Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Jade's words of wisdom

Although I was not a fan of Jade Goody, something she said deserved attention. In the last few months, she has used her profile in order to raise as much money as possible in order to send her sons to private school so they get a good education and don’t become ‘ignorant like me’.

Like all Mums, Jade was clearly concerned about the quality of the state schools in this country (and this is after 18 years of one lot and 12 years of the other) and felt that the best hope for her sons to have a good future was to bypass the state system which failed her and millions of others like her.

Hence in one simple expression, Jade perfectly summed up the current state of education today. Perhaps she was not as ignorant as she thought she was.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hurrah for England and St George - Boo to Swale Conservatives

In hard times, it is always good to have a chance to let one's hair down and celebrate - and what better day than the national day of England - St George's Day - 23 April. Each year Sittingbourne has hosted a St George's Day parade, a popular festival with games, music, competitions and various stalls and events. And it is much needed good business for local retailers.

Unfortunately this year Swale Council have decided to cancel their contribution to this day - saying there is no funding - despite increasing parking and other charges. So the parade is now in doubt unless the organisers can raise over £2,000.

Would any council tax payer complain about the Council contributing towards a day of celebrations - something the local economy could do with at present? I think not. Would a Scottish council cancel celebrations for St Andrews' Day?

In a recent leaflet Gordon Henderson, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Sittingbourne & Sheppey, says 'As an Englishman I am getting fed up of being treated like a second class citizen in my own country'. I quite agree, Gordon, so how about a phone call to your friends who run Swale Council?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Remembering the days of Margaret

Catching up on my TV dramas, I saw 'Margaret', with Lindsay Duncan powerful in the title role. These were the dramatised events of her downfall in 1990.

At the time I was at university in Aberystwyth and found the events in November fascinating - my only memories of other PMs were of Mike Yarwood's impressions - and as for the winter of discontent, when I was 11, I can well remember all the snow and the black bags outside various gates during the dustman's strike. But by 1990 I simply could not imagine anyone else as Prime Minister. Mrs T had been there throughout my entire teenage years.

Looking back, we should have seen her downfall coming - but it was a shock at the time. Unlike Tony Blair, there was no obvious person to take over. I think we all thought (and feared) that she would indeed 'go on and on'. Certainly not the fact that John Major would step in.

Of course she did great damage to this country, from which we still have not recovered (and probably never will), but two things come to mind. Firstly, for much of her reign, the top rate of tax was 60% and the basic rate was 33% - high by modern day standards. Secondly, again for most of the 1980s, unemployment was over three million - higher than today - and we got so used to it, that it didn't become an issue! I remember a main debate of the 1987 general election was defence.

This last point is quite frightening and could happen again. If David Cameron steps into Number 10, he could be there for ten years simply because we would get used to (and bored by) the recession and would forever blame Gordon Brown for it. So we must be ready to keep up the attack on both of the bigger parties - will a Cameron government cure the recession or just live with it, as the Thatcher government did, as a 'price worth paying' as the Major government did?

I will finish with a brighter note - in the 1980s we had great music, colourful clothes, good television, beer was under a pound a pint, and we were all over 20 years younger. Those were the days!