Ok, here is my second Column for the Burkean and I must say I’ve enjoyed the response from the first, with many suggestions for future discussions.
I started the week sure this would be about mental health, a complex subject that seems to get ever more complex as the years go on. I’m going to leave this until another day, but let me leave you with the headline of “A square peg in a round hole”. I feel this phrase contributes much to my mental health issues. My own rhythm often doesn’t sync with what modern life dictates. Over the years its taken a lot of self acceptance and understanding that today puts me in a much better and stronger place. However I digress, and we’ll come back to this subject very soon.
Tony Blair’s false charisma
1997 was the first twinge I had for national politics, although I didn’t really have a clue how it all worked. I was caught hook, line and sinker by a young charismatic Tony Blair offering the vision of hope and prosperity using the track “things can only get better” by D-ream! Oh, how wrong that turned out to be.
We saw a slick campaign orchestrated by the then director of strategy Alastair Campbell, with promises of keeping inflation and interest rates low, cuts to VAT and income tax rate freezes just to name a few. There was an element of excitement in the air that something new, something different was on its way and I’m guessing this is very similar to what the young are seeing in Corbyn today. I see it, I feel it, however I’m very sceptical of such campaigns and although Blair won an historical third term it was achieved on a significantly reduced majority.
His time as Prime Minister, his successes and failures, will be debated for many years to come. However, he’ll go down in history as the man that took the UK into war with Iraq based on lies and his personal beliefs. The man that still holds the mantle of having the biggest protest in British history on his watch. A protest that ultimately made no difference to his decision making, although all these years on everyone that marched or campaigned against what many knew would be a war where there would only ever be losers can feel vindicated for taking the action they did.
Of course this isn’t going to make anyone feeling better now in 2017. The opening of Pandora’s box by Bush and his lap dog Blair has caused a domino effect across the middle east, now not too far from the European borders. With the number killed in the millions and millions more displaced. Please forgive me when I find it hard to recall a positive from his rein as PM and forgive me for not ever wanting to forgive him for the role he played. Much of the hate and anguish I see today I can trace to this man and his actions with his master, Bush.
Was it the actions of Iraq that now make my toes curl when I talk of Labour today? I suspect not, but this was most certainly the catalyst that forced me to open my eyes to a bigger picture and see the world differently.
I found it almost impossible listening to local Labour Members seemingly prepared to defend the indefensible through party loyalty. I lost all confidence in their judgement and the damning findings of the Chilcott report appear to vindicate that distrust. This national calamity forced me not only to question Labour nationally, but on a local level too.
Looking far more closely at Labour locally, I noticed far too many who held up the red rosette, yet failed to even understand, let alone agree with, what I consider Labour values. This remains relevant today, as my community is under Labour control and my nation is dominated by a Labour government. Despite this, my community has been branded ‘the homeless capital of Wales’. For all the talk of social justice and community, it would appear Labour have preached their values, yet completely failed to practice them.
Legal high’s & Local Police
I’m stuck in the middle of a biological war. The young in my community are losing their lives to the scourge of ‘legal high’s’, depression and a severe lack of optimism for the future. I attribute much of this to the lack of real social care. Able to provide strong, preventative measures, as opposed to under-resourced reactionary ones, which are clearly not fit for purpose.
Am I wrong to believe that Labour stands for the ‘average’ bloke on the street? I grew up in an era of local police. These individuals understood the area, knew the locals and vice versa and crucially understood the importance of discretion, giving them an infinitely better chance of maintaining order and preventing crime.
Within the space of 12 months I have had two disappointing experiences with local police that have left me feeling vulnerable within my community and with a belief that doing it yourself is the only way to achieve justice. One involving a seriously drunk driver who the local police lacked the resources to intercept and prevent him from possibly killing someone, despite having already hit my car.
The second involving my phone being stolen at Cardiff centre. Although I provided a complete description of the individual I believed had stolen the phone, and even received a location via tracker, the police lacked any interest and wished to fob me off with a crime number. As a result, I was forced to confront the thief myself, who did have my phone, and received no help in the way of an accompanying police officer, despite repeated requests for assistance. What is a police force for, if I am required to get the evidence myself, follow the crime myself and even apprehend the perpetrator? Both of these crimes could easily have escalated into far more serious instances.
Rather than prevent crime, police seem more geared towards recording it, which is little help to those who the criminals are preying on. Is petty crime even a crime any longer?