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Sunday, 14 April 2013

An opportunity for change

As usual, several weeks have gone by since I last wrote this blog. I always start the New Year with good intentions of wanting to write more, but somehow life always seems to get in the way. In  my case though it is really more a question of laziness, for there has been in the way of news that I could have written about (the death of transsexual teacher Lucy Meadows - when will people stop hoisting their own views on their kids while pretending to call it something that it isn't), our atrocious weather, the welfare reforms and of course the death of Margaret Thatcher. These last two for me at least, are inextricably linked, for like it or not, it was Maggie and later Tony Blair, who sowed the seeds for all of this to happen.

No matter which way you look at it, Maggie was always going to be a controversial figure, that like marmite, you either loved or hated. There does and did not seem to be any middle ground. I am not though going to sit here and have a debate about the rights and wrongs of death parties or any of her policies, for it is not the past that matters, what matters as always is what is in front of us now, so what we have to concentrate is dealing with what we have now - which are arguably the results of at least some of those policies.

The anti Thatcher brigade are calling for a return to the left, but what do they mean by that and does it matter? Well I guess it matters to them. For me it is not a question of left or right, but more about what is right and beneficial for the majority of the populace. A world where 1 percent of the population hold 99 percent of the wealth cannot be considered to be in the interests of the majority of the populace. Don't get me wrong, I am not averse to the accumulation of wealth for those who work hard and use that wealth wisely, but from what I have seen very few people actually do that. Those who say that the benefit system needs reform and that work should pay are of course correct, but I can't help but feel they are missing the point. Cutting or freezing benefits in order to achieve this is not the answer, as those on benefits like everyone else, still deserve to maintain a basic standard of living. The answer is to introduce a proper living wage so that those in work no longer need to claim benefits in the first place. It is not rocket science but common sense. For me then it is not about returning to a specific state of living or even being, but about treating people with compassion and fairness.

The welfare reforms then are an opportunity for real change, in the long term. I realise that it is hard for most to see them in that light, particularly those who are directly affected, but we should not lose sight of the fact that they as guinea pigs volunteered for this role (on a soul level that is). In time, probably sooner than we think, it will become clear that these polices simply do not work, and instead of helping people out of poverty and back into better paid work, have created more poverty and more unrest. When this becomes clear then it will also become clear that a rethink is necessary, and that is when the real change will occur. Out of this, like a phoenix rising from the ashes will come the reforms that are so desperately needed - a simpler and fairer tax system, better pay and working conditions for all, and most importantly of all, the idea that everyone regardless of their lifestyle choices is entitled to at least a basic standard of living.    

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