Category Archives: Guest Blog

Guest Blog: Violence is not the answer.

I’m disgusted to read about the Million Mask March and the violence that took place on the 5th November 2015.

The hacktivist group Anonymous are behind the march and apparently stand for “building a better future through collective action”. A statement released on Monday said “The Million Mask March is about your right to get s**t done outside of what’s appropriate, or legal, or wise. The Million Mask March is about your right to remind governments to be afraid of their people, and to remind people not to be afraid of their governments.”

Surely instilling fear in anyone is bullying and immoral, I understand their motives, but I would suggest they are going about it the wrong way. There appears to be some hypocrisy when it comes to Anonymous’ approach: on Sunday they targeted the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) by releasing the personal details of alleged members in USA. The KKK are known for spreading fear and violence; although Anonymous are anti-racism are you seeing a likeness between the two groups here?

Propaganda for the Million Mask March encouraged nurses and doctors to join the march, but the violent protesters then attacked and abused fellow key workers, police officers. How is this logical?

There are peaceful ways to protest; and quite frankly far more intelligent ways. Violence is not the answer.

 

Author: Emily Thompson

Vote now to share your opinion on the Million Pound March

 

Do you support the Million Mask March? Do you support the Million Mask March?

— asked by Emily Thompson

“Order, Questions to the Prime Minster”

Prime Minsters Question’s is often talked about as the “shop window” of politics, the most watched debate of the parliamentary week and frankly it’s an embarrassment. The constant braying and shouting by Government and Opposition MPs and the sniping between the Leader of Opposition and the Prime Minster must fuel the public’s disillusionment with politics.

One of the few things I agree with newly enthroned Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, on is the need to change PMQs and end the pantomime it has become. This is what he told the Huffington Post after his election:

“I want Prime Minister’s Question Time to be less theatre, more fact, less theatrical, more understandable. I think it’s very exciting for political obsessives, it’s utterly boring for most of the population, who think it’s an utter irrelevance.”

If you’ve ever watched any other Ministerial Question Time you will often see a friendly rapport between Shadow and Government ministers, in which considerable care and attention is given to answering questions. Thus allowing the opposition to actually hold the Government to account – the Prime Minster could learn something from that!

Corbyn needs to do something very quickly to improve PMQs, he needs to tell his party to stop braying and shouting during the session and encourage the other opposition parties (I’m looking at you SNP) to do this same. This will make the opposition look considered, almost mature, whilst making the Conservatives look more and more like children. I’m sure if this happened, the Government benches would soon fall silent too.

Perhaps too, extending Prime Minsters Question’s to an hour (like Ministerial Questions already is) without significantly increasing the number of questions would allow more careful and considered answers. At the moment the sessions feels like a rush, with the PM trying to give short answers that make his Government look good and also embarrass the Opposition.

Corbyn has tried something unique already, he’s asked people to submit questions via Twitter – needless to say this had led to some ridiculous suggestions. But in principle the idea is a good one, getting people to engage with politics is necessary to end public disillusionment.

This is a move in the right direction, although I’m not sure it will last. I don’t know about you, but I certainly feel sorry for Corbyn and his team having to sift through 60,000 suggestions to find just six to ask at 12 o’clock tomorrow, but look forward to seeing what is asked.

Do we need to restore some order to the Prime Minister’s Question Time? Do we need to restore some order to the Prime Minister’s Question Time?

— asked by

 

Author: Edward Molyneux 

Follow Edward on Twitter @NotSoRedEd

 

Has David Cameron handled the refugee crisis well?

The refugee crisis in Europe has just got very real for many people in the UK. The shocking image of three-year-old Aylan lying dead on a Turkish beach has made Britain wake-up to the genuine plight of these people.

The picture even managed to shock some of the most anti-immigration papers into submission (even the Mail!) – as The Independent put it, the 3rd September was “The day the British media finally got a conscience.”

The papers have finally realised the difference between these refugees and migrants – migrants “want” to come here, but refugees “need” to. Migrants certainly don’t risk their lives to try and reach Europe, but refugees are forced to because they have no other choice.

A petition for the crisis to be debated in parliament has now reached over 200,000 signatures, but while public opinion seems to be in favour of taking more refugees the Prime Minister has failed to act decisively.

