meeting at the highest level – Nick Clegg leader of the Lib Dems met with Gordon Brown. Clegg told him that he could enter a coalition but Brown would have to go. Senior Labour figures had also told Brown he had to go, but when? After a day where the Lib-Con pact looked promising the announcement of his resignation was like a bomb going off.

Brown hates the Tories. If voting reform can be achieved it would mean the end of the Tory party ever having exclusive power again. Brown would have achieved much more by resigning and helping the forming of a Rainbow Alliance than staying on in power and looking desperate to retain his position.

I’m not a fan of the Labour Party and Moron Brown but today he completely out manoeuvred the Tory party and with any luck he has manoeuvred them out of power for the foreseeable future.

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May 10th, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Posted in Politics

Hung parliament update.

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Dear boys,

still no new government formed so Labour remain in charge of the country. Today the Lib Dems and the Conservatives are meeting to see if they can come to an agreement and from a coalition. I still think that the Lib Dems will go into a coalition with Labour, the SNP and Plaid Cymru and push through voting reform. The Lib Dems want voting reform, it is the only way they can ever be relevant on the national stage in the short to medium term. How many Labour MP’s want electoral reform, how many will accept it to stay in power and how many will reject it is not really known at the moment. So even if a grand anti-Conservative coalition is created, voting reform and an elected upper house is not by any means guaranteed.

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May 9th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Posted in Politics

A hung parliament

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Dear boys,

yesterday we had a General Election and for the first time since 1977 there is no overall winner and we have a hung parliament.

A Tory spokesman this morning was claiming that Labour and the Liberal Democrats had lost the election and that the Tories should be allowed to form a government. In essence he is saying that the votes for Labour and and the Lib Dems should be ignored because the Tories got the most votes and the most seats.

Labour have been sucking up to the Lib Dems all night and promised Electoral Reform – something the Lib Dems want. The only problem is, as it stands right now – 09:10 – Labour and the Lib Dems don’t have enough seats to guarantee a majority. That might change when the other 41 seats have been revealed. So today is quite an exciting day and if things pan out the way I would like, when you two come to vote you will be doing so in a more democratic way.

If the Tories do manage to get a majority they have pledged to cut the number of MP’s by 65 and redraw the electoral map, keep the present system of first past the post. The Tories would draw the map in their favour making it almost impossible for other parties to come to the fore and kick them out.

I’ll update this when things become clear.

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May 7th, 2010 at 8:13 am

Posted in Politics

Does CO2 cause global warming?

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Dear Son,

it is stated as a fact now that humans pumping CO2 into the atmosphere is responsible for global warming and if we don’t cut our carbon emissions then the world is doomed.

Not everyone believes this to be the case and some of the people who don’t believe that there is a link between CO2 emissions and global warming made a TV program that I videoed and got around to watching again the other day.

They pointed out that during the 1970’s the world was worried about global cooling and the start of another ice age. So much so that a Swedish guy proposed pumping CO2 into the atmosphere to heat things up a little. At the time many scientists thought pumping CO2 into the atmosphere would achieve nothing.

The program looked into the history of the global warming debate and found that the inventor was Margaret Thatcher. She fought a bloody battle with the coal miners and wanted them out of the picture, also she didn’t trust the Middle East oil producers so she decided we needed nuclear power and needed a bloody good excuse for it. With environmentalism gaining a foothold during the later part of the 1980’s she offered money to those would could prove that CO2, produced from burning coal, oil and gas, was bad. According to the program it was at this point that, on smelling the money, scientists came up with global warming caused by CO2.

They also pointed out the hypocrisy that many aid agencies and governments show when it comes to the third world having the things we take for granted – transport and electricity. The program makers visited a clinic somewhere in Africa powered by solar power. The doctor running the practise could either have the lights on, the AC on or the fridge on. And when it got dark or cloudy he had the choice of none.

