Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Why aren't there more politicians like this?

Senator Bernie Sanders, Vermont, has announced that he is standing for the Democrat presidential nomination and while he doesn't stand a realistic chance of winning over Hilary Clinton who is 'bajillion points' ahead, according to the Washington Post, Bernie's policies are resonating with the ordinary folk.

A self-proclaimed socialist, Bernie has questioned the concept of choice within Capitalism and linked this to poverty stricken children. He wonders why Americans need 23 underarm deodorants to choose from when children in the USA go hungry. Another policy of his that will go down like a lead balloon in the ultra-capitalist quarters of America is a 90% personal income tax rate for top earners. “These people are so greedy, they’re so out of touch with reality,” Sanders said. “You know what? Sorry, you’re all going to have to pay your fair share of taxes.”

Here's wishing Senator Bernie Sanders all the very best in his campaign and three cheers for daring to claim the identity of being a 'socialist' when many in the Western world would prefer to cross a very busy motorway to avoid being associated with it.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

My Guilty Act - I Feed Foxes

I hate waste.  Last night I chucked some chicken that was past the sell-by date on the pack. I threw the straggly bits of translucent looking chicken breasts that I should have cooked three days ago onto a wasteland close to my home where the foxes roam at night looking for food. I would rather feed leftovers and food that has gone off to the foxes than to bin it.

I hate the inequality of food distribution between the Global North and the Global South and if I cannot feed those poor children in African then I am going to make sure that the food I waste goes into some living thing's mouth and an urban fox it is in my case. However, I must admit to some feeling of guilt and worry that a neighbour will one day come over and tell me off for encouraging the foxes. In fact, a few months ago I did have a conversation with a neighbour who looked at me in an accusatory way while talking about food being thrown onto the wasteland patch and the foxes being seen eating this food. I didn't own up, instead I bigged myself up in my own mind by consoling myself with the thought that the foxes had cubs that couldn't be left to starve. That would be inhuman.

Feeding foxes is one of those things that you don't talk to people about. Much like the 'Don't feed the pigeons' brigade the 'anti-urban fox' brigade can be just as strident. I have heard people talking about wanting to shoot foxes. Imagine my delight then when I opened my Guardian newspaper today and read an article written by a woman who feeds foxes. Even better, according to this article, Joanna Lumley does it too. If posh Joanna whose English rose looks and plummy accent can shoot a class warrior straight in the eye feeds foxes then I am in good company. Joanna, allegedly, even buys her foxes dog food. She doesn't just check 'em rotten food. Her urban foxes are even invited into her music room to listen to Mr Lumley play the piano.

While I wouldn't invite my foxes in to listen to my 80s playlist, I am not as cultured as the Lumleys, I am going to carry on feeding them safe in the knowledge that I am in good company. Lastly, only in a first world Western country would something as mundane as throwing your food to the foxes make the news. In third world countries people would probably eat the fox that dares to trample onto their land and it wouldn't make the news either.


Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Vicar in Manchester Challenges PM to Meet People Struggling on Benefits

Dear Prime Minister,
I don't know if you will ever read this, but I have some things I wish to say to you.
You have won the General Election and command a majority in the House of Commons, and as such will feel you have a legitimate mandate to govern. However, you must also know that you don't command a majority of the British people.
Although our political views are very much at odds on many issues, I'm willing to believe that you are a good man, as sure of your ideals as I am of mine, and believe your plan is what's best for us all. You said today that you will govern for the whole country and bring back together that which has clearly fractured. I hope you will.
But Prime Minister, though you can obviously see your party did not win the confidence of Scotland and huge swathes of the north of England, I'm not sure your party quite understands why. It's not because we're all 'loony-left' or extremists and nationalists, it's because so many of us are scared. Scared of what your policies will do to our communities and families. Scared of what will happen to our health service and our schools. Scared of losing our family homes for the sake of a few quid saving from the bedroom tax, or not being able to heat our home and have enough left to buy food.
I don't disagree with you that the best way out of poverty is to work, nor do I think that people should get something for nothing and expect the tax-payer to support people indefinitely if they are able to work. Who would think that that was ok and fair?
But your party's policies on these issues, couched in terms of reducing the deficit and balancing the books, don't seem to take into account the social and human cost of such actions. The country isn't a business, it's its people. All its people. And you are everyone's Prime Minister whether we voted for you or not.
You said today you will govern for everyone and unite the country. I hope you do. But to be able to do so you need to make it a priority in your first 100 days, to spend time in Scotland visiting people on zero hours contracts. Come to Manchester and talk with those who have been sanctioned for having a spare room, but have nowhere else to go. Go to Liverpool and meet people with disabled dependents who can't afford even one nanny, or to Newcastle and talk to people still living in poverty due to the demise of the coal industry. Spend a week or two living on the minimum wage, or volunteer in a food bank for a whole day.
Then Prime Minister you might begin to understand the cost of your policies from the other side, to see people as more than their net contribution to the economy, or as deliberate drains on the system. If you do that, then maybe you can heal some of the fractures in our society. Without this I just don't believe you can see just how crucial these issues are.
So please Prime Minister, leave Westminster for a few hours a week and truly strive to govern for all of us.
Rev'd Mike Walsh
The United Reformed Church