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Me and Jc or My Finest Hour (so far)

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Saturday, 29 Sep 2012, 08:34

 It may come as a surprise to you all to know that me and Jesus have a lot in common, I kid you not.  You probably already know that on the day Jesus was born, there was a new star in the sky to announce his arrival.  Well, it also happens that on the day I was born, there was also a new star in the sky.  It was called Telstar, and was the first telecommunications satellite, launched to improve telecommunications between the US and Europe .  So if you want to Google that, you’ll know exactly when I was born, and what age I am, no prizes for finding it though, sorry, and I’m too much of a lady to reveal my age publicly.

  ‘Haaah!’

 Sorry, did you say something?

‘Nuthin, just clearin’ me throat’

 Ok then, moving swiftly along…….as you probably already noticed I am ‘Devine’ by name, I like to think I’m ‘divine’ by nature too, at least that’s what I tell people, and if I tell them often enough they might start to believe it.

‘Haah!’

 ‘Do you have something to say?’

 ‘Jist a bit ova tikly throat’

 Well, perhaps you should go and get a drink of water or something……preferably, somewhere that isn’t here?

 Anyway…..you may also have noticed my initials are AD, which stands for, yes you guessed it, Anno Domini, which of course means, ‘In the year of our Lord’.

 I also read a while back, that historians had pin-pointed Jesus’ birth to the month of July, which is also the month I was born in.

 ‘Aye well a’d hiv tae agree that July’s a gud month’

 I wasn’t born in a manger but I did once know a dog with mange, if that counts?  A bit of a stretch I know but……you can only take them where you find them.

 My early years were spent in Mount Sion , a street in a town in Northern Ireland , and as an Irish Catholic, I too grew up in a country under foreign occupation, just like Jesus under the Romans.  So instead of ‘Romani Ite Domum’, we had ‘Limeys Go Home’ which later became 'Brits Out'.

 ‘Yer showin’ yer age now love’

 ‘REALLY, I just can’t be doing with all this interruption, are the pubs not open tonight?’

 ‘They probly are but am skint’

 Well, that’s just TOO bad then isn’t it?’

 I’m SO sorry about this, he’s a disgruntled Ulster Scots speaker, he’s been hanging around for the last few weeks, I don’t know what he’s looking for, I’m hoping he’ll get fed up soon and go back from wherever he came …..anyway, shall we carry on?

 OKAY….On the miracle front, I haven’t quite managed to feed five thousand with a few loaves and fishes but I could feed a small army on half a stone of spuds and a pound of mince.  But one other memory stands out for me where, like Jesus, I first ran into trouble with the religious authorities.  I recently entered it in a memoir competition  although it is more autobiography, but it came nowhere so here it is for your reading pleasure

Communists in the Convent!

I don’t know where my interest in politics began, I think it was partly by osmosis. Growing up in Northern Ireland against a background of increasing political unrest made it inevitable that something would rub off.  I remember the political figures of the day making their way into our skipping songs;

‘Vote, vote, vote for Bernadette Devlin, here comes Paisley at the door’….at which point someone would jump into the skipping rope and we would sing the song to the end. 

…. ‘for she is the one who will have the best of fun and we won’t see Paisley any more’.          

These names were interchangeable because to us they were just names and didn’t have any particular associations for us.  Although it wasn’t long before we knew Bernadette was on our side, and Paisley was on the other.  I remember her coming to our street, she was canvassing for election and my mother and several of the women in the neighbourhood all went out to shake her hand.  This surprised me as I had never considered my mother as being political in any way.

I also remember learning the words to the Strawb’s  ‘Part of the union’.

 ‘You won’t get me I’m part of the Union , til the day I die, til the day I die!’ I can still sing it now.  This was probably one of the first signs that I was definitely headed left.

Then in primary 7, I found myself on the receiving end of a campaign of bullying and if there is a defining moment that stands out in memory where something fundamental changed within me then this was it. 

I had had a disagreement with a girl in my class, what it was about I don’t remember but she was someone I never particularly liked, she was spoiled and vain, and looked down her nose at everyone.  From there it had escalated as she and her ‘gang’ had taken to following me home every day in a twisted game of follow my leader, where every movement and gesture was copied and mocked.  There seemed to be no end in sight, as I endured another lunchtime of mockery, and the gang seemed to be increasing in numbers, and that was when I decided enough was enough!

  Parents seldom involved themselves in their children’s quarrels back then so there was no point in trying to get anyone at home to listen; there were too many of them to take on single-handedly and so after thinking and re-thinking my options I decided that after lunch I was going to take the only one available and talk to the teacher, and hopefully get it sorted out for once and for all.  I waited until everyone was seated back in the class room and then I walked up to the teachers desk and simply said: 

‘ Miss I have a problem and I need you to help me sort it out’.

 She was taken aback because I wasn’t known as the type to put myself forward and was usually quite reserved but she gave me a fair hearing, listened to the other side, as of course, they denied all, but then inevitably broke down in tears.  Apologies were made and accepted, and so it was sorted, and we passed our final months at primary school in peace. 

I was particularly pleased at how I had handled the situation and it had given me a renewed confidence which was exactly what I needed as I was due to start in the local Convent Grammar that September. My older sister had begun the year before and had regaled me with tales of real experiments in Chemistry and real cooking in Domestic Science.  I couldn’t wait to get started and felt that the world was finally opening up and that bigger and better things lay ahead. 

As far as memory serves it was a quiet summer and nothing extraordinary happened and I was glad when September finally rolled around and marched proudly off to school with a bag full of books and a heart full of ambition.

From being the oldest class in primary school, it was a bit of a come down to find you were back at the bottom of the ladder but this was the big school and the disappointment was soon forgotten when I was given my first time-table.  Not only was everything more interesting and grown-up but there, first thing on Monday morning, was a subject I hadn’t even considered, Drama!  This was turning out even better than expected.

I had always loved performing. I had sang on stage at concerts in our local Parish hall, I played the violin and did Irish dancing as well, so stepping out on to a stage was second nature to me.  This was the next step in my development, real acting on a real stage, Hollywood here I come!

            Sister Pius was the teacher.  I was a bit disappointed by that as I didn’t imagine it was a subject a nun would know much about.  She was small, not much bigger than me, slightly built with a fringe of dark hair visible at the front of her veil, she was very neat in appearance and held herself stiffly which made her seem a bit uptight for something like Drama. 

However, when we had our first lesson all my fears were dispelled, she seemed to know her stuff as she talked about voice and poise.  To help us with this, we were set an essay for our second lesson, it was titled, ‘Something I believe in’, and we were to read it aloud in front of the class the following week. 

I was thunder struck as I realized I had a head full of ideas and beliefs which I had never articulated.  Not only were they there, but I all of a sudden I had an urgent desire to express them, I wanted the world to sit up and listen, I had important things to say!  Opportunities like this didn’t happen every day and I determined I was going to make the most of it, Pandora’s box had opened.

A few of my classmates were nervous about having to stand up in front of everyone and talk but that didn’t bother me in the least, this was right up my street as I decided this was my destiny and imagined a future making great speeches to large audiences who cheered and clapped at every utterance.   

The only thing I had to figure out now was which great idea or belief I was going to write about.  I definitely believed that David Bowie was the greatest singer in the world but I wasn’t sure if that would be an impressive enough subject, I wanted to dazzle everyone with my great thinking, and wonderful ideas so after some consideration I settled on my subject, Communism, now there was something I could believe in. 

            I had become interested in Communism for a few reasons, one being that  every time Russia was mentioned my mother would go into a rant about the Communists wanting to take over the world and turn us all into ‘Godless heathens’.  This really appealed to me as we were marched out to Mass for every Holy Day in the calendar, not to mention May and October Devotions. 

We had also been subjected to a daily round of family Rosary a few years before, after the Pope issued some edict on the matter, and my mother being the most Catholic, Catholic in town, insisted in following orders.  The thing about the Family Rosary was that it was to be at six every evening, so after being dragged in for it a couple of times, we soon realized that if we disappeared about ten minutes beforehand, then it was easily avoided.  At five forty-five every evening there was a veritable exodus from the street, as not only me and my siblings disappeared but half the neighbourhood as well. 

The Rosary was soon abandoned, amid despairing admonitions from my mother that ‘she didn’t know what kind of crowd she was rearing!’  There were a lot of good Catholic mothers back then whose devotion to their faith would contribute to a rising tide of atheism.   

The other reason for my embracing all things Communist, was that under their system everyone was equal, at least that was the theory.  I was the middle child in my family, quiet by nature, I was often overlooked and I was still smarting over the promise of a special present for passing the eleven plus which never materialized.  So, after all that, quite frankly, the Red Army couldn’t get here quick enough!

As I started my essay I realized I didn’t really know enough about Communism, apart from the idea that everyone is supposed to be equal, so I had to do some research.  I checked out the school library and got loads of information from one of the encyclopedias.  All the big names were there; Marx, Lenin, Castro.

Totalitarianism was mentioned which I didn’t really feel comfortable about as it sounded a bit like the Catholic Church but after some consideration I thought I’ll stick it in anyway and resolved to look into all the authoritarian stuff later.  

And so I crafted it over the week, standing, reading it aloud to my younger sisters. This was great stuff, everyone would be dead impressed! 

Monday morning I was up and off to school early, the big day was finally here. Sitting in class, essay in hand I was suddenly struck by fear; what if someone else wrote about my subject, and they got to read first?  It would look as if I had copied them. Why hadn’t I thought of this sooner?  I counted, there were about 9 in front of me…. And the first one was about to go up.

‘Something I believe in’

I held my breath,

‘My Parents’

And let it out relieved.

‘Parents!’ I thought to myself, ‘is she serious?’ 

Of course we all applauded when she finished.  The next one stood up.

‘Something I believe in’

Again I held my breath,

‘The Catholic Church’.

‘The Catholic Church!! You have got to be kidding me, God, these people have no imagination at all’ I thought. 

  I started to relax as one after another, they stood up to read, a total of three subjects; God, the Catholic Church and parents, sometimes a specific parent like their daddy or their mammy.  I couldn’t believe it!  I had worried unnecessarily, there was no competition in this crowd at all, this was going to make me look even better!

Finally it was my turn, I stood up, took my place in front of the class, gave my papers a quick shake, a little dramatic gesture to draw their attention, and read: 

 ‘Something I believe in’…I took a deep breathe and said…..‘Communism’

I looked up to gauge the response…..all eyes were on me…..and so I began.

As I finished, feeling very pleased with myself, I scanned the crowd.  I had definitely made an impression, there were murmurings in the crowd and quite a few looks of surprise. 

As I waited for my round of applause Sister Pius started to stand up,

‘I’m not going to get a round of applause, I’m going to get a standing ovation, from the teacher herself!’ I thought…..

Well, what can I say, isn’t hindsight a wonderful think?  In hindsight, of course, I think the only reason I got to the end of the essay was that the nun was in such a state of shock she was unable to speak or move until that moment. 

As she walked towards me I could see from the expression on her face that something wasn’t quite right.  Her face had gone very pale and hers lips were pursed tightly together.

‘THIS CLASS IS OVER AIDEEN DEVINE OUTSIDE NOW!’ she demanded emphasizing every syllable.  For such a small, slight woman she suddenly had a very strong angry voice.

As I was marched out of the room, I racked my brains trying to think what had gone wrong?   

‘AID DEEN DEE VINE, where did you get this?’ she demanded.

I didn’t really know what to say and looked at her dumbly.

‘I know your mother and your Aunt MaryB’ she said.

My aunt was a teacher and best friends with Sister Ursula and my mother had done some substitute teaching in her time so the Nuns all knew them, which of course didn’t help at all. 

 ‘WHO is telling you these things?  WHO is putting these ideas into your head?’ she demanded again, almost screaming.

What was I supposed to say, I didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about?  I thought about my mother and wondered if Sister Pius thought as she did. Did she too believe the Communists were plotting to take over the world and part of their dastardly plan was to accost Catholic school girls and brain wash them with their ideas?  And had they somehow infiltrated our small town?  Before I could answer she snatched the paper out of my hand.

‘COMMUNISTS!’ she said, shaking it at me and starting to turn red.

‘COMMUNISTS!’ she repeated, a little louder this time as if she needed to hear it again because she couldn’t quite believe it the first time. Building to a crescendo she shrieked,

‘THEY DON’T EVEN BELIEVE IN GOD!’

To me that was a minor detail, in my thinking there was no real conflict between God and communism, I mean it says in the bible that we were all created equal in the eyes of God, to me that’s just what Communism was all about.

In my naivety/stupidity (take your pick), I finally answered,

‘No-one sister, I thought of this myself ’ and was about to start to explain the thinking behind it when she started to gasp for air and her eyes looked as if they were going to pop out of their sockets.

‘God, she’s going to have a heart attack’ I thought and wondered if I should wait until she collapsed, or run and get help now?’.  I hedged my bets, worried that I would be held responsible for the death of a nun and decided to wait.

 After some moments she managed to suck in a deep breath and recover some of her composure, much to my relief! 

‘YOU thought of this!’ she screamed, a little less hysterically.

‘HOW COULD YOU?!!’  The volume started to rise again.  ‘You’re not even allowed to THINK these things, never mind SAY them or BELIEVE in them!’ she screeched.

I didn’t know what to say to that, I felt confused.

‘Not allowed to think!’

The phrase ran around in my head, this just didn’t make any sense.

‘Not allowed to think’ I thought again, because I couldn’t quite believe that was what she had really said.

‘Surely you can think anything?’ I thought.  ‘How can thinking be wrong?’

I was about to query this when the bell rang for next period which interrupted the flow of  protestations from both sides.  There was nothing more to be said, at least not by me.

