My dad, politics, bluebells and UKIP

As I walked my fathers dog this morning, I noticed that the Bluebells were showing themselves amongst the green growth of spring. A year ago I wrote this post as a homage to my dad and his passionate belief that engaging with politics is a civic duty, an entitlement to vote which we must not squander, an ability to speak our minds and criticise those in power gifted to us by those who came before. He was already talking about this election a year ago, he knew it was going to be interesting and was looking forward to engaging in the election  process. The day after the election will be exactly one year since he died. My mother is finally listening to music again, watching Jools Holland this week and asking me to find out about some artist that my dad would have liked. I have stopped automatically going to email  my dad links to interesting articles, I still haven’t deleted his email address and still wish I could ask his opinion on the latest political story, each of us taking turns in the role of devils advocate, ever argumentative.

Three weeks ago my father died, he had not been ill, he was comparatively young at 65, he was passionate, intelligent and most importantly he was my cheerleader .. In his eyes I could hardly do no wrong and if I did it was forgiven quickly and completely. He was a surrogate father to my daughter when her own father left, he made sure that she and I had a holiday each year. He filled my house full of wonderful objects found in French flee markets and small auction houses. He gave me my love of music, a sense of style and a deep and passionate interest in politics.

He grew up in Cotteridge, a solidly lower middle/working class neighbourhood of Birmingham. His father, the son of Catholic Irish immigrants, worked for the council as a clerk and his fiercely intelligent mother .. she taught herself languages, worked in war munitions and then did the traditional thing of looking after the home. When he was 19 he met my mother, she took him to meet her parents in Sussex and when they passed a field full of bluebells he made her parents stop the car so he could go and take a look, a city boy full of wonder at a field full of blue – just last month he urged me to go for a walk with him in the woods by his home to see the bluebells. He was endlessly interested in everything and for the last year he was fascinated by the rise of UKIP.

My father voted in every election. He voted for the same party his whole life, a socialist to the core he despised Thatcher and all she stood for. He could not understand how labour voters were being hoodwinked by ukip, a party that would extend the Thatcherite legacy in the direction of her beloved Pinochet. Whilst he rose up the ranks of management in Sainsburys, his colleagues became ever more likely to be tories and yet he never moved to the right, never flinched from his belief that the state has a role to play in protecting the individual.

To him Nigel Farage was akin to Enoch Powell and Oswald Mosley. Preying on people’s fears by blaming a minority in the community, great orators but lousy people. He had witnessed it growing up as an Irish Catholic in Birmingham .. the demonising of a group. My father taught me that the real problems were not down to individuals or minority groups but an economic system that favoured a few whilst exploiting the rest. Ultimately he saw UKIP and it’s brand of libertarianism as selfish. A desire to protect the rights of some to say and do as they wish whilst removing the rights of others to be protected from their actions by the state.

He saw the right to vote as sacrosanct, a view that he passed on to me. If we do not vote we allow the passionate on the fringes to dictate to the rest of us. It does not take long to vote, it’s not a chore. It’s a right, hard fought for by generations of women and men. Generations who would now be horrified to see a party gain power that wishes to remove the fundamental rights that have been gained in the last 50 years for the ordinary working person.

My father was flawed, of course he was, we all are. He was opinionated, occasionally overly so. He had little patience with ignorance or laziness. He was way to fond of telling his 43 year old daughter to get a hair cut! But, he stuck to his principles. When he was disillusioned with new labour he did not throw the baby out with the bath water, as so many have, instead he worked hard to influence the party from the inside.

For Christmas this year he gave me a years subscription to the New Statesman and The spectator .. He never wanted to tell me what to think politically but he wanted to ensure I was always informed. For the next six months every Friday I will be reminded of my dad as I open both and settle down to read. I will continue to rail against the right, ukip the tories and others. I will always vote, I won’t sit back and and I will never allow a few to dictate to the majority.

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Why UKIP the libertarian party has morphed in UKIP the racist party.

I wrote this as a letter to a UKIP member who failed to understand my position on libertarians. The last few days show what happen when a libertarian party allows the FOS without responsibility that the rest of society expects. We have two of your senior members shaming the party and not really seeing what they have done wrong. You have let the racists in and now they rule the roost!

