Saturday, 26 December 2015

Can You Bank on The Banks?

Dear Reader,

At a time of important festivities, my diary entry for this week is not going to be long.

But because it's not long it doesn't mean to say that it's not something I feel strongly about: I do. It's about the UK banks.

This week the news emerged that the banks have been avoiding the payment of their taxes. We also learnt recently that our financial wizard George Osborne has been getting friendly with the banks. Is his friendliness a roundabout way of trying to get the banks to pay their share? But, the banks being the banks, they will not play ball unless there's something in it for them.

After all, Gordon Brown's quantitive easing (printing money) policy did not nothing but effectively give money to the banks to bolster their balance sheets as they refused to play ball by making that money available to the community. They got free money, and now they avoid paying their share of taxes, we hear. And it is the banking system that created the financial meltdown of 2008.

As a reader wrote to a newspaper this morning, the government has found every way of squeezing the people most in need in society, but they show virtually no ability in being able to eke what is due from those who can most afford to pay it.

Those in government are nothing short of privileged bullies, yet they would be the first to be officially horrified if they hear about bullying taking place in our schools.

I don't see how the government and the banks can be pleased with themselves this Christmas, but they've certainly found ways to stuff themselves.

Despite all, we need to live in hope, and with empathy. Without those qualities we would adopt the grasping tendencies of the ruling classes.

A Happy New Year to all!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Why Not Try Converting Water to Oil?

Dear Reader,

There is a story (said to be true) about a holy man of recent times who demonstrated that he could change plain water into oil. So convinced was an entrepreneur, he said to the holy man, "Why not convert the whole ocean, and then we can make a fortune?"

It (surely) does not take too much savvy to work out that such an idea is foolish nonsense. It should not need explanation that the oceans help to balance the life on planet Earth, and greatly contribute to weather conditions. etc. etc. We don't apply this kind of idea as it would (most likely) simply and quickly lead us to a doomsday situation.

That being the case, can't the same kind of logic be applied to fracking? It seems to me that the fracking concept is also capable of bringing about a doomsday situation. There is a great concern that our water supplies could be affected, and some have even suggested that water is a communications system in its own right; equivalent to the blood supply in our own bodies.

The website (December 18, 2015) states:
[The USA state of] Oklahoma has been a hotbed of frequent and ongoing earthquakes ever since the state's fracking boom kicked off in 2009. Before 2009, Oklahoma had two earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater each year, but now there are two a  day. In the past year alone, there have been more than 2,100 earthquakes of magnitude 1.5 or greater.
Are we not alarmed, therefore, that our own UK parliament has casually (yes, casually) passed regulations to allow the exploration of fracking to take place under our National Parks?

In the past week or two, not only has fracking gained an easy green light, but there has also been a world-wide consensus agreement on limiting climate warming. As I wrote last week, though Climate Change must be a reality, the notion of warming being the root cause is questionable.

It seems, therefore, that the notion of true democracy being in existence should be knocked on the head. All the consensus agreements that have been reached (including the most recent UN resolution on Syria) all seem to miss key issues. We should consider ourselves as being misled. Why are we being misled, I wonder? 

Please feel free to Mail me!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

A Cold Response To The Notion That The Climate Change Issue Is Solved

Dear Reader,

I can hear them from here; the thumps of self-congratulation on the backs of the participants of the Paris Climate Summit.

Now I am not at all cynical about any attempt to address the Climate Change that patently exists (it's been a major concern of mine for 40 years), but when the sponsors of the Paris Summit are some of the world's largest energy creation companies, then you do wonder if there is more to the Summit meeting that we should worry about.

One sponsor was Engie. As a single entity, Engie is a massive energy company — according to the Brand Finance Brandirectory, it is the most valuable utilities company in the world, bringing in more than $80 billion in annual revenue. Engie emitted as much greenhouse gases in 2014 as the entire country of Belgium. And Engie isn’t the only company with ties to fossil fuels to be included as a sponsor at the Paris talks — corporations like √Člectricit√© de France (EDF), which operates 16 major coal plants worldwide, and BNP Paribas, one of the world’s top banks for financing coal production, are also prominent sponsors of the event.

In fact, is Global Warming the only issue that we should be concerned about? I think not.

Part of the scientific community denies that warming is the real issue.  The "Friends of Science" website is worth looking at: 

For example, one "myth" they cite is the notion that receding glaciers and the calving of ice shelves are proof of man-made global warming. The fact is (they say) that  glaciers have been  receding and growing cyclically for hundreds of years. Recent glacier melting is a consequence of coming out of the very cool period of the Little Ice Age. Ice shelves have been breaking off for centuries. Scientists know of at least 33 periods of glaciers growing and then retreating. It’s normal. Besides, changes to glacier's extent is dependent as much on precipitation as on temperature. 

There are a number of other "myths" they examine and are worth looking at.

In short, despite all the self-congratulation (and some would say that some step forward is better than nothing) it is my belief that we are a long way from the real truth behind Climate Change. And that what has been agreed will prove not to be of substantial help: how can you solve the entire problem by looking at just one portion of the argument?

In fact, I go further and suggest that the sponsors of the Paris Summit have colluded with other vested interests to simplify the science behind Climate Change for it it be digestible to the participating countries, and also to enable the vested interests to pursue (still harmful) technologies they have quietly been developing these past decades. There is nothing in the agreement that would (for example) prevent the UK's government from pursuing Fracking as an energy source even though we intuitively know that it ain't right.