‘Go to your next class!’ she ordered and turned to go.  She stopped, and looked at me again,

‘I’ll be keeping my eye on you!’ she warned, and stomped off towards the Staff room….

So, apart from the Nuns, my mother, and some of the teachers, the response was on the whole quite positive.  Several of my classmates were impressed and wanted to know more and while it would give me the greatest pleasure to report that the Convent Grammar became a hotbed of subversive political activity, unfortunately I can’t.  The only thing I can report is that Drama was taken off our timetable.

Unfortunately, this was a foretaste of what lay ahead for all my educational ambitions.  Chemistry had a grand total of two experiments, dipping litmus paper in various solutions and making blue crystals.  They changed the rules for Domestic Science that year too; there would be no cooking in first year, it would be theory only, and by the time we got to second year, I had long since lost interest and gave it up.  I was never destined for domestic servitude.

Although these were disappointments, there was one silver lining in this cloud.  My old protagonist and leader of the bullies never got to read out her essay and was very vocal in letting everyone know how annoyed she was about it, but we were all on new ground here and since most of her gang hadn’t got into the Grammar School, there was nothing she could do about it.

Salvation also lay in English with Mr. Gallagher who had regular class debates, where, although everyone got their turn, somehow I always managed to have a place on one side or the other, even if we never got to debate the motion ‘This house believes in Communism’.

My dramatic ambitions thwarted, it would be many years before I would get up in front of an audience again but I recently joined a drama group and am very happily back treading the boards.  It may not be Hollywood but at least I’m getting to do something I love.

Over the years my interest in politics never waned either although it has gone through a few reincarnations.  I’ve joined several different political parties at different times but at some point my thinking always diverges from the party line and conscience, among other things, compels me to leave. 

I’ve been called an anarchist on several occasions, that being one of the nicer things that has been said and I’ve often been told I ‘think too much’.  People think they’re insulting me when they say these things and I usually answer ‘well someone has to, because no one seems to be!’ 

The Red Army never got as far as my home town and with the fall of the Berlin Wall it’s been an increasingly lonely position being the only Communist in town.  I think me and Fidel are the only two left, although his health is a worry these days and whatever you think of his politics you have to admire his staying power in facing down the bullies of Western capitalism (see I still know the lingo).  Soon I’ll be the only one left, (I don’t recognize China, ironically, for political AND religious reasons), not that it bothers me, I was never one for following the crowd, being chased by them was more my style!

I still describe myself politically, as a Communist and what I have come to realize is, my Communism is my own and identifies more with that twelve-year-old believer in equality for all, than Lenin or Marx.  I’m still waiting for the Red Army to arrive but metaphorically not literally, and who knows, with the present economic climate and discontent, my days of making great speeches to large crowds may lie ahead and the revolution might just start here!  

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Future Ideas - Part One

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 18 Aug 2021, 17:31

Following on from the last posting, I touched on the failure of the global capitalist system and the present economic situation and I would like to go back to that subject and expand on some things.  

Firstly, the present situation is not going to improve greatly in the near future, basically for the reasons I stated before, that being the failure of the present capitalist model which governments won’t or can’t admit to.  

There are many things wrong with the system and these problems go hand in hand with our political structure.  The way government is organised is out of date, and the two main parties are still trying to govern with agendas that were relevant to the past but bear no relevance to the world we live in now.  We have the Conservatives on one hand who are traditionally (and still) the party of the upper classes and the rich. On the other, we have Labour struggling to re-define itself in light of the New (Tory) Labour legacy of Tony Blair, and weighted with the historical legacy of the welfare state. 

Going forward, whoever can really define the middle road between public and private sector, in a way that works for everyone, will have the next election sewn up.  This is where the Lib-Dems have failed and it should be where they are leading the way.  Government should be the referee between public and private, it should ensure that workers are paid and treated fairly but not to the point where private enterprise is stifled.  It’s role should be one of balance. 

So, going forward, here a few suggestions to improve and revitalise politics and the economy.  Firstly, the whole political system needs reform.  The House of Lords has to go, the class system is the biggest obstacle to creating a society that works for everyone, and as long as it is maintained by government, then the division between rich and poor is going to grow wider until it leads to revolution.  This might have happened in Britain after WW2 but the creation of better employment practices and the welfare state by Labour, probably stopped it.   

Next, I think the day of party politics is over, the two main parties come from perspectives that are out-of-date.  The Conservatives want to dismantle the welfare state but historically it is because of how the private sector did business and exploited it’s workers, that lead to the creation of unions and the Labour Party.  So the Conservatives are a retrograde party, always trying to turn the clock back and skewing everything in favour of private business, to the detriment of the ordinary working person. 

Labour are the creation of the working classes, although you would hard pushed to find many working-class on the Labour front bench these days. They are traditionally the supporters of the public sector and are often portrayed as the enemy of business and the private sector. 

Every time we elect a new government, we are changing between these two opposing positions. This constant changing just keeps screwing everything up as they come in and out, every 4 years or so, with their ideas on the best way to run things and set about dismantling the work of the previous incumbents. (The exception to this was the New Labour government who carried on the Tory agenda).  This hits the state education system worse than other areas and probably accounts for how badly it performs in relation to the ‘public’ school system whose teaching and results remain consistent and which probably accounts for the upper class dominance in the echelons of power and state.  It’s a wonder, now when I think about it, why the Tories have never sought to privatise the government, and they don’t seem to mind being paid out of the public purse! 

Come to think of it, maybe we should privatise the government, at least then we would be able to sack those who don’t do the job they’re supposed to do instead of having to wait until the next general election. 

Realistically, what do we need to run the country?  A good accountant to manage and distribute taxes.  Then what???  Why do we need all these government ministers and politicians?  Wouldn’t we be better off employing people to run our services.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to have someone who has worked in education or health, and spent most of their life working their way up through the system to be the Minister for Health or Education.  Someone who actually has years of experience in the field and not some upper class twat who never did a day’s work in their life, and only got the job because they were ‘bessy’ mates with the PM through college.  

It would take the politics out of politics, and instead of general elections for political parties, we would have referendums on issues like going to war, or free health care.  Imagine if we’d had a referendum on the Iraqi war, do you think it would have happened?  There could be televised national debates on the issues, with those for and against putting their arguments, and then we could all go to the polls to decide what to do.  It would make us more responsible as citizens and more involved in the real issues that affect our lives.  

One of the main problems with politics today is that people outside of London feel cut off from the government, and feel that most politicians are out of touch with the reality of our lives.  So in order to remedy this, I think that most of the power should be taken out of Westminster and given to County Councils with each county having an elected Governor.  Issues could be brought up through councils (these should also be elected, and you would have to be resident in the county to stand for election).  It would be the job of the Governor to liase between the council and the offices of Ministers.  The main task would be to let the government know how much money is needed for roads, health, etc. and to ensure that it is distributed properly.  I also think that in order to prevent corruption, each county should have an independent Ombudsman to look into complaints and through them people could challenge any perceived unfairness or mismanagement.  Maybe we could pay the majority of our taxes to our County Councils instead of to the treasury too, so we have more control as to how our money is spent and it would benefit our own areas more. 