The government still talk of tackling the root causes of the problem – which, in this blogger’s opinion, means refusing to rescue a man from a burning building until after they’ve discovered how to put out the fire.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister said the UK shouldn’t take any more refugees from Syria, but on Thursday afternoon he promised that the UK will fulfil its “moral responsibilities” after being “deeply moved” by the image.

Will this involve taking more migrants? Only Mr Cameron can know that. But the Prime Minister’s handling of the issue has made his decision making skills seem poor. Politics is often about making unpopular decisions, and he’s in a difficult position – one way he upsets the EU leaders he’s trying to renegotiate with, the other he upsets a large proportion of his party and risks its unity, but either way he’s going to upset parts of the public.

The longer Cameron flip-flops, the more incapable he seems and that can only damage him in everyone’s eyes.

Vote now to have your say:

Has David Cameron handled the refugee crisis well?

— asked by Edward Molyneux

Author: Edward Molyneux 

Follow Edward on Twitter @NotSoRedEd

Make the best wedding choices with Peepoc!

Many of us dread our families and friends sticking their noses in and interfering with our wedding plans. After all, it is your day isn’t it? Peepoc can help give your loved ones a say on the process but keen them safely at arms length. Also, it can reassure you that you are making the right decisions and will have no regrets. Fashion Bride have given it a try… Read more.

You can see other bride’s polls and opinions by joining the Matrimonial Madame’s community.

Have a go and tell us if Peepoc has helped your wedding decision making by tweeting @Peepoc1.

Sign up now with Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

Here’s why polling should be included in your social strategy

Before we start…

Social media has changed the way society works. Everyone who is anyone is sharing, chatting, boasting, commiserating, buying, selling and connecting online.

The top three sites that brands use for marketing are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Although these sites are possibly similar in source code, they are very different in the way that they serve their users. Facebook joins friends and family together to share their lives; Twitter unites people across the globe around topical issues, hobbies and news; LinkedIn is for business, connecting colleagues and associates and facilitating knowledge sharing.

I’d like to tell you about a new type of social media, the social polling network.

What on earth is social polling?

Social polling networks are all about questioning opinions and debating. Instead of sharing updates or statuses like on many other sites, you share polls and … Read more on LinkedIn.

Should taxpayers be subsidising childcare?

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) have launched a new report, ‘A better off Britain’, in which they are calling upon the government to extend the current free childcare provision. “Brilliant”, many parents might say, but not me.

I don’t want this to turn into a debate about whether it is better to put your child into nursery or look after them at home (let’s not open that can of worms); but I do want to ponder if the government should (or shouldn’t) subsidise childcare.

 

The CBI’s free childcare proposals

Amongst other measures, the CBI propose making the 15 hours of publicly funded childcare currently available for three and four year olds and some two year olds available to all one and two year olds. Their report states:

“Childcare matters because addressing its cost will help reduce burdens on families in the short-term, as well as boost incomes in the longer term as mothers in particular face a lower wage impact because fewer of them will spend periods away from the labour market or ‘trade down’ in the type of job they do.”

The CBI’s proposals are aimed at creating a cultural change, ensuring that all women return to work after having a baby. Why? Because it’s good for the economy, apparently.

 

Working mums are revenue generators

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) estimates that if 300,000 more women with children under the age of five worked full-time that it would raise almost £1.5billion in extra tax revenue. (IPPR Childmind the gap: Reforming childcare to support mothers into work, 2014).

You will note that the above figures are based on mothers returning to work full-time, where many would prefer to return to work only part time. The figures also assume that there are jobs available for all these women. And, given that there is currently no requirement for a mother to be working in order for her child to qualify for 15 hours of free childcare, then there is no guarantee that tax revenue will increase at all by extending the scheme.

Let’s humour them for a moment, and assume that these 300,000 women all begin working full time. So what have we got now? Taxpayers subsidising childcare places so that more people can work to pay tax, to fund the free childcare.

I am sure that the figures will show that the extra £1.5 billion in tax revenue will more than cover the cost of providing the free childcare, but why should taxpayers subsidise something that is essentially a lifestyle choice?

 

Having children is a choice

If a family chooses to have children then they should be prepared to accept the financial implications of the decision. Returning to work and putting your child into nursery, or staying at home; these are choices.

As a mother of an 11 month old, I don’t feel that the government owe it to me to provide childcare for my daughter. I do, however, feel that something needs to change to ensure that parents are able to make a choice that is right for their family, rather than being forced down a path because that is the only option financially viable to them.