I suggest that the real reason for the degree of Climate Change we are now experiencing is because of the collective damage - physical and spiritual - that we have done to our planet, particularly over the last 300 years. Hitherto, we have simply believed that the planet is there to be exploited... and despite what has been agreed in Paris, the same attitude will continue to prevail, mostly unchecked.

In short, we have been sold 'a pup' ... it looks attractive, and it's Christmas. But - just like the puppy - it will have to be discarded as soon as the reality of it's nature becomes apparent. 

If I were you I'd switch off all the heating and get along with wearing plenty of clothing ... to get into practice for the inevitable that may well be coming our way. The antidote is to delve deeply inwards - to the real reality of our lives: our spiritual selves.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Respect For (All) Life

Dear Reader,

In 1965, fifty years ago this year, two of the world's most renowned individuals of that era died, both of them at the age of 90. One was Sir Winston Churchill: the other was Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

There are those reading this who will wonder why I bracket Schweitzer with Churchill as a great name, and I suspect the cause for that is down to the media attention that Churchill received over many years, particularly in both World War One and World War Two, which seem to place him high in the western mindset. In the latter period in particular he was constantly in the limelight, and then he was returned as prime minister of the UK between 1951 and 1955. He was greatly feted in both the UK and the USA.

The two men were, in some ways, an antithesis of one another. Churchill had the reputation (somewhat unfairly, I believe) of being a 'warmonger', while Schweitzer (for all of his life) tried to find life-affirming positives in creation and to bring them to the forefront. However, Churchill was an artist, both with his usage of the English language and his interpretation of the landscape on canvas, while Schweitzer was the artist as a musician (organist) and philosopher, firstly theoretically and then practically, with the last 50 years of his life effectively dedicated to the development of his hospital in the Congo. He wanted to demonstrate that philosophy could be lived out - that the way he conducted his life was his real message.

Both men suffered in certain ways, Churchill taking himself off to fight in the trenches of the front line in France after taking complete responsibility for the disaster of Gallipoli and then left out on the fringe of politics for a long period, while (in the same War) Schweitzer was interned by France as a German national. It was during that internment that his wife began to lose her health and from which she suffered seriously for the remainder of her life.

In their own ways, both men were extraordinary characters. Churchill's exploits are more well known, while Schweitzer's life is more vague to most. Certainly, I remembered reading about him as a child when the focus was purely on his life in the Congo, but it was not until recently that I found that he was such a profound philosophical writer and one who was open-minded enough to not only search deeply into the teachings of Jesus (he was a trained theologian amidst all his other professional qualifications as a musician, philosopher and medical doctor), but also to embrace eastern teachings, being particularly impressed by the Indian doctrine of ahimsa - non-violence. And it was in his living non-violently and pro-actively that underpinned his life's undertakings.

Schweitzer's message was orientated towards giving respect to all life.

It was Schweitzer (though it is a fact that is little known) who opposed the development of nuclear armaments in the 1940s and 1950s, and it was his considerable effort in that arena that led to the creation of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) of which Sir Bertrand Russell was such a figurehead in Britain in the 1950s and 60s.

So, if Churchill and Schweitzer were still alive, I can imagine Churchill's speeches leading us on and forward when coming to the question of the military incursions into the Middle East in the last 25 years, and Schweitzer making pleas for the opposite and for peaceful negotiation.

I can't help thinking that Schweitzer's approach would have negated the effect of the terrorist. Indeed, his approach would have allowed them no excuse for action: we would never have come to know about Daesh.

Love ever; hurt never. A Vedic ideal worth striving for, I suggest.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Labouring Towards a Split?

Dear Reader,

Yesterday's debate on Cameron's proposal for air strikes on Daesh made for compelling viewing - in parts. I didn't watch the whole thing - just the first hour and the last hour (of 10 hours) but what I did see and hear largely impressed me as committed parliamentary debate. A lot of people were definitely speaking from the heart - but therein perhaps lay the problem: too much emotion and lack of reason.

A good deal of the Labour support for the motion was in support for the French. "If the atrocities had been committed in London [and not Paris] wouldn't we be upset if France didn't support our retaliation?" - was a main theme. Also, "strikes have done their part in Iraq, so why not Syria?" - another theme. The fact that Syria is such a complex and rich cocktail was largely ignored by the emotionalists.

Perhaps the most telling speech was the penultimate one - by Hilary Benn (Labour shadow foreign sec). His speech has been lauded as one of the most brilliant on record. But was the content so impressive?

Here's what someone on wrote...
I've just listened to this, and personally found it totally unconvincing. It was a well crafted speech, but more of an appeal to emotion than an appeal to reason.
Hilary Benn talked a lot about the threat to the UK and the atrocity in Paris, but failed to make the case for air strikes having any effect whatever on this.
He also talked up the less than stellar successes in Iraq. In reality there is a lot more work to be done in Iraq, and he didn't disclose the reasons for shifting our focus to Syria.
And his point about the 70,000 (or however many) men fielded by supposed allies was technically correct: there will indeed be less people on our side as time goes on. This is a campaign that has a terrible attrition on infantry. But he can't dismiss the uncertainty about their numbers, composition or allegiance: this is absolutely key.I regret to conclude that Hilary Benn is playing his own game here, and it's not a game I have much sympathy with.
Agreed. The speech - for me at least - sounded more like one from someone who was out to make a name for himself, perhaps as a replacement for Jeremy Corbyn?

