Monthly Archives: December 2014

Holly . . . A Christmas Blog

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I often drive up to London on Christmas Eve evening to see the lights. The roads are relatively quiet and so it’s easy to park and wander. A few years ago I began taking my partner’s granddaughter, Holly, with us.

The first year, as we drove up and down Oxford and Regent Street, she looked up in awe at the wonder of the lights. Eventually I parked and we walked to Leicester Square and the fair that is always there at this time. I was ahead and looked back to see a B-O-R-E-D little girl walking along seemingly endless and very dull back streets.

As we rounded that last corner into Leicester Square she saw the traditional Fairground, complete with 100 year old roundabout. The wide eyed wonder on that kid’s face as she dashed from one stall to another was, for me, a ‘Magic Moment’.

The following year we again took her up and this time, as well as the roundabout, she went on a stall where you had to get balls in buckets to win a prize. Because of her age she was allowed to stand on the ledge that went around the stall. She took careful aim with each ball but needless to say, they all bounced out. The sadness in her face was gut wrenching as I went to pick her up, adding a quick reassurance that we would return and try again later.

Just at that moment a voice boomed out “The little lady has another 3 goes” and the stallholder came over with the extra balls. Her little face lit up and she tried again but with equal results and again the sadness and near tears was a double whammy for me!

As I went to put her on the ground the voice boomed out again “The lady wins a prize” and the stallholder came over to her. “But I didn’t get any balls in” she timidly replied. “It’s Christmas darling. You don’t have to get a ball in to win a prize” he smiled. With that he bent down and produced a soft toy for her.

I picked her down off the ledge and the photo above is the image I captured within seconds of her standing with her prize.

There is not a single person on this beautiful Planet that will EVER convince me there is no such thing as ‘magic’ and how it visits us, if we allow it.

At this special time of year I try to cut out the growing commercialisation of the season and focus on the potential for magic . . . because it’s always there!

I have just recounted my ‘British’, ‘White’, ‘Spiritual’, ‘Male’ perspective of an event I will never forget – a piece of ‘magic’. What we can so easily forget is that events like this are playing out all of the time around the world, irrespective of race, colour, creed or gender.

This is my first year on Twitter and it has been an intense and exciting learning curve, with many mistakes (of course) and a sense of real satisfaction at what I personally have achieved. I have experienced the warmth of people, as well as the sometimes intense anger.

Above all however, I have entered an environment where people do not tolerate unpleasantness, something the outside world desperately needs, as well as making many new friends whose kindness and support have added another dimension to my life.

To ALL my new Friends, Followers and RT’s I hope the magic that I believe in finds you over the next week or two, in whatever shape it arrives and continues throughout your lives. We are all in this Life together, no matter what we are urged to believe, and our own magic is out there just waiting for each and every one of us, if we allow it!

My sincerest Best Wishes and Thanks to everyone for this incredible year. Let’s see what we can change in 2015!

Until the next time

War + Christmas = Football!

100 years ago the first Christmas of the First World War offered a huge window on how united we are as a species and the effort necessary to keep us apart.

The trenches in that battlefield were close enough together that the soldiers on both sides could talk to each other. A respect developed that allowed each side to collect their dead and wounded without threat.

Such was the rapport that on Christmas Day the war was ‘unofficially’ put aside, as men climbed out of their trenches and came together to talk and exchange gifts with the ‘enemy’, as well as playing football with them along a number of stretches of the battlefield.

The ‘official’ reaction was horror, encapsulated by a young Charles de Gaulle who spoke with disgust about this “fraternisation and the lamentable desire of French infantrymen to leave the enemy in peace”. Another wrote of the “unfortunate consequences when men become familiar with their neighbours opposite“. Adolf Hitler, a young corporal then, spoke with disgust on the subject . . .  An omen for the future!

Brutal reprisals were made on officers and men to subdue any future fraternisation. For me this defines the historic mind-set of ‘Divide & Conquer’ and a perfect example of how the 1% have manipulated and turned the 99% against each other for millennia to protect their hold on power.

During this worst of all wars, the abuse and arrogance of the former showing no concern for the cost of human life or misery. The latter enduring horrific loss of life because of continuously futile charges against machine guns and artillery. (The first day on the Somme saw 57,000 British casualties alone!)

What is it that drives this insane commitment to certain death by so many, with countless stories of the youth lying about their age so they could join up and (unknowingly) feed the slaughter?

The answer, of course, is in the word unknowingly! The propaganda machine has always been brutally efficient, showing then such images as enemy soldiers laughing as they spitted babies on their bayonets and the equally manipulative call to arms with, Your Country Needs You.

