No moral compass, quite a bit of prejudice

From a very early age I recall wanting to know facts so I could make my mind up about things. I’ve never been one to take what is said to me as anything but one side of a story and possibly it’s utterly wrong and even prejudiced nonsense.

I’ve mentioned before that antisemitism was sadly an issue within my family with both my Dad and his mother being prone to make anti-Jewish statements/remarks. I’m not sure when on hearing these remarks I became curious about them but I was probably subject to them all my childhood. Did we know any Jewish people? Had they done my family some wrong? What was it all about? Not content with being antisemitic my grandmother was also anti-Catholic too and would not go into a Catholic church.

It was only later in life that it dawned on me that there were no credible reasons for some of my family being antisemitic and anti-catholic – they were simply prejudices handed down from one generation to another but not spoken of in polite company in case others thought them prejudiced!

It makes you wonder what on earth those of my grandparents and parents generations, who held such appalling views, thought they were doing fighting against Hitler when they seemed to hold some views of a similar nature!

I had been discussing such matters with my independently thinking feminist daughter who seemed a little surprised that I’d been asking some people I know if antisemitism had been an issue in their families and that I was interested in getting people to tell me what their prejudices are, why they hold them and who handed the prejudices on to them. Her point was that most people never think about their prejudices they just hold them and repeat them when they think the occasion requires.

I think antisemitism and anti-Catholic were the two big prejudices that I picked up on in my Dad’s family who were working class Tories. I think you could also include supporting the Tories and indeed the Church of England as family prejudices as they seemed to be handed down generation to generation too. They all stopped with me though.

I first realised that I was an atheist by not being able to get my head around why on earth I was being sent to Sunday School and Church as a child and young teenager. Of course I was being sent because of my Dad’s religious prejudices – he was a C of E protestant so he thought I should be too. I thought otherwise and having looked at religion decided it was not for me at all. However, at the same time I realised it was for some people and that they held many differing religious views which they were quite entitled to hold. I don’t hold prejudices against religions.

And what about politics? Well having realised that I wanted to get involved in it which party should I join or more precisely what do I believe in? Together with an old friend, who has since died, we found it interesting that he came from a Labour working class background and I came from a Tory working class background but we were both looking to form our own political views. What we did was to get hold of the party political manifestos of Labour, Liberals and Conservatives from the 1979 General Election and we read them. When we’d done that we both had decided that we were in fact Liberals and we’d come to that decision separately. We both joined the old Liberal Party in 1980 and via it, the SDP/Liberal Alliance and then the Lib Dems we perused socially progressive radical liberalism. My friend died in 1999 but I’m still a Liberal. I hope that does not mean I’m prejudiced in favour of the Lib Dems as I try not to be too loyal to them as they are simply a vehicle for delivering Liberalism. If a better vehicle comes along who knows……

To me religion, like politics is something we should all be confident about choosing for ourselves. I don’t think either are for passing down through the generations. You won’t be surprised therefore that I oppose state support/funding for religions and religious schools/education. For our Head of State to be the leader of one particular religion is frankly ridiculous to me in our multi-cultural society.

And what about that phrase ‘moral compass’ which is normally used when talking about politicians/political parties when there is a question about their ethics? There’s probably always been questionable ethics when it comes to political parties because they are tribal and some politicians will stop at nothing to either gain or retain power. The phrase moral compass is used quite often these days as our politics goes through a particularly rough patch. The lies and misrepresentations over Brexit are a clear example where many politicians have been accused of losing their moral compass. And here’s the rub, politicians with no moral compass will delight in playing to voters prejudices. In other words when voters have fixed, you might say ill-informed views, over a hugely complex issue like the EU that will be exploited by politicians who will feed them messages that they will want to hear. The complex issues don’t really get an airing at all as it suits both the some voters and politicians to stick to talking about and building on the prejudices.

Prejudices are learned; we are not born with them. Young children are not bothered by other children with different coloured skin. However, as they get older and if they come from families who hold racial prejudices then the racist behaviour of their family can and often will be picked up by their children who will think it normal to hold such appalling views.

