Sunday, 31 January 2010

Property v. People

The polls seem to be suggesting that the gap in the polls between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party is narrowing. The Tory solution: appeal to their core voters with a return to the traditional policy of hang 'em and flog 'em.
Burglars "leave their human rights outside" the moment they break in to someone else's property
In a world of constant change it is nice to see that some things remain the same: Tories value property over people.

The prosecution of people defending their property has been a running topic in the press in recent weeks. Especially amongst those papers catering for the home-obsessed middle-classes, for whom Myleene Klass (and her idiotic knife waving antics) is some sort of pin-up girl.

With reasonable force already allowed under English law for the protection of property, we really don't need Cameron peddling his crap. Without a doubt I would be as shocked and scared as the next person on finding intruders in my home, but that doesn't negate the worth of the intruder as a human being.

We are all products of our environments, and it is more by luck than good judgement that people turn out as 'good' citizens. Cameron's own position in life owes much more to his background than any innate effort on his part, we can but wonder how he - who is so quick to dismiss other's human rights - would have turned out if he had been brought up on a rough council estate. It doesn't mean I condone theft or burglary, merely recognise that there but for the grace of God, go I.

Hopefully this is merely the bluster of a party leader in the run up to an election, and we can rely on the usual lack of a particular policy.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Where do the general public truly engage?

During the last week there has been a four-part In Our Time special on Radio 4, celebrating the 350th anniversary of The Royal Society. Towards the end of the final part one of the contributors emphasised the need for the general public to:
...learn to engage with the issues and make their own decisions such as they do in other areas of their life.
The need for public understanding of science to move beyond tabloid rhetoric is obvious, but I think the notion that there are great swathes of 'other areas' of public life where the general public are already making their own decisions is misguided.

The inability of the general public to "engage with the issues and make their own decisions" is reiterated on the web every minute of every day where it sometimes seems as though the amount of ignorance is only topped by the amount of hate - both reflecting the public's spoon-fed opinion from the country's right-wing press. Just a couple of minutes on the BBC's (moderated) Have Your Say will make the greatest optimist despair at the state of humanity. They are not engaging with the issues, but rather ranting like a drunk in a pub.

The solution for both would seem to be education, but whereas a little may help with a person's understanding of science, far more would be needed to help them look beyond their own vested-interests in the world of politics. Science should aspire to many things, but the fear and ignorance that people exhibit in the rest of their lives shouldn't be one of them.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

2010 - An annus horribilis?

From a political point of view I can't help but dread the coming general election, and the prospect of a Conservative government. Unfortunately the people, or rather 'the mob', want change. After twelve glorious years of a Labour government (which has far exceeded my expectations) we are on the brink of a return to the dark days of Conservatism.

After twelve years people have forgotten what a Conservative government really means. The masses find the oxymoronic 'caring conservatism' an appealing idea when it is fed to them by a right-wing press that looks to benefit from a Cameron government. That Cameron has the affront to campaign on the NHS shows how hard the Conservative machine has toiled to keep its army of BUPA members quiet whilst it says what is necessary to get into power.

But when the people want change, for little more than the sake of change, who else are they meant to turn to? The Liberal Democrats? They are losing credibility by the day. Rumours abound of a collaboration between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats if it would otherwise mean a hung parliament. For a party that has been gaining respect over the last 20 years, such a move would see it lose all credibility. Even the possibility of such a collaboration is likely to alienate the core Lib-Dem voters.

So, worse case scenario - and the most likely: 2010 could bring a Conservative government, the destruction of the Liberal Democrats, and the inevitable infighting that would follow a Labour defeat. Democracy really is bloody stupid.