15 Minutes #GE2017: Who to vote for?

The general election is fast approaching, and I thought I’d write about it on my blog. However, to stop it just turning into a massive rant I’m keeping it simple and to a 15 minute timer. So here we go.

stream_img

Ever since Theresa May announced the snap election a few weeks back the British press has been working itself up. The parties have been scrutinised, they’ve made announcements and they’ve started pitching their manifestos.

Now, I think voting is something everyone should do but I can understand people’s hesitation and doubts over our current system. I’m living in a different constituency at the moment, one currently held by the Conservatives and it leaves me in an odd position of not knowing who to vote for.

Under a proportional representation system it would be simple enough, and I would just pick the party I agree with the most. However, the first past the post measure that we employ in the UK means that there has to be some tactical voting, which sucks as it means voting against someone instead of for.

I’m currently inclined to vote for Plaid Cymru, as I respect their leader, agree with their policies and as we blunder into Brexit talks, would like someone to speak up for Wales in a way that I don’t think the other parties will.

92001782_plaidconflw-2

However, Plaid aren’t much of a force in the Vale of Glamorgan and so it’s likely to come down to Labour vs the Tories.

The Tories are right out of course. Their austerity push has just caused people to suffer and there is a startling lack of empathy about them. Witness how the NHS is doing in England under Tory rule. I also don’t like the “no deal is better than a bad deal” argument and the bullishness approaching Brexit.

And frankly, I don’t trust the Tories to serve the public properly. And I don’t want to see the NHS slowly fall apart until they can justify scrapping it. Look at healthcare in the States, and you realise that for all it’s flaws, the NHS is a brilliant creation and something we should be proud of.

So, to stop them do I vote for Plaid and hope they have an upswing in support? Or do I vote for Labour, a party I don’t have much warmth for.

Here’s the thing, I regard Labour as better than the Tories, but that’s taken a beating in my lifetime. It was a Labour government that lied to the public and entered an illegal war which has caused far more problems than any it solved.

And the party hasn’t helped itself over the last year or so with some monumental gaffes, infighting and by failing to stage a meaningful opposition to the Tories. Theresa May isn’t a strong PM, but she’s never really had to look like one because Corbyn has been so ineffectual on the opposite side of the house.

He seems a decent bloke, and some of his ideas are sound, but I can’t see him as a leader and I think Labour are so fractured that they would struggle to hold it together. May might have pushed the “strong and stable” line to hard, but at least the Tories all seem capable of falling in line behind a leader. Labour seem to have split, and there’s a nastiness to both factions. They’ve made it alarmingly easy for the Tories, by looking massively incompetent and disorganised in opposition.

Worse yet, Corbyn has announced that he won’t make a coalition with other parties, which seems foolhardy. If both of the parties fail to secure a majority he’ll be in an impossible position, either holding to his position and allowing the Tories to form a coalition and retain power, or else go back on his word and catch hell for it.

No, I think as a party leader you have to acknowledge that if you don’t get a majority you’ll do your best for the public and form a coalition with like minded parties.

As for the other parties? Well, there’s not much there:

  • The Lib Dems- They have a few decent policies and have cleverly set themselves up as the anti-Brexit party after Labour put up very little resistence to May’s plans. But the sting of 2010 still lingers and they don’t seem to have much of a chance.
  • The Greens- I admire the Greens for their enthusiasm, and they have some decent policies, but they haven’t got a hope, have they?
  • UKIP- Never.
  • Independents- They may be well meaning but I can’t think of one who actually made it to Westminster, and once there they are a lone voice. That being said, with the right manifesto and the right candidate it’s a possibility.

I guess I still have some thinking to do on this before I go to the polls.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


News Grab Bag: Immigrants, Deportation and Corruption. Even boobs become a contentious issue in this post

Warning! Bit of a long one today, so you might want to make sure you have a cup of tea at the ready so you can stay hydrated throughout.

…And then a step to the right

Recently the Prime Minister David Cameron came out with brand new, harder policies on immigration. The headline grabber was his pledge that immigrants must live in the UK for 5 years before they can be added to public housing lists.

Now, I’m no fan of the Conservatives anyway, but this statement made me dislike them even more. What Cameron was essentially doing was attacking a small section of our society, who are already poorly treated and disliked and using it to score cheap political points.

