Wednesday, 18 June 2008

And God created.......homosexuals

If you believe in God, and that God is our creator, you must also accept that God created homosexuals. New research has shown that homosexuals are born homosexual. Its not something they grow into, or some kind of lifestyle choice. They are made that way. So that must be what God, the great designer, intended, mustn't it?

As an atheist and a biologist I've never had any doubts that people are born gay and that being gay is natural, not some sort of abberation. Because I'm not encumbered with the baggage of the abrahamic religions, its not difficult for me to see that homosexuality is just part of natural diversity, a thing that you might expect to happen as part of evolutionary development.

Something tells me however, that no amount of research will ever convince many religious people of this fact. That is not because they are christians, jews or musllims but because they are bigots.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Hats off to the Irish!

So - the only EU member state out of 27 allowed a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (i.e. the EU constitution) rejected it convincingly, thus scuppering the Treaty. How many other countries would have done so if they'd had the chance to vote?

Now we can expect Europe's leaders to show their usual contempt for the people of Europe by fixing it so that the treaty is adopted anyway.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

The silence of the lambs

Compass, the group chaired by Neal Lawson claims to provide 'direction for the democratic left'. Neal recently wrote an article which was published in the Guardian. Here's an extract:

"Since 1979 Britain has lived in a Neverland of market fundamentalism that New Labour has mostly failed to challenge and too often sought to embed. From being the problem that social democracy existed to correct, markets were regarded as the cure-all."

Now I wouldn't disagree with this though I might have put it differently. But the issue that it raises is an important one. What have Neal and his fellow Compass Labour MPs been doing for the past 11 years? Why is it that only now when the New Labour project is unraveling that we hear from them?

The reality is that Neal and co. have have been sitting on their hands while Blair and Brown have been imposing reactionary free-market policies such as the privatisation of education and the NHS on the country. Its a bit late to start bleating about it now isn't it Neal! How can anyone who opposes New Labour and their policies take Compass seriously?

As a footnote - Compass are holding a conference today in London. I note that the attendees are the usual suspects - the London set of 'leftwing' luvvies - do they ever leave the capital and try to engage with the rest of us? - and features such well known lefties as Ed Milliband, Harriet Harman and James Purnell. So thats all right then. Our problems will be sorted.........

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Capitalism creates poverty - its official!

Capitalism is an economic system, based on greed, which ignores the needs of people. It creates wealth for a tiny minority and poverty for the vast majority. It can never, and will never, eliminate poverty, and it is pointless New Labour pretending that it can. In fact, the New Labour government, which has slavishly followed an socially irresponsible, rapacious free- market capitalist model, has increased the gap between rich and poor and has increased poverty, and reduced equality and social mobility.

So it should come as no surprise to anyone that data released yesterday by the Department of Work and Pensions showed that child poverty and pensioner poverty is increasing - not diminishing. So another New Labour flagship policy bites the dust! Ultimately, we have to judge people by what they do - not what they say. New Labour has claimed to reduced poverty whilst pursuing free-market policies which increase poverty.

But it also has to be asked - why all the fuss about child poverty? Does that mean it is ok for adults to be poor? - I don't think so. Children live in poverty because their parents are poor. Take the adults out of poverty and you take the children out too! The parents of children in poverty are not unemployed. They work for a living. They are poor because they don't get paid enough for the work that they do - it is as simple as that. The people that employ them cream off the wealth for themselves. That is exploitation - the bedrock of free-market capitalism.

Instead of using taxpayers hard earned cash to subsidise the the wealthy and shareholders by paying the poor tax credits the government should be increasing the minimum wage, which at the moment is well below the poverty level, to at least 60% of the median UK wage. We also need a massive increase in pensions to raise the elderly out of poverty - £5 billion of pension credit was left unclaimed last year.

Remember - every time you eat in a restaurant or stay in a hotel your enjoyment is being subsidised by the poverty of the people who work there............ the Sex Pistols said it years ago in Holidays in the Sun - "Cheap holidays in other people's misery".

Monday, 9 June 2008

Suffer the children

Today, a report to the United Nations on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) condemns the UK for treating children badly. This may come as a surprise to some but not to me. Since the age of about eleven I've been acutely aware of how badly this country treats young people. Since I've become an adult, and traveled more widely, I've noticed how other societies show more respect and love for their children. This is obvious to anybody who has spent time in France, for example.

We like to think we value children, and most modern parents certainly spend vast amounts (relative to their income) on them. But that is not the same as loving children and treating them with respect. The key issues identified in the report were: -

· A punitive juvenile justice system;

· Public attitudes that demonise teenagers;

· Lack of protection against physical punishment in the home;

· One of the highest levels of child poverty in Europe.

This is a very serious indictment of the society we live in. So what can be done about it? Well, we can start with our appalling education system, and I say this as someone who has worked as a teacher in secondary education. Its appalling because it is based on an elitist 19th century academic model which favours the rich and the middle class. All children suffer from this, including those who are educated privately, but the real losers are the working class and the poor. It is a system obsessed with testing and failing school students and one which pays no regard to vocational achievement. Look at countries like France and Germany - they have got it right - no wonder they are more successful economically and produce better adjusted individuals. They have kindergartens where young children learn to co-operate and socialise before they start to learn about other things. Then they have technical education where students can learn practical skills which are really valued.

Here, education is dominated by the malign, class-based influence, of the independent schools and right-wing pundits - the so-called experts. These people want us to return to the 19th century, where the children of gentlemen are sent to public schools and the rest are factory (or should I say free-market) fodder. That is their ambition for our children. It will be their children who are attending the public schools. Its just not possible to see how education in the country can ever be what our children deserve while it remains a political football dominated by reactionary views.

The overwhelming majority of kids and teenagers in this country are decent people. They are not delinquents. Those who are delinquents are overwhelmingly kids who have suffered deprivation. Young people care about the society they live in. Its about time we started to care about them.