Lib Dems family friendly?

October 17th, 2011

The family friendly Lib Dems will resist the Conservatives inclination to reduce or remove extended, and it has to be said hard won, maternity and paternity leave rights.

This is a problem with many parts.

Firstly it shows the very unhappy state of the marriage between the Coalition partners, after all this is fundamental stuff, how we do, or rather don’t support UK workers, who work some of the longest hours in Europe, with a patchwork of childcare arrangements, unlike our Nordic neighbours. With those 2 parent families often passing like ships in the night throwing the caring and domestic baton back and forth, and single parents often either struggling to find work or doing more than 1 job in the 5 c’s sector (cleaning , caring, catering ….you get the picture.)

Secondly it ignores clearly evidenced requirements of working parents, and pays scant regard to the needs  and interests of children.

Thirdly it leaves us all, sitting nicely on a ticking demographic time bomb. What are we going to do when we have to start looking after the elders in our community?  So many baby boomers! Many are healthy and maintaining independence but speak to any baby boomer or Gen X’er about the strength and depth of the crisis that strikes when Mum, Dad, or frail Aunt B, suddenly needs care. Your in London, they are in Carlisle, unlike a toddler you can’t predict what care pattern will suit, you don’t know how acute or how long any sudden problem will take to resolve. Plus, truth be told, you don’t really know what your doing or how to do it. How many of can arrange a personal care budget and meals on wheels, where do we start?This is very different from dealing with childcare!

So point four, last but not least, this right to flexible work becomes a really potent voters issue, not just for the ‘mums’ (and dads) who know instinctively the value of family friendly working patterns and depend on these rights to exercise sound judgement and make families work. But the ‘grey’ voter too, will eventually and ardently recognise that there is mileage in this for them, either to allow for care to be given, or to allow them to be a caregiver. Some major HR departments report that half of all TOD requests (time off for dependants) are in respect of elder care needs.

Lets not hold the Lib Dems in any kind of high esteem for this state of affairs, and their stated aim to resist the Tories. This erosion of rights, pushing all responsibility onto the individual is classic Tory territory. We know that. So do the Lib Dems, and they knew whom they were getting into bed with, that night, drunk on power.

Dale Farm, what’s fair about this eviction?

September 21st, 2011

Back in the early 1990s I worked as a detached youth worker at the Tolney Lane Gypsy / Traveller site in Newark, Nottinghamshire. A couple of times a week we would drive our detached youth work centre onto the site – it was infact a double decker bus with the seats removed replaced with poster paints, tea and coffee making facilities and some safer sex posters.

We would walk around the site, ?chatting to the young girls, the mums and the grans. We wouldn’t have very much contact with either the boys or men on the site. They would be off working. The site was tucked away from the town, a way down a mile long pot holed unadopted road. A journey down that lane to the site let you know where the travellers were on the local social scale. It wasn’t unusual to hear local shopkeepers and residents being extremely rude, hostile and out right offensive to the Gypsies. No travellers allowed signs hung in several pub windows. Being refused service in shops, being treated like second-class citizens, being denied access to services like health care and schools seemed the norm.

Occasional skirmishes would break out. But in the main the Gypsies kept themselves separate from the settled community. That seemed the best peace keeping option. Integration wasn’t an option. Ostrisiasation of a whole community of people not just accepted but entirely normal.

I learned that the gap between what people with no knowledge of Gypsy and Travellers think, is a vast, empty space filed with a vitriolic prejudice that bears an uncanny resemblance to racial hatred. We need to be careful that our lack of cultural understanding, that people need to belong to communities, that we all have the right to self-define, and we are all entitled to human rights.

This is a clear breach of Human Rights, driven by both lack of understanding and ideology. I am reminded of Pastor Martin Niemoller. First they came for the Jews but I didn’t do anything because I wasn’t a Jew, etc.

What needed here are tolerance and a proper dialogue between local people where both parties can explain their points of view and collaborate on a safe successful future for all concerned. Isn’t this the right route for a Big Society?

We need to be vigilant about tolerance!