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The Government (The Privatisers) V The People – Ireland and The Water Meter Revolution


10690274_362706583906440_72108541568392573_n 10713007_915925058435787_4009882317525743229_n The people of Ireland are fighting back against what is deemed a step too far in terms of governmental austerity measures within the country. The Irish Government until recently paid for the treatment and servicing of water within the state, however this is changing. The government is privatising this branch in an attempt to “save” €1bn per year as part of conditions set by Brussels. The main political parties of the state could find themselves out in the cold when it comes to the general election scheduled for 2016. So the feeling is yes the Government has bitten off more than it can chew. In the UK water rates have been established for some time and the commodity of water has always and always should be free to all. The Irish feel they are being asked way too much in order to put right the banker’s problem. The world media are watching with great interest, however very rarely reported by media sources within the state, bringing displeasure that the peoples media is serving the interest of the privatisers and not the people. In many areas of Ireland and some where I go myself, where family live, the water is undrinkable which begs to question why on earth are the people being charged for a service they don’t receive? Even more criminal is the fact that since 1997 the people of Ireland already pay a subsidence for water. Many see that those in government are receiving back handers to drive this hugely despised policy through from the top with the Taoiseach to the backbencher TD’s (MPs to me and you in the UK) The Irish Government (Fine Gael- Labour Coalition) has set out that each household in Ireland is required by law to host a water meter. The water meters have been met with much resistance in the streets and estates right across the state. The people have had enough of austerity and feel that the government regardless of any of the main parties no longer represent them. This leading the path to new openings within the political party system normally seeing fine Gael or Fianna Fail elected, to the likes of others, such as the increasing number of Sinn Fein representatives for example being elected. There is the more interesting point seeing a 2% duty imposed on everything the Irish people purchase and a 5% vehicle duty which would ensure NO FURTHER CHARGES were applicable. Thus a sign of the government charging twice for the same service but also the fact it is going against itself in a short term period. water Joan Burton Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister- Labour) has been slated after comments she made “All of those protesters I have seen before seem to have extremely expensive phones, tablets , video cameras” and “Hollywood would be in the ha’penny place to what’s been done here”.  To the response of the electorate tweeting or facebooking back reminding her who pays for her expensive phones and how out of touch she is. Some have even started a countdown until she is “booted” out of office. Her ministerial car was stuck for a number of hours by peaceful protesters surrounding her car. (http://www.thejournal.ie/joan-burton-water-protest-1782187-Nov2014/ ) A Fine Gael Councillor has met trolling after making the comments, Laura McGonigle A Councillor in the city of Cork tweeted “They should collect all the rain water while out marching today and drink that for the week” ‘they’ meaning the protesters.( http://www.thejournal.ie/fine-gael-councillor-facebook-rainwater-1759765-Nov2014/ ) There have been a number of protests in all major town and cities with tens of thousands marching the streets in each one, including one in Dublin which saw a hefty 50,000 people marching a number of weeks ago. There is a national protest day which will see numbers into the hundreds of thousands surround Dail Eireann on 10th December under the banner “Right2Water”. ( https://www.facebook.com/Right2WaterIreland?fref=ts ) The workers installing the apparatus have been met with much resistance and barricades to stop them from entering areas. The police have been brought in and there is now many a video posted on Youtube and the like showing the brutality the police are using in order to support and maintain the work to install the meters. It is noted by a number of sources that the police are receiving bonuses or seeing their budgets protected while other departments are seeing savage cuts. To put this into perspective the Irish people have to pay to see their doctor (GP), for school books of all kinds, and cost of living is close to a third higher than that in the UK due to the Euro. The Welfare system is close to being annihilated. The TD’s receive much more expenses and noted corruption within the political system than that perceived within the UK. The Taoiseach questionably receives more than most heads of state in the world at €200,000(£159,836), even more than David Cameron (£142,000). Cameron who is the head of state of a country with 10 times the population of Ireland and a more powerful world player than that of the Irish Taoiseach. However, this is only one of many ways the people have been protesting, many have been destroying the apparatus costing just over £100per house to install. Some have been taken by “fairies” (http://www.thejournal.ie/water-meter-fairies-illegal-irish-1773631-Nov2014/ ). Some have been picked up (some being flung over Dail Eireann’s walls) others have been sunk in cement making them unworkable. There is mass resistance on this topic and will test the nerve of the coalition as it enters its final year before the general election. The fact remains that the government has very much bitten more than it can chew,  the closing question is how far will both sides go until the other backs down.

