The UK referendum on Europe: does it have to be about money and “What’s in it for me?”

The upcoming referendum is giving me a lot of angst.  The media and leading representatives of both sides of the campaign are playing havoc with the UK public’s fears: fears about the UK’s future wealth, security, its NHS, immigration, sovereignty.

Part of me thinks that, whatever the consequences, life for UK residents, and for those in power in particular, will go on much the same, whether we are in or out of Europe.  The argument that the UK will gain £375 million a week if it comes out of Europe has no worth, in my view.  That money will not go directly into the NHS as some people are being led to believe; there are too many other problem areas for the government to have to deal with.  In spite of it sounding like a huge amount, in terms of public spending it is probably worth peanuts and will achieve nothing substantial, even if it is not handed over to Europe and remains in the UK coffers.  Money and having more of it should not be a motivator for a ‘Brexit’ vote.

With my ideals of a better world, I think the UK needs to remain in Europe, simply because the EU as an institution provides a mechanism for the political leaders or representatives of member states to get together easily, and cooperate and compromise.  We need as many countries and states to do this and the European Union encourages that, in spite of all the bureaucracy and legislation which may create problems along the way.

I don’t want a separate UK that wants a better deal for itself above all others.  I want to be in a country that wants a better deal for all other countries in the world equally.  Leaving Europe is not moving in the right direction if we are to achieve that.

It would be even better if we lived in a country where those at the top of society wanted the best for those at the bottom too.  But that’s a separate issue……

 

 

Why economic theory is outdated

Well today I thought I needed to get familiar with basic  economic theory because, if I am going to take pleasure in spouting forth about how things need to change, maybe I should know something about this unwieldy creature called ‘the economy’ which politicians keep trying to control.

Wow! What a revelation. Economics is evidently a social science that studies how individuals, governments, firms and nations make choices on ‘allocating scarce resources to satisfy unlimited wants.’

As I skimmed  through various aspects, I kept reading references to people being assumed to be rational in the way they make choices about how they spend their money.

What struck me more than anything is that our society has changed so much that classical economic analysis and assessment is totally irrelevant now.

Which is why reason – and how ultimately our amazing human brains and their capacity for finding solutions – have to be really engaged if we are to move forward.

The emotion which the media exploits – are you that bothered about David Cameron’s tax return? (the guy’s rich, get over it) – is clouding everything.  Let’s forget emotion and get thinking.

 

Why ‘health’ and not economics need to start dominating the political agenda

I have already commented on why the notions of right and left in politics are outdated: they limit the potential for creativity because politicians and policy makers can only try and find solutions within the confines of these parameters.  And if neither the Labour Party nor the Conservative Party can move away from this outmoded thinking – how is progress to be made?

I think a lot of people are disillusioned with politics in the UK because they are aware of this limitation.

What if we had a party which genuinely put the health of the nation and society as the main drivers behind policy-making and legislation? I don’t know anyone who wanted 24 hour drinking to be brought into effect.  It was a disaster waiting to happen.  But that introduction went ahead because the government saw it as a way to make money.  All recent legislation revolves around making money or saving money – and it doesn’t work.  We need to create policies which lead to wellness – even if individual freedoms are curtailed on occasions.  That would be great place to start.

The myths about schools in the UK

I work in education.  I see how hard teachers work and how difficult life in the classroom is.  So nothing makes me more angry than to hear comments in the press about ‘failing teachers’.  There is a shortage of teachers nationally so we need to give as much support as possible to anyone who chooses teaching as a career. It’s an easy job to do badly; it is an incredibly difficult job to do well.  Anyone who criticises teachers in the press needs to have a go at walking into a class and taking a lesson.  He or she might think twice about using that phrase.

And another thing makes me angry.  The talk about ‘good schools’ and parental desire to buy a property in a catchment area of  a ‘good school’ is a myth.  Those ‘good schools’ usually have middle class pupils in them with parents who want their children to be learning alongside other middle class pupils.  That’s reality and the sooner it is acknowledged, the better.  When people talk about ‘good schools’, what they are really talking about is schools where academic achievement is inflated by the privilege of the pupils attending.  If a child starts off with wealth, books and encouragement to read in the early years, he or she will do better than any pupil where books are missing in the home, and where parents have never read to their children.  And books and reading are usually missing in areas of social deprivation.

There are good schools everywhere, with dedicated teachers doing their best with every child and with the resources available.  My daughter went to a lovely little school in the centre of an attractive suburb of west London. But the school was ‘shunned’ by middle class parents because it was surrounded by blocks of council flats.  Eventually it closed – I would argue it was forced out of existence by the refusal of middle class parents in the catchment area to use it.   They were too busy scrabbling to get their kids into a school which was not surrounded by council flats.

 

starting a blog

I have a dream.  It might never reach as many people and leave as lasting an impression as that of Martin Luther King but I feel it as intensely and I want to pull as many people into it as I can. So I have to start somewhere.

I want a different kind of politics and I want a better world.  So many of us want that.  So I am starting right now and reaching out to as many people who pass this way as I can.

People who join together achieve so much.  And I believe in a better world.  So it starts here.