The Meandering Social Worker

wandering : wondering : learning

Archive for the tag “power”

David Ruffley in the news

Reports of the incident of common assault by Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley on his then partner from the Daily Mail online.

Ending victimisation and blame comment on the news that MP David Ruffley has been convicted of common assault on his now ex-partner.

Ending victimisation and blame comment on the Jeremy Vine interview with local conservative party member defending his MP David Ruffley on his recent case of domestic violence against his now ex-partner.

After pressure from a number of different quarters on what David Ruffley described as a “private matter” of his caution for “common assault” this incident is now being re-branded for what it was, “domestic violence”.  As reported in the Independent online, a result of these pressures is that David Ruffley has decided to resign at the end of this current term in Parliament, blaming not his own actions but “the protracted media debate” and “the unrelenting orchestrated intrusion into [his] private life”.  The Telegraph online further quoted Joanna Spicer, local party member and former chairman of the Suffolk Domestic Violence Partnership, supporting David Ruffley’s decision to continue in his role until the next election, saying “[he] has been a very good MP for many years and has earned a great deal of affection and respect” and “given the wide debate locally and nationally about domestic abuse and the high standard of expectations we have of our political leaders I feel that he has made a sensible decision.”

Although David Ruffley has apologised for his actions he is not resigning because he believes what he did was wrong.  He is resigning because his position in Parliament has become ‘untenable’.  What is surprising is that even the ex-chairman of the Suffolk Domestic Violence Partnership is placing weight on the media pressure that has arisen out of his case.

The petitions and media pressure have called for his resignation and although that is being deferred to 2015 they have achieved that initial goal.  But what do we really want?  Is resignation alone right or enough?  Will David Ruffley go off in to the wilderness for a few years, until the current furore has been forgotten and he comes back as a consultant or even an MP again?  Will the argument be that he has served his penance in losing his job? A job he apparently loves.

Just consider the question of why anyone would want to become an MP in the first place.  Modern politics is a power game.  Although not exclusively it attracts men and women who want public recognition and power.  Of course that’s only public recognition for being good – as David Ruffley’s case demonstrates as soon as the publicity becomes negative they want to retreat into ‘personal privacy’.  But power is another matter.  Power can be used for good or bad.  Power is behind bullying whether in schools or employment.  Power is behind domestic violence.

In his exile will David Ruffley be given the opportunity to consider his actions, the misuse of power, and whether the way he treated his ex-partner was appropriate, whether ‘common assault’ of anyone let alone ‘common assault’ of someone you purport to love and care for, your partner, your wife, your husband, is appropriate.  From the comments of her friends this was not an isolated or first incident.  Or will he be allowed to fester in his resentment at the public furore that didn’t understand the private nature of his personal life and so forcing him out of a job he loves, embedding in him a sense of self-righteousness?

Just questions?  No need to answer them.  The answers are pretty obvious.  I expect to see David Ruffley back in the public eye in due course, having served his ‘undeserved sentence’ and without having addressed any of the reasons he got the ‘sentence’ in the first place.  I hope I’m wrong.  In the meantime let’s support the messages from Ending victimisation and blame.






The World is Ruled by Fear

Dictatorship or democracy – who has the power?

Who and what keeps the people ‘under control’.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s the West was fearful of Russia and communism.  After the Berlin Wall fell and the old Soviet Union broke up these fears lost their power.

In the 80’s and 90’s public fears changed from communism to global warming and the end of the world’s resources – coal, water, gas.  We may yet run out of these resources but they are taking longer to come about than was suggested at the time and these fears have lost their power.

Although the promotion of the fear of global warming has continued the new millennium has seen it give way in the fear stakes to the “War on Terror” – fear of attacks on the West and the US from Muslim forces in particular, opening the doors to the proliferation of CCTV and oppressive security measures such as the recently exposed news of the US government’s official internet snooping of the world’s population.

What next?

It doesn’t matter.  Keep the people in fear of something and you keep them distracted from what the rulers and politicians are up to.

Whatever our personal opinions, whatever our politics, we need to be aware of what influences us and be prepared to take an independent viewpoint if we are to protect the vulnerable and weak in society.

Powerless – Empowered – Powerful – POWER

The rain was belting down.  The traffic on the roads was inching slowly forwards.

It’s rare for rain to be this heavy in Santiago city.  It happens only a couple of times a year.  When it happens the city is not prepared for it.  A bit like snow in England!  Huge numbers take to their cars in defence against the rain.  And then sit in long traffic queues.

The day we drove in to Santiago city to buy a new windscreen for our car happened to be one of those rare days when it rained.  It was the kind of cold relentless rain we are used to in England.  We did not know at the time that the people of Santiago are not used to this type of rain.  We thought the city traffic must always be like this.  Along with everyone else we sat in the traffic queue.  In three hours we covered three kilometres.

Out on the pavements many people were carrying umbrellas, or had covered themselves with plastic bags, or simply allowed their clothes to become saturated by the rain.  Some people were walking, while others stood at bus stops, attempting to get some respite from the rain from the small bus shelter.

As we inched our way forward in the traffic we noticed the aggressive actions of many of the drivers, forcing their way forward in front of another car and then another, being pushed back by someone else, all vying for that bit of tarmac in front of them.  No doubt they were feeling the frustration of knowing a dinner would be ruined, an evening class missed, a child’s bedtime missed, or even a child still waiting at the school entrance waiting to be taken home.  Every so often there arose a chorus of tooting horns, as if that would make any difference.

Each person in their own way was feeling the powerlessness of being stuck in the traffic, trying to exert a little power, even if that power could only be exerted in the tooting of a horn.

Despite the rain, despite getting wet, many of the pedestrians seemed happy as they smiled and chatted with others as they walked.  Perhaps they had chosen not to travel by car, or wait for the buses that were already late and getting later by the minute, stuck as they were in the same traffic as every other vehicle on the road.  Some pedestrians had made choices to walk and get wet, others had made efforts to protect themselves from the worst of the rain while they walked.  Others seemed to be sharing the camaraderie of their plight as they stood under bus shelters (oh, how very British!).  Whatever their reason for not being stuck in a traffic queue of stationary cars and buses, they were exercising choices and power over their situation.

If I were a medic conducting an experiment I’d expect to find that the pedestrians had lower levels of stress hormones in their bodies, than of those trying to force their way through the rubber, plastic and metal forest of throbbing engines.  And it all comes down to POWER.  As pedestrians they had power of choice over their situation – shelter, stand still, walk, run, cover up or get wet.  The drivers could only sit still and let their stress hormones build up, unable to get respite except in aggressive driving, angry words and the occasional tooting of horns.

Feelings of powerlessness can cause aggressive behaviours as the powerless try to claw back a little sense of control in their lives, whether a parent who is being told their child is being taken away, an elderly person who is being told they have to go and live in a residential home, or a child in foster care who is told they cannot see their parents.  Others have less obvious causes: bullies in the school or workplace, perpetrators of domestic violence, or the outburst of a stranger in a public place.

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