Previously known as Libdemchild

Friday, 27 December 2013

A Tribute to A Fine New Zealand Cricket Commentator - Grandpa Richards

Alan Richards or 'Grandpa Richards' as I called him was a well known New Zealand cricket and football commentator. He died on 27 December aged 91 in Auckland. He was my father's godfather. Grandpa Richards is very well known in New Zealand for covering some of the country's finest and most exciting sporting moments  like the and the All Whites football journey to the World Cup in 1982. He was the first sports commentator to broadcast from China in 1975.  In a country that loves and worships sport, Grandpa Richards will be remembered for being a part of New Zealand's sporting  history through his captivating and exciting broadcasts.
RIP Grandpa Richards with love from 'Scallywag'. 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Lib Dem Mps did what?

The food bank debate was one of the most shocking and horrific things that I have witnessed, it was worse than being in the school playground with a bunch of rowdy school children.

I wasn't surprised at the Tory MPs cold hearted and neoliberal response to the debate but I was shocked at the continuous downward spiral of Lib Dem ethics. Here is a link to the names of the MPs who voted against investigating the rise in use of food banks.  In the Liberal Democrat constitution  it is stated that, "The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safe guard a fair, free and open society in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and and community in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity." People who use food banks are enslaved by poverty.

Most of the people who use food banks are in work and many of these work zero hours contracts. So much  of the austerity programme is being built on the promise that work pays. This is a lie being sold to cover up the fact that this austerity programme is driven by ideology. If it was anything else the evidence would come into it. Instead the Government does not look at the statistics of food baks and is refusing to look into a report on it. What I really deplore is that 36.6% of children were food bank users in the last year and 296 MPs voted against even looking into it. It just doesn't add up. 

Monday, 2 December 2013

Dear Tom Daley

Dear Tom Daley,

I have been receiving texts telling me that you are bisexual ever since you made your announcement today.  I am writing you an open letter to tell you how pleased I am that you have had the courage to tell the world that you are bi-sexual (I say 'bisexual' because you admit to still fancying girls).

My letter will only make sense if I add context. Two weeks ago I shouted at a boy during a lesson because he was making anti-gay jokes. I normally take my lessons seriously (leaving aside the odd chat and telling off that I get from teachers) but I could not let this boy get away with his anti-gay rant. As a result of me losing my temper, I was sent off to the deputy's office (I did not get into trouble once things were explained). However, I felt there was a need to make a stand because I am sick of how gay and bi-sexual people are being ridiculed and treated.

There is something that is very intolerant among my generation over people who do not conform to the mainstream view of society - Gays, disabled, poor and the list goes on.

As a Christian, I wish you all the best and I really hope that you will help to make a difference to the level of hate in our society for anything that is different.

Best Wishes


Monday, 28 October 2013

A break from blogging

To my readers,
I am sorry to say that I will have to take a temporary break from my blogging. I have had too much school work and I have found that I have had less and less time. My father has also had a stroke fairly recently and I am struggling to uphold all of my tasks. I will still be on my twitter and you can contact me via email at . 
Maelo Manning

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

An Interview with 'Karl Marx'

Karl Marx is constantly mentioned in the news these days. Marxism is enjoying a resurgence in political debates and thoughts and in the protest movements that fights back against what it sees as social and economic injustice. There are many who believe in the core views of Marxism and challenge neo-liberalism that seems to rule the capitalist system.

If you had the chance to meet Karl Marx would you want to know what he would have to say about modern society? Howard Zinn's play, 'Marx in Soho', addresses Marx's ideology through a monologue that resurrects Marx and places him in modern day society in New York. In the play Marx poses the question: "Don't you wonder: Why is it necessary to declare me dead again and again?""

 I attended this play at Calder Bookshop and was immensely taken with the acting by Daniel Kelly as Karl Marx. I asked him to give me an interview as 'Karl Marx':

What impact does the Communist Manifesto have on modern society?

 Not enough!  Why did Engels and I bother to write the Manifesto when so few get round to reading it?  It’s never been more relevant, more urgently needed than now.  It should be compulsory reading in every school assembly!

You have come back 130 years later do you think the people of the world are pleased to see you?

Yes, I think I’m becoming more and more popular as your present crisis gets deeper and deeper.  I have something to teach the World, the question is does anyone want to learn it?

Your predictions regarding Capitalism were astoundingly accurate.  How do you see the World in 150 years time?

If it’s not destroyed by wars or all the environmental damage caused by capitalism then the World will surely have made it because the capitalist system must then be dead replaced by a fairer system.


P/S I think the answer to why Karl Marx keeps being declared dead is because the free marketeers have much to fear is Marxism were to become a revivalist organisation and mainstream again. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Why Young People in Politics Should Support Ed M Against The Daily Mail

The war of slander waged by The Daily Mail against Ed Miliband’s father, Ralph Miliband, has become a pivotal moment for the future of young people who write and work in politics. There is something about the whole ongoing episode that has crossed over from ‘dirty politics’ into ‘dirty nationalism politics’ and it is for this reason that I worry about what the repercussions could be for young people.

Ed is basically being persecuted for not having a British father who fulfils the stereotypical image of being British. The Daily Mail, in effect, offers the British test of having a love for ‘Eton and Harrow, Oxford and Cambridge, the great Clubs, the Times, the Church, the Army and the respectable Sunday papers’.  I don’t know about you but I felt really quite embarrassed at this list. Is this all that there is to Britain?

The paper has more to offer on what Ralph Miliband wrote: ‘It also means the values of the ruling orders, keep the workers in their place, strengthen the House of Lords, maintain social hierarchies, God save the Queen, equality is bunk, democracy is dangerous etc...

In chastising Ralph Miliband the paper, basically, is mounting a campaign to keep politics within the realms of the ruling classes who went to Eton and Harrow, Oxford and Cambridge, dined at Clubs, read the Times, send their sons to be Commanders in the Army and prayed on a Sunday to (probably) keep women Bishops out. In other words, the call is for a return to another bygone era, a demand for absolute obedience to the ruling classes. 

