British Politics’s Blog

The ravings of an individual, UK voter frustrated with our politicians

School Exclusions report is a load of tosh!

with one comment

A “Think Tank” supported by the Private Equity Foundation calls for difficult children to remain on the school register rather than being excluded. Once again, we witness these so called experts focusing on the perpetrators rather than the victims. Don’t get me wrong, I accept that those children that are excluded should receive help, but not at the expense of the other children.

The study by the Think Tank, which was based on statistical analysis and workshops, suggests exclusion does not solve behavioural problems and is linked to very poor results. That may be so…but one disruptive pupil can cause misery to the rest of the class and in some cases, change the entire dynamic of the school.

I have personal experience of such a case. One youngster in a primary school was very disruptive and constantly bullying other children. Parents complained to the teachers and the head teacher of this primary school for more than a year. Children that had once looked forward to going to school, were coming home and saying that they wanted to change school or that they “felt sick” and didn’t want to go to school. The matter only got dealt with when parents collecting their children started talking to each other and realised that the reason for their children’s change of attitude stemmed from their experiences with just one pupil.  The school had attempted to keep a lid on the matter, by not taking the collective experiences into account. It was only when the parents started to talk that matter were eventually dealt with.

The child was subsequently excluded and provided with a private tutor. The atmosphere in the school literally changed overnight…children were celebrating and all of a sudden they wanted to go to school to learn.

Where in this report have the experiences of other children been taken into account? Where in the report have the authors taken into consideration the experience of parents in terms of their children’s attitude to such disruptive behaviour? What is the point of having a Think Tank if their review is so narrow as to exclude the consequences of including disruptive pupils…in other words, ignoring the affect on the majority at the expense of the minority? Not for the first time in this country have we seen Think Tanks’ act in a similar fashion…indeed, some imbecilic Government ministers have even introduced legislation to support the recommendations of these Think Tanks.

What is really worrying is Ed Balls is not known for independent thinking…god help us if he reads this report and believes it will gain him a few positive headlines. Next, we can expect to see a raft of new rules or, worse still, new legislation. Remember, this is a man that wants to be Chancellor…Schoos Minister is just a ‘stop gap’.

I fully support the notion of providing children that have ‘behavioural issues’ with additional, specialist support…but their needs must not be the overriding consideration. The Government and teachers have a duty of care and a responsibility to all of the pupils and parents…not just those with behavioural problems or special needs.

The report’s author Sonia Sodha claims that other countries do not exclude children in the way the UK does, that may be true, but do these countries support the notion of allowing children with behavioural difficulties to remain in school to disrupt the education of the majority.

This country has done much to protect the needs of minority groups…but this should never be done at the expense of the majority…as has been the case with so much legislation introduced by this flawed, headline grabbing, self-serving and failed Government.

Cameron: Overseas aid is taxpayers money not yours!

with 3 comments

David Cameron is wrong to insist that the £9 billion ‘overseas aid budget’ should be “ring fenced”. At a time when the people of this country are facing great hardship, it is foolhardy to believe that he will have widespread support for delivering UK taxpayers money to countries such as Pakistan and China.

Notwithstanding the huge amount of taxpayers’ money that is being committed in our name, we all know that a good deal of this money is squandered, you only have to look at some of the brand new 4×4 vehicles that are driven my Government officials in some African countries, while their people starve. More often than not, these vehicles are paid with using foreign aid; this is hardly a success story. Furthermore, whilst some of these countries can rely on foreign aid, they are not being encouraged to stand on their own two feet.

Everyone has to tighten their belts at times such as these and our Government should be no different. I full accept that investment in health and education must be maintained, although I would qualify that statement by insisting that there should be a root and branch review to ensure that we are receiving value for money. However, overseas aid is an area that can and should be cut, at least until this country is back on its feet…because like it or not, our finances are in a precarious position.

