Tuesday, 31 December 2019

2020Vision

Lessons learnt, from Dominic Cummings, 
regarding slogans in 2019...


What do we want? 
“2020Vision!”
When do we want it?
“Tonight!”

What do we cheer?
“March for New Year!”
What do we shout?
“Fake News Out!”

What do we want?
“Truth in the news”
“No hate in the views”
“Left, Centre or Right!”

What will we do?
“March once again”
Who are we?
“A million who Remain”

To what are we true?”
“Honesty, equity”
“Probity,  charity”
“Verity, unity”
“Clarity, parity”
“Victory!”

So what do we say
In a simpler way?

“GET GOOD DONE!”


Monday, 9 December 2019

3 Days to save the UK

I wrote this, privately, to a number of friends today and several thought I ought to publish it more widely...

Dear Friends,

I thought you'd like a catch up on how things are...

3 days to go and I’m really very upset by how things are... I'm in quite a state actually... yet another sleepless night.  I’m OK but never felt so much a stranger in my own town and locality. Maybe it’s living in the old “Redbelt” of Labour heartlands, now bruised blue and becoming a Johnson/Trump “Rustbelt”.  I live in Bolsover and regularly visit Ashfield and, less so, Mansfield.

It’s an incessant drone hearing and a headache reading such right wing and pro Johnson stuff on social media. Hate to say it but I’m even finding myself spotting the kind of people (7 out of ten?) who voted Brexit and are likely to vote Conservative in this area where I live.  It’s a tribalism in me and I despise myself for getting this way.   And then I become pathetically patronising feeling, “I know best what they need".  It's just like, when a teacher, I taught so many local people, and saw those slow in seeing beyond the village boundary...

I remind myself that these are the children of Thatcher who saw what she did to our coal mines and hosiery industry and yet, after years of austerity (that hasn’t touched me financially), they seem to have forgotten.  This amnesia is allowing them to vote for Thatcher's spoilt child Johnson who will to take us out of Europe (which won’t affect this 71 year old much, if at all). So, yes, I am close to despair and fear Friday the 13th...

I pray, yes I pray, and am crossing my fingers. I’d even stand in one leg, if I thought it would help a final surge of sense - “Anyone but Johnson” I cry!  I am arguing in my BLOG and twitter feed for folks to vote tactically....

And this morning I read page 48 of their manifesto... Tory intentions are coming thick and fast now.... and all is not well.... they are becoming Orwell... just read this and be afraid....



ANYONE BUT A CONSERVATIVE

Sunday, 8 December 2019

4 days to save the UK


#Election2019

Abuse that made me stronger
I'd had some pretty awful on-line abuse this week.  This led me to screen-grab, report and block several people, who I’d challenged about their proven fake-news and misrepresentation.  What became obvious was they were spewing out stuff they wanted to be true and were enraged when I pointed this out.   I’ve been challenged, by a few, to state what I really think.... and spent far too much time writing separate replies.  

So, I want my reasoning written down. Doing so I realised I wanted to explain to my 4 Grandchildren what I tried to do in 2019 when we were faced with such a big decision...A sort of "What did you do in the war Granda?" I wrote this first on Facebook and I have been warmed by the responses, on-line and directly.... 
Spot on John! - Magnificent effort John - Brilliant, so right and deep down honest. - I'll be holding my breath on the 12th.- Well said John, thoughtfully put together and yes, in agreement. Keep strong! - Well said John - I can't understand why so many people can't get some good common sense into their vision of Britain's future - Thanks for the honesty - Could have said all that myself but not as well - Thanks - Food for thought, thank you - I'm hoping I gain sufficient wisdom to do my bit to assist our region, our country and a brighter future.

an updated version....

What did you do in the Election Grandad?



I despaired but I acted..