What does this all mean for someone like me and many more like me? Firstly, given the level of worship of the free market by the right wing then globalisation is a natural occurrence. Free market of goods and services do not flow by themselves. They require people to travel and deliver them. So, we have migrants now living in the UK and children, like me, being born to parents who were not born British. I hold a British passport.

Secondly, given the high incidence of war as a means of carrying out international relations and war is always favoured by the right wing then refugees and asylum seekers coming into Britain is another occurrence. The children of these families will become British at some point. Many of these children will love Britain for offering them the sanctuary of peace and security that they did not get in their original home country. However (and I have met such children) these children do not believe in unquestioning obedience. They have seen atrocities committed, experienced being victims of state violence, they do not believe in God easily because they think that if God existed he would not have let them suffer and they certainly have a suspicion of guns. Eton, Cambridge, clubs will be as distant from their lives as food stamps and food banks is to the right wing.

One does not have to be born in Britain to become an MP, unlike in America. One can be a British or Commonwealth citizen. Who is to say that at some point we won’t have children going into politics with a firm belief that they really want to make the world a better place and not to fleece the expenses system? 

Lastly, to question the capitalist system is not a crime. I didn’t sit through three days of a five day Marxism conference in London for nothing. My mother took me. It has always been part of my education to learn about what is outside my system of belief. I own a Ralph Miliband book. If you don’t know anything else than your own narrow world then you may as well live in a Duck pond or build a moat around your house.

All young people regardless of their political belief need to support Ed M in this situation. It feels as if a trial of class politics and economic systems and parentage is being held. Politics will be closed off to us if stupidity, as shown by the Daily Mail and people who support it, win.

P.S. Marxism is becoming hugely relevant as the inequality gap grows. Ralph Miliband said: “…the real problem for the people in charge of affairs was not the threat of revolution but the need, as they saw it, to contain pressure for reforms which the nation could not afford’. Page 4.


Saturday, 14 September 2013

My First Conference Miss Because My Father Did An 'Andrew Marr'

I became a member at the age of 10 and have attended every conference for four years except this one in Glasgow. To say I am hugely disappointed at not being there is an understatement. That aside it is interesting to note that the papers are talking about another coalition and where our party will position itself. I would have thought that the priority of party business at conference would be the latter as a stand-alone issue.

What with a reduced membership and current members being unhappy about what we see as the tactics of following Tory policy I do hope that a clear distinct picture will emerge of who we are in modern politics.
While I disagree with some coalition policies I am still proud to be a Liberal Democrat and strongly believe in liberalism. I am following Twitter and LibDem voice closely and will be watching the Parliament Channel. All the best to everyone who is in Glasgow and keep tweeting and blogging for the rest of us who cannot be there.

P/S My father had a stroke and it is a little difficult to leave home for too long at the moment. He is recovering.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Teather and Gloria De Piero Are Heroines

I had the misfortune today of having an illness that kept me off school. I had the double misfortune of being able to follow PMQ which is that public display of male buffoonery which I find really embarrassing. Some of the monkey antics were aimed at the Labour MP Gloria de Piero. Our own Sarah Teather has come under fire for announcing that she will be stepping down at the next election because she does not agree with Lib Dem policies on welfare and immigration.

Just as the party conferences are coming up and, no doubt, there will be talk again about the lack of female MPs in Parliament we see two female politicians  coming under fire for their convictions. Gloria De Piero was trying to involve members of the public in politics when she tweeted asking for suggestions on what she could ask in the House. Voices of the public are needed in the Westminster bubble but Gloria De Piero was shot down for doing this by masochistic point scoring against Ed Miliband.

My first recollection of Sarah Teather was when she spoke at a fringe event at conference a few years ago and I was struck by her deep conviction for her politics. When I look at some of the comments on Lib Dem voice I think that I have strayed into Tory territory because of the nastiness on display. In fact, the Tories have been nasty about her.  It is obvious that Sarah cares about her constituents and there is no point in the endless questioning of her motive. Sometimes you resign to make a point - Michael Heseltine did it. Lib Dems like her who don't believe in the welfare and immigration policies have not been able to influence Nick Clegg & Co otherwise. She makes a point by resigning. I am sorry to see Sarah Teather go but more importantly will our deluded leadership feel sorry?


Monday, 9 September 2013

An Event on Chelsea Manning

I am hosting an event on Thursday 19th September from 6:30- 8:30pm in the Community Room, Doreen Ramsey Court, The Cut, Waterloo, London, SE1 8LN on 'Has Chelsea Manning Redefined Nationalism and Patriotism?'  The evening will start off with a play put on by Calders Bookshop followed by an open forum discussion. Biscuits and soft drinks will be provided. Children welcome. Disabled access. 

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Balcombe, Cuadrilla, Francis Maude, Fracking in Pretty England

20130822_221649.jpgIt was like a scene from a Michael Moore documentary. There was a divided community, a heavy police presence in place to protect vested interests, fear, corporate interests and a large group of people protesting peacefully but who are viewed as a danger. I was at the anti-fracking protest in Balcombe.  It is the sort of English village which would be used  in the filming of whodunnits.  Then there is the contrast with the protester's tents which may have been poorly structured but their ideas were not, as I discovered.

When I arrived at the station a lovely friendly local woman approached me and offered to drive me to the camp. Her name was Kathryn Mcwhirter and during the 3 minute car journey she gave me a deep insight into what it was like to be a Balcombe resident who does not want fracking to take place on her doorstep.

As a local she was not informed about Cuarilla being granted permission to drill and only  found out when her husband spotted an article about it in The Independent newspaper almost two years later. Kathryn confronted Francis Maude, the local MP, about it   and warned him that he lived in a 'PEDL' (Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence) and he replied, 'Oh good, that pays for my pension then'.

Perhaps Mr Maude meant  for his words to be a joke or he was being serious but the point that I make here is about how a proper democratic  process of consulting the locals was not carried out adequately and the local MP does not see anything wrong with this. Also, it has been well documented that there is a close working relationship between cabinet office and Cuadrilla.

At the camp I spoke to a fearful woman called Janet who was Balcombe born and bred. She did not want her photo taken because she had already been verbally abused by 3 local men for taking part in the protests. Even her own family did not know that she was anti-fracking.