Cameron keeps telling us how we will all have to accept a period of “austerity”, which will include increased direct and indirect taxes. Okay, I accept that this is inevitable, but how dare he foist new taxes on the British people before he has taken a scalpel to expenditure on items such as overseas aid? Cameron needs to remember that there are many people in this country that live in squalor, often council owned high rise flats that are not maintained or are well past their sell by date. These people are forgotten, whilst huge sums are given away overseas.

How many times have we heard the ‘youths’ of today tell us that the reason there is so much petty crime and a gang culture is because they are “bored” and they have “nowhere to go”? Yet, youth and community centres are routinely closed down due to lack of funds…the result is that youngsters are left roaming the streets. As a consequence, people within the community are scared, they have to suffer petty crime and their quality of life is dramatically reduced. The priorities of this Government and for all intents and purposes, the next Government’s, are completely at odds with what is needed and wanted by the people of this country.

It is high time all politicians started to listen to the people of this country and not simply pay lip service. We are all tired of people at the top telling us what we want and what need, rather than listening to us!

Gordon Brown’s Temper Tantrums

with 2 comments

Much has been written about Gordon Brown’s management style and specifically about his legendary temper tantrums. He and some of his loyal colleagues may dismiss this as a man that is committed, passionate and someone who gets angry with himself, but that it complete rubbish, he knows it and so do his colleagues. The fact remains, reports of Gordon Brown’s behavior in the private sector would almost certainly lead to the dismissal of the protagonist.

This is a prime example of what happens when you place people with little or no real management experience in charge of a huge organization…such as Government. Yes, he was Chancellor, but the fact is, unlike many people in the private and even the public sector, Gordon Brown (and many of the ministers who now come to his defence), have never worked through the ranks. Therefore, they have little or no conception of the need to lead by example and communicate their message clearly and concisely. The bottom line is, bullies make very poor managers, instead they breed a culture of fear, contempt and hidden truths.

Brown has admitted that he throws things; well what sort of message does he think this type of behaviour sends? That he is in control, measured, responsible? I don’t think so! Anyone who defends such actions are as bad as the perpetrator, because they are seen as complicit, or perhaps even endorsing the behaviour, so victims have nowhere to go. It is an appalling situation.

I have seen senior managers that adopt a similar style to Gordon Brown and based on my experience of how people react to such people, I am not surprised that Brown fails to achieve anything! Bullying managers will normally experience the following;

  1. Their line managers adopt a similar management style and this behaviour is eventually considered ‘normal
  2. As information moves up the chain it is ‘sanitized’ to avoid facing the wrath of their line managers. Management is told what they want to hear rather than the facts.
  3. As the information and management is disseminated to each line manager, it is further sanitized to suit the recipient, therefore, by the time it reaches the top of the chain, it bears no reality to what is happening at grass roots level. This is fact, not supposition.
  4. Some of the brightest people within the group are crushed, because their views differ from what senior managers want to hear, this prevents new ideas and fresh initiatives being presented. This results in ‘same old, same old, rather than fresh ideas…anyone watching this Governments lack lustre performance for the past few years will recognize this trait.
  5. Meetings end up with everyone agreeing with the ‘chair’ rather than challenging or presenting new ideas.
  6. Because everyone agrees with the boss, the boss thinks that he can ‘walk on water’ that he can do no wrong. This then becomes self-perpetuating! Any boss worth his salt would ensure that he had people around him that were prepared to challenge the status quo.

There is another undeniable fact that people like Gordon Brown needs to know…the lower down the ranks the people on the receiving end of his tantrums are, the harder they are hit. Fellow ministers may shrug off his attempt to show how macho he is by throwing a telephone at the wall, but junior employees will almost certainly shit themselves! What a big man you are Mr Brown!

It is well know that Gordon Brown likes to micro manage (this is often sold as a virtue!)…but it is in fact another futile act. The reality is, where senior mangers micro manage; they create resentment in the ranks, therefore as soon as their attention is directed elsewhere, everything returns to normal. This is how managers get their own back on interfering bosses who think they are the only people that know the answers or solution.

What Gordon Brown has not learned, is that the larger the machine, the more important it is to sell your ideas, before attempting to enforce them. He has made the classic mistake that many senior managers do, that is to assume that because they are the ‘big boss’ they can issue orders and it will just happen…because they decree it so. Utter bollocks! It just doesn’t happen that way. New ideas and initiatives have to be sold up and down the line…otherwise they will get bogged down in the process…there is another important lesson for Gordon Brown and people like him, that is being the boss does not always mean that you are right! So a good boss will have someone around him to keep his feet on the ground and a person who is not frightened of challenging him.

The bottom line is Gordon Brown doesn’t have what it takes…and I suspect neither does David Cameron…the only difference is Gordon Brown has had his chance and screwed it up, if Cameron gets his, I earnestly hope for the sake of the people of this country he learns a lot faster. In this election, I suspect we will be voting not for the people or the party we want, but the people or the party that we dislike the least. If this is democracy, they can shove it!

David Cameron’s Amnesty for wrongdoers

with 4 comments

Am I the only one that believes that Cameron is actually weak, not strong on wayward MP’s? Yes, he has told us how he is taking a strong line, but does the evidence back that up? I think not. If you are in the shadow cabinet, according to Cameron, it is sufficient to pay back anything that may not be considered “reasonable” and all will be forgiven. If you are a backbencher, then you may be referred to Cameron’s “kangaroo court”, if you have been a good boy or girl, but a little greedy, then you may be asked to pay some money back, but you will be exonerated. On the other hand, if you are a bit of a maverick, then Cameron will use this as an opportunity to get rid of you. At least that is my take on it.

So, are we to believe that tough man Cameron is going to tell all burglars and car thieves that so long as they return their ill-gotten gains, then they will be forgiven and can get on with their lives? Is it possible that Cameron’s so called tough approach is a bit of a misnomer, designed to deflect attention. A cynic might suggest that by telling everyone that he is a bit of a tough guy, he has successfully diverted attention and at the same time, ensured that it is not the court of public opinion that decides on whether an MP has misbehaved, but the court of David Cameron.

Sorry to all those that like Cameron, but I just don’t trust him, the more I see him in action, the more he gives off the air of an opportunist. I have noticed that whilst he says a lot, if you dissect what he has said, it is rarely tangible of even measurable. I really want to believe that Cameron and the Conservatives are a worthy alternative to the discredited Brown, but if I am honest, there is little that he had done or said that impresses. I think it will just be more of the same. I recognise that because I so want Brown gone, I am almost prepared to accept that the devil himself could do a better job…..but, I said almost! No matter how much we may want to have this country put back on track, we cannot just will someone to succeed, they first of all have to have the wherewithal to make it happen, and I do not see that in Cameron.

Also, where has all the talk of reform gone? Cameron is pushing Brown into an early general election, great, but not before we have had some electoral refirm. What is the point of being able to put in a new government if we are obliged to accept the people put before us by the party machine? That is not democracy. It means that our choice is limited to our preferred party, not candidate. If Cameron wants the people to support an early election, then he must allow the people to select their preferred candidate at the next election, not afterwards. We all know that when party’s win power they seem to forget about everything that said to get them there.

Is David Cameron all mouth and no trousers?

with 2 comments

This is a rhetorical question, but also one I have been asking myself over the past few months given, in my opinion, he is trying to be all things to all men (and women).

Take for example his ‘commitment’ to give “serious consideration” to electoral reform. What type of commitment is “serious consideration”, it means absolutely nothing. Does he suppose that we all so stupid, so punch drunk and so desperate that we cannot tell the difference between a promise to provide serious consideration and one where he promises to deliver on a specific pledge? Cameron worries me, because he is all smiles, says plenty but offers little, yet what we need more than anything is a leader with conviction. In many ways, he reminds me of a post version of Tony Blair and look where that lead us?

Cameron said he would allow the people to select who their Conservative candidate for MP would be through “open primaries“. However, he then went on to state that this would only be where MP’s have stood down. Why stop there, if he is so certain that his party has selected the best candidates, why won’t he allow the local constituents to give their verdict? There are currently 190 Conservative MP’s, if Cameron wants to pass the power to the people, then he must insist that they all stand for re-selection. That would be people power.

On the use of Party Whips, Cameron has undertaken to look at this, that is not the same as making a firm commitment. Why not commit to a programme where Conservative MP’s are only required to toe the party line on manifesto commitments? That will reduce the power of the Executive and we have all seen what happens when the Executive gets too much power, just review the past 12 years. New Labour have introduced more laws in 12 years than all previous governments combined. Most of these laws have sought only to reduce our right to privacy, attack our liberty, and pass immense powers to quangos, the police and unelected officials.

He has suggested that MPs would could be handed the power of deciding the timetabling of bills and backbenchers would get powers to choose the chairmen and members of select committees. Great, so why not make it a firm commitment?

There is some merit in Cameron’s proposal of fixed term parliaments, but is this talk or a commitment? Why stop at parliament, what about MP’s having fixed terms, after all, there is an experienced civil service, so what is wrong with bringing in ‘new blood’? Why hasn’t David Cameron cottoned on to the fact that people power must allow the constituents to recall an MP if he or she fails to perform? Surely that is people power at its best? And what of reducing the number of MP’s by 10%? If the intention is to make the Executive more accountable to parliament, unless there are fewer ministers, this could have the opposite effect.

If Cameron is so tough on Conservative MP’s, why have none of them been deselected? How can he claim that Kirkbride’s case is any different to Mackay’s, are they not married? Are we supposed to assume that they never discussed the second home allowance arrangement? Why has he limited ‘questionable behaviour’ to paying back the excess, that is weak, not strong. As I stated before, does David Cameron truly believe we are all so stupid?

I have studied David Cameron over the past few months because I wanted to believe him. But, in my opinion, he still lacks any firm or meaningful commitments, on policy or reform. He comes across as charming, but he rarely, if ever makes a firm commitment on anything. He talks tough, but then acts like a wimp. He is a good speaker and very charming, but so was Tony Blair. I am beginning to believe that the Conservative Party under David Cameron will just be more of the same and if that is the case, he cannot count on my vote! – We need a return to conviction politics and soon.

Boycott the mainstream parties

with 4 comments

I have often advocated to friends and colleagues that the best way to deliver a hard-hitting message to politicians is to vote for fringe parties rather than mainstream. The reality is, at least for the most part, leaders of the main parties take our votes for granted. They know that there is a hardcore of supporters, but it is floating voters that really decide results, so that is who they target with populist policies. The thing that they fear most, is something that upsets the status quo, that is, the voters responding in an unpredictable or uncontrolledable way. Whether we like it or not, most voters are predictable, the mainstream parties like that.

This is perhaps why Lord Tebbit urged disaffected voters to “teach the big parties a lesson” by endorsing one of the smaller parties. Now this has been admitted by a former Conservative Party Chairman, perhaps my friends and colleagues will start to realise that a vote for a fringe party is not a wasted vote. As a fellow blogger stated in a recent post; “Politicians of all parties would do well to listen. They rule by consent, not as a right. The public could scupper all of their plans by simply voting for fringe parties, it may not give us a joined up government, but lets be honest, we haven’t had one of those for generations!”. There is no need to vote for extremist parties, in the EU Election there are quite a number of choices, including, but not necessarily limited to; UKIP, the Greens, the English Democrats, the Christian Peoples Alliance, NO2EU, Libertas, and the Jury Team.

Truth be told, MEP’s have very little power, so using the European elections to deliver a message to our domestic politicans carries very little risk and a great deal of upside. I know that I may be criticised for this comment, but the real power in the European Union lies with the unelected Commissioners, not the MEP’s. Our domestic MP’s have disappointed us, many have either abused or stood by whilst others abused an expense system that was actually designed to be abused….by the abusers! Ironic isn’t it! – Clearly our MP’swere quite prepared to treat the very people that elected them with contempt, but why not, they only needed us once every 5 years?

I dislike being taken for granted, both in terms of my goodwill and my vote and I am sure many people will feel as I do. So maybe we should all consider delivering a very explicit message to the mainstream parties, that we cannot, nor will we be taken for granted. And, if they don’t start to listen following the June 4th results, then there is a very real possibility that people power will ensure that the vast majority of current MP’s will lose their seats at the next election and I mean from all parties. If existing MP’s are unwilling to listen, especially those from New Labour, then I will consider standing as an independent MP and I will urge others to follow suit. If there are enough independent MP’s, the people of this country may actually regain their voice, because massive majorities will be replaced by the need to gain a consensus. Authoritarian rule will be replaced by a democratic process. Now that would be nice.

I am happy to be accused of being naive. But I will say this, MP’s abused their expenses because we let them, we assumed that they could be trusted to self-regulate. We have accepted an electoral system that favours the larger parties, a system that provides these party’s with massive majorities, even if they get just 35% of the vote, in turn we get what amounts to single party rule. The ruling party, as evidenced by the New Labour Party Machine, want ever more state power and control over the people. New Labour, for example, has become completely disengaged and out of touch with the people, they have introduced a raft of  new laws, well over 3,500 in 12 years, many removing long-held rights to privacy and liberty and the New Labour delivery has become authoritarian, not inclusive. 

If we have to vote for fringe parties, or independent candidates to deliver a harsh lesson to our self-serving MP’s and political parties, then I am up for it. I want to return to a democratic process where our views are taken into consideration, not one where we are controlled or spied on; I want our government to be truly representative and, above all, I want to feel proud of our democracy, our politicians and our government….and I am sure many people would agree with those sentiments, so lets take the “necessary action” to repeat the overused phrase by our illustrious leader…and “do what’s right” to use another!

Does Gordon Brown throw his toys?

with 3 comments

Well, first of all, I guess we all have episodes where we lose our tempers and throw our toys, so if the rumours are correct, should we judge him harshly? Well, in my humble opinion, the answer is yes!

According to the respected Bloomberg, current and former aides of Gordon Brown have claimed that he is prone to throwing around Nokia phones, pens, staplers and once, even shoved a printer onto the floor. It is claimed that this had lead to a sort of “gallows humour”. These rumours were fueled when a spokesman, asked about the claims, refused to issue an absolute denial, instead he said “This is not an account I recognise”. Not what we would expect if the suggestion was so outrageous.

Needless to say, the rumours have persisted and today at PMQ’s Gordon Brown was asked by a Conservative MP  what the government intends to do about “bullying in the workplace”,  given the complaints about a “senior Whitehall manager” throwing mobile phones and printers around and swearing at switchboard operators. Gordon Brown looked furious, in fact, it was probably just as well he didn’t have anything to throw, but he moodily responded by saying: “All complaints are dealt with in the usual manner.”

Nobody likes a bully and if the rumours are true, then Brown must resign immediately, because all joking aside, this is not what we would expect of the person that is supposed to be running our country. Temper tantrums are a sign that the individual is no longer in control and that is the last thing we need in this country, even if it is just for a few minutes. Although, many, like myself, would say that he is not in control even when he is calm.

The other thing that bullying bosses need to truly understand is, that messengers will invariably provide their bullying masters with a sanitised version of events if they know they are going to be lambasted or assaulted. Therefore, the boss will never be in possession of all the facts, which often explains why the ‘bosses’ appear to be remote, out of touch or insular. Invariably, all bullying bosses fail, unless they have taken the necessary precaution of surrounding themselves with strong, competent managers, who will not take their shit. If Gordon Brown is prone to the types of temper tantrums rumoured, then he is in trouble, because from where I am standing, he is surrounded by yes men (and women), so who would be brave enough to stand their ground? Still, surrounding yourself with weak people is the classic trait of a workplace, egocentric bully.

Of course all this is conjecture, but if it turns out that there is some substance to the rumours, I would urge any ‘victims’ to have the courage to come forward and expose the bullying.

Written by British Politics

6 May, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.