I’ve been active on Social Media, Blogging, tweeting Facebooking and, as we get closer to #Election2019 I’ve been (increasingly desperately?) trying to encourage people, on-line, to look at the facts, the statements actually made, and at what proper arguments are being offered.  A lot of my current work (ironically about encouraging Critical Thinking - more on that in 2020) has been put aside because I wanted to try and affect voting intentions.  I can't understand why most of my fellow countrymen and women seem to be carrying on as if the election is not happening!  We seem to sleepwalking into a potential disaster.  Even worse many are not thinking critically, or deeply, or even at all about their vote.  I’ve despaired, especially, about the amount of blunt opinion offered as fact, tribal labelling and band-wagoning, sharing of unproven posts and lies, in this campaign.  This has been especially true of the Conservatives but other parties have been at it, albeit at a less blatent level.


My thinking

Politics is not simple but we only have one cross.... this BLOG is about where my cross will go - some may be surprised....
First, I’m no longer a member of a political party.  I left Labour years ago, at Corbyn’s unwillingness to work with all his MPs and his lack of leadership skills - yes he dithers.  I often like his eventual landing places but he misses the bus far too often.  I do flirt with LibDems but find the Revoke stance really problematic. I have rarely felt trust for the Conservatives since the damage done by Heath and Thatcher but I have warmed to some individual Conservatives...
I am attracted to straight, honest, liberal minded politicians and thinkers who want to build a more caring, inclusive and thoughtful society - one that looks after all our fellow citizens. So, I have come to realise I’m not a “party political” animal. 
I see decent people in all parties, except the extreme right and far, far left. But we are all seeing fewer in the Conservatives, after Johnson’s bizarre, pique of a purge, of people like Dominic Greive and Sarah Wolstenholm. There are many good politicians in Labour, LibDems, Greens, SNP & Plaid and amongst the Independents.
I am sure I can judge the goodies - because I read and follow politics. Why can't more of us spot the best?  I'd argue these best politicians can be defined as having ethics and values upheld by all the major religions (not the extreme wings) and by the sensible Humanists.  The goodies are perhaps best described as believing (as I passionately do) in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and Rights of the Child.  Read these and dare to disagree UN Rights   If I’m pushed for a labels I’d say I'm a Liberal Socialists, a Christian Democrat....

3 Big policy areas will affect my vote


FIRST I’m convinced that our biggest threat to us all is the Climate Emergency - so that’s crucially important for my vote.
SECOND  of course is Brexit BUT (and this is important) I do not think Brexit was, or is, actually about Brexit - it was about successive and recent (esp Tory) governments ignoring huge swathes of the population, largely the poor, for years.  So, those disadvantaged by austerity, rebelled when they were offered a too simple a solution and told to how to vote.  We all know, deep down, we were duped and lied to in the (advisory) referendum in 2016.   I think and believe that Brexit would be a huge, mistake for, if nothing else, the spiritual truth that we are better off working with our neighbours - even though it’s tough and there are clearly issues to be put right in the EU.
I am not convinced, like so many seem to be, by the far too simplistic “Get it done” - it will not be done by the first act of withdrawing - read the words.... The trade deals will give us years of more wrangling... and I fear this could well herald to an even worse NoDeal in 2020.

THIRD (and linked to BREXIT) is Austerity. This has been a massive body blow to our communities up and down the UK. I have spent two decades working, professionally, in over 80 Local Authorities in England, Wales and Ireland - stemming the decline of Education and Community Services and helping build new strategies and sole-trader businesses to try and cpe with demand.  I have seen how austerity has hits schools and services for young people hard, really hard.  It must be stopped and reversed.
Ask me which politicians will act to deal with my BIG THREE and you’ll get a long list of names.  To repeat I see them in almost all parties (except the extreme right and far right) but fewer in the Conservatives after Johnson’s purge. There are many good politicians in Labour, LibDems, Greens, SNP, Plaid...

The main task is Rebuilding a divided UK

My careful reading, discussing and critical thinking led me, in 2016, to what I think is a sensible “rebuilding the country policy” of putting any actual deal to leave the EU in a People’s Vote against "Remain".   I argued this for Theresa May's 2018 deal, Boris Johnson's 2019 deal and would do for Jeremy Corbyn's 2020 deal.  This is the only way I can see we, as UK citizens, having a chance to vote on a reality and not on a travesty of lies, false facts, conjecture, opinion and unclear outcomes .  That's why, I've been on all 4 of the People's Vote Marches.  I cannot see why more of us can't see the logic here....  Yes let's Get it Done but for, all our sakes and especially the poor, the vulnerable and the young -let's take time to do it properly.


