Aspiblog Election Special

Some thoughts about the upcoming General Election, which was confirmed as happening while this post weas being created.

INTRODUCTION

Parliament has voted by 522 to 13 to accept Theresa May’s call for a snap General Election, which will take place on June 8th….

SETTING THE SCENE

This morning Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK put up a post titled “General Election Thoughts” most of which I am in agreement with. Here is a screenshot of the start to that post:

In the comments section a certain Howard Reed cited Paul Mason’s five point policy plan, which is as follows:

1/ If Theresa May calls an election today, a progressive alliance can beat the Tory hard Brexit plan. Here’s how…

2/ We set up an independent website to show how tactical voting can beat the Tories and grassroots cross party alliance promotes this

3/ Labour has to guarantee Scotland a) right to remain in Single Market b) second referendum

4/ Labour should offer *today* Caroline Lucas to be in shadow cabinet, form Green/Red alliance, stand down 1x further candidate for Greens

5/ Libdems need to decide: with the progressive forces of Britain or in a perpetual flip flop with the Tories. You have 15 minutes.

The first two of the five points are scene setters, and very uncontentious. Point 3 is the one that the Labour Party, or at least some elements thereof, will find hardest to accept, but SNP support will only be forthcoming if it is honoured. 

The fourth point is obvious, and those who remember my Fantasy Cabinet, a response to this piece on Tax Research UK, will realise that I am 100% in favour. For the fifth point, the ball is in the Lib Dems’ court. One mistake can be forgiven, especially given some of the comments May has made in calling for this election. However, precisely in view of those comments, a second decision in the space of seven years to throw in their lot with the Tories would put them utterly beyond the pale. 

SOME FURTHER LINKS

In addition to the Tax Research UK piece that inspired this I have read a number of other cracking pieces about this upcoming election.

CLOSING THOUGHTS (& PHOTOGRAPHS)

In my own constituency there is only one party with the support to have even the proverbial “cats chance in hell” of unseating the Tory who bar the years 1997-2001 has held the seat since 1983, so my General Election vote is already decided. Something else that this snap election has done is demonstrate once again that FPTP is a relic from the past that needs replacing asap. My final words in this post (other than picture captions) take the form of a social media hashtag:

#MakeJuneTheEndOfMay

New £1 (in circulation since March 27th, but this was the first I have seen, last night) – obverse

New £1 – reverse

New £1 – both faces

Comparison pic – new £1 and Britain’s only other dodecagonal coin, the brass threepenny.

Dream Cabinet

INTRODUCTION

This post is my response to Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK’s challenge to come up with a dream cabinet. I do not quite have a full  cabinet here but I do have names, positions and explanations and/ or justifications for all my choices. I will start by listing the names and positions, and will then go into a little more detail in the next section about my reasons.

THE SELECTIONS

These are the positions I have managed to fill:

Prime Minister – Debbie Abrahams

Deputy Prime Minister – Angela Rayner

Chancellor of the Exchequer – Richard Murphy

Home Secretary – Kerry-Anne Mendoza

Foreign Secretary – Clive Lewis

Business Secretary – Rebecca Long-Bailey

Health Secretary – Jo Rust

Environment – Caroline Lucas

Transport – Thomas Sutcliffe

Neurodiversity Minister – Paddy-Joe Moran (askpergers.wordpress.com)

Education Secretary – Michael Rosen

Arts – Anna Bohlin

Sports – Elizabeth Ammon (@legsidelizzy)

Scottish Secretary – Mhairi Black

Disabilities – Paula Peters (DPAC)

Science – Patricia Fara

Work and Pensions – Mike Sivier

Women and Equality – Kate Osamor

Welsh Secretary – Leanne Wood

Defence – Emily Thornberry

Housing and Planning – Sian Berry

We now move on to the the….

EXPLANATIONS/ JUSTIFICATIONS

I will take each position in the order in which they appear above:

Prime Minister – Debbie Abrahams

Debbie Abrahams has impressed me ever since she entered the shadow cabinet to the extent that I was determined to put her in a top position, and in the end I opted for the top position for her.

Deputy Prime Minister – Angela Rayner

Another who has been consistently impressive since her promotion to the front bench. From what I read of her performance on Question time when she had to contend with three very right wing fellow panelists, a Liberal Democrat and the mloderator, Mr Arch-Establishment Dimbleby (I was not able to watch for myself as I refuse to let the BBC have any of my money) she seems to have done a fine job of further underlining her credentials.

Chancellor of the Exchequer – Richard Murphy

We need his kind of economic vision as a matter of urgency, and how better to get it and than have the man himself as chancellor of the exchequer.

Home Secretary – Kerry-Anne Mendoza

Editor of The Canary and author of many splendid articles. I am sufficiently impressed by what I have seen of her that I have no doubts about putting her straight into one of the four so-called “great offices of state”.

Foreign Secretary – Clive Lewis

He was always going to feature somewhere in my dream cabinet, and I have decided that this is the right role for him.

Business Secretary – Rebecca Long-Bailey

Someone else who has said a lot of the right things since joining the front bench.

