The Tories, the Houses of Parliament and No sauce (I promise!)

So, unless you were sitting under a rock, you probably heard in June that the people of the UK voted in a Conservative Government. Despite what Test Tube, and the BBC say, it wasn’t by much.

To truly understand how narrowly they won, you need to understand how our government system works. So, in under two thousand words, I shall give you a brief précis of it all.

In the UK, laws are petitioned, drafted, discussed in the House of Commons, drafted again and then finally submitted to the House of Lords and the monarch. Currently that’s Elizabeth the Second, or Liz 2, as I nickname her.

Wait.. There are two Parliaments?

No, not exactly. The House of Commons is made up of publicly-elected officials, and there are six hundred and fifty of them. Each one of them represents their local area, or constituency, and some pull double-duty by taking up more responsibility. We call the ones that do “The Cabinet”. This form of hierarchy was created by Prime Minister David Lloyd George in 1916, during World War 1. By and large, the cabinet ministers are friends and agree mostly with both the politics of their party and the personal politics of the Prime Minister.

Okay, this is getting confusing. How many parties are there?

Hundreds of parties, representing a broad scale of personal politics, from Communism to Fascism.

So who are the House Of Lords?

Well, this is where things start to smell of inequality, but it really is the tip of the iceberg of what is wrong with our government. Once a bill gets submitted to these guys, they decide whether it should go through and pass as law.

These guys are not elected into the House of Lords, they are appointed (often by political parties). They divide into three distinct categories.

  • The twenty-six most senior clergy in the UK from the Church of England. These guys are called the Lords Spiritual.
  • There are 90 hereditary peers of the realm. These guys had family in the House Of Lords. There used to be a lot more, but inheriting higher status has become somewhat unfashionable in more developed times.
  • Then there are the ones appointed due to their jobs and/or what they have done. Notable examples include Doreen Lawrence, who brought about a change in the way the police in London viewed cases of racism, and former Commons politician, Neil Kinnock.

This doesn’t seem democratic. I thought Britain was a democracy?

Well, in a certain sense it is. It happens to be a very rare occurrence that the House of Lords vetoes something, but they did waver over a few controversial issues in the past few years. Good examples include the decision to aid the USA in their invasion of Iraq in 2004, and more recently, the decision to legalise same-sex marriage in the UK.

You said a few paragraphs above that this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to flaws in your system. What are the others?

Firstly, and most importantly, we have a political ruling class in this country. To put it simply for you, there is a part of society, richer than anybody else, who are elected to Parliament on most occasions.

That doesn’t seem fair!

It isn’t. Nor has it been since before World War 2. We’ve had hopes and dreams about someone from a less well-off background becoming Prime Minister, and the closest we’ve had so far is current Labour Party politician, Jeremy Corbyn.

Okay, so what does this have to do with the Tories? And who are the Tories?

The word “Tory” derives from a political slang term for The Conservative Party, who won the General Election of 2015 with a very narrow 329 MPs. This is one of the smallest majority parties in UK history. Their party leader is a man called David Cameron.

Wait, the English guy with the chin who keeps hanging around with Barack Obama?

Yes, him. His party aren’t exactly a progressive political society, unfortunately. They may have got voted in more times than any other political party, but they do what their name implies- Conserve. Considering the mess that the UK is in, keeping things the same may not be such a good idea.

What’s the problem with them?

Well, Mr Cameron et al are all from this ruling class, and haven’t really got much of a clue of what goes on outside of London. (Actually, they’re pretty clued up on Scotland these days, after their bid to leave the UK). They certainly haven’t got a clue about what it’s like to live on the minimum wage in the UK (which is among the lowest in Europe). They’ve never had to experience it, as they have grown up in rich families.

So why are you peeved?

The Government that we have just had before was a Coalition between a middle-of-the-road party called the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. They got a country in a fairly large amount of debt, and squeezed public spending. However, as any person who does business will tell you, to make money, you have to spend some. By ignoring this, the last government raised the national debt up 50%. The larger party caused this to happen, and the party in question were the Conservatives.

That seems dumb, but not THAT bad…

The worst thing about the last five years is that the cuts have mainly targeted those most vulnerable. The young, the elderly, the disabled, the LGBT community, the unemployed, and people of colour. Whether it was meant to is a different matter, but over 80 people have killed themselves due to the stress it has caused them in the last 5 years.

Damn

Yeah, the United Nations are now investigating our government for “possible Human Rights violations”.

So, I’m an American, what can I do?

Well, what happens over the pond tends to ripple to us. Perhaps not vote in Donald Trump?

My family member/friend is British, what can they do next time?

Provided Jeremy Corbyn becomes the Labour Party’s leader, vote Labour at every opportunity. Failing that, vote anybody but the Conservatives. (Due to the Iraq War, a lot of people stopped voting Labour, as Tony Blair was a Labour Prime Minister).