UKIP you have long used the idea of libertarianism to “defend”, I use this word intentionally as you do not explain, your position on a range of issues from child care to racism via climate change and stalking. This is my response an open letter to which you may, or may not reply.

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This definition of a libertarian, which your members posted in response to a discussion on racism, is a seductive thing, who would deny the desire to have free will, certainly not any right thinking individual. But I would argue this idea of “free will” is not as seductive as it first appears. I believe that you are sincere in your belief that libertarianism holds the key to a prosperous and peaceful future for all, however what I see is a system that to all intents and purposes is one of the most selfish of all political philosophies. One that UKIP, has flirted with since its conception and yet many of your supporters have no knowledge or appreciation of.

You believe that Libertarians cannot be racist or sexist as you are repelled by the very idea of categorising people by type. Moreover, that because of your belief in free will, you would never challenge any one who does because they are entitled to that view. Therefore people are both entitled to withhold services on the basis of gender, race or sexuality and to hold the view that some people are inferior to others based on gender, race and sexuality. I accept that you may find that persons views as abhorrent as I do and I do not believe that you share those views. What I cannot accept is how you, as a libertarian, feel that the solution to this is to do nothing. That the state and indeed the individual has no authority to use its monopoly of “force” to interfere in the transactions between people or in the ways that their views may affect these transactions.

I once asked a ukip member how a school should deal with child A, who pointing to child B’s skin says “ I don’t like your colour my dad says people of your colour are bad”. I was told that by Caroline Santos that she bought her own children up to be confident and to see such people as silly. I was accused of being authoritarian for expecting the school to take action. For you there is no role for the state, for state read school, in such issues. That it was for the parents of child A to educate them and those of child B to ensure that they accepted that other people held such views but that they are “silly” and to ignore them. This is the libertarian viewpoint of “Free Will” and it the one espoused by UKIP supporters when they argue for the need to remove equality legislation. The belief that all are individuals that there are no categories of people and therefore no need to offer collective protection for groups that do not exist.

I fundamentally disagree with this and not as Daniel Hannan believes because I am a leftist and do not understand that you are not against anyone. But because, Caroline, you believe that that free will for the individual has more value, is more important and takes priority over the protections for the individual that the state big, and small, offers us all. I would argue that in a libertarian state at some point child B will leave the protection of her home and have to deal with those whose views are not libertarian, she may be refused accommodation, be discriminated against in employment or in law. Whilst child A who has not learnt at home the fundamentals of libertarian ideals or been sanctioned for her learnt prejudices will go out into society and use any power “force” that she has to remove the individual rights of others.  

 That UKIP has taken aspects of libertarianism whist ignoring others like the freedom of movement is to be expected. UKIP would argue that we cannot have freedom of movement whilst there is a state providing benefits or wages beyond that provided by other states. I would argue that we cannot use libertarianism to defend inaction in the face of racism, sexism and homophobia whilst the “free will” of many is to collectively group people together and discriminate against them. The state is there to ensure that individuals do not lose out socially or economically for something over which they have no control be it the colour of their skin, their gender or their sexuality

Caroline you said this about me last night..

“I see someone with issues-someone full of bitterness & hatred-someone who manipulates and bully’s! Using racism as trump card”

How wrong you are I see those who discriminate against the individual, for being in a group that they did not chose, as people to be pitied, how they must miss out on the richness of life, how they must fear the future. I feel safe in the knowledge that, although not ideal, there is indeed a state and that should their attitudes impinge on my life in any concrete way that state will sanction them.

Caroline racism, sexism, homophobia these are not trump cards, to be dismissed as isms by those who value individual free will over society. These are things that adversely affect people’s life prospects. Things that demean the individual and take away the holy grail of libertarians the right to determine a contract to exchange your skills for reward without interference. The libertarian believes that interference emanates from the state, I would argue that in fact the reality is that for many the interference is from the individual and is the state and others responsibility to ensure that one person’s free will is not held above the rights of all individuals not to be labelled by circumstances of birth.

