It’s you, Conservative government. Please stop.

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It’s you, Conservative government.  Please stop.

By julijuxtaposed – first posted 7.10.15

Please, Conservative Government, stop putting Britain’s people down.  It is fatuous, unpatriotic and downright rude.  You are our government; our leaders and representatives.  You are privileged to hold the highest offices of public service.  Why do you disrespect us so easily?  Don’t you like us?  Are we embarrassing you?  Why do you keep speaking at us and about us as though we were the ones who are letting you down?

Stop selectively comparing us to other countries and other people to bully us and mask your inadequacies.  This inferiority complex is yours.  It is insulting and becoming tiresome to hear you carping on with your political envy.  If their peoples work longer, earn less and have fewer rights, then that is not a competition I wish to enter.  In fact, I would prefer that you openly disapproved of such economies.  But stop, too, this flippantly pitting of our regions, counties and cities against each other.  Stop expediently pointing generalised and judgemental fingers at people.  And, please, stop expecting us to be grateful for your mean-spirited crumbs.  It is our bread that you are eating.

And stop peddling paranoia to the xenophobes and stop perpetuating scarcity myths over resources that you are squandering.  We do not lack the means but that you lack the political will.  We do not lack compassion but you lack integrity.   We do not lack aspiration; we do not lack gumption and we do not lack self-respect but that you would strip us of dignity and decent opportunity.  We do not lack social cohesion but that you keep fostering fear, division and discontent.

Who is in charge of our country’s finances?  Who is formulating our country’s policies?  Who is devising our country’s laws?  YOU.  Who has been in charge for the last five years?  YOU.  Who, in that time, didn’t build enough housing; didn’t train sufficient doctors, nurses, teachers…?  Who has denigrated and undermined public service?  YOU.  Who has introduced welfare reforms without first creating an economy in which this is justifiable?  YOU.  Who perpetuates a socio-economic system that requires the exploitation of your own citizens?  YOU.  Who makes blanket policies based on simplistic and insulting stereotypes?  YOU.  Who is blithely building on and recreating the same conditions that got us into such a fix in the first place?  YOU.  Who has bent over backwards to accommodate the hyperbole of bigots and Chicken Littles?  YOU.  Who governs by dubious moral whim?  YOU.  Who gambols greedily around on the world stage like an oversized and untrained puppy, begging to join in, no matter the recklessness and disingenuousness of the cause?  YOU.

Who is ignorantly and wickedly cutting away at the very heart and soul of Britain?  YOU.

Who is the biggest threat to the security of our isles, our economy and our families?  YOU.

YOU.  YOU.  YOU.

You are the Government.  You are responsible for the tone, content and quality of your narrative and you are responsible for the consequences of your governance.  What we really lack is the practical wisdom, maturity and the competent service of an honourable leadership.  Change your attitude and behaviour.  Stop.  Turn around or get out of our way.

To Iain Duncan Smith – About this ‘Shake-up’..

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By julijuxtaposed – first posted 28.08.15

 

Mr Iain Duncan Smith,

About this “shake-up“. Could you please find me a job that is tailored to my abilities whilst maximising my potential; one that pays me enough that I could live, not just independently but well; sufficiently that I would require no top-up credits. Of course, I’d still need to retain the gateway awards that I was once told were indefinite and unconditional (such as my DLA and Blue Badge); that recognise how my disabilities are not going anywhere, no matter how cross and determined you are that they will. I apologise for the way my life has unfolded so unhelpfully for everybody – including me – however, I don’t know what real and beneficial work I can do that will be meaningful to Society, will end any State dependence, won’t compromise my health and will satisfy your self-righteous values and relentless need for me to justify my monetary worth within your stupid socio-economic model.