What made it worse is the fact that it was a blatant ploy by the PM to try and appeal to the section of his party which is further to the right. It has nothing to do with what these immigrants do to the public housing situation, and more about Dave trying to ensure that Tories to the right of him don’t jump ship to UKIP (UK Independence Party) a bunch of xenophobic eejits formerly associated with talk show host and grade-A douche Robert Kilroy-Silk.

The whole thing strikes me as being irresponsible from the PM because he’s joining in on this disgusting bashing of immigrants. I suppose though, it’s an easy target- many aren’t registered voters and you can guarantee there’s any number of Daily M**l reading idiots out there who’ll swallow it whole and think “Yeah, Dave, show those Johnny Foreigners what for!”

Here’s the thing, as some Romanian group recently pointed out- the reason that a lot of these folks came across here is to work to send money home. They’re not looking for handouts. I’m sure some do live off benefits, but let’s face it, they probably represent a drop in the ocean of the people on benefits in this country (in fact immigrants made up less than 10% of social lettings in 2011-12).

To penalize against them because they’ve only just got off the boat seems unfair, especially as they’re arriving with nothing and, given the housing market, you’re making them essentially homeless or vulnerable to unscrupulous land lords. Also, it seems a tad unfair that Victor from Poland comes over and has to work for 5 years before he can apply when there’s any number of Brits who don’t contribute to society at all who can get one right away. If Dave wanted to make it completely fair, he’d state that to get on the housing list you have to have worked for five years.

I mean, think about it. You’ve got some family from Eastern Europe or wherever, who come over and where they instantly start working crummy jobs, and they have to sit around for five years despite having taken nothing out of the system, while at the same time, folks like me can get on the list after spending 16 years in full time education and a lifetime of free health care. Which one of us is a bigger drain on the tax payer?

The whole thing is disgusting, especially given the fact that last year Cameron was more than happy to use an immigrant to this country for photo opportunities.

So the rule seems to be- immigrants are okay, so long as they can run fast.

So the rule seems to be- immigrants are okay, so long as they can run fast.

Cameron’s motives were transparent enough, and even though he’s a Tory, you feel might not be his own, which makes them worse. As much as I loathe UKIP and co. at least they’re upfront and honest about it, here you get the feeling that Cameron is merely saying whatever he thinks will get him votes. I know that’s how politics work, but it’s still disheartening.

The next time there’s some anti-immigrant violence Cameron would have a lot of nerve coming out and condemning it given that this kind of outburst adds to the ill feeling and ignorance surrounding the whole situation.

V for Vendetta

Another Tory who should have thought before they spoke was Theresa May, the Home Secretary. A while back fundamentalist cleric Abu Qatada was threatened with deportation to Jordan, where he would face trial, however, due to the fact that he would be unlikely to receive a fair trial and may well be tortured, the deportation was blocked under Human Rights rulings.

At which point May waded in saying that this was just a set back and that Qatada would soon be on his way out. May’s appeal to have him deported failed this week, with the judges stating that he would be at risk of a “flagrant denial of justice”. Now, I may not agree at all with Qatada’s beliefs and find his brand of rhetoric sickening, but at the same time, I’m not entirely comfortable with sending people off to be tortured and imprisoned without trial.

So, let him stay. And treat the guy well. This is a chance for us to be the bigger people, and to combat his claims of the evil of Western culture by showing respect and compassion towards somebody who would do us harm.

And if he continues to bash us, well, everytime he does maybe someone should (politely) point out that he can’t have it both ways- he can’t very well slam Western culture and our country when he’s cowering under our protection like a little b***h. It’d like David Haye stopping me from getting a kick-in and then me standing behind him slagging him off.

Haye a metaphor for Britain

I mean, we could also throw in that if he was truly dedicated to his cause then he’d have no problem suffering and dying for it like a true martyr, by going back to Lebanon, maybe just imply that he might be all mouth. Highlight his hypocrisy and lack of commitment, undermine his standing and posturing. That’s how I’d play it anyway.

But, most importantly, let him stay. The war on terror, was a classic example of a situation where we’d be best to remember the words of Friedrich Nietzsche:

Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster

And while that ship may have sailed, we should still retain some morality and respect for human rights, whatever they say or do. If we deport Qatada to face human rights abuses we are responsible for those abuses.

