Libdem Child's (mainly) weekly thoughts

You're probably wondering whether this is really a teenager's blog or not. Well it is. I believe in the Liberal principles of fairness, equality and community. I may only be fourteen but I can hold a good debate on politics. Honest, I can.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Do you agree with Danny Alexander?

Extract taken below from an interview by Robert Peston, BBC Economics Editor, with Danny Alexander on the eve of the Autumn Statement announcement. I have chosen this particular bit because I truly don't know how the Lib Dems will win votes on the back of a low wage recovery come the election. It confuses me that a low wage recovery still equals growth? Somehow I think that people on zero hour contracts and who are scraping a living will take little heart from the comparisons that politicians make at macro level about growth comparisons. When you cannot afford to heat your home or pay your bills and you are still working long hours you cannot rely on false statements about the economy growing when what you experience is far from prosperity.  

DA: Well, what we have seen in our economy this year is strong economic growth but we haven't seen tax receipts - particularly income tax receipts - grow as strongly as was forecast. We are seeing a lot more people entering the labour market, a lot of young people entering the labour market, who inevitably start on lower wages… That means income tax receipts are weaker.
RP: But isn't it an indictment of your economic policy that this is such a low-wage recovery?
DA: Hold on a second, our policy has led Britain, which was one of countries hardest hit by the financial crisis, to have the strongest recovery in the European Union, the best recovery in the G7, the best job creation in Europe, more jobs created in the United Kingdom than in the whole of the rest of the European Union combined. So yes, of course we need to see wages improve over the years to come, it is very very important to make sure the benefits of this recovery are shared. But I'd much rather be in the position of the United Kingdom than in the position of the many other European countries right now.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

What is a 'Prohibited Person'?

Ciaron O'Reilly very kindly spoke at a political session I hosted in 2013 on Bradley/Chelsea Manning

Ciaron O'Reilly, a non-violent Catholic pacifist has been arrested in Brisbane, Australia, where the G20 is taking place. The offence against Ciaron? It is for being a 'prohibited person'. What on earth does a 'prohibited person' mean? Some things just stop you in your tracks and this one did it for me. I have only ever seen the word 'prohibited' being used at the airport or certain public places where people are prohibited from carrying dangerous things such as sharp metal objects or glass. See example below. But what does a 'prohibited person' do or not do to become prohibited?

A quick Google search throws up this term in connection with firearms. Ciaron was not carrying firearms. A non-violent Pacifist would not be carrying arms now would he? It turns out that even Ciaron does not know what he is being charged with in connection with his arrest but it would not be far off the mark to guess that it is because he wanted to confront Barack Obama over Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. America being America cannot tolerate any dissent over who it calls a 'traitor'. While I don't like Julian Assange myself I see no reason why someone like Ciaron cannot be free to heckle Obama. Isn't America meant to be a great Democracy? Chelsea, formerly Bradley, Manning alerted the world to some truly horrific atrocities being committed by their soldiers in Iraq.  Yet, it is him who is in prison while those soldiers are free.

Democracy is increasingly becoming an ideological thought that only seems to exist in people's heads and recedes further and further away from the reality of this world which is being overtaken by heavy handed behaviour.  Free Ciaron O'Reilly. 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

How Much Is A Tory Minister Worth?

Another day, another Tory MP telling ordinary folk what they think of them. This time it is Lord Freud shooting his mouth off about disabled people. Lord Freud claims to, "care passionately about disabled people" . So passionate is Lord Freud that he sees fit to threat disabled people as inferior beings. 

He has branded disabled people as being unworthy of even the minimum wage! When you consider how people on the minimum wage are struggling to survive this puts Lord Freud's thoughts into context. Also, when the Adam Smith institute defends someone who spouts right wing views then you really know that something is wrong. 

Disabled people already struggle day in day out because of the Government's welfare reforms, unfair sanctions and constant visits to the job center but what would Lord Freud who used to be a banker know. In fact, his record to date of being a welfare minister was a precursor to today's comment. The following is a record of Lord Freud's disgraceful record. 