UKIP to ignore racism and not to confront is to make one complicit. Furthermore one cannot use a political philosophy that only a few believe in to apply to a wider society that clearly does not believe in individual equality under the law. This is not to say you’re racist, but rather hopelessly naïve and indeed selfish.

once I once read Ayn Rand, putting aside the fact that her seminal work has been appropriated by the EDL loving Pamela Geller, I have also read her essay of 1963 on Racism where I assume you get your views, on quotas and free will. When writing about the demands of civil rights leaders for schools to admit black students she says

“That absurdly evil policy is destroying the moral base of the Negroes’ fight. Their case rested on the principle of individual rights. If they demand the violation of the rights of others” by this she means take away the rights of others to hold racist views and refuse to allow their white children to associate with black children “they negate and forfeit their own”

UKIP I leave you with a quote from Isaiah Berlin in his essay of 1958, Two Concepts of Liberty taken from an excellent essay by George Monbiot  

“no man’s activity is so completely private as never to obstruct the lives of others in any way. ‘Freedom for the pike is death for the minnows’”. So, he argued, some people’s freedom must sometimes be curtailed “to secure the freedom of others”

Next time you see a racist on twitter or indeed as a friend on your face book page consider this; not everyone is a libertarian who holds everyone as equal and as such we owe it to individuals to ensure that the characteristics that they are born with, are not used to hinder their progress by individuals who choose their racist , sexist or homophobic viewpoints.

Perhaps UKIP you should consider that one of the great moral and political philosophies has been the idea of a social contract and yet you are as a party fail to recognise this in many ways.

Lies damn Lies and UKIP Whoppers

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” Friedrich Nietzsche

UKIPs argument is that they are not like other parties they say it like it is …

ukip-election-poster-who-really-runs-this-country

There is plenty of evidence that this is wrong, my problem is when a party that knows its wrong, has admitted in the past it is wrong, still carries on lying.

In 2009 Paul Nuttall was invited onto the radio programme More or Less on Radio 4 to answer why UKIP was using the 75% quoted by Hans-Gert Pöttering to claim that 75% of UK laws are made in Europe. When what he said was that of all the European Laws, the European Parliament is involved in 75% of them as opposed to other European Organisations. When Paul Nuttall was interviewed he accepts that UKIP may have ‘misunderstood’ – or rather they deliberately took a clip of 10/15 seconds and used that to misrepresent what was said. His final comment is “there is nothing more I can say it needs to be looked into”.

Fast forward and for five years they have been using a fake statistic to create a fake idea that we are ruled from Brussels, despite knowing it to be untrue. Then they find a new quote to use, from Viviane Reding. They claim the Truth Is Out .. UKIP Director of Communications Patrick O’Flynn said: “This is a slam dunk moment for those of us who have been saying that a large majority of our laws are made by Brussels.

But wait .. That is not what she said as confirmed by her press office “Vice Pres Reding was referring to the 75% of EU laws that are co-decided by the European Parliament underlying the importance of the democratically elected EP in EU decision making processes”

You can listen to a programme clip to confirm that I am not lying UKIP and the 75%

UKIP have been caught out telling other whoppers.

The Sun on Saturday 12 April published the following correction: “In an article MoT fix axe fears (March 30) we quoted a letter from UKIP containing claims that thousands of MoT test centres could close under EU proposals forcing motorists whose cars fail to go to a different garage for repairs. We have been informed that no such EU proposals exist and are happy to set the record straight”.

“Contrary to Mr Tony Smith of UKIP’s assertions (EU fails the MoT, letters, 9 October 2013), the European Commission is not proposing — and neither is the European Parliament — to prohibit authorised workshops from carrying out MOTs. So people will still, if they choose, be able to get both their MOT and any necessary repairs done at the same garage.

Having an EU framework for roadworthiness testing ensures standards Europe-wide are high — as they are in the UK — and helps ensure unfit cars from abroad are not driving on UK roads or endangering British motorists in Europe.”

That UKIP sent leaflets to Garages to scaremonger owners and their employees is the typical tactic of a party that has no legitimate argument.UKIP

And then there is the BIG LIE

UKIP_White_Cliffs

When they say 4000 EU citizens enter the UK each week they used the ONS figures for 2012/2013. What they do not tell you that the number entering per week is less than than the number of EU and UK citizens leaving each week! The actual figure is a minus one .. you can check the actual figures here To blame immigration for the woes facing the UK is to ignore the central problems that relate more to big business and the banks .. But then the reality is UKIP is a so called Libertarian Party and it will always condemn the worker at the expense of the owner.

