Defence and the budget
Our defence budget is inadequate. The manpower in our armed services is too little and we do not have enough up to date equipment. Comparisons with Russia (a country regarded as poorer than ours) show us to be militarily much weaker, for example, whereas we may have a couple of hundred fairly up to date tanks, Russia has over 2000 state of the art tanks. Not that I believe that we are under threat from Russia, even though our newspapers and some of our politicians like to imply that we are. David Williamson Minister of Defence was being ridiculous when he told us that Russia could attack our infrastructure and thereby kill thousands and thousands and thousands of us, as the Russians said it was like something from Monte Python. Maybe they could do that, we could probably do that to them, but why would they? Being weak militarily is not likely to result in being attacked by Russia, what it does mean is that Russia can use its muscle to intervene in other countries’ affairs in a way which we would not approve and we cannot confront them but only sit back and watch. It doesn’t even need Russia to be involved, nowadays we would probably hesitate to involve our forces in situations such as we had in Kosovo and Sierra Leone, where we were able to do so much good.
Our governments have played a potentially dangerous game of cutting defence budgets in order to help balance the books. Therein lies the problem, despite the increased allocation to the NHS, the NHS remains less well supported than health systems in other western nations and inadequately funded to meet the needs of the people.
It is claimed that we are among the richest nations, the only nations richer are the USA, China, Germany and France so why is it that we seem to be so short of money? The government is beset by financial problems, it is not only the NHS and defence that are underfunded, housing, education, police, social care and roads and railways are all crying out for money but they simply do not have enough revenue coming in.
Just prior to the economic summit at Davos last month Oxfam produced a report, in this report they stated that between July 2016 and June 2017 the global wealth had increased by £7.3trillion (not their figure I think), of this they claimed Â£6trillion had gone to 75million people, 3.7billion people had flat lined and the remaining £1.3trillion had been spread among 3.9billion people In fact 80% of the wealth increase had gone to the richest 1% of the people. There are now 2.043 billionaires and one more is created every two days. So much of the global wealth is controlled by a relatively few people some of whom have more financial power than most governments. A similar situation exists in the UK where most of the wealth being generated is going to very few people. It is abundantly clear that the economic system is broken. It is no wonder that we don’t have enough money for the NHS and defence and all the other needs when most of the wealth is going into the pockets of the already rich.
Just how much longer are the people going to tolerate this situation?
I am a feminist, I have always been a feminist, I felt from a relatively young age that my mother had a raw deal, although I must hasten to add I don’t think she necessarily saw it that way and was content with her role. I soon realised that it was not just my mother, many women in those days were unfairly treated. I believe strongly in equal pay for equal work, with the caveat that the work should be clearly and undeniably equal. A corollary of these views is that there should be no discrimination on the grounds of gender and that both sexes (and homosexuals) are equal at work and in the home. Throughout my career I did what I could to encourage more women to take up a career in engineering and science but I felt that I was pushing against an open door because there were very few, if any, barriers to stop women following a career in engineering, apart, possibly, within the schools. The real problem seemed to me to be a lack of desire on the part of the great majority of girls to choose such a career, partly, no doubt, due to a failure on the part of companies and universities to explain the nature of the career of a professional engineer, and partly, perhaps, because girls are different to boys and engineering just doesn’t appeal to them so much. Of course I believe, as a feminist, that every young girl has a right to choose her career and to do with her life as she might wish, and that there should not be pressure or coercion towards choosing. I believe in a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, although I think that the law permits them at too late a stage.