"In 2013 Work Capability Assessments for disabled welfare claimants were described by Peter Beresford OBE, Professor of Social Policy at Brunel University, as "reminiscent of the medical tribunals that returned shell shocked and badly wounded soldiers to duty in the first world war or the 'KV-machine', the medical commission the Nazis used in the second world war to play down wounds so that soldiers could be reclassified 'fit for the Eastern front''.

"In October 2010 a number of church groups and organisations complained to the Prime Minister David Cameron about Freud and chancellor George Osborne's "misrepresentation" and "exaggeration" of fraud in welfare claims that had the effect of stigmatising the poorest and most vulnerable in society"

"In July 2013 Freud was criticised in The Guardian for his "withered meanness" that sought to explain the dramatic increase of food banks in the United Kingdom as being due to people taking goods that were available for free rather than anything to do with his welfare reforms."

So what is he worth? Nothing to those who are suffering as a result of his policies. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

F11: Reforming the Welfare System-Sunday 9.25am

Mover: Kelly-Marie Blundell and Summation: James Sandbach. 
Both who have done a great job in seeking much needed reforms. 

I am not at conference but have written this post in support of this motion. Please vote in support of this debate and show people who are living on the poverty line or below it that Lib Dems do care. 

In the Liberal Democrat constitution it states that ‘ we are committed to fight poverty, oppression, hunger…’ What do these words tell you? It tells me that the spirit of Liberalism is about caring for those who are unable to care for themselves. A helping hand is the hand of Liberalism. We are in government yet we see thousands unable to care for themselves. They live in poverty. Their needs and well being are not adequately and constructively taken into account by the political masters at Westminster.

I call upon Liberal Democrats to attend the ‘Reforming the Welfare System’ debate scheduled for Sunday 5 October at 9.30am. Please vote in support of this motion because as a party we cannot be blind to the hardship of those who live on or below the poverty line and who have to rely on the Welfare State for assistance.

According to the Child Poverty Action Group 3.5 million children live in poverty in the UK. That’s 27% of UK children. I don’t think that this is an acceptable fact. Ian Duncan Smith sees cutting benefits as akin to William Wilberforce’s mission to free people from the slavery of benefits. He wants to give people from ‘chaotic lives security through hard work to end the benefits trap’. He hasn’t even be able to deliver on Universal Credit, a system that has suffered from poor management and waste costs, yet alone liberate people on benefits. Would it not have been better to have spent the millions wasted to date on devising a system of benefits that recognises the causes of poverty?

At least 66% of children growing up in poverty stricken homes have at least one working parent. Work does not always pay because the wages of the lower income group are sacrificed at the altar of the higher business profit margins. These 66% of children are caught in a poverty cycle. They aren’t being participatory members of society because the system of wages prevents them from being able to do so. Where is the so-called benefits trap?

Why are people on benefits punished through the system of sanctions? ESA was brought in in 2008 to replace incapacity benefit. In the first three months of 2014 there were15,955 sanctions, compared with 3,574 for the same period in 2013. Can all these people be benefit cheats? Common sense will tell you that a high surge in numbers means that the system is not working.

Read this story, for instance, which was published on Mumsnet: “You get a job interview. It’s the same time as your job centre appointment, so you reschedule the job centre. You attend your rearranged appointment and then get a letter saying your benefits will be stopped because going to a job interview isn’t a good enough reason to miss an appointment”.

There are many testimonies on the internet from those who have suffered from benefit sanctions and the common thread running through their stories is that the sanction system does not take into account the dynamics of real life. People are sanctioned because they missed an appointment through ill-health or having to go to hospital for a medical that they have been waiting months for.

Fellow Liberal Democrats, we can no longer stand by and watch a generation of children fall by the way because of some ideological belief that the welfare system enables laziness, cheating or sloth. We cannot tolerate a political system that does not recognise the causes of poverty but is quick to stamp on what it sees as a ‘benefit culture that breeds scroungers’. Enough of the stigmatization. It is time to tackle the causes and effects of poverty.

The Liberal Democrats should vote for this motion which calls for a truly Liberal approach to the reform of the Welfare system. It will show that we are the party that stands up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Is that a Black Cloud or is it just the Tory Party conference?

