Friday, 14 February 2020

Planetary survival depends on human beings retruning to a simpler and less wasteful way of living

One of the great challenges for humanity today is to use less and recycle more.

The economic model that has been in operation over the past century is prefaced on human consumption.  No need to preserve or re-use, just dispose and throw away. This approach then created more demand for goods, that workers produced and so it went on.

It is surprising that only recently with the environmental emergency have humans begun to wonder about their behaviour. They have started to realise that the world is a finite resource.

If everyone is to live the life of the average American or Brit, then the resource of five planets, not one, will be required. This approach is totally unsustainable.

The destructive practices of human beings have brought the planet to the brink. The behaviour of humans make us more like a virus destroying the world, than a cause for good.

Climate change is accelerating, biodiversity is being wiped out and the pollution is poisoning humans and the other living creatures on the planet.

There are moves to bring about change but the wheels of progress move mightily slowly. At an individual level, we all need to waste less. The days of buying something, using it a few times (or in some cases once) and throwing it away are over.
Waste has to reduce by creating less in the first instance and recycling or re-using things that we do possess.

We need to create virtuous circles. So, take the recent effort of Redbridge Council to cut the amount of waste produced and encourage more recycling. This will only work if other elements are added in, like community composting schemes. So waste vegetable matter can be collected, composted and returned to enrich the soil. This will mean those black bags are not being filled up with green kitchen waste.

Restaurants and cafes produce this type of green waste that can also be composted. There is so much that at present is just being thrown away but can actually be turned around and put back into the local community.

More people need to grow their own food, whether that be in individual/community gardens or allotments. Growing your own creates a real link with the earth, as well as a much healthier way of living.

On travel, there is rightly much emphasis on sustainable forms of travel but maybe people need to ask whether they need to travel quite as much.

The environmental damage done by all activities should be factored into the cost. It is one of the idiocies of Britain that often the cheapest way to get from one end of the country to the other is by plane, the most expensive the train. These variables need to be reversed.

Overall, there needs to be a revolution in the way we live, returning to a more village/community based way of existence. A way of living that operates in a circular way, with people using reusing and putting back into the community where they live. Living simply,  so that others may simply live.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Film, 1917, should start a debate on the futility of war

The film 1917 is a very vivid depiction of the brutalities of war.
The life in the trenches, death all around, the corpses of humans and animals (mainly horses) in the fields.
The kill or be killed attitude that was needed to survive in such situations. But maybe above all the feeling of a total waste of life.
Literally, millions of people were caught up in the prcess of killing - in most cases not knowing what it was all about, other than being for King and country. 
1917 like many fims before it concentates on the more honourable and valiant elements of individual actions in war.
It would though be interesting one day to take a different view.
Not everyone did buy into King and country.
There were the conscientious objectors, who opposed war in all its forms on moral and religious grounds
There were those that didn't want to go over the top. The officers often stood with weapons drawn making it clear that there was no other choice than to go. Those who deserted were treated harshly, with often very young soldiers, shot at dawn for such actions.
The Second World was a no more popular venture with many. A rarely mentioned occurence was the number of planes that put down in neutral countries, rather than face combat.
After both World wars, there were the after effects of conflict. 
The recognition of resulting mental problems, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is relatively recent. The number traumatised in such ways, receiving no help, and then finishing up in the prison system was a national disgrace. There is more recognition now but for too long government was in denial, too concerned about legal liability and potential compensation claims that could result.
One has to wonder what the true cost of the World wars was in terms of the damage done to mental health. Shell shock was the term used to describe those who got flashbacks etc.
I am sure the true cost in terms of damage to family life, domestic abuse, suicides and incarceration for resulting crimes due to PTSD caused by the World wars has never been calculated.
1917 and other films begin to show the suffering of war but there is still much to be done to provide a real view of the total futility and moral bankrupcy of such conflicts as a means to resolve differences.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Poor defending and VAR cost West Ham two points against Brighton (3-3)