 

Affordability is the issue

When we talk about the cost of nurseries being ‘unaffordable’, don’t we really mean that the cost of living is unmanageable, that is what it comes down to. When you take everything into account, these days it is near impossible for your average family to survive on a single income. It’s not just childcare that is expensive, it’s also housing, food, energy…

With the cost of living escalating, coupled with an aging society, our care responsibilities are only going to increase, suggesting that affordability and flexibility – from the government and from employers – is the key here.

 

Conclusions

So, should taxpayers be subsidising childcare? No, in my opinion. What the government should be focussing on is making sure childcare services are high quality, flexible and affordable, but not free. It shouldn’t be down to the government to subsidise lifestyle choices.

What do you think about the CBI’s proposals? Do you think taxpayers should subsidise 15 hours free childcare from age one? Vote now.

 

Author: Jessica Eliot

Please note that Peepoc does not endorse or represent the views of Guest Blog Authors.

 

Should children help with the housework?

Earlier this year I was listening to Radio 4 when they reported that a draft bill had been approved in the Spanish Parliament requiring children to help out with the housework. In my slightly sleep deprived state I wasn’t sure if I had misheard the presenter, so I found the article, originally published in the ABC newspaper.

 

The report confirms that the draft bill requires children to fulfil certain obligations, including “co-responsibility in caring for the home and performing household tasks according to their age and regardless of their gender.” Children must also “take part in family life, and respect their parents and siblings.”

 

These policies form only a small part of the Child Protection Bill, and I wondered why the Spanish government felt the need to include them.

 

When I was a girl I can remember regularly helping out with simple chores such as laying the table, emptying the dishwasher and of course tidying my room. I can also remember, as the long summer holidays stretched before us, mum whipping out her ‘job bowl’ – it was nothing fancy, just a regular plastic baby feeding bowl – and the excitement of picking out two or three little pieces of folded up paper and opening them up to reveal the day’s duties.

 

Yes of course, some days we didn’t like the jobs we picked, so we swapped about, and there were always a few chores none of us liked doing, but making it into a pot luck game somehow made it all seem that bit more fun. And there was no time pressure, as long as we had completed our tasks and returned our slips of paper to the job bowl by the end of the day, mother was happy. I used to spend hours on the swing shelling broad beans – I made the whole thing into a game whereby I’d have to aim the empty shells at the compost bucket whilst swinging back and forth and not spilling the saucepan of freshly shelled beans. Oh those halcyon days! But I digress…

 

I am certain that children benefit from undertaking household chores – they can teach them about planning their time, and the consequences of their actions. Running errands can also give reluctant children a reason to get active, which is very important.

 

I am not suggesting some form of slave labour, and that we should force our children to undertake chores that we don’t want to do ourselves! What I am suggesting is age appropriate chores that get children involved with taking care of the home, teaching them valuable lessons for later in life.

 

According to this Montessori chart, children as young as two can help with simple things such as putting their toys back in the basket and books back on the shelf. When they’re a bit older, perhaps four or five, they can undertake chores such as wiping up spills, making their bed, clearing the table, drying the dishes and watering the houseplants.

 

Busy working parents might feel asking their children to help with the housework is more effort than it’s worth, and instead of spending time nagging it is quicker to carry out the chores alone; but it could be a good way for children to spend time with their parents whilst contributing to the family.

 

The Spanish bill doesn’t outline any punishment or penalties for non-compliance – how would this be monitored anyhow? If there are no repercussions then is there any point in having a law? It really doesn’t seem to have been properly thought out, and could be considered an unnecessary interference into people’s private lives.

 

I am definitely an advocate of children pitching in around the house, but do we really need to make a law for it? I don’t think so.

 

What do you think? Take the poll and leave a comment to tell me.

 

Author Jessica Eliot

Please note that Peepoc does not represent the views of Guest Authors.

Should the Falkland Islands stay British?

The strange political anachronism that is a cluster of rocky islands in the Southern Atlantic will, for the foreseeable future, be a thorn in the side of the British government; one of those small thorns which, for the most part, you are able to ignore but which occasionally flares up into a throbbing, angry, infected wound. Whilst the average person living in the UK rarely gives the Falkland Islands a thought, for the Argentinians the question of Las Malvinas is central to their political life. Regaining them for Argentina is one of the principal platforms on which many of their politicians stand for election. When Britain went to war over the Falklands back in 1982, many people were surprised that Thatcher’s government would risk the lives of British servicemen over a distant outpost of a dismantled Empire. But go to war we did, and the Islands were reclaimed. Following the war, relations between the UK and Argentina reached a low point from which they have never recovered.

