Thursday, 20 April 2017

What do you do with a problem like Corbyn?

If ever there was a politician caught between a rock and a hard place it is Jeremy Corbyn. Seldom do you find a politician who possesses those rare qualities that aligns itself with a vision of what politics should be about. Corbyn cares for the vulnerable and needy, subscribes to the 'greater good' principle and dares to confront the social reality of inequality. Despite all this he is still unpopular and is not predicted to take Labour to victory.

So when the election was called on Tuesday 18 February why did Corbyn endorse it? Surely the safest option would have been to have refused to vote in support on the grounds that the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 was passed precisely for the reason that Prime Ministers would not be able to call elections when it suited them.

By forcing the Government to wait till 2020 would have given Corbyn enough time to prove that he can (or cannot) be a capable leader. A common defensive argument made in support of Corbyn is that he has not been given the time to prove himself seeing that a lot of his time has been taken up with internal fighting.

But is it as clear cut as that?

Corbyn is a case of 'doomed if you do and doomed if you don't. What this translates into is the fact that if Corbyn had refused to vote in support he would have faced a barrage of criticism under the headline of being an obstacle to democracy, never mind that he would have been following a democratic rule i.e the Parliament Act. People would have been blind to the fact that the PM has called the election to knock the opposition sideways and at such an angle that it would not be able to provide any substantive challenge her.

Corbyn then opts to support the election call and is called a turkey who votes for Christmas. He can do no right. While I do think that Corbyn has problems projecting himself as a leader much of the arguments against him have been media constructs. Like a stuck record the media play and replay the same old arguments such as Corbyn's supposed anti-semitism. He is starved of the oxygen of publicity while other politicians, in comparison, speak drivel and are given an easier time.

As an example, Corbyn is making social inequality a centre point of his election campaign but has not received praise for this even though the evidence is overwhelming that the equality gap between rich and poor is growing bigger by the day. On the other hand other politicians who bring the same topic up are seen as tackling the problem of a social ill.

Jeremy Corbyn is caught between a rock and a hard place if there ever was such a political situation.


Friday, 14 April 2017

A Good Friday prayer by a Liberal feminist mother

Dear Lord, I pray that the sacrifice of your son Jesus Christ will shine a light on the world on how much needs to be done by and for humankind to overcome the hate and prejudice that exists in our world. I pray that wars made in the name of religion will cease bcause your message was one of unity and not division.

When the Alt-Right claim a Judeo-Christian right to spread their message of racial hatred under the guise of 'Patriotism' please bring your light to shine on their vainglorious behaviour. Save those who do not subscribe to such misuse of your name from their intended consequences. Please save us from terrorists who wish to see so much lost.

I pray for guidance and the discernment of our world leaders who see their power base as a private matter and not one that carries enormous implications for people in every part of this globe that you made. May those who brainlessly cheer on these demagogues come to quickly realise that the phrase 'and then they came for me' applies to them too.

I pray for the children who suffer from terrorism, state sanctioned acts, state sanctioned retributions, poverty and abuse. You always implored Christian to seek and protect those who are most vulnerable. Children in the middle east are dying everyday. Children in western countries are suffering the effects of neoliberalism that favours the rich.

I pray for the safety and equality of women everywhere. Rape is a weapon of war and a weapon of the denigration of women. In the Western world rape happens in places where women are meant to be safe like in universities and in well lit roads. Your son revealed himself on the third day to a woman. It was a woman who was given the first privilege of proclaiming the rise of Christ. I pray for the equal status of women to be recognised and honoured in a big way.

Lastly, I pray that war will not break out in Asia, on the borders of Eastern Europe or anywhere else while our world leaders preen and strut and play golf knowing that no matter what happens they and their families will be safe, but not the rest of us.


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Please remember that Brown skin per se does not equal terrorism

Firstly, I feel a deep sadness over the death of all those who were victims of today's atrocities in London. There is a collective sense of grief and outpouring over what has happened. Soon we will learn of the names of the victims. The tragedy of today will take on a personal slant. Ordinary men and women who were going about another ordinary day which, tragically, turned out not to be any such thing. 

In fact, the name of the police officer who was stabbed to death has been released - Keith Palmer aged 48 who was a father and husband. 

RIP Keith Palmer
I often go into Parliament and Port Cullis house and I am always struck by how friendly and professional the police and security people who work there are. My daughter who is often with me and loves going into Port Cullis house was expressing her sadness too because she has a long memory of how the police officers would give her a big smile and indulge in chat with her when she was little. 

My singular hope in the aftermath is that latent prejudice, overt racism and the viewing of all ethnic minorities as potential terrorists does not become a side show that threatens to deviate from today's tragedy. I have experience, you see, to speak of. 

Good old Katie Hopkins can always be counted on to make a situation worse
In 2005 on the 7th of July when London was struck by a series of bombs which killed 52 people (I am not including the four suicide bombers) people like me became pariahs overnight. 

