Posts filed under ‘Government’

For once, I agree with Cameron?

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

I am not as political as many. I know that I don’t like extremes, be they left or right wing. I would define myself as a liberal, not the Liberals in the current Government who have been diluted, their policies corrupted by constant compromise for (what appears to me to be) very little return.

I am not a huge fan of David Cameron. The economic policies of cut, cut, cut will, I feel, snip away at the infrastructure of our society. Before everyone starts howling at me I know there need to be cuts but there is surely a balance? I don’t believe that depending on the rich to generate all the wealth will work. There must be investment to allow small business to keep going, to keep schools thriving to provide us with a future workforce that is educated and motivated.

I will go no further than this. I am not an economist, I am not a politician. I am sure the paragraph above will annoy enough people so I should to move on to the point of this blog….

David Cameron appeared on the This Morning programme yesterday. He was interviewed by Phillip Schofield, someone I normally admire for his integrity. However, it appears Mr Schofield had a rush of blood to the head. He lifted a list of names of politicians/public figures from the Internet; people who had supposedly been embroiled in the abuse of children in previous decades. He presented the list to David Cameron and wanted his comments on it. Cameron sensibly left the paper without looking and talked about what needs to happen. What was Mr Schofield thinking?

My thoughts?

The Internet is a wonderful thing. Full of useful information, opinion and fun. I love doing research, reading blogs and sprouting nonsense on Twitter and Facebook. However, it is also full of opinion being presented as fact; it promotes conspiracy  theory as ‘the real truth’. When you read anything you need to assume that fact-checking will be required, either using your own common sense or actual fact checking.

I assume Philip Schofield considers himself a smart man, a responsible broadcaster, I know I have always thought so. He comes across as caring and sensible. I consider lifting a list from the Internet to be a dumb thing to do. It is a cheap trick. If you want to be considered a serious broadcaster, even in a magazine programme, then don’t resort to tabloid tricks. He may as well have worn a redtop bandana when he tried this. I am quite angry with him for doing this and reckon he knows he messed up. People will believe him to be right because it was Phillip Schofield, I hope he takes the time to put them straight.

With all the furore over the Savile scandal and repercussions rippling through Government and media now is the time for serious investigation. There are so many people out there who are living with the legacy of abuse. Why would we endanger getting to the facts by stirring up public opinion which may impact any future prosecutions? I understand that we need answers, I want them myself. However, I am prepared to be patient to allow the facts to be uncovered and allow the Justice system to work.

What we need now is not cheap sensationalism. I know this may be hard for people to accept but now is the time to be calm and wait. I expect there to be proper and diligent examination of facts and statements. I expect there to be arrests and charges made where the facts support this. I then expect there to be full and frank disclosure. I don’t think this is too much to ask but I know that this may take time. We need to stop the emotional stunts, this will do no favours to those who have suffered abuse. Give this horrendous situation the seriousness it deserves.

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading,

Lesley

November 9, 2012 at 11:24 am 1 comment

Power and Reason?

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

I have been wandering round the news sites again this week. I like to read the news on that Interweb, it allows you to skim some stories and find deeper opinion articles when you are in that frame of mind. One article in particular caught my eye – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19842100, entitled ‘The psychology of the powerful’, interesting stuff.

There were two main threads to the article. First we had the theory that power can (literally?) go to a person’s head. This came from an extract from a speech from psychologist Guy Claxton at the Royal Society of Medicine conference this week. He talked about “a disorder of intelligence”. Mr. Claxton is Professor of learning sciences at the University of Winchester, has written many books and advised multiple organisations on how to help people learn.

He makes some excellent points, I know I don’t do him justice but my take from his words:-

  • When you gain a position of (Government) power you move into a different world. You are the person who decides.  This different world does not have its core in the day-to-day life that the rest of the world inhabits
  • There is a danger that this (cloistered) world gives a different reality wherein the decision-making and not the decision itself can become more important. You must be seen to act and the speed of your action, not the thought processes behind it will take priority
  • Doubt is a key quality in all of us. It makes us explore more angles before making a decision we can stand over. When we lose doubt we can lose clarity. One way to keep doubt fresh is to have friends who will challenge and even mock you.
  • If you don’t have humour or doubt you will lose the ability to see your own flaws. Acknowledge them and accept the new ones that others may point out. If you don’t do this? You will always be right and everyone else will be wrong. That way leads hubris, wonderful word, scary meaning.