I sense a split in the Labour Party fairly soon.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

More Smoke and Mirrors - and Being Polar-ised.

Dear Reader,

While our prime minister and the Tory media and some Labour-ites are bearing down on Jeremy Corbyn and his stance against further bombing by the UK, Mr. Corbyn himself today wrote a very appropriate piece in to-day's i newspaper - about global warming and the government's inaction in this vital area. Clearly a subject that Jeremy Corbyn takes more seriously - and with every good reason.

Does the plight of this polar bear affect you? If so please go to this site to read more.

And of course, it's not just polar bears but the whole of nature that's under threat. While the world goes on belching out the effluent (even in India they have no plans to reduce such emissions)  - and while the Western World throws its armaments anywhere so long as it's more than 1,000 miles away from our homelands - we cocooned Westerners are going into the Christmas period without (probably) little thought about all this. 

For the poorest in the UK, that's quite understandable as they've just been through the trauma of the chancellor's threats on Tax Credits, which he has now deferred with a big smile and false bonhomie as though it was all a joke. The poorest want some respite from stresses and strains and other extreme rigours that life presents.

But what about the rest. What about those in (say) the top 5-10% salary bracket. I dare say most of those will write a cheque for some charity and that will be their conscience cleared for another year - but the week after will go for a spin in their newly-acquired sports car or watch TV on their 60" screen without a second thought. And will be happy if HS2 and/or fracking goes ahead - especially if they've got money invested in enterprises connected with these false promises.

But what about Mother Nature? And what about the Sermon On The Mount?

It really is time we got real. It's time for real, deep reflection.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Smoke and Mirrors - Everywhere!

Dear Reader,

The downing of the Russian military aircraft by Turkey seems to have the word 'skulduggery' written all over it. Not only was the action incrompehensible but just earlier Obama was muttering something about the difficulty of Russia attacking targets that were not just Daesh/ISIS but any opponent of Assad. Then - very coincidentally - the Russian aircraft was shot down after making a raid on a non-Daesh/ISIS site. 

The question then to be asked is whether the US put pressure on Turkey to make the attack to put pressure on Russia. Whatever the cause for the action, Daesh/ISIS must be laughing their socks off when so-called allies are shooting down their own planes.

Meanwhile, David Cameron's heir-apparent (Osborne) performed his own conjuring tricks in suddenly finding £27bn from which he claimed he could plan differently and not change the Tax Credit system. He hailed the government as being the One Nation party but forgot to say that the lower income earners will still get hit when the move to the Universal Credit system takes place within the next 2 years.

This chancellor is without any sustainable ideas for Britain's future. He ...

  1. ... is banking on the £27bn coming available, whereas there's a 50% chance that the state of the world economy might not make it feasible over the next couple of years - if not a shortfall of all of it, at least a large shortfall;
  2. ... is now allowing local authorities to raise additional income from council tax to pay for the growing needs of social care. Problem is, that's fine for the richer local authorities, but not for those who already have big difficulties in collecting the tax;
  3. ... is not providing for the development of much-needed social housing;
  4. ... has not addressed the fact that the teaching profession has such a resignation rate that it is not at all clear as to where suitable teachers will be coming from to make up the numbers;
  5. ... has not said how the NHS is to cope if the forthcoming junior doctors' strikes do not produce a viable response to their claims, and when they also start leaving in droves.
etc., etc.

The government are just hoping that their luck continues. They have nothing else to rely on, it would seem.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Can Extreme Enemies Become Friends?

Dear Reader,

We hear how ISIS/Daesh "must be destroyed". But if we were to think back to 2003 wasn't the organisation to be destroyed called al-Qayida? And they still exist. Furthermore, ISIS/Daesh have since appeared and are even a worse foe.

Therefore, isn't it logical that if we keep bombing it will only create further groups that want to throw their spite at the West, as they have appeared in Libya and other places?

Just what is the alternative?

In my view it's to turn the whole thing on its head and do something that stands a chance of removing these hate groups. Something peaceful!

Abraham Lincoln is reported as saying: "Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends? " Well, it must be said that he didn't totally succeed as someone shot him; but that's another story for analysis at some other time. Just now, I'd rather look into the crux of this quotation of his.

In fact, Lincoln can be quoted many times in how he built bridges with supposed enemies. He summed up his attitude to people when he said: "I want it said of me by those who know me best to say that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.” 

Well, Abraham Lincoln operated purely in a domestic scenario and was not faced with the sort of extreme cultural group that we face today, but if we were to look at scripture - Christian, Hindu or Buddhist, and even Muslim - we would find that peace is or should be the ultimate aim for us all. And you certainly do not find peace by literally blowing up your opponent to prove a point.

Over nearly the last 100 years in particular the West has been making trouble for itself in the Middle East, and now we are reaping the anger that meddling has generated. We managed to give Palestinian lands to the Jews (which they have greatly extended on the pretext of creating defence for themselves); we put in puppet heads of government in Iran and Iraq. And America backed al-Qayida against Russia in the 1980s. 

What trouble we started ... and since then (the last 25 years) we've been bombing our way out of it and are still bombing, with no visible sign of success and only further destruction and death of innocents as the observable outcome. All while we leave Israel to perform its own destructive policies.

To me the United Nations (UN) is the significant entity in the current situation and the avenue that must be used to channel some progressive policy. Particularly now that Russia is involved and is working on the side of the Western bloc.

