Sunday, 25 May 2014

Removing Foreign influences from Schools is bad

I am greatly concerned by the rumours that are flying around (I've not been able to watch the news or read a paper today or this weekend as my kids make me watch Tangled and Frozen AGAIN...) about Michael Gove's plans to remove non-British subject matter and books from our schools.

Where I work we have a video on loop of a Minister stating that his party had removed all the foreign influences on the Country's Culture. Sadly this Minister was Reichsminister Josef Goebbels and his speech ran something like this:

We have a German theatre, a German Press, German Music and German Arts. Those who said that we could not remove the Jews from our culture have been proven spectacularly wrong.

OK - this is a pretty extreme example.

However just by thinking about this and tweeting earlier I realised how much could be denied to our children.

How many of these books would be banned?
No Four Musketeers, Count of Monte Cristo Goethe, Schiller, Mozart, Beethoven, Washington Irving (who I think is a genius!), Schubart, Bach, Schuman, Saint Saens Carnival of the animals, Catcher in the Rye, To kill a Mockingbird, Dostoyevsky, Pasternak, Les Miserables, Haiku Poems, Marx and Engles....

World War One studies will only have the poetry of Sassoon and Wilfred Owen and not include the classic that is "All quiet on the Western front" by the German author/soldier Remarque.

We cannot just remove a whole swathe of ideas and literature, the opportunity to expand young minds literally and musically just because the writer or composer's are not British. It is madness, like putting on the blinkers! Young people should learn who they enjoy culturally and given choice rather than being railroaded into just Dickens and Shakespeare.

The subject of history will be decimated as we concentrate entirely on Britain and her achievements. I studied world history starting at school with the slave trade and its impact on European and American history, economy and society. I went on to study Russia 1900-90, Japanese Middle ages and Modern history as well as the Renaissance across Europe in the 15th and 16th century - a period in which England was nothing but a sleepy backwater compared to the courts of Florence and Paris.

Britain has not experienced revolution, not in the same way as France and Russia and even Germany! Its history can be very rich, it can also be very dull - has anyone read history from 1815-51? I really struggled and I was interested! History is a multi-faceted subject with other nations having an input in British actions. Take the Boer War - Germany was actively politicking and supporting the Boer to cause trouble with Britain. Half if not more of Britain's policies were influenced by France.

The British Monarchy and its genealogy has been foreign for centuries and their interactions with their families abroad have started and ended many wars over the centuries. Victoria was half German, she married a German and she was Grandmother to the Kaiser. King George I didn't speak English, and George II only grudgingly. William III was a Dutchman, Mary Queen of Scots was French... Are they to be culled?

I agree that there are many aspects of British Culture that have been forgotten like Robin Hood, Mallory's King Arthur, Lord of the Flies, Poetry by Yeats, Byron, Shelley and history like the Boer War that has long been forgotten that maybe should appear in school but not at the expense of cleansing "foreign" influences like this.

Half of growing up is discovering what you like, opening up your mind and reading around be it in English, History or even musically. Let us not stifle our young from the beginning and leave them thinking that British is the only way.

Guess that is one more thing I will have to be teaching my kids outside of school. They will read whatever they want and be taught about foreign politics, history and geography by us.

To quote a great writer (can't remember if it was Burke or Heinrich Hahn) - Where once you burn books you will soon burn people.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

My retirement from Politics

I have arrived at a very sad but easy decision.
Baby #3 from 12 week scan
As of September I will cease to be an active member of the Liberal Democrat party and the unofficial Go-To Medway LibDem guy.

Before people start braying about the collapse of the party or a lack of my commitment I have two words.... Pulmonary Atresia

A few weeks ago Sam (my wife) and I went for the twelve week scan of our third (and final) child expecting they would be as healthy as Sophie and Ollie. 

Sadly we were wrong. There was a complication and we were referred to Kings hospital.

They have a condition called Pulmonary Atresia. The right side of the heart that pumps to the lungs is either missing (aorta) or detrimentally too small (ventricle), also the vital Pulmonary artery is blocked and too small to carry blood to the lungs.

The outlook was not good. There is extensive surgery to re-plumb the heart and lungs which can have renal and digestive side effects, physical disability and curtailed life expectancy. 

After two weeks of trying to decide whether to give the child a go or to be cruel to be kind and end it now we went back for another scan.

Nothing had changed but we were told the surgery was actually fairly routine and a curtailed life expectancy actually meant Early adulthood.

Neither of us, despite being pro-choice could bring ourselves to terminate and we felt that it was better to let fate decide and give the baby a shot at life and see what happens.