Health Secretary – Jo Rust

The Labour Party candidate for Northwest Norfolk (my constituency) at the last general election, active in many roles and a passionate supporter of the NHS. Exactly the right kind of person to take on the formidable task of repairing the ruin caused by the likes of Lansley and Hunt.

Environment – Caroline Lucas

I want environmental policy in the hands of someone who is committed to protecting the environment, and to me no one ticks that box more definitively than Ms Lucas.

Transport – Thomas Sutcliffe

I am aware that it is always risky for selectors to pick themselves, but I believe I can justify this one. I have a lifetime’s knowledge of and commitment to public transport. Although I am creator of a London transport themed website, London would actually be at the back of the queue for attention from me is at it is less badly off transport-wise than the rest of the country. 

Neurodiversity Minister – Paddy-Joe Moran

Paddy-Joe is autistic, the author of several books about autism and also writes the askpergers blog. Having decided to revive the idea of this post (see here for more details) it was a question of who to select for it. I wanted my Neurodiversity Minister to be neurodiverse themselves and in the end I went for Paddy-Joe.

Education Secretary – Michael Rosen

He would bring a lifetime’s knowledge and passionate commitment to the post. Education in this country would improve massively with Michael Rosen in this role.

Arts – Anna Bohlin

I do not know whether we could persuade her to come over from Sweden, but I am sure that she would be excellent in this role and would work well with her cabinet colleagues. For more details about her consult her blog

Sports – Elizabeth Ammon

Also known by hew twitter handle – legsidelizzy. In addition to her cricket writing and commentaries she has made some very sound political points. 

Scottish Secretary – Mhairi Black

Always assuming Scotland have not yet declared indepence, I would want Mhairi Black, who is the youngest but also one of the most impressive MPs currently in the house, in my cabinet, and this would seem the ideal role for her.

Disabilities – Paula Peters

I have gone for someone who is disabled and heavily involved in DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) for this important role.

Science – Patricia Fara

Author of a book on the history of science, a scientist herself and an impressive speaker (I have heard her give a talk here in King’s Lynn). She got the nod ahead of Brian Cox because I decided that I wanted a woman in charge of science policy.

Work and Pensions – Mike Sivier

Author of the Vox Political blog, carer and very knowledgeable about the misdeeds of the DWP under the Tories he would be an excellent person to undertake the task of putting this area back on track.

Women and Equality – Kate Osamor

Like several of my other choices she has impressed ever since taking her place on the front bench, and she would be well suited to this role.

Welsh Secretary – Leanne Wood

Occasionally sounds too excitable for her own good, but says a lot of good things, and I believe would do them in this role.

Defence – Emily Thornberry

As shadow defence secretary (before being moved to shadow foreign secretary) she was quite impressive.

Housing and Planning – Sian Berry

She ran an excellent campaign for Mayor of London which deserved better reward than third place (in particular, it was a travesty that she ended up behind Goldsmith after he ran such a disgraceful campaign, but also for my money Khan could have had no complaints had she won outright). This is a position I would definitely want in the hands of someone thoroughly committed to protecting the environment. To reuse a remark I originally made as a comment in response to one of Anna’s posts

Preservation of nature needs to be at the heart of planning decisions, not an optional (and often despised) extra. Your battle in Trosa is a battle for all of us everywhere.

PHOTOGRAPHS

After all that text here are some photographs for a bit of light relief…

dscn3969
The first seven pictures are from yesterday – this is the East Rudham (my parents’ village) egg shop

dscn3960dscn3966dscn3961dscn3964dscn3963dscn3962

dscn3970
Starting with this one my remaining pictures are from today.

dscn3972dscn3974

Autism and Bullying

A link to a very important petition accompanied by a short video – please sign and share. Also some stuff relating to the appalling decision to approve a third runway at Heathrow, some photos and a few other links.

INTRODUCTION

The main purpose of this post is to share a very important petition posted on change.org by autism advocate and anti-bullying campaigner Kevin Healey. I also have some other links that have come to my attention this morning and a few photographs.

BRENTWOOD COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL
PULL YOUR FINGERS OUT!!

Kevin’s petition relates to the case of Harry Gosling, which is covered in detail on the site. Please visit, sign and share the petition here. There is also a short video embedded below:

THE HEATHROW HORROR

The title of this section refers to the appalling decision by the ‘Mayhem’ government to approve a third runway at Heathrow Airport. I have three links to share in this section, starting with this one to a an article in the Guardian outlining just how expensive this crazy project will be even in purely monetary terms.

My other two links relate to the upcoming by-election in Richmond triggered by Zac Gioldsmith’s decision to resign and stand as an independent in protest at this awful decision (a gesture that in no way redeems him for the disgusting London Mayoral campaign he chose to run). They express differing opinions as to whether or not Labour should stand:

My own opinion: I do not think that Labour should stand a candidate in this election – I would recommend that they, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats get together and stand a single anti-Goldsmith candidate who can help to deliver a final damning verdict on Goldsmith by making his current status as an ex-MP permanent (the Conservatives have already said that they will not field a candidate against him, because, although this bit is unstated by them, they know perfectly well that any such candidate would lose).

