Now we hope …

Super Blue says

… that North-West Ipswich can take its share of the £25 million Towns Fund money that has been received by Ipswich Borough Council, thanks to our MPs. Some of our suburban shopping parades really do need to be updated a little. A few plants, some awnings and seats would be a good investment, giving people a good reason to spend more time (and money) there. It is good to have our MPs and senior county councillors on board.

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Whether you agree with the war in Afghanistan or not, we gave the Afghan people hope.

Most will share my shock at how quickly it has taken for Afghanistan to fall firmly into the hands of the Taliban. I have watched with intense sadness and worry for what this means for the Afghan people and the rest of the world. I have also at times this past week felt anger and despair of what this means for the 20 years we have been in Afghanistan. What was it all for?

Thinking back to 20 years ago is not a hard thing to do. It’s probably the most memorable part of my life. I remember clearly, aged 14, as I walked in the door home from school, I saw my mum standing there in tears, as on the news I could see people jumping from a burning building. It took me a while to understand what was going on. We didn’t have smart phones, we had Nokia 3210s with the game “snake” and that was about it. We had been at school completely unaware that two hijacked planes had flown into the twin towers. I couldn’t understand what my parents were watching, I just knew it wasn’t a film.

This was on 11th September 2001 when the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda lead by Osama Bin Laden hijacked commercial planes to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. On 7th October 2001 the first air strikes from the US-led coalition began, targeting Taliban and al-Qaeda facilities in Afghanistan. Bin Laden was in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban who refused to hand him over. This was the start of the next 20 years. Many of us of a certain age and older will never forget this. I will never forget watching the news closely from that moment to then what followed, and I was hanging on every word Tony Blair said.

By this time, I was already interested in politics, but this was absolutely the turning point for me. At college I took Government and Politics as one of my A-Levels. We spoke at great length about the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The war in Iraq had only just begun. Most of my fellow students were very against war full stop. I was not. I always believed we had a duty to rid the world of the “bad guys” and I was also very scared, though I never said that in my class. I remember my politics teacher saying “sometimes I miss the threat from Russia, because we knew who our enemy was.” I thought, like with most things said in my politics class, this was a peculiar thing to say. But when 7/7 happened, he was the first person I thought of. It felt at the time that we had all this terror from different places in the world and we truly didn’t know where the terror was coming from.

For me, I was pro the wars because I was concerned by the threat to Britain and our allies and to be honest, gave very little thought to those who lived outside of Britain. I do hold the Bush/Blair spin responsible for some of this. I was young and I struggled to understand why someone would do this to us. I feel Bush and Blair fed on that fear we all had. I believed Tony Blair and his spin, particularly around Iraq.

For Afghanistan, I didn’t know the history. I didn’t understand the years of famine, wars, and desperation. I just saw us as good and them as bad. 20 years changes a person and I now look at these wars differently. hindsight helps! Of course, I do very much care about the threat unstable countries pose on us. I have great concerns by what the past few weeks will now mean for our safety. But now that I am an adult, with children and have lived life a little, I now ask, what did the past 20 years give those in Afghanistan?

I saw footage of 4 brave Afghan women standing in protest holding signs, I then saw another protest led by women and it made me take a step back and think. From 1995/6, the Taliban forced women to be fully veiled and were not allowed outside alone. “Defiance” resulted in inflicting physical punishment such as public stoning, flogging, and executions. Now, despite knowing they are likely to be tortured and killed, 4 women decided to stand on their own to reject the Taliban and refuse to go back to that life. The words of Mary Akrami Sahak, director of the Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) in 2019 ringing true in these brave women. “After the 1996-2001 oppressive Taliban rule, the women of Afghanistan came out of the dark. We will never go back.”

Whether you agree with the war in Afghanistan or not, we gave the Afghan people hope.

In January 2004 a new constitution was formed which called for a president, vice presidents and equality for women. October 2004, more than 10 million Afghans registered to vote for their president and in 2005 their first parliamentary elections in more than 30 years took place. Without the US led coalition, it is unlikely this would have happened. Before the Taliban regained control, millions of girls were attending school, something the Taliban did not allow. A large number of women served as members of parliament, some of which also sat as ministers. Afghanistan also secured a seat on the UN Commission on the Status for women for the first time, which displays recognition for vast improvements to women’s rights. The journey of women’s rights was far from over but there are now young women in Afghanistan who had aspirations of some kinds of future with hope that living under the Taliban rule was a thing of the past. We didn’t fix the country, that was not our job. But we did begin to give Afghans the tools to rebuild with an alternative to the very strictest form of Sharia Law. We gave women a voice. Whether that was our intention or not, we did it.