Wes Ham 3-3 Brighton
West Ham supporters will be wondering why the club did not buy any defenders in the transfer window after this abject surrender to Brighton, 
Two up at halftime, then three one, somehow West Ham threw this game away to the extent that in the end they were hanging on for a point.
Brighton had a couple of early headers just wide from Aaron Mooy and Glenn Murray before West Ham took the lead on the half hour.
A Robert Snodgrass free kick from the left saw Issa Diop slide in to force the ball home.
West Ham were then unlucky not to extend the lead when a full blooded goal bound effort from Mikhail Antonio was blocked by a Brighton defender.
The home side though doubled the lead just before half time, when Snodgrass picked up the loose ball and drove home. The deflection off Adam Webster ensuring Brighton keeper Mathew Ryan had no chance.
The problems started for West Ham in the second half, when first Lukasz Fabianski saw his punch bounce back off Ogbonna's head into the net.
The two goal advantage, though, was quickly restored when a Snodgrass shot from 25 yards deflected into the net.
The comedy of errors really began in the 74th minute, when a misunderstanding between Ogbonna and Diop saw Pascal Grob get between the latter and Fabianski to poke home.
Things got even worse five minutes later when West Ham failed to clear a cross, enabling Glenn Murray to control and fire home. VAR ruled that Murray had not handled the ball as referee Michael Oliver had first ruled.
In the 90th minute Fabianki tipped over a Solly March free kick.
A surprisingly up beat David Moyes felt the West Ham performance was in the main very good. "We made a couple of silly mistakes, which gave them a leg up,"said Moyes, who felt his side were suffering fatigue from Wednesday night's game against Liverpool."We are all gutted because we gave away two points."
Brighton manager Graham Potter was pleased with "the quality and character" his team showed.
Potter was pleased with the way his players responded to being down, claiming in the end "we could have won the game."

Academisation - if it isn't broken why fix it?

The struggle of Catholic schools in the diocese of Brentwood (East London and Essex) to resist plans to academise continues to gather strength.

Last year, parents at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary school in Wanstead struggled to get what they regarded as a proper consultation on the question of academisation. The dispute ended, when the parents had to abandon their legal challenge, due to prohibitive cost.

So Our Lady of Lourdes joined St Peter and Pauls in Ilford, St Josephs in Barking, St Josephs and St Teresas in Dagenham in the first round of schools to join the Good Shepherd Trust. Palmer Catholic Academy and St Aidens Catholic Academy were already members.

Meanwhile, resistance has stiffened. In Newham, St Angelas has abandoned plans to become an academy after teachers went on strike. Staff at St Michaels in East Ham  recently held a strike  over plans to academise.

In Redbridge, parents at St Bedes are gearing up to oppose plans for their school to academise. There is also resistance at St Augustines in Barkingside and St Anthonys in Woodford.

So it would seem there is a growing opposition, mainly made up of teachers and parents, to the idea of academisation. Many want to stay with the local authority, not dive out into the unknown.

Academisation amounts to taking the school away from the local communities. In the case of church schools it has often been that community that helped raise at least part of the money for the building of the schools in the first place.

When a school becomes an academy it gains a sort of independence (mainly from local authority oversight) but then is beholding to new masters. The funding link is direct with government, whilst resourcing and the running of the school comes down to the trust. Experience thus far suggests this is not a great route to take education down, with cuts to teaching staff sometimes occurring, whilst those highest up the managerial ladder do very nicely thank you

The schools that academise don’t see a great deal of change in the early days. Terms and conditions of employment are protected, at least in the short term. However, these guarantees soon run their course and the changes begin.

It is great to see these community based schools standing up and saying enough, we do not want to academise. Why should they, the one question that those seeking academisation have consistently failed to answer is if it isn’t broken why fix it?

