Labour needs less rhetoric and more policy

 

I have to say I was completely underwhelmed by Ed Miliband’s Labour Party Conference speech on Merseyside.

 

What was I expecting? Well, my first editor always repeated over and over again: “The devil is in the detail.”

 

Rhetoric is not what this country needs now. Job creation and a buoyant economy are at the forefront of people’s minds.

 

Only strong policies that deliver results will give him the prime ministerial air he desperately seeks.

 

Heather Stewart hit the nail on the head in her Guardian piece on big business, entitled: “End fast-buck culture? First, Miliband needs a revolution in business values”

 

She pointed out that Britain’s business model needed to be re-worked and “Miliband will need to translate his rhetoric into a detailed policy programme”.

 

Advertisements

Parents in the dock after England riots

Ironically, it was International Youth Day on Friday. The annual event is supposed to serve as a global reminder of how precious new generations are.

Babatunde Osotimehin, director of the United Nations Population Fund – an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity – suggests dialogue with young people is the way forward .

In a message on the UNPFA’s website, Dr Osotimehin said:

Today on International Youth Day, and every day, youth should be able to participate in decision-making in their families, communities, and nations.

The voices of youth should be heard in meetings within governments and within the United Nations.

Yes, youth participation is a matter of human rights and it is also a matter of being effective at addressing the challenges that we face as humanity.

In our world today there are 1.8 billion young people aged 10 to 24.

When societies embrace youth as partners, we improve our chances of finding solutions to our most pressing problems.

Today too many young people are deprived of opportunities, peace and stability.

As never before, youth are bombarded with sexually explicit images. There is a growing need for sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services that meet the needs of young people.”

The UNPFA’s goal is to reduce extreme poverty by 2015, by focusing on three core areas of work “reproductive health, gender equality and population and development strategies” which, it says, are “inextricably related”.

In the aftermath of the England Riots the spotlight has turned to familial responsibility.

The blame is being laid at the door of so-called “dysfunctional families”.

And, judging from all the scathing comments, statements and finger-wagging this includes single parents, unemployed parents, young mothers and errant fathers.

The family should be the foundation from which each child springs from into the world.

But to surmise this whole shameful episode is a result of bad or non-existent parenting is at best too simplistic and at worse disingenuous.

Below are several definitions for the word: society.

a. The totality of social relationships among humans.

b. A group of humans broadly distinguished from other groups by mutual interests, participation in characteristic relationships, shared institutions, and a common culture.

c. The institutions and culture of a distinct self-perpetuating group.

2. An organisation or association of persons engaged in a common profession, activity, or interest:

3.a. The rich, privileged, and fashionable social class.

b. The socially dominant members of a community.

4. Companionship; company:

5. Biology A colony or community of organisms, usually of the same species

The clean-up campaigns taking place across England and the selfless words from bereaved father Tariq Jahan, whose son, Haroon, was killed in a hit-and-run incident during the riots in Winson Green, Birmingham on Wednesday, serve as reminders of what is great about England.

So-called educated people representing different schools of thought taking to denigrating other races and cultures as well as each other on television is both unhelpful and irresponsible.

Resorting to labelling or pigeonholing certain sections of society is regressive and tired. In fact, I can feel ennui setting in. 

Let us dispense with the name calling and get on with the business of rebuilding a society we can all take pride in.

Society goes up in smoke in England riots

As I sat down to write this post, two 30-something men walked past my window.

I caught the tail end of their animated conversation. “Look at the riots,” one of them exclaimed. “It just goes to show we have the power not the government.”

I disagree. An orgy of looting and violence is not just “sheer criminality” it is the action of the powerless.

Ingredients for a riot: take a huge dollop of frustration, add an unstable economy and high unemployment, along with an even bigger dollop of desperation. Then spoon in some rage and bake in the searing heat.

Many people not just in the UK but around the globe will easily separate themselves from the rioters/criminals.

And, of course, they can. They are law abiding citizens, they are educated, they are employed and take home an income which allows them to indulge in the finer things in life.

Yes, they are far removed from these so-called “animals” and “feral rats”.

But if we pause and really think about what one young woman in Birmingham told a news channel it becomes harder to dismiss these people as “just opportunist thugs”.

Asked how she perceived her local police force, she responded: “They don’t respect me so I don’t respect them.”

Respect is fundamental for a human being.

When a person is respected he or she possesses the power to influence people and shape his or her own destiny.

