Civil Partnerships/Gay Marriage

Civil partnerships between gay male couples and lesbian couples have now become commonplace, so much so that the main soaps on TV have gay characters getting ‘married’.  This shows just how far we have come in the years since the turn of the century, when much gay activity between men was still illegal (despite the 1967 Sexual Offences Act).

We now have more or less equality with heterosexuals, even including the right to adopt, which I had strong reservations about believing a child should have the best possible start in life if possible, including role models of both sexes. This is not always possible of course, as more and more children are brought up in one parent families. I was myself, and suffered for it, not knowing anything about male things and being terrified of men to such an extent I cried all night when going into a male teacher’s class for the first time. My first day at primary school I didn’t even know how to use a urinal in the boys’ toilet as I’d never seen one, so kept trying to use the girls’ toilets.

However, I’m now willing to concede that gay adoption is here to stay and that gay couples can make good parents, and that this in the long run may change the attitudes of future generations. If children can have either heterosexual or homosexual parents, then prejudice will hopefully gradually be broken down.

Peter Tatchell and others will say we don’t yet have full equality as gays are not allowed to actually get married in the legal sense, and also heterosexuals are not allowed to have civil partnerships.  I don’t feel strongly about this, but am perfectly happy to concede the point that marriage and civil partnerships should be options open to both gay and straight couples.

What I do regret very much is that my partner and I never had the opportunity to register our relationship because he died in 1991, shortly after we celebrated 21 years since we had first met. Most of that time we lived together, for over 20 years in fact. We stayed together till death did us part, and have remained in contact since then.

Not only would a civil partnership have given us all sorts of legal rights while he was alive, and recognition from our families (he is not included in a family tree a relative drew up), but it would have given me status now as his widower.

I personally would not have wanted a gay marriage since this would be too much like aping heterosexual marriage. We had no desire to adopt children, and the sexual side of our relationship, never great, subsided and ceased to exist. But we had great affection for each other and common interests, traveled the world together, went to the theater and cinema regularly, made three homes together, had our surrogate ‘children’ (various cats), looked after each other in sickness and in health, and cuddled and shared a bed right to the end. We were certainly a ‘family’, but totally unrecognized as such.

I also know many other gay male couples who were together for decades, for 30 years or more in some cases, and since only one of these couples still has both partners alive, the chances of conducting a civil partnership for the others was remote. One partner died shortly before or after such things became possible.  The implications were tremendous. The surviving partner could have been thrown out of the home (this nearly happened with one of them), they could have been left destitute, denied visiting rights when the dying partner was ill in hospital, and prevented from attending the funeral.

Little can be done in retrospect. However at the very least there should surely be some recognition for couples who have lived together and cared for each other for decades till death parted them, especially if they were denied the right to marry or to register a civil partnership. At the very least the surviving partner should be allowed to legally call themselves widows or widowers so we have some status and some recognition of our relationship and for sticking by our partners till the very end. This would entail no pension or inheritance rights, it would just be recognition by society that the partnership existed and lasted ’till death did them part’.

All it would require is proof they lived together for a certain number of years till death parted them, and say two or more witnesses to sign that they were in a loving and caring relationship and not merely flat-mates or house-mates.

‘No Such Thing As TV’

Imagine an intelligent scientist of today saying ‘there is no such thing as television; it’s just wishful thinking. The idea that TV transmissions, hundreds of channels, could be in the atmosphere around us and not be detected is just impossible. Anyone who claims to have seen television has been duped by clever conjuring tricks and illusions. Either they’ve been hypnotized into hallucinating, or they’ve merely watched a film or video recording of some sort.’

All the skeptical scientist would have to do, of course, to verify whether television existed or not would be to buy or borrow a TV set and see if it worked. If it did, then experiment with it to look for any film or playback video equipment physically connected to the television set. Instead they stubbornly refuse to buy or even borrow a TV set because it would upset their lifelong belief that such technology is impossible, and make all the books they wrote saying this look stupid.

This is the blinkered approach adopted by orthodox scientists when faced with the paranormal and concepts such as ‘life-after-death’. They simply refuse to examine the evidence, obstinately insisting they have no need to examine it because the idea is impossible.

The reason they adopt this attitude is that they follow Einsteinian science which he himself at the age of 70 admitted was incorrect. Scientists know full well it is badly flawed, and that nothing adds up as it should. Therefore they keep tinkering with it and inventing new additions such as ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ to try to make the facts fit the outdated and badly flawed theory. The Big Bang Theory is also wrong, but if orthodox scientists admitted all this they would face wasted lives, wasted research, lose their grants and their livelihoods. There is too much at stake to admit they are in a cul-de-sac leading nowhere, but in their hearts they must know it.

Quantum Physics, which deals with sub-atomic particles, has completely different laws to those of Einsteinian physics. Quantum Physicists have to deal with concepts such as sub-atomic particles only existing when there is a conscious observer, and reverting to wave function when there is no conscious observer. Also particles which can be in two places at once, hundreds or thousands of miles apart, yet communicate with each other instantaneously.

Einstein didn’t like Quantum Physics because it contradicted his Theory of Relativity. In the end Einstein had to admit his theories were badly flawed, and that he may have got it all wrong. Indeed he did.