The program offered solid evidence that global warming is not down to CO2 but down to the star that the earth orbits and that humans have very little control over: the sun. But the program failed on several levels. Even if CO2 doesn’t cause global warming and/or global warming is not necessarily a bad thing there is only a finite amount of oil, coal and gas left. We shouldn’t be wasting it because we don’t have a plan b to generate all the energy we currently use. Also burning fossil fuels gives off many pollutants that can cause cancer and breathing complications so using less energy is a good thing whether global warming due to CO2 exists or not as is recycling and making goods last longer before having to replace them.

The program seemed to hint that rampant consumerism could continue unabated but I don’t believe this to be the case unless we are prepared to live on an earth that is nothing more than a giant landfill site.

Whether global warming is a actually a myth, whether global warming because of human CO2 emissions is a myth, we can’t go on the way we are; throwing away millions of tons of usable things while many millions of people have nothing. A point the program failed to make.

Written by Administrator

August 29th, 2007 at 8:29 pm

Posted in Politics,Technology

Coming true …

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Dear Son,

earlier in the year I made some predictions regarding the airplane terror plot and it seems that I’m right so far. The main organiser of the whole plot was apparently a man named Rashid Rauf. He is in under arrest in Pakistan at the moment but a judge has decided that he isn’t a terrorist and he is due to be tried in a normal court.

So if the ringleader is not a terrorist ring leader then what of the poeple arrested because they were associated  with Rauf?

Will be find out sooner or later, much later I’m guessing.

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December 13th, 2006 at 4:36 pm

Posted in Politics

Time exposes the big lie.

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On the 25th February 2003 the current Prime Minister made a speech in the House of Commons when he said the following:

The second point is that there is a reason why I responded to a moral case, namely, that a moral case was being put against action. It was being said that, of course, innocent people will die in conflict, and that is true. Innocent people do die, which is why we have striven so hard over 12 years to avoid going back into conflict with Saddam. However, it is also right, in responding to that moral case, to point out the utter misery and deprivation of the people in Iraq, and to state what is a fact: that those who have most to gain from the end of the regime of Saddam Hussein are the Iraqi people themselves.

A UN report today says that torture is worse now in Iraq than it was under Saddam Hussein. Tony Blair will be gone soon but the consequences of his lies will be with us for a many years to come.

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September 21st, 2006 at 7:37 pm

Posted in Politics

Nationalism – idiocy in huge doses.

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Dear Son,

I was being a bit vain today. I did a Google search to see if my post on Tommy the Grass had been indexed as my WordPress installation has become mangled and the fantastic “Counterize” is not working properly. I’m going to fix it eventually.

I came across a site by Kevin Williamson, he even has a Wiki entry. There is a graphic on his web site that contains the following text:

For so long as 100 of us remain alive we shall never accept subjection to the domination of the English. For we fight not for glory, or riches or honour, but for freedom alone which no good man will consent to loose but his life.

The quote comes from the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath. A group of Scottish Noblemen and clerics wrote to the Pope on behalf of the King (Robert the Bruce) asking him to intervene and tell the English King to leave Scotland alone.

What I find strange is that a self confessed “libertarian socialist” would quote from a bunch of reactionary landowners and clerics. He must have his reasons; maybe he likes the words irrespective of who said them. A failing of mine is that I cannot divorce the words from the actions of the speaker. Noble men and clerics complaining about the murder of their fellow Scots sticks in my throat – these same men would quite happily let the same people starve while they stayed fat. And I won’t get started on the crimes committed by the Catholic Church – crimes they were committing way back in 1320.

Nationalism is a dangerous thing. I warned you about Political Correctness in the past and I’ll extend this warning. The same rubbish regarding “all whites are racists” is extended to nationalism. In the shadowy liberal white middle class inspired world of political correctness loving your country and hating people from other countries is bad thing unless that is, there is some sort of liberation struggle involved. And then it’s good thing. But not always. When oppressed minorities use nationalism it’s okay – unless it’s Israel of course. Then it’s not. Zionism started off as form of national liberation for an oppressed people without a state and morphed into a terrorist state but this is no surprise as this is the only direction nationalism can ever take.

