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  • Nous Sommes Humain

    Sigh, humanity sigh. The events of Friday night have hit me hard, not because I knew anyone there, not because I particularly love France, not even particularly because of the events themselves but because of my ever failing belief that humanity is good.


    12234899_10156135290865198_3323675452904096305_n.jpgIn short the events of Friday 13th November 2015 saw 120+ civilians killed in terrorist attacks in the French capital, civilians who were enjoying a night out at a rock concert or at various bars, they did not deserve to die.

    The aftermath saw millions take to twitter and Facebook in shock over the atrocities that had occurred in Paris but then the tide turned, for a lot of people the shock turned to anger and that anger got spilt out towards more people that didn't deserve it; refugees. Facebook became awash with hatred "close our borders", "don't let the immigrants into our country" I am ashamed to say people I regard as friends were speaking this rubbish.

    The current refugee crisis is caused by millions upon millions of poor people who are unable to live in their own countries, often the country that they grew up in and love, because they are running from the same terrorism that hit France last night. Whilst the emergency service were still fighting the cause in Paris, anti-migrant groups in Calais set fire to a refugee camp. This horrible retaliation, which dragged precious resources away from the incident in Paris is for some unknown reason not being reported in the same way that Paris is being treated, yet it is the same story, innocent people being attacked by terrorists.

    This horrible tit for tat mentality is exactly what terrorists want, what better propaganda is there for enticing people to join extremist groups is there than showing innocent Muslims being attacked by evil Westerners. It is no coincidence that fake Syrian passports were found near the sights of the bombings despite 7 out of 8 attackers already proven to be French nationals. It is all to provoke further rash outcries to use as more and more propaganda.


    paris.jpgThe worst thing is, even without these tactics from terrorists our own press provide enough hatred and vitriol to easily go around. Before the attacks took place I was reading the Evening Standard on the tube and read the front page article about the death of Mohammed Emwazi, dubbed Jihadi John. I found the article particularly unpleasant, glorifying the death of this man saying that he had been 'Vaporised'. It went on to mock that he was bullied at school.. Now this to me points to a man who was crying out for help and unfortunately found it in the arms of a terrorist organisation. To me this shows the failings of British society that allows children and young adults who need guidance to fall under the radar. This paper, read by hundreds of thousands of people every day is spouting such hatred that sadly a lot of people take at face value and thus this cycle of hatred keeps on going.

    For me this all comes down to one fact, if one person wants to kill another person whether it be in the name of 'religion', revenge, war, whatever there is something wrong with them. As humans we all can see our own mortality and to want to take that away from somebody else is not natural. People committing these atrocities aren't well, they need help and fuelling their vulnerabilities with hatred will not work. 

    Imagine in the light of this the West said, lets not send in more air strikes, lets show that we can be the better people. Let us publicly display more affection towards the refugees and the horrible plight they are escaping from. That message of Peace will be a lot harder to use to recruit more members.

  • Labour Leadership: Who to vote for?

    Well, this isn't a feeling I have had all too often. In my voting lifetime I have always been supremely confident in who I was going to vote for and I am happy to say that to this day it has been Labour all the way. Sure I have flirted with the idea of voting Green or even Socialist but in my heart I had always known that Labour provided closest to what I was looking for. The 2015 election was no different apart from that I really did believe in Ed and his policies but Labour lost convincingly and now the party is in a complete mess! 

    I believe 2015 wasn't lost on policy but on a lack of cohesion in the party and that has been never more apparent than in the leadership election that is currently ensuing. 4 very different candidates vying for one position;


    Andy Burnham: White Male, 45, MP for Leigh since 2001 and former Cabinet Minister 

    Yvette Cooper: White Female, 46, MP for Normanton, Pontefract & Castelford since 1997 and former Cabinet Minister

    Jeremy Corbyn: White Male, 66, MP for Islington North since 1983

    Liz Kendall: White Female, 44, MP for Leicester West since 2010


    Above you will see pure facts and from those you can get very little of substance so we dig a little deeper to where their politics lie and why we'd vote for each. So on a rudimentary political paradigm, Corbyn is on the Socialist Left, Burnham and Cooper are moderates and Kendall is on the Right of the party. Ok so at this juncture I will throw in my first two cents and drop a candidate.

    19.jpgThe Labour party, founded in 1900 as a bastion of hope for the underprivileged of the UK, was formed as an opposition to the Conservative party, a party full of wealthy land and factory owners who's oppressive and greedy ways kept the rich rich and the poor poor. So now why do the Labour party have a candidate who has no distinguishable difference from the Conservatives of today, she refuses to rule out further privatisation of the NHS and backs plans for hefty welfare cuts. Her arguments for success are that she can win back the swing voters in seats such as the famous Nuneaton and I'm sure that is valid as they have most recently voted Conservative and are likely to want the same again, what she neglects to realise is that in doing so she complacently forgets about the Labour core who are turned off by her views. So I am glad to see that Kendall lies in last place in the polls as it would suggest I am not on my own in thinking like this.


    But now is where we get to the real meat of the situation and where my problem lies. On paper Corbyn is my candidate, I locate myself on the left and find the vast majority of what Mr. Corbyn talks about to be similar to my own beliefs. Beliefs that everyone should pay their fare share to help others and that war is fundamentally wrong. 

    4016.jpgBurnham and Cooper find themselves somewhere in between Corbyn and Kendall and although don't cater fully to my political whims they do so as much as any previous Labour chief has and every now and then they come out with something which I really like, so much so that for the early weeks of the election campaign I was torn between the two, Cooper possibly edging out Burnham as although Corbyn satisfied my socialist desires I didn't think of him as a plausible or likely leader, sighting the 1983 General Election as my proof.


