Saturday, April 13, 2013

Beyond Thatcher - British Citizens of the World

The death of Margaret Thatcher has given me thought.  I remember well the day she came to power.  On that day I spoke to the teaching staff for whom I was responsible about the way she might affect all our futures. 
1.  This week in April 2013, I am not alone in considering that a major jolt is again needed in the House of Commons.   The words of a Labour Member [Mr. Barry Sheerman] on the Wednesday debate in the House of Commons (10th April) particularly struck a chord with me.  A copy of part of his speech from Hansard is below (at the end)  .
2. This week also I received a web-site link from the organisation concerned with pensioners abroad who suffer from frozen pensions – This is an uncomfortable issue for Government.  It reflects a lack of concern for pensioners whose only fault is to decide to live with their children outside of the UK. They are British Citizens!
3.  Then again I myself will this year join the ranks of those pensioners and other citizens who have no political representation.   I want to take part in the political processes. The British Government denies me this right! It is not just!
4.  Then again this same week The Citizen (French English language paper) gives a survey of the attitude of the French political scene through its extra-territorial députés.
This can be viewed here …
The British abroad are a special ‘constituency’ with hopes and fears to which the National Government should respond.  The British Government denies it to them.
5. Lastly - the petition on the Government petition site should be supported-  link
The world today has changed beyond measure since Thatcher and is increasingly so doing. We no longer live in isolated countries each existing in small parcels of land and fighting each other for the self-glorification of their leaders as Monarchs, and Despots.
We live in a world where citizens interact on the global stage.   We are all world citizens, continental citizens and national citizens.
Britain needs a leader with an understanding of these wider concepts.. 
Someone who values the citizens wherever they may live.
Someone who understands the place of Britain in Europe and in the World.
Someone who enables all citizens to be proud of the national leadership and makes them proud to take part in the political discussions which affect them at every level, local, national, continental and in world issues.
6pm  Wednesday 10th April 2013 --  House of Commons
Mr Barry Sheerman  (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)   …………….[end of his speech]…
We are again overdue a radical change in how we regard our parliamentary democracy. We need a voice in this Chamber—I do not know which party it will come from—that says that there are some deep inequities in our society. There are serious problems, different from those that Mrs Thatcher faced in 1979 and in the years of her prime ministership, but very deep. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field) touched on some of them. There is the tragic decline of our great cities, many of them in the north and the midlands. That has happened all over the developed world—in the United States, we should look at what is happening in Detroit and Pittsburgh. There is something deeply wrong with how our societies are developing, and that is to do with a complex change in international capitalism, as Labour Members would call it, and the international structure of economics.
Something fundamental is happening that we have become a bit complacent about in all parts of this House. We will need somebody with the originality of Thatcher to get us to wake up to what is going on. If we are honest—I make this a constant theme in my speeches; I am sorry—most of us will admit that tiny numbers of people in our constituencies are actively involved in politics. We are in a democracy where only 65% voted at the last election and 6 million people did not even register to vote. The state of our parliamentary democracy is deplorable. We will need someone with a vision, perhaps based on a very different political view, who will say, “If we value this democracy we have got to shake it up.”
I have spoken today because I got to admire and quite like Mrs Thatcher, who, as some of my colleagues have said, could be very pleasant indeed. She would give someone a real roasting from the Dispatch Box if they made a comment, but out there in the corridor she would be very kind. That is the truth of the woman. She was phenomenal. She did things that I deplored; she did things I thought were wonderful. There is a balance, and over time we will judge how good it was. We are facing a challenge to our democracy, and we need a Thatcher-like—not the same as Thatcher—radical change that will again wake us up to the fact that our country faces challenges to which, at present, we have no answers."

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