The rejection elections

It looks like UK politics is on the precipice of something new.  The recent round of European elections has been aptly dubbed the 'rejection elections'.  The UK political landscape looks bland, it looks desperate, to many it offers little vision.  UKIP superficially appears to offer a vision of taking control back to the people.  They believe they know what's wrong, offering a manifesto along the lines of 'foreigners have come into our country and taken away our jobs and we're tired of listening to the EU telling us what to do'.  Their rhetoric doesn't take us far beyond this.  Why have they taken the lead position in an important national election?

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Valuing Family

Surprised-Baby.jpgMy heart lifted as I heard Ed Balls announce labour would commit to 25 hours of free childcare, while I stood at the Fabian conference some months ago, bouncing up and down trying to keep my baby asleep. Immediately I wanted to know from what age. I got chatting latter to a woman next to me about the complications of having a family and working. We both agreed we wanted more than a commitment to 25 hours free childcare (from I suspect 3 years) we wanted a comprehensive set of policies that would support families in work and address the competition so many people experience between caring responsibilities and paid employment.

In the lunchtime session with the Fabian Women’s society someone pointed out that the disproportionate effect of the cuts on women had not been mentioned in the main meetings so far and that we needed to mainstream feminist politics. I nearly shouted amen before remembering where I was and giving a polite clap instead. Another point made elsewhere was the rampant nature of individualism and the need to articulate the benefits of collectivist action.

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Radical roots and broad shoulders

2014-04-11_16.19.33.jpgI’ve an admission to make. I’m not at work this afternoon. I was, but I’m not now. Andy has gone down to Spring Harvest and I’m supposed to be manning the office, keeping the ship on an even keel and all that.

But I’m not there.

Oh, I forwarded the phone and email to my mobile. So I’m virtually there. But in reality, I’m sat in the pub. It’s a lovely old-fashioned pub with photographs of music hall performers on the walls, a working polyphon in the corner and even a photo of the Queen mum pulling a pint behind that very bar. I would bet that, barring the odd flat screen tv, the place has changed very little in 50 or 60 years.

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What we owe each other

Drawer3.jpgI call it the Man Case. If you’re a father or husband of a particular age, you probably have one too. Some guys have a Designated Drawer or Bespoke Basket. You know what I mean: the one place in the house that is exclusively yours, the place where you keep all your assorted bumf that is either useful for recurring man-tasks (bleeding radiators), sentimental (that ticket stub from the cup semi-final a couple of years back) or apocalypse-averting (your replica Swiss Army Knife with the built-in horse shoe stone-remover).

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Are we returning to a world of 'A Christmas Carol'?

  • Marley in his pigtail, usual waistcoat, tights, and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pigtail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel.    -   A Christmas Carol
I am a bit of a geek when it comes to Charles Dickens'A Christmas Carol. I have taught/lectured on it from both the English Literature and the Popular Culture 'angles'. I collect different editions of the book  and interesting ornaments/memorabilia. I have blogged on it and written political parodies on it. So when my latest acquisition - Marley's Ghost - arrived today, I was pretty excited.

As always, when reading/teaching 19thC literature, it is 
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Welfare and poverty: why are church leaders out of step with their flocks?

leadership.jpgIn recent weeks Church leaders of many different denominations have raised their voices about the rise of food banks and the poverty and destitution inflicted on the most vulnerable through the government’s welfare reform as reported by Church Action on Poverty's Niall Cooper and in the Church Times. 

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21st Century Matthew 25:31-46

Then, the King said “I was hungry and you told me that it was my own fault for being lazy and believing that I was entitled to help from hard working families and that I’d probably spent all of my money on alcohol, cigarettes and drugs anyway.

I was thirsty and you assumed that I was desperate for gin or vodka, rather than water.

Matthew_25_40.pngI was naked and you said that I would have more chance of a job if I took more care of my personal appearance, even though I wore all I could afford.

I was poor and you told me I was a scrounger who just wanted to sponge off the state and put stories about me on the tv and newspapers, despite knowing nothing about my circumstances.

I was sick and you denied me any help, told me to go back to work and assumed I was faking illness in order to scrounge.

I was in prison and you demanded that the key was thrown away and that I was kept away from all respectable, law-abiding members of society because I was a bad person who could never change.

I was a stranger and you ran, scared of me, told me to go home, that your country was full and that I was only there to steal your money, possessions and jobs.

For I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it to me."

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The Ultimate Act Of Solidarity

eappi1.jpgSolidarity. It’s not a fashionable word these days, but in the Labour movement, it’s one of our most cherished values. However much the big corporations want us to believe otherwise and however much they spend on elaborate advertising campaigns at Christmas, there are unbreakable ties that bind us together. We’re not individual units of consumption, in splendid isolation. We’re interdependent, and nowhere is this more evident than in the church, at its best.

 

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Benefit sanctions - ineffective and immoral

jobcentreplusFood banks and job clubs, run by churches and community organisations around the country are reporting increased numbers of destitute people asking for emergency help, who come to them with the story “I’ve been sanctioned”. Greg Smith, a member of Christians on the Left, explores just what that means in a blog that first appeared on church action on poverty's website. 

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History of our movement

logoblend.pngAt the start of a new chapter, we thought it fitting to publish the history of our movement. We're proud of our past and proud of the future we're creating.

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