If the UN is not used then I would question why not. Surely the UN should be the entity that can be used to find a way to strangle the supply of financial and logistic support for ISIS/Daesh. From where do they get their support? Doesn't the UN know?

All this to be aided by prayers for peace.

What we don't want is an escalation of war and terrorism. Let us at least find a different approach - whatever that may be!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

What Are 'British Values'? (3) - Is This The Route To Follow?

Dear Reader,

After some reflection, I am wondering whether last week-end's inhuman attacks in Paris actually point to a solution with regard to 'British Values'.

This week I read that in one year alone (last year: 2014), over 32,000 persons had been killed by terrorist activity. Multiply that by a factor of 2 for those who survived but were seriously hurt, then we have a total of around 100,000 very serious casualties in one year … women, children as well as men. The survivors and the families of the dead will be mentally scarred as well. And in addition we must add the numbers who have died at sea in attempting to seek refuge in Europe and elsewhere, such as Australia. And, I suspect, the deaths of Palestinians (are Israeli deaths classified as killed by terrorists?).

If that was just last year's total, what must be the aggregate total of severe casualties since, say, 2010? But many (most?) of those so damaged will have been Muslims. Yet it is the Muslims in the West who will be feeling the backlash of terrorist activity.

The destructive events we have been viewing over the last 12 years (at least) are - I believe - asking us to look deeply within ourselves for lasting Values. Values - in fact - that are not specifically British at all: they must surely be universal. All people breathe and feel about things, no matter who they are - everyone's concerns are the same: every individual wants security and peace.

Christianity (at its core) actually has far more in common with Islam than it may seem. In my view, it’s a time for sharing the core values of our faith (whatever faith it might be) with Muslims everywhere, and decry any attack against them just because they are Muslims.

For those of us who do not have a concrete faith, surely now is the time to address this deeply philosophical issue. And for those that do profess a faith, then it must surely be the time to demonstrate that faith. Doesn't this issue lie at the core of the "Values" that these articles have been discussing?

Now I have a confession to make here. In the first 18 years of my life I was brought up as a Christian, firstly as an Anglican, then as a Methodist and (for a short period) I chose to become an Evangelist. But I subsequently had cause to break with that faith and pursued philosophy, without a great deal of clarification, and I became an agnostic. But after I passed 30, some strange events made me evaluate the whole issue of spirituality and philosophy. 

For awhile I looked at the Occult, and then I somehow became attracted by the inner teachings of Islam, and spent the next 7 years in experiencing Islamic spirituality in various ways. That was then followed by further strange events eventually culminating in a deep awareness and experience of Hindu teachings, particularly as recounted in the Bhagavad Gita. and as explained by my Guru.

Now in my 70s, I espouse the inner truth of all religious paths.

As I perceive it, the problem today (and as it has been for many, many years) is that where religious faith exists at all, it is usually of such a sectarian kind that the follower becomes blinded to the similarity of the subject in all faiths. Outwardly, religions differ, of course, but inwardly they are akin - very much akin.

So, Dear Reader, I put it to you that if we consider ourselves to be Christian, then let's look at the real teachings of Jesus and the saints of that glorious religion - particularly the likes of St. Francis of Assissi. And if we consider ourselves to be Muslim, then let's look at the real teachings of Prophet Muhammed and the saints of that glorious religion  - particularly the likes of .Jalalludin Rumi.

Not just to look at those great personages, but at their common theme, which is Love, probably the greatest Value of all: especially when it is put into practice. A great exponent of Love was Mahatma Gandhi.

In my view, it is Love that is the greatest requirement, not mere subservience to man-made laws - laws made by the very people that took us into this time of great danger. Surely it is Love that should be at the core of British Values?

I suggest that instead of meekly following such laws, we should act on the answer to the internal question, "What would Love do?" I say we've been using our heads too much - it's time for us to become more balanced.

Helping the people of Palestine might be a good start: that act would help to stop ISIL in its tracks.

Please feel free to Mail me!

- F I N I S -

Saturday, 14 November 2015

What Are 'British Values'? (2)

Dear Reader,

I first of all must state my utter sympathy with the people of France and, particularly, Paris, and join with them in seeking a righteous solution to the demonstration of beastiality that took place last night. Right will prevail ... but we must be careful on how it is achieved.

In the previous article, I finished by postulating on perhaps whether we need to determine what sort of values we should be basing our vote on. "British Values" if you will. 

So, when using the term "British Values" what is being alluded to here. The 'British' bit is self-apparent: something that relates to people in the British Isles. But 'Values' I define here as "beliefs about what is right and wrong and what is important in life". Not (please note) the use of 'value' to define monetary values; I fear that these days that is what we tend to think of first and foremost, and not what is intrinsically of importance. In other words, what do we regard as something of durable importance.

The Department of Education's paper in November, 2014 stated: "Schools should promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs."

Assuming that this is the line of thinking that we are all meant to live by (not merely students), I question whether those "fundamental British values" are recognised by ordinary people. Indeed, the well-known historian David Starkey has said (in response to the government's line - above - on British Values) that British Values are “queuing, drunkenness, nostalgia, loving pets, self-loathing, wit and eccentricity” (The Guardian, January 30, 2015).

Following Starkey's definition, it would seem to be the case that there is the official view and the sceptical view of the ordinary citizen. It seems to me that the ordinary citizen has been worn by experience towards cynicism and sees that to get the best from his life demands a relaxed attitude. He generally doesn't have time for the pompous niceties pumped out from (in these last five years) the land of Eton School, and their hangers-on.

