Saturday, 26 February 2011

Should the UK cease production of arms and their sale to foreign powers?

I'm going to polarise opinion today. I apologise in advance but I have to do it once in a while or otherwise the doctors won't give me my pills.

I was watching the Ten o'Clock Show on Thursday night (sad that a comedy show should be the best way to educate people about politics, but never mind) and there was a very interesting debate about Britain's role in supplying arms to foreign countries.

Britain has a long and proud history of supplying munitions to despots, and you may already know that in the last week alone, British tear gas was used on peaceful protestors in Bahrain, and British missiles supplied to Colonel Gadaffi are at this very moment killing innocents in Libya. UK readers, I hope you're forming an opinion on how you feel about this. It's being done in your name, and chances are you're barely feeling the benefit of the corporation tax.

Dominic Raab MP made the point that 55,000 UK jobs rely on the arms industry. War on Want's Yasmin Kahn made the counter-point that while these jobs may be important to the UK's commerical interests, this is not enough to justify the inevitable suffering and death that results from the sales.

This represents a massive dilemma for a union representative. I do not represent workers within the arms industry but unions are supposed to promote employment and I would not want to be the one telling these communities that they can expect their jobs to vanish and their standards of living to plummet. That said, 55,000 jobs is a relative drop in the ocean and there could be alternative job options made available to the redundant workers. This is, after all, what our current government is saying to the 500,000 public sector workers who will be jobless by the end of 2014 if events continue down their current destructive path.

On a personal level I am absolutely opposed to arms sales. As Yasmin Khan said on Thursday, we may be able to make even more money by dealing in crack cocaine, but that doesn't make it the morally correct thing to do (notice that a legal comparison is not the issue here.)

Of course democracies need to defend themselves but once we have handed over those tanks and sophisticated military aircraft, we have no way to determine whether they will be used for defensive or offensive purposes. I further believe that we shouldn't try to cloud the debate by saying that just because we sell guns doesn't mean we are the ones pulling the trigger. As far as I can see, that is an irrelevant debate. If we don't sell the gun, it will be sold by someone else and we will lose a competitive advantage while the recipient of the bullet will still be just as dead. However, at least then we can be sure that the blood is not on our hands and this would allow us to go some way towards setting a moral example to the rest of the world in the manner that we previously did with landmines.

Of course, the economic system in the UK means that each individual has the personal power to resolve their ethical dilemmas via the free-market system. You do not have to buy meat if you are a vegetarian, or petrol if you are an environmentalist. However, you cannot divorce yourself from the ethical implications of this debate, because the benefits that we receive from the industry are partly intangible (thinking back to those workers, their communities and their social cohesion rather than just the monetary consideration).

So the question I ask you is this: Do we, as Britons, want to be a producer of weaponry sold to other countries? In comparison, how do my US readers feel about their country selling weapons to others?

Friday, 25 February 2011

Libya and Mansour Osanloo

For a few days now, we've been hearing news about continued developments in Libya, not to mention our own government's predictably ham-fisted attempts to remove British citizens from the increasingly desperate situation.

I wrote my last entry about Libya a full five days ago, and subsequently wished I had waited twenty-four hours before doing so. While I have long relied upon the BBC as a reliable source of unbiased information, the first twenty-four hours of the Libya situation were marked by unreliable reports of possible protests and unconfirmed suggestions of conflict, while BBC reporters were posting blogs about the difficulty of accurate reporting in the country.

After posting the previous entry, I read a few forums on the subject of Libya and while I cannot verify that all the entries I read were genuine, there was an overwhelming number of entries from those purporting to be recopying emails or conversations had with residents of Tripoli and Benghazi.

What struck me was the uniformity of those stories - in a matter of hours, protests had been savagely put down and political oppression had become starkly and brutally violent, with rule of law imposed from the end of a gun. Some writers had friends or relatives who had been beaten or killed by the Gadaffi administration, and a number suggested that the troops carrying out the violence were not in fact Libyans at all, but paid mercenaries from Bangladesh and Chad. Some entries stated that they simply wished the truth to become apparent to influential parties outside the region, while others registered plaintive cries for assistance.

Each entry I read sickened me more and at the same time made me more curious about what was going on. I am naturally sceptical and aware of astroturfing on forums, but I didn't believe that this was occuring in this case. How could so many stories be emerging from the country and yet so little be known? I looked for the first time ever for news from Al Jazeera, and was astounded.