BUT the BIG issue is now Boris Johnson

BUT as the electioneering draws to a close I’m increasingly appalled at the idea of having Boris Johnson as our Prime Minister!  I dread it happening. It literally keeps me awake at night. He is a proven liar and racist - check the facts in my last BLOG below or click on this LINK.  He has dubious morals and many who know him well describe him as having huge character faults. He is running, or rather being run, as a cowardly, bumbling, hearty fool, who means no wrong.... He’s a better educated Trump and so more dangerous (follow the money). I fear he might win if my fellow countrymen and women continue to fall for this pantomime of a politician and are duped into voting Conservative.

My local constituencies

Johnson’s base, the equivalent to Trump's “rustbelt”, could well become the Leave voting Old Labour areas like Mansfield, Ashfield and Bolsover. I know all 3 constituencies very well - I have lived, taught and worked in them since 1970. There are many people: family friends, colleagues and students I know very well indeed.  I know and fear too many of these are not thinking deeply, or much at all, about politics. I also know they are prey to fake-news and that they are being agitated to vote tribally. The Conservatives are targeting these areas and I can hear those I know mutely mouthing the slogans.... "Take back control, Get it Done,"  Local Facebook groups are rife with the lies and awful slurs of the right with racism, supremacy and jingoism being celebrated.  There is so little proper detail and argument.  That makes me despair.  So, I fear many will vote for Boris Johnson and it was challenging posts on these sites that led to the worst abuse I have ever received last week.  I have accepted I have lost and will lose "friends" and sense, I am seen as a radical in my own country - that's sad but to be seen as a traitor, idiot, enemy of the country - all surrounded by the worst abuse they can muster up. It would be funny if it wasn't so stupid and thank you friends who have messaged support.


So what will I vote?

My constituency is Bolsover -  I really like the Liberal Democrat candidate Mark Fletcher but I can’t afford to split the anti-Tory vote.... sorry Mark.   So, I’ll be voting for Dennis Skinner Labour, as I always have done before.  Yes, I know he's a Brexiteer but, as I sadi, this isn;t simple.  He’s been a brilliant constituency MP but he is being targeted by the Tories and I do believe and respect so his "sea green incorruptability"


My ideal outcome for this election?

I’d want a hung parliament with a high Labour, LibDem, SNP, Plaid, Green, Independent number of MPs who would (have to) form a coalition, with, eventually, a statesman/woman as PM.  I could name a few.  And, sadly, on present performance, Jeremy Corbyn would not be one of these - he does not naturally and quickly enough think strategically as a leader.

And what about your vote?

Well, I'd argue my main point - ANYONE but Boris Johnson as our leader and so a vote for the Conservatives (however good the individual candidate is) is a vote for an educated fool as PM.   

Your only way of being sure that doesn't happen is to be practical and vote tactical.  Remember, splitting the anti Johnson vote might mean he gets in with fewer votes that those against him. 

Check out these sites and weigh in what you know about local circumstances.  



May the force of thought be with you.





Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Leadership is ethics, honesty and action


it’s not about being a silent witness


I’m at a dinner party with my oldest friends, after years apart.  We’re talking, as only old friends can do, openly and honestly about who we once were and what we’d become.  We get to the loss of integrity in public life and onto politics and there is a sudden, complete and heartfelt sadness amongst us.  We speak of the lies, the deceit and misrepresentations, the fake-news, falsehoods and the gullibility of so many of our fellow citizens. We arrive at the inevitable… What can we do?

The Dinner Party
We begin to tell our stories.  At my turn, I say I’m not a member of a political party.  That I spent my career in education teaching about and encouraging integrity, honesty, values and living to a set of ethics.  I continued that work In Education and Business Leadership.  My work with www.iAbacus.co.uk now is all about empowering people.  I encourage Judgement and Action based on Evaluation and Analysis of Evidence.   My beliefs are best captured in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.  I want us all, humanity, to work together and make our world safer and more caring.

The others bear witness to their lives and work.  We have an impressive set of achievements and success between us – retirement and a quieter life beckon.  