Unfortunately it seems there is a long way to go before such views are universally accepted, many women today, and especially young women, are treated badly by men. Violence in the home remains a major problem, I understand that there are, on average, three women killed by their partner every week in this country. Using violence to force women into prostitution, especially trafficked women, still goes on despite efforts to stop it. Women keen to follow a career often find their way impeded by men in a position of power who use that power to abuse women who may then have to choose between accepting the abuse or foregoing advancement in their career. The Harvey Weinsteins and sports coaches are just a few examples, but the problem exists in a whole range of jobs and careers. Single women in rented accommodation are often harassed by their landlords. FGM still goes on in this country. Step outside the UK and the situation can be much worse. Feminism has a lot of work to do yet. It is good to see the ˜me-too” movement gaining momentum, the wearing of black at awards ceremonies is continuing to draw attention to these problems, it is all good stuff, but there is so much more to do.
But why are they directing their fire against the likes of the ˜Walk-on girls” and the ˜F1 Grid girls’? These girls are a popular part of the attraction, nobody forces them to be there, it is their choice. What has happened to the woman’s right to choose? The sight of a pretty girl will even cheer up an old man like me, most men are suckers for a pretty face. There is nothing seedy about that. These attractive women have an asset in their beauty and they are exploiting those assets, they are not being exploited, quite possibly they are exploiting whoever is paying the bill. Most of these women, when interviewed, have no qualms about what they are doing. Some women may choose prostitution and that is their right, provided it is their choice and they have not been coerced. Feminists should defend their right to choose. Sometimes I suspect that women who rant about attractive women being exploited are just envious of their beauty. I do not buy the suggestion that grid girls and similar reinforce the notion that women exist only for the gratification of men, that is a ridiculous argument, in today’s world women have a vital part to play, their existence has very little to do with F1 grid girls and walk-on girls
The feminists have been doing a good job in trying to bring greater equality between the sexes, they have a long way to go in global terms, but somewhere along the way part of their movement seems to have been hijacked and is pursuing policies of correctness such that if a man touches a woman’s knee as a friendly or consoling gesture he may find himself in court. They are right, of course, to oppose harassment and unwanted physical contact but I read recently that the Manchester Art Gallery has removed a painting by John Waterhouse, completed in 1896, from display. The painting is of a scene from Greek mythology showing a group of five young women naked and bathing in a pond, the extent of their exposure is not all that much but it seems it is no longer politically correct. How many more great works of art are going to be hidden away? Will the BBC and other TV companies soon be required to force their female presenters to wear trousers and high neck tops?
We are in danger of becoming a puritanical society, perhaps like the Victorians. In those days it did not stop lewd behaviour, it just went on in a more underground manner, it certainly did not stop the exploitation of women. I was born not so very long after the Victorian era, many of those attitudes prevailed, I have lived through a period of slow but progressive liberalisation but it now seems to be in reverse.
Downham Market Foodbank
There is a food bank in Downham which is part of the King’s Lynn Foodbank, it is located in the Eternity Church on the Trafalgar Industrial estate. It is well stocked with food. Apart from a fairly comprehensive range of tinned and packet food, there is UHT milk, toiletries and pet food etc.
Foodbanks are not just for people receiving benefit payments but are there to help people experiencing difficult times, that might apply to someone in low paid work who cannot afford to pay their rent and keep warm in their home at the same time as paying for food. There are instances where mothers are going without sufficient food themselves in order to provide food for their children. To take advantage of a foodbank it is necessary first to obtain a voucher, these vouchers are obtainable from the job-centre, from a GP or perhaps through your church. They can also be obtained from Alex Coates at the Eternity Church. All that is necessary is to explain your financial situation with, where possible, some supporting evidence. If you are struggling why not call in for a chat even if you don’t think you would qualify, I am sure you would receive a sympathetic hearing.
The location of the Downham Foodbank is not the most convenient, unfortunately it seems there wasn’t anywhere in the town centre that was available. I do help out a little at the foodbank and if there is anyone in our villages that has a voucher or is able to get one I would happily deliver the food that they have selected. Selection could be by telephone.
The Food bank is open on Tuesdays, 12.30-14.30 and on Fridays, 10.30-12.30.
You can contact Alex on 01366 384474 before 15.30 most days and me on 01366 500697.