You know that bit where you say “claimants should be made to take up any work they can, even if it is just a few hours”? Well I need a job that I can do as and when I have the physical and mental resources which fluctuate, daily, according to exhaustion, pain level, concentration, the day’s commitments, your downward pressure and my subsequent social anxieties and, consequently, mood, capacity, vulnerability and efficiency. I tend to have problems – even on good days – with travelling, sitting at a desk, walking and standing and my body is deteriorating, generally and specifically – my hands, most recently, to my great distress – from years of coping with my limits and, naturally, I’m not going to get any younger, either.

I’m probably not worth the time and money of an employer who wants me at a shop till or at a desk at a call centre or inputting data, say. And my days of being a cleaner, care-worker, etc are way behind me, now. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not ‘above’ such work – I’ve done many different jobs – but the idea that I’m suitable or capable now is silly. And the notion that it’s worth the financial cost to try to enable me to do such work for an hour or two, here and there, is laughable. I’d really love an actual career but I reckon I may be a bit long in the tooth, now and that the training, itself, would likely be physically inhibitive. Besides, there are plenty of young people who need the start far more than Society should need me to compromise my health further and inevitably cost everyone more as I prostrate myself to prove my sorry lack of market value.

You know that bit where you talk about “a system focused on what a claimant can do and the support they’ll need and not just what they can’t”? Well, my best skills are now reduced to the erratic ability to communicate what is in my mind with a certain amount of eloquence. So, if you mean it about the personalised help and support then perhaps you could fix it for me to be paid for the reading, observing, thinking and writing with which I have primarily learned to content myself? I’m sure you know many who are paid handsomely for doing far less. My best times are indeterminate and unpredictable points within a given 24-hour period, according to the spoons I have, minus those I need just to get through an uneventful day. Take them away from me and I will be a husk.

I’m not saying that there’s nothing I can do, at all or that I think I’m not a worthy human being. I’m saying I can’t jump your petty false-economy hoops and that I’m worth more than that. We all are. And I’m not saying that I’m more special than anyone else, either. I’m saying it has taken me a long time to create a productive life that I can bear, with the resources I have and that my well-being is more important than your shameful social experiments. I’m telling you that I think I would rather die than live the empty life you would prescribe for me. I will not be a scapegoat for your ignorance.

Some Fundamentals

Some Fundamentals

by julijuxtaposed

First posted on June 5, 2013

I don’t hold much truck with orthodox religion but I support the right of those who do to practise their devotion in so far as it does not encroach on others. Neither am I an atheist – though I must admit to sounding like one if you miss the nuance. To me, religion seems to have little to do with God and everything to do with politics.

Every time there’s a debate about anything professing to relate to ‘God’ or ‘Faith’ it’s always couched in the context of orthodox religion or atheism versus orthodoxy. The thing that both frustrates and makes me smile is that, besides neither having much to do with sacredness or divinity, both also hold positions of non-evidence-based certainty. To me, framing the existence or non-existence of ‘Gods’ in such narrow terms as described and prescribed by patriarchy and orthodoxy (no, they’re not the same thing, though it’s tempting and amusing to tease that they are, considering the massive overlap) is stale and unimaginative – and distinctly unhelpful.

Nevertheless, that is the rubric within which most of the world keeps itself confined – be it through education, governance or ‘holy’ wars.

Each religion is mostly interchangeable with another: they alter their costumes a bit and change dates and the names of people and stuff but the basic tenets; the widest meaning in the message is generally the same.

And all religions have been, are and continue to be vehicles of both peaceful and violent thought and deed. At their best, they offer beautiful interpretations of Life’s mysteries and frameworks by which to live.

And at their worst they each have their fundamentalists; extremists who have terrorised and do terrorise those who don’t share their values. Yes, the Qur’an has verses which can be interpreted as permitting or even promoting violent retribution and punishment. So does the Old Testament. No Abrahamic Faith is immune and, looking further east, neither are the Hindus, nor the Buddhists.