I go on to explain that, a couple of years ago, I decided to speak up more – to challenge opinion parading as fact and especially lies and falsehoods.  I quote from Hamlet, a play we had studied together in school,

“Above all to thine own self be true and it shall follow, as the night the day, thou can’t be false to no-one”

I explain that if I am to be true, to my beliefs and ethics, I am moved to do something about the future of the poor and the vulnerable.  I have to do what I can to protect our environment threatened by the #ClimateEmergency.   I tell them of www.kes-charity.co.uk   I admit that I’m old and rich enough not to worry about the downturn that #Brexit portends, or Global Warning but I am still working, trying to make a difference.  One of my friends says,

“John, you are right, I too am deeply appalled by it all…. but I don’t want to cause friction and unpleasantness with the people I meet….. so I say nothing”

A visceral reaction boils up - despair turns into anger.  I manage to hold it but still bang my fist on the table,

“No!  You must to speak up... No! When people, like YOU and all you believe stay silent – hope dies, a little more, for the rest of us”

And there we have it – my friend is a Silent Witness - I'd expected more...

A radical in my own country

The activist, teacher, evangelist and leader within calmed me down.  I asked about the other decent people, we know, who are appalled and yet do nothing.  How many good, bright, “Silent Witnesses” are there out there just watching as our Country slides down?  
I explain that being like this, speaking up, challenging, means I've become a radical in my own country.  I’ve lost friendships and business because, yes, I am an activist now –  I’m a staunch #Remainer.  I want to stay in Europe and have been on all the #PeoplesVote marches. 

Peoples' Vote March
I’m trying hard to bend the ears of those happy to swallow the untruths perpetuated by a biased print press and through the millions spent on Social Media Campaigns. These campaigns are working, judging by latest polls and so we need more to act. The good news is I have gained friendships and business too.  I am hurt by the silent looks of disdain and the abuse I get.  I know that I waste time on those who are beyond truth.  Then I am humbled and warmed by the friends and strangers, who thank me for speaking up and beg me to carry on kicking against the pricks.
There was never any doubt that we five parted as friends but what about you, perceptive reader?  What about you?

Are you a Silent Witness?

If so, I’m challenging you - no I'm pleading... maybe it’s time to stop being a #SilentWitness?  
There are just a few days before Election2019.  It’s not too late to speak up and persuade a few others to wake up, think carefully and vote for the best of the politicians parading before us.  We need to help the general population see through the subterfuge, to #wakeup and #speak up.

My view?  All political parties shine their spotlights on what they want us to see but there is now a recurring and proven pattern.  We must recognise we are being duped, through traditional press and social media, especially by the right wing press.  

Months of tabloid propaganda pre Brexit Referendum

Conservative Central Office has become the worst, led by Boris Johnson, led by Dominic Cummins, backed with millions.  Boris Johnson is cynically using the dark arts of manipulation and political shenanigans to win this election, whilst playing the amiable, tough buffoon.

Rebranding and more lies
        

So, what can we do?

We don’t need to get bogged down, too much, in the economics of Brexit and all the messy, muddy, misrepresented policy detail.  Of course, policies are critical and need scrutiny but there is one, crucial, overarching question.  Do we really want a proven liar as our Leader, as our Prime Minister?   This is why I’m arguing one point: #AnyoneButJohnson as Prime Minister.  I’m saying vote Green, SNP, Plaid, Lib-Dem, Labour, Independent.  I’m saying vote for anyone, in your constituency, who can beat the Conservatives in order to stop Boris Johnson becoming PM. Simple eh? 

Why anyone but Johnson?

Why? Because, the evidence indicates the man, in the eyes of many who know him, have worked with him and have fact-checked him: is a serial liar; who speaks, writes and repeats untruths; he misrepresents; promotes false and #FakeNews and has a reputation for lack of application to the work required.  
This is not opinion.  It is fact (see below).  We need to help our fellow citizens see through his “charming bluster” and realise he is a dangerous man and not fit to be our Prime Minister. 
The bus that sold a lie

What’s the evidence?

