Tag Archives: Column

Why Corbyn needs no spin doctors


sbIntroducing Soundbite – a quick column to-go on the daily news and issues.

 

The thing about Jeremy Corbyn is that he’s not a media man. If he were Pepsi he’d be Pepsi lite. Nope, scratch that he’d be an organic, pressed elderflower juice with no added sugars. And, see, that’s what I like about Corbyn, that’s what we all seem to like, those on the red side of the political zone – the fact that this man thinks the meaning of ‘spin doctor’ is someone who cures ailments by twizzing you around until you feel sick.

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Jeremy Corbyn – new UK Labour Party leader. A man who needs no media.

So why this morning are the politicos calling for Corbyn to ‘get a media team around him.’ Why? That, like wearing a fleece with heels,  would be a catastrophic error, because it is the sheer fact that he has no media spin team, that Corbyn says what he thinks, is a conviction politician, a man of his word, that he won the Labour leadership in the first place. Tony Benn once said there are weather cocks and sign posts for politicians – Jeremy Corbyn is a solid sign post.

Look, if  you’re one of the doubters, if you don’t believe me, if you think Corbyn is having no effect on the masses at all, then listen to this. I was walking through my home town of Stroud yesterday and overheard a group of 17-year-old lads discussing just why they like Corbyn. They said he was ‘a breath of fresh air’ and that he was worth listening to. Now how often do your hear a bunch of young lads discussing politics on the street? Quite.

Corbyn is no spin doctor. He’s just human, a man of his word, a true political sign post. After all the expense scandals and lip service and downright lies of the past, his fresh approach is  just what we need. He’s a normal bloke – and that’s why we damn well like him.

Got an opinion? Post your comment below.

Imagine if your education was taken away

UnknownHands up if you liked school? What’s that? Not many hands? If you didn’t fancy school that much, chances are you’re from a comfortable westernised country where school is taken for granted and hating it is the norm. And why not? Go ahead, fill your boots – hating school as a kid is like a right of passage.

But, just for a second, imagine this: what if school was taken away? What if you, as a female, for example, were told that, because of your gender, school was not an option? Or imagine if  your country were thrown into a brutal war and for your children, say, school was impossible to attend, in fact, even day to day normal living was nearly impossible and the only option you are left with is to flee your homeland to search for the safety of another. Only to be told to go away.

Today is International Literacy Day and in the wake of the European refugee crisis, the poignancy of literacy and the opportunity it provides has never seemed more relevant. Literacy, see, comes through schooling, but not all children have the chance to attend school. Syria’s oppressive regime, war and economic sanctions, have meant many children are denied what we here see as a right: the right to education. And take Malala Yousafzai, the young girl who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen just for going to school. 

We owe it to these children to have a better outlook, here in the west, on education, to regard the opportunities we have with respect and truly understand that, what we take as regular, normal – boring even – others see as the pinnacle of what life is about: ambition, learning, literacy. A chance, basically, at a good and full life.

So today on International Literacy Day let’s all pause to think about those children – boys & girls- who through violent war, oppression and economic strain cannot attend school. And how different it is to our own lives. And how damn lucky we are.

What do you think? Join in and comment below.

Zumba alone will not help girls into sport

Shopping basket filled with sports related items on white background

Have you seen a boy playing netball recently? When I was at school, there was a clear distinction between the girls and the boys when it came to sport. The lads did football and the girls netball. That was it, no joint games, no change in tradition – you were expected to know where the gender line was drawn.

Fast-forward 15 (okay, 25…) years and it seems nothing has changed. Today, in the Independent Newspaper, Judy Murray, tennis coach and mother to Andy, said that, “Schools could encourage more girls to take up sport by being more sympathetic to the image conscious world that young women grow up in.”

Now, look, I agree with that statement – to a point. Yes, there’s a lot more that could be done to encourage girls into sport, and with real reason. In a survey carried out just last year, for example, it was found that a worrying 40 per cent of 16-year-old girls do no vigorous physical activity at all. But the question is, does providing girls with activities that bow to an image conscious society, help? Isn’t that just like putting a plug in the hole without fixing the hole itself?

Natasha Devon, author and broadcaster, said activities such as Zumba and Yoga should be considered in schools to encourage girls into sport. Now, yes, without doubt, more choice is a good thing, but what would be damaging would be for schools to introduce Zumba but only for the girls, effectively turning Zumba into the new netball, and so would start the whole inactivity, inequality cycle again.