Professor Claxton is well worth a Google or two. I particularly liked the two listed below:-

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/professor-guy-claxton/ebacc-life-of-tests-is-no-preparation_b_1890686.html

http://www.aeonmagazine.com/being-human/guy-glaxton-education-morality-character/

I did say there were two main points to the article. The second part covers empathy, another wonderful word and one I love. It is the risk from a lack of empathy that was discussed at the Royal Society of Medicine conference. When we like someone their pain becomes our pain, we empathise. Differing levels of status can impact this. Those in power become, by their position, high-status. This can impact the levels of empathy felt for those perceived to be of lower status; a real danger for all politicians. It brings me back to the cloistered world scenario above. A lack of understanding of how policies impact people is, to me, dangerous. The policy becomes all, the people not so much. I know unpleasant decisions have to be taken. Governments cannot hogtie themselves with hand-wringing and agony. However, they need to account for the impacts their decisions will have on normal people.’ The people’ is not an abstract concept, it is you and me. We have to live with the impacts of the decisions that others make, that is the way when you live in a governed society. I know this, I just hope the politicians do too.

Power and reason need to be bedfellows, arrogance and lack of empathy are normally fleeting in first world politics. Hubris is there but in small nuances. But other countries live with the impact of total hubris, where the people matter not at all. There are countries where it is all about the power and nothing about the reason.

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

October 7, 2012 at 3:04 pm Leave a comment

News or Silly Season?

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

The term ‘silly season’ is normally applied to the summer months when Governments are in recess and fewer political stories make the headlines so other sources of news have to be found. However, I think it can also be used during the Conference season when political parties and other organisations announce their cunning plans for the next year. This week we have the Lib Dems, suffering from their slide down the polls and some latest approval ratings for Nick Clegg showing as little as 25%. I am interested to see how his big speech will be received during Conference but prior to Conference Mr. Clegg was doing the rounds with paper and television interviews.  So, I will talk a little about Mr. Clegg. I will not cover ‘that’ apology, please not the apology. So many have already spoken that I don’t need to add any words to this latest piece of ill-advised tomfoolery.

I want to cover Mr. Clegg’s assertion that part of the economic recovery has to come from movement on property, that is,  getting younger people on the property ladder. Saving for deposits is hard when all our bills seem to increase month on month and banks providing many hoops and hurdles to clear before lending thus the market is still slow. Mr. Clegg’s answer to this? Parents and grandparents can ‘draw’ on their pension pots to help provide the deposits for their children/grandchildren. Hmmm. Aren’t we being consistently told that it is our responsibility to save for our old age?  Fewer and fewer of us will have a final salary pension, stakeholder pensions are the reality for most of us. The State Pension age is increasing; I know that a State Pension at 60 is a dream long since passed for me. Most people my age do make calculations on when they can afford to retire and how little they will have to live on when they do. I do and will continue to save for my pension and am lucky in the approach my employer takes. I will never be rich, I reconciled myself to that many years ago but I hope to manage and think that is the best that the majority can hope for. So, raiding what I have saved even for my lovely children is not an option I will take. They can have all that remains when my clogs are popped but until then I will hold on to what I have.

I have often thought that the mark of a really clever politician is being able to present an unpalatable idea in a plausible manner, to sell an idea that doesn’t always make sense. You don’t have to admire their policy but you can give a nod to their skill. By this definition I do not consider Mr. Clegg to be a clever politician.

I  now move to a story that some may think firmly lies under the Silly Season umbrella but made me smile. It is the story of the Canadian dentist who has travelled back to Ireland to see if he can find the woman he briefly spoke to a year ago. They exchanged a couple of sentences at a small cafe in County Clare and she has been in his head and perhaps his heart ever since. I am a completely romantic sop, I admit that freely. A brief encounter story makes me smile. You may think him daft, I think he is taking a chance, that chance that you don’t want to live to regret. I applaud him and hope that even if he doesn’t meet that girl of his dreams that he will know that at least he tried.  The link to the story is here and I hope you take the time to read it and it makes you smile too – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-19685982

