Light a Candle – Go Vote

Having been following the mid-term election campaigns for some weeks, and then viewing the coverage of killing 11 Jews in a synagogue, and the mail bombs sent to leading Democrats, I worry that the United States is about to go into a deeper political darkness.
A friend we celebrated yesterday said rather than curse such a darkness, you should light a candle.  The best way to light a candle is to vote, and if an estimated 90 million people cast votes in the 2014 mid-term elections, let us hope an extra 10, 20 or even 30 million candles be lit on November 6th.

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Found it re-assuring to see Channel 4 tv’s Jon Snow had gone to Pittsburgh in the USA to cover the murder of 11 Jews in a synagogue.
Was disappointed to hear him ask the Mayor what could be done to get the temperature of exchange by the political classes in the USA brought down a notch.

On one level, as if journalists and news media aren’t also a significant part of the problem.
On another level, cos the actual challenge is to equip people so that they don’t reward people who tempt them with messages of hate.
On another level, cos not all in the political spectrum are casting problems to an equal extent.

Cos the Alt-Right have triggered the anti-Semitic murders in the synagogue on Squirrel Hill.
Cos the Alt-Right have triggered the mail bombs to notable Democrat supporters.
Cos the Alt-Right were responsible for the death of a civil rights activist in Charlottesville last year.

Cos Donald Trump is culpable.
Cos when people are murdered in a synagogue in a hate crime, the response is not to suggest a degree of culpability cos they hadn’t employed a security guard.
Cos the first response to hate bombs being sent to opponents is not to say that you’ll tone down your language, but to say agents of justice will identify and try those responsible.
Cos the first response to Charlottesville should have been to condemn the anti-Semitism (remember “the Jews will not replace us”).
To paraphrase the movie “The Contender”, “culpable, but not responsible”.

A further challenge to the politics of the United States (and to all of us – cos they are that important) is is demagoguery and Nationalism.
– I don’t agree with those who call Trump a s fascist, but many pf the tests set out for fascism are ticked by Trump.
– Trump redefining the Republican Party as a Nationalist party, on top of the previous phase of what’s called Neo-Liberalism (but I see as globalism being used to give more to the very rich) rather than a conservative party grounded in the public health provision and the common endeavour of the two world wars.  (A phenomenon we’re seeing in the UK with the British Conservative party.)

So what should the common endeavour be?
Promoting a free society, where people are able to organise as they wish to win mandates to become the government of the country, principal authority or any other local authority.
A democracy – all responsible adults having a vote is very radical – underpinned by a full electoral register and proper elections.
Judicial systems and community safety.
Rights and responsibilities, that come with citizenship, for all irrespective against class, gender, race, sexual identity.
Full employment in proper jobs, and tackling all the other giant evils – with social security, housing for all, free education and free health at the point of use.
Tackling the opportunities and challenges that come with globalisation, people living longer, climate change and peak oil.
Proper conduct in public life, including being accountable for what you publish in social media (see Nolan principles below.
Audit systems and freedom of information to enable better debate and better journalism, especially over the ambitions and use of public assets and resource.
Politics overseeing how we organise and live, but not replacing it – everything is not political.

Is the above only supportable by democratic Socialists?  Well, Socialism would go further – “no unjustifiable inequalities”, test what we do against deprivation, and greater emphasis on industrial democracy, public ownership and co-operation.

We don’t need a fresh constitution either – although “love, life and the pursuit of happiness” carries a certain zing (More fully”… in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity …“)
P.S. Not sure calling Donald Trump a Fascist is particularly helpful.
The Washington Post has done a check and think Trump falls short.
I think more a demagogue.


Political Correctness debate

The motion – “Be it resolved, what you call political correctness, I call progress…
for a “Munk debate”, and of course it’s the problem cos does the motion mean political correctness has brought about progress – I’m PRO – or political correctness is the same as progress – I’m CON.

Stephen Fry attended on the CON side cos of his concern that political correctness can restrict free speech, much as Orwell created Newspeak to show how control of  language could deny legitimacy to free thought.