This is how divided the community is and it reminded me of all that I had read about of the miner's strike. Residents who are against the drilling tie yellow ribbons around lamp posts and wake up to find that these have been snipped off overnight. The broken yellow ribbons symbolise the rifts.

 Janet spoke about police intimidation and how the protesters are watched and photographed and arrested for no obvious reason. Interestingly, about 30 police officers have asked to be moved from their duties at the fracking site because they thought the policing situation was in danger of becoming unethical. I received this information from a  very reliable source.

It is all to easy to dismiss the protesters as 'unemployed hippies' or some other slur as the Right wing often does but if you do so then you miss a point. There is no conclusive evidence that fracking will not cause harm. Fracking has been known to cause earthquakes even if these were minor ones. The Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering approve of fracking but want stronger regulations to be put in place which in itself suggests that there is some cause for concern. The fluid that is used in fracking worries people because the chemicals that it contains are not always known. There are also worries that fracking will affect drinking water. If there was nothing to worry about then why were two children in America slapped with a lifelong ban by a fracking company? Where capitalism exists there will always be corporatism. It is a simple fact.

In the search for alternative energy sources it would be a missed opportunity if brute force, vested interests and damaging language are used to deal with genuine fears. I do wish the Lib Dem leadership would speak  up. For all the talk about wanting to be the greenest party there has been silence.



Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Is David Cameron cool or what?

Ahead of One Direction's movie premier tonight, which is making the news because of the thousands of teenage girls who have camped out to see the boys, I thought I would post this video of our esteemed PM looking 'I need to do this to win the youth vote' ish. Cameron appears at 2:42 and if you don't find it funny then your laugh-o-meter needs fixing.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Malala, The Gender Gap, and Educational Inequality

I wrote an article for the University of Birmingham Lib Dems about the widening gender gap that has been represented in A level results. Have a look here.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Interview with Steve Webb at the Social Liberal Forum Conference

On Saturday 13th July I attended a Social Liberal Forum conference with the theme; 'Ownership and Democracy - where does Power lie?'  Being a young person in the party, I constantly question how the leadership is using its  power to help young people. I was delighted to be given the opportunity to interview Steve Webb in the blogger's interview at the SLF conference.

I asked Steve Webb; "Youth unemployment has hit one million, students have increasing debt and  housing prices have risen making it nearly impossible for a young person to have a decent start in life.  Students won't even be able to afford university without getting into massive debt which will hold them down for the rest of their lives. How are the Lib Dems going to win the youth vote at the next election after all of these disasters?" 

Steve Webb answered by saying that the party had established the £1bn youth contract with the slogan  "Earn or Learn." Steve also said that Nick recognises there should be fairness between generations and the importance of supporting them all. He pointed out that the internship scheme had given many young people the skills and work experience that they needed. He admitted that there are not enough houses and that it is causing a lack of shelter and the rising cost in houses  and that it needed amending. I was told that Norman Baker was helping young people by looking into travel costs and trying to make this more affordable for the youth.

Steve was right when he said that Nick Clegg recognises the need for fairness between generations which is key to promoting equality. It is good that the housing problem is being recognised by the Government and I hope that something will be done before house prices soar even higher.

Despite the things that Steve said the Lib Dems are doing for young people, I think that we will struggle to get the youth vote at the next election because of, mainly, the u-turn on tuition fees. There may be a credible economic case for the u-turn but those paying the price, literally, will disagree. Other reasons are the cut to EMA, the fact that 75,000 young people will be homeless this Christmas and the thousands of young people who have to claim housing benefit because of such low pay. I really wish that the Lib Dems were doing more for young people.

I am glad to be a member of Social Liberal Forum because it does not support the austerity programme which does not seem to be producing growth or jobs.

Louise Shaw's blog on the conference
Caron Lindsay's blog on the conference
Mark Jewell

Monday, 1 July 2013

When is Bad Behavior Malarkey and not Rioting?

It is the Summer season for hi jinx among the youth and it is interesting to see how the class distinction operates.  Students from a private school called Mill Hill County School trashed a £2 million home in Hampstead, London, and caused havoc on the streets too. The school charges £9,038 a term for full boarders. 

It is shocking that these students think that it is acceptable to rent a house and trash it just because they had paid for it. These middle class types show a sense of entitlement that is destructive and lacks respect for person and property. What goes on in the real world is irrelevant to them. 

There is a fine line between malarkey and rioting but these students obviously did not seem to think that £15,000 worth of damages to a house was blame worthy because they have got away lightly. The pupils swore at police and only 3 were arrested. Their parents, if you read the report, don't think that their children were to blame. There is a vast group of middle class teenagers growing up who think that they can do what they like whilst looking down on the working class youth who riot in much  the same way but have to face the justice system. 


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

An Angry Letter to Danny Alexander

Danny Alexander posted an article today in Lib Dem voice and this is the comment which i left:

Dear Mr Alexander,
Your article infuriates me a lot. Yes, Labour made a mess and while I don’t think Labour would do any better I don’t think this excuses your first sentence. Your number one priority should be to make this country a better place. Why does almost every policy the Government comes up with have to be about political point scoring against Labour? You mention Labour twice in the first paragraph. Being in Government involves a serious job of making things better. This political point scoring whereby every decision is made as a response to what Labour did or what Labour would do is really macho nonsense and I wish you and your colleagues would stop it. People want to know what the Lib Dems will do, not what others would do.

Balancing the books on the back of the most vulnerable is exactly what you have tried to do and the vulnerable are almost broken in the process. The books aren’t balanced yet either. Do you know that Food Banks are starting up every week and that the suicide rates among disabled is rising? Do you know that there are thousands of children living in B and B’s and often with drug dealers and criminals? Do you know that there are children who can’t afford to eat at home? Do you know that there are parents who go to loan sharks to borrow money for essentials?

You see, I have reason to complain and be angry. My mother works for the public sector. My father had a serious sudden illness recently and the NHS didn’t come up to scratch. Talk of keeping people out of hospital and helping them in their homes means that families bear the worry and burden of medical conditions which they aren’t qualified to do.