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Is Recycling in Wales a load of Rubbish ?


 

Wales sees higher recycling targets than the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland at 58%. However in years to come we the public are expected to reduce waste even more due to Welsh Government placing more and more pressure on local governments. There are many issues that are faced by the public as across Wales there are 22 local recycling schemes all of which differ from each other. Question being, is it a load of rubbish? Does it work? Does it penalise people where they cant do any more or see it as a chore to get it right?

Welsh local authorities have mostly introduced a fortnightly collection on refuse waste (landfill) and some are even contemplating a three week collection in attempt to avoid fines for land filling rubbish. Swansea sees a three-bag limit, but no actual physical bin. One must question the sanitation issues that arise i.e. rats and other animals who would strive off such waste. The aim of this reduction is to avoid hefty fines as what will be instigated in the next few years, as a way to make sure councils are doing their part in reducing waste. Though are reduced collections necessary the right answer? I personally believe fortnightly is the max limit as long as other factors are in place i.e bins to place bags in to avoid rats.

The fact that there is 22 local schemes causes an issue to locals, more needs to be done to further a more universal system whether regionally or even nationally. Another huge issue is what can be recycled, many items are not recyclable more needs to be done to ensure that manufactures look to recycle unwanted products from their consumers but also have legislation looking at things that could be made by items that can be recycled. I’m speaking specifically about food products, the mass amount of packaging that goes with food products. To say food is the only one seeing issues, one only has to look at toiletries, toothpaste tube comes in boxes, which in effect is causing excessive waste, even when the cardboard is recyclable why was it used in the first place?

The main issue is locals up and down Wales are being penalised, when in a lot of cases they cannot really be blamed for the confusing systems in action across the country. They cannot be fully blamed for the items they purchase, so it is of my belief that legislation needs to be brought forward, allowing Wales to set the trend in the UK and even potentially have influence the rest of the UK’s ability to recycle. Legislation needs to address both materials products are packaged in, but also address excess packaging on items in the Welsh area. Lets face it Wales has already led the way on plastic carrier bags seeing a huge reduction, benefiting the environment and communities and their through the money raised from the “tax”. Lets see a tax in addressing excessive packaging and none recyclable materials, hopefully this will see consumers applying pressure on business  to change.

The public are already on mass doing what they can, given the circumstances, now its time for local and national (Welsh) government to be bolder in their approach in tackling the issue from another angle. In doing so they need to work better with local authorities in order to make it as easy and effortless for the populace of Wales. A universal recycle list should be initiated to stop confusion amongst local authorities. Thus all in all everyone’s happy and waste is reduced and all are playing their part in reducing land waste, compared to the failed 22 local authority systems as seen in the current day, with none recycling the same. We could effectively beat Germany and Austria’s record targets of 60% by a landslide.

 

landfill-landscape

Evaluating Gordon Brown’s Leadership using Greenstein


Thought this would be an interesting read for political friends

Greenstein’s six points evaluating Gordon Brown 23.04.2012

Anonymous


Something i did for an assessment but thought i’d share it anyway

 

So what is Anonymous ?  Well this is a very good question, Anonymous is an alias of which, many individuals use if they wish to keep their identities hidden. It was founded by a small number of individuals using the 4chan forum and has been used repeatedly since 2003. Though it may seem like a collective grouping of people, officially it is not, as it is an individual’s choice to conceal their own identity and doing so by using the freedom of the internet to do so.  They hide away under a common cover, in this instance the use of the infamous Guy Fawkes mask, which was made famous by the comic and later made film V for Vendetta.

Due to the fact that there is no official membership base as there is no proper official group means that for this article the term “member” will be used, but will be done so extremely loosely. Those interested in “joining” merely has the need to want or have already posted something on the internet using anonymous as their cover alias. For those who want to join the so called ‘more structured network’, as per se may do so by looking at the following website http://www.anonymousuk.com/.

According to the video, What is Anonymous ? (by username -mashable) individuals may use channels like 4Chan to suggest ideas to the other “members” ,if enough support is given to an idea, it will be acted upon. Though saying that, there is no official quota or number , so there is wide variations of ballots cast between the different ideas, with the HB Gary operation for example saw only a dozen individuals had gotten involved, in comparison to several hundred  who had gotten involved in operation Tunisia, in which the “group had stood up against the Tunisian government for crimes against citizens, which had included censoring free access to internet and information”. Overall ‘member’s as individuals can post ideas of actions  they may have in an attempt to retaliate against  injustices worldwide by governments and corporations and do so by hacking or mass annoyance in actions such as Distributed service denial (overloading websites) forcing the website(s) to collapse, prank calls, spam emails or even the ordering of pizza to households to address of perpetrators and hacking (though this is only a small fraction of the total “membership”).

