Respect to John Woodcock MP

john-woodcock-jpgThis week the Labour MP for Barrow and Furness, John Woodcock took a very brave decision to announce that he is suffering from clinical depression. Following this bold step, he has rightly received praise from all sides for his willingness to sick his head above the parapet and say ‘Me too’.

Is it not a major step forward when a public figure (one with a very stressful job) feels able to talk about mental health conditions in a positive and progressive way. Obviously this is only one example, however the reaction from those suffering from depression or other related conditions should be (and I’m sure will be) one of universal positivity and thanks.

The courage that John Woodcock has shown in confronting his illness head on, and in the public eye should hopefully provide inspiration to all of those who suffer in silence and don’t feel able to discuss their problems or seek medical help. On his constituency website John gives a full and frank account of his problems; however more importantly he makes it quite clear about not only his determination to get better, but also about his continued ability to perform to the best of his ability in the work place, (see the below link to read this).

People like John can help to break down the barriers that surround perceptions of mental illness and for his actions this week he deserves every single bit of thanks and praise coming to him.

John Woodcock website

There was also an appearance on BBC Newsnight (4/12/13) that you can view here:

John Woodcock MP / Newsnight 4/12/13

Kind words from Fraser Nelson in The Spectator:

Fraser Nelson – In Praise of John Woodcock MP

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Time passes, memories fade.

I’ve noticed something rather disturbing recently. In truth, I notice a lot of disturbing things, but this one thing has become very hard to fathom.

Those that know me, or have read previous posts will be aware that I lost both my parents by the time that I had reached the age of twenty. As I race towards the grand old age of forty, this seems longer ago than ever before, and this leads me onto my problem.

The longer that time pushes ahead, the less I remember what my parents actually looked like.

This might seem like an odd thing to say, after all, why don’t I don’t look at some old photos? The fact is, I don’t have any. Not one. All my family photos were lost when I was in the process of selling my late Mothers house following her death in 1993. I don’t know how they all got lost; the answer to that remains as lost as the photos themselves.

All I have left are memories, and it breaks my heart that these are becoming more fragmented and distant as time passes. As far as my Dad is concerned this presents less of a problem, after all, I only have to look in the mirror and he’s looking straight back at me. What breaks me up is the fact that my Mum is slipping from my mind; not my memories of her, they will always remain and there’s never been a single day when I’ve not thought about her, however the visual recollection is almost lost to me.

This is what upsets me the most, the one person in the world who was closest to me, and I can no longer remember her face. I don’t think I could possibly begin to describe to you the sorrow and emptiness that has filled those memories, and if I were talking to you face to face, I doubt if I could even try.

Every once in a while I see my Mum in dreams. I always remember them, and for that brief moment I see her how I once remembered her. In those few, short, fuzzy minutes when waking up this always comes as a nice, warm comforting moment. I’m always thankful for this when it happens, although it’s not that often. The worst part of this is the feeling that a whole part of my past is now lost to me; I started writing about my childhood last year in an effort to help me remember. This was a difficult decision to make, by my very nature I’m a very private man, I try to keep my most personal thoughts and feelings to myself. I’ve always tried to protect myself from heartbreak, and perhaps the end result of this is a misconception that I’m a rather cold individual. I guess that by writing about these things it makes it easier to say the things that I would be unable to say to people in person. Not because I don’t want to, but because I’m wary of giving too much of myself away, or sadly of letting anyone get too close to the real me. Of course, there have been rare occasions when people have got past the facade; have caught a brief glimpse of the other me. I hope those people over the years realised how very special I thought they were, and of how much they meant or mean to me. I don’t know if they do or don’t, but the fact remains that it takes an amazing person to get inside my heart and more importantly, my mind. Unfortunately though, life is often a cruel mistress, hopes and dreams are often dashed. Even when those you want and love the most in life are out of reach to you.

Local Tory MP in ‘not to be trusted’ shock…..

For todays post, I am pleased to share an article by Tom King, an activist and organiser from Wyre Forest CLP, and part of their ‘Young Labour’ group.

Tom is passionate about investment in education and schools, and I hope you’ll agree that this comes across. Tom also shows, as always, why we cant trust the Tories.