All vital services like energy, transport, police, education and health should remain under the control of Government but to allow for private enterprise to maintain and reduce some of the waste, there should be a 51% Government to 49% Private split in their provision.  I think all these services too should be managed by county councils with government overseeing from a distance.  

Going back to the economy and the global capitalist system, I also think it is time to start putting up a few trade barriers.  I really think there should be a ban on global corporations and if we can’t ban them, we should make them return 50% of their profits to the country they trade in, regardless of where they are based. 

The big global brands have sucked the life out of our local and small businesses and all their profits go out of the country.  I also think that a percentage of business profits should be shared among the people who work in the business.  This could be done directly but I think that the best way would be to do it would be with a profit tax which would be specifically for health, education and pensions.  Most people don’t mind paying their taxes if they are guaranteed that the money is used productively and they can see the benefits they get for them.  In order to be fair about it, it should be capped, so that small businesses don’t get crucified with taxation the moment they start making a profit. 

So, what do you think?  Comments, as usual, are welcome.

 

 

 

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Identity

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 1 Apr 2022, 14:42

Watching the Olympic opening ceremony the other night, I realized that the soundtrack of the opening, was also the soundtrack of my life.  While I was born, and still live in Northern Ireland , I identify with a lot of aspects of British culture.

I mostly watch BBC television and listen to BBC radio.  David Bowie was my first crush and Led Zeppelin my favourite band.  I recognized the films clips from Kes and Billy Elliot, they’re both in my own film collection, and of course, I can thank the OU, for knowing all about Glastonbury Tor.  When I thing about identity, or what country or people I identify with, then there are so many influences that have shaped me that it would be almost impossible to identify with one country or one group of people alone.  I would have considered myself Irish growing up, but realistically there are many aspects of Irish culture that I can’t relate to at all, especially the drinking culture.

Politically, the group I identify most with are the working class, but I also identify with women across the globe, especially those in countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan in their struggles against male domination.  I can also identify with the black man’s struggle against racial bigotry, Malcolm X is my one of my political heroes and I often think his assassination was a greater loss to the American people than Dr King.  I also identify with the Native American community in their struggles to survive after the loss of their land, and the ongoing problems that alcohol has caused in their communities.

Spiritually, I identify with their idea of the Great Spirit, but I also identify with the Chinese philosophy of Taoism and Tibetan Buddhism.  Christianity, is the faith I was brought up in, and I also have a lot of regard for the teachings of Jesus.  There is a school of thought, that believes that Jesus studied Eastern philosophy, part of this comes from his saying, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’….because Taoism translates as the ‘way’, and of course there are many other similarities between both philosophies.  (I prefer to call them philosophies, not religions, because at their core, they are about seeking truths about how to live morally, and ethically) 

When I consider all of these things, I can’t stand up and say I am one thing and one thing alone,  I don’t belong to one homogenous group, to the exclusion of all others.  I am a sub-culture of many different places and peoples, and when you think about it, aren’t we all a sub-culture? 

We eat the food from different places, are influenced by other peoples ideas and ways of living, we have been shaped by so many different things, that when politicians start deriding multi-culturalism, I often wonder how interesting it would be, if all the people in the country who had a parent or grand- parent from a different country, went out on strike for a day.  I think it would be really interesting to see just how multi-cultural we all are, and I’m sure there would be a few surprises among them all.  Even the Queen is descended from Germany on one side of the family.

And there was another thing about the Olympic opening, when the athletes were coming in, there were very few countries that weren’t multi-cultural.  I have often said that time will prove Darwin right, and all those people of dark skin who came to live in traditionally white countries, and all the white people who have moved to places like Africa and Australia will eventually have descendants with different coloured skin.  It won’t happen overnight, it’ll take a few generations, but I remember the first time I saw a picture of Eugene Terre-Blanche, the leader of the right-wing National Party in South Africa .  I remarked that it was strange for a black man to be leading a right-wing party, when I was informed he was white.  Well, he didn’t look very white to me, and that was what got me thinking about it.  If the Theory of Evolution is right, it follows logically, that is what should happen, as they adapt to their new environment.  I discussed this with a friend one night, whose parents were originally from India, and he had to agree that his skin was lighter, and he noticed when he went back to India on holiday, how much paler he was compared to his relatives.    

I have done a bit of traveling in the last few years, and what I have noticed over and over again, is that no matter where you live, or what political or religious philosophy you subscribe to,  the fact is, there is only one human race, and the vast majority of us are just trying to make our way in the world.  We want to be happy, we want a reasonable standard of living, we want to watch our children grow up in peace. 

We’re very lucky in this part of the world, in spite of our social and political problems, that most of us have a roof over our heads, most of us have enough to eat and the truth is, most of us live like kings compared to other parts of the world.  We have a lot to be grateful for, and yet we take so much for granted, we throw away our lives and chances with drugs and alcohol.  We have eyes but we don’t really see the great beauty that is all around us, in nature and in people.  We have ears but when we are out and about, they are usually plugged into an ipod or suchlike, and we never stop and really listen to the birds singing, or the wind soughing through the trees.  (Great word that, soughing)

Western society has us tied in knots, we have been burdened with the stuff of capitalism and consumerism, we feel cut off and alone, most of us don’t even know our neighbours. Those who rule over us, are so out of touch with our basic reality that it makes us feel powerless to effect any sort of meaningful change.  We have grown tired and cynical as we have seen politician after politician, promise us the sun, moon and stars, only to watch those same people, once elected, become another political clone, the grey man in the grey suit who helps fill the pockets of the rich, while ignoring the plight and reality of the rest of us.  We yearn to be part of something, to unburden ourselves of the debt and pressure of modern life, we want to live simpler and better lives.  We don’t need to be millionaires or billionaires, but is it really too much to expect a reasonable wage for a reasonable day’s work? 

I read this in Steve Hagen’s book, ‘Buddhism, plain and simple’ -  ‘Henry Ford after he make his first billion dollars, was asked how much more he wanted.  He said he wanted just a little more’.

Henry Ford was also a bigot, and ferociously anti- Semitic, he advocated expelling all the Jews from the US . So for all his wealth, it doesn’t seem that Henry was a very happy man but it does allow us to see the thinking behind those who have so much wealth.  Governments have advocated the ‘trickle down’ effect as way of re-distributing wealth. The idea is that if we allow the rich to become even more richer, then the wealth they create will trickle down.  Unfortunately, the rich and the very rich, or ‘the haves and the have mores’, as George Bush so succinctly put it, like to keep all their money for themselves that’s why they are rich to begin with!