I have two girls and I wouldn’t dream of turning round to them and saying, my dears, girls are expected to not sweat, so best do Zumba. In fact, they tried it once a few years back when they were at Brownies and hated it. But, whether they liked or not is beside the point, because what’s interesting is that the boys in Cub Scouts, boys the same age as my girls, were not offered Zumba at all, and instead played football and running games, activities which were never offered to the girls.

What should be happening is a sea change in how we view young woman and woman in general when it comes to sport. We can get dirty, sweat, stink, play rugby, football, cricket or do Zumba or dance, but we should do it because we want to, not because it fits a pre-defined gender role.

But of course, they only way girls are going to want to do any of these sports is if society gives them a huge, bloody break and gets off their case. The answer? To encourage girls to just be. Be themselves, be strong, be smart, whether that involves getting muddy on a rugby pitch or dancing hip swinging moves to Latin tunes.

Break down the gender demands and not only will we see more girls get involved in sport, but we’ll see more of a change, more of an openness across the genders, too. And then maybe boys can finally start playing netball.

 

Human kindness is not broken

_85357288_indyBelow is a column I wrote last October. It was in response to the announcement that Iraq and Syria would be part of a targeted assault by joint forces.

I wrote then that it was wrong, the announcement, that people would suffer, that, if it went ahead, the one thing that could break that we all hold true would be human kindness.

At first, when the Daily Mail et al responded recently to the refugee crisis by publishing insulting, awful headlines filled with hate, I thought my 2014 column predictions had come true, but then something changed. People in Europe stood up loud and firm and insisted that we help, insisted that, when we see a dead boy on a beach, a boy -a child – like yours or mine, we don’t turn our backs any more. Instead, we help.

Right now, human kindness does exit. It isn’t broken. And let’s, together, despite governments and wars and endless political power games, as one united global family, make sure it never, ever does.

“Human kindness needs to beat the bomb” – The Gloucestershire Gazette – Column – 16th October, 2014

I’m a pacifist. I don’t like violence, not believing in weapons and fighting as the answer to our problems. In fact, they just make things worse, causing those on the receiving end to fight back, often harder and for years on end, the cycle never breaking.

And so to Iraq and Syria and the recent announcement that we will be part of a targeted assault. Now here’s the thing: pacifist or not, the current situation in these countries is horrendous. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like, as civilian, to live through it all. Men, women and children are displaced, terrible hunger and perpetual fear prevail. And that’s before the terrible laws that seem to be imposed by some on the citizens of these countries, the oppressive regimes that refuse to allow freedom of thought, of movement, of dress, of, well, simply being human. Imagine that happening to us, now, in Gloucestershire. What would we do? Would we want international countries to intervene? The answer would be a definite yes. To walk away, to turn a blind eye to the injustices and atrocities – that would be a crime in itself. In fact, I have to question the minimal intervention so far from the global community concerning Syria. The UN should have stepped in long, long ago.

But the trouble is, bombing is not the answer. You see, the varied problems in Iraq and Syria are caused by fanatics. And, the thing with fanatics is that you cannot rationalise with them – even if that rationalising does come in the shape of a bomb. So, to that end, how can invading with weapons change the fanatical mind? How? The answer is it won’t. In fact, I would argue that it will make the situation worse, that, while in the short terms, yes, it will temporarily halt their terrorising campaign, in the long term it will ingrain the seed of hate towards the the countries involved in the bombings even more. It will, in short, make things worse.

And in the meantime, people are suffering. So, global governments should be more stealth, more intelligent with their actions. Instead of brute force, implement sanctions, put food on the ground, use our secret services to infiltrate the groups and leaders that are causing the evil. Because, what we don’t want to break is the one thing we hold true: human kindness.

Gazette column: We need to quit thinking of ourselves this Christmas and start thinking of others

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about Christmas and how, this year with all the shopping and the excitement, we need to stop for a moment and think of others before ourselves. To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Gazette column: Girls’ school sport needs better provision. Now.

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about sport for girls in schools and how, if we want them to participate given the dire recent participation statistics, better proven needs to be made. Now. To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Gazette column: Because of the Philae robot, school science must inspire

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about school science and how, following the Rosetta satellite landing and its Philae robot probe, its time science inspired a new generation. To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Gazette column: Hello. I’m an immigrant. Are you going to ask me to leave?

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about change and how, yet, with immigration, heck even with things such as a proposal for new solar panels in a field, this nation of ours won’t accept it, won’t accept anything new. It’s time that changed. To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**