Tuesday, 21 April 2015
Yesterday Nicola Sturgeon announced the SNP’s general election manifesto. Most of the media were negative including the Daily Mail’s headline ‘A Match Made in Hell’.
I’ve skimmed through the manifesto and thought many points were appropriate to Scotland but was so disappointed at the lack of detail concerning immigration. Considering the late horrific tragedy which has taken place in Italian waters perhaps the SNP think Italy’s too distant to be of any concern to Scotland.
Last week I had an interesting conversation with a Syrian. Let me say he instigated the issue of illegal immigrants. He was an illegal immigrant until 6 years ago having arrived in the UK back in 2004 by jumping a lorry in Calais. After spending a couple of years in the south east he moved to Glasgow where he found work on the back market selling ‘stuff’ (he didn’t detail the ‘stuff’). Once his application for asylum had been approved he found work with a charity which helps immigrants and enjoys the work to this day.
When we were chatting about the influx of immigrants, both legal and illegal, the UK has half-heartedly dealt with in the past few years, he mentioned how easy it is for anyone to enter the UK. ‘There’s a 75% chance that, if you know someone who has been granted asylum in the UK that you’ll get entry’. He spoke for some time about this and said he was regularly contacted by fellow Syrians in the UK who asked him to say a certain person was a relative. ‘The immigration authorities will give the green light in most cases if the illegal immigrant can say they have family here. In most cases the immigrant can’t even prove their nationality as they destroy their passport prior to entering’.
All this was an eye-opener to me. How many people arrive in the UK by such means? ‘Thousands,’ I was told, ‘I could be a rich man with the amount of money I’ve been offered to sponsor someone I don’t know but I’m not prepared to put my UK residency in jeopardy.’
Now we have the serious problem of these people arriving by boats from the African continent. Yes we’re partly to blame for interfering with the political structure there but should we (I mean the Europeans) be responsible for each and every one who arrives on European soil? I think not. All of these people ‘fleeing’ have paid traffickers up to £10,000 for a space on a dilapidated boat just to reach Europe. None is poor. How many of us could find that amount of money?
Many people are calling for more help from the EU to avoid the tragedy of people drowning on the seas. The Italians have done their best in recent years to cope with the numbers but now they’ve become so excessive they’re beyond controlling.
The EU are useless in this case. What needs to happen is an arrangement by each EU country to implement the Australian principle. Yes, I know this is another Daily Mail article but other newspapers are ignoring the elephant in the room and that elephant is the traffickers. Their interest is money not lives.
First and foremost the traffickers must be stopped and the only way to do that is by the tried and tested system Australia has adopted. There’s plenty hot air spoken about tightening up our immigration rules but nothing has been done for years.
The reason for this post? My Syrian acquaintance was very honest when he told me that Britain is known the world over for being an ‘easy touch’. ‘I was housed within 3 days of arriving here as an illegal immigrant yet there are people, including soldiers, sleeping rough on the streets of Glasgow. You don’t care for your own as much as those you do for those from other countries who come here for financial reasons and by that I don’t mean to better themselves by working - I mean to be given benefits which surpass their expectations. If I had been working all my life here I’d be furious about how my taxes are spent, but then my job involves getting benefits for immigrants and it’s simpler than buying a pint in a Glasgow pub on a Saturday night’.
Here in Scotland immigration is currently not a problem, in fact immigrants have been welcomed. But if people continue to arrive in Europe in such volumes then more and more will move north when they arrive in the UK. As my acquaintance said, ‘In another 20 years time Glasgow will be unrecognisable because of an uncontrolled immigration policy. There are thousands of immigrants like me who are making a very healthy living from declaring strangers are family.’
The African continent is a mess and the UK must take its fair share of responsibility as our actions were wrong when we decided to team up with France and assist in the toppling of Gaddafi. He was a tyrant but had an understanding of his country and others surrounding it. People trafficking was minimal when he was in power. Now hundreds are dying in an attempt to reach Europe and paying extortionate sums of money to crooks for the privilege. Australia has greatly reduced the deaths at sea of those attempting to reach it and thereby reduced the horrific trade of people trafficking in Indonesia. Europe needs to resolve the current problem by having more stringent border controls. More policing will cost more money but will save lives and also diminish the detestable trade of people trafficking.
Tuesday, 14 April 2015
Friday, 10 April 2015
The definition of family, as I was taught in primary school, is ‘ a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit’ or ‘all descendants of a common ancestor’.
These are the definitions I’ve lived with most of my life. In recent years there has been a distinct change or should I say two distinct changes. Firstly, there is a strong feminist movement which thinks two parents are not necessary; in fact many in this group think men are no longer required in the modern world now that we have IVF. A test tube doesn’t require any emotional input does it.
There are thousands of women who, for medical reasons, are unable to conceive naturally and I sympathise with their predicament. Many of these women, and their husbands, want children desperately so go down the IVF route and it can cost them dearly, financially and emotionally. In certain circumstances some can be financed by the NHS and according to the baby centre website, in 2009 nearly 2% of babies born in the UK were conceived as a result of IVF treatment. All these babies were desperately wanted and I have no doubt are being brought up in loving homes.
However, we now have surrogates too and surrogacy is becoming more popular than ever. The HFEA (Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority) does not regulate surrogacy.
Surrogacy does not require the use or the eggs and sperm of the intended parents. A donated egg fertilised with sperm from the intended father can be used or an embryo created using donor eggs and sperm. If the latter is used then the resulting child will have no genetic relationship with its parents so therefore the current definition of ‘all descendants of a common ancestor’ will not be applicable.