Throughout the election campaign the Tory candidate, Mark Garnier, insisted that his number one priority was rebuilding Wyre Forest’s schools and dismissed other candidates who alleged a Tory Government would the cut of Labour’s school rebuilding programme.

As our MP, Garnier watched on as Michael Gove announced that over 700 schools would lose their BSF rebuild, five in his own constituency. He didn’t even ask a question to the Secretary of State for Education on the numerous occasions Gove was called to clarify and apologise for his gaffe-filled statements. Garnier seemed distinctly inactive on the issue that was his number one priority.

When Gove made his ‘efficiency saving’ and took the axe to Building Schools for the Future, he had no comprehension of what it would mean for communities up and down the country. Communities like Wyre Forest. The reorganisation of schools in the area had left many, with hundreds more students than they were built for. At Stourport High, our 1950s building, built for just 900 students, must now accommodate over 1,300. As a result, the school has spent £1 million on nine portable classrooms and a further four portable classrooms are rented at the cost of £50,000, the equivalent of two teachers. This is not only a drain on the school’s resources but also provides an impractical and inconvenient learning environment. The fact that these temporary solutions must now become permanent arrangements shows the arbitrary way in which this cut was made. No consideration was taken of the unique demands placed on Wyre Forest schools. Furthermore, Wyre Forest schools have been twice hit. During the reorganisation, funding for building improvements was put on hold whilst decisions on the future of our schools were made. Meanwhile, money was poured into improving Haybridge, in the already affluent Hagley, creating a modern, high-tech school environment to be envied. The canceling of BSF leaves some children to be educated in the same run-down buildings, whilst others have had millions invested in fantastic new buildings. It creates a two-tier education system.

Gove condemned the BSF programme for not producing results quickly enough, however, he seems completely ignorant to the process and significance of BSF. The ambition of BSF was bolder than anything seen since the Victorian school building programme; the rebuild of every secondary school in the country. It was recognised that such a major investment could not be wasted on schools for today, with no thought for tomorrow. The programme involved not just bureaucrats but teachers, students and the whole local community. They took on the challenge of designing a school not just fit for current needs but one that would last for generations to come. This was not a project to be undertaken in a few months but one that took dedicated, hard-working teams, several years to complete. The process was far from inefficient; it was effective in delivering the schools for our future, however, time-consuming that process maybe.

Callous cuts have defined this coalition government so far. Politicians, detached from reality, make decisions they cannot imagine the consequences of. They don’t consider the dashed hopes of students excited about the prospects of an investment in their future. They don’t have to walk through rain to get from building to building for lessons. They aren’t part of the generations condemned to an education sat in cold portable classrooms. Scrapping Building Schools for the Future is not cutting waste, its wasting young people’s lives.

If rebuilding Wyre Forest’s schools was Mark Garnier’s number one priority, he has a funny way of showing it.

Links: Wyre Forest Labour 

            Mark Garnier MP

Twitter: @wyreforestlabour

“Right to Work” Conference 2011

On the back of last Sunday’s successful Right to Work protest in Birmingham, it is vital that those of us who support the public service,and are determined to fight the vicious coalition cuts keep the momentum going, and the pressure on.

The public spending review is due at the end of October, and whilst we do not yet know just how far the cuts will go; we can be sure that they will hit the hardest in society the hardest. The public sector plays a vital role in the running of our country and we must do all that we possibly can to resist and fight back against the forthcoming storm.

We must fight for every job, fight for our futures and fight for the right to work. The coalition cuts will be too severe and too fast for our fragile economy to cope with. Putting thousands of public sector workers onto benefits is not the way to lead our country into recovery.

Join the Right to Work campaign today, either nationally, through your union or through a local group. As I will be, consider attending the Right to Work conference taking place in Sheffield on Saturday, 11th February 2011. Booking details and prices can be found on the Right to Work website.

Get involved. Stop the Cuts. Defend public services.

No sympathy amongst the rank and file Tories

Following on from yesterdays Right to Work protest in Birmingham, I thought it would be interesting to listen to some of the fallout / opinions from those attending the Conservative conference.

The 7000 committed individuals who braved the adverse weather conditions in Birmingham yesterday made their point loud and clear. They are not to blame for the countries financial problems; yet those on a low wage or on benefits will be the first to suffer once the coalition cuts really start to bite.

