Young Gifted and ---Let Down ?

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Can you remember when you were in the full flush of youth with all those hopes and expectations of a useful and rewarding life ahead of you? You were probably full of enthusiasm and optimism of making your way in the world and of being able to achieve far more than was ever possible for your parents’ generation. Do you often think now ,as I do ,about how we are in danger of failing our young people by not providing them with the same life chances that we were so fortunate to have available to us? What a waste of potential and what an indictment on what our generation has achieved!

Our present economic woes seem to be having a disproportionate impact not just on the poor and needy but worryingly on our young people. Just reflect on some of these appalling facts that are blighting the lives of young people today.

-youth unemployment stands at more than 1 million with 1 in 5 young people 16-24 out of work-the highest levels since 1992.

-by April 2012 £200m of cuts will have been made to youth services nationally. Whole services have gone from areas as diverse as rural Norfolk to inner city Haringey.

-spending on services for young people has fallen by 12.3% in the past year to just over £100 per young person and is expected to fall by a further 13% in real terms in the years to 2015

-20% of all youth centres will have closed by March 2012.

-10% of schools have cut; arts, music and sports provision and 26% have closed or reduced extended services such as after school clubs. 15 outdoor education centres have been closed in the UK in the last 12 months with a further 1 in 3 facing closure due to government cuts to local authority funding.

-free swimming for the under 16s has gone along with many sports and arts development programmes for young people.

-capital investment in the overhaul of our ageing stock of culture and leisure facilities has been reigned back including the abandonment of the marvellous Building Schools for the Future programme where 11% of funds went on state of the art sports, leisure and cultural facilities that benefit whole communities but especially young people.

-university fees have rocketed and cuts to Education Maintenance Allowance will potentially discourage a whole generation of disadvantaged young people from staying in education and opening new horizons and opportunities for them.

What a lethal and dispiriting cocktail for all young people to swallow especially as they played no part in the profligacy of the financial sector and now find themselves suffering ‘death by a thousand cuts’! If the deficit is to be overturned in 5 years with 78% clawed back in cuts and just 22% in increased tax , as the Coalition plans, it looks inevitable that young people as key recipients of public services will face further erosion of their aspirations and life chances.

Those of us who have worked with young people all our lives know that access to life enhancing and transforming opportunities in and out of school not only makes young people feel good about themselves and provides fun and enjoyment but also helps to create good responsible citizens that can lead healthy, happy, safe and successful lives. If young peoples support was as important to politicians as the grey [or even ‘silverlink’ vote !] perhaps policies and actions would be a whole lot different. It is time we spoke up for them before they are short changed still further so here are three new policy initiatives for starters though we may have to wait a while for the last two!

1] build in a stronger compulsory voice for children and young people themselves , nationally and locally, for changes to any services that impact on their lives directly. Current consultation mechanisms that are part of the Children Act merely pay lip service to the existence of 14 million under 18s in the UK.

2] Government should big up on corporate social responsibility as part of its ‘big society’ ambitions. In recognition of recent taxpayer support of the financial sector and the generous corporate tax avoidance allowed for companies such as Vodaphone and Goldman Sachs [£16 billion just for those two of the estimated £95 billion tolerated every year by HMRC in a list that includes RBS/Nat West, Barclays, Tesco, HSBC and Lloyds/Halifax.] government should demand something back. Philanthropy, sponsorship, volunteering and mentoring   directed to benefit children and young people could bring a sense of social responsibility to many whose careers , though financially very rewarding ,probably lack a social purpose !

3] persuade the Queen and Prince Charles ,as part of the Civil List settlement and as further proof to the 14 million under 18s that we are’ all in this together’, to divert to the excellent Prince’s Trust for young people the £1.2m agricultural subsidy they receive from the EU each year. If they could also persuade their cousin and Britain’s richest man, the Duke of Westminster to donate his agricultural subsidy to the same cause the sum raised each year for young people would reach £2m! I suggest this as neither an anti –royalist or anti –European!




"Knuckles" Joyce MP


file0002039465378I wrote the piece below to vent my anger at the apparent immunity some MPs seemed to have to action being taken against them for the expenses scandal. There was also an underlying theme of the honour, or lack of, displayed by some. The news recently of the behaviour of MP for Falkirk Eric Joyce in the Strangers Bar left me cold. Drink does different things to different people and we have all seen those that become more benign and those, at the other end of the scale, that become more aggressive when they have had too much to drink.


However, every action has consequences and you would think that the realisation of that would be a severely moderating factor in the workplace. Not for Joyce it appears who seriously assaulted other MPs and Researchers. I find it difficult to understand the mindset of somebody in a position of responsibility, in such a high profile position and a position of trust and national importance can behave like that and still feel he is the rightful holder of that position.

