Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Taking choice from Parents

I'm slightly concerned at the Government's proposals to force lone parents back to work and off benefits when their youngest child reaches the age of 12. Yet again the value of raising children goes unrecognised. I know of a fair few parents who worked when their children were small but gave up when they were teenagers because they needed a parent around for all sorts of reasons. Adolescence can be scary and difficult and having a loving parent around when you need them can make the difference between a damaged adult and an effective contributor to society.

It's not the principle of working parents I object to - I'm one myself and I know that if my mum hadn't gone back to work, one of us would not be alive today to tell the tale. It's more the idea of compulsion. Parents know their own children's needs best, and it's the taking away of that choice to do what they consider best to meet those needs that I think is wrong.

Actually it's not just lone parents who have that choice taken from them. Many families can't afford to live without two incomes with the lack of affordable housing and rising energy costs.

I'm not impressed by the argument that all we have to do is provide childcare. The reason we are usually born one or two at a time is because we need a fair bit of nurturing in our early days, preferably from a small number of people. I would always recommend a book called "Why Love Matters. How affection shapes a baby's brain", by Sue Gerhardt for a comprehensive illustration of why responsive, individual care is required for optimum brain development. Put simply, take a baby out if its comfort zone, away from a parent, and you risk flooding the brain with cortisol and interfering with the development of the part of the brain that deals with social skills.

For older children I worry about the move to have schools open from 8 until 6. The school day can be quite onerous and many children need some quiet time and space after school just to rest or play. The noisy environment of an after school club can be quite stressful for them.

I think we need to find more flexible methods of working and supporting parents to be with their children if they want to do that, not invest massive amounts of money solely in keeping parents and children apart.

Of course, working is much more stressful if you are a lone parent. You don't always have anyone else to take care of the children if they are ill. You can be totally lost if your shifts are changed or you are expected to work extra hours and employers are not always understanding about time off for family responsibilities. I wonder if the Government has actually thought about what it is actually like for real people to have to do this. Somehow I doubt it.

Imitation is...........

Can I recommend that you take a look at this brand new blog - you may need sunglasses as it's a bit loud. I was quite struck by the title........

I'm quite flattered really.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Doctor Who Heaven

I would have thought that I would have been in the deepest of disgrace after my behaviour outlined in the previous post, but I was delighted when my poor long suffering husband came back from shopping yesterday with Season 2 of Doctor Who on DVD for me.

I missed a few episodes due to the Moray by-election so am looking forward to catching up. I loved Doctor Who as a child and totally fell in love with Tom Baker when I was about 6. I am also one of the few who thought Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred made a fab combination. Having met both of them several times at various conventions, they are great fun. My most bizarre convention moment was seeing Elisabeth Sladen smoking - I thought, Sarah Jane Smith can't do that. And she hadn't aged that much, either.

Anyway, I am looking forward to having the time to sit down and watch the new season two. Daleks and cybermen in the same episode - pure genius. "This is not war, this is pest control" was not a pleasant sentiment, but very funny.

Life Begins

This weekend seems to have disappeared quite quickly - partly due to some quite disgraceful over indulgence on Friday night. Our neighbour celebrated her 40th birthday with a wonderful and lively party in a local community centre and then we all went back to her house. My long suffering husband took our daughter home at around 2am and I said I'd be home in 10 minutes when I'd finished my glass of wine.

Err, well, it was actually 8.17 when I rolled in. I always suspected disaster if I were ever allowed anywhere near a karaoke machine. I always had dreams of pop stardom as a child and I had a great time belting out the likes of Total Eclipse of the Heart. Rumours of windows shattering in the street have, fortunately, proved to be entirely unfounded, but the problem with even a relatively small excess of alcohol is that you think you are a lot better at things than you actually are.

Boy, was I ill on Saturday. Not quite as bad as the neighbour who missed his daughter's birthday party, but bad enough.

The tragic thing is that I was secretly proud that there was life in the old dog yet. The slightly worrying thing is that there are 3 more 40th birthdays in the street, mine included, in the next 6 months.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What about the children?