But orthodox scientists committed to Einsteinian science and the Big Bang Theory are simply not permitted to question these things. Anything which contradicts these sacrosanct theories are known as ‘Woo Woo Taboos’. They are off-limits and cannot be investigated. This includes all things paranormal. But if you have a closed mind and won’t examine the evidence for anything you don’t like because it contradicts your beliefs, you are like an ostrich burying your head in the sand. If we had kept that attitude we’d still believe the world was flat and that the Moon, Sun, stars and planets revolved around the flat disk of the Earth.

Scientists who have investigated things with open minds have formulated exciting new theories, sometimes because they come from an engineering background and so are able to think ‘outside the box’. They cannot, however, get funding, nor can they get their theories published in scientific journals. Scientists like Ron Pearson for example, who could only get his theories published in places like Russia, where they are more open-minded having a history, even in Soviet times, of investigating the paranormal.

There is the Institute of Noetic Sciences, founded by Dr Edgar Mitchell the NASA scientist and former astronaut. There are open-minded scientists such as Deepak Chopra who do investigate all the evidence and are not bound by ‘Woo Woo Taboos’. They can easily be found on YouTube and the Internet generally, scientists like Dean Radin for instance, who’s a leading member of the Institute. Here are some links:

http://www.noetic.org/ 

http://www.noetic.org/about/what-are-noetic-sciences/

There is also Michael Roll’s Campaign for Philosophical Freedom, which backs Ron Pearson’s theories and those of scientists like Dr Louis Essen FRS and Hal Puthoff. Here are two links to the CPF site, including one for a summary of Ron Pearson’s theory on Survival Physics:

http://www.cfpf.org.uk/

http://www.cfpf.org.uk/articles/rdp/s_macq/summary-macq.html

And one for Pearson’s Big Breed Theory with a technical version for scientists and engineers plus another for the more general investigator:

http://www.pearsonianspace.com/index.html

In addtion to an increasing number of these modern scientists a whole host of others past and present have been brave enough to think outside the box and investigate things like the paranormal, including physical mediumship, and have had any initial skepticism knocked out of them. These include the following (from Dr Victor Zammit’s Weekly Afterlife Report http://www.victorzammit.com/ ):

JUST SOME OF THE DISTINGUISHED RESEARCHERS WHO FOUND EVIDENCE FOR THE AFTERLIFE AND THE PARANORMAL:
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir William Barrett, Dr Peter Bander, Dr Robert Crookal, Professor John Bockris, John Logie Baird, Professor Arthur Ellison, Dr Peter Fenwick, Professor Festa, Dr Edith Fiore, Arthur Findlay, Professor David Fontana, Dr Amit Goswami (pictured left) , Professor Gustav Geley, Professor Ivor Grattan-Guinesss, Professor Stanislav Grof, Dr Arthur Guirdham, Dr Glen Hamilton, Professor Charles Hapgood, Professor Sylvia Hart-Wright, Professor Ernst Senkowski,  Professor James Hyslop, Professor William James, Professor Brian Josephson, Dr Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Sir Oliver Lodge, Drs Jeff and Jody Long, Mark Macy, Ron Pearson (engineer/physics), George Meek, engineer, Dr Raymond Moody, Dr Melvin Morse, Dr Morris Nertherton, Dr Karlis Osis, Dr Hall Puthoff, Dr Dean Radin, Dr Peter Ramster (Psychologist), Edward C Randall (Lawyer), Dr.Konstantine Raudive, Drs J.B. and Louisa Rhine, Nobel Laureate Professor Charles Richet, Dr Kenneth Ring, Dr Aubrey Rose, Professor Archie Roy, Dr Michael Sabom, Dr Hans Schaer, Professor Marilyn Schlitz, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, Judge Dean Shuart, Dr Ian Stevenson, Dr Claude Swanson, Dr Emmanuel Swedenborg, Professor Russell Targ, Professor Charles Tart, Professor Jessica Utts, Dr Pim Van Lommel, Dr Jan W. Vandersande, Professor J.W. Crawford, Professor Wadhams, Prof. Alfred Wallace, Dr Helen Wambach, Dr Carl Wickland, Dr Carla Wills-Brandon, Professor Fred Alan Wolf, Dr Julie Beischel, Dr Victor Zammit, and many others.

So it is encouraging that so many are now investigating the evidence, despite the difficulty in obtaining funding and research facilities, and getting their findings published in the official scientific journals.

In time, of course, the old science will have to give way to the new. There is always inertia and resistance to the new. First it is heresy or maverick science, then it is alternative scientific theory, then new scientific theory and eventually it becomes almost universally accepted.

Today there still exists, I believe, the Flat Earth Society, but they are a tiny minority who believe the Earth is a flat disk and astronauts/cosmonauts either never went into Space or just flew round the edge of a flat disk hallucinating that it was a sphere presumably. No doubt there are still people who believe the Sun, Moon, planets and stars revolve around the Earth. One day people who believe all matter was created in a Big Bang, and we are all accidents of Nature who cease to exist when we die, will be as few and far between as the Flat Earthers and their like.

