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political rambling, links, and other thoughts

I am moving to a different borough and constituency soon, and among other things I am starting to think about how the local politics will be there. In a way it’s a shame to be leaving my home area. For all its’ faults, I love Tottenham. I love walking down the streets I’ve always known, observing the multitudes of humanity that call it home, looking around me and feeling comfortable. Last weekend I went to view a flat within Haringey with my partner, and I noted how peaceful and happy I was all day. I showed him around a lot of my old haunts and it was a beautiful day. Obviously though I am not moving out of town or anything like that, despite having had some thoughts about moving to Manchester. Perhaps I am waxing too lyrical about all this. 

My new house is in Hendon. Today I’ve been looking around online to research the local political situation, and asked Justin Hinchcliffe (chairman of Tottenham Conservatives) about it. Conservative councillor Matthew Offord is the candidate for Hendon in the next local election. Barnet’s wardmap is here. I’ve recently wondered about getting involved with politics in Tottenham, and then discovered that the way to it seems to involve paying party membership fees. This puts me off. I’m not only put off because I am skint. Given that people devote a lot of time and effort to volunteering and canvassing for the party, I’d imagine parties would be bending over backwards to get additional members for nothing. I’m also put off from officially joining, say, the Conservatives because I’m a ‘three parties voter’. At any given election in the UK I will vote for one to three of the following parties: Green Party, Conservatives, Lib Dems. Recently I’ve considered getting involved with the Socialists as a group as opposed to as a political party. I’ve signed some of their petitions and asked for local information but haven’t really received anything yet. 

Hendon Conservatives‘ Matthew Offord information tells me some interesting points. ‘David Cameron and the Conservative Party are laying out plans for how to change Britain for the better.’  To be honest, I don’t think much of David Cameron. Neither do most people, it seems. However, nobody thinks much of Tony Blair, John Major, Margaret Thatcher or Gordon Brown either. It remains to be seen who is the best of a bad lot, really. Britain had better change for the better, though, because as it is now its’ public have had enough. Matthew Offord is running campaigns to highlight how a Conservative Britain and specifically a Conservative Hendon would be better than it is now. That’s a fair point, I personally do think Conservative is less crappy than Labour for the most part. However, is that really saying much? It is currently being proven by Boris Johnson that in the position of London Mayor, Conservative is worse than Labour. I didn’t think things could get much worse than Ken Livingstone, but evidently they can.

‘I believe in real tax cuts not tax cons.  I believe governments should be responsible with our money, real people’s money and not go on borrowing binges.  A Conservative government would live within its means by offering stability and lower taxes that last.’ This is all very well in principle. We all want the government to manage our money better and prevent further economic crashing. How will this happen though? ‘I am also committed to campaigning to improve women’s healthcare in Hendon, to improving the Northern Line and to ensuring high quality education.’ Hear hear. Now, Matthew, stop talking about it and go prove that you are actually doing it.

Matthew Offord is also encouraging local children to read. Personally, I am a book lover. I read, write, listen, watch, sell, source, swap, buy, borrow and lend books almost all the time. I have a target of 200 books to read during 2009 and read 192 in 2008. I think everybody should be able to afford to read books they love, and be encouraged to enjoy reading. However, I don’t think we need focus so much on that with tinies. I think more adults and teenagers need to be encouraged to read. I observe from friends that when a person only accesses reading through ‘required reading’ at school they don’t tend to enjoy reading or find a way to like it. They are forced to read. I think more ‘outside the box’ reading needs to be done.

The above quotes were from Matthew Offord’s ‘message to you’ at More local issues questions and answers can be found here. Full minutes of his ‘Leader Listens’ session in Burnt Oak can be found here. UK Polling Report’s Hendon area review makes informative reading and can be found here.

On another topic, Vanessa Robertson, owner of Fidra Books, has written an interesting blog post. It’s all about the relationship between authors and bookshops, and gives some good guide points.

Thank you for reading this blog post from me. Please do comment and tell me what you do/ don’t like about this blog, what you want to see more/ less of, and just give me general feedback and input. 


MANCAT thoughts and general college stuff

There are two purposes to me writing a long college related entry. One: for me to get my thoughts about college and any input from others down on ‘paper’, and possibly to get into the MEN or TES randomly if someone finds my post. Two: for my friend Julia to figure out the options for her 13 year old’s schooling.

Here is my tale of woe and coolness. When I was 15 I went up to Manchester and studied at BSS Seminary for a year. During this time I did various vocational courses at MANCAT, which is affiliated with BSS for certain courses. Fyi, the courses were as follows: NCFE level 1 Working with Children; NCFE level 2 Caring in the Community; City & Guilds level 1 Catering & Hospitality. I had a great year, not without its’ difficulties but still awesome. The college aspect really suited me and I loved it. I was happy, I was studying hard, I was dedicated, I was high-achieving and I was treated like the very smart interesting adult I am. A few months after I left, I received my Catering & Hospitality certificates but there was no sign of the others. I left the college and seminary in July 2003. During the academic year from September 2004 to June 2005, I returned to Manchester, worked part-time for the same seminary and college, and did two more courses with them. These were: NVQ3 Promoting Indepence; AS Art & Design. As before, a few months after leaving I received my unit certificates for my AS Art & Design but nothing else. Regularly my former Care tutor would say things like, ‘oh they’ll turn up soon’ and ‘don’t worry’, etc. Nearly 6 years after my first courses and 4 years after the later ones, it is now March 2009. Said certificates still haven’t arrived. On February 17, 2009 I contacted MANCAT to find out what had happened to my certificates. I received a call back a few days later from a friendly member of staff. She had been as helpful as possible and tried hard to chase up my certificates. She found that according to their database I was only registered as enrolled. There is no record, according to their system, of any of my work being handed in or marked – except for my AS Art & Design, obviously. I have contacted my former tutor about this and she has suggested I talk to the head of the Health & Social Care department. I am currently hunting down contact details and will add to this entry when I hear from her.

During the course of my investigations I have found some interesting things about MANCAT floating around the internet. As a vaguely journalist-like blogger, I will link these here. In October 2003 a bullying scandal was reported in the TES. MANCAT sent a response, published in the TES soon after this. In an odd twist to this entry, I also found a news article about a professional sportsman who studied there a while back. This makes me happy, it is my alma mater after all. 

I’m wondering about provision for 14-16 year olds as full time students in UK colleges. Is it a viable school alternative? Is it only for school-linked part-time projects? What are the results? How happy are the students after this? Is there much feedback out there? I’m particularly interesting in provision for this in the Greater London and Greater Manchester areas. The girl in question is currently being home schooled due to a lack of adequate school provision in her locality. Frankly to be forced into home schooling is a crying shame and I’m determined to get a better view of the options she might have. I went to a thoroughly inadequate school and had to build my education from scratch at the age of 15. I then had problems due to my non-standard qualification and lack of qualification integration for colleges. I don’t want that to happen to anybody else. I’ve had a rummage online and come up with these links. NFER press release for a report on 14-16 integration in FE/ sixth-form colleges. Useful and informative, very positive. Report summary and pdf downloads are here. Havering College (far east of London) seems to offer some good facilities, maybe they would work with home-schooled kids – details. Lincoln College (where she is currently) offers a limited range of vocational courses for 14-16 year olds, and at first glance does not specify a school connection – details.

I have downloaded some more information so may update this post in the future. I and my friend are interested in all feedback on this entry, so do comment. Thank you.