However, it shouldn't take much to see what the government is looking for. The government is really asking that we all band together like good old chums and get on with life with an "all for one and one-for-all" attitude. But the government can't see itself as being able to couch the requirement of unity in those terms (unlike Jeremy Corbyn): the government has to define it all in official-ease and leaves the implementation of their idea to others - who might just implement it to the letter rather than the spirit of the letter. The end result could be another Peterloo or sectarian riots or certainly an equivalent of the Poll Tax revolt of the early 90s. Some event that could push unity of the people even further away.

But, rather than talk of "British Values" in this vein, I would like to look at the matter from the ordinary citizens' point of view, because they form the vast majority and it is their lives that really matter, not some  pie-in-the sky notions or system of government that panders to the richest 1%. 

As has already been hinted, the reality is that the way the people are governed is cynical enough and that any system of unity and respect for law is best developed out of fair government policies, not top-down preservation of a pseudo ruling class.

But if the ordinary people are to match fire with fire it is best done by a meaningful stratagem based on the state of the world as it is. And (unfortunately) it has to start with the realisation that trickle-down economics does not work nor never will work and that the capitalist system itself does not work. Why? Not only because the people cannot trust those with power, but because the way the capitalist system has been used is against the natural law of sustainability. Marx - in many respects - was right, and nothing has really changed since the 19th c. in terms of the relationship between master and worker. 

Despite the promise of the post-War years I'm sad to say that workers have also been mis-led by their own leaders, and that has helped to cause the pendulum to swing back the other way. We really do have to find a common ground to speak on in future: nothing of lasting value can work otherwise, as experience has shown.

So what are the real, sustainable, Values that we could try to adopt (against all odds)? 

That is a debate in itself, but must surely be based on the philosophy that we (and that includes all peoples, creatures, the Earth and all manner of life) are all members of the same club in reality. Planet Earth is the only spaceship we have and we need to devise a sustainable way of living that will enable that spaceship to maintain its flightpath.

Yes, we need to devise all that even though faced with wars, huge immigration issues and climate change. There is no other choice if we want to have a decent future. That must be the basis for our Values.

If we can find such a sane set of Values then we might find that the notion of having to spend £167m on the Trident programme not only abhorrent, but a complete waste of money that could be directed to really useful purposes.

[To be continued]

Please feel free to Mail me!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

What Are 'British Values'? (1)

Dear Reader,

This week (and for a while after), I'm going to lay off David Cameron. It must have seemed that I have been simply mounting a political campaign over the last couple of weeks, against Cameron and his cohorts, but it's not been quite as  it seems. I really want to get to the root of it all.

That I was expressing opposition to his policies and methods is certainly true, but there is an underlying matter that I really want to get to ... that the way this government is behaving reflects on us, the citizens of this country. 

We have been made (by a combination of indoctrination, self-delusion and apathy) to allow this government to behave as it is. The opposition parties (Labour, Liberals and Greens in particular) do have much greater aspirations, but we (the voter) have come to believe that the Tory promise of self-determination through work and management of the economy are the chief issues. They certainly have their place, but they are not the only issues, and they do not - surely! - work independently from our values system, whatever those values may be.

The Tories in fact delude us in believing that they are the champions in the matter of handling the economy, and then - regularly - show us that their idea of that means to run down the wonderful services that we have got used to over the last 70 years and more. In truth, we have probably taken much of those services for granted, and the 1997-2010 Labour governments did not entirely help in respect of their vision.

So the situation today is that we have the teaching, medical, elderly care, policing and legal services approaching meltdown. And that is no exaggerated statement. On top of that, lip service is being paid to the need for 'green' policies, whilst fossil fuel exploration is heavily backed. I could go on: we could talk about local government cutbacks and the impact on local libraries, and a whole raft of associated issues. We could talk about HS2.

And yet it was only a little while ago that the Prime Minister was asking us to promote "British Values". We are waiting for a definition of what those are, and if the government is supposed to lead by example, they are not - in my view - setting a valid standard.

It can be demonstrated that individual action results from the processes of Thought, Speech and Deed (Action) - and that series of processes is clearly applicable to groups as well, including parliamentary parties. So what can be said about where we are as a result of parliamentary deliberation seems to have evolved from a good deal of wrong thinking (the Thought process).

Since voting for a party based on purely materialistic policies has clearly proved not to be the answer, we surely need to determine what sort of values we should be basing our vote on. "British Values" if you will. We - you and me - need to apply some Thought to this, I suggest. ...

[To be continued]

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Dastardly Dullards (Our Government)!

Dear Reader,

Nothing has changed on the Tory front bench. At Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, David Cameron spoke on behalf of a very beleaguered looking Chancellor who frankly looked as though he was afraid of having to claim benefits himself (by losing his job)! But David Cameron didn't answer the question put to him (six times) by the Leader of the Opposition, and gave the feeling that it was Osborne's responsibility to deal with the issue, and not his.

The following day there was a Parliamentary debate on "The Effect of the Tax Credit Cuts" at which a number of Tory MPs conceded that there was a case to look into for special help for those lower income workers. It took an SNP MP to point out that amounts wrongly paid out by the DWP and HMRC government departments exceeded the bill that would be saved by the proposed Tax Credit reforms (£4.5bn). The government, therefore, is failing to mop up expensive holes in its payments structure - as well as failing to collect taxes properly.