How could any young impressionable individual ignore these carefully prepared and placed messages, nor the taunts from others with minds already manipulated? And so they found themselves in water logged trenches, where disease and death go hand in glove, whilst recoiling from daily artillery bombardments that traumatised many for the remainder of their lives, if they actually survived!

I would argue that the true nature of people cannot be suppressed indefinitely, as this Christmas time 100 years ago demonstrated, with friend & foe burying their differences. This lack of aggressive agenda is a defining quality of the 99%, when left to their own devices and despised and feared by the 1%. They know that if they let up for a second with their constant manipulation and propaganda the people will rise up and overthrow them, to live a more peaceable life in a more peaceful world.

As long as that power and those who wield it, is enshrouded in veils of mystery the charade continues. However, we are moving inexorably into a new era, where the internet is tearing down those veils. Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, through their individual courage and integrity, have shown how manipulation and propaganda operates today.

The lines are being as vividly drawn now, by the 1% towards the 99%, as they were with the trenches in that odious war. But once again we are seeing people climbing out of their trenches, uniting and supporting each other in peaceful protest across the globe. And again it is being met by increasingly violent police action and surveillance that attempts to continue the suppression.

Like the First World War, this conflict won’t be over quickly, as the internet is an indomitable force for change. The 99% are discovering that threatening differences they have been constantly fed about each other are no more than the characteristics we all share, simply with a different language and colour of skin.

We are learning that we all laugh and cry at much the same things, we want our children to be healthy and successful and we want to enjoy our lives as freely and fully as possible. We are recognising the abuse that is stopping this from happening and that it is something worth fighting about.

The game of Football has now begun . . . and will continue, unabated, for many Christmas’s!

 

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to The 99% . . . If They Want It!

By J T Coombes

The Party I Would Vote For . . .

As I watch, with increasing incredulity, our politicians handing their power away by supporting the proposed (and very secretive) Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), whilst also allowing greater interference in how our lives are run by Brussels, two things cross my mind.

Firstly, what the hell do they think they are doing . . . Don’t they not want the responsibility anymore? Secondly, IT’S NOT YOURS TO GIVE AWAY!!

I, for one, do not remember consciously empowering them, with my vote, to allow them to then blithely hand that power over to the boards of global corporations and distant bureaucracies – the latter apparently totally incapable of responsibly managing vast amounts of our hard earned money, whilst still coming back for more!

It is blatantly obvious that our political system is now fundamentally broken and totally unfit for purpose. The people’s needs are no longer considered and the abuse is growing. We therefore need a new set of ground rules by which parliament functions and which protect us from predatory governments and corporations.

To my mind we need a new Magna Carta, devised by the people and with global values to confront global organisations, as well as setting out the terms of reference for business in Westminster.

At the very least it should cover the ability for us to live our lives with the confidence of knowing we will be properly educated, can find gainful employment, be looked after in times of ill-health and genuine hardship, with the ability to provide a home in which to raise a family if we so choose.

After a lifetime’s contribution to Society, that Society should be both capable and willing to assist, if necessary, in supporting a stress free period until we shuffle off this mortal coil. All achieved without the need for enslaving and mind numbing debt.

(As I write this I am thinking “It’s as though we’ve returned to the 11th century. How can this be?!”)

The new Magna Carta should not be a wordy document, perhaps just 10 broad but succinct topics, including those just mentioned. It should also reference broader and no less important issues such as sustainable management of our Planet, Gender Equality, Religious Tolerance and integrity of the Internet.

Once thrashed out by the people it would be ‘nailed to the walls of Westminster’ (in similar fashion to that which has already happened in Iceland) and Parliament has its future terms of reference. Any changes, or new legislation that does not contravene the ethos of our Charter can be introduced and/or ratified, through People Driven Referendums, as is the case in Switzerland.

We have now moved from the Industrial Age into a Technological Age and political systems that were introduced when we travelled by horse or foot and communicated by bonfire have to be dragged, kicking and screaming if necessary, into this new era. We are in unprecedented times in our history, as the Internet liberates people from the yokes of power of the past.

To do this requires new visionary leadership that will guide and nurture us into this new age. Their unique credibility would come from the certain knowledge that they would gradually put themselves out of a job!

As we become more adept at using new systems of democratic communication, they have helped us introduce, the need for politicians will be dramatically reduced. People will do the debating and decide their own future needs, unbiased by vested interest. It is how the Internet is now shaping our world. What has happened to music, books and retailing will also influence the democratic process, through people having greater control in managing the process.

A Party with an agenda such as this, which shows an understanding of the unprecedented changes now going on in our world and our place in that future, would inspire much needed confidence and a return to the ballot boxes, I would suggest.

