Category Archives: Politics

Persecution

I was having a chat to my Mum the other day and I had a light bulb moment.  One so huge I couldn’t believe I’d reached the age of 50 without giving it a second’s thought and it was this:

Women are the most persecuted people on the planet.  Bar none.

It seems so obvious yet it had never before crossed my mind.  We have been stoned, executed, tortured daily in our millions by our spouses, bricked up behind walls, raped regularly (usually by our spouses), imprisoned (often by our spouses), kept as ‘chattles’ (ie owned), denied basic human rights, denied the right to vote, denied a voice, denied education and kept in poverty not to mention domestic slavery for millennia.

Here in the West we think of the persecution of women as being either historical or something which happens elsewhere, yet it’s happening right here and right now in every country across the world. Even in good old Blighty. The recent rise in human trafficking predominantly affects women who are sold as both sex and domestic slaves but it doesn’t even really make the headlines. The case of the Rochdale paedophile ring recently shown in the tv drama Three Girls highlights very well that women are still blamed for their own abuse even here in the UK.  Women are still being paid less than men for the same job but apparently it’s our fault.  Working mothers are predominantly the ones who take days off to look after sick children or to take their kids to the dentist or doctor like their work is unimportant compared to men’s, and full-time working mothers still do the majority of child care in the home.  How often does the father pack the children’s suitcases when you go on your hols?

Women are seen as ‘weak’ because we are more emotional than men.  We can’t just be seen as different, we have to be portrayed as ‘less than’ and the only way women can rise to the top in our society is to act like a man.  Even though men have, historically, made an absolute sodding mess of running the world they are still seen as somehow superior and their lack of nurture and empathy as a strength when it is anything but.

I’m currently being financially persecuted because I am a disabled woman. The recent change to the pension age for women in the UK has discriminated against me yet I can find absolutely no-one who will take on my case. Not only that but the Equality Act actually allows the discrimination. The very law which exists to ensure everyone is treated equally allows me, as a disabled woman, to be treated differently to everyone else but….hey….it’s fine.  In fact, so dismissed has my discrimination been that 11 out of the 11 Solicitors I’ve contacted to take on my case haven’t even bothered to reply to me, not even a bog standard automated email.  Mind you, neither did the Women & Equalities Commission, Lilberty nor the Shadow Pensions’ Minister (who is female).  Women are so conditioned to our inequality that I’m actually made to feel like I’m whining.  Why can’t I just play nice and accept the situation?  Don’t I know how much it would cost to legally fight for my right to be treated the same as a man?!

This morning I briefly wrote about this subject on my Facebook page and my male cousin, the father of 3 daughters, commented “but Jak, I believe women shouldn’t have been given the vote….or car keys!”  Of course he was joking, but I bet he wouldn’t be laughing if his 23 year old daughter had been stoned to death by her husband, or his 17 year old daughter had been raped walking home after school in winter then been blamed for walking alone in the dark and not only that for doing it wearing a skirt (like walking the street wearing whatever the hell we like without being attacked shouldn’t be a fundamental human right).

Our children are quite rightly taught in school about persecution of peoples. About the horrendous Holocaust and the equally horrendous African slave trade. Yet nothing, not a jot, is taught about the biggest persecution of all…….that of women.

Rural health inequality

I’ve lived in both a city (Wolverhampton), a market town and a rural village and there is no doubt about it – people who live in the countryside are discriminated against on every level.

A good friend of mine lives in London.  There are no less than 3 hospitals within a one mile radius of his house.  I live in Cumbria and my nearest hospital is 30 miles away.  If you need more specialist services, like treatment for childhood cancers, female cancers, heart, lung or spinal surgery, or allergies my nearest hospital is 90 miles away.  There is no public transport in my village and it is impossible to survive without a car.  If I wanted to visit my local hospital via public transport, I’d first have to pay £15 for a taxi to my local town, then catch the train to the city then hail another taxi to the hospital……and back again, which would literally take all day.  When you’re really poorly the effort of making the journey to a hospital makes you feel more ill than the ailment from which you suffer and one of the reasons I barely ever saw a Doctor during my ten bedridden M.E. years – I was simply too sick to get there.

Can you even imagine what would happen if Great Ormond Street, the Royal London and Guys all moved to Cheltenham or Ipswich and it took Londoners a taxi ride, changing trains 3 times and another taxi ride to get there with a sick child, a cancer patient or a frail elderly parent?  It’s unthinkable, yet rural people are expected to just get on with it and not make a fuss.