Let’s face it I could have grown up to be antisemitic based on my family prejudices. Makes you think does it not………

2019 in 12 postings – And what a sad year for progressives

2019 must go down in politics as a really sad year for anyone who describes themselves as a progressive. That the UK has become more isolationist and racist is regretfully a given but for me as a passionate internationalist our frankly bizarre decision to become at best semi-detached from our European neighbours both economically and politically is profoundly depressing. I’m reminded of the play ‘Brick up the Mersey Tunnel’ as 2019 could easily be the start of us, at least in the abstract, bricking up the Channel Tunnel.

Anyway here’s my year; some big issues, some matters close to my heart and some personal reflections:-

January – Elected Mayors – too many and too costly tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/01/20/metro-mayor-tax-another-call-on-your-pocket/

February – Why we have a housing crisis on our hands tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/02/20/council-housing-social-housing-housing-associations-whats-gone-wrong-and-why-we-have-a-housing-crisis-on-our-hands/

March – HS2 the Brexit of the railway world tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/03/16/being-anti-hs2-is-a-bit-like-brexit-its-all-about-the-rose-tinted-past/

April – Rotten Boroughstonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/04/23/local-elections-are-rotten-boroughs-creeping-back-into-out-creaking-democracy/

As an aside I still remember a remark made to me on the day that I became Leader of Sefton Council in 2004. It was in the form of a question to me along the lines of ‘what’s the most important thing for the Leader of Sefton Council to do? Answer – Keep the Council out of the ‘Rotten Boroughs’ page of Private Eye!

Michael Portillo with Frank Hornby Trust Chairman Les French as seen on TV.

May – Time to celebrate in 2020 – 100 years of Hornby ‘O’ Gauge trains tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/05/27/maghull-2020-will-be-100-years-since-the-towns-most-famous-resident-brought-his-o-gauge-trains-to-the-market/

June – Still getting the local housing market wrong! tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/06/22/sefton-council-draft-strategic-housing-market-assessment-update-2019/

I realise that the link within the article no longer works

July – Co-option is not democratic, just stop it tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/07/14/melling-theres-a-price-to-pay-for-democracy-but-surely-its-better-than-co-option/

August – Air conditioning in shops and cafes an environmental disaster tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/08/26/supermarkets-cafes-shops-turn-down-or-even-better-turn-off-your-air-conditioning-shut-that-fridge-door/

September – A look back at New Heartlands in Bootle tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/09/04/bootle-newheartlands-pathfinder-housing-initiative-a-look-back/

October – The late great Isaac Hayes with Donald Byrd tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/10/25/isaac-hayes-the-master-jointly-cut-a-track-id-missed-back-in-1981/

Norman Lamb

November – Norman tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/11/06/norman/

December – Tactical voting (by progressives) did not work tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/12/16/why-peoples-vote-and-other-tackical-voting-orgs-sites-got-so-much-wrong/

So that, for me, was 2019 – a year when housing policy/practice remained far removed from the reality of our housing crisis, when the very real crisis of climate change took a back seat to the made up crisis of Brexit and when the crisis within progressive politics was exposed as much by our warped electoral system as by the lack of leadership from progressives. A year to forget unless of course you back the politics of the right and far right…….

Thoughts on a depressing General Election

It had become apparent to those of us involved in politics that what came to pass was coming so in many ways the result was no surprise.

Contributory factors?

Corbyn – Yes I know and understand that his devotees couldn’t and still can’t see any faults in him but those outside of that bubble always could. The 2017 GE should have been a wake up call as a credible opposition would have won that election. But the cracks were papered over on the back of Labour winning some seats back from the Tories when that was in fact an indication of failure not success. The following two years only emphasised to the electorate that he was not a good political leader so when the electorate delivered Labour’s worst GE result in generations it was really no surprise.

Swinson – Too keen to focus on Brexit rather than wider political issues, too inexperienced as a political leader, not able to engage with ordinary voters who stopped listening to her.

Johnson – Reasonably well managed by a ruthless Tory high command who kept him almost on their message most of the time. And where they felt he would perform badly they kept him securely locked away, such as at the Ch4 climate change debate. Untrustworthy, someone who follows the political wind, terrible when questioned under pressure and a significant tendency to say things not borne out by the facts. At face value not a political leader whom the electorate would normally get behind, but they did. Why? Because the other options were worse in their eyes.

