Mirror , Mirror on the wall

One sleepy morning last year, while shaving I looked in the mirror. I usually look in the mirror when shaving but this time was different. I didn’t recognise the face I was looking at; not at first anyway. The face staring back at me in surprise was a much older version of myself. What’s happened to me?

Of course it was my realface, not the one I remembered from years before. I was not in the habit of looking at my whole face in the mirror, just the bits I was shaving before I hurried out to work. This was different, a revellation. I was not the person I thoiught I was. This was what other people saw when the looked into my face, and I had no idea.

This sudden reflection on who we really are is a good thing – usually. It makes us stop and consider what’s really going on rather that the rosy assumptions we had held. In a way the Brexit campaign and the referendum has been like looking into that magic mirror that shows us who we really are.

We have long applauded ourselves for being a tolerant, welcoming people. We are reasonable, logical and honourable. Unlike some other, hot bloded, excitable or even devious peoples we are the good guys.

Well the Brexit campaign opened my eyes. What I saw was a campaign of lies and deception, welcomed by many who wanted to punish an uncaring Tory government and by many who harboured racist views. I saw a referendum promised as part of a srategy to hold the Tories together being allowed to tear the nation apart in the cause of a power struggle in the Tory party.

They are to blame. The whole box and dice of them. But they were able to do it because we are not the people we thought we were. Boris, Brutus (sorry, I meant Gove) and co. knew that. They played on the weaknesses of our character to achieve their aim and thirst for power.

They are to blame but we are at fault. We are not the nice people we thought we were.

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Death by 1000 Cuts?

This week we have seen a dreadful example of the the dangers that face us in today’s world. The disgraceful attacks in unarmed civillians in Paris show just how vulnerable we can be today. How are we reacting to the threats that face us? Let’s see;

Our austerity besotted government sees cuts in spending as the answer to all our woes. so far they have reduced our armed forces to a level well belowthat our allies regard as safe. Naval ships have been decomissioned, aircraft have been scrapped and regiments disbanded.

The police are facing cuts which will leave them unable to investigate simple burglaries; what chance do they have against a terrorist attack? How does the government respond to this desperate situation?

The clowns

Always blame someone else!

David Cameron recently wrote to the head of his local authority to complain about the effects of the cuts in spending! The reply was patient and accurate in its description of the effect that government cuts were having in local authority budgets. Why didn’t they just say “We will refer your complaints to the First Lord of the Treasury, a Mr Cameron”?

Well, Russian submarines are in our waters, Russian Bombers are again prodding our air defences ( just to see if we still have any) ans ISIS are at the door. Who can we blame for the state we are in? That’s easy – it’s all your fault. You voted in this useless bunch of chancers, Mr Cameron will tell you

 

Fear Is The Key – A Cunning Plan

In 1961 Alastair Maclean wrote his novel ‘Fear is the Key’ set in the Caribbean. It was a great read, like all Maclean’s early works. I was an avid reader of his stories. He had been an English teacher in the school across the road from our house. I felt he was someone worth listening to.

His message has been listened to again, after all these years, and by David Cameron of all people. Fear has become the key strategy of the Tories in this election and it could well be a winner. Like all the best strategies it is both simple and cunning. Churchill once said of the secret services that truth must be guarded by a bodyguard of lies. Strangely enough the lies must be protected by a bodyguard of truth. Confused? That’s the whole idea!

The polls show that Labour and Tories are neck and neck. That’s remarkable considering the damage that Osbourne’s policies have done to the UK economy. Neither party has the promise of an outright victory. How can the government survive? A good general knows how to use the forces he has to concentrate fire on the enemy’s weakest point. He knows that if he can force his enemy to split his forces then he will win.

The Tories have chosen a diversion plan. Cameron talks of the danger posed by the SNP. They pose the greatest threat since the abdication, apparently. Even John Major has been rolled out and dusted down to proclaim the message. But what threat do the SNP pose to the Tories? The SNP are only contesting seats in Scotland and the Tories only have one to lose in Scotland; why the panic?

Panic is what it is about. Convincing the Scottish electorate that he is afraid of the SNP might drive many Scottish voters to turn to the Nats to hit the Tories hard. This can only hit Labour seats and reduce the Labour strength in the UK Parliament.

The same message plays differently in England. By highlighting the possibility of the SNP forcing a Labour government to go way left of their current position and forcing Scottish claims ahead of the needs of English voters he hopes to gain seats in England at the expense of Labour (the SNP don’t have any seats in England).