If you’re unlucky enough to be admitted to hospital as an emergency, and go in an ambulance, you have absolutely no way of getting home again.  My neighbours, both in their seventies, recently had this experience and were discharged from A&E at 3am, in their pyjamas.  They then had to hail a taxi to bring them the 30 miles home which cost them nearly £80.

When my Mum had her lung surgery over in Newcastle my Dad and I visited her for ten days.  That’s a 180 mile drive every single day, the cost of a full tank of petrol and an £8 parking fee not to mention meals.  It cost a small sodding fortune and I have no idea how anyone on a low income manages (my Dad paid for everything because I couldn’t afford to).  After discharge she then spent 2 weeks in our local hospital, where we visited every day.  A 60 mile round trip, petrol, meals and parking fee.

Following having half her lung removed, if we’d lived in the city my Mum would have been offered a 7 week rehabilitation programme with a team of specialist lung nurses and physios to get her up and moving again.  Only she lives 20 miles up the road in a town where no such programme exists so she was just left to get on with it.

As a Carer now for my parents I visit them 4 days a week.  This journey alone costs me £80 a month in petrol, which is a huge chunk out of my small income, not to mention the cost of buying, insuring, MOTing, servicing and maintaining a car.

There are 2 specialist centres for people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in England.  One is in London, 300 miles away from where I live.  The other is in Sheffield, 124 miles away which takes nearly 2½ hours in a car (there is no direct train).  It’s not do-able when you’re as ill as I am, especially if you need to go regularly and not merely as a one-off appointment.

I received an email from one of the EDS charities this week offering for me to attend an event “near you”.  Great, I’d love to!  Only it was in Leeds, 100 miles south.  Birmingham is 100 miles north of London but no-one would ever suggest that Birmingham is “near” London FFS!  The Lodon-centric attitude in this country drives me nuts – it’s as if nowhere else exists.  None of the conferences are ever held north of Birmingham, when they should actually be held in either Carlisle or Newcastle – at least that is the middle of the UK and would enable people from Scotland to attend.  But of course it’s a long journey to make from London, and the trains to get from London to Newcastle are dire, so no-one ever bothers.  Who cares what happens in “the north”?  It’s not like any of us matter.

I rely totally on the internet – it is my lifeline to the outside world.  It’s how I order repeat prescriptions, book doctors appointments, do all my banking, pay bills, do my grocery shopping and all other shopping.  Yet until last year my broadband connection speed was 6mbps and regularly cut out.  My mobile signal is no better and I can’t make a call at all from downstairs and only get 2 bars signal at most upstairs.  Which means not only do I have to pay for a mobile contract every month I have to keep paying for a landline contract every month too which doubles the cost of my broadband and phone bill.  My one luxury is having Sky tv who offer free broadband and phone services for their customers…….unless you live in the country where it isn’t “cost efficient”, so we have to pay an extra £20 a month for broadband whereas if I lived 7 miles away in town I’d get it for nothing.

Our nearest Hospice is a 60 mile round trip away.  Can you imagine being in your 80s or 90s and wanting to visit your dying spouse every day?  How would you get there if you can no longer drive?  And even if you could drive, how would you afford the petrol if you lived on the state pension?

The discrimination doesn’t stop even when you die, because guess where our Crematorium is?  That’s right, a 60 mile round trip away.  So you have the Church service locally, then everyone has to drive 30 miles to the city for the cremation, then you all have to traipse the 30 miles back again to have the ashes interred in the cemetery.  It’s outrageous to put grieving families through that and doesn’t half bump up the cost of a funeral because rather than hiring the funeral director’s staff and cars for an hour or two you’re basically looking at the whole day.

There’s a myth that everything costs less in “the north” and it’s the biggest fib ever told.  In some parts of “the north” houses might go for a pittance just like they do in some parts of the south, but here in the Lake District an average 3 bed house costs anywhere from £300,00-£450,00 which is 19 times the average local wage.  We hear all sorts on the news about the extortionate cost of housing for Londoners, yet nothing about the equally out-of-reach cost of houses in Cumbria.  A loaf of bread and a pint of milk costs the same in Tesco in Carlisle as it does in Tescos in Maidstone, yet the average salary in Carlisle is £18,000 while the average salary in Maidstone is £25,000 – guess who’s going to be worse off?