From the video What Is Anonymous and What Is The Plan?,  it is stated that there is no membership and that Anonymous is just an idea, setting about the principles of fairness amongst all humans.  It strives to fight against the normal “states attempts to mould and conform it citizens to its will”, as this, is what is suggested as keeping states and corporations wealthy, while many suffer around the world due to this greed and inequality. Furthermore adding that if it wasn’t for wealth, there would not be a need for wars, as resources would be equal and distributed equality. As a whole people tend to conform and become dismissive of these inequalities as they had been taught to do so by society and state instruments such as education. Those that share this idea communicate amongst each other through various means, one being the famous 4chan.

According to the vast information sources about or made by “members”, Anonymous are said to be attempting to return power back to the people. The idea, as illustrated through the videos and various supported websites, state that governments have become too corrupt and greedy,  and that it is now time to re-open transparency and accountability, to the heart of government for the populace to take back control of their institutions and their politicians. There are a number of ways how wishing to “join” anonymous can do so via various ways, “officially through the usage of hacktivism, which is seen as the usage of computers and networks mostly the internet, to protest or campaign in order to promote political ends”.

The next important point to consider is what are Anonymous ultimately trying to achieve ? Well this is the interesting question as members of Anonymous attempt to open up the internet ,or in other words have no barriers to information free and away general secrets. Due to the fact that there is no apparent leadership  of the organisation, leads to question it’s affectability.  The general fact that individuals hide beneath the famous Guy Fawkes mask, commonly associated with anarchy and disorder, and an icon that most can relate to especially recently in the various “occupy movement” worldwide including the first and hugely attended, Times Square protests (Occupy Times Square Movement).

Anonymous according to What Is The Plan is open to anyone who wishes to use it; it can be family, neighbours friends, teachers, shop managers, soldiers, absolutely anyone.   However one would need to understand the organisation’s internal procedures to ensure full potential is achieved. Members post up ideas and a vote is taken whether to action upon the ideas and is done through that medium and where each member is deemed as being equal as one another.

To answer how successful Anonymous is particularly difficult due to the way the network works, as it is not an actual physical organisation and therefore measurement of success is not easily obtainable as from other organisations. It is a seemingly open and loose organisation with minor organisation and logistics. Yet it has proven its success , it is known worldwide and has many videos with messages to various people and organisations which all end with the common “We are Anonymous –Expect Us”. The HB Gary operation had shown how powerful Anonymous can be utilising the individuals who do collectively come together and act. The most successful of operations in my opinion is when Anonymous attacked Mastercard Visa for banning any transactions going to Wikileaks, leading to anonymous to crash their website causing many hundreds if not thousands of financial transactions to fail, costing time and money on Mastercard Visa’s expense to correct. The only negative that can be seen is that due to it’s loose membership anyone can claim their actions to be that of the work of Anonymous and would be difficult to prove due to the nature of the membership.

In conclusion, Anonymous is a fascinating organisation who looks to free the internet from censorship and will defend the 99% from the rich 1%.  Anonymous proves highly successful in it’s actions by attacking governments and corporations. Its main successes can also be seen as a coherent weakness, being that there is no head or structures, can prove to work for them as they avoid being caught by authorities, but yet no proper direction.

Categories: UK Politics

Women on The Front Bench Part 2


Part one may be found via https://stephenmarshall20.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/women-on-the-front-bench-at-swansea-university-pt-1/

Ms Rathbone mentioned the importance that Wales saw at least 30% of its representatives being female, this allows for women to be effective in the politics discussed and policy areas to be decided upon. Under 30% women lack popper representation, and where the men are able to dominate the political agenda just like that seen in London.  The fact that women are able to speak up for minority groups, furthers the need for female representation to meet at least the said percentage.

It can be very hard to engage women within the political process, but with confirming and confidence building to many, can provide for more females to step up as candidates and hopefully representatives. There is a believed effect that where there is a female candidate , women are more likely to vote for them rather than a male candidate.

The next and final Assembly Member to speak was Edwina Hart, Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science. Mrs Hart has been an Assembly Member since the Assembly’s creation, She has also held a number of portfolios within the Welsh Government including Finance and Local Government and then Health and Social Justice.  Mrs Hart had ran within the Welsh Labour leadership campaign, to which she came second to the current leader and First Leader Carwyn Jones.