On the morning of 8 July I got on the train and people gave me hard stares. I got on the bus and the person sitting in the next seat got up and moved away. I traveled the 15 minute journey sitting in a two-seater on my own in a crowded bus. No, it wasn't my imagination. There were other incidents too. 

This is what happens, the sequence of events. Terrorist incident happens in Western country. It is perfect fodder for the angry who look for a scapegoat. Often these angry people belong to the right or the far right on the political spectrum. These angry folks brand those who fight against the ensuing racism as 'liberals, leftards and bleeding heart liberals'. As the days go on the rhetoric gets bolder. The tone and volume is ratched up. Those who didn't feel brave enough before now feel bold enough to label all ethnic people with Brown skin as potential terrorists. 

Taken from Twitter today
So when tomorrow dawns and the initial shock has faded and the full horror of the situation is unveiled please remember that Brown skinned people will feel the same as anyone else. Terrorists come in all colours too. 


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

'Mummy looking at mobile' syndrome

'Greet your child with a smile not a mobile' is a message that a school in Longlands, Middlesbrough, has placed on its' gates. The head of St Joseph's RC Primary School, Elizabeth King, has stated that the message is a "simple way" to develop speaking and listening between youngsters and their parents. 

I would say that it requires a lot more than a 'simple way' to get parents off their mobiles to pay attention to their children. While I hate being judgmental one cannot deny that there is a noticeable tendency for parents outside the school gates, in cafes and restaurants, on buses and tubes and even while strolling to be engaged on their phones for a length of time. 

Checking messages and replying is one thing but to be protracted about it is another. 

My daughter is now 17 and I didn't have a mobile till she was about 7 years old. As a result, I don't know whether I would have been a victim of the 'mummy looking at mobile' (i have made this phrase up) syndrome. I don't want to be 'holier than thou' in anyway but there is something galling about seeing children wanting their parents attention and not getting it especially if it's being done in a social setting like in a cafe or restaurant. 

Singling parental actions out as misdemeanors is always a tricky one because, understandably, we don't live in a nanny state and parents, especially mothers, do need some time to attend to their own needs in a tech fueled world.  

My point of reference is the fact that children grow up so quickly. 

Your little one soon becomes a teenager (and won't want to know you) and then the world of university or work beckons. Perhaps it is my angst over my daughter growing up that makes me angry about other parents wasting precious time over things that do not need immediate attention. I may also be judging parental actions based on a snapshot of their lives. 

Whatever the reason I do think that a starting position of realising that you will not have your child's attention forever is a point to always bear in mind. Make the most of your time together.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Good night's sleep - Restless Legs Syndrome=Bad Night's Sleep

The rare elusive concept that is otherwise known as a ‘good night’s sleep’ is so vital to our well being that it even has its’ own commemorative day. Today is ‘World Sleep Day’.  

But If I had a choice everyday would be a sleep day because having a good night’s sleep is a rare commodity when you have a condition or state of mind that results in restless nights. In my case I suffer from ‘Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)’. It’s a little known about affliction but, for sufferers, it is a huge recurring nightmare.

RLS, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a common condition of the nervous system. It causes an overwhelming, irresistible urge to move your legs.It can also cause an unpleasant crawling or creeping sensation in the feet, calves and thighs. The sensation is often worse in the evening or at night. Occasionally, the arms are affected too.

The result of having RLS is that the sufferer cannot lie down to go to sleep because of the impossibility of keeping their legs still. 

I have suffered from RLS for over 20 years now. The extent of each attack and frequency of these attacks has increased over the years to the extent that I wonder whether I will ever get a night's sleep at all in the coming years. 

I can never predict when it's going to happen to me. I worry all day long whether I will have an attack that night. The crunch time, for some reason, is about 9pm. The attacks start with a creeping sensation in my arms, it spreads down my legs and finally reaches my feet. I then have to keep walking around and kicking my legs to deal with the restlessness. 

Sometimes the attacks start during the day but this is rare. I have had a few attacks that have lasted all night till about 6am. Going to work after an hour's sleep is really hard because I wake up with a thumping headache and cannot think clearly. Most of the time my attacks last till about 2am. 

This leaves me feeling drained and I often start yawning from about 12pm. I cannot even sit at the computer or sit on a chair to read a book while the attack is ongoing because constant movement is needed to deal with the restlessness. 

Recently I was so tired after a string of bad nights that I was actually falling asleep while walking around my home. I felt like a zombie statuette. 

RLS interferes with my social life tremendously. When I go to the cinema I often have to get up from my seat and walk to the back of the cinema so I can keep moving around without disturbing other patrons. The same with going to the theatre too. I take the tube more often than the bus because it is easier to stand up and keep moving about in a tube. 

I have to factor RLS into my everyday life in a way that is prohibitive. I wish I could find a magic cure. I suppose I have to be grateful for the fact that there is a lot more information about RLS now than 18 years ago when I fell pregnant and suffered horrendous attacks. I now know that pregnancy often triggers the worst cases. 

There are various reasons as to the causes of RLS. For further information click here