Tuesday 17 September 2019

Well Being Economics: First Reflections on Jo's FIrst Leader's Speech #JoSwinson #LDConf

The key thing that made me jump out of my seat during Jo Swinson's leader's speech was when she questioned why we measure the state of our country by GDP (Gross Domestic Product). It took me back to one of my first Economics tutorials  a little over 30 years ago.

In that tutorial the tutor said that economics was basically powered by everyone getting out of it what is best for themselves. I questioned that said what about those who were concerned about giving others a fair chance, cared about the environment etc. It will probably not therefore surprise you to know that in my elective courses in my second and third year I focused on Environmental and Developmental Economics along with my third choice European. The fact that after the second year and carried all three on deeper shows you that I have been tuned into this for over 30 years.

As Jo said with the level of well being for our planet and indeed everyone in our society we need to act now. We are in a climate emergency, we need urgent action. We have a President in the White House and another in Brazil who seem to not see the importance and actually don't want others to see this either. But the facts have been there for years and looking at some of my Environmental Economics books from 30 years ago even the predictions then are way sort of the disaster we are in now. 

However, as Jo points out if we have any Brexit, especially if we have a no deal Brexit we will be furiously kicking under the flood waters to keep ourselves afloat without the time, energy or resources to be able to deal with such big issues. We'll be in survival mode, like those developing countries I learnt about 30 years ago, who said they had to follow our path to development burning fossil fuels, massive factories, chopping down their forests. This was because we refused to share with them the benefits their resources had given us in colonial times and they now felt left behind. But that will be the Britain post-Brexit. 

We need to deal with things in the round, in conversation and coalition with other nations to deal with these issues, not heading to isolation behind the hulking, shulking Boris running from people who think differently from him.

We need to act. We need to demand better. We need to do it now.

Thursday 5 September 2019

Stigmatising HIV and Hepatitis isn't an Ecumenical Issue...or even a Health Issue

The resignations of my friends Jennie Rigg and Sarah Brown resigned from the Liberal Democrats over the joyful acceptance of Philip Lee into the party it gave me pause for reflection.

It wasn't that long ago that another "health issue" caused a lot of hurt here in Northern Ireland when Iris Robinson mentioned that her friendly psychiatrist could cure Northern Ireland of Sodomy it seemed. Quite rightly the Liberal Democrats were up in arms about those comments.

However, when someone's views in the past that we should stop people coming to this country who have HIV or Hepatitis, some of those same people brush it under the carpet as a health issue. Then reject the anger and hurt that is felt by LGBT+ activists and campaigners. You see many of us who are LGBT+ have been told to our faces that we have a health issue. Usually as with Iris Robinson this is referring to our mental health. People have told us there is a cure, some of us even have tried the so called "cure" so know even more how much this hurts.

Refusing people entry to this country because they have HIV or Hepatitis is a mixture of Homophobia and Xenophobia. It is based on ignorance like in the 1980s that these are just gay diseases. It ignores the many millions from Sub Sahara Africa who have been infected by their partners or parents. It legitimises a certain amount of asylum refusal, in much the same way that many LBGT+ asylum seekers have been turned away by the Border Force for not being stereotypically "gay" enough to warrant asylum.

CIS, straight people telling LGBT+ people that they shouldn't be offended. That our lose would be unfortunate is stirring a pot that should not be stirred. We can feel this oppression because we still face it ourselves. We are still anxious about public signs of affection in areas we don't know well. We have faced the name calling, we have faced the accusing looks, the ignorance, the hatred.

Unlike from Father Ted this isn't so much an Ecumenical Issue. We are a party that believes nobody should be enslaved by conformity.

When you base you standards of conformity of misguided health guidelines; without realising the fact about undetectable viral loads or the health nightmare that some of the poorest in this world face, you are not allowing everyone to achieve the best that they can be. If you do are you truly Liberal.