On The Bonnie, Bonnie Banks O’ Loch Lomond

Yesterday I went on a wee trip to Loch Lomond. Thanks to Mel’s driving skills, Emily the Sat Nav’s directions and Helen’s correct interpretations of Emily’s directions we all made it in good time.

It was absolutely freezing but fun was had by all (all being me, Helen, Mel and James). Highlights included:

  • Filling in forms at the information centre
  • Eating really yummy chips at the local pub
  • Listening to Fleet Foxes
  • Standing beside the loch
  • Hanging out in the village shop
  • Realising that I don’t appreciate how beautiful the country I live in is

Jude xxx

VOTE NO OR THE BABY GETS IT

Last year I attempted to write a dissertation on using shock tactics for social marketing campaigns; I read journals and I travelled down to London to interview several charities on the subject. Sadly I never completed my dissertation due to illness but shock tactics for social marketing campaigns is something I know a little about.

I was shocked though when I saw the latest advert from the No to AV campaign (you can see it here. I refuse to put such a horrible picture on my blog, I’m sticking with images of cupcakes and embroidery projects). I never reached a conclusion when researching my dissertation about whether or not shock tactics are acceptable but I was considering the use of shocking images to raise awareness of child prostitution, animal abuse or deadly diseases; serious problems which are innately shocking NOT the unexciting, non-shocking, mild version of electoral form that is AV.

If someone is upset by a picture of a baby with a cockroach in their mouth then it might be worth it if it raises awareness of the level of child poverty in this country (1 in 3 children in the UK live in poverty); if someone is upset by a picture of a distressed baby then it isn’t (in my opinion) worth it just because awareness of voting systems in this country might be increased.

I really hope that the No to AV campaign recognise their mistake and pull this advert because it just further desensitises us all to shocking images and might even prevent a worthwhile campaign justified in using shocking images from working.

I know some of you reading this will think “so what? It’s just a picture” but is there anyone out there who can really justify using a picture of a distressed, ill baby for a campaign on electoral reform? I doubt it.

This blogpost isn’t about the rights or wrongs of AV, I’ve already blogged on how I’m going to vote here, but about whether these tactics are justified for a campaign like this.

Pretty In Pink

Yesterday I made Hummingbird cupcakes (they have banana, pineapple and cashew nuts in them and taste like an exotic carrot cake) from my trusty cupcake recipe book.

I think that edible pink glitter might be my most favourite thing in the whole world.

Jude xxx

The Big Society: What Would Clement Do?

Figure 1: Big Society In Action*

I think that volunteering is A Good Thing™. I volunteer and through my volunteering I’ve made friends, given back to the community (I wish there was a less cheesy way to say that) and improved my CV. If anyone had some free time and wanted to simultaneously improve their own and other peoples’ lives I would definitely recommend they try volunteering. However, it isn’t a replacement for the state and that is why I am sceptical about David Cameron’s Big Society initiative.

Despite dying over 40 years ago Clement Attlee wrote the perfect response to David Cameron’s Big Society in his book The Social Worker (1920):

“Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim. In a civilised community, although it may be composed of self-reliant individuals, there will be some persons who will be unable at some period of their lives to look after themselves, and the question of what is to happen to them may be solved in three ways – they may be neglected, they may be cared for by the organised community as of right, or they may be left to the goodwill of individuals in the community. The first way is intolerable, and as for the third: Charity is only possible without loss of dignity between equals. A right established by law, such as that to an old age pension, is less galling than an allowance made by a rich man to a poor one, dependent on his view of the recipient’s character, and terminable at his caprice”**

As a bleeding heart lefty type person I completely agree with the Great Clem. As well as being the perfect antidote to the vacuous rhetoric of The Big Society, the above quote reminded me of something that David Cameron said during his 2010 conference speech which worried me at the time:

“Fairness means giving people what they deserve and what people deserve depends on how they behave.”

As Attlee pointed out, if people are dependent on volunteers/do-gooders to help them in their time of need what will happen if these volunteers (who are giving their time in exchange for no wage) decide that their services are “dependent on his view of the recipient’s character” and that the recipient isn’t deserving? I have plenty of other issues with The Big Society concept but they have already been articulated by other people (repeatedly), I have yet to see this issue be discussed on the interweb or in the papers.

Maybe this won’t be a problem but like most of this current government’s policies/initiatives The Big Society doesn’t seem to be very well thought through and I worry about what is going to happen to the needy and vulnerable in our society after David Cameron is finished with his Big Society experiment.

*Image credit: LEGO S&S Wildland Ultra XT (1) by Dunechaser
**Unfortunately I don’t have a copy of Attlee’s book The Social Worker. I got the above quote from Francis Beckett’s biography of Attlee, Clem Attlee.

AV . . . Again!

Figure 1: The Parthenon. Birthplace Of Democracy (And Where I Went On My Summer Holidays)

Last week I blogged about why I’m voting yes to AV, today @KilburnMat blogged about why he’s voting no.

I don’t agree with most of it (picking out Ken Barlow’s ties? THAT’S THE DREAM!) but it’s well written, shows the other side of the argument and engaging in civilised debate is a key part of democracy innit?

Jude xxx