Maybe all us country folk should just move to the city.  Only of course then there would be no clean drinking water, cities not being known for their reservoirs.  No-one to grow our food, not that that’s going to be important after we leave the European Union.  No-one to milk our cows.  No-one to sheer our sheep for their wool.  No B&Bs or hotels to book into for our holidays.  No electricity because there would be no-one manning nuclear power stations which aren’t located in cities (who cares that rural children get leukaemia from the waste they produce).  No-where to film Downton Abbey.  No-one taking care of our beautiful green spaces or ensuring our wildlife doesn’t die out.  No-where for our military or our pilots to train.  No-where to go snow boarding, fell walking, horse back riding, canoeing or the 1001 other outdoorsy activities that some folks like to do.  No-where to study our night skies.  No-where to go to avoid the pollution so rife in our city air.  No-where to go to escape the hustle and bustle and to just sit in peaceful solitude.  Not to mention the fact we’d lose 20 million overseas visitors a year which would wreck the entire country’s economy.  On the plus side, at least there would be no tourists trying to climb Blencathra in their trainers and flipflops and no need for our mountain rescue team risking their lives to save them.  Bonus.

Of course it’s not feasible to have a hospital in sparsely populated rural areas, however there absolutely should be recognition of the fact that rural people are economically disadvantaged in accessing health care.  We should have free parking at hospitals and either quick, reliable hospital transport or vouchers towards the cost of petrol, train or taxi fees for both patients and their main carer.  If we have to travel out of the county there should also be vouchers for free b&b accommodation.

There needs to be a concerted effort to make health education available to all.  It’s impossible to take time out from the busy working life of a Consultant to attend a medical conference 300 miles away, just as it’s impossible for sick patients to travel halfway across the country to attend patient events, so much more needs to be done to hold conferences away from London and Birmingham and to ensure that venues are accessible by major train links.

Just because we live outside of cities shouldn’t mean that we receive both poor health education and poor health care.  We pay our National Insurance stamp and taxes just like everyone else, yet seem to get very little in return.

General Election

Don’t panic, this isn’t going to be a boring post about politics but we’re having an Election here in the UK today and I’ve been a bit perplexed by people’s behaviour in the lead-up.  I’m not making any judgements just voicing observations, because I often find people’s behaviour bewildering and I’m sure I’m not alone in that!

For those of my readers who live abroad, the Conservatives (Republican equivalent) won the last Election by a huge majority and Labour (Democrat equivalent) supporters are determined to not let that happen again.  My Facebook feed has been chocka full of Labour supporters posting how the Tories (Conservatives/Republicans) have decimated the country and how Labour will put it back together.  Seriously, every other post is slagging off the Tories and bigging up Labour to the point where I’ve had to unfollow some of my friends because they were doing my head in.  They feel like the Jehovah’s Witnesses of the political world and I don’t answer the door to them either 😉

My Tory friends (and I know they’re out there!) don’t say a word.  They didn’t in the last Election either, but someone was voting Conservative because they won with a landslide.

I’ve had to stop posting anything about politics on Facebook because there are 3 or 4 of my friends who feel the need to comment on everything I say.  I wouldn’t care but I’ve actually voted Labour my entire adult life but even so they still try to ram their message home – WTF is that all about, they’re preaching to the bloody converted!  The difference is that I know the Labour party has its weaknesses just like the Tories have their weaknesses – god forbid I should voice any of them though because these few friends then feel the need to defend them.  It feels both hugely patronizing (like I have no grasp of the issue even though I have A levels in both Politics and Economics) and a bit like I’m being bullied.  No wonder Tory voters don’t say a word on Facebook because they would be pilloried 😦

I wonder if the Labour supporters know how intimidating their behaviour is?  Do they have an objective when posting all this stuff online and if so what is it?  To convert intelligent, grown adults into their way of thinking – how patronizing is that?  To tell non-Labour voters they are wrong and to do the right thing – “right” in whose world?’  What gives them the right to force their opinions on others?  Why can’t they just do what Tory voters do and put their X on the ballot paper without a fuss?

Most normal thinking grown-ups aren’t going to be swayed into voting one way or the other by something one of their mates has written on Facebook.  If I was undecided I would read each Party’s Manifesto to see what their actual policies are.  I would then read some articles by well-informed, independent political commentators to see what they make of the issues.  I’d then look at my own personal circumstances and make a choice from a combination of all these things.

