Saturday, 16 May 2015

Time Out !

Take Time Out for Kids !

Children are the most important thing. They are our futures.

And every family should be able to take Time Out to enjoy bringing up their kids.

They should be supported if they want to take some time out from work for a few years to rear their young age 0 - 3.  And once the kids are at school, right up to the teenage years, there should be the possibility to work part time for at least one parent.

The current push to make the school day longer will not suit many kids. The school day is long enough and many kids just need to get home to relax after school.

We need to stop thinking that people who "stay at home" with kids (a misnomer if ever there was one !) are somehow a different species !
Many mothers, and a few fathers, take a few years out when their children are babies and toddlers. This is what many want to do and its great for the kids.  Relaxing in the playpark while playing with friends, running across the grass after toddler group, visiting friends, going shopping, going swimming, picking strawberries at a fruit farm, playing football, going to playgroup.  Now most of these things I have listed are free things to do,  or at least very inexpensive, as parents work together to run toddler groups and playgroups. Its a community effort !  Now surely that is worth valuing.

So lets all realise that Time Out With Kids can be a good thing.  It has been shown to be good for the children's mental health with respect to bonding with their parents, attachment theory etc. and apart from anything else it is good fun. It is what life is about.

I like this piece which was a reading at a funeral I was at recently, of a friend's father who was very much a "family man", it makes me think of how there is a "time to work, a time to spend with your young children, a time to support your older children, a time for your parents, etc." :

There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven:
A time for giving birth, a time for dying; a time for planting, a time for uprooting what has been planted.
A time for killing, a time for healing; a time for knocking down, a time for building.
A time for tears, a time for laughter; a time for mourning, a time for dancing.
A time for throwing stones away, a time for gathering them; a time for embracing, a time to refrain from embracing.
A time for searching, a time for losing; a time for keeping, a time for discarding.
A time for tearing, a time for sewing; a time for keeping silent, a time for speaking.
A time for loving, a time for hating; a time for war, a time for peaceWhat do people gain from the efforts they make?
I contemplate the task that God gives humanity to labour at.
All that he does is apt for its time; but although he has given us an awareness of the passage of time, we can grasp neither the beginning nor the end of what God does.
I know there is no happiness for a human being except in pleasure and enjoyment through life.
And when we eat and drink and find happiness in all our achievements, this is a gift from God

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Plastic Packaging

It is my belief that we could easily have a law which required that companies had to use recycled or re-usable packaging or biodegradable packaging wherever that is possible as an alternative to using plastic which comes from a finite resource on our planet of oil.

Currently I have collected 8 Persil tubs (photo to follow !!) and am about to send them back to Unilever via their FREEPOST address with the suggestion that they could require us to re-fill our (very substantial well made) plastic tubs at the supermarket.  There could easily be a large skip at the supermarket with the liquitabs in it and a dispensing drawer at the bottom which allowed 20 capsules out at a time. This type of machine is available at driving ranges to dispense golf balls, and I am pretty sure it could be designed fairly quickly.  If they want to contact me, even as a non engineer, I am pretty sure I could design it in a day.  It would need to be only for adults to use though as these liquitabs have been mistaken by children for sweets on occasion.

Another area which I allude to in another post, is the current use of plastic packaging for feminine hygiene products, where there is a perfectly good cardboard alternative which will biodegrade and not end up washing up on the beaches half way across the planet. This is Proctor & Gamble who are currently guilty of promoting this.

Why Every Political Party Should Support "Stay at Home Working" Mothers or Fathers as well as "Working" Mothers and Fathers

If you think a about it, Stay At Home Mothers (or Fathers), certainly of small children aged 0-3, should fit in to each Political Party's idealism, along with Working Mothers, who currently fit into the supposed "economic model family" currently being pushed in society.

Here we go :

Green Party

A Stay at Home Mother (or Father) is a Green alternative. Not adding to the materialistic push to own belongings (usually made of the earth's valuable resources). And taking time to appreciate such things as the local park and to get out and about to appreciate the environment. Not adding to the carbon footprint by driving to a nursery etc.


