Category Archives: politics

Gaza – A Letter to my MP

Dear Mr Morris,

It should go without saying, but it nevertheless needs to be said, that I have no doubt that we both abhor and condemn the recent killing of Israeli Jewish civilians by Hamas. Such acts can never be justified.

However, there is more that must be said. It has become clear that the responses by the State of Israel, to those atrocities, and following the awful logic of 75 years of oppression of the Palestinian people, are the war crimes of collective punishment, ethnic cleansing, and now attempted genocide. The Israeli military are indiscriminately bombing civilians, targeting hospitals, attacking convoys of those fleeing the violence, and slaughtering generations of families in their homes. The State of Israel has cut off food, water and electricity supplies to over 2 million people, who are trapped, with nowhere to go. The answer to one atrocity must never be another.

History will always judge those who were present at such moments. Did they speak out, did they cheer it on, or did they enable it through their silence? The phrase ‘right to self-defence’, for whatever meaning it may once have carried, is now an empty evasion in the face of what we can see with our own eyes playing out in Gaza. Indeed, the Israeli government has made it abundantly clear what their intentions are, and I see no reason to disbelieve them. Do you?

The responsibility to speak out against the crimes being committed falls particularly on our politicians, and most particularly on those in the party of government. You, as a Conservative MP, have more opportunity to influence government policy than most of us. To speak out is not to be a ‘friend of terrorists’. It is not antisemitic. It is decent, common humanity. To not speak out is to be complicit.

Yours sincerely

Phil Chandler

A Letter to My Father

Obviously I know that you’re planning to vote Conservative on June 8th, because you always have. Thinking back to our Tory MP from my youth I can understand why. He turned down every offer of a government post to remain a back bencher, he proudly displayed on his election leaflets the number of times he had voted against his party when he thought it in the interests of his constituency, and I remember him telling me as a young teenager while showing me around the Houses of Parliament, about his unease at the recent Conservative landslide victory as it would mean that the party leadership would feel able to ignore the dissenting voices. He was right.

However, times have changed and these are no longer your people. Let us be frank; in the years to come the support of the NHS and the quality of social care are going to be of keen interest. If May is returned on June 8th with a working majority the challenges you faced with the care provision for your mother-in-law will be nothing compared to the hardships others will face. It is worth listening to the voices of those who actually work on the front line, like here for example:

The NHS is in crisis not because this is inevitable but because to properly fund it would reduce the opportunity for the most wealthy in this country (and other countries) to further increase their share. Now I look back I can see that we probably were not very well off while we were growing up, but I can honestly say that the thought never occurred to me at the time. Much was down to how well we were cared for by you and Mum, but partly it was because we were living through one of the most equal periods of this country’s history and there were no worries about such things as paying for education and health care.

We are one of those families where mine was the first generation to go to university, largely because for the first time all that mattered was whether I got the necessary grades. A country that understood the value of equal opportunity meant that I could go without the fear of crippling debt. Your granddaughters are not going to have that opportunity unless Corbyn is Prime Minister on June 9th. What is more, the present regime is looking to sell off the student loans to private investors who will of course be seeking to maximise their returns. This is the future the young people of this country face.

Conservative is just a name, it is the policies that matter. Many of the policies that Labour and the Greens are promising are fundamental things that were accepted by the Tories of the 50s, 60s and 70s as plain decency and common sense. In the last forty years it is the political spectrum that has shifted to the right, and what was once common ground is now labeled as dangerous extremism by those who stand to lose the most, financially, if the rest of us should win our fair share back.

May, like most Prime Ministers, loves to play the patriotic card. Well, let’s just remember that the last time Europe took a sharp turn to the right it was Britain that was one of the main bulwarks that stood in its way, and it was the Labour movement that was the mainstay of that resistance. It was they that broke the power of the British Fascists when they stopped them marching through the East End of London to intimidate their targets of hate. It is tolerance and solidarity, not division that is at the heart of British identity.

Perhaps it is Corbyn you are worried about, but has all that you think you know about him been given to you by the Daily Mail, that open, poisonous wound in our body politic? To be free is, at least in part, to think for ourselves. Just take the time to listen to some of his speeches and interviews. Probably May’s biggest mistake in calling this election is making it possible for people to actually see and hear the man himself, rather than the caricature our corporate press serve up. Listen to Caroline Lucas, who if Labour don’t get a majority will no doubt be an influential person in any alliance. These are good people who want to make this country a kinder place, and have very realistic policies to do that. The only cost is making the very wealthy less so.

Conservative, Labour, Green, these are all just names, but the policies of the last two would give my and your granddaughters’ generations hope for a better life. We must all vote with our consciences and our better natures on June 8th but please don’t just vote for a name.

With love and respect.


A Question of Proportion

I have just returned from a visit to Cuadrilla’s fracking site on Preston New Road, near Blackpool.  The event was for local councillors, or potential councillors to gain an impression of the scale of the work being undertaken.  The trip was very well organised by @teamfrackfree with a double decker bus laid on so that we could have a clear view of the site as we drove slowly up the road.

One of the things that was mentioned a number of times was that the ‘pad’ being constructed was one of the largest in the world.  Perhaps it comes from living more or less in the shadow of two nuclear power stations, but it wasn’t the size of the site itself that I found disturbing, but the scale of the police presence, both physically and psychologically.

It was clear from the moment I stepped out the car at Maple Farm nursery that all protesters’ activities are being closely monitored.  Within minutes one police officer had turned up to ask questions about the bus runs, police vehicles were passing by every few minutes and as soon as the bus arrived another officer appeared to speak to the driver.

At the site there is a heavy police presence, with at the time three police vans and a couple of police cars.  This was in response to about half a dozen protesters.  After I had completed my visit, and as I was waiting to pull out of the nursery car park I saw a number of vehicles coming slowly down the road towards the site.  As I passed them I realised it was a convoy, led by a police car and a police van, comprising about five trucks that appeared to be carrying something like quarried stone, and followed by another police van and two more police cars.  The level of protection seemed more in line with a nuclear fuel convoy than several truck loads of hardcore.

The effect of such a such a heavy presence is obviously meant to be intimidating and it is.  Perhaps most telling were the words of one local parish councillor who reported that she was the only member of her council who had agreed to come on the visit, with other members raising concerns about getting caught up in some kind of political action or conflict with the police. Those concerns were completely unfounded but the fact that democratically elected representatives were deterred from viewing the site from a public carriageway speaks volumes.

I assume that the cost of such extensive policing is being funded by Cuadrilla, and of course ultimately by British Gas, who I learned are bankrolling them to the tune of many millions.  But then if you carry out business that is in direct opposition to the people who live close by and against the decision of the democratically elected local authorities I guess you must feel somewhat insecure.