Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Run for your lives! Jeremy Corbyn is coming!

Lovers of freedom everywhere rejoiced this week as the world now has a new bogeyman to fear. Bin Laden proved a hard act to follow as far as bearded terrorists who want you, your family and your country dead go but luckily a new challenger has stepped in.

Jeremy Corbyn represents a threat to your family security, a threat to national security and a threat to economic security. These aren't my words. These are in fact the words of PM David Cameron's own twitter account after Corbyn's victory. If this seems ridiculous it's because it is and to make the situation more surreal Russia went on to mock the PM's fear mongering.

Do I like Corbyn? I don't know yet. Do I like what he stands for. Actually yes. Why? He actually seems to want to represent people and help people and seems to represent a bit of a change in a sea of dull complacent familiarity. But for the opposition he's perfect. He's got a beard. He could be portrayed as a terrorist for his history of marching on protests, and to far right people he's practically a communist. Not even Bin Laden was a communist. It's like Christmas has come early (or on time if you enter a UK supermarket about now).

The media has been quick to stir that pot since his victory on Saturday. The red top press has quickly capitalised on a moment yesterday when Corbyn remained silent during the national anthem at a memorial to fallen soldiers.

Here is a quick summery response to this:

1.The anthem is dull and should be replaced with something that actually talks about Britain and not the Queen.

2.What do you expect from an agnostic republican?

3.Since when is silence disrespectful?

4.This is a clear case of divide and conquer that panders to petty us vs them tribalism.

In relation to the last point some rightly noticed that the tabloids made this their top story while ignoring important factors such the cut to tax credits that affect thousands of families (check) and yesterday's cut in inflation, which are probably more newsworthy and actually highlights severe government failings.

I could write a whole article on the Sun's reaction myself considering the hypocrisy of a publication that phone-tapped the royals and is owned by a man who is perhaps not the biggest fan of royalty in general appealed to the masses by disingenuously feigning outrage at a supposed snub of the Queen?

But as usual why let the facts get in the way of a good story. Jeremy Corbyn hates the Queen too. You love the Queen right? Of course you do because you're a good boy or girl. You love Queen and Country. You love your kind leaders and you of course hate Jeremy Goldstei... I mean Corbyn. Or at least that's what the press is telling us, while giving us a comforting pat on the head with one hand and pointing to monsters we should fear with the other.

Monday, September 14, 2015

I support the idea for assisted dying but not right now. Here's why.

I realise I'm a bit late to the party but here are a few thoughts about the now rejected assisted dying bill. (As usual all thoughts are my own)

To be honest I'm in favour of assisted dying. If you won't get better and you know it and that is what you want to do then I have no problem with that. I would do it myself. It must always be a person's choice they must be able to clearly make that choice clear. That however does not mean that I am in favour of assisted dying right now. And I'm actually relieved that it didn't pass at this moment and I'll explain why.

People love to throw around the expression slippery slope, in this case, as if that people will inevitably move towards euthanasia or to the impoverished pressuring their older or sicker family members to discreetly and voluntarily die. I think the first idea is too morally linear and there are so many people who still seem to believe that people shouldn't have control over their own life and death, preferring instead to delegate it to fate, god or whatever. Believing in this idea of an infantile humanity that cannot take charge of its own destiny seems to me very retrograde and I just don't agree with it. If a person is of sound mind and knows there is no holding back the inevitable let them do what they want. It is actually the second point about families pressuring their family members to die that troubles me more.

If you want to talk about real slippery slopes we need to look at the UK's gradual steps towards removing support for the chronically sick, the old and the disabled, as well as a more worrying stride towards private healthcare. If we managed healthcare properly balancing carefully between preventive checks and education on health matters as well as comprehensive relief from the burdens of care and costs thereof I could support assisted dying tomorrow. The fact that we are now sliding towards more costs for illness and even something as heinous as the American system that financially penalises the sick (although makes for great television ala Breaking Bad) and the disabled is troubling even without the idea of assisted dying.

Being sick isn't your fault and shouldn't be treated as such; neither is being disabled or having a terminal illness. Charities pick up a lot of the slack (from experience I cannot highly praise St Christopher's enough) for people suffering at the end but we should be providing more non-profit and government support for these issues. However until we decisively move away from the current model which we seem to be having imposed in the UK we shouldn't have assisted dying.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

What short memories we have

I think it was around 2001 that I remember the last real crisis of immigration between the borders of  Britain and France. Back then it was the Sangatte refugee camp that came under the spotlight. The press reaction was similar to this year, taking a somewhat militant and xenophobic view of the idea that Britain would be swamped as if the island itself was some kind of overcrowded lifeboat. Think Titanic perhaps. Being an impressionable 12 year old as I was back then I remember being a bit scared of the foreigners.

Well, here we are in 2015 and we've seen a summer of similar stories tinged with anger due to increased police necessity and disrupted holiday plans (never come between an Englishman and his holiday abroad seems to be the message put across). The situation is eeriely similar to 1999-2002 but one thing now seems to ring true in both. Both are directly after brutal and bloody civil wars.

Last time it was the Kosovo conflict and NATO's somewhat pointless (in hindsight) adventure into Afghanistan, with Yugoslavs and Afghans representing a big proportion of the people coming. This time round its the Syrians escaping an increasingly out of control civil war in their homeland.

The point that really stands out is that Britain seems to like to bury its head in the sand when it comes to the reasoning of why and rather focuses on the what. By this I mean that people are singularly focused on the fact that a lot of immigrants are here rather than why.

The why in fact is the saddest thing as many of these people are coming here to escape madness, but as usual we conflate it with people coming to steal our stuff or overwhelm our infrastructure. The second point is a point of genuine concern for any country but we have to escape this view that all immigrants look at England as a land where the streets are paved with gold (spoiler alert: they aren't) and is there to be exploited. We still have the perception of the benefit scrounger hovering around these poor people. The UK isn't even the country with the most European immigration. Countries like Germany, Spain and Italy get hit far worse and it's not surprising considering their proximity to the immigration flow.

Even worse is if one casts their mind back to the 1930s when Britain made a pretty limp effort to help Jews escaping Hitler's persecution. Once again excuses were made and a blind eye turned to the genuine fear and suffering being experienced. Funnily enough papers took a similarly militantly anti view to the people escaping the holocaust to Britain and yet we seem to have conveniently forgotten that and rather have focused on the fact we liberated some concentration camps (a bit too late really).

I find it more frightening that some people older than me have still got the views of the 12 year old me. The news reporting around the time of 1999-2001 was pretty scary to an impressionable pre-teen and it made me paranoid as a result. Obviously younger people who don't remember that will probably feel the same and it could tinge their perception of foreign people as a result. Worse still is that people who do remember last time haven't been able to put two and two together to realise that big influxes of immigration like this only seem to happen after big civil wars.

Britain has to shoulder a bit of blame for the reasons why people are coming here. Afghanistan is pretty self explanatory but Britain is in a way responsible for what has happened in places like Syria and Iraq (Iraq is also pretty self explanatory). A lot of the middle east is as it is today because of our country's imperial ambitions. After the fall of the Ottoman empire, Britain and France carved up the Middle East into the landscape we can more or less see today. Let's be honest it was disastrous in hindsight.

The point being, look at the facts and it's not surprising that we're facing a mess like this today and we should really be helping these people out. True, the best thing to do would be to prevent the situations that allow countries to fall into this state and also a big fight needs to be fought against illegal people trafficking but that doesn't mean we should abandon these obviously desperate people now. You never know whose help the British people might need one day. Let's hope they have as short a memory as us.