Libdem Child's (mainly) weekly thoughts

You're probably wondering whether this is really a teenager's blog or not. Well it is. I believe in the Liberal principles of fairness, equality and community. I may only be fourteen but I can hold a good debate on politics. Honest, I can.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

How Much Is A Tory Minister Worth?

Another day, another Tory MP telling ordinary folk what they think of them. This time it is Lord Freud shooting his mouth off about disabled people. Lord Freud claims to, "care passionately about disabled people" . So passionate is Lord Freud that he sees fit to threat disabled people as inferior beings. 

He has branded disabled people as being unworthy of even the minimum wage! When you consider how people on the minimum wage are struggling to survive this puts Lord Freud's thoughts into context. Also, when the Adam Smith institute defends someone who spouts right wing views then you really know that something is wrong. 

Disabled people already struggle day in day out because of the Government's welfare reforms, unfair sanctions and constant visits to the job center but what would Lord Freud who used to be a banker know. In fact, his record to date of being a welfare minister was a precursor to today's comment. The following is a record of Lord Freud's disgraceful record. 

"In 2013 Work Capability Assessments for disabled welfare claimants were described by Peter Beresford OBE, Professor of Social Policy at Brunel University, as "reminiscent of the medical tribunals that returned shell shocked and badly wounded soldiers to duty in the first world war or the 'KV-machine', the medical commission the Nazis used in the second world war to play down wounds so that soldiers could be reclassified 'fit for the Eastern front''.

"In October 2010 a number of church groups and organisations complained to the Prime Minister David Cameron about Freud and chancellor George Osborne's "misrepresentation" and "exaggeration" of fraud in welfare claims that had the effect of stigmatising the poorest and most vulnerable in society"

"In July 2013 Freud was criticised in The Guardian for his "withered meanness" that sought to explain the dramatic increase of food banks in the United Kingdom as being due to people taking goods that were available for free rather than anything to do with his welfare reforms."

So what is he worth? Nothing to those who are suffering as a result of his policies. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

F11: Reforming the Welfare System-Sunday 9.25am

Mover: Kelly-Marie Blundell and Summation: James Sandbach. 
Both who have done a great job in seeking much needed reforms. 

I am not at conference but have written this post in support of this motion. Please vote in support of this debate and show people who are living on the poverty line or below it that Lib Dems do care. 

In the Liberal Democrat constitution it states that ‘ we are committed to fight poverty, oppression, hunger…’ What do these words tell you? It tells me that the spirit of Liberalism is about caring for those who are unable to care for themselves. A helping hand is the hand of Liberalism. We are in government yet we see thousands unable to care for themselves. They live in poverty. Their needs and well being are not adequately and constructively taken into account by the political masters at Westminster.

I call upon Liberal Democrats to attend the ‘Reforming the Welfare System’ debate scheduled for Sunday 5 October at 9.30am. Please vote in support of this motion because as a party we cannot be blind to the hardship of those who live on or below the poverty line and who have to rely on the Welfare State for assistance.

According to the Child Poverty Action Group 3.5 million children live in poverty in the UK. That’s 27% of UK children. I don’t think that this is an acceptable fact. Ian Duncan Smith sees cutting benefits as akin to William Wilberforce’s mission to free people from the slavery of benefits. He wants to give people from ‘chaotic lives security through hard work to end the benefits trap’. He hasn’t even be able to deliver on Universal Credit, a system that has suffered from poor management and waste costs, yet alone liberate people on benefits. Would it not have been better to have spent the millions wasted to date on devising a system of benefits that recognises the causes of poverty?

At least 66% of children growing up in poverty stricken homes have at least one working parent. Work does not always pay because the wages of the lower income group are sacrificed at the altar of the higher business profit margins. These 66% of children are caught in a poverty cycle. They aren’t being participatory members of society because the system of wages prevents them from being able to do so. Where is the so-called benefits trap?