Most religious people are moderate people who have no drive to convert or correct the behaviour of others. Many followers of the orthodox faiths pick and choose their adherences with varying degrees of guilt or comfort, be it using contraception, eating pig, imbibing intoxicants, marrying out of one’s faith, neglecting Confession – yada, yada. One only has to witness the majority approval for secular governance within the ‘first’ world and the majority who aspire to it in other regions of the globe to appreciate this: equal, educated, free and well-informed people; people who can rely on consistent and fair laws and a sufficient measure of security, don’t want or need to be told how to live by either the representatives of elected authority or by those who claim to represent a Higher One.

And therein lies the rub, doesn’t it? It always comes down to that same, basic list.

Major swathes of the world’s populations are being sold short while religious doctrine replaces basic education and information is exchanged for censorship. If religious dogma is your main or only source of common knowledge and experience, then it is little wonder that superstition, prejudice and taboos prevail and fester. And to force it on children is in the least, a grey kind of magic. Religion within mainstream education should be facilitated through philosophy, not through doctrine. Faith schools? No thank you. Save it for the Temple.

Law, governance and culture have been traditionally shaped and dictated by patriarchy and it is as loathe to giving up its self-righteous control freakery as, say, Monsanto or certain banksters. It is curious how those who claim to be so devout are so much more concerned for the souls of others than for their own. That there is no such thing as vicarious atonement seems to have escaped from their founts of wisdom.

Of course, any moral militant can find things to hate in the modern, secularising world: the aspiration for equality; for living according to one’s individual desires and needs; for being free to draw personal boundaries, exercise preferences. And so they do. But History is replete with religious violence, isn’t it…? Terrorism perpetrated by citizen groups, ‘democratic’ governments and state sovereigns alike.

Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims: all brilliantly misrepresenting their faiths; all desirous of imposing their ideology on others; all so certain. It is politics, mediaeval style. No wonder the atheists are bemused and pissed off.

The problem here isn’t ‘God’. The problem is cultish and political bigotry and fear. It is the arrogant and ultimately fruitless notion that you are the manager of another’s soul and free will. It is the pitiful demonstration of people who look upon the world with narrowed eyes, lacking appreciation for the greater beauty, ferocity and mystery of the human animal; who cannot recognise the paradox of life: that simple things are often made complex by their explanation and that things which seem complex are often very simple.

What the bigots fail to realise is that while they are perfectly entitled to their rigidly narrow and conjured opinions – so is everyone – it doesn’t give them the right to legislate for everyone based on them. This is why a secular society is the best way to protect and govern with equal and fair effect: the only way to prove that the majority, the minority and all the individuals therein feel and know that their rights are valued equally. Secular governance doesn’t mean you have to bury your faith. It recognises that not everyone has a faith and that no one faith is superior to another.

The Foot that Kicks the Cradle Rules the World #womensday

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The Foot that Kicks the Cradle rules the World

International Women’s Day 8th March 2013

Have you ever wondered why ships and other forms of transport are referred to as feminine in many languages, as they protect and carry us around our lives? Mankind talks of Mother Earth and Mother Nature in the feminine case as we acknowledge their special role as origins of life, yet by actions foolishly endangers them both.

Through evolution, the immense strength of women has ensured survival of our species, yet the world’s women do not share economic and political equality with men. All around the world women rightfully demand equality with men, but are denied. International Women’s Day was first introduced in the early 20th Century, and highlights women’s solidarity in their fight for economical and political equality for men. In Russia, men celebrate women’s contribution to society by flowers for mothers, wives, and daughters.

Like most political struggles against oppression, equality for women around the world – the majority – does not come by passive action. Women’s suffrage has been a long struggle and continues to be.

Over the past year, the world’s press have extensively covered the story of Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head because she wanted an education. There have also be reports of gang rapes in Dehli. That such appalling injustices can happen, is incomprehensible, and International support against such atrocities must be heard.

But I wonder why, from the Western Press, the emphasis is on Asian injustice against women. Is it to distract from the instrinsic patriarchal societies of the West, rather than recognise the positive influence of matriarchal Indian societies?

In Kerala, for example matriarchal societies existed for thousands of years and a more equal balance between men and women was the norm. British interference led to introduction of the nuclear family denouncing matriarchal societies as outdated.