Al Jazeera had everything the BBC did not - stories, pictures and video clear enough to dispel any doubt that the country was descending into civil war. There were graphic pictures of shooting victims, stories of government buildings being seized by protestors, a close-up of a deceased mercenary on a ravaged street whose skin was clearly a different colour from those Arabs taking cover nearby. It was a full twenty-four hours before the western media caught up with events.

Muammar Gadaffi's personal guard and those still loyal to him are waging a battle against the protestors, and the outcome of the battle is still not certain. However, events appear to be leaning towards an endgame and we can only hope that the bloodshed there will end soon. Even so, the consequences will undoutedly echo round the world for a while to come. David Cameron is still in the area, promoting stability and democracy by selling arms to bidders in the region.

Milestones - I celebrated my 32nd birthday yesterday. I also celebrated 1000 pageviews on this blog, which is one of those mild coincidences that shows that there are at least some people who have good enough taste to choose this page as an alternative to tabloid editorial. Thanks to you all, and whether you agree with me or not, I hope it has been as enjoyable to read as it has been to write.

I am not the only person who has been celebrating a birthday this week. Iranian trade unionist Mansour Osanloo celebrated his 51st birthday on 23 February. He has been in prison now for four years for the supposed crime of creating an independent workers' union in Iran.

As part of a protest arranged by his union, Tehrani bus drivers refused to collect fares from passengers. In response, Osanloo was beaten badly when he was abducted by the security forces from a bus on his way home in Tehran on 10 July 2007. He suffered from cataracts as a result, but it took a major international campaign simply to let him have surgery just in time to save him from losing the sight in his left eye.

From time to time, he is sent to solitary confinement. Some inmates have attacked him. More recently, opportunities for him to contact his family or to go out of his cell have been reduced deliberately and increasingly he is in a "prison within a prison" acccording to his family.

Under these conditions, he developed a heart problem and was taken out of prison for brief medical treatment after complaining of chest pain. Still, he was sent back to prison within three days and there is no guarantee that his health has recovered fully.

If you are a trade union supporter, you can send Mansour Osanloo a message of support. The campaign to promote genuine workers' rights in Iran is firmly rooted in the international trade union movement and we continue to put pressure on the Iranian government to release all trade unionists who are jailed in the country.

You can post your message to Osanloo on the Facebook Group here, or send it by email to

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Each To Their Own

It's been a few days since I had time to sit down and commit a few of my thoughts to the keyboard. With all currently being quiet on the domestic front, the newspapers continue to follow the amazing progress of the Arabic democracy movement, which has now spread as far as Libya and Bahrain.

My colleague Alun Jones contrasted the successful uprising in Egypt with the actions at Tiananmen Square in China, and it is possible to do the same with Bahrain and Libya.

Where Tahrir and Tiananmen went before, Pearl Square in the city of Manama has become a focal point for Bahranian protestors, who seized it joyfully earlier this week following a full military withdrawal. Sunny and Shia alike raised national flags, waved placards and cheered as the hated local police force simply upped and left.

Egypt has become a template for uprisings in the Middle East. Now, as happened before, the younger protestors have camped out in the square as negotiations begin with the ruling royal family to implement a full constitutional reform. There are those who envisage a British-style consitutional monarchy, but at the current time, nothing seems to be ruled out.

Events in Bahrain were speeded to conclusion following a massive uprising earlier this week in response to troops loyal to the ruling family firing live ammunition into crowds. This is the preferred option in Libya, where Colonel Gadaffi has directed soldiers to flashpoints in Tripoli and Benghazi.

Libya has long been a difficult place for foreign journalists to access and report from, and many of the headlines about the beleaguered country have come from unconfirmed reports from social networking sources such as Facebook and Twitter. In response, the regime has clamped down upon access to the internet - much as Mubarak tried in Egypt, unsuccessfully, some weeks ago. Accurate information is difficult to come by, but reports suggest that several hundred people in Benghazi may have died since the riots began on Wednesday.

The willingness of Libyan troops to fire so readily on their own people has echoes of the massacre at Tiananmen, but with the context of the demonstrations so utterly different, the outcome here could be different too. A nation so dependent on oil exports for wealth sees itself under the watchful eye of a dozen Western regimes, who are growing increasingly uncomfortable as violence escalates. Within the country itself, the aggression of the military seems only to spur on the protestors, buoyed as they are by the seemingly-unassailable wave of unrest that has spread across the region.

