An Open Letter to Oliver Letwin MP (Con)

Dear Mr Letwin,

I returned home from shopping this lunchtime to find a poor tree had died partly to fund an election “communication” from you , promoted on behalf of your campaign by a Mr Antony Stanley. My first thoughts were to return to sender with instructions on where one could shove it. However I have decided to respond in more detail.

Your election pamphlet was addressed to me here at the Vicarage. You see my wife is a vicar. In fact Mr Letwin you met my wife during the last election campaign. She was introduced to you in her capacity as a local Church minister in Charlton Down and you completely ignored her. Whatever merits or demerits your party may have I would never vote for someone so rude as to completely ignore and refuse to speak to someone in this way. Manners maketh the man and all that. (more…)

Happy #nondom Day

Every general election has certain days you know will be super important. Even now it only takes a word or two to evoke those memories – such as “Gemma’s Ear”. Today the Labour party gave us #nondom – a promise to stop the unfair system where some rich people can avoid paying tax in this country despite living here and earning money here. Whether this policy makes or loses money for the country seems less important to me than the issue of taxation in a fair and equal society. Labour’s pledge of removing non-dom tax status is a step towards a fairer society.

Why should Lord Rothermere – the owner of racist hate-rag The Daily Mail – spread his bile throughout the nation with his nasty paper, reap the financial rewards but not pay a fair amount of tax? It is unfair. It is that simple. I am not a Labour supporter. The two-faced Blair and his nasty war put an end to that. But for once a party is offering something that goes beyond an election bribe, but instead is about a principle. The principle of fairness is all too rare in today’s political climate. (more…)

Bishop David Walker on Poverty

I’ve read an excellent piece in today’s Guardian by Anglican bishop David Walker on the subject of the church’s recent head on collision with the Tories over poverty.

“Most of us would see service provision not just as an end in itself. It is equally the ground on which we stand to challenge and stimulate public sector provision, and our basis for offering a critique of dominant political narratives. Archbishop Desmond Tutu puts this latter in a typically telling phrase: “When you’ve fished enough people out of the river, it’s time to take a walk upstream and see who’s pushing them in.” And what seems to be casting people in ever increasing numbers into the waters is less a matter of specific policies and more about Britain’s scapegoat culture.”

You can read the article on the Guardian website. Obviously don’t read the comments underneath the article. Never read comments on newspaper websites.

Cross Purposes

Once again the subject of wearing crosses in the workplace has reared its head again following the government’s decision that there is no automatic right to wear one.On this rare occasion I agree with the government.

The sort of people who get annoyed by this kind of thing have already been getting worked up about it. How can we show we are Christians, they demand of the government, if we can’t wear our execution-based jewelry?

Here of course is the irony. The sort of person who needs a bloody great cross to show that they are a Christian, the sort of person who rants and raves about their rights to wear a cross, needs a heck of a lot more than a piece of jewelry to convince anyone they have anything to do with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

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Children & Violent Videogames

Do you ever just read something and hold your head in your hands in despair? I did when I just read some online debates among tens of parents on whether they let their children play games rated for adults. Seemingly intelligent and well educated people can be seen trying to justify allowing their children to view the most violent of content. These people know how violent the content is, they can’t even plead ignorance of that. Yet out of some misplaced pride in their child’s ability to function as an adult or perhaps a typically modern and lazy aproach to let their little darling have whatever he wants they would attempt to justify their reckless stupidity.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Many years ago – before I began a career writing about videogames – worked in a videogames store. We would often have parents walking up to the counter with a violent game intended for their child next to them. In such cases we would point out the nature of the content. In many cases – thankfully – the parent would be shocked and it would be clear the child had lied about what was in that game case. In all too many cases though – especially among the educationally bereft – the parent would reply that they didn’t give a toss (or something stronger). And in those cases we wouldn’t sell them the game either.

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How the Womb is Destroying the Economy

The Tory Party conference is never really a source of joy to right thinking people as it is often the source of stupidity, selfishness, racism disguised as immigration policy and general fuckwittedness. But they’ve outdone themselves this week – as have the business leaders present.

We live in a time where we are all being asked to tighten our belts. VAT is at 20 percent which is a huge burden on the lower paid and poor who it affects disproportionately. Sure Start centres are closing, as are libraries. Councils are cutting back on services. The armed forces are being decimated by a shortsighted and dangerous foreign policy. Our nation is being stripped bare in the name of the Tory deficit reduction plan.

Someone somewhere has really fucked up our nation and we’re now having to pay for it. But who is to blame? Well you’d think, given the policy ideas coming from the Tory conference, that workers are to blame. Yes the poor workers of this country are to blame for wanting things like access to legal redress, support when ill or pregnant, somewhere safe to work and a workplace free of discrimination. If only we could return to the days of toddlers working under spinning machines then the economy would grow and all would be well. And while we are it, can we cut the top rate of tax down a bit, some execs are down to the last three or four luxury cars.

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