Mrs Hart noted the fact that “women need to cause trouble” in order to get somewhere,  and mentioned her trade union experience where she had ran and failed first time round in an attempt to win a place on the TUCs executive. This was later rectified, but the trade unions is still a very male dominated place.   There is many times where Mrs Hart had stated she felt annoyed but on a positive outlook seeing that it would be “better tomorrow we’ll give them hell”.

Mrs Hart’s current portfolio is normally considered to be a macho one, and shared experiences where she has been to various business functions, with her role as a minister and come across “tokenistic women” in some businesses attempts to “please “ her. Mrs Hart added it is the talents of women that are needed within the political sphere, women defiantly bring a different feeling and workings to the way politics is practised within Wales.

The issue of positive discrimination within the Labour Party was rightly mentioned and where Mrs Hart argued that twinning was a start but not good enough. All Women Shortlists (AWS) is a better system but like much can stop being practised, as sometimes members within the party can become complacent and not see through internal policies long term. Women are starting to achieve and win various positions of authority worldwide yet Europe still has a lot to do in order to catch up with the rest of the world.

“Women are obviously interested in issues affecting equality “ being in reference to the pension strikes that were due to take place shortly. Women will be worse off with the proposed changes to pensions, thus it is important to continue the fight and raise awareness of the fact that women are worst off. The proposed cuts on benefits will also mainly affect women, and Mrs Hart added that the public hates unfairness and tend to campaign to try and improve their situation.

Women also have a better scope to deal with issues arising that affect minority groups, Mrs Hart uses Gypsies and travellers and has taken a keen interest and has always aimed to improve their way of life. She further noted that she had acted within her various ministerial roles, in health for example, looked at improving general health as well as access to health facilitates where and when needed.  The massive problem that tends to show it’s head is where the gypsies or travellers tend to stay or reside on a short or long term basis.

Have to say , overall the event was a success and had raised awareness of many important issues facing women in the political world. There is clearly a long way to go, but this blog does forget the hard work already put in and seeing many successes- Wales being one such example.

Well done Sarah Woodvine a fantastic event and congratulations on it’s success

Chris Huhne’s Response to the F.I.T Letter (against cuts) Written by DECC YAP

January 27, 2012 1 comment
Categories: Environment, UK Politics

Women on the Front Bench at Swansea University -Pt 1


Women on the Front Bench at Swansea University

“Women On The Front Bench” was an Event hosted by the Labour Students society at Swansea University. The aim of the night was to listen to women from both Students’ Union/ NUS Wales/ UK alongside 3 Assembly Members.

The full list of speakers included

Rosemary Butler – Presiding Officer at the National Assembly for Wales and AM for Newport West

Edwina Hart – Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science , AM for Gower

Jenny Rathbone – AM for Cardiff Central

Rhiannon Hedge – Swansea Students’ Union Education officer

Eleri Jones – Swansea Students’ Union Womens’ Officer

Stephanie Lloyd- NUS Wales Womens’ Officer

Estelle Hart – NUS UK’s Womens’ Officer

The first Speaker Rosemary Butler praised the fact that Wales has had a consistency of having at least double the amount of women representatives in comparison to the House of Commons in London. The Welsh Assembly as an institution can pride itself on being the first legislature in the world to have equal men to women ratio of representatives (2003- 2007). This sadly is not the case today, Rwanda is the current highest with 53.6% of representatives being female.

Mrs Butler strongly noted the importance of women as representatives, allowing for a different perspective in terms of policy.

“Women are not better than males, just different “

Women are supposedly more focused on children’s and community issues, while men are arguably more likely to focus on trade unions and matters on energy. This she further noted was not the case, women representatives do focus on many other issues and allow different lines of thought to be added to the everyday work of the Assembly’s business.  The fact that Mrs Butler had entered politics due to wanting a bench in a local park in Newport, had ran for council and went from there to where she is now is amazing, more so due to obstacles trying to change attitudes of “men in grey suits”. The National Assembly has to report to UK government of its duties to ensure equality on an annual basis and this allows for better representation or implementation of policy.

Women according to Mrs Butler can scrutinise legislation in a different way compared to their male counterparts. They are also play a vital role in government, where 50% is comprised of women and who have made hard decisions just as males would have had to do.

“Don’t worry about the glass ceiling its the sticky floor you should be worried about”

Mrs Bulter  also stated of schemes in place to encourage more women to become involved in politics, one way of such being a shadowing scheme whereby women can shadow female assembly members to gain experience.