As it is, for the first time in my life I am not voting.  I can’t, in all conscience, vote Tory because they actually are decimating our NHS, education, welfare and care systems and don’t give a toss about the vulnerable in society.  On the other hand, if Labour win I would actually be petrified for the Brexit negotiations – Jeremy Corbyn can’t even decide on domestic policies without changing his mind like the wind and being bullied by his own party members, so the thought of him negotiating our country’s future with the likes of Germany’s Angela Merkel terrifies me.  For the first time in 57 years of voting my Mum has voted Tory this time.  Her reasons are Brexit.  As she says, the Brexit negotiations will affect our country forever, whereas the Election is only for the next 4 years when she can then vote Labour again and get rid of the Conservatives.

It’s great when people are engaged and passionate about politics.  It’s not great when they intimidate, don’t allow any opinion but their own to be voiced, challenge, cajole and generally act like a bully in a school playground.  Young adults are especially vulnerable to this type of behaviour and, while it’s wonderful to see younger people taking part in politics, we need to be careful to provide both sides of the argument then let them decide their own path.

If I wake tomorrow morning and Labour have been victorious I will be truly worried.  If I wake tomorrow morning and the Conservatives have been victorious I will be worried for very different reasons.  It’s a loose/loose as far as I’m concerned.

Scottish Independence

There are times I feel like the world is going mad.  This week has been such a week, with the soul destroying (IMHO) new EDS diagnostic criteria and Nicola Sturgeon calling for a 2nd Referendum on Scottish Independence less than 3 years after the first one.  I live just 30 miles from the Scottish border and travel regularly into Scotland.  My best mate’s husband works in Scotland yet lives in England and I know farmers who live one side of the border yet whose land crosses onto the other.   None of us want another Referendum and I haven’t spoken to anyone yet who does.  I couldn’t care less whether Scotland is its own country or stays as part of the UK – it has little bearing on me personally apart from theoretically having to produce my passport when I go up the M6 – but the timing of this current announcement sucks for all concerned.

Nicola Sturgeon has dreamed of an independent Scotland since she was 15 years old.  This is a personal crusade to her and her political raison d’être.  She is obsessed, and her pushing for a 2nd referendum has nothing to do with what’s best for Scotland – I hope the Scottish people realize this, even if they are pro-independence.  The choice appears to be to leave a 400 year union with the 5th richest nation in the world to join a 40 year union which contains two essentially bankrupt countries.  Alrighty-then.

The excuse for wanting a second referendum (and it is an excuse) is that during the EU Referendum Scotland voted to remain in Europe.  So did London, but it doesn’t mean London should become its own country (even though at times it acts like one!).  Democracy means accepting the will of the majority, even if you don’t like it.  You can’t have a second go just cos you didn’t like the result of the first – it’s not best of three.  That aside, if Scotland left the UK tomorrow it would not be entitled to simply remain in the EU anyway – it doesn’t work like that.  It first has to extricate itself from the UK, which could take a decade.  Then as a newly independent country it has to apply to become a member of the EU, which could take at least another 4 years even if Scotland is ‘fast tracked’ (this has been confirmed many times by EU leaders).  So what the current rush is about I have no idea.

Being a member of the EU depends on strict criteria, one of which is being part of NATO.  If Scotland became independent tomorrow they would not be a NATO member, as it’s the UK who belong to NATO and Scotland would not be in the UK.

In addition, there needs to be particular fiscal policies in place.  The budget deficit needs to be 3% of GDP and, with the current plummeting of oil prices, Scotland’s deficit currently stands at an estimated 8% of GDP.  Scotland wants to break away from the UK yet retain the £ and the services of the Bank of England.  Talk about wanting your cake and eating it!  The fact that Sturgeon has made life soooo difficult for the UK Government during its Brexit strategy by calling for this 2nd referendum will probably mean that Theresa May is going to tell her to get knotted over the currency issue, which leaves an independent Scotland without any form of cash.  They won’t be a member of the EU for some years, so can’t use the Euro, and will no longer have the Pound.  Good luck with that.