Where next will fall to the sudden demand for democracy, accountable governments and fairer distribution of wealth? Morocco has seen unrest following Wikileaks allegations of corruption amongst those close to the King. Riot police have already violently dispersed protests in Algeria that were prompted by sharp increases in commodity prices. Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen have all seen anti-government demonstrations in recent weeks, to say nothing of the continued fallout of the disputed election results in Iran.

Could the unrest spread from the Middle East? There is certainly signs that all is not well within Europe. With a strong revolutionary past and Arab-minority communities, you can be sure that France is watching events very closely indeed. Italy has been the recipient of many political immigrants from North African countries and the Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is set to stand trial accused of abuse of power and paying a minor for sex. It is an inauspicious backdrop to growing domestic discontent. Germany is suffering from something of an identity crisis, as nationalist groups grow in strength and the political storm caused by the global economic crisis continues to rage unabated.

Monday, 14 February 2011

We Like To Be Listened To

Not to make too fine a point of it, but perhaps it's OUR aspirations that could do with being understood.

Also, what's good for the macro goose is good for the micro gander. 400 members of the public, including council staff, gathered outside County Hall in Norwich today to try and indicate to local councillors the strength of opposition to plans to cut millions from the budget in Norfolk. Councillors steadfastly refused to consider a raise in council tax as even being an option, and as a result it is Norfolk's most vulnerable people that will suffer. Still, who cares about them, right?

I hear today that Cameron has made £100 million pounds available to a Big Society Bank to sponsor local development projects. Two questions: firstly, where did this £100 million come from? Secondly, given the context of the mess this country is in, do we really need another fucking bank?!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Guest Blogger: Alun Jones - Tahrir vs Tiananmen

In a break from ordinary service, Four Thousand Words is proud to present it's first guest blogger. Council employee and father-of-two Alun Jones shares my interest in politics but has the benefit of a few more years of experience, not least during the Thatcher years, which for the benefit of our foreign readers was a time of great hardship for low-income families.

Tahrir vs Tiananmen

We've all witnessed great events in Egypt over the last few weeks. This has culminated in Hosni Mubarak stepping down from power. A huge well-done to the people of Egypt. I hope things genuinely begin to improve for you all.

Whilst feeling some measure of the elation we all felt when the Berlin Wall came down, it occurred to me that there were some interesting parallels with the events in China also in 1989.

Obviously, both were protests against oppression centred on squares in the capital whose names begin with T!

One protest succeeded, another failed. Why? I don't think it was modern communications as the Egyptian government unlinked from the internet so the protesters used old-tech like CB radio.

In the end, I believe it came down to the differing responses of the relevant armies. In Egypt, the army (468,500) chose not to get too involved. This left Mubarak relying on a small group of thugs to attempt to coerce the protesters. Clearly, this failed.

In 1989, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) numbering 2,250,000, moved into Tiananmen and cleared the square with live fire. Estimates of the death-toll go up to 3000 (which is more than died in the 28 years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland).

What I can't explain is why the PLA so brutally suppressed it's own people whilst the Egyptian Army stood aside. I'd like to think that the generals of the Egyptian army decided to allow the country to decide, whereas in China the PLA is intimately tied into the Communist Party structures and is sworn to consolidate it's status as ruling party.

Sorry, I now seem to be rambling without approaching a conclusion! There's probably some moral about picking your fights or about what the role of an army should be but I think I'd like to end as follows:

Congratulations to the people of Egypt. Enjoy your freedom and I hope that your new democracy will hold your representatives to account better than ours! As for the rest of the world, I hope that the leaders of Myanmar (Burma), North Korea, Zimbabwe, China & elsewhere will be just that bit more nervous.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

People of Norfolk, Your Services Need You

People of Norfolk, your services need you! Only by turning up and showing your opposition to the cuts in large numbers is there any chance to prevent Norfolk County Council from agreeing a system of cuts that will decimate and devastate your local community, putting the livelihoods of residents and the wellbeing of vulnerable people at risk.




For immediate use

Norfolk's 'Valentine's Day Massacre of Services' will face protest!

Norfolk County Council will meet on Monday - 14 February - to consider a Conservative group budget proposal to slash millions of pounds of services - part of a plan to cut £155 millions of Norfolk services.