For some people in our society basic respect is automatic for others life is not so straightforward.

These people are invisible and become visible only when they act outside of the law.

The mindless violence and criminal damage which has swept across Britain is inexcusable.

It has already claimed a life – a 26-year-old man was shot in his car last night – and left many families homeless. Shop owners have witnessed their livelihoods going up in flames.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said every perpetrator will quite rightly feel the full force of the law.

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Michael Gove has blamed the riots on “tribal allegiances and gangs”.

Real change comes with addressing the cause not just the effect.

Columnist Mary Riddell wrote in the Telegraph (London riots: the underclass lashes out):

Today, Britain is less equal, in wages, wealth and life chances, than at any time since then. Last year alone, the combined fortunes of the 1,000 richest people in Britain rose by 30 per cent to £333.5 billion.”

Tonight a police station in Nottingham was firebombed.

Can this country really afford to continue to have a huge section of society which is rudderless, disaffected and roaming the streets?

So will Glenn Mulcaire finally reveal all?

So News Corp is to stop paying the legal fees of private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed over the phone-hacking scandal.

Well, there must have been a reason why the company started paying for his legal team in the first place.

Mr Murdoch senior appeared both surprised and annoyed at this disclosure.

Indeed, throughout his time before the Culture, Media and Sport committee and, in particular, under Tom Watson‘s eagle eye and no-nonsense approach to questioning, Mr Murdoch’s feathers were more than ruffled.

What was startling was how little he appeared to know about the machinations of the News of the World even if it is just a bit player in News Corp.

No wonder the media titan admitted to feeling “humbled” before the committee.

Since so many puns have been written about the pie incident, I see no need for me to add to them.

Anyway, back to Mr Mulcaire.

Notice how I have made no mention until now about Mr Murdoch’s son, James, and Rebekah Brooks.

This is because they apparently knew nothing about what was going on at Britain’s biggest selling newspaper…….

Anyway, back to Mr Mulcaire. I know, I know, I am repeating myself.

All eyes are agog and ears pricked up in preparation for the investigator breaking his silence.

His fees would easily have run into hundreds of thousands of pounds ….

Once again we are back to who “signed-off” on releasing the funds for his fees.

Come to think of it, we still do not know who paid him in the first place to hack into the phones.

We also wait with bated breath to see what Harbotte and Lewis, the law firm used in 2007 to investigate the phone-hacking at the NotW, will reveal now that News Corp is allowing it to talk….

Goodness! They are dropping like flies…..

“This can’t be the first resignation…,” Ken Livingstone talking to BBC News 24 about the shock resignation of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.

Mr Livingstone also indicated that others within the met should be off too.

Sir Paul could not have predicted that a few weeks of “R and R” at the glamorous Champneys would leave his glittering police career in tatters on one miserable, wet Sunday evening in July 2011.

How the mighty are being wiped out by the NotW scandal.

I have to admit when this whole saga began unravelling at alarming speed almost two weeks ago, I could never have predicted the whirlwind would have swept up so many high-profile figures.

It is no longer a question of what will happen next but whose head will be next on the chopping block.

Anyone else either directly involved or connected in any way to this saga must now be viewing this as a reign of terror.

Maximilien Marie Isidore de Robespierre would have been proud…..


Plurality call over the NotW fallout

No doubt buoyed by the latest developments which have seen Rupert Murdoch fly to the UK and apologise in person to the Dowler family and Rebekah Brooks arrested, Ed Miliband is now calling for plurality in the media.

Interestingly, he has the firm backing of Nick Clegg who outlined the need for it, along with “diversity” and “accountability” in the media, on Andrew Marr this morning.

Hang on a minute!

Anybody would think the close relationship between the press and politicians is something that has recently occurred in this country.

Neither is it unusual for one man to own a substantial amount of the press.

William Maxwell Aitken (1879-1964) the first Lord Beaverbrook, made his mark in newspapers, politics and finance.

Apart from having a successful parliamentary career – he was one of only three men to serve in the cabinet – he acquired the majority shareholding in the Daily Express and the Evening Standard.

Lord Beaverbrook also courted his fair share of controversy.

The point I am trying to make, if you had not already realised, is that I doubt that there has ever been a time when parliamentarians did not rub shoulders with journalists and their editors.

After all, at least half of them would have attended the same schools and universities – Oxford and Cambridge.

I am all for more transparency but we must be realistic about what is actually possible without going to extremes to make a point, especially a political one.