Grown Up Politics

23rd May 2015.  The day when Ireland threw of the final shackles of its Catholic past and, as a nation, voted overwhelmingly for tolerance and fairness, said “no” to discrimination, said “yes” to gay marriage.  64% of the electorate voted, 62% of them voted “yes”; many people came #hometovote, a Twitter tag that they wear proudly.

My Irish friends expressed similar pride in their country and its people, quite rightly.  I am also proud of the people of that island, an island that has seen so much strife and intolerance over the centuries, much of it caused by the people of the island I live in; the Irish are a resilient people, they pick themselves up, move on and start again, as my own great-great-grandfather showed when he moved from Waterford to London in the aftermath of the Great Famine.

We now need some of that resilience to pick ourselves up, to move on, to start again after the shame of our own recent General Election when the people of this island voted for greed, bigotry and intolerance; to paraphrase the words of another descendant of the Irish Diaspora, John Fitzgerald Kennedy:

We choose to so this not because it is easy, but because it is hard; ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

The people of Ireland showed us what grown up politics is all about yesterday.  Time we learned to do it ourselves.


4 thoughts on “Grown Up Politics”

  1. Thank you – a powerful piece of writing, and some powerful ideas.

    I still find it difficult to believe that the people of these islands want a right-wing government – especially when the evidence of the last five years is a frightening landscape of increasing poverty for those at the very bottom, public services cut to the bone, and an increasing shift to protectionism in both people and countries based on fear.
    And that fear is based on lies, distortions, and political sleight-of-hand that strikes at our democracy – with a government ably assisted by a compliant and, in some cases, corrupt mainstream media. Our national broadcaster is failing to provide us with unbiased reportage; this has led to some of the most vile and mendacious slurs on our vulnerable people, which are believed and used as justification for draconian policy making.

    You are right – we need a proper grown-up discussion on how to mobilise people to work towards a better way.
    We need electoral reform – as well as a more proportional voting system, it’s time to make voting compulsory.
    It is shocking that only half of those eligible and registered to vote did so; it is outrageous that any political party can take office in government with less than a quarter of the voting population granting a mandate.

    I would also like to see a broad coalition of the left – in this country, the main political parties have moved towards the right; the centre ground is now more right wing than the Tory administrations of the 1980’s.
    All of us of the left should now settle our differences and get on with fighting for the rights our forebears worked so hard to provide for us.
    We are losing them – we are losing the right to free healthcare, free education at all levels, social security based on need, access to justice – and I want to be able to say to those starting out in life that I fought for their rights and refused to give in to the rich and distant vested interests which are the puppet-masters of our current government.

    I’m with you all the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your mention of the BBC is pertinent. Throughout the election it acted as the mouthpiece of the Coalition and we now know, to an extent, that was because of covert (and overt) threats to its funding. I know many on the Left and the Cult of 45 say it should be scrapped because of this lack of impartiality, but I think that is the wrong approach; the fact that Murdoch still talks about the lack of balance caused by “8000 left wing BBC journalists” shows why we need to keep it, because the alternative is a Murdoch monopoly.

    Part of finding our way forward has to involve an attempt to reclaim OUR state broadcaster, to return it to the days when it was (more or less) an impartial reporter of the facts rather than a crude propaganda tool; obviously it has been exactly that at times in the past, during the war years for example, but it is simply not acceptable that it be so now. I genuinely don’t know how to set about doing it, but do it we must.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Almost from Day 1 of the Coalition in 2010, I was having to turn off both BBC News and Sky News. It sickened me that most news started with “Mr Cameron, the Prime Minister, is/will ……”. The press propaganda was working for the bloody Tories well before the latest Election Campaign. The Election Campaign started even before the 2010 election! I have not turned my TV on since 9 May 2015 and don’t think I will be wasting my money on a licence again.


  3. On our national broadcaster – the BBC is evidently in fear of losing its’ licence. With reason.

    On “grown up politics” – it will not be possible, IMHO, to develop better politics on a widespread basis until such time as our media are less biased; that will take a long long time, if it ever happens.
    I have a few ideas on what we can do with that issue – posted on the next thread.

    In the meantime, where we really can make a difference is in our own backyards.

    Where I live we have an old hospital, Bronllys, sitting in acres of beautiful landscape in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Plans to close it have met with stiff opposition, and some of the property has already been sold (the old Victorian gate-house is now a privately-owned residence) but the fight goes on.
    Rather than just moan, some locals have got together and formed a group with a plan – the plan is a health and well-being park, with some of the existing health care to remain (physio, OT, elderly care) with some new things like a Maggie Centre (for cancer patients) and various alternative health therapies.
    Then – some land to be developed privately for leasehold eco-homes for sale; some to be developed as small units of rented accommodation for vulnerable people; possibly a hostel or dormitory-type place for people recovering from acute mental health problems, addiction, or possibly short term rehabilitation.
    Included in the park would be allotments and/or permaculture, to assist community building, recovery/rehab, and hopefully provide self-sufficiency in some produce for the whole site; there are also plans for a solar park for renewable energy.
    We are working towards a co-op, CIC, or some other benevolent/charitable status, and this is something many local people can get behind. It could provide more jobs, and it would certainly help to keep our frail and ill closer to home – if Bronllys closes altogether, those people will end up a very long way from home if they need nursing or social care.

    This is the sort of thing that we can do locally; we know that funding for the NHS and local public services is going to be cut in real terms. We know that whatever Westminster under the Tories deigns to grant regional and local authorities, there will be a lot less in the pot after statutory duties have been budgeted for – closures of all sorts of public provision will be the result, and we have all had a taste of it already.

    But rather than lie down and take it, we can organise and we can build something else to replace what is being lost. For Bronllys, the existing provision is not sustainable – if this project fails, and nothing else comes along, the site will be sold off and developed. As our group is offering something positive, our ideas could work.

    Personally, I am of the view that if we can make even a small difference in this current situation, we should at least try. Passion and determination – in a sea of indifference and self-seeking – have been active forces for change before. From little acorns, mighty oaks can grow.

    Liked by 1 person

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