Wondering the halls and back allies of the internet muttering to myself… Occasionally shaking my fist at any who stumble my way and generally waxing lyrical or getting on my high horse coz there’s a better view from up here… 🙂  Active disability campaigner and one of the founders of Disability Matters UK… Dxxx

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Please please take a look at youtube’s Scottish Thyroid Petition. Lorraine Cleaver suffered with fibormyalgia for 15 years and nearly died. In 5th Feb 2013 she petitioned the Scottish Parliament and on 26th April parliament decided to press for an enquiry which will affect the way patients with chronic fatigue and ME and fibromylagia are diagnosed and treated. Kindest regards Caroline Young

  2. Philip O'Hanlon says:

    Regarding opposition to national service (henceforth NS). It’s wrong to oppose this idea. The Independent newspaper quoted Debbie Sayers as saying: you people ‘should be able to choose their own futures’, “It is unacceptable to force any person to engage in training that has mandatory residential elements, military training or actual service in the military without the ability to refuse. We do not want our children and grandchildren to fight and die in wars, or in training that they or we have no control over.” http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/irrational-service-compulsory-national-service-bill-to-hit-parliament-in-2014-8805449.html

    There is a good deal of flawed logic here, so I want to deal with that.

    1) doing NS will still leave young people free to “choose their own futures”. The one does not prevent the other. Germany does pretty well as a society and they have it. We are not talking about limiting people’s futures. We are talking about providing young people with a certain type of structured training, discipline and character building, at a time in their lives when they may still be uncertain which direction to take, and which might take just 12 or 18 months. Moreover, the types of skills young people can take from NS as well as other skills which would more likely enhance their ability to decide their futures, and their prospects. I went in the military for 2 years voluntarily after leaving school at 16, and found it immensely rewarding. It taught me self-respect, respect for others, and how to achieve something. I then left and went on to study and gain a PhD.

    2) You say it is unacceptable to “force any person to engage in training that has mandatory residential elements” etc. but don’t really say why. You offer no reason. One can’t just say it’s unacceptable because I think it is unacceptable. There has to be a rationale. Perhaps it is felt that it is a violation of a liberty or set of liberties. Well, this has to be balanced with the liberty of everyone else not to have to deal with the fall out of youth violence, crime, drug abuse, football hooliganism, terrorism, and other related social problems, of which there is a great deal and growing amount. There are ways of mitigating some of the concerns people have. The residential component might just be at weekends; or there could be certain opt outs if other requirements are met. But for the sort of hooligans that terrorise some of the areas in north Manchester at least, I have no objection to the residential requirement at all. In Germany it’s just accepted as part of our duties to society, and it’s society that confers our liberties in the first place.

    “We don’t want our children … to fight and die in wars….” Well yes. Nobody does. But that’s hardly the point here. The point is sometimes wars have to be fought, and wars can be just and honourable and right. Wars of the past are the basis on which we claim the rights we do today, and no doubt it will be wars of the future that will preserve those rights. As such having a militarily skilled or aware populace is not a bad thing.

    If NS is done in the right and intelligent way, it can take into account some of the concerns people have. There is not just one simple way to implement the notion. There are countless varieties with very different degrees of compulsion or not. E.g. if a student is especially gifted at something, he or she might be able to opt out of NS in favour of pursuing his or her talent. If a student harbours a conscientious objection to the military or to firing weapons, then they can be offered the chance of civil service, as they do in Germany, such as working in a hospice or a local fire department. If the student can demonstrate that they have already undergone some sort of community service or course of personal development, such as the Duke of Edinburgh scheme or Scouts, then they could also potentially opt out or reduce their NS time. And so on. So there are lots of ways we could manage or mitigate some of the negatives, while on the other hand, the positives would be very beneficial for society, in my view. I am sure it would reduce the number of people going off to fight with terrorist organisations abroad, and hooliganism, anti-social behaviour and so on, and would help to engender a greater national cohesion and identity, which Britain badly needs.

    For these reasons and more I think it is wrong to be opposed in principle to national service.


    Philip O’Hanlon

    1. ravenswyrd1 says:

      Well Philip for the most part I would have to disagree, firstly because I was fighting this particular bill with all it’s inherent flaws, you mitigation clauses or suggestions where not part of the bill and therefore would not have been included in it something which I and oven thirty thousand others where concerned about. I do not believe it is right to infringe on the liberties of any individual with out their agreement unless they have broken our laws. Nor do I believe that sending autistic young people for example to training centres is a very well thought out idea. Having a child on the spectrum I know how damaging that could be and there was little provision to opt out for the disabled in this bill nor was their a civil service option instead or an option for the disabled to still earn the tax brakes inbuilt in to this bill with out taking part, emaking it discriminative for lots of reasons. I understand the inner city problems that many face and believe that training and education are the way to help these situations. However
      I believed and still believe that this badly designed bill was not the answer that many would like to see. Thankfully however this bill did not make it through parliament… Dxxx

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