Brexit – Of course it has poisoned our political debate with all the lies, misrepresentations and bizarre made up stories. However, it has been brewing for at least 2 generations via quite ridiculous press stories which senior politicians have not had the courage to address. They knew the stories were lies and at best misrepresentations but it was always handy for the EU to get the blame for the UK’s political and financial ills. What they allowed to fester came to bite us all hard on the backside.

Apart from a very few I suspect that the vast majority of voters:-

* voted the way they always have but with little if any enthusiasm
* voted for their least worst option
* did not vote tactically because it’s an alien concept in our first past the post electoral system

Where did it all start to go wrong? I guess we can all point to significant political events but for me it started when Labour elected the wrong Miliband as their leader, as they became step by step more unelectable.

Where are we going? Very difficult to say. Fundamentally it probably depends how much power the Tory ERG has within their new Parliamentary Party. The more power they have the bigger the risks to the UK. Johnson will hate being unpopular and he will want to stay as PM as long as he can, remember from his perspective it is all about him. Will he address the desperate situation of our NHS and our connected social care system or will he let them continue to decline so his ERG-types can have the US style health system which only works for the wealthy? The answer to this question will probably define his premiership.

Has Johnson got Brexit done? No of course not, only a fool would think that. It will be 10 to 15 or even more years before Brexit is actually done or that we realise that we have all been done.

Jeremy Corbyn no mention – Brexit no mention – And that’s in Labour leaflets!

Being of the left but an opponent of Labour I thought I’d have a look at the leaflets they’ve put out in the Sefton Central Constituency. The striking thing is that in the ones I’ve seen there’s virtually no mention of Jeremy Corbyn or indeed Brexit.

When political parties all but ignore their own leaders in leaflets you can bet that they’re thinking that mentioning them will be a negative influence on voters. And I should know my party had Nick Clegg as its leader some years ago! So we can read into this that Jeremy Corbyn is not felt to be of assistance and he may well be perceived by Labour locally as being a drag on people being willing to vote them in the Sefton Central constituency.

And what about Brexit, the subject that Labour really don’t like taking about because they’re split all over the place regarding it. They’ve had more policy shifts, nudges and winks over it than I’ve had hot dinners so talking about it is also clearly seen to be drag on their vote. Say they’re Remain and their Brexiteer supporters get upset and head off to Mr Farage, say they’re Leave and their Remainers get upset and head off to the Lib Dems. Quite a dilemma, best to keep Mum and try to pretend that Leavers think they’re a Leave party and Remainers think they’re a Remain party! If they get into government they’ll decided which way to face then, if they don’t then they’ll keep running with the hare and hounds, or in Jeremy’s case staying ‘neutral’.

The interesting point here is that the Labour candiadte in Sefton Central was a member of Corbyn’s Sadow Cabinet in the last Parliament so you’d think they’d fully behind Jez and be promoting his Brexit nuetrality.

Brexit – Aren’t the Police supposed to be politically impartial?

The BBC has the article on it’s website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-50544243

I don’t know about you readers but this ‘stunt’ and to me it looks to be little more than a politically motivated stunt is very worrying.

It’s the job of the police to uphold the law of the land not for individual officers to have other issues that they want to deal with.

Labour’s Brexit problem – They are openly not Remainers

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/labour-mp-accuses-unite-boss-17247986

Whilst the report is about internal Labour Party difficulties the mere mention of McCluskey makes Remainers most unhappy. What on earth has a trade union leader been doing not fighting Brexit when it will in all probability lead to job losses and it threatens employment rights? It just makes no sense at all to me as a life long trade unionist.

And people like McCluskey must surely be at the heart of Labour being unable/unwilling to join the Remain Alliance? Here we have 3 political parties of the left PC, the Greens and Lib Dems fighting to stop Brexit because amongst many other things it is a threat to jobs and employment rights whilst a trade union leader with obviously huge influence within Labour leans towards Brexit. It beggars belief in my view.