What’s the point of this blog?
In early May 2016, within a couple of days of each other, two public figures I respect both used the term ‘the common good’ in speeches. Barack Obama used it in a speech about the ‘small government’ mindset that he described as “an ideology that undervalues the common good”. Pope Francis used it in a speech criticising EU states over their lack of solidarity and “commitment to the common good” in politics, economics, and the refugee crisis.
It’s a familiar phrase, but it touched on a feeling I’ve had for a while – that a genuine commitment to the common good seems to have been absent from Britain for a long time. The former Prime Minister David Cameron suggested we are “all in it together.” However, as the Brexit vote shows, a lot of people knew it was still very much a case of the haves and the have nots.
The point of this blog is to highlight those inequalities in order to challenge them and change them. Not simply because they are unjust, but also because they squander the potential of so many people, and because I think a society that serves the common good is better for everybody.
The new UK Prime Minister Theresa May has been making speeches from a podium inscribed with the words ‘a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.’ It sounds like she is already onside! Let’s keep her on her toes though and make sure she delivers.
Who am I?
“I nearly fell off my chair” said a good friend of mine when I first joined Facebook a few years ago. Apparently I was the last person he expected to be on any kind of social media. Recently, after a discussion about politics and economics, his wife suggested I start a blog. I wasn’t sure.
I have no qualifications in politics. At university my degree was in psychology, though I did study politics in the first year. It was only a few years later that I became politically active – as a result of a parliamentary injustice.
In 1994 the Conservative Minister for the Disabled, on behalf of the government, deliberately talked out the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, a private member’s bill which aimed to outlaw discrimination on grounds of disability. Even his own daughter, a disabled rights campaigner, called for his resignation.
In protest I joined Labour, the party that most closely matches my values, and have been a member ever since. This personal blog is, I hope, another way of achieving change. It aims to be honest and balanced. I have no ambitions to become a spin doctor!
Nor do I wish to become an economist. I have no qualifications in economics either. That’s okay though, the University of Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang tells me that “95% of economics is common sense.” Green light to go. Not just for me, for you too.
Oxford UK, July 2016