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Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism and Awesome Dreams

I would like to dedicate this post to Alix Generous, creator of Podium and one of my heroes.

For information on Podium, something I have to use- check out podium by clicking on the highlighted word or type the following into your browser. I use Opera, so I can assure you, this website supports most internet browsers:  http://www.autismsees.com

I grew up in the knowledge that I was fairly unique. I couldn’t tie my shoelaces at the age of eleven, but I could give you a degree-quality lecture on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings. I couldn’t speak in front of anyone I didn’t know at 13, but I often waxed lyrical about the genius of the works of Isaac Asimov, and why the film I, Robot is the worst sci-fi film in history (I’ll be fair on these guys, After Earth hadn’t yet been made). It’s fair to say that there are many subtle social complexities that I am yet to grasp and as such, I am often the odd one out in social situations. I don’t look you in the eye unless I trust you, and as such, I often take to wearing sunglasses to shield my eyes. It genuinely freaks me out, and I hate being looked in the eye. You can imagine how weird this makes me look in the winter! I struggle to find the words I want to say when speaking, but can find every word under the sun when typing. My ability to tell completely tasteless jokes in the wrong situations has become nigh-on legendary amongst my friends, and a few of them have made me a butt of their jokes as a result. I don’t mind, once the joke is explained to me. Yet to a camera, over a phone or behind a keyboard, I can make brilliant speeches.

The reason for this is simple. I have Asperger’s Syndrome. If you’re thinking you’ve heard of it before, you’re right. Never more in human history has this been more prominent in western society. It’s been noticed that some of the most intelligent people in history have either had this disorder, or demonstrated signs of it. From Confucius (Kun-ftze) to Leonardo Da Vinci, from Nikola Tesla to Mark Zuckerberg, it seems that everyone has it. But what does it mean to me?

Well, I have a rather unique ability. I have hyper-focus on things. It’s like being a mix between Eddie in Limitless after he takes the pill combined with Benedict Cumberbatch’s interpretation of Sherlock Holmes. Often, this hyper-focus can last many months: My fixation on Doctor Who and all of the mythology and background has lasted longer than most celebrity marriages!

I can also lucid-dream at will. In my mind, I can go to a planet which is just a library, where I can read any book ever written or will be written. I soar over mountains, I get to be Spider-Man in a major Hollywood blockbuster, I drive the fastest car ever built, I travel through time as The Doctor. I often prefer this reality to the dystopic one I live in when I check up on the news. In fact, I prefer this world that is exclusively my own. My mind never stops. Seriously, I suffer lengthy bouts of insomnia, often to the point where I can spend weeks on end with seven hours of sleep.

What can’t I do?

Well, job interviews terrify me. I shrink to the spot, unable to speak or even move. I actually had to be helped out of one due to a panic attack that I suffered during a job interview in York. I really don’t enjoy them, if you haven’t got the gist already.

…Or they did, until an app and support network called podium, not to forget the National Autistic Society UK helped me channel my nerves and focus my mind not on fantasy and things that excite me, but on passing the interview with flying colours.

Unfortunately, many Aspies around the globe do not get this kind of support. They don’t get counselling, they don’t get friends supporting them, and they certainly don’t know of a phone number for which they can ring when they struggle. They get used for their gifts (not every Aspie has my gifts, many have other wonderful talents), their intelligence, or just to be made fun of. It’s sickening to me.

There are people around the world who are unaware they even have it. This may surprise you, but American film director, Tim Burton had no idea that he had Asperger’s. It was his wife, Helena Bonham Carter, who first suggested that he might have it.

We are often viewed as weirdos, idiots, and imbeciles, which further isolates us from society. For anyone who has studied the history of Autism and Autistic Spectrum Disorders, this is nothing new. Countless people, certainly in British history, were locked in Asylums and Mental Institutes for the insane because people had no idea who had Autism is or was.

Now, if you haven’t checked me out on Facebook, I suggest that you do. The website is http://www.facebook.com/freepalestinedavey

The reason I have even mentioned my profile (go ahead and have a look, I don’t mind), is that I get asked a lot of questions from people I don’t even know. However, quite recently, a stranger asked me if I had a dream. I do. I have a dream simiar to that of others who see or understand the issue. I dream of a day where people like me have less blocks and are on an equal footing to that of people without any Autistic Spectrum Disorder. My dream is where I can walk into a group of people and not be called “weird” or “retard”.

If you know somebody with Asperger’s, treat them as you would anyone else in civilised society- as they would like to be treated. They may have a quirk or a few of them (mine include an eidetic memory and a major breadth of knowledge of literature ranging from Geoffrey Chaucer to J.K. Rowling). But, truth be told, we all have our little quirks. All people like me need is acceptance.