History will judge us, and history will condemn us, for the simple reason that those who had so much, were allowed to keep it, while others were left to starve to death.  We can’t say we didn’t know because we do know, and while most of us are not millionaires or billionaires, and are limited in what we can do, governments are not.  We need change, and we need it at the top, because that is where the power is.  We need to think about who we vote for, and why,  Do we really subscribe to the tenants of the religious faiths we belong too or we all just too worn out and tired, trying to make it from one working week to the next?

Change will come, whether by choice or circumstances, the global capitalist system has failed, although governments across the globe are still desperately trying to prop it up.  We are now living through the last days of global capitalism. This way of living is coming to and end, it was never sustainable anyway.  The economy is contracting, and India and China are experiencing an economic slow down, as well.  (One thing the recession has done for me, is that I realized how few of the trappings of consumerism, I really need.  I was out of work for a year and living on the dole certainly helps focus the mind on what you really need, as opposed to, what you want) 

Capitalism is sustained by two things, oil and consumption.  Oil is a finite resource and there are those who say we have already reached peak oil production, so it’s going to be all downhill from here.  When I look around my house, as I’m sure you can too, ask yourself, just how many more products do you really need?  When every room has the flat-screen tv, there are two, or maybe three, cars parked outside,  your wardrobe is stuffed with clothes, and shoes, and all the incumbent accessories, and you probably only wear the same 3 or 4 outfits, again and again.  The bathroom is overflowing with lotions and potions, the kitchen is the same with all the gizmos and gadgets, and around the TV in the living room, there are so many electrical items that a six- plug extension, - with surge protection of course - can barely cover it. 

We need to really start thinking about the future and sustainable living, because if we don’t start planning now, then we are in for some very tough times ahead.  If we don’t start preparing for a world without oil, then we’ll be facing a future of famine and war.  There is a lot of talk around electric cars, but how are they going to be built when manufacturing depends on oil, not to mention the tarmac needed for the roads?  And what about electricity, how are we going to be able to provide the energy levels that we enjoy now? 

These are all questions that need to be taken seriously and we need to start looking for the answers.  In looking forward, we need to look back to how we lived before we all became part of the capitalist system.   I have always envied and admired the Native Americans and their lifestyle before ‘old whitey’ landed.  They lived sustainably and didn’t desecrate the land the way we do.  Christopher Columbus didn’t have to wade through rubbish dumps, or slum housing and ghettoes when he landed in the Americas .  The first Europeans thought they had found the Garden of Eden, as the land was so pristine and abundant with food.  We need to find some middle way between our technology and our resources so that we can take all the scientific and technological achievements and marry them in such a way as to create a society that can sustain itself and work for everyone together not just for those at the top.  And to be able to do it without ravaging the planet, because this is one area where we will all be in it together and if we don’t start making real plans then there are some very dark days ahead for our children and grandchildren.

(The Native American communities are being ravaged by alcohol.  The Lakota Sioux in South Dakota are trying to raise money to build a healing centre to help deal with the problems that alcohol is causing on the reservation and to care for children when their parents can’t.  It is called Oceti Wakan, which means Sacred Fireplace.  If you wish to donate you can log on to their website, just type in Oceti Wakan and you’ll find it)

 

 

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The Demon Drink

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 18 Aug 2021, 17:40

Back when I was a teenager, (about 10 years ago, no really, it was!!!) there was a group of men in our town who were known as the local wino’s.  Now, I remember seeing them drinking down along the water wall, next to the river.  I recall seeing them drunk but not falling down drunk.  I never saw any of them passed out on the street or being sick, and they all lived into their sixties and seventies.  Looking back now, these men almost seem like paragons of temperance and moderate drinking compared to what I see on the streets around me now.  We Irish like to portray ourselves as the ‘easy going, happy drinker, just out for the craic’, but the truth is, we are the world's drunk.  

This is not the land of the ‘happy drinker’, it is the land of the serious alcoholic.  It's hard to believe this country was once known as the 'Land of Saints and Scholars'.  (The saints are thin on the ground now and the scholars have emigrated)  Alcoholism is endemic in our society, and the fall out from it reverberates into every area of our lives whether through days lost at work, the cost to the public purse of medical treatment and court cases, not to mention the long term social problems it causes in families.  The estimated cost of alcohol abuse in Northern Ireland in one year is - £900 million pounds – yes you read that correctly!…….I’ll repeat it for you just to be sure, NINE HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS!!  This is just in the six counties of the North, in a population of less than 2 million people......AND what is the government solution to stem the cost of all this?

 Well, this is the really fun bit……the first thing that our local  minister is proposing in order to help curb the binge drinking culture, is to allow the pubs to open later……yes, that’s right, in order to stop people drinking more, they are proposing to allow the pubs to open longer……..so that people will be able to…..drink more???!!!!……I kid you not! Ye cuddent mick it up (that’s Ulster Scots, by the way, oh sorry , I forgot, we did that already! See previous post - Belfast Riots) 

The next proposal is to allow children to stay in the pub until 9.00pm so that their parents can drink longer!!  Really, I am not making this up!!! This is also to make us more attractive to tourists, apparently!!  Yes there’s nothing like watching the local clientele drink themselves into a state of emotional tiredness to make your holiday in Ireland complete.  If you’re really lucky, a fight might break out, and think how much more enjoyable this scene will be ,when the local steroid-inflated bouncers come charging in to ‘sort things out’ while a couple of children cringe terrified and crying in the corner.  No holiday in Ireland would be complete without it!! 

 Third on the list, and you are going to love this one…..they propose to put the alcohol behind a solid wall in the supermarket so that you have to buy it separately from your shopping!!!!   Well, that should sort everything out now, shouldn’t it!!  

 Yes I can see it now, picture the scene – two adults who imbibe on a daily basis, find themselves at home on a Tuesday night and the drink has run out, the dilemma…..what will they do now?  Which of these do you think, is the most probable outcome?? 

 Will they:- 

A) Decide they’ve probably had enough and could do with an early night, so they go to bed and sleep it off.

B) Flip a coin to see who will go to the supermarket to check out the latest drink offer but decide the stress and inconvenience of having to buy it at a separate counter from the rest of the store puts them off so they call it a night and go to bed!

Or

C) Phone their local taxi service to get them a carry out from the local off-licence?

 Yes, for our inebriated friends, it’s really not much of a competition is it??  Because we all know addicts would walk through hell-fire to get their drug of choice and would quite happily sell their mother, soul, children into servitude, if it meant getting what they wanted.  Oh, and meanwhile up the hill at Stormont (the NI Parliament), they are still debating minimum pricing!

Meanwhile, down here in the real world, the graveyards are steadily filling up, and every day the social problems grow and grow, passing on a legacy of neglect and abuse from one generation to the next.  There is hardly a family in this country that doesn’t have at least one alcoholic and several problem drinkers.

Now as I previously mentioned, the RAAD (Right (bunch of) Assh*les Against Democracy, I think that’s what it stands for????) are busy shooting and beating up young men for recreational drug use.  Meanwhile, the country is rapidly disappearing into an alcoholic haze of dysfunction and depression.  If they were really interested in ridding this country of it’s drug problem, then they should start with the most damaging and costly drug of all, ALCOHOL!!  

