Tolerate or Celebrate…?

I’ve been thinking lately about our use of the word ‘tolerate,’ in relation to different genders, sexual orientations, races, nationalities, mental health issues, etc. And how to me, in using that word, it sounds like we are implying there is something we don’t like, but we are putting up with it. Do you think instead we could say ‘celebrate’? Because, you know, variety is the spice of life… 🌈🙂

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My Idea for a More Democratic Electoral System

What I propose is this…

We should have a dual vote general election. In the first round of voting, you vote for who you want to form the government. This will have no effect on who represents you locally.

In the second round of voting, you vote for MPs to represent your constituencies.

In both rounds you indicate your first and second preference. If the winning party (of the first round governmental vote and of each individual second round constituency vote) doesn’t get at least, say, 60% of the vote, they have to form a coalition. Who they align with is decided by second preferences. This will reduce the likelihood that your chosen party will align with a party you are strongly opposed to.

The dual vote system does allow for the possibility that the distribution of first round (governmental) votes does not tally with the distribution of second round (constituency) votes. I would say, however, that they are unlikely to be significantly different, and the risk that they are not is worth it for the cause of greater democracy. (And would I be right in thinking a similar situation tends to occur in the USA, with opposing parties representing each of the chambers of Congress?)

General elections would, by my system, inevitably be a more lengthy and costly affair, but this could be compensated for by constitutionally increasing the length of service of a government and MPs. This, I would say, is okay, as the ruling party/parties have a greater mandate to rule under this more representative and democratic system.

Balance

 

My Political Coordinates

 

And thus I am labelled. But what does it mean?

A couple of decades or so ago I was a ‘right lefty’ (pardon the pun). I have since veered towards the right. Does this mean I am destined to become a Right Wing Grandad, who decries all foreigners and denies the principles of his youth? I would like to think not. I would like to think that I will ‘end up’ gently circling the Centrepoint of Perfect Balance (because Absolute Perfection is, of course, impossible).

These divisions are… divisive. Between friends, nations, families, religions, any kind of social grouping you can think of. Division causes conflict, which is usually destructive. Shouldn’t we aim to heal, to understand, to tolerate, to compromise? Not to be equal; humanity (and beyond) is beautiful in its variety – but to seek a harmonious mix of political affiliations, races, gender preferences, religions (or lack of), taste in tapas and videogames.

I am tending towards thinking government should be like a parent – or parents – of either or both genders; but whatever the mix, there should be a balance of masculine and feminine, of maternal and paternal attributes. Parenthood is guiding, nurturing, a mix of control and freedom, but not too much of either. Discipline offset with reward, love and firm boundaries. Listening and considering, but asserting where necessary. This is not a perfect analogy – if the nation is the child and the government the parent(s)… well… it could be seen as patronising. But you get the idea!

Which is why I believe in Proportional Representation!

Teachers

aristotle

I hate waffle, so I’ll get to the point – bullet points, that is…

1. Teachers used to be revered and respected members of society – what happened?

2. “Long holidays”? Wake up and smell the gallons of strong, sweet coffee! The kids get long holidays (although not too long, I hasten to add), while the teachers are marking, planning and attending to various other reams of paperwork they are expected to attend to these days.

3. Maybe it would be better if teachers (not kids (or teaching assistants!)) did get shorter holidays – that is to say, if the non-term/non-timetabled time they presently spend working was recognised and made “official” – so ignorant members of the public might possibly stop banging on about how few hours they “work”!

4. On the whole… do your trust your kids’ school? Do you trust your kids’ teachers (and other school staff) to educate, look after and do all they can to provide your kids with the tools to make positive, fulfilling lives? If not, put your money where your mouth is and have a go at doing this thankless and at times emotionally wrenching job yourselves. If you do… give your children’s educators a little more respect!

5. Of course teachers get paid a decent wage – but they work bloody hard for it! Do they not deserve to occasionally think about themselves and their own/their families’ needs?

6. Many teachers these days are not happy – but they stick at the job because they believe in it – not just because it pays the bills. Shouldn’t we be concerned about the happiness of the educators of our children? If the teachers aren’t happy, how does this reflect on the children? How does it reflect on their futures and hence the future of our society?

7. The government wants a nation of pen-pushing bumlickers… don’t believe me? Well… people are leaving teaching because of all the paperwork, bureaucracy and endless accountability. Teaching (if things continue as they are) will henceforth attract people who like all the paperwork, bureaucracy and endless accountability. Children will be taught in an environment infused with paperwork, bureaucracy and endless accountability – aka pen-pushing and bumlicking. They will be ingrained with the belief and the philosophy that this is how the world is, how it should be and how it works most efficiently. They will therefore seek careers that are infused with a hefty old portion of pen-pushing and bumlicking… you see?