I worry about my future because I don’t think that you and Nick and the Tories are going to leave much for ordinary people like me. In your last paragraph you say that you don’t want to burden future generations. Given the large number of NEETS with no hope what do you have to say?

Maelo Manning
aged 13

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Nick Isn't The Villain BUT

Nick Clegg isn't the villain, Charles Saatchi is.  The whole fiasco stemming from Nick's appearance on LBC today somehow is casting Nick as the villain of domestic violence.  There is a tendency in this country to always deviate from the issue at hand and place blame on an intervening person. During the Saville scandal the victims and the BBC were criticized for  making false accusations. Suddenly, the scale of victim abuse by Saville became a side-show to what was going at the BBC. 

BUT, I do think Nick was foolish today by not condemning domestic violence straight off.  I have put my head in my hands today a few times over this whole fiasco. Nick  referred to 'one photograph' to seemingly prove a point that there wasn't enough evidence. Isn't one instance enough? This is where I think Nick really does need to get back to basics and show people that this party stands for equality and justice. Instead it seems as if the Lib Dem leadership does not seem to take female issues seriously. 

Why wasn't Lord Rennard investigated a long time ago? Mike Hancock? Caron Lindsay has said that Nick Clegg ought to have been briefed and to this I add why wasn't Clegg himself politically astute enough to anticipate a question on Nigella?  

What world do our politicians live in and that includes the female politicians today who have been making political hay. Yvette Cooper and Harriet Harman have jumped on the bandwagon.  The worst comment was by MP Sarah Wollaston she wrote, "So just don't call Clegg if your partner likes to grab you by the throat to emphasize a point." Nick Clegg isn't an enforcement agency for domestic violence, you should call the police not Nick Clegg. Why wasn't this much anger shown towards those who commit domestic violence? 

All said and done, as a young female Lib Dem I really hope that the party wakes up from its patriarchy now, not tomorrow or the day after. 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Absent Fathers

Absent fathers are often attacked and stigmatized but fathers who are living in the house do not always participate in family life. Absent fathers are used by the right wing as evidence of so called delinquent behavior among the working class. From my observation absent fathers in the home is a middle class and rich class problem. Many children are growing up without the influence of a paternal role model who is interested and beneficial to their lives. I have some answers about the middle class absent father syndrome. Fathers  in this bracket do participate in family life because they are content with the way things are. They They do not bother to enhance their children's lives because they do not see the need for paternal influence. There is no concept of fathering like their is for mothering. Some middle class fathers are very content to leave parenting to their partner or wife because it is seen as a 'feminine' role. These Fathers have disposable income and instead of emotionally connecting with their child they compensate for the lack of parenting by indulging in gadgets, clothes and toys for their children. David Lammy had written something similar in the Guardian

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Why do a lot of People in China Mistreat Children?

When my mother was pregnant with me she read an article on the one-child policy and accompanying the article was a photograph of baby girls placed in buckets in a forest in China. They were abandoned and left to die. She was traumatized by this and has never wanted to visit China. I have never quite understood this because she has a great interest in Chinese history.

When I was 10 she would read to me from the book about the Last Emperor called 'From Emperor To Citizen: The Autobiography of Henry Pu Yi: Last Emperor of China'. I also enjoy browsing through the 'Peony Pavillion'. Why is all this relevant? Because it is a mystery to me as to why a country that has a rich history and culture is able to throw babies into dustbins, down toilets and for the Government to sanction the killing of babies both before birth and after birth. This all came home to me yesterday when I watched coverage of Baby no 59 on TV.

The sight of a baby stuck tight in a toilet pipe and covered in waste grime will come to symbolise the child cruelty of China. 

China is also facing a growing rate of child abductions. I watched a documentary about parents who chain their children up like dogs for fear of having the child abducted while they work. The child is left chained at home while they toil the fields. Then there was the case of the 2- year old who was left to die. People of China, you walked by and watched a little child lie there. Has anything changed since 2011?

What sort of country that is a so-called economic powerhouse builds high -tech buildings enabled with the 'Internet of Things' while at the bottom there could be a baby in a bin discarded like a thing? Why do you not grasp that there is a human element to development? No doubt people will point to Britain and the child abuse that takes place. There is a difference. It is a crime in Britain to harm a child.

 I constantly read about how Chinese children study for umpteen hours a day from the age of 2 or something equally ridiculous. There are children from China who attend schools in Britain. I know a few from a far. I can only conclude that children are treated in China either as nuisances or as future money earning citizens. Is there a human dimension to childhood?  Finally, I find it difficult to understand why China which has a Confucian tradition of putting the family first devalues motherhood through the ill-treatment and cruelty of children.

I have read about how common it is to see babies lying in dustbins in China or to be found head first in buckets filled with water. China - is it not time to incorporate empathy into your economic agenda?

Below is a Google Translation of the above blog post into Mandarin:




中国也面临着一个绑架儿童的生长速度。我看了一个纪录片,讲述连锁他们的孩子的父母谁像狗一样,生怕孩子被绑架,而他们的工作。孩子留在家里,而他们的辛苦链领域。然后有2 - 岁左死的情况下。中国人民,你走了,看着一个小孩子躺在那里。自2011年以来有没有什么变化吗?



我看了一下它是多么常见看到婴儿躺在垃圾箱在中国或装满水的水桶中被发现头部先。中国 - 是没有时间将移情到你的经济议程?


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Do The Tories Hate Children?

First they went after the unemployed, then they came for the disabled and now they are after the children. Recently they have really been gunning for children. There is a growing pool of vulnerable people that the Tories target because the groups are not able to be participants in the Tory ideology of the 'Free Market'.

The Tories want everybody to be divided into groups of 'productive' and 'unproductive' free marketeers. The weak and unable are left behind in the scrum for the spoils of the free market. Just look at what the Tories have said in recent weeks.

Two Tory ministers who promised to turn up at a meeting with parents of disabled children hardly made any attempt to contribute or understand the plight of the children. According to the Children's Society 4 in 10 of all disabled children live in poverty and the cuts will push these children into further deprivation. 

It is so obvious that the reason the ratio is being raised is to get parents into work and lower the costs of childcare by cutting down on the amount of childcare workers needed. The safety and well being of children is being compromised for an ideology. I really hope that Nick stares them down on this. 