“Though the matriarchal home is now nearly extinct, replaced by the fiercely nuclear family, the elevation of womanhood, its most unique feature, remains. Keralites, men and women, are proud of this. To this day, it amazes visitors from other states how high Kerala women hold their heads–in the home and workplace–and that they travel virtually anywhere unafraid of harassment.”

The following passage dating from 1863 portrays the environment within which political feminism arose in the United Kingdom and is an excerpt from a treatise on international commercial law, part of a section describing conditions under which a person may be considered unable to enter into a commercial contract. Following the discussion of individuals unfit due to “want of understanding” – covering minors as well as “lunatics and drunkards” is a heading covering individuals unable due to “want of free-will”: married women. Levi was a barrister and his words give his opinion of the legal situation, one which was prevalent at the time.

By marriage, the personal identity of the woman is lost. Her person is completely sunk in that of her husband, and he acquires an absolute mastery over her person and effects. Hence her complete disability to contract legal obligations; and except in the event of separation by divorce, or other causes, a married woman in the United Kingdom cannot engage in trade.

Leone Levi, International Commercial Law, 1863

Fifty years later, and, as it happens exactly a hundred years ago, a young woman Emily Davison, who became a martyr for the suffragette movement threw herself under the King’s horse in “a state of agitation” .

This poster shown from the suffragette movement in 1913, states what seems to be the obvious: that men and women working together as equals will benefit everyone, indeed to divide by gender, class or creed can only result on societal breakdown. It is not a case of women against men, or men against women, but all adults standing as equals and protecting the rights of all.

suffragettes_1913_modified

In 1928, women In Britain received the vote on the same terms as men (over the age of 21) as a result of the Representation of the People Act 1928. But in the twenty first century, inequality prevails while those in power are predominantly male, and white, and with a privileged education, often Oxbridge.

Currently, the UK Coalition government is pursuing policies of austerity. These policies are hitting women and children hardest.

Benefits and service cuts hitting women hardest

Women are hit hardest as the services and benefits they use more are cut. Women typically use state services and benefits more than men for a wide range of reasons. These include:

  • Women have pregnancy and maternity needs
  • Women are far more likely to be lone parents
  • Women are more likely to be the primary carers for children, frail older people, sick and disabled people
  • Women are more likely to be the victims of domestic and sexual violence
  • Women live longer, often spending the final years of their lives alone
  • Women are, on average, poorer than men – particularly so in later life (Fawcett society)

The study Unravelling equality: The effect of poverty on the women of Coventry examines how women are disproportionately affected by this government’s austerity measures. Women are hard hit by loss of Surestart centres, pay cuts and public sector pay freezes, increased childcare costs, cuts to Local Housing Allowance, loss of Legal Aid and cuts to support domestic abuse which will potentially put some women in violent situations. The injustice is that decisions made predominantly by men are disproportionately affecting women.

Educational opportunities have narrowed to some degree in the past 50 years. In the days of the 11 plus, girls had to achieve higher marks than boys in tests to get a grammar school place, so the odds were stacked unfairly against them. When this advantage was removed, girls were outperforming boys, who perhaps expected the status quo to continue. As a result of this, teachers are now expected target lessons specifically towards white boys. And why? The pay gap between men and women is widening. Britain’s female graduates, earn less than men, even with the same qualifications, and the gender pay back is twice as large for women in their 50s, and many of this group are finding that the pension they had anticipated all their working lives is no longer there as they had expected, and planned for. This is no equality!

No progress will be made to move women out of poverty and offer equal opportunities until there is true and equal power sharing in our society. It is shameful that despite the suffragette movement little has changed in 100 years.

In 1997, the record numbers of women candidates were returned. A record number of women candidates stood for election, due, in part to the Labour Party adopting a policy of women-only shortlists. This mechanism was withdrawn in 1996 when an employment tribunal found that is was in breach of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. Since then uncertainty about the legal position made it difficult for parties to develop policies on selection procedures aimed at introducing more MPs into parliament. The Labour Party was the only political party to use all-female shortlists in the 2005 and 2010 General Elections.