The meeting has been dubbed the 'Valentine's Day Massacre of Services' by anti-cuts campaigners, who will mount a protest outside County Hall at 08.45 - shortly before the council meeting.

Protesters will lobby councillors to reject the proposed cuts and instead join a campaign for alternative government action to tackle the national deficit, such as ending corporate tax evasion and avoidance which costs the treasury billions of pounds each year.

Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts is urging all Norfolk citizens to contact their County Councillors this week, voicing opposition to service cuts, and to come along to the 'Stop the Valentine Day Massacre of Services' protest on Monday.

Campaigners will display 'bloodstained' signs of the services affected by the proposed cuts, which include:

* Closure of youth centres and an end to confidential advice and support for young people - perhaps the most severe cut in youth services in the country.

* Funding for services designed to keep children in a safe family environment is being axed or reduced, increasing the risk that children will be taken into care.

* Foster and adoption services are being cut - even though keeping children in institutions is the least preferable and most expensive option.

* Cuts to travel subsidy for students, which will force some to cease studying.

* Ending of subsidy for community meals for the elderly.

* Sensory support services to be cut by nearly £1/2 million.

* £1/2 million cut from services to support those with mental health difficulties to live independently.

* Day centres for adults with mental health difficulties likely to close;

* Reduced opening times for libraries;

* 1000 county council workers will lose their job, squandering the skills and years of experience and dedication. This will create downward pressures on wages in the private sector, suppressing demand, hitting retailers and small businesses.

Mark Hughes, vice chair of Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts said:

'If Conservative plans go ahead, next Monday will be infamously remembered as Norfolk's own Valentine's Day Massacre of Services, when many vulnerable people including a generation of young Norfolk people were abandoned.

'We must not let politicians acting like gangsters tear the heart out of our community. I urge everyone to contact their county councillor this week and to join our protest at 8.45 on Monday morning.'

The Norfolk protest is one of many similar protests around England including a 'Stop the Valentine's Day Massacre' outside Downing Street on Monday.

Nationally, plans are developing for a massive 'March for the Alternatives' against the cuts and privatisation, in London on Saturday March 26th. More than ten coaches are already booked to take people from Norfolk and others are expected to be needed. Information is on the Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts website

Friday, 11 February 2011

Death - The High Cost of Living

Bloody Egypt. I'm supposed to be on holiday there in a few weeks and after thirty years of meek subservience in the face of oppression, the minute that I click the 'Book Now' button they decide to kick off and overthrow the government, simultaneously sending a message of hope and freedom that will spread fear in the hearts of despotic administrations throughout the world. Now, it may just be coincidence, but I'm a little afraid to do my shopping online in case I cause a general strike that brings down an industry.

Of course, this story is the very definition of history in the making, and as an international officer I'm ideally placed to critique the possible consequences of the uprising. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood will be working behind the scenes to try and promote an Islamic government. The army, currently in control, have released a statement saying that they will listen to the wishes of the people but will they really be pro-democracy when they can install one of their own? What influence will powerful foreign interests in the US, Israel and the Arab world bring to bear?

As I said, I'd be ideally placed to do just that. But it's Friday night and frankly, I'm off the clock now so instead, I'm going to talk about something frivolous that came out of a discussion at work earlier this week.

A few people had read my last entry and said that they weren't really too sure about the optimistic direction that I was taking. It was widely agreed that I was deviating unnecessarily from a tried-and-tested model of politically-motivated doom-mongering, and all agreed that the change of tone didn't really fit with the current climate. Suitably chastened, I have returned to form with a topic that eventually comes to matter to us all: Death.

Death is an occupational hazard for me. I work with the elderly, my friends are fatally inattentive and my extended family are numerous and sickly. Of course, that doesn't even begin to account for the many fish-related incidents I have had to deal with since I bought my fishtanks. If guppies go to heaven, I may well opt for hell if there's a choice. Otherwise I'll have a lot of explaining to do to those little guys.

But I digress. A co-worker was explaining earlier this week about her phobia of being interred whilst still alive. I was happy to help her face her fear by sharing tales from centuries past about bodies being buried with a string tied to a toe and the other end attached to a bell to alert passers-by that they were still alive, or of bodies being exhumed only for horrified gravediggers to find that the undersides of the coffin lids were scratched by the nails of those who were not as dead as they appeared at the time that they were buried.