Published - Wanstead & Woodford Guardian - 30/1/2020

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Liverpool dispatch resilient West Ham (0-2)

West Ham 0-2 Liverpool
Liverpool ran out comfortable winners of this hard fought game, after spirited resistance from West Ham.
The balance between the sides was reflected in shots on target, with Liverpool having five to West Ham's four - the key difference being that the visitors took two of their chances.
The home team passed up a chance to go one up on the quarter hour, when Manuel Lanzini put his effort just wide from an Arthur Masuaka cross.
On the half hour Roberto Firmino's pass into the box was picked up by Divock Origi, who in turning was adjudged to have been fouled by Issa Diop.
Mohamed Saleh duly converted the penalty.
Lanzini scuffed another chance at the start of the second half. 
West Ham were then caught in a classic Liverpool counter attack, Virgil van Dijk heading a West Ham corner clear, for Jordan Henderson to set Saleh free. His exquisite outside of the boot pass found Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who finished with ease.
Declan Rice was then twice denied by Alisson, who turned his shot aside, then acrobatically pushed a header round the post.
Inbetween, Saleh hit the post from the edge of the area.
West Ham manager David Moyes was pleased at the opportunities his team made in the second half. "There were lots of positive things tonight. We stood up to good challenges and the effort of the midfield boys was excellent,"said Moyes.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp wished his team could have done better on the night. "It was difficult tonight to get a rhythmn and keep a rhythmn," said Klopp. 

Monday, 27 January 2020

Fascinating insight provided by Leo McKinstry into the relationship between Clement Attlee and Winston Churchill

Attlee and Churchill – Allies in war, adversaries in peace

By Leo McKinstry

Published by Atlantic Books                                 Price - £25

 This fascinating study of Clement Attlee and Winston Churchill focuses on how their lives became intertwined almost from the very beginning, leading to a great combination during the Second World War and separate but still in many ways parallel lives thereafter.

Author Leo McKinstry has certainly done his homework to the level of finding that the two men had the same governess at different times. Ms Hutchinson eventually leaving, or being dismissed by the young Winston, from employment in the Churchills household. She then went onto Putney to work for the Attlees.

Moving forward to 1911, Churchill has one of his periodic rushes of blood to the head when as Home Secretary he goes down to personally supervise a siege in Sydney Street in East London. At the same time Attlee is working at the charitable organisation, where his experiences see him move from his early conservatism to socialism, he wanders by as the Sydney Street drama is reaching a climax. And so the linkages continue: Churchill being forced out of the World War I government, after the failure of his Dardanelles campaign, culminating in the Gallipoli disaster. Attlee fought at Gallipoli.

The two men then cross swords in Parliament over the inter-war years. What McKinstry expertly brings out is how the two men came to perfectly compliment each other. Churchill the brash maverick, who could be brilliant or reckless. Attlee the organised administrator, in charge and gaining influence through his quiet efficiency and good anagement of situations.

The coverage of the two men’s relationship immediately before World War II and during makes for a fascinating insight. It shows the vital role Attlee and the Labour Party played in first refusing to serve in coalition with Conservative Prime Minister Nevillle Chamberlain, then taking major roles in the government itself. Too often over recent years the key role that Attlee and the Labour Party played in the war effort has been virtually airbrushed out, replaced at best with a minor support role at worst removed altogether as the great leader Churchill beat the Nazis single handed. McKinstry nicely illustrates how the two men came to compliment each other, creating a perfect team.

Attlee continued to push hard during the war for the implementation of social reforms, along the lines of the recommendations made in the Beveridge Report of 1942. Churchill was more resistant, which when it came to the 1945 election, cost him dearly.

McKinstry singles out two things done by Churchill that helped Attlee. First, giving him more and more responsibility, including being deputy Prime Minister in the Coalition. Second, the pursuit of a total war strategy against Germany, which meant that social and economic life in Britain was brought under almost total state control. The basis of a command socialist based economy was thereby normalised by 1945.

