The LibDems must avoid knee jerk reaction and leaving the centre for the left!

I don’t like being put in a box. Especially the left or right box. If I had to sum myself up with a political party I would say something like 40% Lib Dem, 20% Conservative, 10% Greens, 30% none of the above. I swing left or right depending on the issue. I’m a Lib Dem because they hold a majority of my views with a clear 10% lead over none of the above. I’m sad Clegg has gone. I admired how he held together slightly left and slightly right factions of the party grounded in the centre ground. I am proud he acknowledged that in 2010 that he owed it to the people who voted LibDem because they wanted a LibDem Government to go into Government when he had the chance. It was a bold, brave decision and one that has benefited the people of  Britain curbing the worst excesses of the Conservatives over the past five years.

 I’m a mature (another box I don’t like to be put in) student and I forgive Clegg for tuition fees. He is not the first politician to break a promise and nor will he be the last. When you work in a team you have to make difficult concessions and I respect his decisions. On the contrary I don’t have rich parents so I’m thankful for the fair student finance system that means everyone can go to university and indeed the figures of participation from less affluent groups in university are positive. I might have 50 K debt but it’s the best loan I will ever have. I wish my mortgage or car finance was on such favourable terms.

I’m concerned for the future of the party. A leftist approach would alienate members like myself. To be honest, furthermore  this weeks election has hinted the electorate rejecting the left to an extent. Although the left won’t accept this, instead writing Facebook posts verging on trolling, accusing people who voted certain ways of hating the disabled and other equally absurd accusations because they don’t agree ideologically with them! Equally I appreciate if I was party leader I would alienate a great deal of the party to the left of me. That’s why we need another Clegg! And if we do get another bash at being part of the Government we should grasp it with both hands! I don’t vote LibDem because I want them to have a chance to govern and turn it down! The opposition benches (or bench for our 8 MPs) don’t get us to do what we achieved in the last 5 years even if it had detrimental effects!

When you’re very left or very right it’s easy to verge on sounding like a dictator when arguing your stance to someone on the opposite side of the spectrum. I think the left are quite nasty in their arguments with opponents, however feel they believe it is justifiable because of the left bias in most mainstream media and institutions. It is almost an offence to admit to being anything other then hardline left at my university. As a liberal I’m very big on freedom of speech, something the lefties don’t appreciate. David Cameron said yesterday about building a strong economy encouraging people to work. I find this reasonable enough however don’t expect everyone to agree leading to healthy debate but instead Facebook is full of Cameron and the right hate the disabled and poor and are all fascists. On Saturday The Guardian had a dig at the democracy that gave Cameron the keys to number ten accusing people of failing to vote Labour when so many were visiting food banks. Food banks I believe are a very subjective opinion. Oops, cue the trolls again, I had an opinion.

 My Facebook “friends “ had posts ranging from slagging off the Electorate for how they voted to threatening to unfriend anyone voting UKIP. I mean, come on guys, freedom of speech. I detest UKIP policies probably more then I do Labour’s. I argue the immigration and anti-Europe drivel and myths are fuelled by the media and scaremongering and completely unfounded and we should welcome free movement of people but that’s my view. My view, others have fought so hard so that we can be in a position where everyone can have a view and a vote, even if that view and that vote are different from our own. The left have to stop thinking they have some kind of monopoly of moral and social justice and actually that there view on society is simply that, a view!

