Friday, 12 August 2011


Following the riots of the last few days there are a range of voices trying to explain the underlying causes of the out and out criminal behaviour of a very few young people. One reason given is the lack of identify with our societies. And some of the reasons given for this is a general lack of respect not only for the law, but for anyone set in authority including parents, teachers and the police.

But it is not only the young who show disrespect for civil behaviour. A large number of adults, many of them old and who know better, show disregard for what one would consider responsible behaviour. Frequently I see mothers, driving their children to school, on their mobile phone. The mayor of London is seen riding his bicycle without a helmet. People without justification parking is disabled parking bays because it is too far to walk from a normal bay or, as sometimes is heard, ‘I will only be a few minutes’.

The other day a woman in the supermarket I was in realised she had forgot something so left her trolley for four minutes whilst she went to search for whatever she had forgotten without any consideration for other shoppers already queuing up. Today, when I returned home someone parked across my driveway to make a phone call. When asked why he did not park a few yards up the road told me to ‘cool down’; no apology, no regret. My inconvenience was irrelevant, his needs were paramount.

We have lived through a few years where bankers have effectively busted the banking system and, having been bailed out by us, the tax payer, are back on the bonus gravy train. Senior police offices are resigning or being suspended because of inappropriate behaviour. Most MPs abused their expenses system and were required to pay back money, a few taken to court and jailed. Newspaper reporters, executives and owners being two faced about how people phones were hacked; even one paper being closed with the loss of many jobs of many who were totally innocent of the owners and executives illegality. Executives in the alcohol industry denying that price has any bearing on sale of alcohol to the young, and the government being too cowardly to act by setting minimum prices and demanding responsible selling.

It is said that we should set a good example for the young, that they need role models. But when many in authority around us seem to be able to flaunt good, honest, behaviour and get away with it; when many of them are constantly pushing the boundaries to see how much they can get away with, what ‘example’ is being set. In a consumer society, where the ‘me’ is more important than the ‘us’; where those that have least are expected to pay the most; and where trying to explain the cause of civil unrest is denigrated as justifying criminal behaviour, what outcomes can we expect? And where the BBC in trying to achieve balance provides air time to a range of views, resulting in both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ being given equal weight, is it any wonder that confusion reigns as to right and wrong when it would appear that ‘my’ view is just as valid as ‘your’ view.

Until we recognise that for many years we have all been contributing to a more disrespectful society, then we are unlikely to be able to change much about our society in the longer term. Sure, there will be a few changes made in the short term, but the society we have today is the society we have all been helping to create, little by little, by both omission and commission. If we want the young to change, then we the parents and grandparents must start the change. We need to show more respect to our fellow citizens and we have to make clear, by our deeds and our actions, what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Education: The Do It Yourself Future

Each morning, as I listen to what the political parties are promising, I get more and more confused. Is it, I wonder, my age; that my ability to understand is beginning to fail me?

The latest promise that I have been pondering is the Conservative’s promise that, if you do not believe that your local school is giving your children the education you wish for, you can band together with other, like minded parents, and set up your own school. Sounds good. But then I began to wonder how the process of setting up this ideal school would take place. How many 'like minder' parents would be needed to start the ball rolling? Could the process be started before the children start school so that, when they come of school age my ‘ideal school’ would be in place? How long will it take to set up the school? It would have to be a short period otherwise the children will be ready to move on. Is there a minimum number of pupils required to allow the process to start? How many schools can be set up in any one area? Where does the money come from? Do parents really have the time to set up and run a school? Will some entrepreneurial people form agencies which will do all the work of setting up the school, at a price of course? Then, what happens if, having set up the school with these other 'like minded' parents it is discover that they are not quite as ‘like minded’ as was thought? And, when the children leave the school can I wash my hands of the running of it; always assuming that I was involved in running the school? The list of questions and doubts seem endless.

You may think that at my age I should not be worrying about such matter. But, having just been presented with our second grandchild, and knowing that education is a major concern of their parents, I cannot help but worry about their worry. It seems so unfair, I think, that young parents are being given even more problems than they need. In my day the State, in the form of the local authority, ran most of the schools and they were responsible for providing a good education. Now, it seems, that if the Conservatives get into power, they are quite happy to wash their hands of education and tell parents that the State can no longer provide a good education for its child citizens and that parents should Do It Themselves.

Perhaps I just do not understand what is being offered. But if I do not understand perhaps I am not expected to understand. After all, as I am not a conservative I cannot help question their promises; if I was a good Conservative I wouldn’t question such an obvious free market approach. But knowing that the engine of the free market is greed, even conservatives should be concerned about leaving the education of our children to the free market.

Monday, 13 April 2009


I bought the Sunday Times just to see what all the fuss was about the Number 10 'black art' emails. The conclusion I came to was that it was all about stupidity, illegality and greed.

That someone advising the PM wouldn't realise that No 10 leaks like a sieve is obviously incompetent and deserves to be sacked. The only good thing seems to be that be will not get a state pension (I think ~ I hope). Only bankers get compensated for incompetence.

Next is illegality. I always thought that if an email is not addressed to you you should destroy it and not use the information contained therein. If you do it's akin to stealing by finding.

And then there is greed. None of the above would have mattered if it wasn't for the greed of the media, especially the print media, to buy and print the most salacious of material of people in public, and their families, on the basis that such material is always in the public interest.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

BBC makes a fool of itself

The more I listen to the chief operating officer (coo for short) of the BBC on the question of the Gaza Appeal the more I realise that the BBC has an in-built desire to court ridicule. Where is the Director General? Or is Mark too embarrassed to voiced the pathetic reasons for not airing the appeal? And who is the chief operating officer? Surely a post too many.

Sunday, 18 January 2009


Just been to the excellent 'Taking Liberties' exhibition at the British Library. In a time when many feel that our freedoms and liberties are being more and more curtailed by the state, it is useful to be reminded how the struggle to achieve the liberties we take for granted have had to be fought for and the sacrifices that were made to achieve them.

Perhaps we take our freedoms and liberties too much for granted and are too easy to allow the state to take away from us many of these freedoms and liberties under the guise of protecting us from the evils and dangers that society presents us.

The more freedoms and liberties we have the more difficult it is for the state to control us. Even in parliament, the 3 line whip is the means for the government of the day to remove the freedom of MPs to vote as they would wish.

We should not allow any government to constrain our freedoms and liberties without overwhelming justification. Loosing our freedom is much easier than going it back when it is lost. Just visit the exhibition at the British Library to be reminded of this.