Language – 2

When one travels abroad, it is amazing how many people can understand basic English.  It is also amusing how badly some things are translated into English.  I expect the same happens when English is translated into another language – meanings get distorted.  This often leads to misunderstandings.

As a country, we are quite good at encouraging people to come and visit us to see the sights and sounds.  But, one thing I have noticed in my travels around the UK, is the lack of language skills of staff in hotels, restaurants, shops and tourist destinations who can speak another language.

We need to find a way, whereby there is always at least one member of staff who can speak one of the main languages used by tourists.  This would include French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, Hindi and Swahili.  Most foreigners will know one of these languages, wherever they come from.  For example, most tourists from South America speak Spanish.  Even those who speak Portuguese (those from Brazil) will understand Spanish to a certain extent.

Maybe there should be a multi-pronged approach.  All schools should teach at least one language, with a focus on conversational skills.  Each council should be given money by the Government for their tourism budget to run conversational skill courses in at least three languages according to the highest number of foreign tourists that visit.  Each employer should give time off to its staff to attend these classes, funding their attendance.  Staff would need to agree to go on regular refresher courses to keep their skills up to date.  Maybe, a financial incentive is given to attend these courses.  It is also important that senior staff also attend these courses, to show leadership and how serious this matter is taken.

By recognising the importance of learning another language, will mean that there can be an increase in the number of different ways one can increase tourists and also in our dealings in business we will be on a level playing field.

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Policing – 3

Even though crime is becoming more sophisticated and on a larger scale, especially in the areas of drugs, human trafficking, money laundering and cybercrime, most crime is still small scale with the focus on theft being the main issue.  Though, we must not forget the increase in violence against the person, especially with regards to the various forms of domestic abuse.

Therefore, policing needs to re-organise itself, with a bigger focus on getting police men and women out onto the streets, trained in self-defence, negotiating skills and given the necessary technology (like mini-cameras to record all interactions with the public – voice and film).  For their protection, an annual training course in fitness and updating of current legislation needs to take place, which they will need to pass to continue.  There needs to be a big increase in the number of police women and men.

The police have a big public relations problem.  Part of the issue is the police not taking people seriously, especially when it comes to rape and domestic abuse.  And there is the issue of treatment whilst in custody with accusations of rough handling and verbal abuse.  People need to be treated as innocent until convicted.  Better management of investigations must take precedence to avoid miscarriages of justice.  Senior police officers need to also engage with the public, hearing the issues that affect them and then reporting back as to what action has been taken.  Maybe social events should take place so that the public can get to know their local officers which in turn will help in developing trust.

From a structural point of view, bureaucracy should be reduced to a minimum.  Ways should be found to record crimes as they happen, so that forms do not have to be filled in back at the police station.  County boundaries should be abolished and regional forces formed so that there is a reduced need for administration and the issue of not being able to cross county boundaries is down away with.

Specialist forces should be set up for policing certain sports events, especially football, which are separate from the main force, and are partly paid for by the sports clubs involved.  The same should apply to all matters to do with transport.  British Transport Police should take over all matters relating to covering speeding, and other motoring offences.

Maybe, MI5 should become part of the police with a focus on terrorism, and other major crimes like drugs, human trafficking, money laundering, fraud and other areas where it is on a large scale and involves matters on an international scale, which most do.

Because of the need for better co-ordination between the emergency services, there should be local call centres, where operators really know their area, so that help can get there quickly.   All the services should come under a National Emergencies Authority, to hep in co-ordination.  This would include the Coastguard, RNLI, Ambulance Service, Police and Fire Service, and include representatives from the Military.

The National Police Computer should be kept up to date, especially to make sure corrections are made to records with regards to wrongful arrest.  Better staff training and a restriction as to who has access is key to route out potential corruption within the forces.  Talking of corruption, a way must be found to route it out, as there appears to be an increase in those who do not follow the rules, which also leads to the public not trusting the police.

If such measures are not put in place, with the subsequent funding, there will be an increase in crime.  Although crime has overall gone down, the figures are bound to go up as the current cut-backs begin to bite.  I am also sure a lot of crime is not recorded because there are not the resources to monitor the streets, as well as cybercrime.

Any thoughts?

Politics – 4

Christians in politics

Back in the 1990’s, an organisation called ‘The Movement for Christian Democracy’ was born.  It was brought into being by three MPs, one from each of the main political parties.  It was an attempt to bring together all those who believed in the teachings of the Bible applied to political thought.  I was excited by its breadth and balance.  There was a ‘maturity’ about it not found in the manifestos of the various political parties.  The original attention was not to form a ‘Christian Democratic’ party but to influence Government policy and thinking.  Unfortunately, as far as I was concerned, a number of its members believed it was the right time to do just that, so the Christian People’s Alliance (CPA) was born.  A number of other groups were also spawned from it.  Even though the CPA has put forward a number of candidates, it has not garnered many votes.