We have been conned by successive governments for too long now with biased political agendas and vested interest. The sheer fact that a party such as this is prepared to admit to, confront and deal with our broken system shows a party who cares about the people . . . and that is good enough for me!

“The thinking that created the problem is quite incapable of solving it!” Einstein (Attributed)

 Until the next time

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to The 99% . . . If They Want It!          By J T Coombes

Immigration . . . A ‘No-Hoper’!

Since we lived in caves, our species has only ever functioned in groups to maximise our chances of survival. Over the millennia we have refined these groups from bands to clans and then nations into empires.

The one common feature throughout this time has been the constant infighting, caused by supposed differences between the various factions, which has led to countless loss of innocent life and not a lot else! When we lived in caves there was an obvious and immediate threat, as groups fought with each other over food, shelter and the ability to breed and grow strong.

As we evolved into larger clans and then nations, those who ruled found it increasingly more difficult to manage and halt insurrection, because of the sheer numbers. That was until they realised the solution lay in breaking the whole population back down into groups again, and then inducing them to fight amongst themselves. In that moment we saw the birth of a means of ruling that has lasted successfully up to the present day . . . Divide and Conquer!

The other thing that has not changed over all of this time is the types of division used to easily spark conflict: Race, Colour, Creed and Gender. As long as the people continue to respond to these triggers governments and autocracies can sleep at nights, content in the knowledge that their own positions are safe.

In this 21st century however, the status quo is being violently overturned. Not by the abused 99% but by the abusers. After millennia of keeping us antagonistically separated, the need for cheap labour has arisen again and revitalising the slave trade, the historic solution to this problem, is no longer a viable option.

Instead they need us to migrate and in so doing hold down the price of wages in the countries we migrate to. In a matter of decades they are now expecting to change our attitudes towards people they have urged us to fight and distrust for thousands of years! Not only that but whilst urging us to mix with each other, they are still continuing those same traditional conflicts!!

As people migrate and settle in new countries they are now experiencing the government and military in their new homes acting aggressively towards the families, friends and people they have left behind. Here they are confronted with divided loyalties of monumental proportions in their personal lives, as well as home grown animosity by the indigenous population.

Is it any wonder we are now seeing the wholesale growth of global terrorism, caused by the conflicting needs and vested interests of those in charge to supply cheap labour, whilst continuing to subdue their populations?

Encouraging immigration to hold down wages, whilst pursuing traditional acts of aggression against the beliefs those people hold is a pretty lethal political cocktail. When ‘Surveillance’ is then introduced as the means to manage the internal pressures resulting from those acts of aggression overseas, antagonising the indigenous population into the bargain, the problems of immigration go off the scale. You really could not make up a political catastrophe of this magnitude!

All of this is as a direct result of increasingly unaccountable governments pursuing the narrow goals of vested interest, driven by greed and power. As long as it continues there will be no respite for the people who have found the courage to leave their homes and travel abroad in search of a better life.

I have recently argued that we need to license our politicians to bring some sort of accountability into force and end this senseless and aggressive domination of people who, left to their own devices, have shown throughout history that they can get on well with each other.

As the disciplines and opportunities of the internet impact upon our lives with growing momentum, I now seriously question the need for politicians at all, as their vested interests will always get in the way of achieving a true democracy.

The answer, as I see it, is for new leaders with new visions, based upon an understanding of the unprecedented changes now taking place in our global Society, which will stimulate a complete break with the past. Something I will write about shortly.

 

Until the next time

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to The 99% . . . If They Want It!           By J T Coombes

Is It Now Time To Licence Politicians . . . And More? (2 of 2)

Parliament photo

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”

Martin Luther King Jr.

When the financial services industry reached rock bottom through countless scandals, it cleaned up its act by licensing the players. I would argue that a similar situation now exists with our democratic process and similar medicine is needed to return the public’s trust and support.

There are many good people who enter politics to make a contribution to improving the lot of Society and who’s innocence is quickly lost when confronted with the reality of ‘Club Westminster’ and its workings. If we add to this the corrupting influence power can have upon human fallibility we get to the cause of so many of the problems we now face.

There is only one antidote to our current dilemmas, I believe, and that is greater accountability from MPs in how they conduct themselves, which the current system is incapable of achieving. Licensing every elected Member of Parliament can do this job in the same way it has done for financial advisors. If you mess up you lose your licence, with either a yellow card (for weeks), red card (for months) or black card (out of the game forever), depending upon the offence.

