Tuesday, 27 March 2012




Sunday, 25 March 2012

Another week and another government scandal, this time about ‘cash for access’ to influential government officials including the Prime Minister the Rt Hon David Cameron.

But this will not be a surprise to most people. Politics has always been tarnished by stories of scandal and corruption, but with the development of media technology these stories are coming faster and in more depth than ever before. And this gives people the opportunity to scrutinise the details more than ever and make their own judgement on the stories.

But what is particular worrying about this latest scandal is not the fact that people donate to the Conservative Party, but just how much influence they have had on the policies of Britain?

Government policies affect every person who lives in Britain and the current coalition government was elected in a democratic election to run this country for the people. However reading into this story it would appear that having a vast bank account can get you access to the very people who decide on policy and can even enable you to influence those policies.

So who is running the country? It would now appear that whoever is elected the people have little or no influence on government policy and the government will push through policies whether the people like it or not. This I suspect would apply equally to any party in government. So the government try and make the best possible policies for this country and run it in the most democratic manner possible.

However this latest scandal now tests this last statement very strongly. With recent policies heavily leaning towards business it does beg the question just who is pulling the strings at No 10 Downing St and making decisions that affect each and every one of us at some level or another.

In education, the NHS even the police force there had been rumours that more and more private companies will be invited to tender their services to run parts of these public services and being a private company they will be in it to make profit first and foremost. But have the owners of these companies been invited to dinner at No 10 to meet the Prime Minister and obtain very valuable government contracts? Are these people going there to further their own careers and fortunes at the expense of the British taxpayer?

It is now well known that Rupert Murdoch had considerable influence on both New Labour and the coalition before the phone hacking scandal came to light. Surely it is inconceivable to think that Murdoch was the only person to have this access and influence? We can only assume that many others that the public do not know about will have had the same access and influence that Rupert Murdoch and Murdoch was only the tip of the iceberg.

This latest scandal is very worrying for all of us in Britain. Not that a government has been found out because they nearly always are, not that it is yet another scandal in a long line of scandals, but because it raises the very important question of who really runs Britain? Who really wields the power, who pulls the strings, who has the most influence over government policy? It now appears it is not the general public if it ever was, but the governments power and influence is now called into question as well.

Are the people who run Britain the ones elected to power or the ones with the deepest pockets?

All comments and opinions in this blog are entirely my own. Please feel free to add your own comments and ask questions.

Thank you for reading my blog J

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Today in the Dailymail newspaper is an article of particular concern and worry to myself. It is an article about the reason incidence of suicide among a particular group of people, the disabled. A link to the article is here:  

Since the Conservative led coalition government took power in May 2010 there appears to have been a concerted effort to discriminate against and stigmatise people who claim welfare benefits because of a disability. Whilst the government claims to be merely rooting out benefit cheats and empowering people to take more control of their lives the reality is very different.

Many people who have either a physical or mental health disability are having their benefits cut or taken away completely, and claiming for these benefits is very complex and very difficult to do. People who are often at their most vulnerable, distressed and least capable are being asked to fill in life changing forms that would tax the mind of a University Professor never mind someone living on the edge of society.

But what happens if you have your benefits taken away or if you are unable to claim them? Having access to benefits such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) open the doors to other support such as Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. Bear in mind that this help is not designed to support a wealthy lifestyle but is meant to help people who do have genuine problems with disability and who are unable to do any form of work and have to be selective about the type of work they do so as to lessen the impact on their disability.

Having these benefits cut or taken away means that the individual is then forced to look for work which may well be unsuitable for them. Another factor to consider is will employers be willing to take on an individual with a disability who may cost them more time and money to train and keep employed, rather than someone seen as more able and possibly cheaper to employ in the long run?

Already a picture is beginning to emerge of someone with no or little benefits to support themselves and facing a battle to get a job that does not impact too much on their disability. Add to that the feeling of being discriminated against and the fear of stigmatisation and it is easy to see how someone can go into a downward spiral of depression and anxiety that may eventually lead to suicide.