Children in nurseries are not workers in training for a capitalist conveyor belt. Children are in nurseries to run around and be children in a safe environment. There is a difference between being unruly and lively. What would appear as unruly to the Tories is actually children developing and learning by playing and having fun. What would the Tories prefer? My guess is that they want British childhood to resemble a Chinese one- 23 hours of study and 1 hour of sleep. My guess is based on the constant comparisons that  Michael Gove makes with the Asian system of education. Out of all the children that I know my upbringing most closely resembles an Asian upbringing. I could write 10 words at the age of 3 and, believe me, I was 'unruly' the whole time. If it is passive obedience that the Tories are after then the British childhood way of natural inquiry will be a lost treasure. 


Sunday, 5 May 2013

'Ubah' Greetings From Britain on a Historical Day for Malaysia

'Ubah' is the Malay word for 'change'. Historical elections are taking place in Malaysia today. Never has the opposition, led by Anwar Ibrahim this time, come so close to winning. There are only a few hours left for Malaysians to get out and vote for change. I have a huge interest because my Asian side of the family are Malaysians. I am pictured here with my uncles who are twins. They work as cardiologists in the Midlands. The family met up yesterday to discuss the election which is being held today - 5 May.

I am sure my Liberal friends will join me in sending wishes and messages of hope to those who feel disaffected by the current system. 


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Does Capitalism have Limits on Cheap clothing?

A rising death toll, exploited workers and a lucrative garment industry. What are the limits of capitalism? How many more lives will have to be taken before workers are not treated as machines who need barely any food, money or sleep to survive on? 

As a teenager I know many people, including myself, who shop at 'Primark'. The reality of global capitalism was brought home to me, literally, when I realised that my shopping could have impacted on the mistreatment of a worker in Bangladesh. When workers are forced to produce a certain amount of clothing for a company   it is in our hands as to whether we buy the garment, and subsequently support the exploitation of the worker, or we could boycott the shop because consumers have power to set trends in the market. The deregulation of these factories has lead to a huge market of exploitation which is inescapable because it runs through all of the 'trendy' clothing stores which most consumers will continue to buy from no matter how unethical it is. 

Global regulation is essential to ensure that factories are not Dickensian. Globalization cannot just be about moving money around the world in search of a tax haven. 

I dedicate this post to the workers who died in Dhaka. 


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Who is Margaret Thatcher?

There has been much made of the fact that teenagers and young people who were not born till after Thatcher left office don't know about Thatcher and Thatcherism. This raises the question: Should they know who she was? In the Times newspaper April 9 George Osborne said that, "children will study the former Prime minister in the same way that they study Elizabeth 1, Cromwell and Churchill."

Do I want to study about Thatcher? I partly agree with George Osborne. I read up on Thatcher during last summer's school holidays. I came to the conclusion that her legacy still lives on and has woven itself into the fabric of our economic, social and political systems. If you think about it, in the days before she died the harshest ever welfare reforms were implemented and people who didn't manage to buy their council houses were hit with the bedroom tax. Thatcherism is everywhere. Just as are the people who dislike her, who were born after she had left No 10. Her shadow looms large. People who turned out to party at Trafalgar Sq yesterday prove this point. The right may refer to them derogatorily as being 'lefties' or 'Marxists' but an intellectual point is lost - while Thatcherism is practised in any shape or form the recipients have a right to either agree or disagree.

Osborne says that "Margaret Thatcher was an optimist... She had optimism that Britain's best days lay ahead of it  not behind it..." If Thatcherism was taught in this way it would be brainwashing.  Thatcherism would have to be taught in a way that drew together the facts and the evidence. As a student I would want to be taught about how Hayek's "Road to Serfdom"  came to knock Keynes off  the nation's bookshelf. Most importantly, I would want to know why a woman who wasn't open to new ideas and wasn't for turning came to dominate the lives of children who will be born after her death.


Friday, 12 April 2013

Enough of the Politicization of a Song Which is Associated with Childhood

Suddenly everything is being centered around Margaret Thatcher. I know that she was probably the most famous British PM to date but using a children's song for political point making is wrong and immoral. When I was younger I used to sing along to 'The Wizard of Oz' and the sight of quirky munchkins jumping around demands that this song be remembered for being a jolly and great piece of acting, singing and dancing. Let us    just remember Toto, Munchkins and Dorothy. 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Five Mysteries of Thatcher to a Young Person

I was born almost ten years after Thatcher had resigned and yet I have heard her name being both condoned and praised all at the same time as I have been growing up. Coincidentally, I read up on Thatcher last Summer during the school holidays and I was stunned by the contradictions of her premiership.

1. Why does Thatcher's time in office come across as a series of unrelated knee jerk events? She seemed to be so driven by the ideology of the free market that her years seemed to lack a narrative. Ideology, surely, must be followed by coherent practice. Miner's strikes, right to buy, Germany etc - what was the unifying ideological practice? The miners were fighting for the right to work. Working class people were given the right to buy council property but their means to earn a living were reduced.

2. Why do people insist on calling her a feminist when she herself said that feminism had done nothing for her. Thatcher never believed in collectivism so how could she possibly be a feminist?

3. Why wasn't Thatcher held to more account for not spending the North Sea revenue to improve the country when Gordon Brown is constantly criticized for selling the gold reserves at low prices?

4. Thatcher wrote about how thrifty she and her family were. There is even a story about how they reused thread. How did this thrift extend to an 80s error of champagne and Rolls Royce excesses?

5. She was a show woman. PMQs were about her taking bows, getting the loudest agreements and a delight in upsetting people. What happened to that war spirit that she wrote about when she said "So I did not grow up with the sense of division and conflict between classes".

What was Thatcherism about - just the free market? Isn't that a purely hands off approach?

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Would you Employ a Young Disabled Person?

 This is what we need trade unions for. The  SERTUC branch of  the TUC hosted a conference called "Young Disabled People- Employed and Empowered?". In an age where disabled people are being branded as 'scroungers' the youngest of these are suffering. The stats are depressing with 15% of young people with disabilities unemployed, out of education or not in training and 21 % aged 16-24 with no qualifications.