I can now see why our so-called special relationship is strained. It has been post Bush and Blair. But now I think this is where we will begin to see which one of us was committed to the reforms made in Afghanistan, and which one of us entered because of revenge and then just wants out. Our American brother has failed to see that by offering an alternative life, we made a commitment to see this through and not turn our backs on these people. We cannot morally say to a teenage girl who has only ever known a life with our troops overseeing things, sorry we’re done. No Biden, our job is not done here. She will be watching as female posters in shop windows are painted over and will be trying to make sense of this all. We enabled that girl to feel freedom and now we expect her to go into hiding and live a life she does not know. We are signing her death warrant. The Afghans know this, that is why mothers are choosing to throw their babies over barbed wire to try and save them. That’s a better alternative than having to walk back to the Taliban. Why can’t America see this? No British Soldiers had been killed in combat since 2013 (source Tom Tugendhat) , no US soldiers have been killed for at least 18 months. We had held our line. But we cannot continue without America as they provided all the air support. Biden not only withdrew his own planes but removed 16,000 contractors who were maintaining the Afghan helicopters. (source- Rory Stewart) He then addresses the public and claims that the Afghans themselves are too cowardly to fight. Approx. 70,000 Afghan military and police have died in this conflict. Biden’s comments are deeply offensive and ill informed. History will not look back kindly on these actions.

Today we watch as we go from still in my mind being “the good guys” to heaven knows what. I watch Biden speak with no regret or remorse and I feel anger. I hope that the stories keep coming in of the British forces ignoring their American colleague’s requests to stop saving civilians because it is making the American troops “look bad.” (source The Washington Examiner). I hope that we rescue as many children as we can. The only thing I can do is try and ensure that any Afghan who comes to Suffolk for safety is supported and welcomed. It’s the least we can do in this mess the US and it’s allies have now created.

Tom on BBC Radio Suffolk – Afghanistan

I was speaking on BBC Radio Suffolk last month regarding the unfolding situation In Afghanistan. After 20 years of commitment in the country, with sacrifices made to create a free country that is not a haven for terrorist groups, to see it fall so quickly is utterly depressing.
I find it quite remarkable the speed at which the situation has deteriorated. It’s important the UK cooperates closely with key allies over the coming days and weeks to formulate an appropriate response.
I think we are way off making a decision regarding troop deployment but the reality is that at this stage it would be foolish to rule anything out. We cannot allow Afghanistan to become again what it once was. A safe haven for terrorist groups to form, operate and plan horrific attrocities on both of our own soil and the soil of our close friends and allies.
I think that the decision to remove troops so quickly has been a mistake and the US President has been missing in action. The manner of the US withdrawal has been incredibly sudden and it certainly seems that President Biden and other key figures in the regime dramatically underestimated the chances of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan turning so sour so soon.
I headed back to Parliament on Wednesday, hoping that I could make a contribution to the debate. I also listened carefully to all other contributions. As always, if you’re a constituent, please share your views with me and let me know what you think either on here or via email.
This is a depressing situation and each option comes with a range of negatives. At times our contribution to efforts in Afghanistan has felt endless and billions has been spent and over 450 British lives have been lost.
 
However its depressing to know that the lives of millions of Afghans could well very soon fall back into darkness. We should extend the hand of friendship and compassion to those fleeing for their lives and particularly those who have aided allied forces. However this is also an issue where our interests are also very much on the line. It would be foolish to think that a safe haven for terrorists in Afghanistan wouldn’t most likely have deadly consequences for our own country.
No easy decisions ahead.

What are “Incels” and why I feel no sympathy for them

This week we heard the shocking news of a gunman who took the lives of 5 innocent people including a young child before he killed himself. I don’t wish to speak about the individual involved but it has now brought into conversation a term “incel” which the gunman claims to have been, during social media rants before he went on his rampage. As a result of this, I thought I will share my opinion of these self-proclaimed incels.

Incel means involuntary celibate. The people who define themselves as so, are unable to find someone willing to have sex with them and so are not celibate through choice. I heard this term a few years back when I was studying the correlation between the times we see a rise of serial killers and a societal drive to further women’s rights.