    I was fairly set but then came the Welfare Bill, a dedication from the Conservative Government to make £12 Billion in cuts to welfare over the next Government. Corbyn unsurprisingly was strong and voted against the cuts that would hit the poorest in society the most. Kendall stayed strong to her beliefs too she agreed with the temporary leader Harriet Harman and said that the proposed cuts were in essence correct and abstained as was party line. But then we had Burnham and Cooper who vehemently disagreed with the bill like Corbyn but decided to abstain, letting the Bill through with ease. From this moment forward I had been a Corbynite, an honest man who stuck to his morals no matter what instead of weak yes men who will quite happily say one thing to your face and another behind your back. Again the country seemed to agree and the Corbyn bandwagon hasn't slowed down since, overflowing rallies and an increase in membership on unprecedented levels.

    jeremy-corbyn_3341664b.jpgMy views on Corbyn as a plausible leader too had changed, this surge in popularity was telling me that in fact this is what a lot of people want and as leader I believe that he could do a lot of good but, and there always is a but, I still can't see him winning a General Election. I do believe that in opposition Corbyn would force the attention of the media on some atrocities that are allowed to happen under the current Government, the housing crisis, the joke that is the minimum wage, the cost of trident, tax avoidance, tax evasion, the list is endless. In doing so my hope would be that as a result these issues could no longer be ignored and that even were he to lose the 2020 General election, that the political landscape in the UK would have shuffled to a more appealing position and that by 2025 there could be a quality alternative. 


    The last few days though my bubble has been burst, the tirades or abuse from the right wing of the Jeremy-Corbyn-11_3328948k.jpgLabour party has been incessant and the silence from the Conservatives have been deafening. If Corbyn was to become leader surely he would then open up to an even more unpleasant scrutiny from the other side, saying that it is hard to think it can get much worse than the deeply unpleasant bile coming from Tony Blair. Already he has been called anti-Semitic for his pro-Palestinian stance and will likely suffer similar for his association with the Irish Republicans. The press would overload anything positive he did with ten times as much rumour and speculation. True he does not have a perfect record but I am sure none of them do but the press won't be as hard on people that they will benefit from or at least perceive that they might do so. The opposition within the party too wouldn't die down and a split would be quite likely as the voices of Labour past would never be too far from the foreground. However disappointing I may find it I think a Corbyn Premiership may well be self destructive despite it being what I really want.


    So I am stuck. I still have Kendall firmly on the do not vote list but I have to make a choice between the bland Cooper/Burnham leadership that in reality will be slightly left of Blair, slightly right of Milliband and entirely uninspiring but with a reasonable chance of becoming PM especially after five years where cuts will hurt or a Corbyn leadership that in a perfect world would be a perfect solution but with a general public who tend to be on the greedy side of aspirational and a poisonous press who again would rather tell the stories that keep them rich and powerful than the ones that really matter, would probably result in another 10 years in the Tory Wilderness. I unfortunately think that in writing this I have chosen what I didn't want to be the right answer.    


  • Why I don't buy Red Poppies

    For most of my life I have been buying poppies once a year from the Royal British Legion without really thinking about why. It has only been the last couple of years that I've really sat down and thought about it.

    The Poppy Appeal was originally set up as a way to help the families of those whose lives had been torn apart by the Great War. It was never intended to be something that was continuous as it was hoped, maybe naively, that it wouldn't be needed because the world would see how devastating the war was and would try to avoid it in the future. 

    But of course more war happened and more war happened and now here we are in 2014 and what has the Poppy Appeal become? Yes it is still raising money to help families but it seems to have lost its other equally important message, that war is dreadful and destroys the lives not just of those fighting but also the civilians who live in the areas invaded . 


    But it is this picture that has led me to write this message today, the picture of what I saw in Kingston town centre just yesterday. The Poppy Appeal team parading around with a military vehicle, a vehicle designed to kill and cause damage, children going up and having their photograph with it. It's disgusting, this is GLORIFYING war. "Look kids, you could grow up to drive one of these and kill some nasty foreigners"

    Why is this glorification of war allowed to happen? Rather than a symbol for death and despair of what has past, I fear the poppy is being used as a symbol of Pride for the British army, of Pride that the Brits keep attacking other countries for little to no reason, at my most cynical it is being used as recruitment for a future generation of killing machines. No war is necessary and in this country nobody is forced to join the army, no one is forced to go out and kill. The military it is a choice made by the individual and drives like this are trying to show war as a glamorous career choice.

    I am by no means suggesting that the work carried out by the Royal British Legion is not worth while and you would hope that it is, according to their website the Poppy Appeal raised £36.6 million last year and I imagine this year that amount will be far higher due to the centenary. Once these soldiers have gone to war and assuming they survive, they ruin their own lives from the trauma that they have seen, they NEED psychological help a lot of the time just to get back to living normal lives but you don't see the Poppy Appeal handing out pamphlets on Mental Health Problems. 

    And now to the Government, in raising money for the Poppy Appeal it relieves the Government from having to deal with the repercussions of the wars that they start. Imagine that £36.6 million for rehabilitation had to come from their budgets, maybe the wars wouldn't look so lucrative after all? 

    20141109_153527.jpgSo anyway this year I have decided that rather than giving my money to a charity that unintentionally, in my eyes, is part of the problem I have donated to the Peace Pledge Union and am wearing a White Poppy this year and showing my support for Peace! A charity that since 1934 has been tirelessly campaigning for a warless world. If you want to do the same you can donate, buy a white poppy or just read about the work they do by clicking this link; 


    Even if you don't agree with anything that I have said here, I hope I have at least made you think about why it is you wear a poppy.