Think Left have examined the power imbalance in Think Left: Women as Voters and MPs.

At 31.5% women Members, Labour certainly is more representative than other parties, compared with around 16% (Con) and around 12% (Lib Dems) but still has a long way to go in order to fairly represent an electorate in which the majority is female. Compare this to the data , for female involvement in Nordic Countries, of 42.1% female. 51% of the UK electorate are female.


Charts represent proportions of men/women MPs in 2010

Labour Conservative Liberal Democrat
Labour MPsTory MPsLib Dem MPs

The patriarchal power prevails, and more recently in 2013, the Fawcett Society have published this document, Sex and Power 2013. This chart shows women as a percentage of elected members of UK political institutions, January 2013.

NB: The House of Lords retains a built-in bias against women’s membership in that none of the 26 bishops are women, and only two of the 92 hereditary peers. Almost all women members of the House of Lords are life peers.

Women in Politics

The Observer reports on the study, and refers to the absence of women from public life as shocking, which of course it is, but this can hardly be a shock, having been the case for centuries!
The Conservative Party, which has historically expected a large proportion of women to vote Conservative, can no longer depend on those votes. In September 2011, Think Left commented on a document which revealed Tory plans to regain voters. Clearly Cameron and his government’s assessment of women’s sense of injustice is way off mark, and his ideas for wooing female voters back are incredibly patronising. Active female trade unionists defy the image of male dominated trade unions, as the media would have us believe.
Picture 14
Picture 16
The Guardian reports that:
While Labour had a seven-point lead over the Tories (36%-29%) among men, among women it was 26 points (51%-25%).
  • Women have been pro-Labour in 13 consecutive Guardian/ICM polls, with a double digit difference in each of the last six, said Martin Boon, director of ICM research.”It is wise to express caution about the latest development as sample sizes are based on about 250 female votes and similar for men, but for this to be such a consistent theme is no doubt worth remarking upon,” he said.
  • Dr Rosie Campbell, expert in voting and gender at Birkbeck, University of London, said: “From the beginning David Cameron talked about the work/life balance, trying to win back women attracted by New Labour – but he has delivered?”A noxious combination of cuts to child tax credits, child benefit, public sector roles more likely to be held by women, pensions and fears over the NHS, childcare and further education were turning women off.
“You can’t get away with relying on the rhetoric if that is not what women are feeling on the ground.”
And that’s the point really. The Etonion Cameron clearly never learned about equality at school. His patronising and rude “Calm down, Dear! ” episode in April 2011 shows that he neither cares or understands about anyone out of his circle. We need straight talking policies, equal opportunities, and a fair society. It’s time for a representative parliament. Simple really. No more, no less, Bully Boys.
  1. Think Left: Women and Children First
  2. Think Left: Women as Voters and MPs
  3. Think Left: A Bold Approach To Child Care
  4. Think Left: Poor Brum (Think Left)
  5. Think Left: Becoming a Member of Parliament
  6. Think Left, September 2011 How the Tories intend to regain support from women voters
  7. Unravelling equality: The effect of poverty on the women of Coventry
  8. The Fawcett Society: Sex and Power in 2013 March 2013
  9. Observer: Report shows shocking absence of women from UK public life March 2013
  10. Guardian: Female Graduates earn less than males
  11. TUC: Gender pay gap twice as large for women in their 50s
  12. The Fawcett Society
  13. Guardian Women now to the left of men
  14. Guardian Conservatives and women voters
  15. Guardian CiF Do Tories really think this is how to woo back women voters?
  16. Tory/Lib DEm Government succeed in mislaying women voters.
  17. Hinduism Today: Matriarchy
  18. Matriarchy: Wikipedia
  19. International Women’s Day
  20. Women’s Suffrage in The UK