Quantum Physics has proved that Consciousness is behind the creation of matter – that matter cannot exist without a Conscious Observer. This means that Consciousness is there at the very heart of things, at the heart of creation of matter. It means that Mind and Brain are separate, and that the human brain (and animal brains for that matter) are, back to the old analogy, rather like a TV set. The thoughts and ideas we have in our brains do not originate there because they are merely receivers or two-way interfaces between our physical bodies and our minds.

If you are watching a Newsreader on TV, you won’t find him inside the box, all you’ll find is a mass of electrical connections. He’s inside the studio miles away. Similarly if you don’t have a TV set you’ll be completely unaware of all the TV transmissions in the atmosphere around you. Even if you have a TV set but only ever tune in to one channel, you’ll be unaware of the many other channels available (my mother still thinks she has only three, four or five, and has no idea how ever many times I tell her that there are also loads of Freeview channels. She is, however, 96.)

Similarly with the world we live in, or rather the universe. We are normally tuned in to this one only, so are completely unaware of many other universes or dimensions all around us. Yet Quantum Physics states this is perfectly possible, even very likely. Spiritualists have been saying it for over 100 years, mystics for even longer.

The Internet and YouTube is a great tool for by-passing the censorship of traditional scientific journals, and eventually the resistance to the new Noetic Sciences will break down and Pearson and others will be hailed as the new Einsteins.

Along with this will be complete acceptance of such things as survival and the afterlife, and we will have to change the way we live dramatically. For far from being ‘wishful thinking’, the fact that we can never die but are eternal beings who have to face the consequences of all our actions means a drastic change in human nature and behavior is on the cards for certain.

This is not the old idea of Heaven and Hell revived to scare the shit out of us. This is simply examining the evidence received from the Other Side that there is a law of cause and effect, that we are all interconnected, and also there is a karmic law. Everything we do to others we will experience ourselves. This is not punishment, it is the way we learn and progress.

Darwin was right – evolution is the key to progress. But it is not blind evolution, it is guided by intelligence. Darwin’s colleague, Dr Alfed Wallace, listed above, also came up with the theory of evolution about the same time as Charles Darwin, but he has been forgotten by orthodox scientists and biologists because he firmly believed in the afterlife and that evolution was guided by some Spiritual or Divine intelligence.

Random chance cannot produce complex organisms, anymore than it can (that old analogy once more) produce TV sets. You can sit around and wait for various components to randomly fall or grow together to form the components of a working TV set if you like, or if you prefer, for the proverbial millions of monkeys typing blindly on millions of keyboards for millions of years to see if one of them eventually produces a word perfect, English version of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I haven’t got the time to wait for this nonsense, you’d be lucky to get them to produce a few items from my Tesco’s shopping list in that time.

Some of us have got far more important things to think about and investigate, like what are we doing here, where we are going next, and what we should be doing in order to progress to the next stage of our spiritual development.

Our old science won’t help us in this quest, since it is nihilistic and materialist. Anything which doesn’t fit in with its outdated and incorrect theories it simply ignores and hopes will go away. Similarly with hard-line skeptics for all things paranormal, they ignore all evidence which contradicts their beliefs. They describe near death experiences as hallucinations brought about by drugs or lack of oxygen to the brain, but completely ignore the fact that people have accurately described events and things in and around them at the time they were clinically dead.

Then there is the oft repeated lie that nobody returns from the dead. They are doing it all the time. Not just those brought back from the brink by modern medical science, sometimes with recollections of the afterlife (the near death experience), but via mediums, ITC (Instrumental TransCommunication), in materializations (both in physical seances and spontaneous apparitions), and in countless other ways. Like TV broadcasts, they are speaking to us, but if we don’t listen or don’t tune in, then we will miss what they are saying.

I’ve always said Spiritualism is not a religion but a science because it is based on experimentation, and on repeated experimentation, not on faith or ancient texts and beliefs. ITC is in its infancy, but with the necessary funding and research, eventually it will be possible to build a TV set which will be able to tune in to the afterlife dimensions, or some of them. Already pictures have apparently been received from there (see the Internet for examples, Google Instrumental TransCommunication or EVP). I’m talking about Institutions dedicated to ITC research, not hoax photos.

Great changes are taking place, and things like this don’t happen overnight. The Big Bang will eventually be replaced by The Big Breed theory, but it will take time for it to be universally accepted.  Hopefully the Internet and YouTube will help to give slow-witted orthodox scientific journals a kick up the proverbial arse.

The Real Thing

People are easily fobbed off and satisfied with things which bear little or no resemblance to what they purport to be. The title of this blog is used by the Coca Cola company to promote their product, but since the recipe was changed many years ago (I’m not talking about the original recipe in the 19th Century, which is rumored to have contained traces of cocaine) the stuff you get in cans and plastic bottles, or on tap from various pubs and bars, is really nothing like the Real Thing. For that you have to get the Coke in glass  bottles, or if you can find it Classic Coke in cans (not produced in the UK, but sometimes available on import.) The taste is quite different, but many people seem not to notice.