So what could be done to curb the drinking problem?  Well, here’s a few ideas that I would like to propose.  Firstly, restrict the opening hours of off-licences and close them completely for two days a week, say Sunday and Monday.  Better still, let’s close everything on a Sunday.  I’ve been to many countries in Europe and it was a revelation to me that everything still closes down on a Sunday.  Why can’t we do the same, allow the shops to open later during the week if necessary, but couldn’t we all do with a day off from everything.  I remember lazy, quiet Sunday’s when I was young, they were great, we wandered around town and out into the countryside, we had peace and time to explore. 

Next, lower the tax on beer and hike it up on spirits, wine and alco-pops, and remove all tax and VAT from non-alcoholic drinks, like Becks Alcohol Free, which I drink myself and would highly recommend.  (For the record, I'm not a reformed alcholic, I've just seen and experienced too many of the negative effects of alcohol, and I have better things to do with my time and money) 

Next, they could try enforcing the law in relation to age, and prohibit the sale of strong spirits to under 21’s.  It wouldn’t do any harm to ban all advertising that glamorizes alcohol while they’re at it.  So what do you think, not very drastic measures but worth consideration?

And then, maybe we could all start telling the truth about alcohol.  We treat it as our best friend, no occasion is complete without this guest of honour, but in reality, it is our WORST enemy, and who in their right mind would invite their worst enemy into their home and family?  Alcohol destroys families, wastes lives, money and talent, and the long term damage to children is something that would be almost impossible to quantify.  Alcohol needs to be treated with care, because if you don't treat it with respect, it will strip you of yours. So, if you take a drink, enjoy it but remember that the view through the bottom of the glass is a false one and no problem was ever resolved by drinking yourself into a stupor.   Life sober really isn't that bad, I still enjoy a night out but I can drive home at the end of it, I wake up with no 'morning after', my purse isn't empty, and I actually remember the nights events.  So, try it sometime, who knows, you might even grow to like it.

As usual, comments are welcome.

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Riots in Belfast (did they ever stop??)

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 18 Aug 2021, 17:45

As you may, or may not, have seen on the news this week, we had the 'Glorious Twelfth'.  This is where sections of the Unionist and Loyalist community come out to march and celebrate the victory of the Protestant King, William of Orange over the Catholic, King James.  This all happened several hundred years ago but you couldn't beat the Norn (Ire)anders for their long memories!  They make elephants envious!!

Anyway, back in the day, when NI was ruled by Unionists, they could pretty much march wherever they wanted but since we've had 'peace', the nationalist community has decided it doesn't want a load of Orangemen marching down their streets, and they can now object and refuse.  So, in Ardoyne, in Belfast, the two sides live in quite close proximity, so every year, one side wants to march and the other side object.  And every year, as usual, it ends in rioting, with the police stuck somewhere in the middle and bearing the brunt of the abuse, not to mention, of course, the thousands of pounds it costs the public purse! (this is a very simplified out-line, there are numerous sub-texts to all of this, which I really don't want to bore you all with, I've been bored by it for years).

By the way, did you know that there are more 'peace lines' in Belfast now than there were throughout the Troubles!  The politics of NI is like a child with a scab on their knee that they keep picking at!  This was one area the Good Friday agreement seriously missed out on.  They should have banned all commemorations, marches and all other demonstrations that related to Republican or Unionist politics for a period of at least 50 years, to really give us all some peace. 

Do you remember this same debacle, at Drumcree near Portadown, that dominated the news several years ago. Unbelieveably, or not, they're still whinging about it.  What always amazes me about these situations, is how people that thick-skinned can all be so easily offended. 

I think they should tear down all the peace walls and keep the police out of it, and let them knock blue blazes out of each other, until they finally realise that these people are always going to be here, and they are going to have to learn to live with them.

Here's another ironic fact about NI.  Throughout the troubles, the rate of mixed marriages in NI, (ie: between Protestant and Catholic), was one in three!  There isn't a family here that doesn't have a relative or two who have married into the other side. 

Another big step to finally ending all this nonsense, would be to integrate all the schools, unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen as the Catholic Church has a strong grip on the education of Catholic children, which is even more amazing, considering all the paedophile scandals of the last few years!  But we're nothing, if not forgiving (blind) to the sins of our own side.  Urrgghhh! (sorry almost choked writing that last bit!)

Anyway, and so it rumbles on, and on, year after year, after......... zzzzzzzzzzz!!  Sorry, dropped off there for a minute!

'Can't the politicians sort it out', I hear you say, 'don't they have their own parliament over there now, like Scotland and Wales??'

Aha ha aha aha ahh ha ha ahahahhahha!! 

Sorry.....yes we do, our very own wee political meeting house up in Stormont, where they get to argue about how they should spend the pocket money from London.  Tis a joy to behold, the oul enemies of yore, all dressed up in their best suits, playing at being proper politicians and trying to act like the grown-ups in the House of Commons.

AAAHHH HA AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Sorry, or should that have been LOL LOL LOL!!

Sorry, about that, i'm a bit giddy tonight!  Oh, I've just realized, LOL over here, also stands for Loyal Orange Lodge, lol, lol, lol, AGAIN!! 

Och, ye couddent mick it up!  That's Ulster Scots, by the way!  You didn't know I was an Ulster Scots speaker did you, I didn't either but there you go!  Ulster Scots is a language now too!  Well, if the Fenian's (Irish Catholics) have a language, the other side have to have one too. 

'If yer gan awa' hame, mick sure the dooog is a'right.'  That translates to, 'If you are going home please check that the dog is ok'.

I know it sounds like English spoken with a thick Scottish accent but what do I know.......and there isn't one registered speaker of this language either.......maybe I should register......I might be able to get a grant from the Ulster Scots Coouncil.  Och aye, they get thoosands o' poounds a year fer the promotion  o' the 'Ulster Scots Culture and Language'.  They have a big shiny office up in Belfast, it's on Great Victoria Street.......not far from the Bus Centre....it wid be easy te find.  Who knows, maybe a coud git a jawb there...... I could be a translator for English tourists who don't speak the lingo...wat de ye think, eh?

Well, isn't it good to know that while we're all watching the pennies in this time of austerity, that our taxes are doing so much good, and being directed to those areas of greatest need over here in NI!!

 

 

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Bankers again!

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 18 Aug 2021, 17:47

Well, here we go again, another banking scandal, quelle surprise!! 

Yes, because we all know that bankers are honest, hard-working, decent types, only interested in looking after our money and giving us the best deal they can offer!   So what, if they fixed the interest rates, mis-sold mortgages, mis-sold insurance, gave themselves huge bonuses and salaries, screwed up the computers.  Not to mention all those billions they lost.