There are also some issues which don’t make the headlines but which are, nevertheless, really important for Scotland to consider.  There’s the small matter of debt.  Even if it gains independence, Scotland will have to repay its share of the UK’s £1.7trillion debt.  If it joins the EU it also takes on European debt caused by the bail-out of Greece and Ireland.  The UK has over 60 million people, all paying taxes – it can afford this level of debt.  Scotland has only 5 million people and a much smaller pot to pinch from.  And speaking of taxes, for every £100 raised in taxes in Scotland it spends £127 and can only do this because the shortfall is made up from UK coffers, which of course wouldn’t happen if they left the UK.  In order to bring down spending an independent Scotland would have to make some radical decisions, eg abolishing free University tuition and prescription fees.  In other words they would have to enter a new phase of austerity.

It appears some Scottish voters think that if they vote for independence they will immediately be independent and nothing is further from the truth.  It will take years to negotiate terms and to sever ties from the UK, by which time we will have left the EU and the world will look very different.  If I were Scotland I’d want to see how this played out before deciding the future of my country.  Independence is not the rich and free Utiopia portrayed by Sturgeon – I just hope the ordinary people of Scotland realize this when making their choice.  I hope for their sakes they do some reading up and not just from the side they favour.  I hope they look at independent sources of information and both sides of the argument.  It’s a massive decision and one which they can’t take back if it goes belly up.  Yes this post looks at the negatives of leaving the UK and not the positives (I’m sure there are some, I just can’t find them!) but that’s because Sturgeon only mentions the good bits and does it with such passion and fervour it’s hard to see past the rehetoric.  But see past it Scotland must, because no matter how flat you make a pancake it has two sides – the top might look perfect but when you flip it the underside could be burnt and inedible.

Hypocrisy

I think I must be hormonal because I’m feeling a bit arsy.  Because of that this post may seem controversial but I’m going to write it anyway on account of the fact it’s my blog and I can write what I like 😉

There is a lot of castigation of Trump going on but I admit I’m finding it all rather confusing.  It’s not Trump’s fault he was elected – he couldn’t have been elected unless someone voted for him.  Unless millions of people voted for him.  So I’ve got to be honest – I’m not entirely sure why we’re all berating him.  Do the protests include his entire team?  Those who helped him to stand for election and those who make up his government, because he can’t run a country on his own?  Hitler would have been pretty useless without Himmler, Goebbels, Heydrich, Frick, Goering and Eichmann and Trump would never have reached the Oval Office without the financial and political backing of some very influential allies.  It seems we need one scapegoat and Trump is it but we have to bear in mind that no man is an island and you don’t get to be President on your own.

There are so many vile regimes in the word I’m not entirely sure why we’re solely focusing on Trump.  6 million people died and 2 million people were displaced in the Great African War between 1998 and 2003 – it was the deadliest conflict since World War II yet there was not a single protest about it in the West.  In fact, I’m sure most of us have never heard of the Congo or the fact that 48 women were raped there every hour.  Where was our outrage then and where is it now they are again on the brink of civil war?   Where are our women’s marches  standing in solidarity with our sisters in Africa?  Nowhere to be fucking seen, that’s where.

The situation in Gaza is beyond words, and has been absolutely sickening for decades.  Palestinians are under military occupation, living in a Ghetto no different to the Jews in Germany during the 2nd World War, imprisoned, starved, killed.  Where are our protests about that?  Apparently placing temporary restrictions on travel into America and wanting to leave the EU is not fine, but routinely breaking the arms of children or imprisoning them or starving them is OK.

And while we’re all currently up in arms about the situation in America where the hell have we all been since 2011 during which time 250,000 people in Syria have been killed and another 11 million (11 MILLION!) have been displaced?  Where has our outrage been against the inhumane way migrants have been treated in Calais for the past 17 years – where is our castigation of the French President?  Or the fact asylum seekers in Australia are placed in detention camps like criminals?

I’m baffled as to why some acts of evil are “nothing to do with me guv” and other, arguably much less serious issues, are worth standing up for.

I probably shouldn’t mix politics with religion, but I’m going to anyway.  Religion confuses the hell out of me.  The Church of England has recently voted that their stance banning marriage in Church by same sex couples should stand.  Their reason being “the bishops have upheld the authority of scripture against the impact of cultural change”, in other words the word of the Bible is law and should not be deviated against.  OK, I get that.  So in Leviticus 15:19-33 when it says that a woman is unclean for 7 days during her period and in order to become clean should “on the eighth day bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons and present them to the Priest at the entrance to the Tabernacle” we should still be doing that?  When the Bible tells us that women who “fornicate” should be stoned to death (not the man who either paid her for sex or raped her, they get off scot free because, well, men have their needs don’t they?) that’s what we should still be doing?  Some argue that the Christian church follows the New Testament not the Old Testament, however the New Testament “bid slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect…” Titus 2:4-9, so does that mean Christians disagree with the abolition of slavery?

