Saturday, 11 April 2009

Slow motion

The BEP reported this week that a new housing project in Bristol has been delayed whilst the many slow-worms found on the site are rounded up and found a new home. I particularly like the observation from the site manager that '"They are quite easy to catch, as they are quite slow..." You don't say.

7 comments:

badnewswade said...

It's nice to hear that the slow worms are safe. I'm also sorry to read that your relative is ill. I know the internet can be cruel, so I'm being polite, especially because I'd really like to get your side of the story.

This is what interests me about you, Kerry: How can a person pass laws against poor people one day and then run a surgery to help them deal with the exact same laws the next? How can you care about slow worms and be a vegan yet vote for Britain to possess more nuclear weapons?

I'm not being funny here. I really want to know how a person deals with such massive contradictions in their life.

Kerry said...

Your comment is full of false assumptions. For a start, where did I say I cared about slow-worms?
Or are you just assuming I must get excited about such things because I'm a vegan? Not really.

I assume you think vegans must be pacifists. Quite a few probably are. I'm not. I just think that if you can live your life without inflicting harm on other beings, then you should try to do so. It's not an absolute. (Hence my support for some animal testing, in limited circs).

Trident is a nuclear deterrent; it's about protecting people. So I can't see the correlation at all.

And I simply don't know what you mean by passing laws against poor people.

Kerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
badnewswade said...

This isn't about pacifism; you claim to care about animals yet you voted to upgrade a weapons system that if used would destroy all animal life in about a thousand mile radius, maybe more. The environmental effects of nuclear weapons are notorious; they kill so indiscriminately that there is still serious debate over whether it would ever be legal to use them. A nuclear war on any scale would certainly be ruinous to the environment. I don't expect politicians not to vote for more really violent weapons, but it strikes me as incredibly odd that you would do so and yet also profess to care about the animals.

On The Bristol Blogger earlier (sorry, lost the link) you proudly explained about your work with immigrants and welfare claimants, yet you have always voted with a government which wants to literally tear up the rulebook on refugee law; those deportations you fight are the offical policy of the government of which you are part. Likewise harsh treatment of benefit claimants has been government policy literally since Day One.

Once again, I don't expect politicians to be nice to the poor and vulnerable, so this somewhat schitzophrenic approach causes massive cognitive dissonance. If you hate poor people then it makes sense for you to vote with the government when they bash the poor and not do anything for your constituents when they're affected by these laws, and vice versa - if you care about the unfortunate then why did you vote with the government when they were pushing anti-refugee, anti-poor person laws?

I've run on a bit, sorry, but, can you see now why so many people don't vote?

Kerry said...

Well we seem to have moved a long way from slow-worms!

The whole point of supporting a nuclear deterrent is that you believe that by having one, it makes it a lot less likely that anyone will ever use nuclear weapons.

As for immigration, do you think we should have an open borders policy in the UK? Because I don't.

Unless you support open borders, then we have to have Immigration laws, and ultimately they need to be enforced by deportation if someone won't leave voluntarily.

But those immigration laws have to be humane, and flexible enough to take into account individual circumstances. Applications to stay are frequently granted 'outside the [Immigration] Rules', which is why, for example, I fight to keep Jamaican overstayers here. And let's be clear, we're talking about people who have arrived on a six month tourist visa or possibly a student visa but might have stayed in the UK for nearly a decade - they've definitely acted illegally, and it's not because they're fleeing persecution. But if they've had children while they're here, who know no other life, my view is that you can't punish the children for their parents' crimes.

I also see a lot of failed asylum seekers at my surgeries. I know some people (Respect) take the view that there is no such thing as a 'bogus' asylum seeker, and I would certainly never use that phrase. However, it is a simple fact that many people claim asylum when they are really economic migrants. Should they be allowed to bypass the law in this way? I don't think they should.

My job is to make sure that we strike a balance so that we have laws and border controls which prevent people from abusing the system, but we also have a UK Borders Agency and FCO Entry Clearance Posts which admnister these laws fairly and flexibly enough to take into account people's individual circumstances. I don't think there's any inconsistency in that at all.

Look at it this way. Do I think there should be murder laws? Of course I do. Would I get involved if someone came to my surgery insisting that their friend or relative had been wrongly convicted? Yes, I would. Would I take up the case of a convicted murderer who wanted to be moved to a prison closer to his family? Yes. Or someone who reckoned he had unfairly been refused release on licence? Yes. Obviously in all these circs, I have to exercise my own judgment. I'm not going to start proclaiming someone's innocence in Parliament just because his Mum says he didn't do it. But look at Chris Mullin and the Birmingham Six.

What I'm trying to say is, you can fight for those who you believe have been badly treated by the system or have had the law wrongly misapplied to them, without believing that the laws or the principles underpinning the system are wrong.

Ditto welfare - we need a robust system so that people can't defraud it, and we need a system which makes it worthwhile for people to move from benefits into work - and also assists and encourages them to do so, if they need that kind of support. That's been the entire thrust of Labour policy since 1997. The best way out of poverty is to get people off welfare and into work that pays. But I've said loads on this in various debates, and other posts on here - so you can look up the rest!

Kerry said...

Can I just add to this? The assumption that I'd be more moved by the thought of animals dying in a nuclear attack, than people dying, is just plain wrong. I know there were a few people who seemed more concerned about the animals in Baghad zoo than about the civilians there, but trust me, I'm not one of them. It would probably never cross my mind to think of the animals, to be honest.

Bevanite said...

do trolls survive nuclear attacks?