Why are people on benefits punished through the system of sanctions? ESA was brought in in 2008 to replace incapacity benefit. In the first three months of 2014 there were15,955 sanctions, compared with 3,574 for the same period in 2013. Can all these people be benefit cheats? Common sense will tell you that a high surge in numbers means that the system is not working.

Read this story, for instance, which was published on Mumsnet: “You get a job interview. It’s the same time as your job centre appointment, so you reschedule the job centre. You attend your rearranged appointment and then get a letter saying your benefits will be stopped because going to a job interview isn’t a good enough reason to miss an appointment”.

There are many testimonies on the internet from those who have suffered from benefit sanctions and the common thread running through their stories is that the sanction system does not take into account the dynamics of real life. People are sanctioned because they missed an appointment through ill-health or having to go to hospital for a medical that they have been waiting months for.

Fellow Liberal Democrats, we can no longer stand by and watch a generation of children fall by the way because of some ideological belief that the welfare system enables laziness, cheating or sloth. We cannot tolerate a political system that does not recognise the causes of poverty but is quick to stamp on what it sees as a ‘benefit culture that breeds scroungers’. Enough of the stigmatization. It is time to tackle the causes and effects of poverty.

The Liberal Democrats should vote for this motion which calls for a truly Liberal approach to the reform of the Welfare system. It will show that we are the party that stands up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Is that a Black Cloud or is it just the Tory Party conference?

Judging from Twitter I can't be the only one who is despondent about the never ending message of 'hit the poor' that comes from the Tories. Yet again, young people are being hit through benefit cuts that will hit children and school leavers. The Tory line of thought is transparent -Why bother with these? They won't vote Tory anyway. Is the Tory party capable of any good ideas apart from 'bash the poor' and welcoming business with 'open arms'? Did these chaps really go to that top school called Eton and graduate from Oxbridge? The right-wing neoliberal ideology that they hold so dear seems to almost put them in a strait jacket of brain activity. How does freezing benefits make Britain 'fairer' when there is huge inequality, the bankers don't face sanctions and the rich pay the same taxes as the poor?

So, who will suffer from these proposals? The following is a Statement from the Childrens Society:

“The majority of those affected would be the children of working parents who would see further real-term cuts to their child benefit and child tax credits.
“This comes just hours after the Government announced a further cap on welfare and a scheme that will bar childless 18 to 21-year-olds from housing benefit.
“Far too many families in this country are already struggling to provide a basic standard of living for their children because of the three-year one per cent annual cap in benefit rises put in place at the start of last year. 
“These further cuts will make it harder for families to put food on the table and pay the rent to keep a roof over their head.

Other interesting articles:

Monday, 22 September 2014

A cruel ice bucket challenge against an autistic boy

The classmates of a 15 year old teenager with autism tricked him into participating in an ice bucket challenge in order to raise money for charity. Instead of the bucket being filled with ice cubes it was filled with human waste and cigarette butts.The poor boy's mother found the video on his Smartphone. The cruel teenagers who pulled the evil prank had used the boy's phone to video it. Thankfully, police are questioning the culprits. 

My take on this is that those who did this to a vulnerable teenager need to be publicly named and shamed. What on earth possesses some teenagers to take teen pranks and high jinks into the realm of pure cruelty? Picking on those who are vulnerable is something to be ashamed of. Didn't these teenagers have any inbuilt behavioural traits as to what is right and wrong? I suggest that they be made to perform community service by working with people with disabilities for a year. In this country this act would be classed as a disability hate crime.  Here is a report, published by the University of Leicester, which is well worth a read and shows the amount of hate crime faced by disabled people (and other groups).

People with disabilities are not joke material. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

No Scots in my home but plenty of infighting

My home is split into two camps. Both camps come from countries that were declared independent by the British Empire. One side is absolutely adamant that independence is the only answer to self determination. The other camp thinks independence is a bad idea because of the loss of the monarchy, Union Jack, English tea and scones.