Nationalism is a love one’s country, it means the interests of the county come before the interest of individuals. The only thing is; countries are an artificial invention. The borders between different countries have moved over the years and in some places are still very fluid and ill defined. So on one day a person should be loving certain people but when the border moves a little they should be hating the very same people. We have people swearing allegiance to flags – how people can align themselves with a piece of cloth is beyond me. But exponents of the practise say that when you swear allegiance to a flag it is a symbolic act where you affirm you allegiance to your country. Which is just as silly as pledging yourself to a piece of cloth (even if it is superior flag material) – a country is a human invention just like a hair dryer or a washing machine just not as useful.

Others argue that what binds a country together is a shared culture. Cultures are in a constant state of flux, always changing. The change comes from immigrants bringing new forms of music, art, food e.t.c. or from people looking beyond their borders. Nationalists claim some sort of “National Identity” which is nothing more than certain cultural elements stuck in time i.e. traditions. All traditions are invented. At some point in history an event or way of doing something is done for the first time and some people think “what a good idea, let’s do that again next week/next month/next year”. Nationalism attempts to make these “traditions” entrenched – not because they are necessarily the best way of doing something but because if things change then the whole idea of “National Identity” crumbles. The very idea that x million people likes exactly the same thing is utter rubbish.

Nationalism, like any irrational belief system (religion for example), puts the basic needs of human beings into at least second place. That’s because the non-existent “national need” comes first. Who decides what is and isn’t in the national interest? I can’t answer that question, son. But what I do know is that the national interest is invoked whenever basic human rights are to be removed, whenever the poorest people are to made poorer or a country needs people to sacrifice themselves in a war for the benefit of the rich. The three things usually happen around the same time.

Swearing allegiance to a country is another part of nationalism. The idea is quite simply; a person swears that they will put their country first. It doesn’t really matter if the country in question commits atrocities – you have sworn an oath, so you are duty bound to join in. Many oaths invoke god, something Christians should never ever do:

Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

The reported words of Jesus in Mathew, Chapter 5, verses 33 to 37.

Nationalism throws up some very irrational beliefs. Image someone firing rockets at you but with the power of Nationalism the blame for the bombing goes not to the people who are firing the rockets but other people. This scenario is being played out in Israel where Israeli Arabs are blaming the Jews for the Hezbollah rockets killing them. The bombs are targeted, armed and fired by Hezbollah and they are to blame for every death they cause. The people firing the bombs have a choice about whether they fire the rockets or not. The Jewish population is not forcing them to fire off these rockets – the individual members of Hezbollah do that. The same is also true for the people of Lebanon. They are not responsible for the Israeli army killing them either. But we have a Jewish man on the TV saying that for each Jew killed a thousand of “theirs” should be killed.

Many people argue that “national liberation” enhances democracy. If Scotland, for example, were to get independence it would be more democratic because the 5 million people of Scotland would be closer to their elected representatives. But the fallacy of nationalism being benign is shown with a quick look at a Scottish Independence web site that contains the following quote:

My own son, a member of Independence First, says that he is Scottish first, and British second. In fact, a huge percentage of the population of Scotland would say that.

I personally consider myself Scottish, full stop.

So neither the son, nor the father actually considers themselves human beings. The father is “Scottish” full stop. What exactly does that mean? It takes a lot of self-deluded nonsense to ignore and dismiss the fact that one is a human being, a member of a family that encompasses 6 billion other human beings in an unbroken line that stretches back 100,000 years, give or take a few millennia.

“Them” and “Us” is the product of nationalism. But there is no “them”, only “us”, all six billion of us.

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August 15th, 2006 at 7:32 pm

Posted in Politics