He hopes to force Labour to attack the SNP position to defend their seats in Scotland, drawing fire away from Tory policies. The question is, will it work? There seems to be evidence that voters are turning from Labour to the SNP. If they manage to take a large number of seats from Labour then the Tories will surely end up as the largest party. What happens then? As we saw last time, a minority Tory party was able to cobble together a coalition which enabled them to take power and wreck the economy. The poorest have suffered most while the richest few seem to have doubled their wealth.

Could this happen again? I think so. When we have an undecided result then all bets are off. Those who say they will not support the Tories can claim that it is in the interests of the country that we have a government that can have a majority in the house. The Tories will be back and in the words of Adolph Hitler when asked to come out of hiding in Argentina to take over Germany in the seventies, “This time there will be no more Mister Nice Guy!”

Kevin McKenna and a Moral Duty

Reading this weekend’s Scottish Catholic Observer I was interested to see Kevin’s column dealing with the upcoming referendum. Kevin states that we have a moral duty to vote. This is a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with. Kevin deftly points out the immorality of the policies pursued by our Tory and Lib Dem coalition and their attacks on the poor. There are moral issues here and we should take note.

Kevin’s point, however, seems to focus on how a vote for independence would free Scotland from immoral policies. He fails to show good examples of policies the Scottish Government has espoused which highlight morality. The same sex marriage bill seems to put great restraints on people of a christian outlook voicing their views and keeping their job in certain areas. It is an interesting thesis that leaving 90% of the population of the KU, the country we inhabit, to the mercies of the Tories is a moral act. Running away and making no attempt to change things does not seem like a moral stance to me.

For some reason Kevin seems to think that Scots are more moral than the English and Welsh. I must say that has not been my experience. Kevin is right to say that we have a moral duty to vote. He is right to suggest that we have a moral duty to work for a fair society. Picking up the ba and walking away does not fit the bill. Kevin is the very man to campaign against the greedy society, the immoral bankers (RBS anyone?) and politicians who rob the poor and help the rich.

Come on Kevin, you know you can do better than this!

You can read Kevin in the Scottish Catholic Observer. See what you think. Where does the moral path lead us?

Joseph

 

Old Prophesy, New Times

At mass today I was struck by the Old Testament reading.

It’s a reading from the prophet Amos and was obviously written a long, long time ago. Despite the age of the passage I found it amazingly pertinent to the world today. In our period of austerity imposed by the Coalition government the poor have been badly hit and the rich seem to be prospering. This is obviously nothing new as Amos rails against those who cheat the poor.

 

I repeat the passage here.

 

Amos 8:4-6,9-12

Listen to this, you who trample on the needyand try to suppress the poor people of the country,you who say, ‘When will New Moon be overso that we can sell our corn,and Sabbath, so that we can market our wheat?

Then by lowering the bushel, raising the shekel,by swindling and tampering with the scales,we can buy up the poor for money,and the needy for a pair of sandals,and get a price even for the sweepings of the wheat.’

That day – it is the Lord who speaks –I will make the sun go down at noon,and darken the earth in broad daylight.

I am going to turn your feasts into funerals,all your singing into lamentation;I will have your loins all in sackcloth,your heads all shaved.

I will make it a mourning like the mourning for an only son,as long as it lasts it will be like a day of bitterness.

See what days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks –days when I will bring famine on the country,a famine not of bread, a drought not of water,but of hearing the word of the Lord.

They will stagger from sea to sea,wander from north to east,seeking the word of the Lordand failing to find it.

 

I wonder how that would be received by our government today. They have recently prompted the idea of teaching our young people traditional values. Well traditional values would be old values and you don’t get many older than the Old Testament.

 

Do you think the Coalition might recognize themselves in the passage? Perhaps that’s just seeing it my way.

Why We Need an In-Out Referendum Now

Why We Need A Referendum

 

I have come to believe we need an in-out referendum and we need it now!

Why do we need one now? That is obvious.

Our economy is in a dreadful state. I know we have signs of growth, but it is growth based on consumers spending their savings, not on industrial expansion. People are buying new cars, booking holidays etc rather than leave their cash in the bank losing value as inflation outruns the interest rate

Pay day lenders are making massive profits as more and more people fall into debt. The rich are getting extremely rich and the poor are getting even poorer. We are told that the economy will be back to pre-crisis levels at the end of the year. Just ask people how their income matches up to their expenditure. Most people will be way behind.

We are creating a massive problem for our children. Unemployment among the young is racing well ahead of the headline rates. This was caused by the austerity that was supposed to save future generations from our debt.