8. Teachers (on the whole) are great!

9. Teaching assistants (on the whole) are also great!

10. All the other school staff (on the whole) are great as well!

waffle

Thatch

thatch - spitting image

My blogger’s duty. Here I stand. This woman who played a big role in my childhood. I… had strong negative feelings for her. As did my father, the teacher. And yet, if you asked me why I felt the way I did, I would be hard-pressed to specify. Aye, I could rattle on about privatisation, messing with the unions, selling council houses and what-have-you, but the truth is that none of these things really had a personal impact upon me. I was a child. She was probably my least favourite woman.

The way she angled her head to one side!
Her handbag!
Her general air of disdain for those who opposed her!

I do recall Ben Elton having a few choice words to say about ‘Thatch’. How strongly were my opinions shaped by the political comedians of the time?

A recent episode of Doctors exemplifies for me what ‘Thatcherism’ did for this country. There was a crazy old-ish woman who had protested at Greenham Common in the 80’s, who had to be convinced she needed to improve her personal hygiene, by the doctors and her sensible career-woman daughter. Because of cause you can’t be an ex-Greenham Common protester and be worthy of consideration in a sensible, well-hygiened society.

Careers are all.
There is no society.
Look out for number one.
The little people should know their place.

You have left your legacy, Thatch.

thatcher - handbag

In Chains

I’ve been writing quite a bit about Nine Inch Nails and its offshoots just lately – and to be honest, that’s all I’ve recently wanted to listen to on my mobile phone on the way to and from work. This morning, however, I thought I’d have a break and give Depeche Mode’s Sounds of the Universe album another go. I say “another go,” as I’ve so far listened to it just once, and I thought, Hmm, yeah, it’s quite good, but not that good. I may revise that opinion!

As I now write, I’m listening to the third track on the album, Wrong. Classic Mode! No, not “classic,” it’s better than that. Like all the best Mode, Wrong is bluesy, intense and makes the best use of Gahan‘s gravelly, baritone vocals – no, his vocals aren’t always “gravelly,” but I tend to think it’s best when they are.

So why, when I’ve just been extolling the delights of Wrong, is this piece called ‘In Chains’? And what’s with the photo? One question at a time, please! So… In Chains is the first track on Sounds of the Universe, also great, also bluesy and intense, similarly the second track, Hole to Feed. A couple more tracks in and I’m rediscovering Sounds of the Universe and remembering why, in my youth (ish), I loved Depeche Mode.

So what’s with the photo? Here comes the segue…

***

As well as rediscovering NiN, DM and my love for great music, I have also been loosely following Occupy Wall Street. I was going to write a piece on this topic, entitled, ‘Occupy the World,’ but that seemed a bit of a cliché, and since I was listening to DM at the time of thinking about such, I considered it cooler to refer to a DM song – the one I was listening to as I was thinking about Occupy Wall Street, in fact. Because…

99% of us are “in chains” (God, that was a hard segue to work in).

99% of us feel the injustice imposed by the 1%.

“99%” refers officially to Americans, but if you doubt that a similar statistic refers to the rest of the world, look at these pics:

http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/10/occupy-wall-street-spreads-worldwide/100171/

This is big!

Now it could all just fizzle out and not much become of it, but if it looks like a revolution and smells like a revolution…

Just imagine!

All the people!

Living in harmony!

Or something.

Or all least imagine all the people at the top being forced to listen.

Imagine the pyramid collapsing to rubble around us.

A scary thought.

An exciting thought.

Dark Genius/Light Fluff

As I’m listening to The Charlatans’ You Cross My Path album for the first time, I’m thinking, ooh they’ve got a bit dark. Which, although I can’t deny I thought it, is a pretty inaccurate observation, since the album isn’t that dark and The Charlatans weren’t that light in the first place. But the thought led to other thoughts…

I’ve been listening to quite a bit of Nine Inch Nails lately – very dark. And also Depeche Mode, Mr Bungle, Nirvana and Nickleback, which also have tendencies towards darkness. I like dark music. It makes me feel happy. Light and fluffy music has a tendency to make me feel sad and depressed. I’m not a goth. I’m not an emo – not really sure what one of them is. I just like dark music. Always have. Does listening to dark, melancholy, rage-filled music serve to highlight the good in the world? Probably something like that.

Just listened to The Charlatans’ My Name is Despair. Okay, maybe they have gone a bit dark.