As part of BBC Radio 5Live’s coverage of the conference last night; politics commentator, John Pienaar spoke to several people taking part in the protest. He was joined, amongst others by the Daily Mail’s resident idiot Amanda Platell.

Now, you can always normally rely upon Amanda to make a stupid, ill-thought-out comment at the drop of a hat; however last night she really hit the jackpot in the fuckwit stakes. After hearing comments by one of the comments from one union member, Platell made the sort of comment that made me feel sick. The union member asked the question, “What have we done to deserve this?”, in response to a comment about the awaited cuts. Platell’s response on hearing the interview verged on the offensive; “They, (union members), have voted for Labour for the past thirteen years; that’s why they deserve it”. I’m paraphrasing here, but the quotation is as near as damn it accurate.

So, hard-working, low paid union members and public servants ‘deserve’ the threat of job losses, just because of their supposed political views? I don’t need to reiterate the fact that Platell is the Tories resident rent-a-gob; or that such a moron could only write for the Daily Fail. however, this was insensitive in the extreme.

Whilst this comment annoyed me; one a little later from a Tory party member saddened, but didn’t surprise me. Asked what she thought of the protest taking place outside, she replied:

They should get off their backsides and go and do some work

Cameron may like to present the illusion that the Tories have changed, especially since the coalition with the Lib Dems; however the opposite is sadly true. Amongst the rank and file Tories, it appears to be the same old story. Little regard for the ordinary working man and woman, and no clue as to life in the real world outside the Tory bubble.

For a supposedly intelligent individual to assume that all the protesters were ‘unemployed scroungers’ is pathetic in the extreme. It had obviously never crossed her mind that those people braving the rain were amongst the very people who provide the public services that she uses everyday. Hard working people, who right now live in fear of losing their jobs, and understandably have a bleak and uncertain view of what the future holds for them and their families.

Right To Work – Birmingham 3/10/10

What a great turn out for the ‘Right to Work’ protest in Birmingham today.

Thousands took to the streets in the pouring rain to protest against the forthcoming coalition cuts, due to be announced at the end of October.

Cuts that will hit the worst off in society the hardest. Not the well off, but ordinary workers, those in the public sector, the low paid, students, pensioners and those claiming benefits.

A strong message of unity and solidarity must be sent to the government. Cutting hard and fast at this point in time is not the way forward.

Short term thinking and savings for long term pain.

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Ed Miliband Q&A – Birmingham 4/9/10

Just a few words about Ed’s Q&A session that took place in Small Heath, Birmingham last night along with  Jack Dromey and Shabana Mahmood. I think I can speak for the majority of the large crowd who attended when I say just how inspirational Ed’s speech was. It has been clear to me for quite a while now that out of all the Labour Party leadership candidates, Ed is best placed to take the party forwards; not only to make us the effective opposition that the country needs, but also into government at the next general election.

Only by moving away from the spectre of  ‘New Labour’ can we hope to reconnect with the four million voters who have turned away from Labour since the heady days of 1997. Let’s not forget; only a million of those votes went to the Tories. It is therefore essential that as a party we re-engage with the hearts and minds of those, who, for various reasons have walked away from the party, and in some cases, from politics altogether.

I am convinced that not only can Ed Miliband lead a united party against the savage, hard times that the coalition are about to inflict upon this country, but that he can also reach out to the disenfranchised. Those members of the public who show a general disgust for politicians and politics, but also those previous Labour supporters and voters who feel that the party has left them behind. There are those who consider that a vote for Ed is, in the words of one David Miliband supporter on Twitter, ‘pandering to the left’, or even worse, a ‘left wing sop’. These people are not only wrong, they also serve as a timely reminder as to what was so bad about New Labour; we must learn from these errors and move on.

If you are a Labour Party member, I would urge you to make Ed your first preference on your ballot paper. Our parties future, and the secure future of this country depend upon it.

Just a thought…….

It’s been a disheartening few months. I’m due to go into hospital this week for the second time in a month. Obviously I’d rather not have to.

Thirty seven years of almost perfect health and look what happens – the Tories / Coalition get into power and I’m never away from the place!