The conference was a brilliant platform for an analysis of how disabled youngsters are coping in the current economic climate and it showed that the cuts and language used stigmatizes them to an extent where employers do not believe that a young disabled person will fulfill the job in the same way that a person without a disability could. The cuts have also slowed down what young disabled people can do because they don't have as much access to facilities such as private transport (public transport is difficult to use). Ambition, that is what is being thwarted here. Access to university, school and work which provide qualifications and life skills are being halted because of lack of funding.

In hindsight I wonder if the Paralympics was a convenient event for the cuts that followed? I am being cynical but I think that the glory of  (so called) helping and providing opportunities for disabled people provided a smoke screen that is hoped would outweigh the cuts and demeaning language used by the Government to justify welfare reform.

Please sign the WOW petition to stop the war on welfare 


Monday, 1 April 2013

REALLY Uneasy about Being a Lib Dem Today because of Welfare Reform

Me at the protest against bedroom tax on the 30th  March

The Lib Dem principles of, "Fairness, equality and community" have all been breached with the welfare reform and I find myself wondering what our party stands for. The reform which upsets me the most is the replacement of DLA with PIP where 500,000 disabled people will be found ineligible for the payment (BBC source). The most vulnerable in society are being the most hard done by while rich politicians, such as Grant Shapps and our own Nick, sit in their Westminster bubble untouched.

No matter which way you dress up this welfare reform it is not about curing the deficit and gaining growth. It is about a neo-liberal agenda that wants to eradicate state spending. If this was really about cutting the deficit then strong attempts would be made to get the green economy going (kick John Hayes) and to get construction going on the demand side. What about tax dodgers? How much money is lost there?

As soon as you see people like Fraser Nelson talking about how IDS is trying to lead people on welfare to prosperity through work you know that welfare reform is about a play on ideologies and words to create a false picture of those on welfare. The majority on benefits are working but don't earn enough because wages have gone down. Idleness seems to be the only trait picked on by the Government and has been used to stigmatize the unemployed. It is so easy to pick on those who are not likely to vote Tory or Lib Dem and who are not engaged with politics.

 I know that the welfare state was bloated but a scale down of this size is unjustifiable in circumstances where there is no growth, the rich don't pay for their part and Britain has lost the AAA rating. The Government is playing a game of shame blame and deflection away from its' failures by turning the tables to misrepresent the most vulnerable. The government comes up with so many excuses to implement a right wing agenda that tells the same old story of bad immigrants, skivers and work shy people. This isn't about the good of the country folks, it is about kicking aside those who are an inconvenient truth for the need for a proper and constructive welfare state. 


Sunday, 17 March 2013

I was in the Telegraph yesterday

Yesterday I was in the Telegraph magazine in a report about young bloggers.  I was featured with Jake's Bones, Childtastic books, The adventures of Betsy Lou and Tolly dolly posh fashion. Jessica Salter, kindly, came to interview me and then Johnathon Williams photographed me for the magazine. I thank them for producing a lovely article which you can see online here. Here is what the article says:

On the night of the last general election, in May 2010, Maelo Manning’s house in south London was a local campaign base for the Liberal Democrats – her mother, Jane, a civil servant, is an active party supporter. At 3.30am, caught up in the excitement, Maelo, then 10, asked her mother if she could start a political blog. ‘There were young people in the living-room, leaflets piled up in my bedroom, and it was a really exciting time to be involved in politics,’ she says. She chose the name – Libdem Child – and created a profile. Her mother put her own email as the contact, to monitor incoming mail, but Maelo has free rein to blog whenever she wants, about whatever she wants, as long as it is political or in the news. Following the rape and murder of a woman on a bus in Delhi, she organised a vigil in London in January to remember the 23-year-old victim, to which 30 people came. She blogs weekly, spending about an hour on each post.
Since starting to blog, Maelo, now 13, has spoken five times at Lib Dem party conferences on subjects such as youth clubs, gendercide, youth justice and academies. The blog is somewhere she can formulate her ideas. ‘It’s the only place I can express my views freely without someone else censoring it,’ she says.
Her blog gets between 200 and 400 hits per day. She has had negative comments from one visitor, but is sanguine about them. ‘He’s a troll, he does it to everyone,’ she says. Her friends at St Dunstan’s College, a co-educational independent school in south London, don’t read her blog (‘we don’t talk about politics; they’re more into celebrities’), but she has found friends who share her views through blogging (and Twitter). While her classmates have One Direction posters on their walls, Maelo has a framed photograph of her with the Rev Jesse Jackson.
Maelo, an only child, says her parents (her father, Roger, a recruitment manager, also supports the Lib Dems) respect her views when they talk politics. ‘But I’m not always treated like an adult,’ she says. ‘My mum doesn’t like that I recently became a vegetarian, and I can’t blog until I’ve done my homework.’

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Is there a minimum hunger line?

I DON'T read the Daily Mail but someone pointed out an article by Richard Littlejohn (sigh in frustration) which is so malignant that I wonder how much more Right the Right can go before it demands that people show their hunger swollen bellies to prove that they are living in poverty.  The article is a comment on a report published by the TUC this week on how the 'majority of children of UK children will be living below the breadline by 2015'.

I know that social policy can involve different ways of measuring needs and poverty levels and sometimes it can be a subjective study too but it cannot be denied that child poverty does exist in the UK. It may not exist to the levels that it does in other countries where children beg on streets and look in bins but does it have to get to that level in the UK for child poverty to be justified or recognised as a national issue of urgency? Does there have to be a minimum hunger line that exists before child poverty stops being a national joke among some fools and idiots?

So called 'obesity' is given as a reason for poverty being an illusion. The truth of the matter is that fruit and better quality food is more expensive and, therefore, junk food is popular because it costs far less. Cheap junk food does cause obesity. What stupid person cannot understand this?

Littlejohn says that "no one in Britain has any excuse for going hungry" but here is a report that proves differently.