A Stay at Home Mother (or Father) is taking responsiblity for their own children and their upbringing. Standing on their own two feet. Taking time to educate children about society and values. Mums or Dads often volunteer as part of the "Big Society" taking part running playgroups and toddler groups etc.  And if parents do their own childcare then those young workers who are employed on low wages in childcare could get out and train for a better paid job which would bring in more tax return.  The mums or dads can then return to the workforce rejuvenated once their children are a little older.


Labour had the Sure Start centres which seemed like a good idea. A place where mothers and fathers could go to find out more about parenting. By looking after your own children, this is often the first real responsibility many people have had to care for another human being. But we need to care for families and those who have family responsibility so that they are supported in this vital role for society. Being a parent of a young child gives you a chance to get out and meet people and mix with others. You can learn new skills and take this chance to learn about parenting etc. Labour should be ensuring that every mother has the option to take a few years out with their children and not just those who have saved beforehand or who have a partner working. And Labour should prioritise a review of family budgeting and finance to find out why so many families are currently visiting Food Banks.


The Liberal Democrats are famous for being "Liberal" - what does that mean exactly ? Well the definition in the Oxford dictionary should mean that Stay at Home Mothers are definitely on the agenda !
1   Willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one's own, open to new ideas
2 (of education) concerned with broadening a person's general knowledge and experience, rather than with technical or professional training.


See above - or are you just here to add some colour to the political party spectrum !!

So overall I would suggest we need a major review of Family Policy as this new Parliament of 2015 starts out.  We need to review taxation and benefits.  Obviously benefits must have limits, there is not enough money to go round to support everything, but we need to think what is it we want from and for families if our society is to improve.  We also need to look at the school years and work out how to improve our education system and set higher standards for our teenagers. And we need to review such things as internet access, pornography etc. and how this is affecting all of our children, whether they are directly viewing these things or being affected indirectly.  And.... as well as young children, we should look at how society is treating our older family members and also how this impacts on wider families as well. There is a big difference between having a grandparent who needs help, whether a small amount or large amount to having either no grandparent around or having a very active and involved grandparent who is lucky enough to have retained all physical abillity. And in fact the age range of grandparents that I know varies from 40 right up to about 80 - now that is going to make a lot of difference in a family.

So let us all call on our Political Representatives to make the case for ALL  WOMEN, MEN and FAMILIES !!

Friday, 8 May 2015

History of Scotland Independence Voting - Lukewarm to say the least!

I can remember the Scottish Assembly referendum in 1979 under James Callaghan's Labour government. I was still at school but I can remember we had an SNP sticker on our car !
To win the vote for a Scottish Assembly  :
  • 50% of votes cast had to vote in favour AND at least 40% of the electorate had to vote in favour. 
Although 51.6% voted in favour, this was only 32.9% of the electorate (due to a low turnout) so the Scottish Assembly was not brought into being.
SNP MPs then put down a motion of no confidence. And then with Leader of the Opposition, Margaret Thatcher and LibDems supporting, an Opposition motion was put down and the debate was scheduled for Wednesday, 28 March 1979.  The motion moved by Margaret Thatcher MP was :
  • "That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government".
Callaghan critisised the SNP, who supported independence for Scotland, for voting with the Conservative Party who opposed devolution. The Scottish National Party were to lose all but two of their seats in the election following the no confidence vote and the predominantly anti-devolution Conservative Party won the 1979 United Kingdom general election.:The following is a quote from James Callaghan :
"We can truly say that once the Leader of the Opposition discovered what the Liberals and the SNP would do, she found the courage of their convictions. So, tonight, the Conservative Party, which wants the Act repealed and opposes even devolution, will march through the Lobby with the SNP, which wants independence for Scotland, and with the Liberals, who want to keep the Act. What a massive display of unsullied principle! The minority parties have walked into a trap. If they win, there will be a general election. I am told that the current joke going around the House is that it is the first time in recorded history that turkeys have been known to vote for an early Christmas."
The Campaign for a Scottish Assembly was formed afterwards to continue the campaign.