I stumbled across details of Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in an evening of terror by which he stabbed 3 men, then drove to a sorority house to try and access women there, shot three women, two of whom died, then shot another person in a deli and then used his car to run other victims over. He was finally found dead with a bullet through the head. For my studies, I was concentrating on the fact that though there were 6 killings, because this all happened in the space of one evening it didn’t fit into the criteria to be a serial killing but it was the first time I have ever read the term “ Incel.”

Just as a side note the generally accepted definition in the UK of a serial killer is someone who has murdered 3 or more people over a period of 30 days, so a mass shooting for example would not be defined as a serial killing.

Before Rodger went on this rampage, he posted a “retribution” YouTube video blaming women for the fact he was a virgin and had never kissed a girl. He also published a manifesto where he described himself as an “ideal magnificent gentleman” and outlined his plan of attack. He chose the sorority house, because he felt they were the best-looking women, so should be the target of his rage. Rodger later became a poster boy for the online world of women hating incels.

Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t help but carry on down the rabbit hole of what this “incel community” was all about. The rabbit hole is deep and boy is it dark. These groups spend their days projecting their perceived lived pain and suffering onto women. Women who, in their world are there for sex but somehow wont bow down to their needs and give in. Spend 20 minutes reading their posts and it wont come as a surprise to anyone a) why they cant find woman who are willing to go near them and b) why it shouldn’t be a surprise that these men become so extreme in their views through this community, that they then act out on these views offline and in the real world. Rodger is known as the “supreme gentleman” in these groups and has what can only be described as a cult fan base.

These communities have been seen as such extremists that Canada declared the 2020 Toronto machete attack as an act of terrorism. This was the first time in Canada that someone was charged with terrorism because of a misogynist ideology.

Amongst posts about how hard done by they are, though over 50% of them are middle class, how they don’t get what they deserve when others ‘less deserving’ people such as ethnic minorities and “chads” (good looking men) get everything handed to them, will be a sea of women hating posts. Posts include urges to hurt women and denial of rape. Its basically a cesspit. You will also see the term “red pill” used amongst these groups. Yeah you got it in one…the red pill in the Matrix that makes you see the world for what it is. Yep these men are that tragic they’ve used a sci-fi film as some of the basis of their belief system. By taking the red pill, these men are seeing the world clearly and how women are being given too much power and reject the idea that male privilege exists. Because they are awakened and therefore intellectually more intelligent than other men, they believe they see that women hold all the power to the detriment of men, despite also seeing women as simply objects, *rolls eyes*. Red pillers are also where you find those men who teach other men how to bag a girl through dating manipulation.

In the study “The monstrous-feminine in the incel imagination: investigating the representation of women as “femoids” on/r/Braincels.” Winnie Chang examined how incels dehumanised women on a Reddit forum, which has now been removed, to justify the violence enacted on them. These Incels would refer to women as “foids” or “Femoids” to degrade women to android status. Females in their eyes are not fully human. Once women are not seen as human it is far easier to detach from any possible remorse for abuse towards them.

Yep, its already a very dark rabbit hole but further into the depravity we shall go. “The black pill”. Black pillers is where it is the most alarming and I believe there is a strong case to call these men, terrorists. They do not believe that they can change their ways to change their success with women because it is genetically impossible for them to attract the women they long for. Their hard line look at life is that they need to change society through mass violence and a common theme appears to be sacrificial violence/martyrdom which involves suicide. The Toronto van attacker Alek Minassian, who killed 10 and injured 16, in 2018 had planned his fate as “suicide by cop”. He was unsuccessful in this hope and cannot enter the wall of fame of martyrdom for this group of misogynists and awaits his sentence. Incel forums encourage each other to “go ER” or “be a hERo,” meaning to commit mass murder before committing suicide.

These misogynists glorify violence to eliminate women and “chads” (good looking men) to change society for themselves and to wake others up, by their shock tactics, to the supposed threat women pose. They are dangerous men who are radicalised by the community they have built up together to fill each other up to enough hate to be a very serious risk to the rest of us. There have been approx. 12 mass murders linked to incels in the past 8 years that we know of. Our government should be classifying these groups as extremists.