Let me at this point tell you that the link between Scotland and people in my home is as far apart as Ben Nevis from Big Ben. The connection is as follows: two uncles studied medicine in Scotland a decade ago and my aunty is married to a Scot who is not eligible to vote. No one even owns a Scottie dog. But the fighting, that's a whole other story. It began weeks ago. When i say 'fighting', I mean wild gesticulating, fights for the remote control to turn to the channel that is broadcasting the most news on the referendum and one very irritated teenager (me). Plans have been made for an all night viewing of the results. The picture above will give you an idea. I hope you don't hear the noise that will come from this melee when the votes are announced.

Is this a national phenomenon? Is your home under siege from the no-sayers trying to knock out the yes enthusiasts even though no one actually has a vote? This is worse than the notorious family Christmas  meltdown when Aunty Doris wants to watch the Queen's speech and Uncle Jack wants to eat his Turkey and tell the same old jokes that he tells every year.

On a serious note, I am absolutely thrilled to see such a large number of young people engaging in this referendum. Witnessing their sheer depth of knowledge on the politics that affect their lives has been tremendously impressive. Scottish teenagers have shown the world that teenagers do care about politics.
Scottish teenagers, I envy your right to vote. I have been blogging about politics since the age of 10 and I still won't be able to vote at the next election. People underestimate the interest and intellect of young people when it comes to politics and now this has been disproved with the referendum.

Scottish Teenagers, this opportunity will not come again for a long time. Exercise your vote. 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Justice for abused children goes beyond race

As a mixed race child I am well aware of how race and ethnicity can be explosive issues. Race is often politicised for political gain but it appalls me that horrific child abuse predators were tolerated because of a fear that it would ignite racial tension in Rotherham. This country should learn to say it as it is, no more, no less. The problem in Rotherham did concern the attitudes of Asian men towards white girls, this is not to say that all child abuse is carried out only by Asian men. However, there is a problem with the attitudes of the Asian community. Women are treated as second class citizens and it is seen as shameful to have a female baby. The boys are brought up with a sense of entitlement and girls are taught that obedience is a virtue, this is evident with the sheer number of honor killings.

 Any girl who wasn't seen by these Asian men as conforming to their norm was seen as easy pickings. There is a tendency amongst the Asian community to brand Western culture as a corrupt culture. I write these things with trepidation because I do not want to raise the level of racism against the Asian community and I completely condemn any form of racism but race relations cannot be improved if the facts aren't confronted.

A huge problem is that children are not being believed and seem to have to overcome a very high barrier to be taken seriously. The girls and boys weren't believed because they were 'troubled and vulnerable.' This misogyny that is prevalent within institutions in authority is a tremendous barrier to justice for abused children. The distinction between 'good' and 'bad' children is a frightening discriminatory attitude and has no place in the world of children. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Pro-Palestine and on the Side of David Ward

Why is it so controversial to question Israel's actions? This is a country whose bombs have killed 600 Palestinians, 150 of whom are children. I cannot bear to see the images of dead and severely injured children. There are many of these on Twitter. The UN has said that Israel may have committed war crimes in Gaza and has voted to launch an international inquiry. So, excuse me while I question why the aggressor always wins?

David Ward, a Lib Dem MP, posted a tweet  which empathizes with the people of Gaza. Is it not normal to put yourself in other people's shoes and think about what they are experiencing? If you see images day after day of suffering and death is it not human to question what you would do in those circumstances? People are dying needlessly in Gaza and the Western world, until recently, has not intervened. Instead the US is against a UN international inquiry. The Conservative's 'Friends of Israel' group is a very powerful lobby group.  Aid agencies say a child has been killed every hour, on average, in the past two days. Why is it then controversial to support or understand Gaza's sufferings?

I do not condone the actions of Hamas but I do not equate Palestinians with the political aims of Hamas. Gideon Levy, the famous Jewish journalist, has questioned whether Israel wants peace at all. Israel has whipped up war mongering talk ever since three Jewish teens were found murdered. There is still no evidence that Hamas did it. Yet, the ordinary children of Gaza have paid the price. I felt very sad over the deaths of the Jewish teens but their deaths cannot be used to justify the needless slaughter of hundreds in Palestine.