We seem to be very choosy about the things we deem to be ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and which of our principles are worth standing up for and which are not.  I must admit I find the world confusing and I’m more than a bit baffled by our hypocrisy and the way in which we justify our views and our actions.

Intention

“Intention” – implies having a goal or determination to achieve something.

The older I get the more I live my life with intent.  I don’t just wander aimlessly through the days, doing the laundry, walking the dog, doing my parents’ shopping.  Life is too precious for that.  It’s too precious for me to be bored, or scared, or angry although there are times when I am all of these things (well, actually, not so much bored cos I’m too busy!).  But when you live with intention, with purpose, you realize very quickly that being bored, frustrated or angry isn’t providing you with the life you want or need and it’s amazing how knowing that changes your behaviour or viewpoint.

When I write blog posts I think about the intention of my words.  Am I just venting (which is allowed and often needed!)?  Am I trying to be informative?  Am I standing up for my principles?  Am I sharing a life lesson so that others may hopefully benefit or empathize or not feel so alone?  Am I being deliberately hurtful (and, yes, I sometimes am) and what is my purpose for hurting the other person – what do I hope to achieve by it?

I’m on social media, but I only ever comment on other people’s posts to say something positive.  If they have a viewpoint which is different to mine they are entitled to it, even my cousin who belongs to the British National Party and whose views I find utterly disgusting.  If I were to disagree with him my intention would be to change his viewpoint and substitute it with mine.  People become members of the BNP or KKK for very complex, deep-rooted and fearful reasons and me saying “you’re morally wrong and I’m morally right” isn’t going to make them any less fearful.  I know he is otherwise a decent, hard working human being and a much loved Husband, Dad and new Grand-dad, so in his mind there must be very valid reasons for his extremist views.  Maybe I’d do better to listen to those reasons instead of judging them.

I’m really struggling with the Trump situation at the moment.  I find his policies, for the most part, repugnant but at the same time he is a democratically elected President.  American citizens knew exactly who and what they were voting for and did it anyway, so I am torn between respecting their choice and my own opposing views.  Both women and black people voted for him in their tens of thousands, despite his misogynistic and racist views, so they must have felt a compelling need to do so.  If I were to protest in the street what would my intention be?  To oust him from office, thereby destroying the democratic process?  To get him to change his policies, even though his policies were the reason he was elected?  To impose my view over that of millions of other people because I don’t agree with them?  Or simply to have my say so that the world knows I’m unhappy.

France has been treating its immigrant population at Calais appallingly for years and years, not providing shelter, medical treatment, or caring if these people live or die.  They were the first country to impose a ban on the Burka, which has now been followed by Austria, thereby making people’s religious freedoms illegal.  There is a worrying rise of fascism in Europe yet some Brits (particularly Scotland) are fighting tooth and nail to remain part of the EU and trade with France, while castigating America for their choices.  It makes no sense to me that people are outing Trump as a vile leader, when Hollande has actively threatened to “punish” Britain for leaving the EU which would mean hurting thousands of old people, sick people, children, babies and everyone else in the UK via trade and financial sanctions merely for choosing to leave his gang – apparently some Brits think treating immigrants appallingly and threatening harm to innocent citizens is OK by some leaders just not by others.

Much of the anti-Trump sentiment in the UK is mired in the anti-Brexit sentiment – both are, on the surface, about immigration but are really much much deeper.  It’s fine for someone living in London, who as a collective city voted to Remain in the EU, to call all Brexiteers racist because the Capital is rich, with excellent telecommunications, roads, infrastructure and low unemployment.  I wonder how these same people would feel if they lived in the north, with its boarded up houses, high unemployment, lack of rail network, appalling roads and terrible isolating internet access?  How would you feel then knowing that 100 immigrants were being sent to your city when growth is going backwards and resources are non-existent?  Immigration isn’t about not wanting “foreigners” in your country.  It’s about losing everything you’ve ever known – your livelihood shared with your Dad and your Dad’s Dad; your home; your community and your working men’s club where you met all your mates on a Friday night for a pint being replaced by a Mosque.  The arrogance with which people make assumptions about other people’s views astounds me, when they haven’t tried for a second to walk in the other person’s shoes.  How can a career woman in Washington know what it’s like to be male and unemployed in Illinois?