Judging from Twitter I can't be the only one who is despondent about the never ending message of 'hit the poor' that comes from the Tories. Yet again, young people are being hit through benefit cuts that will hit children and school leavers. The Tory line of thought is transparent -Why bother with these? They won't vote Tory anyway. Is the Tory party capable of any good ideas apart from 'bash the poor' and welcoming business with 'open arms'? Did these chaps really go to that top school called Eton and graduate from Oxbridge? The right-wing neoliberal ideology that they hold so dear seems to almost put them in a strait jacket of brain activity. How does freezing benefits make Britain 'fairer' when there is huge inequality, the bankers don't face sanctions and the rich pay the same taxes as the poor?

So, who will suffer from these proposals? The following is a Statement from the Childrens Society:

“The majority of those affected would be the children of working parents who would see further real-term cuts to their child benefit and child tax credits.
“This comes just hours after the Government announced a further cap on welfare and a scheme that will bar childless 18 to 21-year-olds from housing benefit.
“Far too many families in this country are already struggling to provide a basic standard of living for their children because of the three-year one per cent annual cap in benefit rises put in place at the start of last year. 
“These further cuts will make it harder for families to put food on the table and pay the rent to keep a roof over their head.

Other interesting articles:

Monday, 22 September 2014

A cruel ice bucket challenge against an autistic boy

The classmates of a 15 year old teenager with autism tricked him into participating in an ice bucket challenge in order to raise money for charity. Instead of the bucket being filled with ice cubes it was filled with human waste and cigarette butts.The poor boy's mother found the video on his Smartphone. The cruel teenagers who pulled the evil prank had used the boy's phone to video it. Thankfully, police are questioning the culprits. 

My take on this is that those who did this to a vulnerable teenager need to be publicly named and shamed. What on earth possesses some teenagers to take teen pranks and high jinks into the realm of pure cruelty? Picking on those who are vulnerable is something to be ashamed of. Didn't these teenagers have any inbuilt behavioural traits as to what is right and wrong? I suggest that they be made to perform community service by working with people with disabilities for a year. In this country this act would be classed as a disability hate crime.  Here is a report, published by the University of Leicester, which is well worth a read and shows the amount of hate crime faced by disabled people (and other groups).

People with disabilities are not joke material. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

No Scots in my home but plenty of infighting

My home is split into two camps. Both camps come from countries that were declared independent by the British Empire. One side is absolutely adamant that independence is the only answer to self determination. The other camp thinks independence is a bad idea because of the loss of the monarchy, Union Jack, English tea and scones.

Let me at this point tell you that the link between Scotland and people in my home is as far apart as Ben Nevis from Big Ben. The connection is as follows: two uncles studied medicine in Scotland a decade ago and my aunty is married to a Scot who is not eligible to vote. No one even owns a Scottie dog. But the fighting, that's a whole other story. It began weeks ago. When i say 'fighting', I mean wild gesticulating, fights for the remote control to turn to the channel that is broadcasting the most news on the referendum and one very irritated teenager (me). Plans have been made for an all night viewing of the results. The picture above will give you an idea. I hope you don't hear the noise that will come from this melee when the votes are announced.

Is this a national phenomenon? Is your home under siege from the no-sayers trying to knock out the yes enthusiasts even though no one actually has a vote? This is worse than the notorious family Christmas  meltdown when Aunty Doris wants to watch the Queen's speech and Uncle Jack wants to eat his Turkey and tell the same old jokes that he tells every year.

On a serious note, I am absolutely thrilled to see such a large number of young people engaging in this referendum. Witnessing their sheer depth of knowledge on the politics that affect their lives has been tremendously impressive. Scottish teenagers have shown the world that teenagers do care about politics.
Scottish teenagers, I envy your right to vote. I have been blogging about politics since the age of 10 and I still won't be able to vote at the next election. People underestimate the interest and intellect of young people when it comes to politics and now this has been disproved with the referendum.

Scottish Teenagers, this opportunity will not come again for a long time. Exercise your vote.