All 5 entries tagged Politics

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November 18, 2005

Children scare me…

I read a fantastic letter in the METRO a few mornings ago, which I thought I should share:

'As a foreigner, I am not surprised to see that the children in this country are rebellious. They are a product of the culture that is being built around them. Nobody – not the parent, the schools or the police – have real power against their behaviour. It is an insult to the mind that and strength of children to worry that, by disciplining them, they will crumble or have emotional problems later in life. Let's face the facts: when walking down the streets we fear children, they intimidate us, swear at us, spit at us and even attack us. It is ridiculous that I used to fear guns, rape and murder in my own country and am now afraid of children here. If this trend carries on, what will the future hold for the workforce? In 20 years' time will I be spat on and sworn at by my fellow workers? Will I end up being stabbed with a pen by the office bully? Stand up, Britain! Children know they are untouchable. It is time that the Government realises that it is creating a future that looks very gloomy. We are seeing youngsters act in the way they do because they have no consequences to fear'.
Jacques Otto

November 15, 2005

Citizenship test

I was reading recently about the new citizenship tests immigrants are now required to take and, though I'm not sure I had considered beforehand what what might be included, I was surprised at the level of knowledge the test required the candidate to have.

One of the people who'd recently taken the test said:
'I wasn't quite sure with a true-or-false question which asked if the heir to the throne can marry anyone who isn't Protestant.'

Other example questions, from the BBC website, based on information in the official test booklet, included:
– There are four national saints' days in the UK, one for each nation. Which order do they fall in the calendar?
– Where does the myth of Father Christmas come from?
– Almost 60m people live in the UK. By what factor do the native-born English outnumber their Scots or Welsh neighbours?

Why are immigrants being forced to take a test that many British citizens (definitely including the 15-year old chavs I worked with, mentioned in the comments following my previous entry) would themselves fail?

On the other hand, will taking a test to prove their knowledge of British culture really make immigrants feel more integrated?

November 01, 2005

Underage sex and confidentiality.

I'm sure I'm not be the only person who's worried about these potential changes in the law regarding the confidentiality of healthcare for children indulging in underage sex.

If we think that children under 16 don't have the right to choose whether they engage in sexual relations or smoke nicotine, why should we think that they have the maturity to decide whether to let on about their sexual relations? But aren't we then interfering with their fundamental human rights by stopping them from making independent decisions about their own bodies – if they've made the decision to go through with an 'adult' act with a possibly result being parenthood shouldn't they then be treated as adults? Yes, is is important to protect children from any potential dangers, but will it actually make them feel more protected if they are more scared of confessing their actions?

It seems that these changes are stimulated to a large extent by the Ian Huntley murders. Yes, these murders were terrible and future tragedies of a similar nature should be avoided. However, there were mistakes made in the investigation that would not have been rectified if the laws on confidentiality had been changed, and in any case this is a one-in-a-million event. Should the laws be changed in the hope of altering the outcome of a tiny minority of cases when the possible detrimental outcomes for the general population are so significant?

It is naive to think that getting rid of a confidential medical service will improve the rate of teenage pregnancy. Many people who are pro a change in the law are ignoring a fundamental factor. Children who are engaging in underage sex are far less likely to go to find help if they know it will not remain secret, but there's no guarantee that they'll be discouraged from the act itself as a result. A lack of a confidential service may discourage a small number from engaging in underage sex, but the effect it has on those who still choose to break the law I feel may well outweigh these benefits. I think many, many more teenagers will, as a result, suffer their problems alone (might this even increase the rate of cases of depression or attempted suicide)? And you might ask the parents demanding that the laws be changed to instead assess their relationships with their children: if a child is so scared of telling their parents about crucial life-changing decisions is the problem more with the relationship rather than the laws of the country?

I agree that ideally we should be able to conduct full investigation in to all possible incidents of child abuse. However, we must be realistic – if, as a result, less children speak out about their experiences the situation will not improve. I honestly don't think the high teenage pregnancy rate in the UK will be lowered by a change like this – the issue is far more deeply-rooted.

August 23, 2005

Natural selection?

As someone of the younger generation the problems of pensions and maintaining the elderly to an increasingly higher age are not threatening to affect me directly. However, the prospect of potentially having to work until I'm 70 or 75 is quite daunting. This is, however, an aside, and not really what I wanted to talk about.

Whilst the developments in medical science over the recent years have been fantastic and have saved many lives, are we not in fact sidestepping the very biological system that made us so advanced: natural selection. The purpose of selection is to weed out the weak to increase the chances of surviving for the strong. Whilst medical advances have been brilliant for many who are suffering from all kinds of medical conditions, we are in fact changing our own genetic pool for the worse. People who even 50 years ago would have died at an early age from their conditions are now living far longer and even reproducing to propagate their deleterious genes.

Would it not be ironic if the human race was wiped out by a phenomenon we would have otherwise survived had we not become so advanced and learnt how to manipulate our own gene pool?

P.s. This is merely a discussion of ideas. I am not condemning the fantastic advances of medical science, nor saying that the weak should not be allowed to take advantage of them (before anyone shouts at me for being controversial).

April 15, 2005

My head hurts!


Have just spent the last hour watching an election question time on BBC 1, and I have to say it's not helped clarify my decision as to who to vote for at all, in fact in has just reduced my brain to mush (which may have been exacerbated by the wine, but we'll ignore that)!

Now, I have to admit that I've not taken a huge interest in politics in the past, but I believe that as a citizen of this country I should at least make an attempt at an informed vote. But it's all so bloody complicated, and as every elected PM and party seem to fail to live up to their promises, it all seems somewhat futile!

This is not helped by the fact that on many of the issues I can't even figure out what my view is, let alone identify the party that is most in line with this view. Take the immigration debate, for example. Now, on the one hand, I don't see that there's a problem in admitting people of other nationalities into our country if they are living in substandard conditions in other countries, providing that it does not adversely affect our economy. We are a wealthy nation, and why shouldn't we help some of the needy in the world in this way? But where do you draw the line? How do they actually decide who gets in and who doesn't? On the other hand, I can also see that immigration must be having an effect on many individuals in our society. After all, if I was rejected for a job in favour of an immigrant I'd probably feel a little peeved. There aren't enough jobs in the country to employ the crazy numbers of graduates our own universities are currently spewing out, let along adding graduates from elsewhere!

On quite a different, but related, point, I think that maybe one of the reasons we get so riled up about immigrants bringing their own religions and customs to our country is because we as a nation are embarrased that we have so little pride in our own customs. In India, more than 10 official languages are spoken and several religions exist side-by-side. How? Because each group of people is confident enough in its beliefs to not feel threatened by others. What do we have left to be proud of? People discount the Christian faith because a relatively small proportion of the population actually goes to church. But we are still fundamentally a Christian country – our morals and laws are based on Christian laws, and who in this country would deny the value of the 10 commandments as a good principal for living? But we are not proud of it! We go to such lengths to be politically correct about the religions of ethnic minorities but we do not give the same respect to our own belief system.

Anyway, I have somewhat digressed from what I was originally talking about: it just shows that my mind is confused. Bed calls…

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