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As a ginger man and a Labour party member I thought I’d write to Harriet following her “ginger rodent” comment.  Below is a copy of my email.

Dear Harriet,

I joined the Labour Party on the day that Gordon Brown left Downing Street, his poise and stature filled me with a conviction that I could no longer sit on the fence. That if I believe in something then I should get involved and nail my colours to the post.  He inspired me and that is something that I hope and long for in positions of leadership – inspiration that politics is a real way of getting things done and not the playground for the elite or career politicians.

I must be honest here, I have ginger hair, and I feel that your comment about Danny Alexander being a “ginger rodent” was a childish and cheap shot, uninspiring to the public and a comment that belies any position of leadership and reinforces public opinion about political infighting.  I have been on the end of around 25 years worth of comments about the colour of my hair, and by and large you develop a thick skin around this sort of thing.  But every now and then, when you don’t expect it or see it coming, it stings.  I wonder would you refer to Baroness Warsi, Adam Afriyie or closer to home Sadiq Khan by the colour of their skin?  Of COURSE not, so why did you pull such a cheap shot?

Of course you could put this down to a rant from someone who has a chip on their shoulder.  I don’t.  I’m very proud being ginger and I would never change it.  I could argue it has it’s downsides, quick to blush, it may be responsible for my “fiery temper” and of course makes me an easy target for the less intelligent jibes and jokes of my compatriots, but I like it, it marks me out and makes me stand out from the crowd.

One final thing, as you no doubt are aware it is believed that the ginger gene is a recessive gene, thus we will not be about forever.  Could I suggest that you work on your sense of humour, perhaps listen to some of Eddie Izzard’s work, Ross Noble and Russel Howard are also very funny.  I only say that so that you have some other comedic content when my kind no longer exists.

Thank you

Jay Butcher – a red headed, red supporter of the red Labour party.


More and more voters are looking towards the reality of a hung parliament (HP) as we move out of the General Election of May 6th, and with all the media, language and commentary surrounding it you could be forgiven for believing that the world as we know it will cease to exist and that the UK will grind to a halt.  But is HP really that bad or could it be a great opportunity for electoral reform…something that all the main parties talk about.

So as I see it a hung parliament has the following risks associated with it – I’m sure there are others but these are the big ones.

  1. Policy is watered down – in order to pass legislation it must become so diluted to be acceptable for all parties to agree.  This is in particular an issue where there are many parties involved of wide political difference.
  2. Risk of unstable government – internationally speaking this would weaken the role that the UK can play in major international negotiations such as COP (climate change negotiations), NATO, G8, UN Security Council.  Last hung parliament was in 1974 and lasted for 6 months before another General Election was called resulting in a Labour win.
  3. No work gets done – due to the nature of conflicting political ideologies, the party bloc vote mindset and inflated egos of some parliamentarians there is a high risk of the UK not passing any legislation, disagreements about how involved government should be in UK society and life thus the UK grinds to a standstill and the economy fails to recover.

Now that paints quite a bleak picture and I’m not naive to the potential risks of a hung-parliament.  Forgive me, I shall now refer to this situation as a coalition government (CG)…I’m a great one in believing that the language we use conveys something greater than just words.  Hung Parliament has such negative terminologies intrinsically bound to it that it seems almost irredeemable, for me a coalition government brings possibility and hope.

So the benefits that I can foresee coming from a coalition government – again I’m sure there are more.

  1. Reform of the party political bloc vote culture – all the main parties have spoken about political reform although more from a voting system perspective.  However I feel that should a CG occur there simply cannot be a bloc vote culture if the government is to be successful.  No doubt there will be some who refuse to change and this has a risk of blocking reform however MPs will need to reflect more on their constituents views and vote accordingly rather than from the party whip.
  2. Defining a politics of agreement rather than opposition – working together in coalition would create far more agreement  because differing view points are heard and listened to in the formulation of policy in order for it to be passed.  Rather than the pantomime of opposition and the consistent negativity that that brings a more positive, inclusive form of politics could be sought.
  3. Better quality of policy made – there is greater scrutiny of each policy that is discussed.
  4. Voter representation increased – coalition governments have more voices at the table providing great representation of the electorate.
  5. Increased continuity of government business – rather than the total overhaul every few years of large majority governments continued coalition governments enable progress to continue from term to term, benefiting the country and the services provided.

For all the scaremongering that is going on currently with the idea of a hung-parliament it seems to have been forgotten that much of Western Europe and indeed many other countries in the world currently have coalition governments.  They seem to have worked well in Canada, Japan, Australia, NZ, India, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Ireland to name a few.

So from my perspective let’s try to change the lens that we use to approach the outcomes of our General Election, let’s not only listen to negativity but open ourselves to the potential for change and for hope and let’s engage with this opportunity to use our voices.

Don’t forget the deadline to register to vote is April 20th

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