Does this matter? I think so. ‘A Mother who gave birth to her own brother and sister’. How confused will these babies be when they begin to look at their ancestors? I shudder to think. Last month a mother gave birth to a child for her 22 year old gay son. She didn’t use her own eggs but acted as a surrogate for a donor egg fertilised by Kyle’s sperm.
I’ve witnessed the pain of couples being unable to conceive naturally and have complete sympathy with what some undergo in order to achieve a child, but surely there must be some regulation on ‘babies to order’. The HFEA or another body should intervene now because these latest developments may well cause serious problems for the future generations involved.
Friday, 3 April 2015
Did you watch the TV debate last night? I still can’t decide if it was the over-rehearsed performances or the tightly scripted words from most participants that annoyed me. Farage and the Salesman were the only two who didn’t appear to refer to notes, but they have the advantage of more years of public speaking.
The media this morning all have differing poll results with the Scotsman favouring Nicola Sturgeon, RTE reporting there were no winners, The Telegraph’s 'experts’ say Ms Sturgeon left the others well behind and the Daily Mail’s headline is ‘Cameron dodges a bullet’.
Ed Miliband thought this was his chance to show he is No 10 material. He failed. Between some rather amusing efforts to stare into the camera, in the hope we would believe his every word, and looking like a startled rabbit caught in headlights on many other occasions, I cringed when his summing up involved the words ‘If I’m Prime Minister’. Heaven help us if that happens.
Nicola Sturgeon was well received by the English audience it seems. Her performance was slick but it concerns me that she believes we need to increase benefits. Her proposal to increase the capping allowance of £26,500 is frightening. Where will she find the money to do this other than raise taxes on people who earn more than the national average. If Scotland did become independent this type of policy would discourage the brightest from staying here or coming here. Many people who earn more than the average have worked very hard to achieve their goals, why punish them?
What can I say about Nick Clegg? Nothing really.
The Green Woman’s policies are fairytales. ‘Vote for change’ she pleaded. Anytime she spoke she sounded pleading. Poor soul.
Miss Wood, the leader of Plaid Cymru, wasn’t at all bad. Although she stuck very firmly to her script, she did fight her corner for Wales.
Nigel Farage was ‘naughty’ to have mentioned health tourism. How left-wingers detest the truth. Health tourism isn’t a problem in Scotland as far as I know, but in various parts of England it is a serious problem. I have several friends who work in the English NHS. The stories they tell of relatives of British citizens coming here for cancer and other very expensive treatments are not just one or two examples. I’m informed that quite a few of these ‘tourists’ could well afford to pay for their treatment but they know they won’t be charged in the UK. If they travelled to the US, Canada or many other countries they would have to pay upfront. It’s well know throughout the civilised world that the UK will provide free health care to anyone who manages to get into this country.
How did the Salesman do? As our current Prime Minister he performed as expected, but I lost interest when he insisted we care for our military veterans. That’s nonsense and he knows it. Far too many of our veterans are homeless.
Apart from Nigel Farage, the other leaders support the EU. The question ‘Why?’ didn’t arise. If it had then we may have learned a little.
On a lighter note, wasn’t the make-up dreadful?
Monday, 30 March 2015
Facebook inspired this post. The other day I noticed a question being asked - ‘Did you go to Sunday school?’ and was amazed at the number of responses such a simple question received. People detailed the names of their Sunday schools and I calculated, very roughly, that the responses were split quite evenly in favour of Sunday schools. There were several exceptions when commentators said they were a ‘waste of time’, ‘free parking for parents’ etc. Here in rural Perthshire, Sunday schools still exist. I’ve no idea of the attendance numbers but I have attended several Harvest Festivals and plenty children contribute to these occasions.
During a brief discussion about this with an online friend, he made clear he had no religious beliefs and apologised if anything he had said offended me. I replied I was not offended in the least and consider myself more in the ‘spiritual’ than the ‘religious’ box if boxes had to be ticked. Perhaps there is a fine line between religious and spiritual, because I would like to think deeply religious people do have an association with their spiritual side, although recent happenings in the middle east imposes doubt.
However, away from Sunday schools, more concerning is the numbers of British Muslim young people who are attracted to fight with the terrorist organisation IS. Court orders show a total of eight pupils from the same Academy in Tower Hamlets have shown an interest in Islamic fanaticism. How many more faith schools, funded by the state, are there in the UK which follow their own religious itineraries?
In the past 20 odd years politicians have gradually introduced us as a ‘secular society’. All well and good and I approve of tolerance is all religions to aid peace and enable us all to live together in harmony. This isn’t happening. Recently one father of a child who has absconded to Syria blamed the police for his child’s choice to join IS. Let’s not forget, 15 year olds today are much more mature than a 15 year old in the 50s and 60s. This same father was invited to Parliament to give evidence at a home affairs select committee and denied even knowing what Islamic radicalisation was. Obviously no official investigation was made into the father’s background prior to his invitation and subsequent apology from the police, until the Daily Mail uncovered the father’s beliefs.
Our society has changed radically in the past 20 years and it’s time all state funded religious schools were closed. Every child should be taught in schools which have the same curriculum and rules. That includes all Christian faith schools which are paid for by taxpayers. Each child will then have an equal opportunity within the state education system.
Keep religion out of our state schools. In 2009 there were 6,867 faith schools in England, with 395 in Scotland and 263 in Wales. Until 1959, the state paid for only half the capital costs of religious schools, but in the past 50 years the cost borne by the government has soared, finally rising from 85 to 90 per cent under Tony Blair in 2001. Increasingly, the 10% of capital costs that religious foundations are supposed to pay has slipped. Schools are claiming ‘exceptional circumstances; so often that the average contribution made by foundations behind faith schools is just 7.4%, and this results in additional costs of millions to the taxpayer.
For parents who what their children to be taught the family religion then let it happen outwith their state education. Every child must have the same chance.