Monday, 19 September 2011

The Season Of Huff & Puff

So, the Party Conference Season is upon us and for the next few weeks the press and media will be full of huff & puff from both ends of the political spectrum and everywhere in between.  For the first time since World War I, the Liberal Democrats apparently have the opportunity to turn the hot air generated at their Conference into actual Government policy.   If the Conservatives will let them, that is …

You see, it seems that at Conference, the Lib-Dems have voted to issue a warning to Atos following the thousands of complaints from those have undergone the new Work Capability Assessment “medicals”.  They will call for an end to the automated “tick-box” assessment system and for its replacement with a system more accurate and less stressful for those undergoing it.  This in itself is very good news but it remains to be seen whether or not they will be able to coerce their coalition partners into carrying it out!  Personally, I hae ma doots!

They have not succeeded [if indeed they have tried] in preventing the booting of the Grand Committee stage of the Welfare Reform Bill in the House of Lords neatly into the long grass.  Despite the fact that convention dictates this should be held in the main chamber of the House, the Government have squirreled this most important stage of the progress of the Bill away into a side chamber where it will be much more difficult to scrutinise and where there will not be sufficient room for all interested Peers to participate.

The Lib-Dems are extremely anxious to portray themselves as the representatives of “low-and-middle income earners”, leaving it to us to infer that the Conservative half of the coalition represents wealth and privilege, as if we didn’t know!  Neither party in the coalition is willing to represent those who, for whatever reason, cannot work and do not “earn”.  As for New Labour – well, I don’t think they themselves know who they are in politics to represent!  If Ed Miliband’s recent frantic attempts to distance himself from the Unions at the TUC Conference are anything to go by, it certainly is NOT the traditional “working class” constituency of ‘Old’ Labour!  Nor, as was amply demonstrated during their years in office, are they willing to identify themselves with those of us who, through no fault of our own, cannot make an economic contribution.

Back in the 1930s, the economy in Germany was very much like the economy of England today.  There was massive unemployment, widespread poverty and no real sense of national identity.  Then along came the National Socialist [Nazi] Party and set about restoring the nation’s economy and national pride.  Through the skilful use of hate-filled propaganda in the press and media, they managed to turn the vast majority of the population against various minority groups, not only the Jewish population, but also against the chronically sick, disabled and mentally ill.  So successful were they in this that they were able to ‘euthanize’ whole sections of the population without anyone turning a hair.  Those who could make no economic contribution to the New Germany, or who might be thought to ‘contaminate’ the gene pool, were quietly but systematically eliminated.  So the next time you read a headline about ‘Welfare Scroungers’ or ‘Benefit Junkies’ – write to your MP and tell him/her that you are not prepared to go along with this demonisation of those who cannot work.  Make it clear that you know that this is how the holocaust began!

Is there ANY political party in England, Wales or Northern Ireland [I deliberately leave out Scotland where the current administration has a proven strong sense of social justice] which is willing to stand up for the most vulnerable people in our so-called Society?  Who is prepared to identify themselves with sick, the disabled, the elderly and the unpaid carers?  If you know of one – I would dearly love to hear from you!

And now for something completely different ….

I have been following the story of the hate campaign against Joanna Lumley because of her championing of the cause of the Gurkhas.  I was saddened by the attitude of the people of Aldershot towards the families of Gurkha soldiers who have taken up residence there, even though I can understand their worries about the strain on local infrastructure and facilities such as the NHS.  But I was totally disgusted by the lack of empathy and understanding demonstrated by Defence Minister Gerald Howarth when he crassly stated that Gurkhas and their families should be ‘treated like asylum seekers and dispersed around the UK’.

Asylum seekers?  What a shocking and ungrateful comparison!  The Nepalese villages from which Gurkha soldiers are drawn are small, close-knit communities, with connections to the British Army going back many generations.  Any regiment in the British Army prides itself on being a ‘community’ – even a family.  The Gurkhas are one such and having served this country with courage and loyalty since long before Mr Howarth was born, they have every right
  • to live near their Regimental base in Aldershot, and
  • to remain together as a community unit and not to be ‘dispersed’ willy-nilly.

It is for the Government whom these soldiers have served in countless war zones to ensure that the facilities and services in the area where they have settled are adequate for the needs of EVERYONE in the community!  Hats off to Peter Carroll for demanding Howarth’s dismissal!


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