Thank you for reading. Please donate to either the National Autistic Society UK, or the Autism Research Institute.

http://www.autism.com

http://www.autism.org.uk

Notes on the big country- The USA Part One

So, for background-

I moved to Texas in the United States of America and lived there for 6 months in 2000. I was 10 years old at the time.

Can I let you in on something? Something I find absolutely hilarious?

The first time that our new neighbours came to visit, they drove. They genuinely got into their Chevy and drove the fifty metres to our house to say hello and welcome us to the neighbourhood. They were nice people, don’t get me wrong, but the fact that they burned up fossil fuels to travel a short walking distance made us realise that we were in not just another country, but in another world.

The people were nice, don’t get me wrong. Texans are the most welcoming people I have ever met. They never like to see somebody hungry, and they are very relaxed people who have a mañana attitude most of the time. They just happen to have massive portion sizes. I have since visited the USA and let me tell you, even when compared to other states (I’ve visited New York, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida and California), the portion sizes are huge. What we’d call a large burger in the UK is what Texans would define as small! Well, to be fair, for the most time, this is true. Austin however, seem to worry more about their arteries and general health. Plus, their attitude towards keeping fit is better than it is in most places that I’ve visited in the USA. I unfortunately, spent most of my time in Houston.

Please don’t misunderstand me here. Houston has a brilliant mixing pot of cultures, and if you’ve never been there, I highly recommend you take a trip. Their food is awesome (if not GIGANTIC), the people are lovely (albeit mainly conservative Christian), and it never seems to be cloudy over there, just very hot.

I digress… getting a little off-topic here.

The one thing people had to get used to over there was my walking to and from school. Now the school I went to over there was less than a mile’s walk away from where we resided, but the first day, second, and pretty much every day of the school “semester” (funny word for term) people offered me a lift to school.

By far the funniest experience we had over there in regards to cultural difference had to be going to a cinema. For legal reasons, I shan’t mention which one, as I fear the person involved may still work there, and she turned out all right in the end.

We’d gone to watch a film (I can’t remember which one, due to the sheer hilarity of this event), had popcorn and everything. It was just between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it was about 25 degrees Celsius. The sun was shining, and the locals were wrapped up in coats and scarves. Overall, the day was a lovely one for anybody British in Houston.

On our way out of the Cinema (what was generally referred to as a Movie Theatre- I don’t know why when Houston ha got a theatre district that rivals Broadway), we cheerily waved at the person behind the ticket counter. Her eyes, normally small, went wide open. To this day, I have never seen somebody jump out of a booth as quickly as this twenty-something did. It was only eclipsed by the following exchange.

“Wow, don’t you have coats for those children, sir? It’s freezing cold outside! Oh, for god’s sake!” (She takes off her work fleece and wraps my little sister in it)

Before any of us could answer and explain that we came from England, and for us, this was a heatwave, she carried on.

“You ought to be ashamed of yourselves! You have come to the movies in the middle of winter and not one of you is wearing a coat! Well, it’s all right for you (gesturing at my father, who was a big man, even by Houston’s standards), but what about the children! The tall one on the crutches (I have Cerebral Palsy, and needed to use crutches for most of my childhood) is so skinny! How on earth is he supposed to keep warm in shorts and T-shirts! Right, that’s it! I’m getting the manager!”

Reflecting on this, it has to be said that the woman had her heart in the right place, and we were grateful that she didn’t call the police, but it was still a stupidly over-the-top reaction for us Brits.

My father, who wasn’t exactly the master of diplomacy, held his hands up to get her attention, and politely explained about our nationality and the heat. For me, it was sweltering hot anyway. The woman, as soon as she’d heard our accents, became incredibly apologetic, and we became good friends for the rest of our stay. I still laugh about it, even today.

This is the end of part one, of which there will be several parts published in the oncoming weeks. I hope you found this as funny as we did.

Welcome to my blog!

Hello all!

So, after a long period of basically writing but not uploading, it’s finally time I started the uploading bit, so this post is basically explaining who I am and what I will be typing about twice a week. I’m a British twentysomething living in Liverpool, but have spent time in different countries, including the USA, France, and Spain.

My politics are convoluted: I take generally left leanings, but lean to the right when it comes to things like the military issues we have here in the UK.

So: let me clear things up for you. I am British, the British Isles contain England, Scotland, Wales And Ireland. I live in the United Kingdom Of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (this is often referred to by people as the UK or Britain). I live in Liverpool, in the North-West of England.

I don’t stand, condone or even tolerate Racism, Homophobia, Sexism or LGBT Phobia at all. You will find yourself at the receiving end of a very sharp response that you are guaranteed not to like if you do post something remotely discriminatory.

I am very friendly though, don’t get me wrong. And if you fancy checking out my Facebook, it’s http://www.facebook.com/freepalestinedavey