Playstations, mobiles and flatscreen TVs seem to be the modern weapons of mass stigmatisation. If you own these and you are unemployed and on welfare then Richard Littlejohn and his little morons will visit upon you. Are there any other TVs these days apart from flatscreen? Playstations are, frankly, a bit outdated and nobody carries a landline around with them. The point I make is that using these items as symbols is not a way of measuring any type of social need but is a lazy and convenient way to harangue those on welfare and supports the stigma of 'strivers' vs 'skivers'.


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Plan B with a Smile

When I was little I used to play with a box by either putting things in it or putting myself in the box. My mother tells me that one day I took a colouring pencil and drew on the walls. After some time my mother shouted at me and in a fit of anger and rebellion I drew on the outside of my box. This, as it turned out, was a whole new experience. I found this more satisfactory than putting the box on my head. Crude as this was this is how I developed my skill of thinking outside the box.

Now that I am older, I don't draw on boxes (much) and some are packed away (pic below). Instead, I try to put my skill to good use by putting the economy to right. On the 20th of March next week is Budget day and you can be sure as the Easter Bunny is getting ready that old George won't have anything new to say. So far we have had manufacturing figures down, no growth, no jobs, Dave and Ed fighting at PMQs, yada yada but, hang on, have you noticed that there are a whole lot of people surging around the touristy places of Britain?

Yes, it's tourist season and it's going to last well into October. All these people are coming to spend money here. Britain is teetering on the brink of a triple dip recession and I think that it is time to start loving tourists. When countries can't produce, manufacture or export as much tourism is their back up.  So, instead of grumbling about how tourists are clogging tubes and buses and acres of pavement just smile at them instead. London, especially, has a reputation for being unfriendly so next time you are about to complain about "bloody tourists" remember that they are not here to steal your job, undercut your business, draw welfare, kick your cat or steal your hamster but they may be providing the financial means to keeping your job going.


Sunday, 10 March 2013

My Liberal Mother

This may have been Conference weekend but today has a special significance in being Mother's Day. My mother and I woke up in Brighton to a lovely view of the sea before dashing off to the emergency debate on 'secret courts' which is an illiberal move. Ever since I was little I have recognised liberalism by instinct. I have my mother to thank for nurturing this moral, political and humane view that I have. At conference someone told me, as people often do, that I will cease to be as idealistic as I grow up. That may be so but I do think that people often confuse the act of being 'unrealistic' with 'idealistic'. It doesn't matter. I am neither an 'unrealist' nor a hopeless idealist. I am a realistic idealist who is growing up in a world where Liberal values seem to hold the key increasingly to societal problems. I want to thank my mother for this. 

Friday, 8 March 2013

What the Lib Dem's stand for - my response to Linda Jack

I am honoured to have been passed a baton by Linda Jack as part of a Meme (an idea that passes from person to person) on 'what the Lib Dems stand for'.  I have spent two days thinking about this in some depth. Since I became a member of the party 3 years ago at the age of 10 I have seen the party go from 'a vote for the Lib Dems is a wasted vote' to us going into coalition and making decisions as part of Government. Now, that's something for me to tell my grandchildren. Being a Lib Dem is an exciting part of my life. Liberalism is part of my life.

I believe the party stands for:  'fairness, equality and community'. 

Fairness- It's been a roller coaster ride so far.  Sometimes I am extremely thrilled at the decisions taken like lowering the tax threshold and a commitment to green issues; and then at other times being really angry at the unfair welfare reforms that especially target the vulnerable and disabled. Ironically, I have often thought to myself that if the Lib Dems were not in government, I would actually wish that we were so as to be able to make a difference to those suffering from welfare cuts. At these moments of negative thoughts I have despaired that we are actually in government making life difficult for the disabled through a whole range of cuts. Basically, I have a problem with welfare reform.

Equality - Everybody is given a fair start and supported in the necessary way for them to be able to participate in society. For example, schools in poorer areas are given extra support and guidance to help the pupils have a fair start in life. The equal marriage bill which has received massive Lib Dem support.

Community - demonstrated at local levels by our superb councillors who are in tune with the needs of their local communities; and party campaigners who work to deliver Focus, make phone calls and attend endless 'Politics & Pizza' events where they donate money and exchange brilliant ideas.

As a young party member I am proud to be a Liberal Democrat. Liberalism consists of the values of 'fairness, equality and community' which the protesters in the Arab Spring and countless other protest movements are fighting for. 

Saturday, 2 March 2013

The Morning After the Morning After Analysis

Wow! What a roller coaster ride Eastleigh was. On the night of the by-election I only got 4 hours sleep because I was so excited and nervous. Now it is time for the analysis. I have been leafleting for three years and now the world is becoming increasingly digitalised. I wonder if leafleting is becoming outdated?

Leafleting takes up time and money. It is dependent on volunteers and although there were plenty in Eastleigh there won't be enough people in the general election because Eastleigh was a one off where people came from everywhere to help out. Leaflets are a good way of  communicating with voters in detail but beyond the first leaflet there maybe a law diminishing returns. Even in Nick Clegg's morning after speech he apologised to voters for the amount of canvassing they were bombarded with. I think that face-to-face canvassing is still vital because the voters general reactions and thoughts to our policies can only be gauged from talking to them. The same applies to telephone banking too.

Cancer research has its own app where people can contribute ideas for cancer research.  Maybe we could have an apps in local areas instead with reduced leaflets and a national app whereby people enter their location and give the party their thoughts on Lib Dem policy. Perhaps this is a way forward which utilises the digital world and will allow the party to reach people.


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

What I Heard on the Ground in Eastleigh

On a cold winter's evening last week I knocked on doors in Eastleigh and got a sense of the faith that people still have in the party. People told me their concerns about both national and local issues and felt that the Lib Dems had something to say to them. It is wrong to write the Lib Dems out of either level of politics.Those who were going to vote UKIP can never be swayed by Liberalism because they fear anyone who is not White and British born. That is not the Liberal way.

In today's Times Daniel Finkelstein says that the Lib Dems "are not a serious National Party,"  because "Nick Clegg has failed to lead his MPs away from interest-group politics." Ironically, if this were true we wouldn't have a large number of disabled people being angry with the Lib Dems over welfare reform. I may have used a negative point to demonstrate that the Lib Dems have become a serious national party but you get my point. Let us not forget the good work that Chris Huhne did in Eastleigh which brought into people's conciousness the fact that the Lib Dems did make the transition from local level to Government. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Are Academies A Neo-liberal Tool?