The leadership of both men came under attack. In Churchill’s case, when the war appeared to be going badly, the likes of Stafford Cripps were pressuring for change. He was only saved by the victory at El Allemain, which saw the tide turn. Attlee was under pressure pre, during and after the 1945 election, primarily from Herbert Morrison, who thought he should be leader and Prime Minister. Even a year or two into the Labour administration of 1945, Attlee was being questioned by Cripps and Morrison over his leadership.

However, he always survived and triumphed in the end. The dislike of Morrison was lifelong, with Attlee staying on as leader after the 1955 election defeat to the Tories in the main to stop Morrison becoming leader of the Labour Party.

Churchill and Attlee had a close bond, without ever really being friends. The niceties of congratulations on birthdays and the like continued over the years. But the battles were fierce between the two men over the years of the Attlee administration – Churchill really staying on as Tory leader just to win back office.

McKinstry dismisses the idea that Churchill was dismissive of his Labour counterpart, quoting a story of a Sir John Rogers, Conservative MP for Sevenoaks, referring to “silly old Attlee” whilst visiting Churchill’s country residence Chartwell. The response from Churchill was cutting: “Mr Attlee was Deputy Prime Minister during the war and played a great part in winning the war. Mr Attlee is a great patriot. Don’t you dare call him silly old Attlee at Chartwell or you won’t be invited again.”

The bond between the two men extended to Attlee being a pallbearer at Churchill’s funeral.

McKinstry opens up a truly fascinating period of recent British history with this excellent book. It is one of a number of recent works that have begun to bring to prominence the role of Attlee and Labour in the war and the achievement of the post war government – a period often grossly misrepresented in the populist arena. Attlee and Churchiil are shown to be two towering figures of the 20th century, who at time of war came together to build an unstoppable team, then became adversaries in peace. It must be hoped that the work of bringing the truth of this period to light can continue to the point where the popular consciousness of what really happened over those years might at last be truly pricked.    

- published - Morning Star - 23/1/2020 

Sunday, 26 January 2020

West Ham dumped out of the FA Cup by 10-man West Brom

West Ham 0-1 West Brom
West Ham reached a new low with this abject performance against a below strength West Bromich Albion.
The happiest man in the London Stadium was former West Ham and now West Brom manager Slaven Bilic. He saw his side - with eight changes, including bringing in veterans Gareth Barry and Charlie Austin - thoroughly outplay a virtually full strength West Ham team. This , despite being reduced to 10 men for the final 20 minutes, when Serni Ajayi was sent off.
The home team began in lack lustre style, taking 40 minutes to get their first shot on target.
It took West Brom just eight minutes to take the lead, the ball rebounding off the West Ham defence to Conor Townsend who drove home from the left hand corner of the penalty area.
They should have doubled the lead 30 minutes later, when a cross found Austin alone six yards out but the striker headed over.
West Ham's first effort saw a Declan Rice shot from 20 yards skid wide of the post.
Darren Randolph pulled off a smart save shortly after the restart.
The home team only really woke up about 15 minutes from the end when the penny dropped that they were going out of the cup.
The best effort falling to Mark Noble in the 92nd minute when the ball fell to him in the penalty area but the skipper blasted over.
West Ham manager David Moyes admitted he was hoping to get through without needing to over deploy Noble, Michail Antonio and Angelo Ogbonna, who all came on at half time. "I would have made five substitutions if I could," said Moyes, who said he'd wanted to give the supporters a cup run.
The returning manager explained that he was finding the same problems as when he took over previously from Bilic in 2017. "We must find something that will give inspiration."
Bilic was pleased with the maturity of his teams performance. "We played the system we usually play, "said Bilic, who insisted getting out of the Championship had to remain the priority.
On the plight of West Ham, he insisted that the crowd are crucial. "The players need to do it but the crowd have to help. Now is the time, "said Bilic.
The main concerns for the fans now will be the visit of Liverpool to the London Stadium on Wednesday and whether West Brom will replace them in the Premier League next season.