Parliament, Show Some Class Today

Today Parliament has an opportunity to show some class.

When Parliament returns later today to pay tribute to the life of Margaret Thatcher, there will be some, perhaps many, MPs who will want to speak vigorously in opposition to her policies and her premiership. If conducted respectfully, this should be welcomed. We should always welcome an open and free debate among those who disagree with each other.

A strong democracy relies on the freedom of expression and the British Parliament has always set the standard, globally, for robust debate.

There will, however, be some who will be tempted to attack Lady Thatcher personally. They may wish to step beyond the line of political disagreement and into the realm of personality attacks.

Baroness Thatcher is a former Prime Minister who held some very strong views and divided people’s opinions. But she was also a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. Launching a personal attack on a frail, elderly woman who died only this week and whose family are still in mourning is neither big nor clever. It belittles the person doing it and, more significantly, it belittles our parliament.

Parliament, the world is watching. Show some class today.

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Poverty in the UK

A recent FT article describes a child in Liverpool who chews on wallpaper at night to relieve his hunger. He. Chews. On. Wallpaper.

I have no idea how to even process this information. This is England, 2013.

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with some friends in their house in a deprived area of Liverpool when they showed me a haunting crayon picture. Drawn by a local child, it featured a large, empty plate with wobbly letters stating baldly: “Do you see any food?”

“There’s a lot of little kids going hungry round here,” explained one friend, who works in a local community centre. Indeed, just the other day she had spoken to a family where the child had been chewing wallpaper at night. “He didn’t want to tell his mum because he knew she didn’t have the money for supper,” she explained. “We hear more and more stories like this.”

Source: Where Austerity Really Hits Home, Gillian Tett, Financial Times

What Do Mums Do All Day?

I recently came across this story. Needless to say it made my wife and me smile…

A man came home from work and found his 3 children outside, still in their pyjamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn around garden. The door of his wife’s car was open, as was the front door to the house and no sign of the dog. Walking in the door, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over; the throw rug was against one wall; in the front room the TV was on loudly with the cartoon channel; the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing.

In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door. He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened. He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out the bathroom door. As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor. Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls.

As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pyjamas, reading a novel. She looked up at him, smiled and asked how his day went. He looked at her bewildered and asked, ‘What happened here today?’ She again smiled and answered, ‘You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me what in the world I do all day? ”Yes,” was his incredulous reply. She answered, ‘Well, today I didn’t do it.’