Sunday, 18 December 2011

Cameron and Christianity

Well, our Prime Minister has decided to done his sackcloth and has taken the opportunity of the season to chide the Church on not doing enough to promote the idea that Britain is a Christian country, and that we should return to traditional Christian values.

I can see where Cameron is coming from but he's clearly not done much to understand what has been going on in this country for the last 50 years or more. Firstly, the predominant problems in our society are to do with people who would have been born into families that once would have followed the ethos of the Christian Church. In the 1960s and then on there was a rebellion against the Church and nothing, sadly, properly replaced the function of the Church. Except other religions and spiritual paths for those who still felt that an 'inner' life was an important factor.

It is a fact that over these last 40 years there has been a substantial influx of Asians who have brought with them their Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist faiths, and it is those communities that have, by and large, upheld what we might now term old-fashioned spiritual values. Their communities have taken over some of the grounds (and heavens!) that were once the province of the Christian Church.

Furthermore, the Christian Church has over the years had to learn more and more that they need to work with those other faiths.

So why is Cameron pushing the idea of Britain being a Christian country? Is it some kind of yearning that the white middle and upper classes have for the old Victorian days when they ruled the world and the White God was supreme (to them at least)?

I am a great admirer of the Victorians, but I also like to think that we have progressed spiritually since then. We do have an enormous problem to bring a peaceful and moral society back on track, but, with the cooperation of all faiths and beliefs, it can be done. It is not merely the Christian Church that should be the standard bearer in that direction. And the Church knows that. All paths lead to one origin and no individual faith should be highlighted as being the leader in the society we now have.

No, Pope Cameron, I think you have missed the point.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Miliband deserves and needs all the backing he can get

The respected author Harold Pinter said (in his 2005 Nobel Prize speech):

    I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.
The time has now come when man has no option but to re-find his self-respect.

In the UK, we still (despite what we think are problems) sit comfortably while in many countries typhoons and tempests rage and floods are making thousands homeless. Deserts are being created and children are going hungry as much now if not more than they have ever done. Wars are still being fought and the donwtrodden in a number of countries have sprung up to seek justice against their oppressors.

The world's ecology is threatened. Man is at a precipice.

Back home, there have been significant signs of a deep and underlying frustration in the UK.

There is no excuse for rioting, but there are frustrations underlying a rioter’s acts that can be explained. To take the case of the recent demonstration by (essentially) young people, they regard themselves as a ‘no hope’ generation – the world (to them) has left them without hope and yet they have seen respected members of society (bankers, M.P.s etc.) effectively cheat the country for their own advantage. And the general tone of society generated over the last 20 or 30 years is that everyone should be out for themselves.

The rioter’s simple thinking is that there is one law for the rich and another for the poor. Where is the example being set in society that society should expect the rioter to follow the law?

And then the present government comes in with its cuts which adversely affect the poorest 10% in the country, with the roll-on affect being the closure of various establishments and services that have helped to provide a safety valve in the past.

At last, a political leader steps up to the lectern to deliver a speech about moral values and how we as a nation need to revert to an 'all for one and one for all' mentality, not only that we might survive but because it's right that we all should be living that way. Human beings are moral when they recognise their real selves and stop copying the antics of the foolish. There's no such thing as an easy buck. Whatever is achieved in life can only be truly achieved by moral endeavour.

Ed Miliband has laid out his stall. The matters he referred to should have been addressed by preceding Labour leaders. They didn't because Margaret Thatcher had cast her spell - the Fool's Gold mentality that she had created in the '80s had impressed itself even into the Labour Party's ranks. Eldorado seemed to be a reality; Thatcher had done the damage. The very basis on which an economy can survive - in the things it invents and makes - had been virtually removed from the realms of necessity. Blair and Co. were spellbound by her nerve and sought to continue her theme thinking that fairness can be built into an economy that is built on sand.

What works? Only a compassionate government – one that works for integration towards One Nation: for Unity. Also a government that works from the real basics of economic development and not Eldorado pie-in-the-sky. Anything that is coordinated must be based on a real foundation – on rock – for it to work. And for an implementation of appropriate values to be achieved, all the major religious faiths and philosophies must be consulted.

Ed Miliband deserves and needs all the backing he can get. The UK needs his approach.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Answering Fire with Fire

Understandably, the Prime Minister calls for law and order and promises that control over the situation will be imposed. Good. But, does this mean that the cuts that are in the process of being imposed on the police will be eased to ensure no repeat of the conflagration?

