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Posts Tagged ‘expenses’

I know that if I had been born 100 years earlier that I would have been a suffragette, out chaining myself to railings, smashing windows and going on hunger strike. I feel so strongly about the fight for our right to vote that I would never, ever, ever, contemplate not voting. I’m not really a party political animal and have voted many different ways in the past including once writing a brief essay on the inadequacy of the first past the post voting system on the back of my polling card, but I voted for this Labour government with great excitement and optimism back in 1997 and have done since, though with somewhat less excitement and optimism as the years went by. I’ll never forget the sheer joy of staying up all night to see them win in ’97 and float, bleary-eyed, into work, buoyed up on euphoria. And of course no political party, no matter how much their policies march with what you want or expect of the government of your country can sustain that level of love and devotion. Unpopular decisions will have to be made (you hope…nothing good can possibly come of decision-making by vote-chasing!).

So, as we approach a General Election, my belief that you must vote holds strong, but God, it is hard to see what the point of it is. For one thing, I have a general feeling of mistrust and unease about politicians as a group because of the expenses issue…not so much that people claimed for such ridiculous things but because of the lack of shame or acknowledgement that they have been abusing both the public purse and public trust. They are public servants, after all, there to serve the people of Great Britain, not to feather their own nests (or should that be duck houses???) . As it happens the MP who will be elected in my constituency whether I vote for him or not (I won’t) comes out of the expenses affair very well, ranking 620-something in a list of how much MPs have claimed which suggests legitimate usage. So that’s something…he doesn’t represent my views (fair enough…clearly he represents the views of a LOT of people in the area, more than 10,000 majority), he doesn’t answer my letters (a point of contention) but I am satisfied that he isn’t lining his pockets at our expense!

But I will not vote for this Labour party again in its current incarnation. State intrusion into and micromanagement of the private life of families who are doing nothing wrong is something I cannot tolerate. Perhaps not that surprising when many of the current Labour party were much less centre-bland than they appear to be now, and once had political leanings that merited MI5 investigation. I could perhaps understand it better if it was in pursuit of a particular ideology, but it doesn’t seem to be. In fact they strike me as particularly soulless. If they want to take control of our lives and thoughts and expression of those thoughts for any reason other than control itself, I remain open to be convinced of it.

Of course I am particularly referring to the “licensing” of home educating families. It’s not just the immediate effect this will have on my family. In all honesty it could be virtually non-existent. I am already in the system because my daughter was briefly at school; I have survived one visit from the LA and I know that I can say and show the right things to get them off my back. But I do very vehemently oppose the right of the state to dictate how I chose to raise my child. I mistrust the very process by which this law is being brought about, based on false claims, flawed statistics and downright lies, witness Mr Ed Balls stating at the committee stage of this bill that a majority of home educators are in favour of the proposed changes to the law. There were over 5000 responses to the consultation document and almost all the questions were between 75 and 97% *against* them. So to make 97% against into a majority in favour is a rather large leap, but apparently that’s okay. If the law they want to pass, passes then any and all means are justified, including lies, slander and public vilification of a minority group.

And this is not just a home ed. issue. What the government is basically saying to us is “prove you are not abusing your children.” Once that fundamental principle of British justice, that you are innocent until proven guilty and the burden of proof lies with the accuser, is eroded in application to one section of society, don’t think it won’t and can’t apply to each and every one of us.

Now if only I actually trusted any of the other parties not to do the same.

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