On the one hand social justice is very important to me. The principals of a welfare state are vital to a progressive state that provides for its population in times of needs.In terms of international support, frankly following our empire building, colonisation and subsequent contemporary neo-colonisation, we owe it to the developing word to provide support. (That’s not to say current models of neo-liberal solutions based on the  relentless power of TNC’s and aid conditional on the West’s way of doing things are the right way of doing things, buts that’s not a debate for here!). On the other hand I’m a huge believer in personal responsibility. Perhaps the “right” swinging in here BUT I had a very modest upbringing in a crappy Labour controlled Northern deprived city. I know what hard times are. I know the deprived face barriers.I know about living in a deprived community because I lived (and indeed still live) in one. I’m not like Russell Brand who attends a protest once or twice for a photo opportunity or the Guardian reading middle class who visit a food bank once then declare they know everything about the oppressed and can speak and come up with solutions for them! Yes, there are people in a bad way in the UK. I’m not denying that and as I said above I’m very proud of our welfare principals but some people are taking the piss, they go through their lives expecting everything on a plate, taking no responsibility for anything. This is not fair! You get out, what you put in. Britain is full of hard working people and Miliband’s swing to the far left and anti-business approach has obviously pissed off those people. The Conservative majority was achieved through real people voting! 

Leftist factions in the LibDems appear to be plotting some leftist revival apparently because not being left enough cost us last Thursday! This is rubbish! We epic failed at the election because the media turned against us. The junior coalition partners  were the laughing stock of satirical media and ridiculed by the left, right and populist media. It became fashionable to hate the LibDems and unintelligently band around the word “tuition fees” without any thought for what we actually stand for and what we have done in coalition. The Conservatives came out of the deal unscathed and stronger! We didn’t stand a chance. A big surge to the left really is not the answer! I joined the party as opposed to just supporting them as I had done for many years prior,  during the height of the media scaremongering because I took the time to actually see what they were about and not just believe everything I read in the newspaper! 

Europe is very important to me. That’s pretty much my only red line. With the Lib Dems the only party who don’t dither over Europe, it’s a key reason for the 40% match between what I stand for and what the LibDems stand for. I would be happy with €Euro and Schengen Removal of borders but appreciate the full works is not everyone’s cup of tea. I think it is a farce we would even consider leaving Europe though. I mean, of course I’m all freedom and democracy so why would I be against a referendum where people decide. To oppose it would make me a hypocrite. I have just chastised  those lefties slagging off those who voted Conservative above and now I’m suggesting a referendum is wrong when so many people have an opinion on Europe. In my defence I can’t help but think that people are too uneducated to make that choice. That sounds quite mean. I’m suggesting half of Britain are uneducated, but I don’t mean it as such. I mean people have visions force fed to them from populist opinion and factions of the media, of myths around immigration and Brussels making all of our decisions but people just don’t understand the many benefits of Europe because nobody ever discusses them. Where would you go to find the truth about European integration? It would be awful for Britain to leave Europe. A complete disaster. For an example of what Europe was like before integration, think about World War 2. Business leaders know it, Labour and the Greens know it. Even Cameron and the less hardline Conservatives know it. Are the people of Britain going to have to wait until their jobs start disappearing on a scale worse then the recession before they know it! We are entering worrying times! I fear for the future of the UK. The Europe issue is far more pressing then the relentless bashing of the right from the left since the election result and will have much worse effects then any of the welfare/spending cuts people were protesting about yesterday, yet ignorance to the plight of our EU membership continues!

Apparently LibDem membership has soared since last Thursday. The haters queuing up to stick the knife in Clegg will argue it is down to his resignation and the end of the coalition. Although I’m suitably informed, the surge started prior to Nick’s resignation. Tony Blair has come out yesterday accusing Labour of losing the election by being too left. The guardian has revealed this morning that Labour had huge success in university seats. What we forget is most university students are rich and middle class, rebelling against Tory mummy and daddy whilst at Uni. Did you see how many students were protesting Saturday in London against the cuts that don’t effect them (and in my view don’t exist)? As soon as they leave uni and get a job they realise the Guardian and the protests were a load of bollocks! Hard working British people do not resonate with paternalistic, middle class generated, leftist elite! The centre is good!

Lurching to the left is not the right road!

LibDems have got a lot of work to do!

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Grassroots politics? Don’t make me laugh

since the SNP stuck two fingers up at England and Wales last September (and we equally stuck two fingers back up at them come referendum day) words like “localism”, “northern powerhouse” “devolution” and “grassroots” have been banded about. In theory I like the idea of local politcs although I do worry about economies of scale. The amount of red tape and layers of management in a centralised state make me worry how inefficient the public sector would become if devolved to such tiny local levels! 