Is the granting of approval to run Academy schools a favour by Michael Gove to a big Tory donor?
I attended a showing of a film which demonstrated a blatant upheaval of the Education system in what could be seen as a move to remove state schools from government spending.

The case study used was Downhill Primary, a community primary school that was previously failing but, due to a new headmistress (Leslie Church), started hitting floor targets for the first time and was improving. Michael Gove identified Downhill as a 'failing school', despite evidence to prove otherwise, and Harris Academy took it over despite the parents staging a huge protest. The parents attended introductory meetings with Harris Academy prior to the take-over. Presentations were given to the parents by Harris Academy but they avoided the parents questions and were extremely evasive towards them.

Lord Harris, the owner of carpet right and Harris academies, donated 2 million to the Tory party. Since then 13 schools have become Harris academies. Is this a coincidence? I don't think so.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

A vote for Gay Marriage would help reduce bigotry among British youngsters

Gay bashing through the telling of rude jokes, light hearted teasing and really serious teasing and bullying is common among children in Britain. 'Gay' has become a common term of insult amongst young people. 'Gay' is used as an alternative to the insulting words of 'lame' or 'sad'. Boys in my school point at each other, call other boys 'gay' and then laugh. 

A positive vote for gay marriage today would send a message out to young people that being gay is not an abnormality. There is a generation of children growing up with many prejudices and institutional bigotry only reinforces their discrimination. History shows that the 'now is not the right time' has always been a convenient approach to withhold human rights from minorities (slavery) to satisfy the interests of the majority. 

Monday, 4 February 2013

Oscar Wilde and Gay Marriage Vote

When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realising what I am that I have found comfort of any kind. Now I am advised by others to try on my release to forget that I have ever been in a prison at all. I know that would be equally fatal. It would mean that I would always be haunted by an intolerable sense of disgrace, and that those things that are meant for me as much as for anybody else - the beauty of the sun and moon, the pageant of the seasons, the music of daybreak and the silence of great nights, the rain falling through the leaves, or the dew creeping over the grass and making it silver - would all be tainted for me, and lose their healing power, and their power of communicating joy. To regret one's own experiences is to arrest one's own development. To deny one's own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one's own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.

De Profundis by Oscar Wilde 

I publish this in support of gay marriage - Maelo Manning


Monday, 28 January 2013

#OnlyAsiansWill - My Mother

The hash tag #OnlyAsiansWill is currently trending on Twitter and it is giving me loads of laughs. I identify with much that is being said. My mother is Indian and, sometimes, living in the gap of a culture clash between British culture and Indian culture makes my life interesting, varied and humorous.

Here are some of the Tweets I identify with:

1. #OnlyAsiansWill fill empty ice-cream tubs with curry. I just counted and we have three huge empty ice-cream tubs in the cupboard waiting to be filled.

2. #OnlyAsiansWill drive the whole family to the airport to either pick up or drop one family member off. Airport days in my family are the sort of days which loom large on the calendar. On that day everything centres around going to the airport. We have been known to fill the car to the brim to drop off a family member who was flying to Scotland. Yes!

3. #OnlyAsiansWill lecture their children for an hour but not ground them. I have never been grounded but I have been lectured many times. The answer is always, 'Yes, Mum'.

4. #OnlyAsiansWill save carrier bags and use them in bins as lining. We have Sainsbury's bags lying around everywhere and I occasionally dream in Orange.

5. #OnlyAsiansWill collapse in a heap and eat a plate of curry as consolation when you show them pictures that your English friends have put of themselves on Facebook and Instagram (short dresses and skirts, drinking alcohol).

#OnlyAsiansWill have oversized suitcases when they travel filled to the brim with presents for relatives. Once our oursized suitcase broke and we had to buy another which also broke.

Enjoy these jokes.


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Keep Your Blinds Closed In Protest Against The Welfare Upratings Bill On 21 January

2013-01-20 20.40.25.jpg

The Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill proposes that benefits should only be raised by 1% over the next three years. Tomorrow (21 January) the Bill will reach the Committee of the whole House, Report stage and get a third reading. Unless the ghost of William Beveridge descends on Parliament tomorrow it is a near certainty that the Bill will be voted through.

This does not stop me from launching my campaign 'To Keep Your Blinds Closed' tomorrow in protests against the injustices of this Bill.

George Osborne said: "It is unfair that a person leaves their home early in the morning and they pull the door behind them and they are going to do their job and they look at their next-door neighbour, the blinds are down and that family is living a life on benefits. That is unfair as well and we are going to tackle that as part of tackling this country's economic problems.'

I know from experience that if your neighbour has their blinds closed it does not mean that they are on welfare and lazy. My neighbour works night shifts and when I go to school in the morning his blinds are closed. Ironically, the family on benefits who live on the other side have their blinds up quite early. Please click on this link for more options on why blinds could be closed. How can blinds define the deserving from the undeserving and the strivers from the skivers? I detest the fact that an ordinary household item like blinds is being used to demonise people on welfare.

It is children and the disabled who will suffer from this politics of cruelty. According to The Children's Society, 11.6 million children will be affected by the 1% cap. As a specific example, a couple with two children, one earner who is a primary school teacher earning £600 per week will lose £424 a year by 2015. The Child Poverty Action Group states that the Up-Rating Bill will push 200, 000 more children into poverty. Accumulatively, the welfare cuts will push 1 MILLION more children into poverty by 2020.

People with disabilities already are suffering from having to go through work capability assessments (WCA) and having to face ATOS who have all the grace and sympathies of Scrooge before his transformation. According to a report, 3.6 million people claiming disability benefits will be worse off by £9 billion from 2010 to 2015. I am constantly saddened by stories of how disabled people are treated by ATOS and DWP and the closures of Remploy which took work away from the disabled.

The politics and wellbeing of children and the disabled who are the most vulnerable people in our society transcend the political games to cut the size of the state. 
Blogger Template Created by pipdig