The worst thing about the story is May’s behaviour. She may very well be doing her job, but her obsession with getting shot of Quatada is starting to look more and more like some kind of personal vendetta.

I'm not sure whether May-Qatada reminds me more of a wrestling feud or when two characters claim to hate each other but eventually wind up together in a soap

I’m not sure whether May-Qatada reminds me more of a wrestling feud or when two characters claim to hate each other but eventually wind up together in a soap

It’s probably because of her statements about not letting the courts stop her, and the fact that the longer he stays the worse she looks, but it’s all looking rather pathetic. And in fact, her repeated attempts make it worse, with several papers reporting about her failure to win the appeal, laying the blame at her feet. She shouldn’t have made such a song and dance about it, because it’s all making her look very bad.

Hope you have a pleasant stay!

After all the corruption and connections between the press and the police were revealed last year, there’s been an effort to clean up the whole thing and an investigation has recently resulted in a few imprisonments. Some of the most high profile are a copper who sold details about the family of English footballer John Terry and a prison officer who sold information regarding Jon Venables, one of the killers in the James Bulger case.

Now, first of all, I’m glad they’re going away for it. It’s a massive ethical breach and they deserve to be punished. Secondly, what a pair of idiots. The prison officer got £3,500 for his info, and you’ve got to wonder if that amount was worth it, because if I’ve learnt anything watching prison movies and crime shows (and I think I have), it’s that ex-cops and former screws don’t exactly have an easy time of it inside.

One imagines that MacKay would've had a hard time if he'd been Fletcher's new cellmate

One imagines that MacKay would’ve had a hard time if he’d been Fletcher’s new cellmate

You’d have thought being familiar with what life in prison is like, you’d be extra-careful to avoid winding up in there. It’d be like having a daily reminder of what you have to lose if you break the law. I hope they’re both alright during their time behind bars, and can reflect on what they’ve done wrong and rebuild some kind of life at the other end.

An argument for the continuation of Page 3?

Page 3, where the daily newspaper The Sun posts pictures of topless young ladies is the centre of a bit of debate at the moment, with many sections of society calling for it to be banned. But, I think The Sun could now make a case for it being preserved to ensure that tax payers get value for money and paid back for their expenses.

This is down to the case of Josie Cunningham, a 22 year old who received a breast enlargement on the NHS. Cunningham, or Josie, 22 from Leeds as Page 3 would introduce her, has plans to become a glamour model thanks to her brand new 36DD assets. The operation is said to have cost the tax payer £4,800.

This has caused quite a lot of complaining and angry comments about what a waste of money it all is. I agree, the money could have been put to use elsewhere, but Cunningham’s previous bra size of 32A, appears to have been effecting her quality of life, with her stating in an interview that she felt that they were ruining her life and she felt insecure about herself.

Cunningham before the op

Cunningham before the op

Now, I can sympathize and think the NHS should help out on issues like this, but maybe on a payback basis, where for example non-essential operations and procedures like breast enhancements, gastric bands and IVF are funded by the government, but the patient’s wages are then garnished until the cost is covered. The NHS could improve the quality of life and happiness of people like Miss Cunningham, and the money would work it’s way back into the hospitals, maybe with interest added.

Or, they could have called me up and figured out some way of taking my mannaries and donating them to Cunningham, thus aiding both of us in feeling better about ourselves.

At the same time, I appreciate that the news would infuriate many, although it’s ironic that The Sun has laid into her as she’s probably just the type of person they’d use on Page 3.

The thing is, Cunningham was previously on £9k a year and I’d imagine that if she plays her cards right as a glamour model she can earn way more than that, so she may end up paying more tax into the pot as a result of the op. She needs to strike while the iron is hot and cash in on her notoriety as the girl with the tax payer’s tits.

So, at the end of the day I think the NHS did the right thing- they helped a girl feel better about herself, they’ve probably enabled her to earn more money and thus pay more taxes.

 

And let’s face it our taxes have been spent on a lot worse in the past.

Oh, and in related news I found out today that the association that governs aesthetic cosmetic surgery here in the UK is called the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons or to give it’s acronym- BAAPS which is kinda funny.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.