PHOTOGRAPHS

Just a few photographs this time…

dscn6869dscn6871dscn6873

dscn6874
Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning (this picture was taken yesterday on my way to Norwich for James and Sons’ October auction which I shall be covering in another post)

dscn6876

SOME FINAL LINKS

I have three more links to share to end this post. My first, from New Zealand blogger Heather Hastie, is about the current state of healthcare in the US. You can visit this post, which is chock full of solid sense, by clicking the infographic below:

us-healthcare

Same Difference have produced a post to alert people to a new dirty trick that the DWP have come up with.

Finally, this piece ends where it started, with autism, in the form of this post on The Mighty about the pressure on autistic people to attempt to act normally.

Autism and Other Stuff

Some stuff about autism, some important links and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Although this post includes some links that are not specific to autism, and of course some photos, enough of it is autism related to warrant the first word of the title.

AN IMPORTANT EVENT ON MONDAY

This Monday an ‘autism positive’ event is taking place at the Theatre Royal in Norwich. I will be present in the dual capacity of autistic adult and branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk. As well as a display with full information about our branch we will be distributing leaflets about efforts to get some adult oriented events and activities going. Apart from the official NAS branding and header which  I copied and pasted from the website the leaflets are entirely my work…

leaflet-social-media-whole-doc
This is a screenshot of the whole document – two leaflets to the page.
leaflet-social-media-single-leaflet
This is a close up of a single leaflet.

Advertising attended to, the second part of this section relates to:

AUTISM AND EMPLOYMENT

First of all, here is the grim truth about autistic people and employment in the UK:

  • 75% of us are unemployed.
  • Others are employed in low paid and/ or part time work, so that 85% of us are classed as underemployed.

So, what can be done about this? Well, recruitment practices need to change and here is for me the single most important thing that could be done:

Abolish standard interviews, which place one in a position that one will never be in when in the job, making skills testing mandatory instead. Many autistic people however mujch preparation they put in cannot do themselves justice in interviews, while if you have them do the kind of work that they would be doing in the job they will fare much better, and you will learn not whether they can say the right things but whether they can actually do the work.

As a segue into the next section of the post, here is a link to a petition created by an autistic adult (Chris Packham), which calls on the Government to:

Introduce a moratorium on the hunting
of critically declining wading birds

LINKS

My first link in this section comes courtesy of the consumer group Which? who have managed to get the Consumer Rights Act to cover all travel sectors. Please read the full piece here.

My second link, courtesy of Richard Murphy at Tax Research UK is to a piece that demonstrates that Jeremy Corbyn’s investment program will cost less than the Tories current QE program.

I give the last word before the photographs to DPAC, who have prepared some online action to coincide with the Tory conference for the benefit of those who cannot make it to Birmingham but want to be part of the protest. Please click the link below to see how you can be part of…

ONLINE SHENANIGANS FOR THE TORY PARTY CONFERENCE

PHOTOGRAPHS

All the photographs below were taken yesterday…

dscn5839dscn5836dscn5837dscn5838dscn5840dscn5842dscn5843dscn5844

dscn5845
Having seen an abundance of cormorants where the Nar joins the Great Ouse it was a fine bonus to see these swans enjoying the Nar.

dscn5846dscn5847dscn5848dscn5849dscn5850dscn5853dscn5857dscn5859

dscn5858
To be able to capture this creature on camera was a huge bonus.

 

Thursday Titbits

Just some stuff I found in my inbox this morning and decided to share.

INTRODUCTION

I am sharing a few highlights from this morning’s inbox – to comment you will have to visit the pieces I flag up..

SOME QUIRKY AND INTERESTING PIECES

My first item comes from…

TAX RESEARCH UK

This little squib comes under the heading “The Most Desperate Tweet Ever” – to see it you will have to follow the link, but here, from the comments section of the original post is a classic counter version:

Nasty
Evil
Obscene
Leeching
Imperialist
Brutal
Excruciating
Ruthless
Aloof
Loathesome
Injurious
Spiteful
Malevolent

Well done to John M whoever you are for coming up with that.

For our next piece we turn to…

.PAC

Disabled People Against Cuts to give them their full title have produced something about changes to the appeal process.

The remaining links I am sharing with you are concerned with…

AUTISM

All of the following links were contained in this morning’s Autism Newsletter from The Mighty. Firstly, written by Audra Cederquist, is this piece titled “5 Things You Should Never Say To The Parent Of A Child With Autism“.For full detail and to comment you will have to follow the link, but here are the five things not be said:

1. “What’s wrong with him?”
2. “I’m sorry.”
3. “Just tell him to stop.”
4. “Isn’t he too old/big for that?”
5. “He’ll grow out of it.”

My final piece, created by Stephanie Cooper, who is both mother of an autistic child and a former police officer, is entitled “Mom Creates Autism Law Enforcement Response Training for Police Officers” and includes a short video: