REGISTER TO VOTE DEADLINE
The deadline to register to vote in the general election is 20 April 2015.
REGISTER TO VOTE DEADLINE
The deadline to register to vote in the general election is 20 April 2015.
Three million young people have not decided how to vote in next month's general election; that of power - Use it and vote.
Youth vote 'could be key to win' Up to three million young people have not decided how to vote in next year's general election, a think tank says.
The research found more than three quarters (77%) intended to vote - but only 30% of young women said they were interested compared with 48% of their male peers. Asked to name the issues they were most concerned about, 69% included the cost of living, 62% affordable housing, 58% unemployment and the same proportion said the NHS. Exactly half put online privacy among their main concerns - more than the environment (45%), immigration (43%), tax avoidance (37%) or Britain's future in the EU (34%). The researchers combined the polling with focus groups asking young people their views on politicians and what would make them more likely to vote. Almost one in five (19%) said celebrity endorsement would make them more likely to vote, while (18%) said it would make them less likely More than half (56%) said they would be more likely to vote if there were more working class MPs, while fewer (31%) cited more women MPs as a factor, and an even smaller number (27%) cited ethnic minority MPs.
Demos head of political participation and report author Jonathan Birdwell said: "Our research shows that there are up to three million young voters who are up for grabs in next year's election. "The political party that can tap into this pool may just win the keys to Downing Street. Young people are currently turned off voting because politicians aren't offering them credible, positive policies that address the issues they're most concerned about."But the further challenge for politicians is to communicate these policies to young people in the spaces where they congregate, and in jargon-free language they understand. Social media must be central to voting outreach.” 'Talk to them’
In the long-term, cementing the youth vote requires bigger reforms, he said. He went on: "Young people think politicians are all the same: elite, white, men with expensive education. But this research shows the successful politician of the future will be from a working class background, born and raised in the area they represent, and accessible and down-to-earth on social media.” Moira Swinbank, chief executive of youth social action charity vInspired, which supported the report, said young people wanted information "in the space they communicate in". But she said politicians should beware of using Twitter and Facebook to broadcast personal propaganda. "If they really want to get young people voting for them, they need to talk to them"
Why aren't women voting? Voting is essential - you are voting for you and the future of your family.
It is essential to vote. You are handing over the power to rule you and your life for five years; the decision made may impact negatively on you, your work and your children.
Do you want to leave that to chance. Make sure you vote and that you know the policies of the person you are voting for. Don't be apathetic. Almost 100 years on from winning the vote, women shun the polling booths
A new study commissioned by Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, has revealed a widening gender 'turnout gap' in general elections - with fewer women voting than men
More than nine million women failed to vote in the last general election compared to eight million men new research has shown.
The study, carried out by the House of Commons Library at the request of Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, showed that 9.1 million women didn’t turn out in 2010.
The figures confirm a downward trend in the numbers of women voting and prove the ‘turnout gap’ between the sexes is getting wider. They come 97 years after the Representation of the People Act was passed,allowing married women over the age of 30 to vote for the first time, and 87 years after full electoral equality was established. In 1992, more women (78.2%) voted than men (77.2%). But that number has been in decline ever since. In 2005 and 2010 there were more male voters than female. 64% of women voted in the last general election, compared to 67% of men. Turnout has declined across both genders. But the drop is most significant in women. According to statistics compiled for the British Election Study which were analysed by the Commons Library the number of ‘missing’ female voters has risen by 79 per cent since 1992. Between 1992 and 2010, the number of women voters in general elections fell by 18 per cent.
In a ceremony today, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the document "set the bar high for all of us today". This seems perhaps surprising ? One might think that in 800 years we’ve far exceeded the expectations of such a primitive document.
The archbishop’s comment highlights the fact that, in fact, though in some senses we have come along way since 1215, but the standard it set still looks high today in 2015, because the same freedoms are still threatened. I believe the Archbishop is issuing us with a caution that, even in these supposedly enlightened days, the threat is still there that our freedoms will be bull-dozed by the regime in power over us.
In 1215 the regime was the King. Today, it’s the government.
We live in a time when the Government is considering tearing up the Bill of Human Rights, bringing back sadistic blood sports, signing a TTIP treaty that will erode the rights of Britain to protect itself against profit-motivated international companies, and … a whole lot of things which the British Man in the street didn’t vote for. Most of these men thought they were voting against the ‘frightening’ prospect of being ruled by men with kilts ! Didn’t Theresa May say that such a prospect would be the most awful thing since the abdication ? Didn’t we laugh at such an absurd piece of scaremongering ? But the man in the street didn’t laugh. He was convinced that a bomb was about to drop unless he voted for a Conservative. Hence the landslide that has seemingly given this government a clear mandate to do what the Hell it likes.
The Archbishop, I believe, with members of the Government present at the ceremony, was reminding us all that it is STILL vital to keep the balance between the power of a Government and the power of the people. We must not, not, not, allow our freedom to speak up, protest, disrupt, strike, present an alternative view, or the freedom envisaged 800 years ago will be destroyed. Yes, the democratic freedoms we enjoy are that delicate, so fragile, and even as I write, there are people in high places plotting to take those freedoms away. We must be vigilant every day.
I believe we are already in a situation where some of those freedoms are dangerously eroded, not by arrest and balls and chains, but by distortion of the truth in unchecked rampant propaganda, backed by huge spending by a rich elite whose ultimate aim is to keep their riches and their power.
Hear what the archbishop says. The Magna Carta “set the bar high for all of us today”. Fighting for our freedoms, for truth and for decency is STILL, in 2015, up to US, the People. And the forces arraigned against those who DO fight are frighteningly powerful.
24 hours to go until the polls open so, please make sure you post in the comment box on your constituency page today and help us decide who should be a common decency candidate.
No! I didn't 'tackle' Russell Brand ! I did put my hand up, sitting in the audience at the premiere of his film ' The Emperor's New Clothes - but my purpose was to try to forge a link between our separate efforts to reform Britain. In different ways, we have both arrived at very similar conclusions about the appalling state that Britain is really in. I see the same anger and frustration in Russell as I feel in myself, as I look at the appalling inequality of opportunity and living standards in this supposedly democratic country of ours. The film is amazing. Whether you like Russell Brand and his 'Trews' or not, this is a film that everyone in this country should see. Russell and his excellent co-creator have chosen to focus on just a few of the rank injustices which shame 21st century Britain; they paint a shockingly truthful picture of the way that a small number of rich powerful elite have managed to pull off the most amazing conjuring trick - to persuade a whole nation that they're governing the country in the interests of us all - yet conniving in their every action to make the rich few richer and the poor majority poorer. We see it unfold before our eyes - the twilight shift workers who clean the offices of the high flying bankers - unable to feed their families from the pitiful wages they take home, while the executives who inhabit these offices give themselves millions of pounds in bonuses. And much much more.
What I've been advocating over the last few weeks is a plan to achieve radical reform in stages - starting on May 7th, when we all have fifteen hours of democracy in 5 years of serial dictatorship. I believe that with the Common Decency scheme - please visit us at COMMONDECENCY.org.uk - by swarming together to topple the so-called 'safe' seats we can achieve a big enough change in the composition of Parliament that during the next 5 years there will be true debate in the Commons - and our voices will be heard. My inspiration for this has come from our fight against those who would bring back sadistic blood sports and spend our money on slaughtering badgers (in a desperately ill-advised attempt to solve a farming problem - the scourge of Bovine TB IN CATTLE - which has ended just as the scientists told them it would - making matters worse rather than better). It transpires generally that humans who show no compassion to animals have a similar attitude towards humans. So we realised that rather than keep banging our heads against the same wall of inhumanity, we needed to look at the bigger picture and break down the wall. This doesn’t just mean a change of Government – it means a radical change in the system that allowed this to happen. It means cleaning out the rotten stench of Privilege. It means equality of opportunity for all.
Russell Brand feels the same. Russell is advocating a revolution and maybe he is right. But I believe the scheme I want to put in place could lay a cornerstone on which the edifice of a decent and compassionate society could be built.
I'm sure an alliance between Russell Brand and Common Decency is the last thing David Cameron wants to see in his morning papers. Maybe that tells us something. I will be meeting Mr Brand next week. Meantime, more power to him - he's laid bare more awful injustices than anyone else in these dark days. Like I say - whether you like his style or not - hear him out.
Our first appointment of the day was to meet Caroline Lucas at the bandstand on Brighton seafront.
Although the sunshine we ordered didn't arrive, it was the perfect place for mysterious photos in the mist, and and to meet the media. A few informal interviews were done on the spot
Brian was interviewed by all the main TV channels. Of course, what they actually put out is always TBA !
We had a brief catch-up chat with Caroline, whom we know very well, and Brian explained the finer points of what we’re actually asking people to do in Common Decency to the press.
Many thanks Ruth (her message below). And huge thanks to all of you out there who have sent fantastic messages of encouragement to me and to Anne Brummer, asking that we keep on fighting on with Common Decency. Well, of course we will, but I want to use this opportunity to take a breath, to learn from defeat, and rebuild with a long-term view.
This is interesting information, showing how a Proportional Representation system might have changed yesterday’s results in the British election. It reminds me that just fixing the electoral system is not enough to secure justice. But it IS a necessary part of the fix.
I now think the greater part of the fix, if there is one, is dealing with the enormous power of the Tory propaganda/misinformation machine - fuelled by the power of the Rich, and various more-or-less hidden affiliations, which has worked non-stop on the minds of Britons for the last five years, and even back beyond that, so persuade them that a particular bunch of Old Etonians actually has their interests at heart. It’s an astonishing story.
Of course people like us think that the people of Britain have just made a terrible mistake, but I’m sure at this point all those who voted Cameron back into a position of even more power with no brake, think they did the right thing. The monstrous propaganda machine - recognisable on the front pages of The Sun, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Times, and the Evening Standard - will now thunder on to reinforce that view in the coming months. And even if Cameron leads us all into a chasm that he’s opened up in the middle of Britain, that machine will be on hand to persuade everyone either that it was Labour’s fault, or that it wasn’t happening, or that it was actually good for Britain. And meanwhile, the smoothly suited and booted dictatorship that is Cameron and Osborne will go about their agenda of making the unfairly rich more and more secure, so that the whole edifice can be more securely underpinned.
Maybe this isn’t clear. Maybe my words are too formal. What I’m saying is that Cameron, leader of the Party of the Unfairly Rich, supports the Rich, so that they can continue to be Rich, so that they can continue to support Cameron’s regime. And the whole thing is covered up in an amazingly clever cloak of respectability … bearing the slogan "The Party of the Working Man”. Right now, a large percentage of Britons actually believe that slogan.
As an aside, I’ve noticed that a word I’ve long been fond of using has crept into Cameron’s vocabulary recently. It’s ‘Compassion’. I wonder if his script-writers deliberately pinched it from me, along with the Queen-based “Party of One Nation” (His campaign office apparently frequently played our One Vision song to inspire the troops). Of course it will now be no surprise if soon Cameron starts saying “We are the Party of Compassion”. It would be no more outrageous than calling the Tory Party “ The Party of the Common Man”. Watch out … the propaganda machine will have us all believing it soon !
Depressing ? Well, yes, the ugly mountain of selfishness has just got much higher and more frightening in Britain, but we cannot roll over and give up trying to chop it down. So what, then ? What the election result clearly tells us is that, despite all the efforts of many sincere and dedicated people, we have not yet begun to win the war of Decency and Compassion. Remember the wise old riddle: “What's the definition of an idiot ? Someone who keeps doing the same thing and expecting a different result” ? Well, are we idiots? I believe we now have to be brave enough to admit that our methods have failed, and it’s time to have a radical rethink. We need new spades to dig with. The ones we’ve been using have been shown to be ineffective against the massive mountain we are trying to move. We need new tools to start building a mountain of our own. So wee need time to find those tools.
That’s why I haven’t been springing into action with a heroic video saying “We fight on, regardless” … and some glib words about nailing our colours to the mast. It’s also why I haven’t ‘resigned’ - like the leaders of the defeated political parties. I think it’s time for us to go quiet, observe how the landscape is changing, and evolve a new strategy for working towards equality of opportunity for people, and the end of cruelty to those whose voices cannot be heard – children and animals.
COMMON DECENCY will continue, and we hope you will stay with us. I believe that by 2020, if – as my Mum used to say – if I am spared to be here, I will see a CD community which will be strong enough to fight the fearsome power of Privilege, and transform Britain into a place where the Sun shines, and the birds sing, for ALL of us in equal measure.
And how strange would it be if David Cameron actually DID turn out to have Compassion in him ?
I hope we would not be blind to that, if it happened.
Congratulations on your appointment, Mr Cameron. And may you be blessed with wisdom on your new journey.
Thanks for your good wishes, folks.
Well, it’s not a political party. It’s a plan to give us a Britain free of the corruption and inequality which is driving us all mad – a Britain in which our voice will truly be heard.
Many people have asked me why I decided not to stand as an MP in the coming election. I hope this will explain. I’m hoping to achieve something that could not be done by standing for election. I treasure my “colour blindness’ as regards political parties. I believe there are good, decent MPs in every party. But too many – a majority – of the current MPs are sitting there, arrogantly ignoring our wishes, following party lines, and blurring the edges of what is decent behaviour in an elected representative. Over the last five years lobbying in Portcullis House and in the Parliament building itself, we have seen close-up how Parliament really works. We have seen debates for which only a handful of MPs turn up, followed by a division bell signifying a vote, upon which hordes of MPs swarm out of the bar and the restaurant, or wherever they’ve been hanging out - with no idea of what they’re voting on, but obeying the party whips. This is democracy ? We have seen debates brought about by petitions on the Government’s own website, not least our own petition, eventually signed by over 300,000 people who were disgusted by David Cameron’s doomed badger cull. Following these debates we have seen votes carried against Government policy, yet the ministers involved openly showed their indifference and contempt, and carried on as if nothing had happened. We see inequality everywhere. We see the poor getting poorer - we see the rich, protected by Cameron’s clique, getting richer, through exemptions from taxes and even, shockingly, through government subsidies to their businesses - for instance the cruel bird-shooting industry. We see MPs voting on issues in which they have a financial interest, or family links - and this is democracy ? We hear ministers telling us the National Debt has been halved, when in fact it has increased over the last five years.
Outside in the street we meet people everywhere who are disgusted and disillusioned with the behaviour of MPs, but who feel that voting is a waste of time … since the ‘first past the post’ electoral system ensures that their single vote can make no difference if they live in a ‘safe seat’ constituency. There is an old saying that if you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it. Right now we are seeing thousands of billboards going up, shouting propaganda at us. They all cost money. The Green Party last time spent roughly 325 thousand pounds on their entire election campaign. The Conservative party spent … ? Guess ? Over 14 million pounds. That’s fair, is it ? That’s the kind of democracy we want ? And this funding was provided by obscenely rich sponsors - the very people whose riches are protected by Cameron’s gang. Surprise, surprise ! It’s going on as we speak. You and I have just 15 hours every five years to influence Government policy by our vote. Powerful business interests influence policy every day. There are so many abuses I am running out of space, but you can read more on the Common Decency website.
After you’ve realised how shocking the truth really is, and if you agree with our conclusion that things are desperate enough to warrant a radical change, read on! What do we do about it? I believe I have a scheme which could give us a better Parliament on May 7th, the first step towards eliminating the corruption which is depriving all of us of our voice and robbing us of the democracy we deserve. Here is a quick summary of the Common Decency plan:
1) Even if you think it’s a waste of time, VOTE! In the past, so many of us have not actually got as far as the polling booth because we perceived our constituency as a ‘safe seat’, and felt that our one vote would make no difference. I believe not just that we all ought to vote because people died to give us that right; more than that, I believe if we all adopt the Common Decent strategy on 7 May, even safe seats can be toppled, creating a new kind of parliament.
2) Vote colour-blind; ie don’t worry about which political party you’re voting for - look for the person who will actually listen to your views and represent you in parliament. Assess them on the basis of the ‘Pillars of Common Decency’ (listed on the Common Decency website home page). We are talking about a commitment from MPs to vote according to their constituents wishes and their moral conscience rather than what the whips tell them to do. Question your candidates. Ask them if they will protect the National Health Service from being sold off to businesses for profit. Ask them if they will support the Hunting Act to protect wild animals against sadistic blood sports. Ask them if they will support badger culling when all the evidence tells us it can only make the bovine TB problem worse. Ask them if they will work for reform in the House of Commons. If they have already been in the House, find out if they turned up for debates, and how they voted … for their own advancement in their party, or according to your wishes … you who put them there.
3) Then give us feedback via the Common Decency site … tell us your decision - who you think is most decent - and why.
4) Look at the pie chart for your constituency on our CD website (it’s in “May 7th 2015 – search constituencies to find your MP”). Notice what happened last time. Look at how many people DIDN’T vote last time – and realise that, of the power of the non-voters could be unleashed, no seat would really be safe, and no vote would wasted. But to achieve this, we need to coordinate our efforts.
4) LOOK FOR OUR ADVICE on May 7th to confirm the best strategy – we will be advising on the basis of the feedback we’ve received and what we think will produce the best result for a new compassionate order for people, and animals in Britain.
5) TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS (who also think their vote would be wasted) to do the same ! If EVERY former non-voter in Britain followed this course (including me!), we would definitely turn the whole system upside down. In reality we will not succeed in every case, but the more people that come on board, the more we will achieve - hopefully enough to secure a new standard of behaviour in Government.
How will this work? Breaking the vice-like grip of the outdated Two-Party system, and putting instead a mix of decent MPs of all 'colours' in that ancient House of Commons will make sure that issues have to be discussed honestly and fairly, according to what is best for the public, rather than what is best for one all-powerful political party. That’s how we get our VOICE back! Once this new order is in place, we can REALLY get to work reforming Britain … rooting out the rotten core of unfairness which dominates our whole lives.
JOIN US !
Caroline Lucas - Honorable Gentlemen?
Russell Brand - Revolution
How corrupt is Britain
NHS for sale
THOUGHTS ON PETER STRINGFELLOW'S "ASPIRATION" COMMENT BRIAN REPLIES TO A LETTER COPIED BELOW
Bloody Hell, Matt - if you’ll pardon the expression.
Right on the button.
This is exactly the root of the evil in the Cameron kind of Conservative philosophy. The worth of everything is judged in terms of money.
Did we learn nothing as a human race over the last 2 thousand years ? Do we really still worship the false God of Money ?
To me, it’s a clear as day. And you have expressed it perfectly here. Big Ideas ? Well, as a species we’re great at earning and spending money … and covering the world with concrete … and using and abusing other species, and eliminating them if they are no use to us. But morally, aspirationally, in the true sense of the word, I believe we are bereft. We have lost the plot.
In a TV discussion like that one with Peter Stringfellow and Heather Rabbatts, I’m always trying to think on the hop, and catch hold of the points being made. I’m also trying to find spaces in the conversation to say what I believe, treading the fine line between assertive enough to be heard at all, and being over-aggressive towards the other panelists, and denying them their say. And TV time, when you’re truly live, runs about 5 times as fast as normal time - or even Radio time, I find. It’s all over in a flash. When I come off, and for days afterwards, I am doing ‘post-mortems’ in my mind, about what I could have said and didn’t. For instance, I didn’t actually say “Please visit www.commondecency.org.uk” to contribute to our scheme”. I wish I had, because, trying to explain how it worked, I was cut short.
But also I was caught quite unawares by Stringfellow’s “aspirational" word. When he launched into that, for the first few seconds I had no idea what he was trying to say. “Aspirational” to me is indeed a word about having dreams, about bettering oneself, achieving something great for the people around us. I think of people like Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King when I hear this word. By the time I realised that Stringfellow's kind of 'Aspiration' was just about making money (I should actually have known that up front), the moment had passed for me challenge his words. Maybe I have just not been keeping up with current Conservative buzz-words - in the world I inhabit, nobody takes any of the rhetoric from Cameron’s rich and privileged clique seriously. Sadly, because of the way the endless propaganda shouts at us, we’re encouraged to think that material wealth is all that is worth discussing in the run-up to the election.
I’m just going to quote your last paragraph verbatim … because it’s exactly what decent people need to be reinforced in believing:
"For those whose aspiration is to heal, to do social work, to teach kids, to paint, to mentor, to farm, to invent and on and on; they may never make as much money, but they should be praised and championed as the truly aspirational - and rewarded with our respect and thanks - and the added benefit of not paying so much tax."
To me this is the kind of insight that ought to be governing our next parliament. I believe it would be perfectly possible to tax heavily all wealth made which does not benefit society … from the banks and the iniquitous Hedge Funds all the way down to greedy swindling landlords. And I would, as you say, reward people who do great selfless work by giving THEM tax-breaks, and better wages. Maybe we’ll start with the Nurses !
"Indeed, the word ‘aspirational’ is used as a stick to beat down those who would promote values other than wealth."
Yes. Through Common Decency, let’s try to change that.
Here's the original letter
Firstly, much kudos to you for all your efforts politically and for animal welfare - and of course for all the music the last 40 years I’ve been listening!
I watched the Big ideas spot you took part in on the BBC recently and some of Peter Stringfellow’s comments got me thinking; the word ‘aspirational’ is used so often these days to justify what is basically greed.
If you believe that those who can afford it should contribute accordingly, you’re accused of being ‘anti-aspirational’. We’re all supposed to be a part of the ‘aspiration society’.
I think this attitude is very pernicious. It assumes that the only outcome of aspiration is financial gain. People who aspire to help others, to invent things, to heal the sick, to teach, to grow things, to inspire - are never assumed to belong to the ‘aspirational class’; this class is reserved solely for those who strive at all costs to have more money than everybody else.
Indeed, the word ‘aspirational’ is used as a stick to beat down those who would promote values other than wealth.
Of course we should be promoting ‘aspirational’ people - we should laud anyone who aspires to achieve great things - to do good, to change the world, to help. But why is it that financial gain is ranked so high among those aspirations?
I’m all for Peter Stringfellow being able to enjoy his wealth. But if his chosen aspiration is simply accumulating money, he should realize that his contribution back to the society that allows him those opportunities is financial - and he should be taxed accordingly.
For those whose aspiration is to heal, to do social work, to teach kids, to paint, to mentor, to farm, to invent and on and on; they may never make as much money, but they should be praised and championed as the truly aspirational - and rewarded with our respect and thanks - and the added benefit of not paying so much tax.
Again thanks for all you’re doing - especially getting people talking and thinking,
I have a question - on day 3 of our Common Decency campaign, David Cameron is treating the coming election as a straight fight between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. He is already littering the landscape with distasteful posters attacking the opposition rather than informing us of his plans. So if it’s a fight, surely, in the name of Common Decency it ought to be a fair fight. Right?
But Cameron has at his disposal nearly three times as much money to spend on his campaign than Labour. He has three times as much to buy propaganda which, as we have already seen, does not seem to have the requirement of being truthful (the claim that he has 'halved' the National Debt, for instance).The money for the conservatives has been provided by many of the obscenely, unfairly rich people in this country, as a way of them buying the kind of special treatment that enables them to stay obscenely rich. It’s dirty money.
How can any of this possibly be fair? How can it possibly be democratic? Are we really going to stand for this gross indecency?
This fact alone is reason enough for Britain to rise up and DEMAND fairness in the run-up to this election. And vote accordingly. Or, truly, democracy is dead in our country. Perhaps David Cameron can be asked to explain how he can live with himself, continuing on this demonstrably unfair course?
Cameron’s devious manipulation of mortality figures to make his 24/7 NHS election ‘bribe’.
I feel like I am these days forever discovering the bloody obvious in politics, but until recently none of this was obvious at all to me. I guess it’s the result of having seen so much of the maneouvrings of these young ambitious career politicians from close quarters now. Once you’re old enough to have seen the results of ambition all around you, and you can make a fair stab at anyone’s real motivation by looking into their eyes, things look different. Suddenly a house of people who were apparently wise and just, and beyond our questioning, become a house of suited and booted overgrown sixth formers who have the preposterous idea that they know how to run a country. Most of these people don’t even KNOW what propels them … they have never looked inside themselves to question their own actions at base level. They don’t want to look. They are enjoying being on that heady train ride. They feel the power in their loins and don’t want to look anyone in the eye who asks awkward questions.
So many of the people who are operating ‘The System’ in Parliament are sadly, lacking in the qualities that would make it work fairly and decently. But there are even deeper problems, that lie in the System itself.
We have seen the monstrously unfair effect of the ‘First Past the Post’ electoral system. But inside the House, there is something that doesn’t add up.
Liam Fox today made a little speech expressing disappointment that some Conservative MPs had announced their intention NOT to vote for the destruction of the Human Rights Act (Hallelujah!) Now Mr Fox doesn’t fall into that category of young career politicians. He’s a senior and experienced pillar of Parliament. But he said, interestingly today, that these dissenting MPs didn’t understand that the very fact they’d all been elected to their seats proved that their constituents agreed with all the items in David Cameron’s manifesto. Therefore these MPs ought to feel obliged to vote according to what David Cameron tells them to – and of course the party whips will be brought in offering threats and rewards to try to make sure they do just that.
But this is clearly a misunderstanding on Liam Fox’s part, isn’t it ? The pieces of paper that came through my door from prospective MPs before the election were full of attestations of the candidates’ personal attibutes, and promises about local matters which they promised to fix; in the case of the Tory chaps, the closest thing to a national manifesto was this small and rather childish section offering a thumbnail guide to the dangers to Britain if we didn’t vote Conservative.
This actually made me laugh … it was such a ridiculous caricature of the issues, but evidently a lot of people took it seriously. But whether they did or not, do you see any mention here of the abolition of Human Rights, or the return of blood sports ? Or the syphoning off of sections of the National Health Service to turn them into private money-making concerns ? No, I don’t think so. But with the Government in place for only a few hours, all these things, unmentioned in the little comic strip above, are already being prioritised. I don’t believe they have Britain behind them in doing this – thrusting these sinsiter plans into the Queen’s speech, and getting ready to bully them through Parliament.
All those MPs Liam Fox is expecting to toe the line technically and practically were voted in, not because of items in Cameron’s manifesto, but because their constituents thought they would be good for their neighbourhood. There is no reason to believe that all of even the smallish percentage that voted for the winning candidate (around 35 per cent, typically) agreed with everything in that manifesto. Most of them had probably never read it. All they saw was the leaflets, and incessant fear-mongering propaganda from the newspapers.
So, to repeat: I don’t believe that most of the people in Britain want Cameron to fulfil all of his ‘promises’ in his wretched self-aggrandising manifesto. On the contrary, they expect their MPs to act as guardians, acting according to their wishes that ever new move by the Government is actually based on the good of the country, rather than the good of a small set of politicians and landowners.
I believe that if Cameron pursues a course of forcing unpopular bills through Parliament, he will come unstuck. These days more than ever, it’s easy to tell if your MP is acting in your interests or not.
I suggest we all write to our MPs right now, regardless of their colour - party affiliation – and remind them that they are in there to represent us. And we will not stand by and watch them sanction Cameron’s ‘reforms’ – such as the return of blood sports, the destruction of the Human Rights Act, or the selling off of the NHS.
Solving puzzles you can improve your dexterity and problem solving skills.
So today was … the first proper day of our Common Decency campaign. Day One. The website had been up on ‘soft release' for about a week, giving us a chance to iron out the inevitable teething problems and make adjustments. Already we’ve had some great feedback, and already a number of people have written to tell us that they were thinking of NOT voting, but on the basis of what they’d seen on CommonDecency, they will now vote.
Today we hit Vauxhall, with pretty much the largest billboard that it’s possible to rent - ‘unveiling' it in front of a tidy knot of press people, photographers and onlookers. A nice crisp morning, it was, and just about warm enough in a brief sunny spell to remove the overcoat to pose for the cameras!
Whether I’m going to be able ‘blog’ all this stuff as the next 40 days go by, I’m not sure. It takes longer to ‘write up’ the events than to live them. But here we are … and I’m grateful for the attention the media are giving us in this opening salvo. The poster hopefully says enough to give passing people a clue as to what we’re about. Enough to awaken their curiosity, enough for them to click on www.CommonDecency.org.uk and delve into what we’re actually proposing. You have to make a judgment, of course, in designing a billboard like this, as to exactly how much information to put on there. You want to grab people’s attention in the few seconds it’s in their eye-line, so it has to be simple, but they need to get a message from it. It’s finding the balance between getting a message across, and cluttering the frame so much that people get confused, or just don’t bother to read it. I designed this one myself, out of necessity, in the short time available, so the comments I’ve had have been encouraging! They did a nice printing job! It will be up there for 2 weeks.
Following the ‘inauguration’ of the billboard, I did some fairly impromptu interviews to a bunch of press folks on the grass. To be honest, I didn’t think I was fully ‘warmed up’, and sometimes felt I wasn’t being clear enough. But I guess we got some points across.
We then zipped over to the BBC studios in Millbank, an untidy heap of seething activity with what must be a hundred separate little studios inside. I was immediately reminded of the time when I was there a couple of years ago to be interviewed on the Badger Cull, and the infamous Owen Paterson, Minister of the Environment at the time (yes, he of the famous gaffe in which he accused the badgers of moving the goalposts!) was in the next room, booked to speak on the same programme. This was one of three occasions when he refused to be interviewed in the same room as me. So we had the somewhat ridiculous situation of both of us appearing on the same segment, talking about the same thing, but linked up from two separate rooms in the same building. It enabled him to pretend I was not there! Maybe he was cowardly, maybe he was prudent … but not long afterwards he was consigned to the scrap-heap by the ruthless Cameron, replaced by a woman, Liz Truss, who, as expected, has turned out to be very much the place-saver, and a rather obvious attempt at grabbing some women voters by having a token extra woman in the cabinet. None of us have bothered to try to speak to her about the badger cull; it can’t make any difference, because it’s obvious that no matter what the outcome of the election, she will soon be in the same virtual dustbin that Paterson currently resides in!
The ‘busy-ness’ of this place can be judged by the fact that, more often than not, when you go there to be interviewed you end up standing in a corridor in front of a lone cameraman with a piece of paper in his hand, carrying note for the questions he will ask. Today was obviously my lucky day, since I was ushered into a lovely shiny-looking studio from which the ‘Daily Politics’ show was being transmitted live. Even so, the ‘green room’ or guest's lounge, was still a corridor! So I still felt at home. Crammed into this corridor waiting for their spot in front of the cameras was an interesting bunch of people. Here’s a chap who, in an extremely smart pinstripe suit, looks a bit like a thinned down version of Matt Lucas. He’s a UKIP candidate. UKIP, I think? Oh Lord. I think … am I going to be pitched against him on TV, like in the past I’ve been pitched against angry shouting farmers, in an attempt to make “exciting TV”? But he immediately strikes me as a very nice chap. Next to him is another chap with a quiet and thoughtful demeanor, which I think I immediately started interpreting in my mind as unfriendliness towards me. But as soon as I introduced myself, he came across with a smile and an unmistakable openness. He turned out to be a candidate for the Green Party. Opposite ends of the political spectrum, right? And obviously, realising who each other were, they both shaped up for fisticuffs – I had to hold them apart – see below.
Peter Reeve - Dr Brian May - Andrew Cooper
Ha ha! Well, as you can see from the pic, just kidding!
We talked in the few moments before we were called to make an appearance (separately, as it happened, although we’d assumed we’d be on together). I outlined the idea of our Common Decency campaign, and both these guys found a lot in it that they approved of. And I listened to their hopes of what they might achieve if they were elected to sit in Parliament – a lot of what they had to say resonated with me. And in just those few moments we realised that in fact we agreed on most of the things that were WRONG with Britain. It might have been surprising to the leaders of both these parties how many shared ideas there were.
So I felt a dawning of understanding that my theory of ‘Vote for the individual, not the party’ was being vindicated in front of my eyes. That’s not to say that a Party is necessarily a bad thing. It’s a group of people who share some dreams, some principles, who can support each other and develop their ideas into strong initiatives. But perhaps what has gone wrong is that the major British parties have been allowed to grow to grotesque proportions. Once this happened, which ever gang was in power for any period was able to push through their plans almost without reference to what went on in Parliament. They became bullies, and Cameron’s recent clandestine meddling with laws that used to provide moderation and protect the impartiality of the Civil Service will probably be seen by future historians as the most blatant attempt ever by a government to weld itself into an impregnable position … the very death knell of Democracy.
So – in a nutshell – while we will all welcome MP’s representing the major parties into the next Parliament, simply because some of them are very good at what they do, the dream is to see the parties themselves stripped of the power to be bullies. If the composition of the next parliament is a mixed bag, containing a good smattering of representatives of the smaller parties such as the Greens and the NHA party (and yes, probably UKIP, too, in moderation!), the miracle we can hope for is that NO coalition deals are struck, and we get a Prime Minister in number 10 who will stand or fall by how good his policies are, and how far he can command the respect of MP’s from all parties. It’s a ‘Hung Parliament’ – an assembly of individuals who will discuss and vote according to their moral principles and the wishes of the people who put them in the House - you and me, the constituents.
For me, for Common Decency and for these two chaps I just met, this actually could be called a Democracy. For the last 5 years, and probably for some time in the past, we all 3 agree we have NOT been living in a democracy. It’s now time to reclaim it.
So! I went in and did my interview. It’s viewable here:
I sat down alongside, not these two guys, but a man called Alex Robertson, who’s the Director of Communications for the Electoral Commission. He’s been given the job of getting people registered to vote, and is very passionate about succeeding. This fits very much into our agenda, because – as you’ll see if you watch the clip - the pie chart shows us that this coming election could be totally opened up if all those people who didn’t vote last time … THIS TIME actually manage to get to the polling booth. To do so they must first be registered – and this government’s decision to change the method of registration from household to individual has made it highly likely that vast numbers of people including students WILL NOT get to grips with this extra bit of paperwork in time, and hence will lose their right to vote on May 7th (Serendipitous? Who knows). Statistically, it’s certain that if this section of the community does NOT get to vote, it will massively favour Cameron’s elite clique getting back into power – a very depressing thought.
So I’m doing the interview sitting next to a man who is absolutely with us on our first Common Decency aim - to get the non-voters to vote. We supported each other in the short spot on TV, and afterwards we agreed that it would be fitting for us to support each other’s work in the future.
It’s always all over in a flash on TV. I find it a very difficult medium, even after all these years. In truth, although I am not a stranger to TV, I’m not hugely experienced at performing in the ‘chat show’ format, and for some reason it always feels very different from the corresponding radio experience, which I usually enjoy. Somehow there is always more time on the radio to think your way through and cover all aspects. TV often feels a bit like running a gauntlet with people trying to stab you as you pass! This time, however, I felt relatively comfortable with ‘chairwoman’ Jo Coburn who kept a firm grip but allowed everyone a decent say. I brought my favourite PIE CHART along to make the point that really if only everyone voted, Britain could be changed for the better overnight.
After I'd outlined my ‘principles’ of CD, the next person to speak is the chap sitting opposite me - Danny Kruger, who I have just learned is David Cameron’s former speech writer (I don’t have any such luxury!!!). Why he is no longer writing speeches for the PM is not something I will probably ever know, but I was expecting this to be the moment when I got shot down for suggesting that Cameron presides over, and protects, a rotten regime.
To my surprise, Mr Kruger delivers a very complimentary commentary on the Common Decency idea and there are no ‘buts’.
So now the interview is done, over in what seems like 60 seconds, and then my brain goes into post-analysis mode. I start to remember all the things I meant to say, and didn’t. But we all feel it’s a good result. A lot of messages started to come in on text and e-mail from people who have seen the live transmission. I’m seeing people saying on Twitter that they were not going to vote on May 7th, but after visiting the Common Decency website they are now determined to use their vote for change.
Our slogan comes to mind. With Common Decency, “No Vote is wasted – No seat is safe”
We? We’re a small team on the road today. Me, doing my thing as best I can, but with the essential partnership and support of Anne Brummer. Anne is a phenomenon in herself. Suffused with a kid of energy that never loses its power or its sense of humour, she does the work of at least 20 men. She’s not doing a job - she’s passionately devoted to caring for animals, and has been my educator, my inspiration and indispensable CEO in all the work for animals we’ve done in the last 5 years. Her experience is vast – on the one hand, on the ground caring for literally thousands of orphaned or injured wild creatures in her Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue and also on the other hand, in the wider yet infinitely (usually) less satisfying world of politics. In which we operate on a daily basis to move Britain away from cruelty in all its horrific forms, from the evils of badger baiting, to fox hunting and stag hunting with packs of hounds, to the merciless and completely misguided slaughter of badgers in the name of eliminating a disease (bTB in farmed cows), to snaring, poisoning, gassing and so many other despicable practices – all unjustifiable, some technically legal, and some not. Anne is always at hand when I’m out campaigning, and we both know that there is actually no dividing line between campaigning for animals, and campaigning for Common Decency. One has led to the other, for us, on a seemingly predestined path. The other encompasses the one. My other companion today is my long-suffering PA, Sara, who covers all the bases of organisation and continuity, sometimes with us, but more often back ‘home’ where she can keep an eye on the overall picture of my insanely complicated life. Because today (and tomorrow) I will be working flat out on Political change, but yesterday I was working in the studio flat out all hours on a brand new track I’m producing for the amazing singer Kerry Ellis, and at the end of the week I will be flat out on either an Astronomical or a Stereoscopic project. Or something else to do with the ever-encompassing arms of Queen, or Queen’s offspring, our Rock Theatre epic, We Will Rock You (a version of which I just helped to open in Hamburg). I love it all, but scheduling is a constant nightmare.
The rest of our day was spent catching up on E-mails, appointments, and plans for our trip to Stroud tomorrow, to support an old friend who is a very constant advocate of animals, David Drew, a Labour MP forced out by a particularly un-empathetic Tory 5 years ago. This is not to say that ALL Tories are lacking in empathy – as I’ll discuss in detail later, some of our best allies are Tories, but it has to be said that, oddly, Eton seems to have a strange and strong effect of dulling men’s sensibilities; and if we succeed in getting a change of Government in May, it will an amazing voyage of discovery to work in animal welfare under a regime that understands the meaning of compassion - and runs on morality rather than money.
Well, my day’s not over yet. The evening show is me being interviewed by Adam Boulton for Sky News. This man is powerful and scary; he has great depth of knowledge in politics – he’s penetrated the guard of EVERY significant politician in the last 15 years or so, and in pure TV technique and skill, he is matchless. He can tear me apart if he wants to.
Well, if you want to see what happened, please click here. He was pretty merciful, I feel! And my Pie chart (a bigger one this time) was once again a big help in getting the ‘get off yer ass and VOTE’ point across. Adam is the kind of guy who will push hard to make sure he gets in all the areas he wants to cover, so I’m conscious that my sentences need to get shorter if I’m going to be able to finish them. It’s not a style I fit into easily. Like I said, I still feel like a novice in TV interviews. I start out on a list for MPs we’re supporting, from memory, and I stumble, putting Adrian Sanders (LibDem) into the Labour Party. I’m sure he’s thrilled (Sorry Adrian!)! It was a momentary slip, because I was heading towards Andrew George, who IS Lib Dem. And my hesitation meant that I never got as far as mentioning Caroline Lucas, who is a vital endorsee (Sorry Caroline!), or indeed Louise Irvine (NHA). So people may have got the impression that I was mainly headed towards the major parties, which is not the case. But I have to take my hat off to Mr Boulton; he is the ultimate professional for this job and I thought he treated me very decently.
OK. Evening writings now done, my mail inbox will now have about 100 new messages. Does it make me feel important?! Ha ha. Maybe it does, but at my age, feeling important is not as important as it once was! My daughter saw the evening clip and says she is proud of me and my little Grandson phoned me specially. So tonight I am, in the immortal words of Machado de Assis, at least, a small winner. In fact, no prize will eclipse this one.
Good Night Folks. Peace to yo’all.
I’ve been tweeting about Caroline Lucas. I went to support her book launch.
This is a book we all have to read and then give to a friend in the next few days. IT will tell you better than I can WHY we need common decency. IT describes the pathetic posturing of MP’s that vote on matters they know nothing about, following party lines and ignoring the constituents who put them in there. AND MUCH MORE !
IT will make you so angry you will HAVE to join CommonDecency to make sure the old-style time wasting career politicians are kicked out this time. We need MP’s like Ms Lucas. There are good decent candidates in every party, but they are not in the majority. Help us make the next parliament one which has enough decent souls in it to have the courage to reform the system from top to bottom and give us back our voice.
I’ve been tweeting about Caroline Lucas. I went to support her book launch.
Records show that the Babylonians and the ancient Chinese were able to predict solar eclipses as early as 2500 BC, but it was a phenomenon that confounded ancient civilisations for centuries.The Greeks believed that the solar eclipse was a sign that the gods were angry and death and destruction were on their way. In fact, eclipse comes from ekleipsis, an ancient Greek word that means obscured, or abandoned. A fragment of a lost poem by Archilochus (c680–645 BCE) depicted a solar eclipse as such:
“Nothing there is beyond hope,
nothing that can be sworn impossible,
nothing wonderful, since Zeus,
father of the Olympians,
made night from midday,
hiding the light of the shining sun,
and sore fear came upon men.”