Let’s ask another question. If the cuts on the police budget are eased, will there be a corresponding ease on the cuts to those services which are likely to help restore community well-being – the youth clubs, the community workers and all the fine services that have recently been forced to break up? I doubt it.

In reality, government does not want to know about people who commit these ‘crimes against society’ – it draws back from dealing with the source of the problem, which is primarily alienation of the youths in deprived areas. Government has never properly cared about these issues.

When the British economy picked up during the early 90s, the riot problems manifest in the 70s and 80s looked as though they had gone away, and particularly when Labour came into power in 1997, it at least spent some money on trying to ease the pressure on lower income people. But Labour never really thought there was a community problem any longer as there had been in the 70s and 80s and – disastrously - took its eyes off the issue. Now it has come home to roost for Cameron and his blanket cuts policy in the spectrum of an entire generation without hope of jobs nor reasonable housing.

Let me see. When the bankers committed their extortions in the last few years, did society round on them and condemn them as criminals? No. But youths without hope can commit crimes (which they are) but are referred to in different terms to the bankers. Is this fair? And will the government now address the real needs of those youths, both for their benefit and the whole of society?

Between 1976 and 1977, I spent some 10 months working for the Lambeth CREC in a hostel project in Brixton, thinking that perhaps it was a fine opportunity to enter a new career in community work. Was it heck. The fine-sounding project (worked for by people of the ilk of (Sir) Herman Ouseley) was run on institutional lines, and despite protests from myself and others to the CREC, nothing was changed. Eventually (after I had left it) the project had to be wound down. Despite the initial optimism, the project became proof that, when it comes down to it, government machinery only ends up by working to serve the needs of the establishment. I have seen the same mentality in other areas. Times don't seem to have changed.

Cameron – you have a big opportunity to have society’s ills examined and corrected. The test is now whether you have the balls to do ‘it’, i.e. create that Big Society you keep talking about. Snag is, the Chipping Norton model might not be appropriate for Tottenham and other inner city areas.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Big Society

David Cameron is right! The idea of the Big Society is a brilliant one. But it's already being going on for quite a few years since before he was born!!

My Uncle Percy (an ordinary working man) was one of those who not only worked a 50-hour week as standard but also put in so many hours every week in giving free help to administer charity work for those who were without shelter or in other kinds of desperate need. This was before the War and just after, before the Welfare State came into being.

That was the time of the real Big Society. But there are many, many other examples from before Uncle Percy's time and since, including a certain George Perkins of Birmingham who I came across more than 35 years ago, trying to stimulate interest in youngsters in deprived areas to help the community.

Cameron talks blithely on TV about how his middle-class, moneyed constituency are setting a good example for the Big Society. Problem is, he nor the people he's talking of have hardly ever met the true blood of the country who live on near to nothing yet still help their neighbours; least of all they have no inkling of how people such as they live. At least Michael Portillo has tried to find out.

Does Cameron understand that for the great majority of ordinary men and women it is a matter of pride that they can work to support their family? No. Instead, Cameron acknowledges these hard-working people by taking away their jobs and giving the task of running the services to the voluntary sector.

The beauty of it all is, that on top of taking away jobs from the hard-working, there is no gap between the cuts being applied and the new (voluntary) services being available. Even the voluntary services that do exist are being drastically cut.

As always, it is the vulnerable that are the hardest hit.

Congratulations people - by voting in the Tories and Lib-Dems (or have had apathy towards politics) you have taken the country back to early Victorian times. The work of the benevolent and fighters for justice in Victorian times has been forgotten. With bankers stealing from society, and the City feeding the Tory party, the fight against oppression and injustice now has to start all over again.

To think that I thought that Maggie Thatcher, by bringing in controls over the unions, might be doing the right thing! Idiot!

Having said that, I do not want to see the unions and strikes bringing the country down even further.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


An Obituary printed in the London Times:

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years.
No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.
He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
  • Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
  • Why the early bird gets the worm;
  • Life isn't always fair;
  • and maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place:

  • Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate;
  • Teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch;
  • A teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sunscreen or an Aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death

  • by his parents, Truth and Trust;
  • by his wife, Discretion;
  • by his daughter, Responsibility and
  • by his son, Reason.
He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers:
  • I Know My Rights
  • I Want It Now
  • Someone Else Is To Blame
  • I am a Victim
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.