Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Carry on Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn appears to be failing both as the leader of the Labour Party and the leader of the opposition. He has alienated most of Labour's parliamentary party and still seems unable, reluctant even, to develop an effective working relationship with them. When he was voted leader of the Labour Party the hope was that he would rescue the party from the centrist reactionary mode it was stuck in. Maybe he would bring a more person friendly and compassionate approach to policy making. Unfortunately it appears he is stuck in a past of grandstanding soap box politics where people make loud speeches and promise to give power back to the people. Unfortunately, in this day and age what people want are wealth and security. Neither of which Corbyn has a plan for.

There are major concerns about how the UK government is handling the process of exiting the European Union. However Corbyn seems determined to do all he can to ensure that Article 50 is triggered as quickly as possible. He hasn't come up with any proposals for dealing with quitting the single market or handling the ending of free movement agreements. Two issues that are fundamental to the future wealth and welfare of Britain. It's almost as if he's expecting Brexit to lead to a revolution which will end in the people rising up and overthrowing the government. Given that Corbyn's ideas have not been revolutionary, or even evolutionary, it is highly unlikely that he will be at the forefront of that revolution should it materialise.

It could be said that inexperience and constant talk of leadership challenges have undermined and impeded Corbyn's tenure. He however has repeatedly gone rogue with statements not in line with Labour Party policy and clearly not discussed with beforehand with his cabinet or MPs. He has failed to adequately engage with influential groups in the Labour Party and put forward an effective front as opposition. This has also meant that the Labour Party has not successfully presented itself to the public as a government in waiting. In fact, it has not come up with any clear positions on the economy, transportation, health, housing or immigration.

It is unlikely that the Labour Party can win a future election under Corbyn. He could however do a better job of holding the government to account. And maybe developing a policy framework that presents a viable and attractive alternative to the current brand of fascistic conservatism being shoved down our throats at the moment.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Stop! You're Killing Me

Modern society has been blighted by a plague of killings and a fascination with killers. We live in world where depicting killing has become normalised and in fact popularised over generations. Almost every major religion makes frequent references to killing as a way of propagating its beliefs or maintaining its integrity. National governments have installed the threat of war as a deterrent. Government sanctioned killing by agent or drone are rife. Nationalistic causes have largely adopted killing as an attention grabber and negotiation leverage. The news media literally salivate at the prospect of reporting murders and deaths in any context. Book, film, tv and social media are dominated by killing and gratuitous violence.

Tragically we now live in a society where people too often resort to murder to take what they want, avenge a slight or assuage hurt feelings. One can only pray that resorting to murder to resolve knotty issues doesn't become the norm. It seems to be a consistent theme in everything we read and watch.

It is difficult to imagine us evolving into a kinder and more gentle society when killing and maiming have become skills to most desire. Violence in our society won't abate until we turn away from the gratuitous enjoyment of killing and violence. Killing is a reality of the world we live in but we have become dangerously desensitised to its destructiveness.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Nigeria's Culture of Human Trafficking

Nigeria has a less than proud history of association with slavery. It's major ports were once staging posts for the slave trade. The active role played by some tribes in capturing neighbouring villagers and selling them to slavers is not explored in too much detail these days. Even back then there were lessons that could have been learnt in tackling tribalism that has blighted the Nigerian federation in modern times. Unfortunately, even though the slave trade has long been abolished it would appear that in the 21st century slavery isn't quite eradicated in Nigeria.

For many years now it has been the practice for families in the village to send young family members to work as servants for wealthy people in the cities. In many cases it involves sending children and teenagers to work as househelps. Children in their pre teens are often sent to work as servants while their parents receive payments to cover the wages they would have earned. In some cases the host families are content to have children of school age working for them but not enrolled in education.

There have been numerous cases of young girls being sent abroad to work as nannies or house helps for families but being abused and held in appalling conditions. Very often they are denied education, not paid, and held illegally in the countries they have moved to. Meanwhile, they are mistreated and subjected to extreme deprivation in an attempt to keep them subdued and captive.