I fear for the young of Palestine and Israel because they are being brought up with a culture of hatred for the other side. As a teenage girl I was shocked by the hatred that pre-army teens were tweeting. The fact that they believed it was normal to put these racist thoughts onto a social networking site that is open to the world reflects the hatred towards Palestine that they have been brought up with. On the other side there were a lot anti-semitic and pro-Hitler tweets which are absolutely wrong. How is there ever going to be a two state solution now or in the future? 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

This is why Israel will find it hard to win the war of sympathy

View image on Twitter
Sderot cinema. Israelis bringing chairs 2 hilltop in sderot 2 watch latest from Gaza. Clapping when blasts are heard.

View this content on Al Jazeera English's website

An injured boy kisses his mother's hand. Both of them were injured by an Israeli airstrike on
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RT children impacted by psychological distress and fear, like this girl in

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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

IAgreeWithNick vs Libdems4change

I joined the Lib Dems at the age of 10, I am now 14, and never have I questioned my belief in the party until now. In these four years I have seen the party go from having no chance of being in power, to being in Government and reverting back to having no chance again. Being the youngest party member (I haven’t been challenged on this so far) I feel that some balanced analysis is called for because I want to grow up in a party that governs for the sake of the people. I don’t think i am being young and idealistic in wanting this.

After such massive losses in two elections any political party should question the leadership and the direction of the party otherwise the party is a cult of followers for the leadership or it becomes a single interest group. I know the coalition was meant to be a compromise of Tory and Lib Dem ideologies but even I now struggle to know what our values and red lines are.  Compromise has become ‘give way’.  We are an immature party if we can’t be challenged or criticised? What is the tipping point for when the leadership can be challenged? I think two drastically failed elections qualify. 

Paddy Ashdown, whom I admire greatly and always have a chat with at conference, has called Libdems4change the 'silliest idea’ he had ever heard but given how long Paddy has been in politics I would have thought that he would have engaged with members calling for change rather than seeking to delegitimize them. Annette Brooke’s email was an utter fiasco.  It’s not about the messaging. I was not able to campaign because of my exams but I really don’t think that any more leaflets would have made a difference. A Councillor lost his seat after 40 years.

Many young Lib Dem members have pledged unquestioning devotion to the leadership forgetting completely that the reason some members are disappointed and angry is because there is a long history of struggles among people who have been in the party far longer than us to get the numbers of MPs and MEPs up.  What’s a party if it is not molded and created by change and history? Character assassinations of those who question the party’s future is ineffective.

Nick Clegg has some really worthy policies- 3,200,000 of the poorest no longer have to pay tax on their income, pupil premium, shared parental leave and preventing child detention. How will the party ever move on from the tuition fees fiasco if members refuse to acknowledge the damage this caused?  There were loads of students in 2010 stuffing envelopes etc in my home. I despair at the level of debt that students now graduate with because of the higher fees. There is no point saying that they will only repay the debt if their salary reaches a certain level because they all want high wages after incurring a debt.

  A Save the Children report states that five million children could be “sentenced to a life of poverty” by 2020 because of welfare reforms.  A “triple whammy” has been caused by benefit cuts, the rising cost of living and years of stagnant wages. As a child this breaks my heart and it is made even worse by the fact that my own party are in power doing this. The rise of Zero hours contracts and the royal mail fiasco show that we aren't a centre left party anymore. Being centre left is about social equality and equal opportunities.

Removing the party as a ‘protest party’ has left us with no centre left position. People are increasingly engaging with protest movements. It’s a new form of democracy and these people need representation in Westminster.  It is not immature to respect protest politics.

The party cannot carry on as it is. It’s not about messaging. it’s not about winning where you are strongest. It’s about making a real difference in people’s lives. A mature political party is not a personal fiefdom. Acting like a sacrificial lamb for ‘the good of the of the country’ rings hollow. Please change strategy.