In politics we have ‘New Labour’ of course, which bears no resemblance whatsoever to the real Labour Party and its policies, which were virtually indistinguishable from those of the Communist Party (except the latter believed in a utopian Stateless and moneyless stage of Communism which would follow the Socialist era). Both parties believed in the class struggle and the eradication of capitalism, and indeed the old Labour Party membership card emphasized this by containing a quote from Clause IV of the old Labour Party constitution. This was the phrase about achieving the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange and the best method of democratic control. Clem Attlee’s post-War Labour government was the last one to actually try to enact anything like real Labour policies.

The Labour Party’s similarity with the world Communist movement didn’t end with public ownership of course – they sang and waved the Red Flag (particularly at Annual Conference and on May Day) and at Party meetings all members were addressed as ‘comrade’ and the officers as ‘Comrade Secretary, Comrade Chair, Comrade Treasurer’, etc.

Now of course we also have  Liberal Democrats in coalition with the Tories, and are supposed to still believe the three major parties are somehow different from each other.

However the latest thing we are being fobbed off with is so-called 3D which bears very little resemblance to the real thing. First we had those 2D cartoons and animations which, because they were better drawn than mere line drawings, were erroneously labeled ‘3D’.

We now have many films coming out in supposed 3D versions. I went with a friend the other day to see the latest of these, Johnny Depp in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean On Strange Tides’. The film was entertaining enough, especially Johnny Depp with his humorous portrayal of the lead character, but the 3D effects were rubbish. This was made more apparent because we had specially made the effort to go to the IMAX cinema on the South Bank, London to see this movie, having previously seen ‘Alice in Wonderland’ supposedly in 3D at a local cinema in North London and been disappointed with the 3D effects.

Both these movies, and presumably many others which claim to be in 3D, seemed to be made mainly in 2D with some very weak 3D effects for some scenes. These gave the illusion of depth in these scenes, with figures and things in the foreground of the screen appear to be distanced from those in the background.

On many previous occasions I had seen real 3D on the IMAX screen and it is quite breathtaking. Indeed in the program when we saw the latest ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film there were IMAX trailers for some of their 3D films and the difference was astounding. Not only did the IMAX films fill the entire screen, but the 3D really took your breath away. The screen didn’t just appear to have depth in a few scenes, but in all scenes the images in the foreground came right out of the screen altogether to float in front of you above the audience. The effect is so real you want to reach out and touch the images. I’ve experienced this real 3D in many IMAX shorts, but so far never in the new wave of 3D films made for the ordinary cinema.

Back in the early 1950s when there was a craze for 3D the images also came out of the screen, though the effect was not as dramatic as in the IMAX 3D of the past few decades. The 1950s 3D, however, did make you blink and cower in your seat as things were thrown or poked at you from the screen. In the modern 3D versions of films made for the ordinary cinema all you get is some scenes where it is like looking at a cardboard cutout against a painted background – nothing like reality at all.

I’ve written to the IMAX corporation to ask why this is, but so far they have refused to answer my question, instead focusing on the quite separate issue of why films made for the ordinary cinema like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean On Strange Tides’ appear as a strip on the IMAX screen with a gap at the top and bottom rather than filling the entire screen. This has nothing to do with the 3D process and its resultant effects. I imagine the reluctance to answer the main question is because if people realize films made for the ordinary cinema in 3D versions are not real 3D at all, and will not appear any more like real 3D even when shown at IMAX cinemas, then their audience takings may go down.

So my advice if you want to see and experience the dramatic effect of real 3D is to see one of those 3D films (usually shorts) shown exclusively in IMAX cinemas. They really will take your breath away, and make you realize that we are yet again being fobbed off when we go to see 3D versions of many films in regular cinemas.

As to Coca Cola, look out for those old-fashioned glass bottles if you want to taste the real thing. More expensive than the canned, on tap or plastic bottle version but with a quite different taste.

As to British political parties I’m afraid at the moment there is still nothing much to choose between the three main ones, though one lives in hope that the post-New Labour Party will now swing slightly to the Left. However there are no signs that it is remotely ready to embrace the Marxist vision of Socialism Old Labour embraced and on which it was founded, or to once again proudly wave and sing The Red Flag.

It would even make a welcome change if Labour leaders would talk about the working-class again, instead of constantly pandering to the middle-classes (Gordon Brown at the last General Election kept referring to the middle-classes, but not once to the proletariat or working-class. That really says it all – abandon the class struggle and you’ve abandoned Socialism which aims to achieve a classless society.)

As to the various 3D processes and in particular the difference between IMAX 3D and the wave of cinema films now produced in supposedly 3D versions, if anyone can explain the technical reasons for this I’d be most interested.

Pontins Gold Break

Just back from yet another of Pontins Gold breaks for the over-50s, with my mother who’s well over 50 at 96. This was at their Pakefield, Lowestoft holiday center.

It was an enjoyable week as usual, and we have already booked for their Mistletoe and Wine week in November. I also go to this Pontins holiday center for the Wildest Cats In Town rock’n’roll weekenders in July and December.

It is a very pleasant center, the only drawback being it is impossible for the disabled or wheelchairs to get down to the beautiful beach. There is a steep, very rough path which has recently been slightly improved, but still totally unsuitable for wheelchairs.