Back to the quote at the top of this blog, ‘I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you’ In the end this is going to be the overwhelming feeling for lots of kippers I can only hope they don’t abandon politics altogether but instead think about what do they really want from the government that serves them. If fear mongering and basing an entire parties philosophy on a lie is what they want they can of course continue to support UKIP.

HEY UKIP its education STUPID!!

UKIP and Grammar Schools

Nigel Farage in last weeks interview in the Guardian stated that UKIP has two polices, Leave the EU and Grammar Schools. Seemingly he forgot the Energy Policy and the newly minted Agriculture briefing ( It might be a bit generous to call it a policy). I would too!

Grammar Schools are UKIPs answer to their perception of falling educational standards in the UK. That it appeals to the Daily Mail reader who harks back to an era of corporal punishment and cross country runs in plimsols and pants is of no importance, obviously. 

 

UKIPs Favourite Arguments for Grammar schools 

PISA rankings – UKIP would say we are falling behind we need selective education. That the UK has fallen in the rankings is not in dispute, that the PISA system of testing ability is deeply flawed is also not in dispute. Even if you believe that the rankings are an accurate way of measuring outcomes, it is certainly not always a refection of excellence in education. Take South Korea, as an example 3/4 of all students attend Hagwons after school, private crammers where students spend up to 3 hours each evening (and where they are coached in how to do well in tests like the PISA). That it is industrial scale with huge profits is also not in dispute, you too can make $4 million a year tutoring students! Conversely take Finland and Norway both higher than us in the PISA rankings, neither country has selective education for those under 16 and in both students start formal education far later than we do. In fact in Finland ‘without selecting, tracking, or streaming students during their common basic education‘. Finally a question for UKIP if you believe selection is the answer, why does Northern Ireland , the last bastion of selection, come below England and Scotland? 

They help the poorest and the brightest – That Grammar schools failed the poorest in the 1950’s and 60’s is the subject of numerous reports, you can look to the crowther report which on the subject of Grammar Schools showed that only 10% from the poorest went to Grammar schools and this at a time when the working class was a far larger proportion of our population than it is today. A report from 1954 showed that Grammar schools of the time failed to improve the performance of the working class student with more than half failing to get more that 3 O’Levels and only 5% achieving 2 A’Levels.

 

Fast forward to 2014 and after numerous reports from the Sutton Trust, including this one that showed ‘middle class elites’ dominating grammar schools, Grammar schools are finally being forced to admit that their selection system benefits only those wealthy enough to afford tuition – now they propose quotas, UKIP hate the word quota. 

Nigel Farage sees “grammar schools as the only way to succeed for able students” – If you take Kent as an example, it being a county with a system of 11+, this is not the case. Of the top 10 schools in Kent for Value Added (improving the outcomes for students beyond what would be expected from their FFT score) only three are Grammars. Grammars are often seen as coasting and the results reflect their intake rather than the excellence of education that they provide. A few other facts, children from secondary schools achieve better outcomes than those from Grammars at university for those with the similar grades. This report also showed that SAT scores ( a test at 11) was no use as  a predictor for the degree achieved! 

Perhaps UKIPs real problem is that they distrust teachers, they see us as lefty marxists, indoctrinating our students with fake science like climate change or teaching them about non British cultures like Islam or worst of all teaching wooly subjects that ’embrace’ multiculturalism and our countries diversity (Citizenship)  

On reflection how can I take UKIP seriously on eduction when one vocal member Marty Caine said teachers should not hold any political views, in fact he went as far as to suggest perhaps we should not vote at all! Or how about when a UKIP Cllr tried to get  a teacher disciplined for expressing her dislike of UKIP on twitter. Harking back to a golden age of education that failed the majority, including the brightest from poor backgrounds, is hardly the way forward. 

If you want to find out more I would suggest the excellent web site run by Melissa Ben and Fiona Millar and this section of their web site on ending selection, the evidence.