I find the growth of these groups as a danger to the public and they should be dealt with as such by the Government. I do not feel sorry for the men involved. I will not lose any sleep with the knowledge that there are some people in this world that have not had sex. I do not see women as objects to serve men and I do not see women as put on this earth to gratify a man’s sexual needs. Sex is not a human right. These self proclaimed incels have abhorrent views and instead of looking inward at why a woman wouldn’t want to go near them, they have decided to live in a fantasy land where everyone but them is the issue. I think its a good thing that women have been able to identify these pathetic excuses for human beings and avoid them. The only people to blame for the actions of these men are the men themselves and the “manspace” they have created. I have seen posts today about how we need to address the loneliness men like this must feel and how it is a mental health issue. Though there does seem to be links between black pillers and the desire to self harm, not all attackers kill themselves afterwards and if we focus entirely on blaming this on the lack of mental health services, we fail to address the common underlining issue and that is the deep-rooted misogynistic views these people hold. By ignoring this and concentrating on the needs of these men, you are also reinforcing their belief that they are the only people suffering. They are only a victim in the world they have created and must not be treated as the victim in the real world.

“Wanton and furious cycling”

Given the current Highway Code revisions, prioritising more vulnerable road users, it is time to examine the law regarding cyclists. This post by a law firm describes the offences cyclists can commit:
1) Cycling under the influence of alcohol, recreational or prescribed drugs (Road Traffic Act 1988), although this is subjective and the breathalyser is not used.
2) Carrying a passenger unless the cycle is designed or adapted for the purpose (RTA88).
3) Hold onto a moving vehicle or trailer (RTA88).
4) Ride in a dangerous, careless, inconsiderate manner (RTA88).
5) Cross the stop line when the sign is red (RTA88, Traffic Signs Regulations and Directions 2002).
6) Ride across a cycle-only signal crossing until the green cycle symbol is showing (TSRD02).
7) Cycling on the pavement (Highways Act 1835 section 72 as amended by section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888).

The last of these is surely the most regular and most serious such offence. Pavements in and around Ipswich are literally plagued by unaccompanied adult cyclists. That about 2% of our paths do explicitly allow cycling, by exemption to the above laws, seems to have persuaded riders that it is permitted on the other 98%, which is not the case. They have been spotted riding after dark without (white front and red rear) lights (as designated by the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989 red 13,18 & 24 (amended 1994 and 2005) ), downhill and obscured from pedestrians by vegetation.

This problem must be tackled, urgently, by educating the public about the extant laws. If the revised Highway Code makes cyclists safer on the road, it will remove one of their excuses for using the pavement.

Living in provincial England

Here is an excellent Daily Telegraph article by Dr. Stephen Cotterell, Archbishop of York, about the difference between people around London and the rest of England. Remember that we in the outer English regions (and Wales) voted to leave the EU just over five years ago but the self-appointed London moral elite continually insisted that they knew better than us. Look how this union official was treated.

Labour’s real problem isn’t with voters who don’t know what their leader stands for; it is with those who know only too well that he is effectively their third North London millionaire Remoaner in a row.

Democracy eventually prevailed

Tom on the National level SEND review

I was invited to Number 10 late last month to discuss special educational needs with some of the Prime Minister’s advisers. A national level SEND review is currently taking place and I was glad to be able to feed in some of my views.
We also discussed prison education and the worrying fact that such a large proportion of those in prison have learning disabilities. I am pushing hard to try and make sure that everyone entering the prison system meets a education psychologist so that they can be properly assessed. We need to know the true scale of the problem.
 
As I’ve said before. The stakes are very high when it comes to getting SEND provision right. Get it right and we can empower some of our most creative unconventional thinkers to make a huge contribution to society. Get it wrong and sadly, too often, we are seeing with people whose needs aren’t being met in the criminal justice system.
I was very pleased to hear that the PM shares passion. I will promised that there are likely to be some significant anouncements over the coming months.

Further environmental developments

The die is cast. The United Kingdom is set upon a course of decarbonisation, both in energy and transport. As we have shown, domestic and commercial heating will eventually switch to other methods, such as hydrogen. The long-awaited prospect of nuclear fusion will achieve fruition, through Tokamak at a plant near Oxford (above), by 2035.

From 2030, no new cars powered wholly by petrol or diesel will be on sale. Similarly, our railways are switching to electricity and it is just a matter of time before non-carbon aviation fuel, or electrification (above), becomes widely available? When that happens, it will be time to review the environmental taxes on flying, which have actually worked to price lower-income families out of travel, rather like COVID tests.