There was then the following vote, on September 11th 1997 and I was living in Perth and can remember voting at the local school. I remember voting for the Parliament but against the tax varying powers. (from the results it looks like about 200,000 agreed with me (astute people !!) :
The result was as follows :

I agree that there should be a Scottish Parliament.              1,775,045 74.3%
I do not agree that there should be a Scottish Parliament.            614,400 25.7%

I agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers. ,512,889 63.5%
I do not agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers. 870,263 36.5%

So a more resounding result but again it was only based on a 60.43 % turnout so not great for such an important issue.

In 1999 the Scottish Parliament was formed and Donald Dewar (The new Scottish Parliament building finally opened in 2004)
of the Labour party was our first First Minster. It was a proud moment for Scotland as they marched up the Royal Mile from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to the Court of Session building. (Ref:

And then in 2014 we had the important Scottish Independence Referendum, agreed to by David Cameron.
This was a large turnout of 84.6 % and a very close result.
  • Yes   1,617,989    No  2,001,926
Now some people afterwards claimed that "The Vow" - an assurance made by a group of Labour LibDem and Conservative MPs assuring more powers to Scotland was what swayed the vote to a NO at the last minute. But surveys since have shown that was only the reason for a very small percentage (3.4%) of the voters. (Ref:

So....what I want to know is why do we now seem to heading towards Independence ?  There has never been a vote in favour. The first vote was 32.9% of the electorate in 1979 and in 2014 we had 45% of the electorate.

Yet now in the 2015 General Election, David Cameron has used scaremongering tactics and politics of fear tactics to frame the SNP as something to fear. And this tactic has led to him being elected to "protect" the English electorate in some way.  And we could well see a beginning of very extremist/ divisive politics that is not wanted by at least 50% of those in Scotland. At this 2015 election it was again 50/50.

So where do we go from here. Half the electorate in Scotland are consumed by a feverish evangelical vision of the future while the other half do not necessarily share this vision - perhaps having analysed the figures and maybe raising some questions e.g. why are college places cutback etc.  But these people dare not admit their view as they will be "shouted down" by family members/work colleagues/friends. Some retain a quiet British-ness. Not the triumphalist flag waving or flag-wearing type. But the quiet type where you might not even admit it to yourself but just accept that this is how we have lived together and shared a history for the last 200 years - and its not been too bad really......

The "Middle" needs a voice in politics or we will never see sense in the UK

The UK has been ruled for my whole life by extremes. We have swayed between :

  • left wing governments who were profligate with spending and had little understanding of the private sector 
and .....
  • right wing governments who had little understanding of caring roles or of valuing the NHS
But.... the problem is   THE MIDDLE GROUND DOESN'T HAVE A VOICE !!!

Because we have a constituency based voting system for the UK Parliament, where areas are either well off areas with perhaps some less well off or poorer areas with perhaps some slightly better off areas .... but overall the "middle" vote is spread country wide, while the Conservative, right wing vote is focussed in affluent areas and the left wing Labour (or SNP if in Scotland) vote is focussed in other areas.

So the result for the General Election 2015 shows that from 36.9 % of the vote, the Conservatives have over 300 seats.

If we portray this graphically :

And then if we add in the Number of Seats each party got, the discrepancy in our voting system shows up.  

But its only when you look at how % of vote translate into % of seats held in House of Commons that you realise how great the discrepancy is. (this graph exludes votes for "Others" eg DUP/Plaid Cymru):

As a frequent Lib Dem supporter I am used to this ! Often 30% of the vote lead to hardly any seats.

And were you aware that big names like Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher often had only small percentages of the vote. Rarely a majority of the "popular vote" across the UK.

So if you want to change this lets work towards it. The electoral Reform Society works to improve things. We have Proportional Representation in the Scottish parliament and it works reasonably well. Certainly better than the Westminster System.  Because just think for example, how many more would have voted Green if they had had the remote chance of getting in in many constituencies. Proportional Representation means "YOUR VOTE COUNTS" and you can vote for the Party you REALLY BELIEVE IN !

And ... perhaps we can have a re-run of the 2011 vote on Electoral voting system reform. I personally do not remember this vote. And it was based on a low turnout and I suspect people just did not understand the issues. Or if you were a Labour or Conservative you understood it all too well and voted to protect your situation where you receive an unfair number of seats for your percent of the vote. But is that really a healthy situation ? No! Because it does not reflect the electorate. And parliament will only work if everyone has a say in it. The situation now in Scotland at General Election 2015 means that 50% of the vote has taken almost a clean sweep of the seats. Now that is not a healthy situation.
(Ref: 2011 voting system vote : and what we voted about ::

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Gatekeepers of the Female Voice

It seems to me during this General Election 2015 that yes the political parties and also the media are now very much out of touch with the reality of the lives that ordinary people are pursuing.