Well, anyone can make a mistake can't they?  I mean, it's probably not really their fault is it?  If the nasty old governments had just got rid of ALL the regulation, and let them do whatever they wanted, well, they would have sorted things out all on their own, wouldn't they?

When you think about it, it's probably the fault of those poor people and all those benefits cheats who get their benefits paid into bank accounts, yes, clogging up the system, they probably shouldn't even be allowed to have a bank account!!  Because £67.50 a week to live on, if you're a single person, is tantamount to living a life of luxury.  Just think of all the places you can go to and things you can do with £67.50 a week, after you've bought your groceries and paid all your bills.  It's no wonder so many people want to live on the dole isn't it?

It just doesn't compare to Bob Diamond's millions, does it??  Or David Cameron's.  I mean what sort of hardship must David Cameron have grown up in, when everything was handed to him on a plate.  Living a life of privilege, going to the best schools and colleges, never having to worry about what he was going to wear or what he would eat for dinner or if the house would be warm enough in the winter.  I mean, it used to get so frustrating for him, being one of the elite, that him and his mates used to go out and trash restaurants on the weekend when they were pissed.  Of course, daddy paid for it all, because you know it's not like those people in the riots who seemed to think that they were entitled to do whatever they like.  I mean they were vandals, not like David and his pals, well, that was just youthful high spirits, wasn't it? 

I don't know what you mean, double standard, indeed!

And let's not forget the hordes of immigrants who are arriving by the boat-load daily.  If we didn't have all them to worry about we might have noticed what was going on and helped the bankers to look after things better.

You know who I mean, all those people fleeing dictatorships and the like, you know, all those countries that the white Europeans used to own, when they had empires, and those places where they helped to throw over the democratically elected governments and install those friendly dictators who would help the British and American arms industry by buying all those weapons and tanks and things. 

You know, I can't remember them all, well, like we did in Iraq and Iran, helping those backward peoples with their funny religions to find the true path to democracy and capitalism, so they can live like us, burdened with taxes and worried about keeping our jobs, and paying mortgages on our negative equity properties.  Why should they be allowed to live in peace and harmony with nature in their own countries?  We know better than them, everybody knows that!  That's why we had to go there, to teach them, to make them civilised like us. 

HA, HA, HA, Ha, ha, ha, haAAAA!!! 

What are you laughing at? I don't think this is a laughing matter at all!!

Actually, you know you're right, because if this was really true it wouldn't be funny at all......it would be tragic! 

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The Alternative Feminist

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 18 Aug 2021, 17:54

Austerity

(Contains strong opinions, she's angry today, you have been warned!!)

I am angry today, very, very angry, about bankers and the whole austerity package that has been dumped on everyone, everyone that is, EXCEPT bankers and tax-dodging millionaires and billionaires. 

I watched the news during the week about Greece, and it really upset me to see people in such distress, and to hear how the suicide rate is soaring.  This part of Ireland had the dubious honour of the highest suicide rate in Europe at one time, and if you had to live here, believe me you would really understand why, but it's Greece and the banks we're on today, we'll get back to Ireland (North and South) another day.

What I don't understand about the whole austerity/economic crisis is this.

The bankers lent money recklessly, to people who couldn't really afford to be borrowing on the scale that they were allowed to, BY the banks.  Then the banks failed, and they were bailed out of the public purse. Now the 'public purse' is your tax money, which I am sure you all know because I'm sure anyone who reads this blog is intelligent, knowledgeable AND politically aware!!!!

So when they failed, we bailed them out, (by the way do you remember anyone asking you, if you wanted to bail them out, no, neither do I).  So the banks lost all the money, were given all our taxes to 'save' them and they still get to keep all the defaulted property.  And now, they are busy throwing people out of their homes, and taking back properties that rightly belong to us, THE TAXPAYER!!!! 

And here's another thing, why are they not paying back the money they received in the bail out FROM THEIR PROFITS?  WE all have to pay our loans back so WHY DO THEY NOT HAVE TO?????  This is wrong morally, ethically, politically and logically.

So why is no-one else asking these questions, and challenging these bail outs?  Why are the left and the socialists not screaming from the rooftops????

I'll tell you why??  It's because the, so-called party of the left, sold it's soul under Tony Blair and dumped the working classes.  Tony Blair was no child of Labour, he was a Thatcherite, born and bred!!  And if you’re expecting Ed Milliband to do any better, then forget about it, because he really needs to grow a pair, and start standing up for something more than trying to out-soundbite bloody Cameron.  (Wasn’t it great to watch him squirming at Leveson this week???  The whole thing, to quote Baby Herman, ‘STINKS LIKE YESTERDAYS DIAPERS!!!’)

And how did this whole rotten mess begin, well it wasn’t with Gordon Brown as the Tory party would try and have you believe, it began with Thatcher.  She smashed the working class political power base, the Unions (I know they needed some reform but they have been annihilated, helped in no small measure by the whole rotten Murdoch media empire, and those other right-wing rags, you know of whom I speak), and then brought in the so-called Free Market Monetarist policies, which of course led to the opening up of the markets so we all could get rich, lifted all the banking controls and let the market take care of, AND regulate itself, and we all know how that turned out now, DON’T WE??!!!  Yes, because now we’re all rich and happy, aren’t we???  Oooops!

(Just on the subject of the Murdoch rags, it’s amazing how many ‘Irish Republicans’ buy The S** (it pains me to even mention it) and have the satellite dish up on the roof.  They are quite happy to contribute to the media empire of Maggie Thatcher’s old mate and staunch supporter, funny that, but politics is a funny old game, innit?)

Anyway, back to the bankers, and the spineless politicians who won’t stand up to big business, and do the job WE ARE PAYING THEM TO DO.  Remember that, AS LONG AS YOU ARE PAYING TAX, DAVID CAMERON IS YOUR EMPLOYEE, YOU PAY HIS SALARY, maybe, we all need to remind THEM of that.

So, what can we do about it all anyway,  Greece, the whole mess?  Well, here’s an idea, to help the Greeks, why don’t we give them the Olympics, to keep.  Instead of this faffing around the globe every fours years, let the games stay in Greece where they began.  I wonder do they have a copyright on them, or even if you can copyright them?? and give them back the Elgin Marbles while we’re at it.

And why should we?, (I can hear Thatcher’s children cry) well again, I will tell you why, because they are HUMAN BEINGS and they need help.  They didn’t cause this mess, just as most of you didn’t either, but they are paying for it, big time, and let’s be thankful, the REAL Labour men of the past who set up the Social safety net, (so despised by the Right and which Cameron and co.desperately want to get rid of) which just about, keeps us from being completely crushed by austerity.

And let’s start talking politics again, turn off that drivel, X Factor, Y Factor, who gives a crap factor, and lets start DEMANDING that OUR EMPLOYEES start governing this country for ALL the people in this country, and not just for their friends and cronies, and REMIND your Labour politicians of what their party used to stand for, before they were infiltrated by the Thatcherites, and REMIND yourself daily, (or at least monthly) of the working class struggles of the past, RE-DISCOVER the writings of ORWELL, (read Animal Farm and dare to challenge the myth that it doesn’t apply to capitalism) find out about PETERLOO, TOLPUDDLE, the CHARTISTS, teach your daughters about the SUFFRAGETTES: remember the Miners and the Liverpool dockers, and the UNIONS who used to fight for the working classes, and how and why they began.