Happily, such occurrences in modern life are ruled out by the wonders of technology, and now it's possible for your final resting place to be swathed in comfy linen, heated to your personal tastes and even fitted with digital music players and TVs. Frankly, we're not taking chances on an arbitrary afterlife when we're comparitively wealthy in this one. Karma may as well be blowed if you can't take it with you.

Michael Jackson was buried in a solid bronze casket lined with blue velvet with a hand-polished 14-carat gold plate finish. The coffin was worth over $25000. Even so, it pales in comparison to the beauty in this picture. Well, that's me sorted. Now the only question is, can you get free broadband in the afterlife?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

What's OK to Say?

I'm seeing, hearing and reading enough bad news about the state of the country right now to fill a thousand blogs. The UK is cutting corporation tax for the largest companies to a point at which they'll soon be paying less in the pound than you and I will. Smaller companies will of course continue to go out of business while the banks refuse to lend to them and bonuses continue to be racked up a few milion pounds at a time. The newspapers have revealed what is hardly a secret at all really - that the Tory Party is bankrolled by hedge fund managers and senior bankers, which explains, if we hadn't already guessed, why this government has no intention of going to town on financial institutions.

But you can get bogged down in bad news, of course. I might not be wealthy, but I'm hardly in danger of starving to death. I may not be a banker, but I'm not tied to a desk for twelve hours a day so that my soul can be sucked out through my eyeballs in a mindless search for profit. Sometimes it's important to get perspective.

While we're on that particular subject, I read earlier this week about the case of Sarah Baskerville, a Department of Transport official who took a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission (IPCC) because Twitter posts she had written about being hungover at work were reported by several national newspapers.

Quite how these posts could clarify as a national newspaper story is beyond me, but newspapers will print what they think will be read, so fair enough. The IPCC ruled, correctly in my opinion, that things posted on Twitter should be considered public. But is it really that much of a sin to admit to being hungover at work? It is not as if she had confessed to rubbing shoulders with foreign mafioso, or admitted to cocaine binges with transsexual prostitutes. Even if she had, does her lifestyle matter in the slightest as long as she does her job? Where do we draw the line about acceptable behaviour? Would this lady's employer have preferred her to lie about her vices and stay home instead?

This of course has tremendous implications for anyone writing a blog. The views on this page are mine and mine alone, but I am always mindful that I represent my local county council as an employee, and my trade union as a branch officer. Neither are perfect organisations and I would feel justified in criticising policy decisions made by each. Nonetheless, I have to take a pragmatic viewpoint to such criticisms and realise that there is a time and a place for criticism and conjecture, and maybe this is a place of last resort.

Social media is all about telling other people what you are doing, seeing and thinking. It reflects our tremendous desire to contribute to shared experiences with those around us. Dilbert creator Scott Adams has written about the kind of future society in which our activities are potentially viewable by everyone else at all times. He concluded that he was safe from prying eyes by making sure that his life is, in his own words, 'coma-inducingly dull'. I see a litle bit of fellowship in that admission. Facebook and Twitter positively encourage the publication of the inane, and it is no bad thing. We know that the people who love us are interested in even the most insignificant details of our lives, and this is why we share them. If people don't like your post, there's another one along in a minute.

Social media has tremendous potential for educating prople and bringing them together in the future. However, we should not see it as a replacement for face-to-face interaction and we should also not use it as an excuse to take ourselves too seriously! It is entirely possible to be professional and do an excellent job and still be a human being with all the fragilities and weaknesses that come with the territory. Now, I know it's a weeknight, but does anyone fancy a drink?

Monday, 7 February 2011

I Hate Tony Blair

I've gotten over the nausea I referred to in my previous post. I even ate the Mars Bar eventually, though I did go to a different newsagent this morning because having the kind of revelation that produces a physical reaction is just too inconvenient in everyday life. It would be just my luck to find God while using the toilet in a motorway service station or discover the meaning of life while stuck in a lift in Debenhams.

I was quietly sitting and watching the Superbowl this evening when I decided to reply to the anonymous comment on my previous post. The poster suggested that money growing on trees is a socialist dream (though I could argue it seems more like a capitalist one to me) and it occurred to me that I can do more to show readers that I am not simply another mindless leftie reproducing the kind of rhetoric one reads with rolled eyes in the Socialist Worker.