A good number of MPs have declared in one way or another that they are Christians, including Prime Ministers.  Unfortunately, this often means ‘Christian’ in name only.  They have not based their policy on biblical principles, and even if it is, they do not keep to those principles.  This has been evident in recent events over same-sex marriage, and homosexuality in general, all for political expediency.  To me, that makes you wonder if that individual can be trusted with one’s vote.  I could give a number of examples, but it would not achieve anything.  Now, as a Christian, one should seek to follow the principles outlined in the Bible.  Unlike others, we have a framework to base our thinking and practice.  Our understandings may vary from person to person, hence why MPs can stand for the various Parties and still keep their principles.  These biblical values means to stand up against their Party when a policy falls foul of the Bible; that means fearing God more than the Whip!

So, when are we going to hear of Christians who are prepared to stick up for their biblical principles, have a wholistic and integrated viewpoint and express it in an attitude of Jesus love?

(Having had a look at the various manifestos of the ‘Christian’ parties, I would not vote for them for a number of their policies are similar to those of the English Democrats, a far right party.  Also some of the attitudes that come across in their writings are not very loving.)

Below is a copy of the original ‘Westminster Declaration’ published in a publication of the Movement for Christian Democracy in the 1990s. (Not the one published by the CPA recently.)

HRP – VALUES – THE WESTMINSTER DECLARATION – MCD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Politics – 3

Another election has taken place.  The results will not be fair and nothing much will change.  What we need is a different way of voting and Government structure.

When we come to vote, we decide on a number of issues:

  • who we want to represent us in Parliament  (ideally, this would mean that we no longer have political parties; the individuals standing for election need to have lived in the constituency for at least five years and can demonstrate their involvement in the community in a variety of ways)
  • who we want to lead the country (someone who has experience in bringing people together, has verifiable exemplary leadership skills, can speak at least one other ‘useful’ language, has a good working knowledge of all issues (both national and international), has travelled extensively, and is well educated in politics and world affairs)
  • who we want to lead the various Government departments (of which there should only be a maximum of ten, preferably eight) (each potential candidate should have demonstrable experience in the relevant field at senior leadership level of at least ten years, has potential policies to implement, has ‘people skills’ and has suitable qualifications in politics and world affairs)

All candidates should be able to demonstrate that they are people of integrity, have strong mental and physical health to be able to cope with the pressures of the work, and that their family (if married or in a permanent relationship) is wholly committed to the candidate standing and that it will not put a strain on their relationship.

Elections should take place every ten years so that Governments have time to make a real difference with their policies.

Policies should be decided by the Prime Minister/President and the leaders of the various Departments so that there is an integrated approach to all issues.

The ‘Cabinet’ consists of Prime Minister, Department Leaders and the ‘Civil Service’ Chief.  Each year, one of the Department Leaders would be the Prime Minister’s deputy.

I would like to suggest that all current titles are abolished and replaced with the following:

Executive Director (old Prime Minister)

Director – Environment, Transport, Housing

Director – Security (Defence), Justice

Director – Finance (inc Benefits)

Director – Health and Well-Being

Director – Foreign Affairs

Director – Business

Director – Culture, Media and Sport

Director – Lifelong Learning, Knowledge Management, Science

Director – Government Staffing (old Civil Service), Ethics and Legislation

Constituencies become smaller so that MPs can really engage with people and have time to serve on one Scrutiny of Policy Commission for each of the eight areas.

The House of Lords is abolished, the Houses of Parliament becomes a museum and a brand new Parliament building is created with the main auditorium created for 700+ MPs, and equipped with future-proofed technology (both visual and sound based).  Also within the complex, there is an office suite for each MP, their PA, and two researchers; suitable catering facilities; many meeting rooms for small gatherings of up to 50 people; medical facilities for basic healthcare; proper security facilities and control – the building is built so that there is only limited number of access points and can withstand a bomb attack.  All Government Departments are also located in this complex.  The design team for the building will need to consult with MPs, Government Department leaders, staff, security experts etc as what is required and it meets the highest environment standards.  The building should be located on a ‘brownfield’ site in the east of London, to help increase employment in a low job area.

All election candidates to be given a partially-refundable amount of finance for campaigning (but only to those candidates who meet certain criteria – what should they be?).  Donations cannot be given to make sure there is no fraud or potential favours given.

Unfortunately, none of the above will happen unless every member of the public who cares about this country takes hold of the above and writes to their MP and to the Prime Minister.  We would also need a few how profile people to take hold of the vision and get it discussed on the television, radio and the papers as well as on-line.  Anyone up for the challenge?

Any thoughts, suggestions on improving greatly received.