Friday, October 28, 2005

Race Relations - Social Inclusion - Question Time

Interesting to find that within hours of posting my blog on 'race relations and social inclusion' Alan Beddow: Race Relations - Social Inclusion the subject is discussed on Question Time.

Some members of the audience made some excellent points, sadly there was a lack of sensible comment from the panalists.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Race Relations - Social Inclusion

I would like to summarise some thoughts I have been having for some time now.

Community Relations are one of the most serious challenges we currently face as a nation. We seem in a state of denial. We like to think of ourselves as a multicultural society yet we have had terrorist bombings in London and recently racial tension in Birmingham.

The politically correct like to think that by pussyfooting around words such as 'black' and sanitising Christmas in case we offend anyone is the way forward. We have a government that are going down the road of draconian measures such as ID cards and confused laws and yet how does that contribute to multiculturalism.

Yet we have a situation where a minority of Muslims feel alienated to the extent that they become involved in extreme groups creating a climate of suspicion for the rest of their community, a Black community that feel disadvantaged, immigrants that are tarred with one sweeping brush with a media fuelled paranoia of immigrants. I feel that no one is listening to the real feelings of the various communities out there, including the vast majority of white open minded people.

I firmly believe that Britain with its long history of immigration and multiculturalism stretching back for almost 2000 years should have the experience and the will to get this right. The answer is not ID cards or laws to control what we say or the erosion of civil liberties. The answer must lie in what we have always done, work towards a society where we can celebrate our differences, respect for others whilst building a sense of pride in our own communities.

I have met no one from any non Christian culture that is offended by our celebrating Christmas. I have not seen any Christian offended by other communities celebrating their own holidays. In fact the vast majority of us from whatever background welcome the opportunity to share in the cultures of others, whether it be 'Jamaican Independence Day' (celebrated each year at Hectors in Leamington Spa), Diwali celebrations, folk festivals, watching the West Indies playing at Edgebaston or whatever events take place in our towns.

Outside the paranoia we have a fusion of arts and music, embracing various cultures, there is a new trend in music to fuse Asian styles with British Music that has much of its roots in Celtic or Black music. It is this that makes British Culture so rich.

There has been talk of segregated faith based schools, recent moves by the government for private initiatives in education may accelerate this. Yet how better to build a society of social inclusion than in a school playground where White, Black, Asian, eastern European, all children from whatever background that makes up the blend of communities within an area, play together.

I believe that ID cards and some of the laws being considered at the moment are looking at putting a very flimsy lid on the issue without tackling the real heart of the problem. Clearly there are people from various communities that do not feel included or integrated. Is no one listening to the real issues.

I would like to see less money spent on ID cards and rather more spent on projects to promote community inclusion. Facilities where young people of all backgrounds can play sport, get involved in arts or music. I would like to see investment to promote various cultures that communities can be proud of and share with others. This will in no way erode British culture, whatever that is, it will contribute to enrich it, as it always has. Of course there will still be a minority from all backgrounds that cannot see this, yet they will be marginalised and have little voice, as has happenned with Gay Discrimination, the way to silence them is to take away the very things they shout about.

Once we have a society where all cultures feel included, can be proud of their sense of identity and share it with others, then the tensions that create racial unrest and extremist tendencies will diminish.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Just before the main band played, Shanade the support act played. In the true spirit of John Peel (as opposed to the conspiring to sack your drummer after the gig spirit) Shanade, being a new artist on the local scene was given a support slot. I hope to arrange something like this each year.

I have to say stunning songs...!! she is so talented, if you ever get the chance to see Shanade from Leamington Spa, do so. Her songs have been going round in my head all weekend.

Fortunately I had a MiniDisk recorder at the desk and I recorded the entire gig. For a desk mix the songs have come out really well and I have given her a copy. I have managed to post a copy of one track below. Best right click and download before you listen.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Cut the crap politics.

Just popped out for a swift one in the local, the conversation turned to politics, I don't tend to bring such subjects up however am happy to nurture them when they do.

So what is the word on the street.

Well it seems people are opposed to the central control that the government have over local council planning and the manner in which this means indescriminate building with little regard to low cost housing, a real problem in our area. I suggested that perhaps what we needed was power devolved to the lowest level and that was met with favourable agreement. It was also proposed that we move from council tax to a local income tax with many favourable arguments being put forward by all concerned.

All this could have come from a discussion in the bar at the recent Lib Dem conference. These comments came from people that claim they 'dont understand politics'.

It reminded me of something I picked up at the conference. People like our policies all we need are people to spread the word.

I feel people are sick of the spin, smears and the smoke and mirrors that have dominated British Politics in the past few decades. What people want is a style of politics that cuts the crap and presents a clear set of policies that people can understand and that are just plain common sense.

I joined the Liberal Democrats totally prepared to be disillusioned and so far can still say that we are the party that can deliver just that.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Quiz Night, John Peel Day and Kofi Annan

Along with other members of the Warwick Liberal Democrat team I attended a Quiz Night in aid of Macmillan Nurses Cancer Relief they provide excellent support for people with Cancer.

The Quiz was sponsored by Iain Jermond who is currently the Mayor of Royal Leamington Spa. Excellent night, very well organised although the questions were a bit tough and obscure. We scored 93 using a skillful strategy of educated guesses. Some teams scored well over 200, I mean what sort of people know things like that !!

Well I am off to engineer at a gig in aid of John Peel day (one day late) at my local the Roebuck in Warwick tonight. The band politics involved in this event make Prime Ministers Question Time look like a WI coffee morning. It has taken the skills of Kofi Annan to keep this on track at times.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The most powerful person on Earth & Jeremy Beadle.

Last night after a productive evening in my local, drinking beer and talking crap we ventured back to a friends house where there is a fireplace set in the garden. We sat around the fire discussing the world in general and one friend summed up the sad state the world is in.

"George Bush is the most powerful person on Earth" at the time it was quite a profound statement and we sat there for a while reflecting on how mankinds evolution had culminated in this situation, a world that created Enstein, Picasso, Shakespeare, Beethoven, had mapped the human Genome. And the nation that claims to be the most advanced civilization actually elected George W Bush as their president, twice, to elect him once is unfortunate, to reelect him is just plain careless. How can that happen. Something is clearly wrong.

I keep expecting it to turn out to be some huge practical joke, Candid Camera or Jeremy Beadle (a TV personality in the UK that plays practical jokes, [for the American readers])

Jeremy Beadle jumps out from behind a grassy knoll and announces, "You thought you had elected George W as your president didn't you! What you didn't know is that we set the whole thing up.... You've been had."

The global population heaves a collective sigh of relief.

"Bloody hell, Jeremy" one Englishman exclaims, "that's Bloody Brilliant, how did you fix that, rigging the election, the War in Iraq, that's gotta be your best prank yet!!"

Whilst George W being a joke president would seem to be the most logical explanation, sadly our American Cousins have indeed chosen George W as their leader and even more remarkable there are some that even believe he is a good president.

Here is an example of Georges wisdom that caught my eye this evening. Relating to the subject of low voter turnout and re-engagement of people in politics, a subject well covered by a number of fringe events at the Lib-Dem Blackpool Conference. None of the speakers however managed to hit the nail on the head as eloquently as George.

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."

Nice One George !!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

MPE Band - Moo Bar Leamington

Popped into Leamington this evening, they often have bands on a Sunday night, though often pot luck as to who is playing. Tonight featured the MPE Band from America, a blend of blue grass, Zappa, folk and anything else that ended up in the blender at the time, shifting styles even within one song. Excellent musicians and very versatile. Recommend seeing them if they are down your way.