If ‘youtube’ is a guide though, the ‘moment’ was when a black civil rights activist slammed a white philosophy professor as a “mean white man”, which when you see it delivered face to face seems offensive.  Yet the activist stood his ground, and was compelling – his charge was not based on the professor’s reputation elsewhere, but on the way he’d spoken at the event, overlooking the huge degree of privilege he’d already benefitted from.  “You’re doing so well. Why the rage, Bro?”

The Philosophy Professor does have a very peculiar take on people organising as groups, or having group interests.  One challenge – if you want group rights, how about group responsibilities? – seemed naive; as if there is not plenty on the statutes to require groups to take responsibilities already.

One of the nonsenses is equating the American left with lefts elsewhere; cos there is a big difference between Socialists from Liberals.  Indeed it emphasises the nonsense of reducing politics to one dimension.

Stephen Fry seemed to think that the Left were responsible for being defeated by the Right, and in part cos it embraced political correctness which is the Right’s strongest campaigning point.   But one rebuttal said that what the Right did was to insist on their right to call Barack Obama a muslim, or their right to say he wasn’t born in the U.S.A.  He was on stronger ground bemoaning the certainty he witnesses – that we are right and if you are not with us, you are wrong and you are against us.  I’ve certainly seen the equivalents of five minute hates on Facebook.

I think creating new words to give a profile to new aspirations and insisting on non-gender specific language has contributed to progress.

Windrush advice surgery

“Happy to help any constituents who need support.” – Lilian Greenwood MP.

The Pilgrim’s Church in The Meadows offered free consultations with 1stCallUK for 20 or so clients or friends this afternoon.
WP_20180502_16_25_34_Pro (2) IstCllUK advice
Advice is –
1. read up; above is a one-pager from 1stCallUK with some initial advice;
2. write out your situation; the blank form at the top-right hints at the minimum information required;
3. consider getting proper legal advice;
4. contact your local MP to find out what help or advice they can offer; copy your MP with any correspondence sent to Gov’t agencies.
Councillors have no role or special knowledge on immigration matters, but we can help in general ways.

As for the Windrush scandal, the surprise is how this came seemingly from nowhere. Whilst some people have been in trouble for years, MPs seem only to have started hearing about these problems recently.
There are some estimates of there being 57,000 people affected – that’s 88 per MP. Arguably more people are affected in areas like The Meadows, so 20-40 might need advice.
As for the resignation of the Home Secretary, no doubt the changing stories from Amber Rudd contributed, but the final defence – that she was unaware of a memo in her official boxes – cuts away at a fundamental premise in Britain’s governance, that a minister is accountable for her officials and this is underwritten by reading the papers provided.
I believe British governance would be better if committees focussed on versions of the ministerial boxes, rather than the current interrogatory questions and supportive questions model, backed up by scrutiny from select committees and supposedly The Lords

Discussing A Fantastic Woman

A discussion group at the Broadway to celebrate the Oscar win of “A Fantastic Woman” and discuss trans issues raised by the movie and in Nottingham now.
Hearing stuff I was unaware of.
One remark struck me in particular – (something like) – ‘I don’t know whether I want to start taking hormones, and then have surgery; I just know I’m happier when I’m trans.”
Other references to people in Nottingham being trolled, and stories of violence against trans people (particularly in Brazil).

Votes for Women

Women Nottingham City Councillors Linda Woodings and Wendy Smith are among many celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Act that gave votes for women in the UK; well, most women, and at a minimum age 9 years older than for a man.
RotPA 1918 wiki Screenshot (837) ab0673h
Wikipedia shows the terms of the “Representation of the People’s Act 1918” was qualified, and in aspects confusing.
– Women over 30, but not all.
– Men over 21, but some younger than 21 if they served in the war at a certain point – something that might inform campaigns for the age of majority to be reduced to 16 since we call on people to join the armed services below 18.
A range of events are being organised to celebrate.