(Stephen Dorrell’s flagrant abuse of privilege, in becoming an adviser to a company competing for a £1 Billion health contract, whilst still holding his seat in parliament, is a demonstration of everything that is rotten about today’s politics. In this situation, giving a big finger to democracy like this would result in the instant issue of a black card, I would suggest!)

Licensing offers a threefold discipline. Firstly, the very threat of loss is a deterrent, having worked and studied to get the licence. In addition, having to face local constituents and explain why you are not in Parliament fighting their corner would be difficult, if not credibility destroying. Secondly, a returning ‘unfrocked’ MP would receive a ‘provisional’ licence and be monitored through an annual review of conduct carried out for two or three years before full reinstatement of the licence. Or alternatively, the inability to progress to higher office for a similar period would help rebuild personal humility and credibility. Thirdly, the professional respect of colleagues and the public for those holding an unblemished licence, plus public esteem which could only grow over the years.

Licensing alone is not sufficient however, as the current climate at Westminster could see abuses begin again. A clean sweep is necessary to improve the overall image of politics in my opinion. Continue reading

Is It Now Time To Licence Politicians . . . And More? (1 of 2)

My 30 year career in the financial services industry was at a time when it was largely unregulated and where unqualified individuals could make a substantial living. Be they a ‘butcher, baker or candlestick maker’ it was simplicity itself to change direction and put up a sign declaring ‘Independent Mortgage, Pensions and Investment Advice’.

Lack of regulation led to abuse, sometimes of huge proportions. This was particularly so when Thatcher sold off councils housing stock at knock down prices and mortgages were arranged “on the condition that an expensive and often inappropriate Life policy was taken out to get the money”. We also saw large scale abuses when the Pensions “Opt Out” occurred and people were mis-sold private pensions in droves, earning fortunes in commission for the advisor’s.

Eventually the industry began to clean up its act. Advisor’s had to become licensed by establishing they were knowledgeable about the advice they were giving. The huge upfront commissions paid by insurance companies to advisor’s was ended and they had to charge fees to clients for their advice.

Greater regulation has resulted in greater accountability because the client is now paying the wages! It has also seen a growth in trust and confidence as these services now function more in line with other professions, such as accountants and solicitors.

I can’t help feeling that this is the direction we should now be pursuing with our democratic process, where trust by the people is possibly lower now than it ever was with financial advisor’s. The ease with which anyone can put themselves up for election promotes freedom of expression, granted. But I just wonder, like the previous unregulated financial advice environment, how much understanding there is by candidates about fundamentals? How our money supply works, the effect of long term corporate funding upon the democratic process, the need for integrity and accountability in the management and use of public funds spring immediately to mind.

Certainly the scandals of recent years suggest this understanding ranges from limited to irresponsible.

Let’s take just two examples. Firstly, there is support for the now notorious TTIP, which seeks to place power with the corporate world to decide which political policies are implemented. The important decisions about Societies needs will depend solely on whether they pose a threat to corporate profits, or not.

Secondly we have the EU, where political power is gradually being devolved to Brussels, the ‘Granddaddy of all bureaucratic rice puddings’. Here, with now decades of experience in its workings, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that, through its sheer size, voters have slowly but surely been removed from the decision making process.

I am indebted to my fellow tweeter Sheena who made me aware of this 9 minute YouTube clip. Its central character is a senior police officer who, in the course of his duties, came across official documents that allude to potential treason committed by Prime Minister Edward Heath when he took us into the then ‘Common Market’ in the 70’s. I cannot vouch for the validity of the content but the devolution of power from the UK to Brussels that has taken place is endorsing his words as an alarmingly accurate prophesy. http://tinyurl.com/o9rbvxw

With just these two examples, it seems as though politicians are working incredibly hard to put themselves out of a job? DUH! Or, is it that they will be paid by corporate lords and masters, as well as funded from Brussels perhaps, with little or no political responsibilities in future. Just rubber stamp legislation that has become heavily biased in favour of vested interest and seemingly no accountability to those who elected them.

(As an aside, in no way do I believe David Cameron is looking to take us out of the EU. Current cleverly worded headlines with no substance – when aren’t they – are designed to combat the UKIP threat and will be reversed if he returns to No 10. This also begs the question as to the validity of his 2017 EU Referendum promise, but I digress!)

All I do know is that I am extremely uncomfortable with all that is going on and the continued erosion of the political process as it affects our democratic rights. I have tried to lay out here the reasons for my concerns and tomorrow I will offer my thinking on why I believe the medicine meted out to the financial services industry needs to be topped up and applied liberally to our democratic process.

 

Until the next time

 

Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to The 99% . . . If They Want It!           By J T Coombes