My main concern however is being somewhere right of centre on most issues positioned somewhere between a Lib Dem and Conservative (albeit with a tad of Greens thrown in the mix – don’t try and put me in a box!) living in the North this would mean for me having a strong Central Conservative Government as now (although subject to change next week -however I have a plan B to move to Netherlands for a couple of years if red Ed manages to get keys to number ten- I can’t see that tosser and the Labour cunts being In powerfor more then one term!) but being ruled in the North at local level by Labour. I can’t think of anything worse! Why would I support localism in practice if it meant being run by Labour? They are ruining my area when they don’t have much power from Westminster so imagine how bad it would be if they could do what they like! The lemmings in the North who don’t see Labour as the reason for the North being so shit because they have controlled it forever instead moan about Thatcher and mines, get over it!

My main problem is on a really local level as evidenced in next weeks elections.  I will vote for the LibDem paper candidate (and Labour stalwart Jon Trickett will win-it’s as sure as eggs are eggs) for the national whilst LibDems can’t be arsed to field a district councillor in my constituency so I will Opt for the Conservative paper candidate who lives 100 miles away in a nice bit of North Yorkshire (and the Labour candidate Jessica something or other will win). This is democracy in action. LibDems are happy to accept my donations but are not too bothered about me as a person because I don’t live in a key seat. I suppose that’s how the power machine works!

The absolute lowest level is the parish elections. The grassroots. The people who can make it happen in my community. There are 5 seats up for grabs. There are ten candidates. A couple align themselves with Labour so I can rule them out to mark my X against. The others are in effect independents. I notice a few of them are related or just happen to have same surname  and same address. The interesting thing is these people who live amongst me and want to represent me and I have absolutely no idea who they are and what they are going to do for my local community. No posters, flyers. No door knocking or harassing me outside Co-Op. No Facebook, Twitter. No links on Parish council webpage. Nothing in local paper. I e-mailed the parish council for information (and to tell them about the dog mess in the village) but they not terribly helpful in response. I expect these perspective parish councillors will get enough votes from friends and family to get a foot in the door in then make a few quid in expenses.

Grassroots politics? Don’t make me laugh!

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Why I’m not anti-benefits And why Labour have failed decent honest working people in the North?

I may seem anti-benefits by my rants on Twitter however it is hard to do your views justice in 140 characters. I want to put on record that I love benefits. I can’t imagine living in a country without the safety net and I think it is reflected in the comparison between the UK and other developed countries in terms of our standard of living, homelessness levels etc etc.  People pay into National Insurance, they raise children (the future of the UKs economy) and do good in their community and I wouldn’t go as far as saying it is our right but I think it is fair to expect help when we fallen on difficult times. I would probably take benefits further with some form of mortgage protection (considering the Government bailed out so many banks I don’t think they can bemoan some kind of joint scheme) so people who have contributed to NI for so many years can be confident they won’t lose their home should the worst happen (sensible considering our housing shortage. The alternative being repossessed, housed by the local council in a hostel before finding a council house long in the future must cost local authorities greatly!). 

It’s great that people who go out to work on crap wages get topped up by the state and can claim back on (drastically overpriced) childcare. There can’t be much incentive working in Tesco for less then a living wage and having to faff about sorting childcare and struggling to fit in family time and leisure stuff but everyday thousands across the UK take responsibility for their lives and their families (including myself for many years whilst I worked up the greasy ladder at work) and I’m proud that the tax credits exist to support these families (not to mention the Lib Dem tax cut on the first 12K). I disagree that forcing Governments to implement a living wage Would solve the need to top up wages because forcing companies to implement a living wage would just result in them employing less resulting in more people on benefits and reducing the economic activitiy of businesses which also contribute to the states kitty.