So,how will a referendum help? I want an in-out referendum on the government and I think we need it now. Things are getting worse and we are being misled by doctored figures and hidden reports. Can we afford to have another two years of Tory muddle and Lib Dem aquiesence? I don’t think so.

A General Election Now! Get the Tories Out before it is too late!

What is the important issue today?

In the words of Bill Clinton,”It’s the economy, stupid!”

The 50% Line

The clowns

Boris and Dave; who should resign first?

London Mayor, Boris Johnston has complained about the current Underground strikes in the capital. He argues that it is not right for a union to call a strike without the backing of 50% of the members, not the voting members but 50% of the membership.

There is a certain logic to his demand. It does sound democratic. It sounds absolutely reasonable. Who could refuse such a request. It is, in fact, a very democratic principle. There would be no need to demand that the unions adopt this principle if it became an integral part of our democracy.

General elections would seen to be more than fair if the winner had to poll 50% of the electorate; not 50% of the votes, but 50% of those eligible to vote. There would arise a slight problem; fewer than 50% of the electorate regularly vote. It might be impossible to elect a government then. You might think that would be no bad thing when we consider the amateur bunch (Boris’ pals) who are running the show now.

Well done Boris! another load of absolute, unconsidered nonsense put out as political speak.

When the Fireman arrives in his Zimmer

Emergency Service Vehicles_Coventry Transport ...

Emergency Service Vehicles_Coventry Transport Museum_Hales Street_Coventry_May13 (Photo credit: Ian Halsey)

I drove from Coatbridge to Manchester airport today. I’m taking my wife and two friends to Lourdes on a short pilgrimage for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The official advice was “Do not travel!”.

We put our trust in the Lord who calmed the stormy sea and went anyway. We were fine, but the storms have caused problems for many travellers.

The emergency services have turned out, time and time again to rescue those in difficulty. When I arrived at the hotel I saw the news on television. The government have decided that people will have to work till 69 before they can retire. I tried to imagine a fireman in his late sixties turning up at a road traffic accident to disentangle the wreckage and save lives.

What are the chances of him saving anybody? Does anybody care? You might if you are the one trapped. Do you think the politicians think through the policies they implement? They say we are living longer, and we are. Of course that is a result of the social policy we have followed since 1945. Now, with Austerity, we are facing malnutrition and ill health. Perhaps the idea is to make sure fewer people manage to collect a pension.

What a disgrace. The people who claimed to be thinking of future generations are robbing the yet unborn.

Qualified or Unqualified – That is the Question

5470-nick-clegg-profile

Nick Clegg has raised doubts about the government’s policy on free schools. He has suggested that teachers in these schools should be qualified. The government argues that this would cut out many talented, but unqualified, teachers. What are the merits of the argument?
Bringing in talented, inspiring people to schools sounds like a good idea. People have all sorts of experience and talents to bring as the Tories have long suggested. Remember the suggestion they made that failed bankers would make great teachers? I also recall the suggestion that troops being made redundant from the forces would bring discipline, loyalty and, perhaps skills in killing people.

I could teach economics?

Job for an ex banker?

But surely, if this is a valid argument, it should apply elsewhere too. People with flair and a desire to serve could be brought in to other professions. There are thousands of young men with vast experience of the court system who could be brought in as barristers. They have long experience of defending themselves in court with such brilliant defences such as “It was not me.”, “I was somewhere else at the time.” or “I found the goods lying in the street and I did not know they were stolen”.

Who needs qualified gas fitters?

Who needs qualified gas fitters?

We could go beyond that. The shortage of doctors, especially at weekends, could be solved by bringing in volunteers with some experience of first aid. Why should gas fitters need a special qualification? All you need is the ability to use a spanner and a blowlamp. Why should truck drivers need a special license? Lots of unemployed teenagers can drive cars without a license at all, let them have a go at a truck.
Can we see any good examples of unqualified people in a responsible job? How are they doing? Well we need look no further than the government itself. We have ministers of education with no education qualifications or experience and they are bringing lots of new ideas. Ministers, even prime ministers and Chancellors of the Exchequer have, and need, no qualification. Look at the great job they are doing.
Education statistics show that education standards in England and Wales have not fallen to the bottom of world rankings, not quite. Our economy is booming? – well, it will be soon, we are told, despite the deficit growing rather than falling.
So judge for yourself. Is Nick correct in demanding qualified staff or is the government showing us a vision of things to come?
I have one question, though. Why has it taken so long for Nick to notice this absurdity?