A lift down to the beach would be very useful. At present for elderly and disabled guests the Pakefield camp might just as well be in Hyde Park,  London. You can only see the sea in the far distance, unless you take the bus (or car) into Lowestoft or some other nearby resort. The Pakefield beach is inaccessible.

Another idea would be to build something on the golf course much nearer to the cliffs, such as a bar or a new restaurant. If the building was two or three stories you could then see the beach from the building. A balcony would allow elderly and disabled guest to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the sea. Now Britannia have taken over Pontins perhaps they’ll consider something like this.

The number of guests was way down on previous years, not surprising in view of the fact that Pontins were in Administration for much of the Winter and people would have been reluctant to book holidays with them.

The entertainment was good as usual, as were the meals. Graham Henry, the chief Bluecoat, celebrated 45 years at Pakefield while we were there.

While we enjoyed the week, and apart from the inaccessibility of the beach, I do have a few complaints. One is the meal times – all far too early and too close together. Breakfast was 8am-9am. Needless to say neither I nor my mother ever managed to make breakfast. Lunch was 12 noon till 1pm, and dinner 5pm till 6pm. I suggest breakfast should be at least till 10 am, lunch 1-2pm and dinner around 7-8pm. The evening Bingo session should be held before dinner. The present arrangement means we always miss breakfast, there is little time to go anywhere between lunch and dinner, we are not really hungry by dinner time but are very hungry by the time the evening’s entertainment is over. Didn’t help that the cafe’s fridge was out of order and the choice of late-night snacks was very limited.

Graham Henry is a great entertainments manager and congratulations on 45 years, even if some of his jokes have been told for almost as long. However his penchant for promoting jingoism and patriotism is getting very wearing. For the third or fourth time he enlisted his young Bluecoats to don military uniforms, wave various UK flags (though it was amusing to see yet again the Republican Irish tricolor represented Northern Ireland!) and sing various jingoistic songs and anthems.

As if this wasn’t enough, he yet again praised British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan – conflicts and occupations many people totally oppose. Two million of us marched against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and many against the Afghanistan conflict. Some of us feel any world policing should be done by a United Nations security force, not by countries like Britain and USA whose motives are extremely suspect (to grab the oil?) I’m all for supporting the British troops by bringing them home. Plenty of things for them to do here such as helping our police keep teenage knife and gun gangs off the streets and perhaps putting them into boot camps or some sort of community service to learn respect for other citizens.

In addition to all this, yet again Graham read out the poem which seems like a party political broadcast for the United Kingdom Independence Party, or more likely the English National Party. Celebrating being English and St George (who was apparently Albanian or something similar) is fine, but do we really need the anti-EU propaganda shoved down our throats yet again? (This is not the first time I’ve heard Graham read out this obnoxious poem.) This time he even gave printed copies away to the 100% white audience, many of whom seemed to be politically slightly to the right of Atilla the Hun.

The poem stated that we are not Europeans, Europe being miles away across the sea. Of course we’re Europeans, and should be proud to be so. We are now joined physically by the Channel Tunnel, so Paris and Brussels are but a couple of hours or so away by train. Not everybody who comes to Pontins is anti the EU and pro British wars abroad. Nor do we all want to sing jingoistic anthems Adolf Hitler would have loved about expanding empires wider and wider.

Tunes like ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ (Pomp and Circumstance) and ‘God Save The Queen’ are fine, even the tune of ‘Rule Britannia’, but some of us would like new words which praise the country and its people but not at the expense of other countries and their people. Republicans like myself can never sing or stand for ‘God Save The Queen’ because we don’t want to save her or the Monarchy, we want to put them both into permanent retirement. It is, therefore, not a suitable national anthem with its present words; it is a eulogy to the Monarchy which an increasing number reject as an anachronism.

On top of all this Graham again asked if any French people were present, and when no hands went up, made the remark that he hated the French. This was no doubt meant as a joke, but such xenophobia and pushing of rightwing anti-foreigner politics is unacceptable at a holiday center like this. Graham, please save such stuff for your party political meetings and when you go on the hustings with your political agenda.

As I say, apart from this Graham does a great job as Entertainments manager, and long may he continue to do so. He booked some excellent acts as usual (many I’ve seen before), and the Bluecoats ‘100 Years of the London Palladium’ show was excellent. Congratulations too to the new Bluecoat who sang ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ another night. Great to see acts like Tucker and the Kenny Rogers tribute act again. Also nice to see acts I hadn’t seen before like the illusionist and the fantastic Guitar George, a young man who sings and plays a variety of music on his guitar. Wonderful act – I’d love to see him again. Bought his CD.

 

Guitar George

 

Limited Democracy?

I recently wrote a blog on the Lib Dems and the national referendum on the Alternative Vote in which I made clear I would prefer the chance to opt for Proportional Representation.

One of the arguments made against this is that it would allow extremist political parties to be represented in Parliament. As a former member of a so-called ‘extremist’ political party, the old Communist Party of Great Britain, I would argue that I have learnt that democracy should not be limited to opinions we agree with. If it is, then it is not true democracy at all.

So what if a few BNP or Communist MPs get elected? It might shake the major political parties up a bit, since any party which gets an MP elected even under PR must have a sizeable level of support in the country as a whole, since they would have to pass a threshold nationally to get representation in Parliament.