For anyone in any doubt that #BorisJohnson is a liar - this is the fact-check site to reference.  It was set up by Peter Oborne, a once Conservative supporting journalist, who became deeply disillusioned with Boris Johnson and the lies the Government were promulgating.

All I ask is that you load up the site here  and at the end of Johnson's nose below and follow the links. Then think hard about our future because Leadership is about ethics, honesty and action - it’s not about staying a silent witness.







BORIS-JOHNSON-LIES.COM
Lies told by Boris Johnson and his government.






A further article by Peter Oborne, based on his website is here 




Saturday, 18 May 2019

Mayday in June again.


It's now May 2019 - almost two years after Grenfell
Another National Disaster awaits
The fools are screaming slogans...
The wise are warning us..
The Silent Witnesses are..... silent...

An update of the poem I wrote after Grenfell June 17th 2017

Mayday May Day!


We lay them down in Grenfell Tower
Clad in unintended consequences.
Our very own refugees, lost friends,
Clutching copies of their whistleblowing letters,
Dark reproaches
Posted to their elders, richers and betters
As dawn approaches.














Too late, too late!
The strong, unbolted, stable had unbridled hate.
No more high days, hay days
There are still only Mayday May's days...
This thundering immensity
Fell on deaf ears, bent shoulders, heads bowed.
Who sees any lightening in our sky
Through Grenfell's black cloud?
Aching hearts and dimming hope.
Dulling sensitivity to emergency...
And what of democracy? 


The first of us rise up
Bare teeth fools gesticulating, “Our rights!”
And kick against the pricks.
The chorus is rhetoric
That empty echo trick.
Rasp it out through sore throats,
Spit it out at scapegoats,
Print it on placards in full view
“For the many not the few,”
Or was that,
"We’re all right - Fuck you!”?
The second of us couch potato down
Watching, screens scrolling,
Eyeballs rolling, swiveling.
Keyboards trolling, driveling.
Surfing click and chips
Licking and index fingering.


The third of us just mutter,
“Democracy,” tut and splutter,
“That stupid delusion
Coalition of confusion
Pathetic illusion”.
The fourth of us ponder,
Frowning, thinking it through.
We may question, or dissent,
But fearing the label “troublesome and slow”,
And a last stand in the boss’s office
Him whining, “I’ll have to let you go”.

The final indignity is,
“The politicians’ swerve.”
Loosening their limper grip
On a finely shredded nerve,
We hear them cry,
"This is not what we meant at all
We only came to stand and serve.”
And so they are set free
After settling a suitable fee
They rise in the Commons and plea,
"More time with the family"
Reading a formal, scripted, statement of apology.

Meanwhile, a fifth column forms
These are not enemies of the people...
They are the lonely wise
Who looked up and saw,
Not a moment too soon,
Beyond the moon,
All our reflections in the deep blue sky.
Each yellow star, a prick of light mingled,
Interdependent, not one single.
They turn and ask us, “Why?”













And a woman standing on another Tower
Begins to sing,
"For me, for us, for everyone and everything"
Seeking answers, we vaguely recall...
“Love thy neighbour...
Above all to thine own self be true...”
“If you can keep your head when all around…
“No man is an island…”
“I have a dream...”
“Yes we can...
“For the many and the few”

These bites are all sound
But do they speak to you?

Could there be hope after all?
They forecast more wind tonight
With a hard frost whoring in.
If we hug closer, safer, warm, tight
Are we less vulnerable and small?

Turning away from such troubles
As our evening duties call
We turn to our own vulnerables, small
And bend over our youngsters singing,
“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high,
There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.”
Straightening we leave them sleeping
Hearing our words repeating,
“Dreams that you dare to dream really can come true.”


Yes, let’s dare to dream and teach them
How to face their darkest hours.
We can set their moral compass
On those ivory towers.
We could demonstrate, with care,
How to become aware.
When others oppress, abuse
With alternative facts, fake news.
We can prove that lies are obscene
That grassing up is green.
Then they'd all learn to be tell-tales
And Whistleblow a wind
A breath of life, a righteous gale
To buffet those who sin.
A hurricane of hope
As they speak truth to power.

Let this be our lesson
From that awful, burning Tower.


fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favour of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a fifth column can be overt or clandestine.