WHY DO THE MEDIA THINK THEY RUN THIS COUNTRY?

How many times over the last year have we seen the media endlessly trying to dictate government policy and agenda to the government? And to what extent has the government then fallen into the trap of doing what THEY want, to future detriment? And their strategy gave rise to the resultant ridiculous headline “Government U-Turn” But when Nicola Sturgeon did exactly the same, it was a “policy review” and she got away with it like a duck swimming on a lake.

All governments desire positive press coverage. However as I have written before, since Covid hit the world, instead of working alongside the government (as they did in the Second World War), they have criticised every single decision and turned mole-hills into mountain, EVEN when the government was making effective decisions which most people would even agree with, such as the excellent vaccination programme which is the envy of the world.

The phrasing on the front of the Downing Street lecterns changed from STAY AT HOME / PROTECT THE NHS / SAVE LIVES to STAY ALERT etc in Spring 2020 (or RESTEZ PRUDENTS as it was in France).

This caused such a furore in a press but it a complete storm in a teacup. Who cared really about the phrasing? Only the press in their endless attempt to create “confusion” amongst the people. The press loves the public being confused, but never speak to the majority who understand procedures.

The media created an unnecessary storm when it was revealed Dominic Cummings travelled to northern England to protect his family from the leftie rabble protestors who were threatening his family’s safety. But the press don’t care about safety, they just wanted to control the news agenda. So admittedly Mr Cummings didn’t quite reveal at the time what happened, but the news people loved it. And even now they are lapping up his latest stories like a kitten drinking milk, when last year he was the pariah they wanted to force out then, in order to Stop Brexit.


So many times have the journalists moaned that government ministers should have had the foresight of Nostradamus and known months earlier what happened subsequently with covid. Our politicians are not fortune tellers, but base decisions on data available now and future modelling.

As former US Defense Secretary said, Donald Rumsfeld said, there’s a lot of stuff we don’t know that we don’t know.

But again, UK news journalists think they are above the status of the rest of our citizens and arrogantly think they know best.

And why is it that leftish keyboard warriors can pour the most vile and poisonous twitter hatred on Conservative people and no-one in the press even mentions it, but as soon as a Conservative hits back, it is headline news on the BBC website?

When there is some form of public enquiry on Covid, the truth that our journalists failed in their reporting duties will be revealed for their sole desire to make sensational headlines and couldn’t care less about the health and well-being of our population.

Our Conservative Government under the leadership of Boris Johnson and supported by Matt Hancock, had the incredible foresight to invest in vaccine development and pre-ordering hundreds of millions of doses to make the UK safe, and for that they must be highly commended and congratulated.

Set the people free

This recording from February 1948 became Churchill‘s theme at the two subsequent general elections and of the 1951 administration that followed. Rationing, that Labour had actually tightened at the conclusion of the War, was finally abolished and identity cards withdrawn, following a prosecution the previous year. Quite right too, as both measures had been implemented in view of the wartime scenario that had prevailed. It was time to return to relying on the common sense of the British people.

Once again, it is time to return to relying on the common sense of the British people. In peacetime, no Government of the United Kingdom has any business controlling its citizens’ behaviour for longer than necessary. In the medium term, a face mask just isn’t as important as a safety belt in saving lives. 

Up to the end of February, it was possible to predict, with some accuracy from the number of daily Covid cases, the number admitted to hospital two weeks later and the number of deaths four weeks later. This seemingly inexorable statistical relationship no longer applies and the first reason for this is the vaccination programme. Seven eighths of all adults have now been vaccinated once and two thirds twice, but there are other advances such as various drugs that have been shown to prevent death among hospital patients. Furthermore, most of those admitted to hospital are now younger people yet to be vaccinated, These advances will allow the NHS to return to normal, reducing the waiting lists that have mounted during the pandemic, just as our economy is already rebounding rapidly from the associated artificial shock.

The “road map” announced in February has proceeded step-by-step with positive results and one slight delay. So, seventy years after the Churchill administration set the people free from the restrictions of identity cards and rationing, another Conservative government has announced that it will do the same from Monday, because Conservatives believe in trusting the people to be cautious and sensible.

If Labour believed the same, when they say that Monday 19th July is too early to relax almost all restrictions, they would have an alternative date – however, many suspect that they would object to any Liberation Day proposed. Perhaps their leader, who criticised the number of spectators invited to the Euro 2020 final stages, should have refused to attend the final as a result?