As a former Communist I am very familiar with the argument that democracy should be limited. We called it ‘Socialist Democracy’ and maintained it was democracy for the working-class and its allies, and denying democracy to all other classes; in other words all opposition to Socialism and Communism would be crushed.

The idea was that this ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ would eventually lead to a classless society with everyone united in one political organization, and the only debates would be within that organization (i.e. the Marxist-Leninist Party) as to how to manage Socialism and further the advance to Communism proper. Under the latter system the State itself would wither away and society would be entirely self-governing.

In view of the actual experience of the former Socialist countries I now realize this was hopelessly Utopian and if a stateless Communist society was ever possible it is certainly not in the foreseeable future, at least not on a worldwide scale. Possibly in small communes of like-minded individuals, but judging by similar experiments in the past (for example the Israeli kibbutzim) the original ideals are likely to be compromised or entirely reversed in time.

Not even the Socialist stage worked properly, as denying real democratic rights to the opponents of Socialism meant they simply joined the Marxist-Leninist Party and its allied organizations instead in order to preserve their interests.

I have stated in many articles and blogs that I would favor a multi-party democracy (using PR incidentally for General Elections) with rival candidates under a Socialist Constitution. This would disallow any dismantling of the Socialist system, but would allow various ways of organizing Socialism. However I also stated that any political party opposed to Socialism which was elected to government could dismantle the Socialist State by holding and winning by a substantial majority a referendum on the Constitution.

I see this as no different to the situation in many Western countries, including the UK and USA, where various political parties compete to run capitalism or a  largely free-enterprise system. In Britain, for example, to create a Socialist People’s Republic it would be necessary for a leftwing political party not just to win a General Election, but to win a referendum overwhelmingly to abolish the Constitutional Monarchy and replace it with a new Socialist republican constitution. Similarly the constitutions of the USA and most other Western countries would need to be replaced by winning some sort of referendum before Socialist republics could be established.

I am not in favor of limited democracy, but agree we need some sort of stabilization in order for any political system to get established and flourish. In Britain we saw the nationalization of whole industries after the Second World War, and in later decades the re-privatization and break-up of these State industries and services. All this is very destabilizing and very costly as well, and all on the basis of one General Election where the winning party may not even have got the majority of votes nationally.

This is why I feel it is essential to hold a referendum and win it by a substantial majority before a major Constitutional change can be made.

As to PR allowing political parties like the BNP to get MPs elected, that is fine so long as they keep within the law. Any political party which flouted the laws on discrimination, racism, homophobia, etc. would, of course, have to face the consequences. PR would not make it more likely that an extreme rightwing or indeed extreme leftwing, or extreme Islamist, political party would win enough seats to form a government, let alone change the laws of the country. If they had that much support they could win more easily under the first-past-the-post system.

Democracy should only be limited by international laws protecting human rights guarded by the UN and international courts of justice. These would protect basic human rights, and should be backed up, as I’ve repeatedly argued, by a permanent UN world security force, ideally in place of national armies. This world security force would have a similar role to national police forces but on an international scale. Each country would contribute personnel to this world security force, which would use minimum necessary measures to maintain international law and order.

It would fall under the auspices of the UN General Assembly, which would authorize action by majority vote. The Security Council is a device by which democracy is limited to the five original nuclear powers who are permanent members (USA, Russia – previously the Soviet Union, Britain, France and the People’s Republic of China). They can veto any resolution passed democratically by the UN General Assembly. This is why the UN is so often ineffective.

Limiting democracy to those you broadly agree with simply doesn’t work, quite apart from being unethical. So long as human rights and international law is respected and protected, there should be no limitation to democracy.

Keeping Communists, Islamist extremists, extreme right-wing political parties out of Parliament is not a justification for rejecting Proportional Representation. If we only want MPs who argue about details of administering the present system then that is hardly an inclusive democracy and, on the experience of the former Socialist countries, the more you limit democracy the more infiltration and corruption will occur.

Much better to bring opposition, however extremist, out into the open where it can be dealt with by political argument and democratic debate in Parliament and elsewhere.

Will the Truth Be Out?

About the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in that very ‘convenient’ car crash in Paris just a week or so after a Tory MP said she should not be ‘allowed’ to make political statements such as the one she made about the Labour government being probably better on the landmines issue than the previous Conservative government. The landmines campaign itself made her many enemies in The Establishment, then there was her flirtation with two Muslims including Dodi al-Fayed, son of Mohamed who was not exactly popular with the royals. The prospect of her marrying him and a future king of England having Muslim half-siblings was also not relished.

I can’t list here all the questions arising out of the crash in Paris in 1997, but rest assured that nothing adds up: why would she be allowed to get into a car with a drunk driver? Why were the CCTV cameras off when the crash occurred? Why was the Alma tunnel cleaned and opened again within hours? Why was Diana reported not seriously injured immediately after the crash? Why did the ambulance, real or bogus, take so long to reach a hospital? Plus many more questions still unanswered.

Now two things are happening which might provoke more questioning and hopefully some answers. Keith Allen’s long awaited documentary ‘Unlawful Killing’ is about to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival. Previously a trailer was shown there a few years ago, and a preview of the film was shown in Los Angeles, but up to now it has not been released. It asks many awkward questions about the crash in Paris, and also includes an interview (if it has not been cut out) with Diana’s voice-channel, Christian (Andrew Russell-Davis).