So should we never speak out?  Should we not give our views?  Protest against Trump?  Have I just not “woken up” to my world?  I guess it all depends on my intention for speaking out or protesting.  What do I hope to achieve?  Would I be having my voice heard at the expense of millions of other people whose lives are different to mine and who share different concerns to me?  I don’t know.  I’m not arrogant enough to assume I have any answers.

All I can do is live my own life with intent.  Respecting other people’s lives, values and views, even if they differ to my own.  Looking below the surface and seeing the wider picture.  Keeping a watchful eye on my own words and actions and the intention behind them.  Maybe if we all did that, maybe if we all listened more and judged less, we wouldn’t be in the pickle we’re currently in.

Presidential election result

I think most Brits are as confused by Trump’s success as the rest of the world were about our decision to leave the EU.  We find it astounding that one of the most powerful countries in the world would choose a bigoted, misogynistic, racist, sex offender as their Leader.  However, as with Brexit, the people have spoken and must be listened to.  To those who supported Trump there are very valid reasons for their choice.

The world always looks on in jaw dropping amazement when a controversial figure is appointed to lead a country, but it happens with regularity and the reasons are often similar.  No-one could understand the rise in popularity of the Nazi party in Germany in the 1930s, but to middle class Germans there were valid reasons why Hitler appealed.  The following list is taken from the BBC website:

Reasons why Hitler rose to power

  1. Hitler was a great speaker, with the power to make people support him.
    Trump is also a powerful and persuasive orator.
  2. The moderate political parties would not work together, although together they had more support than the Nazis.
    Whilst this doesn’t apply in America, the opposition to Trump in the form of Hilary Clinton was weak.  Her husband had been impeached whilst President and was a serial philanderer, whilst Hilary had been investigated by the FBI.
  3. The depression of 1929 created poverty and unemployment, which made people angry with the Weimar government. People lost confidence in the democratic system and turned towards the extremist political parties such as the Communists and Nazis during the depression.
    The fall-out from the stock market crash of 2008 is globally still being felt, with many countries still operating under a measure of Austerity.  We’ve all had enough of being skint, of cuts in public services and of the rich seemingly getting richer at the expense of the poor.
  4. The Nazi storm troopers attacked Hitler’s opponents.
    No-one has been more attacked in a Presidential campaign than Hilary Clinton was by team Trump.
  5. Goebbels’ propaganda campaign was very effective and it won support for the Nazis. The Nazis targeted specific groups of society with different slogans and policies to win their support.
    Trump fed on people’s fears following 9/11 and the Stock Market crash by negatively targeting Muslims and immigrants.
  6. Hitler was given power in a seedy political deal by Hindenburg and Papen who foolishly thought they could control him.
  7. German people were still angry about the Treaty of Versailles and supported Hitler because he promised to overturn it.
    Americans are still angry about 9/11 and Trump promises to annihilate ISIS and wanted to ban Muslims from entering the country.
  8. Industrialists gave Hitler money and support.
    Trump has some very powerful business allies.

Before anyone blows a gasket I’m not comparing Trump to Hitler.  I’m comparing the process by which controversial figures rise to political power and they’re usually similar regardless of the figure or the country.  There has often been an economic downturn, with either high inflation or high unemployment, plus cuts in public funding.  There has often been war or attack.  The politician involved usually has a huge ego, great charisma and will play on the fears of the electorate in order to gain power.   Whilst this arguably can be said of all political leaders, the difference with people like Trump is their absolute ruthlessness and the fact they will go to any lengths to win, then once in power they often ignore absolutely the will of the people and follow their own agenda.  Time will tell if Trump acts “for everyone” or just himself.

As with Brexit, the deed is done.  Protesting in the street is futile because in a Democracy the majority vote stands.  Arguing bitterly on social media or with your neighbours only fuels hate and won’t change a damn thing.  I personally wouldn’t have backed Trump in a million years but I fully support America’s choice and hope he’s a great President.

p.s. if anyone wonders about my interest in politics I took both Politics and Economics at A Level, and have a post-graduate qualification in both Business and Business Law.  In a previous job I worked for Local Government.