Coincidence?

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The art of being grumpy

I’m often accused of being grumpy or miserable. To which I normally reply: ‘Good, now fuck off and let me go about my day’. You see, being grumpy is not the same as being ‘unhappy’, or ‘depressed’. It really isn’t….

Yet all to often this is a concept that far too many people fail to grasp. Let’s make something clear; yes I get unhappy at times, just like all of us do. There are things in my life that make me sad; things that have made me deeply unhappy.

That is not the same as being grumpy. I often think that I’ve made a career out of being grumpy; so much so that it’s almost an art form; almost a performance. It might also be true that I use my grumpy outlook as a wall against the rest of the world, to prevent some people from getting too close to me.

It’s also true that I’m grumpy because I care. There are a lot of things in the world that piss me off, and I hate the fact that sometimes I can’t do anything, or very little, to change them.

I’m not an unhappy man. All things considered, I’ve led a normal, lucky life; and for that I’m very thankful. I’ve got a job, a roof over my head, great friends and for most of my life, until this year at least, good health. These things are important to me and make me happy, and hopeful for the future.

So, with that in mind, here are some examples of life’s little piss takes that really fuck me off:

1. Annoyingly happy people: Life is not THAT perfect! I do not want to listen to your inane drivel ALL day!

2. Loud school children on my train in the morning: Just because you go to a nice, private school doesn’t give you permission to act like a bunch of little fuck-wits.

3. David Cameron.

4. X-Factor: (see also Big Brother and any other pile of rancid shit on tv.)

5. Fools who insist on phoning me at two in the morning. You should know how much I love sleeping, or if you didn’t, you sure as hell do now.

6. Americanisms: You live in the UK for fucks sake!

7. Rude shop assistants: Look me in the eye when you’re serving me! I don’t want your ever lasting gratitude, just some basic good manners would be a start.

8. Cruelty to animals – including foxes.

9) Lazy people: Do something, ANYTHING with your lives!

10. Anyone who works in sales: I can spot these twunts from miles away. If I need something, I’ll come and buy it from you; until then, you’re nothing more than a ridiculous hair cut to me.

11. People who insist on talking about their children – constantly. I understand how much you love them, but I don’t need to know.

12. Office Christmas parties – why do I have to pretend that I’m having a good time with people I spend far too much time with in the first place?!

13. Tories.

14. Arrogance (see salespeople)

15. Chain coffee shops: When I say large, I mean large, not some other stupid fucking word that you describe the word ‘large’ as!

16. The BNP: Along with any other buffoons out there with racist, fascist or disgusting views.

17. Homophobia.

18. ‘Two Faced’ people: If you don’t like me, don’t pretend that you do; I really don’t care!

19. Religion: Feel free to believe in anything you want; just don’t EVER try to force your views upon me.

20. Dirty people: Have a wash for fucks sake! It’s not that hard!

This list could go on and on; believe me it really could. This is just an example though, and as such It’s served it’s purpose.

The point is this though, if you know me, do not mistake my grumpy facade as unhappiness – it’s not. I tend to keep those thoughts to myself, where they belong…….

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Clegg’s final journey to the dark side

Nick Clegg has been having a good old whine about the ‘bile’ within the Labour Party. The nerve of the man never fails to amaze me. It should be obvious to anyone now that his final conversion to the dark side of Toryism is now fully complete.

Such a shame that he now finds himself in the position of having to make pathetic jibes at the opposition. To be fair though, these must be worrying times for Cameron Jnr. Not only does he face the prospect of Lib Dem members leaving the party in their droves; he must also be shitting himself silly at the reports that Charles Kennedy is considering a defection to Labour – something that Charlie himself is yet to deny.

With the prospect of the forthcoming coalition butchery, he could be the first of many who are forced to take a good, hard look at themselves. Hopefully some will rediscover their principles, therefore helping to cut short what is bound to be a nightmare time for all but the most fortunate in society.

I could almost feel sorry for Clegg as I imagine what the next few months will hopefully be like. I don’t though. I have nothing short of contempt for a man who has not only betrayed those Lib Dem members and voters who hoped for so much more; but also the country,which will now pay such a heavy price for what is to come.

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