The other thing, revealed on the front page of the Daily Express today as its main story, is a new book by John Morgan pointing out inconsistencies in the tests carried out on Diana’s body samples. He suggests the samples were switched. For instance Diana’s body was embalmed in France, yet there was no trace of the embalming fluids when tests were done in London.

Why would anyone switch the samples? There are also indications that Henri Paul’s blood samples were also switched for those of a drunken man. As to why Diana’s would be switched, well the suspicion is that she survived the crash and was injected with some substance to cause a heart attack in a bogus ambulance, hence the long delay in getting her to hospital. The ambulance took well over an hour, and stopped on at least one occasion, yet there was a hospital 5 or 10 minutes away.

Many questions need to be answered. The so-called inquest did not examine the controversial evidence; it seems it was a whitewash.

Of course conspiracy theories abound about nearly every death of a famous person, including JFK’s, his brother Robert and Marilyn Monroe. Now about Bin Laden and whether he really was killed the other week, died years ago or is still alive. People must use their own judgment. Personally I reject the conspiracy theories about Bin Laden, but think the others mentioned above are very likely. There could well be a Mafia connexion with the Kennedy/Monroe deaths (and that of Lee Harvey Oswald of course, to silence the patsy).

With Diana, it could shake the Monarchy to its very foundations if it was discovered the mother of a future king was assassinated by the British intelligence services, by the British Establishment, and maybe even with the connivance of leading members of the Royal Family itself.

Whether the truth will ever come out, of course, remains to be seen. All this speculation may be hurtful to William and Harry, Diana’s sons, but surely they want to know the truth more than anybody? However it will be very scary for them, for if there’s any truth in the conspiracy theories perhaps they feel it best they keep quiet and don’t ask too many questions.

Referendum and the Lib Dems

I was never enthusiastic about the referendum on whether to ditch our unfair ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system for the AV (Alternative Vote) system, which is only slightly fairer. It seemed a very poor deal for the Liberal Democrats (who I voted for in the last General Election) who on this basis went into a coalition with the Tories in which David Cameron dictated all the policies, or so it seems.

I imagine now AV has been overwhelmingly rejected by those who bothered to vote at all the coalition will be very difficult to hold together since rebel Lib Dem MPs have little to lose by voting against the government line on policies which are opposed to Lib Dem ones.

The AV referendum was not only the wrong one with the wrong questions, but it was clearly held on the wrong day. The capital, London, had no local elections on May 5th, therefore very few people bothered to even vote.

More importantly, the referendum should have given a much wider choice of options, such as first-past-the-post, several rounds of elections, AV, STV (single transferable vote) and full PR (proportional representation). I would have opted for PR since this is the ONLY system which guarantees all political parties which achieve a certain percentage of the nationwide vote get representation in Parliament. Also that the major parties do not get proportionately more MPs elected than their nationwide vote entitles them to.

AV would have had the advantage of stopping one party getting elected on a minority vote. At least voters would have had the option of listing their second, third, fourth, etc. choices, so if their first choice failed to win enough votes, their next preferences would have been counted. However this would mean a candidate could get elected on second or third preferences. It would, however, be much fairer than first-past-the-post, so I voted for AV.

AV would not, however, help parties which came lower down in the poll, such as the Greens in my constituency. It would mean a vote for the Greens was not entirely wasted, since I could list, for example, Labour as my second choice, and they would get my vote if the Green candidate was eliminated.

Ideally, however, I’d prefer a PR system whereby if the Greens or some other minor party achieved a certain percentage of the nationwide vote they’d get representation in Parliament. Then very few votes would be wasted.

First-past-the-post is the worst of all options, in my opinion, since it frequently leads to minority governments with huge majorities, and most people are effectively disenfranchised. In a General Election only those voters in marginal constituencies really matter under this electoral system. Where there are huge majorities for one political party or another, all votes for the winning party counted after a majority of 1 has been achieved are entirely wasted. All votes for losing parties are also completely wasted. Therefore most peoples’ votes are wasted. The electorate in marginal constituencies, in effect, decide the next government.

In the USA on two recent occasions the President was elected with far fewer votes than his main opponent. USA uses ‘first-past-the-post’.

As to the somersaults in party policy the Lib Dems had to go thru to achieve this half-hearted referendum on a cock-eyed system nobody really wanted and therefore rejected; well it just defies belief. Hard to believe the progressive policies the Lib Dems put forward before the last General Election which were all jettisoned as soon as they went into coalition with the Tories. Not least the pledge not to go for like-for-like replacement of the extremely expensive Trident submarine-based nuclear missile system but to look at alternatives, which could, of course, have been non-nuclear.

The result of all this for me personally, and I’m sure many others judging by last week’s local election results? I feel totally betrayed by the Lib Dems, and since first-past-the-post is still in force for General Elections I have little option but to give Ed Miliband a chance and vote Labour at the next General Election, something I’ve not done for years; since they scrapped Clause IV calling for public ownership and democratic control of the means of production, distribution and exchange, dropped unilaterialism (giving up Britain’s nuclear weapons) and adopted the New Labour tag with its red rose to replace the Red Flag. Hopefully Miliband will swing the Party more to the Left and Socialism again, but I’m not holding my breath.