With regards to Women's Issues there seems to me to be even more of a gulf.

Media Women control the "voice" of women on Radio and TV and in newspapers.
They are probably strong, strident and educated women. Well done to them etc. But they have also been successful as they have risen to the top if they are working in National TV or for a National newspaper.  Now, not everyone has their ambition or even wants to be that successful, but are they even able to represent the rest of us ? They may not have had to deal with failure - e.g. failure to pass an exam, failure to get that dream job you applied to, failure to be able to live in the town you grew up in or near your family.

And if working in media, then the nature of the job is such that they will probably have had to use nursery or childcare, if working 9-5 or maybe use a nanny if working unsociable hours. So already they have moved into quite an exclusive league.

Those of us who either stopped working or aimed for part time work or started a small business so we could work from home when our kids were young are just not in their league. And then there are the people who have failed to find employment ever - they struggle with young families. Can these media people really understand where these people are coming from ?  Now I am sure many do try, but my concern is that from their privileged position, they are able to push their own agendas. I mean who wouldn't be able to resist pushing your own ideas in the same situation ?  So we seem to have a very liberal left wing / "equality" (at paid "work" !!) agenda being pushed- its alien to me, not something I ever discussed during my years doing a science degree or working as a teacher or in a University Hospital department. And then afterwards mixing with mothers and some fathers at toddler groups / school gate etc.

So we have the media types, Womans Hour is an example, who I feel push their own agenda with the occasional token person with a differing point of view.

And now we have politicians. Our local politician proudly proclaims her grandmother is helping out with childcare while she is out at political meetings etc locally. But again if a young woman with a family has decided she can work with the long hours at Westminster then she must be using childcare or have a husband at home. But how well can they represent us ordinary women ?  And again these women tend to be confident, educated, strident, articulate people.

But in the whole debate now the one woman who is no longer approved of is a Mum who decides to take some time out and rear their own kids.  Now why is it that this is no longer approved of ? Surely if we had equality then this choice would be accepted and valued ? And subsidised / paid for ? Just as the role is subsidised or paid for if it is done by someone else ?

True equality is only going to be reached when Mums are accepted into our society.

And I know in a few cases a Dad will prefer to take on this role.

But the thing that I think would help everyone, working Mums and Dads included and even people without kids who may have even elderly relatives etc to care for is the following :

We need more options to work :
  • Part Time
  • Term Time
  • The Hours that a job requires
  • Flexibility
This will lead to more satisfied, content employees and will ultimately lead to less stress in the workplace and at home.

Many many jobs really do not need to be full time. Fine if that is what someone wants to do, but so many times there are busy weeks and quiet weeks. Why not trust your employees to register the hours they actually require. And many jobs could be 9.30 - 2.30 which would be ideal for school hours.

So we need to re-focus on getting more part time jobs and also stop the focus on young children staying at school 8 - 6 to accommodate the parents !!
I mean maybe if these Media Types and Politicians had hated school like the rest of us then they wouldn't be subjecting our young children to this !!

Why Are Mums the only Ones Not Paid ?

Currently childcare subsidies go to just about everyone who cares for kids EXCEPT for the mums !!
There is an illogical-ness in this situation !

We have the bizarre situation where the only person who can't be funded to raise their own children is a mother (or father).  Now  we should be getting annoyed about this. We should be standing up for ourselves as we deserve this as we have often had to stop working / given up a salary in order to raise our own kids.

And it is good fun - and its good for the kids too !

We used to go to swimming lessons / playpark / toddler group etc. or even just taking time to go to the shops etc. Its all time with your Mum and on a 1 to 1 or 1 to 2 basis so great for language development and for you to learn to share a bond with your kids with no pressure. So I would recommend it.

If its really not for you then by all means employ the best help but funds should be paying for all options.

If we value our future kids then we should value and recompense those caring for them.