Mahatma Gandhi once said: "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." What sort of nation are we, therefore, developing into?

There is mounting disquiet about those who are struggling due to the 'Welfare' cuts: cuts that affect the sick, the disabled and the working poor. I don't intend to say more specifically about the details of this but instead invite you to read the latest status report, which can be found at this Change Org link.

I'd like instead to talk more about what Gandhi said (his quote, above). What we can impute from his statement is that while proper management of the nation's economy is a priori a necessity, the way we go about things is equally important. 

I would suggest that our government is elected first and foremost to look after its citizens in the most balanced way, considering all the nation's needs and not claiming that because it was elected, that party is carrying out a single element of what it was tasked to do. Particularly when only 24% - 1 in 4 - of the nation voted for them (actually 36% of the General Election vote). If the Prime Minister was really implementing a "One Nation" approach (as he says that he is, since 2010), he would be much concerned about the poorest and the disabled. Many of them have died waiting for the economy to improve so that the government might think about improving the lot of that group of people.

Senator (then-US Presidential candidate) Bobby Kennedy said, in 1968 (italics are mine): 
Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things....
... the gross national product [GNP] does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.

It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. 
I propose we have a government of dullards. And they claim we put them there!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

A Calamitous and Disorientating Oriental Odyssey

Dear Reader,

This past week - if we would look closely - has emphasised just how calamitous Calamity Cameron is!

The issues that have been greatly highlighted this week have been related to (a) the Chinese president's visit and (b) the associated UK steel industry problems. And the latter issue has - in my opinion - been dealt with appallingly badly by Cameron and his government.

Okay, Cameron was quick to make the statement that the interests of the steel workers would be safeguarded. But isn't that just rhetoric designed to keep people believing - mainly his supporters - that everything is fine and that he has One Nation interests at heart?

The fact is that with the Redcar steel plants completely closed, there is virtually nothing in that area for the workers to go into, so no matter what you re-train them for (if that's the idea) then nothing short of moving families to a totally new area will help them. Tibbett's "On your bike" rhetoric rears it's ugly head.

Instead, the industry itself should have been underwritten by the government to see them through what may well be a temporary blip in the world demand for this material. Nationalisation if you will, but if that's what's needed then why not? If you can do it for the banks (whose commercial morality is often questioned), then why not the steel industry? It strikes me that the attitude is that ordinary working people don't matter so much in the scheme of things. A classless society? It never is under the Tories, is it?

But sucking up to the Chinese seems to be the Tory game-plan. And it may well include taking our steel industry out of the competition in order to help China develop. That line of thinking is completely compatible with the plan that's been confirmed to have the Chinese building nuclear power plants in the UK, with French help. As China's own nuclear power plants are apparently not being developed at all well, one is left with the impression that they are now being given an opportunity to 'learn on the job' with French help. At our cost?

The Chinese have now been given a sizeable foothold in the UK economy. That's been a developing issue for some time, what with matters such as the private purchasing of high-cost properties by the nouveau riche Chinese, including the purchase of the famed Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey where they are now charging the members fees of £100,000 PER YEAR – instead of the £8,000 they had been paying.

And there are potentially serious issues about democracy and rights of speech - here, in the UK. A Chinese who had sought asylum in this country the other day mildly protested against his former country’s president. The guy was arrested and had his flat “searched” by the police. His experience was, he said, “just like being in China”. And it was noted how Chinese Embassy workers were allowed to literally drum out any protest against the Chinese regime. 

In China itself, a Christian Church a was built not long ago: it took 12 years to build. The Chinese authorities last year moved in and knocked it down. And I believe that Cameron has promised not to talk to the Dalai Lama any more.

But Cameron has not just stopped there, this past week. Presumably filled with a sense of self importance at being host to the Chinese, he declared that he was "Delighted" that the government won the motion to carry on with their policy of implementing Tax Credit reforms despite the known affect on three million people at the bottom end and despite MPs in his own ranks making an appeal to the government to reconsider during the debate on the motion. Some special modification was being asked for to help the 3m.

Cameron is even threatening the Lords, that they must not interfere with the progress of his bill. We are perhaps becoming more of a Chinese state than in China itself. I note that Prince Charles was not present at the banquet in honour of the Chinese president.

There is also the matter of the appalling treatment of the disabled. The latest status on this can be found at this Change Org link.

In respect of the NHS, we now know that the government's proud statement of providing £8bn extra support for the NHS over the life of this parliament is based on £22bn savings that the NHS must make. What kind of NHS will we have in 5 years' time? The answer seems clear.

And with Green technology not being backed, and Fracking being promoted, the calamity is being exponentially increased. Calamity Cameron, what do you say to these charges? And please confirm that your idea of a One Nation state is that ordinary workers must learn to unquestioningly serve their masters, even while hobbling with a crutch.


John Lerwill

Saturday, 17 October 2015

On Fracking, Smart Meters and Microchips

Dear Reader,

It may have escaped your attention that the UK government has lately transferred all subsidies that were designed to reduce emissions and support renewable energy towards more greedy projects. The UK was doing well in the development of solar energy solutions, but the government has pulled the rug from the feet of that development with the result that solar enterprises have gone to the wall. Yet another instance where Britain has promised so much through its inventiveness and has been sold off or suppressed. And when it happens to a cause celebre, then all the more sad - and wasteful. (This happened to graphene very recently.)

Why has this happened? Well, the government (for what reason does not take too much imagination) is only interested in motor cars, gasoline and fracking. Of these fracking is the subject of most concern.