In parts of Nigeria parents are marrying their under aged daughters off to older men for dowries or to pay off debts. In some cases the girls are betrothed and remain with their parents until they finish secondary school. A lot of the girls being betrothed in early youth are often unable to complete, or attend secondary school at all. Where they do complete secondary school any further formal education they receive is often at the behest of their husband or fiancé.

There is a very lucrative industry of trafficking Nigerian women abroad for the purposes of prostitution. Amsterdam and Italy used to be prime locations for this. However, in recent times the UAE, and Dubai in particular have become targets for Nigerian traffickers trading in women for prostitution.

It is time that the government in Nigeria recognised the prevalence of human trafficking in the country. This should involve increasing awareness of the rights and protections needed for young girls. The wealthy should not be able to deny them the right to education and freedom despite collusion from their parents or families. Law enforcement in the country should be actively engaged in combating trafficking in all its forms.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Giving Love a Fighting Chance

Relationships and marriages are often expected to aspire to be havens of harmony and compatibility. Some long lasting couples talk with fierce pride of never having had a serious quarrel or serious disagreement in many years together. "Never go to bed angry" is recognised as sound relationship advice all over the world. In some cultures and religions the wife is expected to be docile and meek around the husband. This is meant to engender affection and appreciation in the reputedly dominant male. For many years this has been considered the key to a strong and lasting relationship. It is no surprise that across the world there has been a decline in formal marriages, and an increase in the rates of divorce.

Couples who believe that avoiding conflict is the path to a happy and thriving relationship are sorely mistaken. Truth be told, when you believe in something and want it to last you have to fight for it. In fact, the occasional dust up is one way to clear the cobwebs and knock some sense into some men and women in relationships. When a couple chooses to get married a fight gets underway to stay together and weather life's storms. Once the words, "till death do us part", are uttered, "thems are fighting words"; and a physical, psychological and social struggle to stay together commences.

The idea that a relationship or marriage between two very individual characters must necessarily always be peaceful and amicable assumes that all issues affecting it might have been worked out in advance. In truth, the pooling of opposing views has the potential to greatly improve the reservoir of  knowledge and quality of decision making in the relationship. This will very likely both enhance  understanding and the endurance of respect and affection in the relationship. Agreements reached by listening to each other and looking at the merits of all views are more legitimate than agreement where one party's consensus is assumed and taken for granted.

It is important that couples recognise when conflict is counterproductive and destructive. It is vital they both show compassion and patience towards each other. Trying to compete against, and beat each other while in a relationship only leads to two defeated people. The aim is to push each other hard while still holding each other close to each other's heart. Ultimately true love will choose honesty and tolerance in handling both conflict and agreement.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Queen of the North

Sketch by Tayo Adesanya 

O Majestic Queen of the North,
Sweeter than the amber nectar froth.
Your laughter delights.
Your smile like the northern lights.
Your energy will build empires.
Your determination sprout shires.
Spread your wings
Like the sounds of heavenly strings.
May the good Lord bless this day.
I am forever under your sway.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

Politics appears to be that one arena where partisanship is valued a lot more than higher principles. In order to get ahead in politics some people are forced to set aside their principles while others just completely abandon principle in favour of a front seat on the bandwagon. In the 2016 US presidential election a lot of people have lined up behind Clinton and Trump racked with no small degree of ambivalence, and through gritted teeth.

One politician who hasn't been too discriminating about entering one room or the other with people of dubious reputations has been Nigeria's President Buhari. He swept to power claiming to be a new broom committed to changing a culture of public fraud and corruption. However, he didn't hesitate to join forces with Atiku and Tinubu to rally support for his presidential bid. Both men have been tainted by accusations of enrichment in public office and facilitating fraud. Raji Fashola (the well loved former governor of Lagos State) who Buhari appointed to key ministerial portfolio failed to properly respond to claims that millions of public funds were spent on a personal website for him.

Hillary Clinton has appeared happy to apologise for things she has been found to be wrong about but never prepared to explain what really happened with the deletion of emails from her private sever, speeches she was paid to give on Wall Street or links between donations to the Clinton Foundation and her role as Secretary of State. Michelle Obama says she believes Hillary Clinton is a truly good and decent person. But she couldn't have forgotten the things Hillary said and did during the Democratic Party nomination contest with Barrack Obama. Hillary Clinton's appointment as Secretary of State was mainly intended to ease her bitterness and avoid any acrimony from her loss. Bernie Sanders is campaigning for Hillary but he knows that Hillary stands for everything he is opposed to. However Sanders knows that the best chance of adoption of any liberal policies is if Hillary becomes president.