Regular readers will know that I am openly derisive of Ed Miliband, and I believe that it is symptomatic of how far the Labour Party has fallen that he is leader. However, I realised in the middle of last year that I hate Tony Blair. I penned the subsequent blog entry as he was publishing memoirs written in blood and while it may not carry the weight now that he is not so central in the news, I reproduce it faithfully for anyone who is interested.


I realised something this week. It struck me suddenly as I watched the Andrew Marr show on Tuesday night with increasing dismay, every overstated, carefully considered, stage-managed gesture gradually increasing my bile until I coughed it up in anger.

I hate Tony Blair.

Note my choice of words. Not, 'I dislike' or even 'I intensely dislike'. No, I hate him.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning once wrote a poem called, 'How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.' I was so incensed by the picture of Blair on the front of the Times, still every inch believing that he is still the UK's premier statesman, that I decided to borrow Browning's idea, and write an ode to Tony.

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways
I hate thee for thy continued pompous sanctimony;
I feel for you the utter contempt that I normally reserve for ITV
Your supposed revelation of your drinking leaves me cold
As your childish spat with Gordon; New Labour just ignored the old
Fight your pointless war with Islam, if indeed you must
But don't sign up as a peacekeeper, or claim you ended boom and bust
Give your book proceeds to charity, see your face in glossy mags
As the victims of your warmongering come home in body bags.
But the thing that frustrates and upsets me most, to see you on the TV
Saying that it was hard but right, that you'd do it all again and that it was for our own good
Go, Tony, to the after-dinner circuit, at the side of your friend Bush
But when you walk across the water,
Beware of drowning in a wave of scorn, like you truly should.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

A Hellish Epiphany

I've been suffering some computer problems lately so I apologise to those people who read my page that I've gone a week without blogging.

I was going to do a humourous comedy piece today to cleverly juxtapose the serious political issues that I discuss but I was in the newsagents an hour ago buying a Mars Bar and had an epiphany that I realised I needed to share.

Standing and waiting to pay for my chocolatey goodness, I scanned the newspapers at the counter in the idle way that I do. The Daily Mirror defied everything we know about mathematics to suggest that there is "a chance" that Posh Spice may give birth to a daughter, and the Sunday Sport was running a piece called "Kimberly Walsh in boob shock!" In short, it's a typical tabloid Saturday in Britain and all seemed well with the world.

I then reached the bottom of the rack to see a small column on the front of the Independent entitled, "My War on Multiculturalism". It is David Cameron's personal take on how Britain's ethnic minorities are failing the decent, God-fearing, Daily Mail readers of our country.

Now, I don't want this entry to descend into comment on a specific policy. The story itself will undoubtedly be unfair to minorities, contain conjecture stated as fact and to top it off, it will probably be entirely unrepresentative of how Cameron actually feels. This entry is not about minorities. Instead, it's about a moment of realisation that made me almost choke in shock.

With every single cut that this government makes and every socially-divisive piece that is written in its stead, I, my fellow union stewards and my politically-aware friends and coleagues have yelled, 'ideology!' but I confess until this moment, I didn't fully realise the implications of what I was saying. As part of this government's slash-and-burn policy, we have seen the NHS, local government and social care decimated, to mention just a few of the coalition changes. I have braced myself to oppose whatever the government suggests as an alternative to the current state of affairs - and here's the horror - they aren't suggesting an alternative. They are simply cutting in the belief that it is the only way to change our society.

David Cameron is not a tinkerman, simply looking to keep the system and replace one face with another. It is not even that he is looking to change the system. Instead, he has decided that the only way to change Britain for the better is to tear down everything that has been built and start again completely from scratch. Like God looking down before the Great Flood, he has seen, judged and deemed us all unworthy.

As I staggered, bleary-eyed, from the shop, I wondered frantically if everyone else sees this already. I wondered if I was the only blind one, or the only one who can see. It is simply this. If you are elderly, there will be no care. If you are disabled, there will be no support. You will accept the reduced terms of your pension scheme, or you will get no pension. If you are attacked in the street and the police are unable to direct resources to you, you will get no justice. Most tellingly of all, if you are sick, you will get better on your own, or you will die.

Even as I am writing this, I feel like the lowest of the conspiracy-theorists you see sometimes on American TV. I am miserable and cannot even look at my Mars Bar. But most of all, I understand now why I'm really involved in a campaign to derail this government's policies. I cannot stand and do nothing as Cameron pushes more people into poverty, promotes inequality, induces misery and adds to the suffering of millions of people around me. We all deserve better.