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

September 24, 2012 at 11:34 am 4 comments

News and Views

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

I have been sweeping through some of the news stories from the last few days. ‘Highlights’ include:-

  • David Cameron pondering applying regional rates to benefits. He wants to understand if it makes sense to map the differences in pay levels in the regions to the application of state benefits. A dangerous road in my opinion. Are there many differences in the prices of food, clothes and energy services within the regions? I accept that housing costs may vary by region and accept research on this may make sense but have a real concern that this will accentuate disparity between regions. Linked to this story, Mr. Cameron is concerned about pulling under-25s into a life of dependency and may also think about cutting housing benefit for the under 25s. Calling this concern rankles; I see this as cost-cutting and he should be open about it. I do loathe this habit that all politicians (regardless of party) have of cloaking their policies under the umbrella of caring. The Conservatives have talked about removing the ‘nanny state’ but when it suits they use the nanny language. Pshaw!
  • The aid watchdog Data have reported the European debt crisis has impacted government development aid to poor countries. Spain and Greece have made the biggest cuts and that is understandable given their current circumstances. However, overall levels have fallen by approx. 1.5%. None of this is a real surprise but shows again that the austerity levels are impacting across the third world as well as the first world.
  • Moody have been downgrading their ratings for some of the world’s largest banks. The UK banks affected were RBS, Barclay’s and  HSBC whilst in the US Bank of America and Citigroup have been impacted. What was interesting about the comments on this story was that there would be little impact to the banks. Historically the ratings from Moody’s and other rating agencies was a barometer for how much borrowing a bank could leverage from other banks. Apparently most banks now make up their own minds and don’t use these ratings so much. Is it just me or is that not a little scary? I am no economist but isn’t the behaviour of some of the banks what caused at least some of the mess we are dealing with now?
I close, as always, with this:-
  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

June 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm Leave a comment

Taxation. One Man’s Immoral is Another Man’s Business?

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

Well, I say, what a furore. Twitter is agog, the news is playing David Cameron on a loop and everyone has an opinion. What larks.

It really is like a bad joke. Did you hear about the comedian who met his Accountant? He made him look like a pariah.

People are piling on the bandwagon to express their dismay at Jimmy Carr’s tax avoidance. David Cameron called his actions morally wrong. I nearly choked watching that segment of the news last night. As I understand it, there are many businesses who have had tax debts written down or off in negotiations with Mr. Cameron and HMRC so to call the actions of one person morally wrong doesn’t really sit well with me.

Jimmy Carr has now tweeted a statement to say the following:-

I appreciate as a comedian, people will expect me to ‘make light’ of this situation, but I’m not going to in this statement.

“As this is obviously a serious matter. I met with a financial advisor and he said to me ‘Do you want to pay less tax? It’s totally legal’. I said ‘Yes’.”

“I now realise I’ve made a terrible error of judgement.

“Although I’ve been advised the K2 Tax scheme is entirely legal, and has been fully disclosed to HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs).

“I’m no longer involved in it and will in future conduct my financial affairs much more responsibly. Apologies to everyone. Jimmy Carr.”

Mr. Carr is working to make the best of a PR nightmare. However, I point out a few of his words – ‘Although I have been advise the K2 Tax scheme is entirely legal’. And therein lies the rub.

HMRC and the Government know these loopholes are there. I am pretty certain that they also know many of those who use these loopholes. If that is the case, why have they not been closed? If I was extremely cynical I could say that they are convenient for friends but morally wrong for those who are not friends.

I believe in paying taxes, those taxes provide me with services and support those who don’t have employment due to circumstance, ill-health. I know many of you will say there are those who don’t want to and take advantage. Yes there are. I believe if you can work you should work and it doesn’t sit well with me that many ‘play the system’. However, many more have this support because they need it. It is not simple but it comes down to the same argument, loopholes need closed.

As for Mr. Carr? I don’t want to condemn him but I think he could have asked a few more questions when he agreed to his K2. I hope he goes back to his Accountant and HMRC and has a wee chat. Wouldn’t it be lovely if he was able to make some donations to charity from some of the monies saved? I think donating to a children’s charity would make him and everyone else feel better:) You knew I would say that, didn’t you?

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

June 21, 2012 at 9:21 am 14 comments


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