The underground water system acts as a blood supply acts in our bodies. Encoded information is carried in the underground water from one part of the planet to the next.  The methodology of fracking is to place chemicals into this water and (when this happens) will have the potential to disrupt the planets internal communications. Yes, many already have a fear that those chemicals may pose a danger to health, but the potential danger is in fact far greater.

There are many other issues that are now coming to a head as technology has developed to such an extent. These issues include the fear that micro-chipping - of humans - via devious means will be attempted.

Such a microchip contains a unique ID number that can be linked to information contained in an external database, such as personal identification, medical history, medications, allergies, and contact information. Though its purposes are given to be benign, there is a great threat of malusage, and as the world is developing the way it is, there is more concern to be concerned than to be trustful. 

Do not be too trusting of drug injections: microchips are becoming so micro-miniaturised that they can be injected into the blood stream, without even the person performing the injection knowing.

Even energy smart meters are to be questioned in their potential usage. They have the potential to feed back considerable details about how we conduct our lives, and (I suggest) should be looked at with caution. Such data can easily get into the wrong and manipulative hands. It is self-evident that whoever controls the land, water and air around the globe effectively controls the entire planetary civilization. 

Am I becoming a scare-freak? I certainly hope not: I don't believe I am. I try to see things as they are.

What can be done?

There are many that know of the power of prayer, but prayer can be better expressed in action when undertaken in a prayerful manner. It behoves us all that are able to act - I suggest - to resist such developments as much as we can and in the trust that the Almighty provides help in that enterprise. Not to do so could be calamitous.

We can also look to supporting the politics of the Green Party and a certain Jeremy Corbyn. Otherwise we will get more of what has been developing this past five years - and worse.

In Love,


Saturday, 10 October 2015

Only by possessing true compassion can you gain integrity!

Everywhere, there seems to be the state of reactive opposition. With the forthcoming of the right-wing protestations in Germany this week, following the left-wing developments in the English Labour Party setting themselves completely apart from the Tories, and our Prime Minister resorting to castigating the Labour leader in an extreme (and erroneous) manner, my thoughts went to the Bible and the words of Jesus about division:
In Luke 12:51 Jesus says (via one translation) “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Now there are people who think that religion and politics are two different 'things' and should be treated differently. Well, that may be true as far as religious services go, but how can we divorce everyday life from spiritual life? It's patently impossible, isn't it (without politics being reduced purely and simply to issues about the economy), and as all spiritual teachings convey a message about doing and promoting good in society, then in my view everyday politics should be infused with values that stem from lasting values. Faith can only be demonstrated in action.

I therefore see the current divisions as a challenge for us all to seek out and promote the real values that we wish to abide by! And - as Jesus so clearly enunciated in the passage above - finding the values that appeal to one's conscience can be in direct opposition to those people you hold dear. There is the challenge.

In my book The Greatest Goal (link) - published in 2012 - it is stated:
The state of affairs in the Middle Eastern countries is horrible and threatens to spill over into The West. Never has the need for a different outlook been greater. We need to live as one, so what is the common ingredient we can all understand and which can bring us all together?
The book also states (p.128) "... a new politics is needed ...".

Well, in my opinion, Jeremy Corbyn has become (in my view) the first politician in the UK in modern times to address that "new politics" issue. It behoves his political opponents to join in intelligently with that debate, and not (as they seem to be doing) in branding Corbyn as a person of all kinds of unacceptable characteristics. One of his actual characteristics - integrity - seems to be missing amongst his opponents as they not only ridicule him but do so with malice without foundation. Even the Tory journalist Peter Oborne has  noted that anomaly in his article in Saturday's Daily Mail.

But what hope do we have of finding integrity in the Tory front ranks when the Prime Minister (with his enormous wealth and wealthy contacts) has claimed Disability Living Allowance (in the sad case of his son) yet invokes extreme hardship on poor persons who are disabled. And a health minister who, it is alleged, told his staff to keep working to meet targets as the 9/11 disaster was unfolding on their computer screens.

To have integrity you must possess compassion. The Tories, not understanding true difficulty, do not possess true compassion of the heart. It only comes from the head when they have something to say. To them compassion is a word from the dictionary that they believe, if used in speeches, conveys the idea to everyone that they must possess that characteristic. How the wool is spun!

With the financial state of the NHS being what it is, it will be interesting to see whether this government will find the compassion to prevent the potentially enormous suffering this winter.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

To Arm or Not To Arm; That Is The Smoking Gun

The West still tries to portray itself as being the Good Guys, while the Baddies are countries like Russia and Iran. But the countries that continue to provide arms to many (not one) dubious regimes are the USA, Britain and France. And it's the USA and Britain that have been the hawks over the last dozen years in their insistence on use of arms in preference to diplomacy. Russia, therefore, can legitimately scoff - but not that I support their support of Assad.

So it comes as no surprise to learn this week that the British Foreign Office has decided that Human Rights issues are no longer high on their list of consideration, in favour of trade. Er, the arms trade.

This in the midst of plentiful advice being offered to the British government that a perpetuation of militant solutions instead of diplomacy is counter-productive. That a display of arms does little more than stir up more resentment - and more "terrorists".

The Lord Jesus and other great spiritual beings advised that the solution to evil is to turn the other cheek. It is difficult to apply that advice ... very difficult. But when it comes to the arms trade, we need to be more circumspect as there is (in practice) little hope of a peaceful solution going down that route.