Furthermore I’m not against one person working families. It seems plausible for families to bring up their own children and we should support flexible working and the like to facilitate this. I believe good parenting leads to good adults in the future so if mum and dad want to work part-time or dad/mum want to stay at home then this shouldn’t be an issue. Nobody says it but childcare providers are not unlike the landlords making a pocket out of housing benefit. Childcare providers are cashing in knowing most charges are covered by the childcare element of tax credits. There,I have said it! 

I know what you are thinking, you are reading this I love benefits blah, blah, blah. There must be a BUT coming up. And you’re right. There is a but. The leftist elite at the Guardian who pop into a food bank once and decree the deprived condition of the poor don’t tell the full story. I grew up on a council estate. I live in an ex mining community where everything is the fault of Margaret Thatcher. Labour controlled my shit hole during the miners strike and continuously since but it’s still all the Conservatives fault. Labour’s manifesto here could be to kill your kids and they would still get in. Yet, these guys are more shrewd then people give them credit for. The leftist media might like to portray them as victims, as a little bit thick, as abandoned by the elite but it’s simply not true. As the Guardian would discover if it lived here day in day out instead of sending an Oxford educated Home Counties born middle class journalist for half an hour for a photo shoot with the “deprived”. Yes the vast majority are hard working. On a commuter train route into Leeds, the morning trains fill up with many Heading to a variety of employment types. Yes , many want the best for their children and play an active part in such. Equally however there are a significant number who abuse the system. Our political elite seem to find it acceptable to use “scrounger” rhetoric to describe immigrants but it seems to have come a taboo to separate those who are using benefits as a safety net in hard times or for good reasons (such as actual disability that restricts or prevents work) from those who are taking the piss. 

There are people who have never worked in their life. They have council homes (absolutely nothing wrong with social housing, I’m not sure why the British are obsessed with owning!) which they have never paid a penny of rent on (there is something wrong with this). They have never contributed a penny to national insurance, to council tax. They have children. Lots of children. Starting a whole new generation of scroungers whose role-model parenting leads them into the same life dependent on the state, having children who in turn have a life dependent on the state. This same pattern reproduced across so many Labour strongholds in the North of England.

People bemoan the “unfair” ATOS checks and if people who need and should get support are not getting what they need then these fit-to-work assessments are a huge injustice because I know of people who are enjoying a life on disability benefit,free vehicle and the right to park dangerously wherever they like with a blue badge when by there own admission there is no reason why they couldn’t work. I know someone who pulls out a walking stick for his periodic assessment yet makes money on the side doing heavy lifting and deliveries in his mobility estate car despite his “bad-back”.

People scoff at the idea of “belittling” those on benefits by making them work for benefits but consider this? If benefits are the equivalent of 12 hours employment at just above minimum wage, would it be wrong to ask a single mum to work 10-2 three weekdays each week in a library or in another local service if it fits around childcare issues etc? 

People criticise the idea of benefit sanctions for missing appointments and whilst I appreciate the jobworths with little man/ little woman syndrome who work here. I once tried at job centre when I was looking for a better job. They have got to be the worst places in the UK conducive to finding a job. Equally as I found out when interviewing at the job centre in Torquay once they are full of people playing the system presenting themselves as unemployable.  It is not fair sanctioning someone who is at a job interview. Again I suspect the Guardian will pick up a case of this happening to someone unemployed the result of the recession and desperate to return to work, and run a story on how the deprived are treated! Equally though if you have to be at the job centre for ten minutes just once a fortnight to guarantee your benefit you would take responsibility and just be there. As an employee I have places I have to be and face action if I’m not there. It’s called the real World!

And don’t get me started on drug/alcohol addiction being a valid reason for disability benefit…..

I anticipate people who really need or really l deserve our help struggle to get it whilst instead the political correct brigade and leftie lefties in their ivory towers defend the indefensible and paradoxically are to blame for the issues of inequity in our welfare system! Our welfare system should be fair and equitable. It should reward work at its core whilst providing a safety net to all, supporting the vulnerable but clamping down on those abusing it. This clearly isn’t happening. 

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