The baby is due in October and must be born in London where it will be rushed to intensive care and if strong enough be operated on a few days later with a follow up four months later.

The next year will be hard on my wife, my other two kids (especially on Sophie) and the baby. I will do what I've always done and knuckle under and put them first. Baby's health is never going to be great and depending on blood vessel development in the lungs and the success of the operations mean that I will need to dedicate a lot of time to them.

My time is going to be exceptionally valuable and I'm making sacrifices and sadly being an active member of the party is one of them. I feel guilty as next year is going to be vital for the Medway branch but family must and always will come first.

I'll still be blogging on my history blog from time to time (I'm not dead after all!) but this blog will be indefinitely suspended from September onwards I'm afraid.
I'm sad to let it go and may post on a very rare basis. This has been a big part of my life since 2010 and want to thank you all for reading.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

UKIP want to surrender Europe to the Germans

My Grandfathers were two very different people. Peter had been an only child of a Police Sargent who had studied Pre-war but post war joined the Police and coasted, enjoying life. His political outlook was soft Tory-liberal, though not a fan of the EU he was open to debate and discussion before making his decision.

Jim was different. He had been forced to join the army at a young age and grafted as an Engineer through his service into the late 40s before becoming a civil engineer and doing the same. He worked hard for every penny he earnt. He was suspicious of the Conservatives as they wanted to get his hard earnt money and he despised the Unions for ruining the country and industry (so voted Tory) but above all he hated Europe.

One day he said to me; "A united Europe? That's what Hitler and the Nazis wanted. We fought to stop that and now we're just giving them it in peace time."

Sad to say but he is wrong.

German foreign policy had, for decades before the First World War, been to isolate Britain and keep her away from European matters. Bismarck knew that the British, when disturbed, could throw the entire empire at a problem from behind its' Naval shield on its' little island and Germany could do little to stop them. Britain's Grand Isolation and aloofness in European matters allowed Germany to win wars against Austria and France, establish itself as a dominant power within Europe militarily and economically. 

Where was Britain? Fighting in Africa against the Zulu and German supplied Boer.

World War One came about not because of Teutonic aggression of Austria and Germany persecuting little Serbia and Belgium. It was started by the failure of diplomacy to act. Austria had the right to grievance over the death of the heir to the Imperial throne but so did Serbia for the occupation. 

Had the European nations and heads of state got together in 1912 when the Balkan wars were at their height then the conflict may have been averted.

In 1940 when the Wehrmacht were masters of Western Europe and looked poised to cross the channel Hitler made one last "Appeal to reason" to the British Government. Should they surrender Britain could keep her Empire if Germany was allowed to dominate Europe. Ultimately Britain would become a satillite state of Germany dependant on European trade at prices set by the Reichsbank.

I'm not saying that Germany has similar designs on dominating Europe militarily nor am I being anti-German. As many know I love Germany, her culture, her food, her language and her football team and I would welcome our new Teutonic masters should the day come. 

I am merely observing that Germany (and France to a lesser extent) are the dominant power in the EU and single handedly bank rolled Greece. Should UKIP and the "No" wing get their way and we voluntarily isolated Britain then we will be a satillite state to Europe forced to trade at the whims of prices set by a German dominated European bank...

If Britain doesn't want to face this they need to fight as they did in 1914 and 1940 only this time in the EU parliament.

Did Churchill, Chamberlain, Asquith and Lloyd George walk away? 

No, they fought for Britain and so should we and not follow this coward Farage as he meekly throws in the towel and completes the noble work of Herr Von Bismarck.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Labour must think you're all stupid

This kind of thing really grinds my gears.
Those of you who know me or are regular readers of this blog will know that I'm, somewhat naively, a fan of good Democracy and the democratic process. So it will come as no surprise why my gears are so well and truly ground.

Also before I start I should say this is not aimed at hard working Labour activists, councillors or MPs but the party machine and those who use the following technique on the doorstep - you know who you are!

Unless you have been living in a cave for the last few months you'll know there is an election on Thursday for some local authorities (not Medway) and more importantly the European Parliament. 

The LibDems (at least on a local level) have been campaigning for the merits of the EU over Grand Isolation which UKIP seem to espousing. National politics has not been used unless brought up by the voter.

This election is not about the cuts.

This election is not about Tuition fees.

This election is not about the Coalition.

This election is not about Nick Clegg or David Cameron.

So imagine my confusion when I saw a tweet with ten reasons to vote Labour on Thursday. (here) with a link to the Labour page with Ed's pledges for what Labour would do if they won the next election. 