And if you do all that, you can be sure that when the revolution comes, you'll definitely be on the right side.

And finally and MOST importantly, when you have done all that, put on  a black beret with a star on the front, and shout out loudly and clearly while punching the air -

POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!!!

(And if you don't know what that means, make it your business to find out, or else, just ask someone who lived through the 70's!!)

 

 

 

 

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Elections and Votes

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 18 Aug 2021, 19:11

Looking at the results of the local elections in Britain, I have to say I find it very disappointing to see how low the turnout has been, although considering how democracy has been subverted for many years now, it’s hardly a surprise that people have lost faith in the political system.  I think this is due in part to the fact that there is no mechanism for appeal once a party has been elected, so the politicians can promise all sorts during the campaign trail, but once in office, they can do what ever they like which, of course, they have done and there is no one to stop them or make them follow through on the promises they made. 

 I also think we are still suffering the fall out from the Thatcher era.  Her attack on the unions, strongly backed by a right-wing media (I for one, am delighted that the past is finally catching up with Rupert Murdoch and his whole media dictatorship, having been railing against him for years) has left the working-classes without a way into politics or a strong voice that truly represents them. 

 All the political parties are now populated by upper/middle class public school boys who have no idea how the other 95% of the population live.  That the front bench in the House of Commons is full of millionaires, speaks volumes about our so-called democracy.  Where is the voice of the working-classes in Parliament?  Even the so-called left wingers seem so egotistical and arrogant that they don’t really speak for ordinary people any more, with the exception of Dennis Skinner and, since Tony Benn retired, they are becoming thinner on the ground and there does not seem to be any new blood following in their steps.  Politics is now a career for the upper middle-classes and they work in the interests of one group, and one group only, their own. 

The whole class system too, is part of the problem.  The most obvious example of this is the House of Lords.  The whole idea of an unelected upper house based on class and privilege is so anachronistic in the 21st Century and completely subverts what is supposed to be a democracy.  Why should these people have this right?  It supports privilege for some and exclusion for most of the rest of us.  How can Britain even claim to be a democracy when this system remains in place.

 What is really needed is political reform, but how is that going to be achieved when it is in the interest of the ruling classes to maintain the status quo?  The truth is, is that those who now rule, are not the least bit interested in democracy but are only interested in self-promotion and self-protection for themselves and their own social class.  And I’m really going to p*ss off the middle-classes with this next statement because I believe that they too, are partly to blame for the situation. 

The class system is elitist and unfortunately too many aspire to be part of it.  I don’t believe in the middle-class, and if you think of yourself as middle-class then you are, in my eyes, a working-class snob.  What does it even really mean to be middle-class, other than you have more money and a bigger house (or should that be mortgage, another con, but a subject for another day) than someone who is called working-class.  Middle class is an illusion, you either work for a living or you don’t, and to divide people into class groups is nothing more than social apartheid, and is every bit as disingenuous and damaging, as the racial apartheid that existed in South Africa.

 So how do we resolve the political apathy that exists?  Well, firstly, I would like to say thank-you to all those who did turn out to vote, at least you made the effort.  To all those who didn’t vote or who haven’t voted for years, I challenge you.  If you are so disillusioned with the system and those self –serving politicians, then put yourself forward for election next time.  Go forward as an independent, and let’s start a campaign to fill Parliament with independents at the next General Election, because your vote IS your voice and if you don’t use it, even if it is to spoil it, then you shouldn’t even be allowed an opinion. 

 Politics affects every area of our lives, and almost seventy per cent of the people who were entitled to vote, didn’t even bother to turn out.  Now, what if those seventy per cent had turned out and voted for the most politically independent candidate on the ballot paper?  Or just for the fun of it, voted for anyone as long as they were not a candidate for any of the big three?  What kind of difference could that have made?  Because it isn’t just one vote, it amounts to millions when used collectively or not, as the case may be.  Opting out resolves nothing, if you want to change it, then you have to get in there and do something about it, otherwise things will just remain the same. 

 And when you do get in, remember why you are there.  Get rid of the House of Lords, and while you’re at it, do your best to dismantle the class system, and that means removing the Queen from Parliament.  The monarchy is an out-dated system and doesn’t really have a place in a truly democratic society.  I have nothing personally against the Queen, she seems like a really nice woman, she can still be Queen if that’s what people want, but an honour’s system that confers titles, again supports the social elitism of the class system and she doesn’t have any political power, so why is she even there?  I read in the paper today about a move to bring in changes to the Honour’s system by removing Empire from titles and instead give awards that are more reflective of the reality of life in Britain today.  Rather ironic that the Queen’s Lord Lieutenants are more in touch with the social reality of Britain, than our so-called Parliamentary democracy!!

 And remember too, that when elected, regardless of who has, or who has not voted for you, you have a moral obligation to govern in the best interests of all the people in the country, because the business of government, is the business of the people, and the business of the people, is the business of government.  This means, that government has a moral obligation to work in the best interests of the entire population and that the population too has a responsibility to be aware of what their government is doing, and to hold them accountable for it, and the only way we have of doing that at the present time IS WITH YOUR VOTE.  So please, use it!

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A little bit of politics

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 13 Nov 2015, 13:34

I wrote this poem last year on my creative writing course but it was much shorter and didn't seem finished, so now I have finally finished it, I hope you enjoy it.  Comments are welcome

Austerity

The stated precedent of the Condem Government is:

To implement cuts to pay off the deficit.

When greedy bankers and free market Capitalism

Dramatically failed, they were saved by Socialism

And still they demand no tighter regulation

To control their gambling and reckless speculation

Even when it leads to third-world starvation,

Because profit is their only consideration.

And their biggest worry is double-dip recession,

Which if it lasts longer, will be a depression.

‘There is no alternative’ says Thatcher’s next generation.

‘Someone has to pay for this economic devastation’

As they roll out the old policy of privatization,

(Which also demonstrates their complete lack of imagination),

To sell off to the few, what belongs to the nation

And the cost will be yours and your children’s education.

Along with your health and your old age pension

While blaming the poor for the whole situation

Not to mention that other old chestnut- immigration

Because every government failure needs a scapegoat to aim for

And tomorrow the finger might be pointed at your door.

So, the next time there is a general election

Think carefully before you make your selection

And vote in the best interests of the entire population

Not for Oxbridge boys and their corporate connections

Who deceive us with rhetoric and tabloid machinations

In their lust for power and without any consideration

For the debt, they’ve dumped on future generations.

Because this legacy of poverty has been laid down for posterity

But not for the millionaires who’ve Condemned us to austerity

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