Osama Bin Laden Is No Longer In My Garden…

… they buried him at sea.  And good riddance. Not that he ever was in my garden, if I had one, which I don’t. The title refers to a charming poem someone wrote and read out once which went ‘I think Osama Bin Laden is in my garden, should I take him a cup of tea?’

Might just as well have done, it took so long to find him, yet he was right under their noses all the time where I always thought he was, in northern Pakistan. In fact very near the capital Islamabad. Does make you wonder if the Pakistani government really had no idea where he was hiding. Perhaps they were taking him cups of tea, albeit metaphorical ones.

I have no objections to a terrorist like Bin Laden being taken out or arrested (he refused to be taken alive apparently, which seems quite likely) though would have preferred it had been a UN force which did it, which is why I have long advocated a permanent world security force under UN auspices for these sort of operations.

Now there is bound to be a backlash, probably against the USA but quite possibly against other countries as well. What is very worrying is only about a week ago I read that Al Quaida had an atomic bomb hidden away somewhere in Europe which they threatened to let off if Osama Bin Laden was killed or captured. This is too much of a coincidence, so they must have got wind of the fact that the Americans were hot on his tail.

Whether they do have an atomic device hidden away or it was just an empty threat, there will almost certainly be terrorist reprisals. The worrying thing is Pakistan has the atomic bomb, and as they are ambivalent in their loyalties this is very worrying.

What it does prove, yet again, is that nuclear weapons are no deterrent. The threat was published last week, Bin Laden is killed this week – so much for that threat working!

As to the nuclear weapons of the USA, UK, etc., well they clearly can’t be used against terrorists who anyway are often suicide bombers and are hidden away in countries all over the world. How do you deter a suicide bomber even if you know where they are?

Now we have the prospect of a suicide bomber with an atomic bomb hidden on his or her person ‘somewhere in Europe’ last week, but could be anywhere in the world this week, if it was no idle threat.

Of course I’m glad Osama Bin Laden is no longer on the scene, but he hasn’t been crucial for ages and is now, of course, another martyr for the extremists. The only real answer is to deal with the causes of terrorism.

On the BBC News last night one spokeperson explained how Bin Laden came from a weallthy and privileged family in Saudi Arabia, and sought to correct the injustices he saw, but went the wrong way about it by killing innocent people. The trouble is this injustice still goes on.

The recent uprisings in the Middle East were not Al Quaida inspired, but who knows where they will lead? Interventions such as that taken by Western countries in Libya will only add fuel to the flames of terrorism, since they will see the object of the intervention not to make the country more democratic but to secure Western interests, mainly oil.

This is the case in much of the Middle East, where brutal dictatorships are tolerated and even befriended by the West so long as we have access to the oil reserves. Saudi Arabia, where Bin Laden was born, being a case in point.

I don’t see the killing of Bin Laden in the same light as that of Saddam Hussein. Bin Laden was not the leader of a sovereign country and, whether elected or not, Saddam Hussein was. For one country to arrest or execute the leader of another creates dangerous precedents. I was, and still am, against the war and occupation of Iraq, which had nothing to do with Al Quaida or 9/11.

The question of what to do about brutal dictators like Hussein and indeed Hitler revolves around national sovereignty, and as an internationalist I would advocate that this must be subordinate to the sovereignty of the General Assembly of the United Nations, but without a permanent world security force at its disposal it is powerless to do anything but pass resolutions (which can be vetoed by members of the Security Council). The League of Nations before World War II was also pretty powerless.

The operations in Afghanistan, which were to do with Al Quaida since the Taliban were harboring them, I also oppose because once again it is countries like Britain and USA acting as the world’s policemen, whether or not with UN backing. Any world policing should be done by a permanent world security force acting under the auspices of a majority vote at the UN General Assembly where no country has a veto (the Security Council should be abolished because it gives the five original nuclear powers a permanent veto over all resolutions).

The question also arises why the war is in Afghanistan if Osama Bin Laden and much of the Taliban and Al Quaida were/are elsewhere, notably in Pakistan?

There again, what will the reaction of the Pakistan government be to this latest operation on their soil? Was it done with their knowledge? If so Al Quaida would certainly have got wind of it, which might explain last week’s atomic bomb threat. Whether individuals sympathetic to Al Quaida have managed to get hold of materials to make an atomic device, or even a complete weapon, whether of Pakistani, old Soviet or other origin I have no idea, but it is worryingly plausible.

So I have mixed reactions to this news. Glad a terrorist who caused so many innocent lives to be cruelly lost and gloated about it is dead, but now wondering what has been unleashed. If you cut off the head of the snake does it grow ten more, or does it eventually wither and die?

The best way to insure it withers and dies is to give it nothing to feed on, and so long as the West is exploiting Middle Eastern oil reserves, supporting brutal regimes in order to do this, and also supporting Israel in its occupation of Palestinian lands, then I’m afraid the terrorist threat will continue indefinitely, and new Bin Ladens will arise.