Joyce has stood in front of the House and apologise. He has had the Labour Whip withdrawn ( or as he puts it - has resigned from the Labour Party) but he is still an MP representing the people of Falkirk. He happens to be the MP for the constituency in which one of my family live and will not be receiving his vote come election time.

In the Daily Mail today Qentin Letts seems to think that his behaviour makes him more interesting than than many other, more normal MPs. I wonder if his view would have been the same if he had been on the receiving end of Joyce's headbutts. Mind you it might have knocked some sense into him!.


I grew up believing that all M.P's were the very pillars of our society selflessly devoting their lives to serving the public. How naive I was then and how terminally naive would I be now if I still believe the same thing. Every walk of professional life includes people who are not good at what they do, have dubious motives and stand the wrong side of acceptable and honourable behaviour. The overriding motives for such people is usually self interest. Equally, every profession includes those people who are selfless, talented and extremely good at what they do and Members of Parliament are no different.

However, the emergence of widespread opportunism underpinning the expenses debacle, let us see too many M.P.s in a new light. I still cannot understand why some were successfully prosecuted for dishonestly claiming money to which they were not entitled and yet others were not. I have recently been reminding myself of the case of Baroness Uddin, the Labour Peer who falsely claimed £125,000 and consequently was suspended from the House for 18 months and ordered to repay the money. To date she has not done so claiming that she is too poor, despite owning three houses between her and her husband. Apparently the Lords is powerless to make her do so before returning in April. Her equally tainted colleagues Hanningfield and Taylor have vowed to do so. When she returns no doubt she will use the tax-payer funded expenses to fund the repayments. Why has she not been prosecuted and why have the bailiffs not been sent in to recover the money?  It seems that it is one rule for us and very much another for them. Another pillar of our society, the House of Lords is crumbling before our eyes. Uddin should not be allowed to return.

When I look at the wider picture of the M.Ps life when they leave parliament I become very uncomfortable. I consider there to be something obscene about the way that Tony Blair has managed to acquire himself a very substantial fortune since leaving office. Peter Mandelson's purchase of multi-million pounds houses has made his personal finances a subject of considerable speculation in the national press. 

None of us are privy to the basis on which Government Ministers make their decisions whilst in office. I often read in amazement some of the decisions that are made and wonder at the thought process that was employed. However, I reserve my major concern for my belief that on occasions decisions appear to be made with one eye to a post-political career rather than in the interests of the people they serve. Very often these matters are brought into focus once they leave office. 

I believe the government policy formulation system to be deeply flawed as it is all too often short termism to try to boost the Government's support at the next election. Few governments seem to invest in many policies for the future, beyond the current parliament for fear that they may not be the recipients of credit if it produces results for any opposing party at some time in the future.

M.Ps have deservedly received a terrible press in recent years and I have little sympathy for them. I long for representatives in whom we can trust, who dedicate their lives to making a difference to all people in our society in a fair and equitable way. Representatives who display the highest standards of integrity and behaviour, who, once they leave office remain well thought of by the people they have served selflessly. How naive is that?


History Mystery

american flagAndy Worthington sent me this today which is utterly mind boggling. It is not main stream News and Politics However, read on ........

Have a history teacher explain this----- if they can. 

Abraham   Lincoln  was  elected to Congress in 1846.
John F.  Kennedy  was  elected to Congress in 1946.
Abraham  Lincoln was  elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy  was elected President in 1960.
Both were  particularly concerned with civil  rights.
Both wives lost their children while  living in the White  House.
Both Presidents were shot on a  Friday.
Both Presidents were shot in the  head
Now it gets really  weird.
  Lincoln 's secretary was named  Kennedy.
Kennedy's Secretary was named    Lincoln .
Both were assassinated by  Southerners.
Both were succeeded by  Southerners named Johnson.
Andrew  Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in  1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy,  was born in 1908..

John  Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born  in 1839.   Lee 
Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was  born  in  1939.

Both  assassins were known by their three  names.
Both names are composed of fifteen  letters.
Now hang on to your  seat.
  Lincoln was shot at the theatre  named 'Ford'.
Kennedy was shot in a car  called ' Lincoln ' made by  'Ford'.
Lincoln was shot in a theatre and  his assassin ran and hid in a 
Kennedy was shot from a warehouse  and his assassin ran and hid in a 
Booth and Oswald were  assassinated before their trials.

Andy Worthington


Letter to Minister

13196280835E2t2w1A few years ago I was sent a copy of this letter which was perfectly genuine and was one of the most humorous letters I had ever read. I am sure the author wanted to make an important point to Miliband. I only hope he got it.

I have kept it ever since and thought that amongst all the serious points we would all like to make on this site, a little humour would not go amiss. I only wish I could have written it as there are a few politicians to whom I would like to write regarding totally non-sensical legislation. Why don’t you send silverlinksnetwork one that you would like to send to somebody in Government, humorous or not.

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