Donald Trump's candidacy is literally ripping the Grand Ol Party a new one. A lot of Republicans are desperate for a return to the GW Bush era when social projects were a liberal evil and sleazy lobbying and corporate greed ruled the day. However there is a recognition that with Trump as president even these things are likely to be taken to such an extreme that the party will become so toxic that it will fall out of public favour and its members start to devour themselves. However most Republicans will get behind Trump even if there are more than a few who won't stand beside him.

There's nothing wrong with having someone new and inexperienced in the White House. What's required is someone with integrity and vision. Trump is definitely not that person. Unfortunately, neither is Hillary Clinton. 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Leadership in the 21st Century: A Monty Pythonesque Farce

It is interesting that as science is breaking new ground and taking technology and innovation to new heights social development has not just taken a backward step but is sliding rapidly downhill. This world was built on the vision of great thinkers and passion borne out of selfless integrity. Now we're keeping up with the Kardashians and striving to be pseudo apprentices with a spotlight blinding us in some sort of lions den.

In modern times leaders in various fields have proven to be extremely prone to promoting self interest as cautious action driven by the common good. Most notions of duty have been supplanted by the desire to achieve longevity and dominate popular opinion. Notable academics have been discredited for giving questionable evidence as expert witnesses. We have had cases of researchers being paid off by pharmaceutical companies to publish biased studies. Journalists are openly partisan, serving paymasters, falsifying news, plagiarising and even setting honey traps. Various longstanding and reputable businesses in the U.K. have closed down thanks to asset stripping by rapacious owners.

Rulers from Saudi Arabia and the UAE have stood by while refugees from Syria have been subjected to indignities seeking shelter in Europe. In fact, the Saudi regime has been mostly occupied with bombing random civilian targets in Yemen. African presidents have individually and collectively found leadership inspiration by looking back to eras of plundering and pillaging. They have rendered their countries broke and peoples destitute and broken. Russia is busy starting and supporting conflicts wherever it can as a cover for arms trading and diplomatic grandstanding.

Obama has proven a calming influence in the American White House but he has shown a lack of leadership in dealing with the economy, race relations and policing of minorities. When Obama stood by quietly and let GW Bush detail an economic bailout plan that favoured corporate America he demonstrated what was to be an ongoing reticence in dealing directly with working class poverty in America. Two of the candidates who will be contesting the American presidential elections this year have significant questions over their integrity and suitability.

In the U.K. the Conservative party has lost one prime minister thanks to David Cameron's reluctance to take a stand against eurosceptics in the party. Theresa May, the current prime minister failed to deliver on a promise to curb immigration when she Home Affairs minister. She is now playing politics with the handling of the U.K.'s exit from the European Union. The economy is suffering as a result. The Labour Party has been plagued with a series of ineffective leaders following Tony Blair's resignation as prime minister. The party is currently at war with its present leader and itself, to all intents and purposes. It has been no help that the current leader of the Labour Party has proven somewhat ineffectual and divisive.

Africa is rife with instances of ineffective and corrupt leaders. Many leaders in the continent are obsessed with not leaving the seat of power rather than actually leaving a positive legacy. In Africa a lot of business leaders have achieved success through fraud and the corruption of public institutions and officials. The 'Arab Spring' was supposed to bring revolution to North Africa but has only succeeded in miring the region in extremism and instability. Mugabe has succeeded in holding on to power while completely wrecking the economic and social life of Zimbabwe. The ANC in South Africa has managed to take its people out of apartheid into poverty.

It appears that leadership is one area in which humanity has managed to regress. Opportunism and profit appear to be the defining characteristics of leadership in modern times. It appears the qualifications needed for leadership now are wealth and influence. Needless to say this makes for leaders who are essentially unprincipled and easily swayed. It also spells trouble for those hoping that the privileged few might protect the needy many.