I hope that all we Liberals are writing to Tony Blair and Ruth Kelly to argue against any exemption for Catholic adoption agencies to the new equality laws.

The most important thing in deciding on the suitability of prospective adoptive parents is surely their ability to provide a loving, stable home for a child who may well have been damaged in early life. If they have the skills and the commitment to do that, then they should be allowed to adopt. End of story.

The laws of the land apply to everybody equally otherwise we create all sorts of problems for ourselves. I bet if we went to John Reid and said "We're liberals and we don't agree with ID cards on principle, can we be exempt from having one?" that he'd laugh in our faces so it's important that they don't accommodate the narrow view of a few religious organisations.

What worries me in these circumstances is that the non Liberal forces are extremely good at mobilising, whereas the liberal voice isn't quite as loud - which is why we all need to get e-mailing.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Where is Pink Dog?

Duncan Borrowman is being overly pessimistic in suggesting that some terrible fate has befallen Pink Dog. Does he not realise that being a chocolate coinosseur takes time? Although I hope better quality chocolate was being used than in the Domestic Doggess video to be found on PD's blog.

However, it has been some time and a sign that all was well would be very welcome.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Go Hillary

I'm glad to see that Hillary has thrown her hat into the ring. Conventional wisdom says that she's too much of a polarising figure and that she won't, even if teamed up with Barack Obama, be able to lead the Democrats to victory. I think with a bold campaign she could win, as long as she ensures she campaigns on her agenda and not that of the Republicans.

Duncan Borrowman and Ed Maxfield have put it much better than I have on their blogs, which, in the absence of me knowing how to put a link here, you will need to access from the Lib Dem Blogs button below.

I am not entirely sure, though, that either Gore or Condi could put too much of a spanner in the works. Certainly Al has become a lot more user friendly and useful in the years since his 2000 victory in the popular vote, but I'm not persuaded he could carry support across the country. Condi is way too much associated with Iraq, where the situation is only going to get worse.

Anyway, I hope that two years from today we are watching the first full day in office of a Democrat President who will be a force for positive change and will finally get the US to do something about global warming.

Not so Goody

I may be the only one in the country to feel like this but I must confess to having quite a bit of sympathy for Jade Goody. Not because I condone her behaviour in the Celebrity Big Brother house, because I don't. The way she and the other girls treated Shilpa was immature and unacceptable. However, I am appalled by the way in which she has now become our national hate figure. Headlines such as Beauty and the Bigot and the heated words which accompany them are much, much worse than anything she did or said in the house.

Jade has made something of a living out of being immature and, on occasion, obnoxious. I remember her first stint in the house in 2002 where she argued with anyone who crossed her about trivialities. I probably shouldn't admit to this but I saw her in another reality programme a couple of years ago where she behaved in much the same way. Her behaviour in the current programme is pretty much par for the course. Channel 4 and Endemol knew what they were getting when they asked her to participate in the programme.

I worry about all the bile being thrown at her which is not that far away from mass hysteria. If the tabloid press, which is doing so much to stir it up, really wanted to advance equalities in this country, they might choose to be a little more responsible in the way they conduct their businesss. When did they ever campaign against the appalling detention of families in Dungavel? Why do they frequently print scaremongering articles which are bound to incite tensions between communities? When did you last see a positive article about asylum seekers? Why do they kick up such a fuss at the thought of gay people being treated equally in commercial matters?

It's almost like they're whipping up this tide of resentment against Jade to convince us that she's the baddy and the rest of us are just fine. We can show what a tolerant lot we are by voting Jade off the programme and out of our lives. The reality is that, unpleasant though Jade and Co's comments might have been, they are nothing compared to some attitudes out there. Most people I know would recoil in disgust if they read a piece of BNP election literature, yet they are scarily popular in some places. And while we're on the subject, how come Simone Clarke, the English National Ballet principal dancer has virtually escaped disapproval for her membership of the BNP? Double standards, surely?

This sorry episode just goes to prove how far we have to go on all sorts of equality issues.


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