I hear much use of the word  "deterrent" when applied to arms - particularly nuclear arms. But weapons such as Trident would be of no value in the wars we have come to know in the last few years. Even if democracy rules that Trident should remain, surely it must be scaled back?

On this topic, I must mention that David Cameron has accused Jeremy Corbyn of being a danger to our national security in his stance on Trident, but it should be noted that it is Cameron that has presided in the greatest threat to our security to date by taking away any usable aircraft carriers! We currently have no ocean-based airforce facility to be used in more conventional warfare. Who, therefore, is calling the kettle black?

Sunday, 27 September 2015

United we stand; divided we fall...

There are ominous signs, world-wide. Nowhere seems to be without conflict of some kind, and a lot of it is extreme. The topmost issue will soon be - I'm sure - the survival of the huge number of Middle Eastern refugees and economic migrants that have entered Europe. Many, many more will soon come and then will be faced with what could be a grim European winter, and I fear a crisis arising. There is already a serious food shortage situation in the camps that exist in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.

The 'migration issue' has certainly opened up some real issues in respect of our so-called eastern European partners. Up until now the European Union seems to have been operating reasonably well as it says on the tin (a Union), but the sheer scale of the migration has caused panic amongst the eastern countries of the EU and much criticism of Merkel's generous invitation.

The UK is poised to have a referendum on whether we should stay in the EU.

But not only do we have division within the EU but also within the constituent countries of the EU. We all know the situation in Scotland towards independence, and we are familiar now with Catalonia's claims. But how many know that other areas have declared their independence claims, including Brittany and Sardinia? The whole idea of the EU was to bring countries and peoples closer together, but the trend is now towards disunity.

Indeed, it could be claimed that any sense of a cohesive social fabric is quickly disappearing, and perhaps it has been partly brought on by the swing towards individual determination over the last 50 years. The human rights movements of the 60s were well-intentioned, but since then many people have evolved a selfish attitude as though togetherness is something outworn and should be thrown aside. Maybe we are now beginning to reap from the worst of that.

Whatever has developed on the selfish front, there is no excuse for the right-ist developments that have taken place in England. Well, if you can call a right-wing government that was elected by only 24% of the voting population as being a right-wing development. Also, we have the terrible state of affairs in the USA where police have reportedly shot and killed over 800 people this year alone. Last week's report of the police killing of an apparently unarmed man in a wheelchair being perhaps the most chilling report yet.

With the backdrop of a USSR/US unification against ISIL in Syria, we at least have the refreshing debate instigated by Jeremy Corbyn. At his Party's Conference in these next few days we'll find out more. It may result in more division, and a Party split. We shall see.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Can we love our neighbour?

Yes, they are saying that a week is a long time in politics, and applying this thought to Jeremy Corbyn's week.

Already we hear that he's backing down on his attitude towards the UN and, now, the Trident programme. But at least he has not capitulated on the nucelar warfare issue, and is seeking other ways to re-generate interest in the anti-nuclear campaign. And he must be right too - how absurd it is to spend all this dough (that we haven't got) on equipment which - if used (and a big 'if') - would most likely create a sterile world and therefore (if people remained) one that would then want to forget about nuclear investments. 

Nuclear warfare planning is an insane policy. As is any policy that pretends that the national economy can perpetually grow as a way of bringing everyone out of poverty. It's insane because there's a small group that always seem to want more than everyone else (they've earned it, they mysteriously say) and will also do their utmost to keep the slaves working for too little in order to maximise profits for themselves and their gambling shareholders. 

In other words, the policy  towards economic growth is in reality really geared at making exponentially more rich those who already have (the riches).

Now - don't get me wrong - I do not espouse the form of "communism" that grew up in the likes of Russia and China and the east European states. But there is a form of socialism that, if it is imbued with a spiritual dimension, can be the basis of happy co-existence. For it to succeed, however, greed as to be voluntarily removed from our consciousness.

Jeremy Corbyn may be some way from that concept of Utopia, but at least he's trying to formulate an approach which can accommodate that view. The alternatives have long shown they don't work.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Could not 'the left' be ... right?

Jeremy Corbyn has confused his opponents and won the Labour Leadership contest by a very comfortable margin. 

Immediately afterwards, he was savaged by the Tories and even by some of his old Labour colleagues - in the Tory press! The Tories claim he is a threat to our national security and goodness knows what else. The Tories have cast aspersions on some of Corbyn's quotes ... mainly out of context.

The country is ... very sadly ... already divided. But divided not by Corbyn but by the Tory policies that have attacked the poorest and weakest in the country (except pensioners) under the guise of One Nation.

The natural purpose of life is not to feed the proceeds of the country's wealth towards the wealthy, but to distribute so that all may share prosperity. The ordinary person usually works just as hard as any big businessman (and certainly the bankers and traders), so why should he not be able to share - fairly - the nations' wealth, and be able to live happily without undue anxiety? And those that cannot work or are restricted from doing so should not be traumatised and villified but have free access into any such success without guilt.

Love towards all and towards the environement must be this country's goal. And getting rid of Trident would seem to me a good part of the way towards that transcendental goal.

Jeremy Corbyn has all the personal characteristics to bring success towards this vision. And with Tom Watson he has a very able ally. Yes, there are dangers - particularly in the extreme left having too much of a voice - but reason should prevail. Corbyn is not, in fact, a 'lefty' - he just speaks common sense, and to the heart!