It is the feelings of not being listened to, feeling misunderstood, alone in the world, not knowing who to turn to and feeling let down by society that build up over time and eventually you cannot take anymore, your mind has so many thoughts running through it but no solutions appear it feels like it will explode and the only way out is through death.
Unfortunately this is the way society is heading for the most vulnerable, most desperate, most needy in our society. 

More and more people will see suicide as the only way out of a situation there are in, often through no choice of their own and not of their own making. Will the government change its plans and quite rightly root out the benefit cheats whilst looking after the people who need help, or will it continue to discriminate and stigmatise disabled people, using them as a scapegoat for economic problems that they had nothing to do with? I know which route I feel the government will go down.

All comments and opinions in this blog are entirely my own. Please feel free to add your own comments and ask questions.

Thank you for reading my blog :) 

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Just want to say to everyone who reads my blog that I really do appreciate you taking the time to read it. I know that I'm not the most consistent at posting blogs but with uni work and a mind like mine you have to make the most of it when you can!! I am on with a couple of blogs at the moment although not fully in the mood to do them as I've got several essays ongoing and already planning my final year project for uni. However that is my problem not yours. If anybody wants to comment or ask any questions please do so :) It is only through the involvement of others that this blog will develop and flourish. 

Thank you :)

Friday, 9 March 2012

Andrew Smith
Friday, 09 March 2012

The death of a friend or family member is a very emotional time for everyone involved in the person’s life. One of the most important aspects for many people is to have closure over how and why the person died. A person may die for many reasons, old age, illness or injury, but the one aspect of death that for many leaves those behind with the most questions is suicide. Yesterday I attended the funeral of a friend who had taken his own life and unfortunately has left all his family and friends with so many unanswered questions and in some ways no chance of complete closure.

Psychologists have done a great deal of research into the subject of suicide, but to my recollection only the great Emile Durkheim in his famous study ‘Suicide’ has done the same for sociology. I may very well be wrong, but while study books mention the subject, it is only very briefly.
But for me the question is why? Why isn’t this a subject of interest to sociologists and why isn’t it more preeminent in the study of sociology? Surely such a sociological study of the pressures and stresses of modern, 21st century living could prove invaluable to helping professionals understand what we are doing in our society to cause people to take their own life?

For myself this would involve looking at recent history and how society and attitudes in society have changed. In my own lifetime I have seen many, many changes that as a child and young adult I would never have believed. Three areas for myself have seen a technological explosion over the last twenty to thirty years, they have changed society beyond all recognition. These areas are Television, Computing and the Mobile Phone.

But how could these three areas have an impact on a person to such an extent that they would take their life? Surely the technological revolution we have lived through can only have a positive effect on our lives? We can now talk to anyone when we want, take a photograph anytime we want, talk to someone thousands of miles away and much, much more. How can any of this be seen as a negative?

Imagine for a minute that you like to be on your own, in your own company, yes you do have a few select friends and can mingle with people very well, but beneath this persona you are far more content with your own company, reading books, writing songs and poetry and watching TV and films.
In the 70s, 80s and part of the 90s, you could live this lifestyle and not feel that modern living was suffocating you. What do I mean?

Well imagine being bombarded with images and stories all day long, each and every day of how we need to be socially acceptable by being social, of people enjoying themselves, people being in love and so much more. Whereas in the past you could escape all this, forget about it and live in your own little world if you do desired, nowadays it is becoming increasingly difficult to do this.

If it is not the mobile phone, it is the computer or the television. Every time you want your own piece of personal space and solitude, someone somewhere can get hold of you and if it is not someone trying to get hold of you, then you are constantly checking your mobile phone or email just to make sure you have not missed something.

Is it any wonder then that some people in society feel that they cannot escape life anymore and are feeling constant pressure and stress to perform, smile and laugh all the time, and when they feel they cannot live up to the expectations and aspirations of society they feel that the only way to cope is to get out and end their life?

In an increasingly smaller world do more and more people feel that they are being pushed to the fringes of society and over the edge?

Thank you for reading my blog J