Clearly it would be argued that this meant the General election next year and it is a mere coincidence that this list has appeared now at this election.

Can this behaviour be just attributed to a small dirty tricks brigade? 

Well, no.

I've seen a lot of tweets locally about the toxic nature of Clegg and it makes me wonder how much campaigning on Europe vs. National policy there has been but that is just supposition.

Who sent the original tweet? Was it an activist trying to cause confusion? It was some guy called Iain McNicol - the General secretary of the Labour party - surely he would think he knew what elections were taking place on Thursday?

This is not the first time that this has happened either, indeed shadow minister Chuka Umunna tweeted (back in may 2012 here)
Cameron is running a heartless and hopeless government #voteLabour today for growth, jobs and to relive the squeeze on you and your family.

Which was interesting as it was Local and mayoral elections with no impact on Westminster what so ever!

It is little wonder that candidates are secretly venting their frustration at Ed et al. Local PPC and Councillor, Tristan Osborne was unfortunate to get caught on tape out lining his concerns with leadership etc.

It is telling that a PPC selected for one of the top 101 target seats against a formidable and capable Tory MP (Tracey Crouch) is showing these sort of concerns.

 You can view the article here

How can they appeal to the average voter if they can't even tell the truth about what the election on Thursday is for? Or have any policies on Europe? 

If I cannot trust them on these two fundamentals how can I trust them with pledges or my taxes?

Friday, 9 May 2014

Same old Labour - Same old... Y'know

As those who follow me on Twitter will know, my days of being actively involved in politics are looking like they may soon be over (more on that later) and part of me is relieved.

As the election campaigns really set in here in Medway and ground work is laid down for the general & local elections next year the uglier and nastier things get.

As predicted the lines between national and local politics have become blurred and the three remaining LibDem councillors (as well as the standing candidates) are being blamed for supporting the Coalition nationally.

Their ministry of Propaganda has began churning out tweets regularly saying things like; 
"Medway Libdems supported the trebling of tuition fees"
"Medway Libdems support the Tory privitisation of the NHS"
"You can't trust the Libdems"

What a load of hogwash. I could easily turn round and say:

"Medway Labour supported the illegal invasion of Iraq"
"Medway Labour supported the Fuel escalator & RPI on rail fare that robbed hard working commuters."
"Medway Labour supported the reckless management of the economy that pissed the nations money down the drain"
"You can't trust Labour with your money"

I know full well that none of their (or my) statements are true. From our end there was a lot of anger at Tuition fees. As we have no MP we as a group tend to look more at local Medway issues and what we can effect. Also as we don't have an MP we cannot get them to vote a certain way. I have, however written to our incumbent MPs on a few topics requesting information and clarification on a couple of topics but that has mainly been as a resident!

I'm also tired of seeing messages saying all the LibDems will be wiped out, Labour will defeat your MEPs, take your wards and remove you. I feel like a tumour festering at the heart of Medway ready to lanced. I often wonder will my wife will come home from work and find I have disappeared into the "The Night and fog" (check out Nacht & Nabel decree on wiki for the reference).

So, I find myself asking why? Why are they targeting us in this way and not their arch nemesis Darth Cameron?

I have come up with a theory. 

Since the Coalition began Labour under Ed Miliband have defined themselves as simply "Not the Coalition." 

Cameron could hold up a lump of coal and Ed would say it was white. They say they wouldn't do things but they have little in the way of alternatives. The Libdems are seen as the weaker part and so they look to extend their majority by assimilating our seats. After all Labour has been moving from the left for the centre ground for the last couple of decades and left leaning liberals will be tempted to vote Labour over the seemingly right leaning liberals.

The other problem is Labour are actually hemorrhaging supporters to UKIP. A lot of working class families who gave up on Labour last time and who are still not convinced are looking at UKIP as saviour or as a protest vote. They know Labour screwed the economy and failed to deal with immigration and Europe, the Coalition have done little to salve that and only UKIP are saying they will deal with them. Where can they get voters??? Oh yeah, Libdem supporters.

It amused me that they wasted a PPB on how Clegg is a joke but still haven't given us an alternative, where is Ed talking about the EU or tackling UKIP? Does he or his party have an opinion? 

I'm feeling better off out of this childish point scoring and blowing smoke for votes. I got involved in politics to help people and my community and I feel disheartened that a few feel the need to resort to these levels to win votes. 

If my departure wasn't already dictated by events beyond my control I'd stand and fight for what is right.

As it is, I'm almost relieved to let the children play and I can redirect my energies to something more worthwhile.