Just last week, the Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones was the latest politician to blunder inadvertently into the debate. The Argentinian Ambassador, Alicia Castro, following a meeting with Jones, published a statement on the proceedings, in which she declared that she “refutes the propaganda from a sector of the Malvinas Islands’ inhabitants portraying Argentina as hostile, in an attempt to justify the UK government’s refusal to resolve the sovereignty dispute.” It is not known whether Jones knew Castro would make this statement, but there were calls immediately for Mr Jones to distance himself from such ‘distasteful’ comments. As any British politician knows, the Falklands question is the Pandora’s Box of British politics – no good can come from trying to address it. Britain will only come out appearing to be clinging to its colonial past whilst simultaneously hamstrung by the powerful Falklands lobby in Westminster.

Rather distressingly, then, for the British government, the United Nations has instructed the UK to address the question on numerous occasions since it passed Resolution 2065 in 1965, which called for both states to conduct bilateral negotiations to reach a peaceful settlement of the dispute. In defiance of the cherished special relationship, the US has often backed Argentina in the debate, in a collaboration of New World against Old. Even American actor Sean Penn decided to weigh-in with his opinion, back in 2012, proclaiming that “I think that the world today is not going to tolerate any kind of ludicrous and archaic commitment to colonialist ideology.

In one of the least suspenseful elections ever held, just 3 people from a 92% turnout voted against remaining part of the UK in a referendum held in March 2013. David Cameron suggested that this had settled the question once and for all and that the wishes of the Islanders should be respected. Argentina labelled the referendum a political farce and has refused to drop its claims to Las Malvinas.

The Falklands are an archipelago of around 778 mountainous islands covering 4,700 square miles in the middle of the storm-battered South Atlantic. The population stands at about 2,932, primarily native Falkland Islanders (descended from 19th century British settlers), with a smattering of recent immigrants from the UK, Gibraltar, France, Scandinavia, Saint Helena and Chile. There are less than 30 Argentinians living on the Falkland Islands. Recent oil exploration has so far proved fruitless and the main industries remain fishing and agriculture. The climate is cold, wet and extremely windy. So why is Argentina so keen to have them back?

History
The foundation of Argentina’s claim to ownership of Las Malvinas is that the Islands were originally a colony of Spain, taken by force by the British, and therefore should have been inherited by Argentina when it declared independence from Spain in 1816. However, discovery and colonisation of the Falklands isn’t as simple as the Argentinians might have us believe.

Although there is evidence that there may have been prehistoric occupants, the Islands were uninhabited at the time of the first recorded landing, by an English Captain, John Strong, en route to Peru and Chile in 1690. Strong sailed on, however, and the Islands remained uninhabited until the French established Port Louis on East Falkland in 1764. Two years later, British settlers founded Port Egmont on Saunders Island, a little to the northwest of West Falkland, but it’s entirely possible that the two colonies were unaware of each other’s existence. That same year, 1766, the French surrendered East Falkland to the Spanish, who renamed Port Louis ‘Puerto Soledad’. When the Spanish stumbled across Port Egmont in 1770, they launched a war and took the settlement from the British, but lost it again in 1771.

The Spanish and British managed to coexist in the archipelago until 1774, when the British withdrew from the Islands for economic reasons, leaving behind a plaque claiming them in the name of King George III. In the upheaval of the Napoleonic Wars, during which Spain was allied to France, and in the aftermath of British invasions of South America, the Spanish evacuated their colony on East Falkland. By 1811, the only inhabitants were gauchos and fishermen, and the Islands became politically undisputed fishing grounds until 1823, when a German-born merchant by the name of Luis Vernet was granted permission by Buenos Aires to fish and rear cattle in the ruins of Puerto Soledad. He grew his enterprise and eventually brought over more settlers, and in 1829, Buenos Aires named him Military and Civil Commander of the Islands. A raid by the US warship USS Lexington in 1831, captained by US Navy Commander Silas Duncan, ended Vernet’s tenure as governor of the Islands. Buenos Aires attempted to reassert control over the settlement by installing a garrison there, but a mutiny in 1832 was followed by the arrival of British forces, who established British rule.

The British troops departed soon after and the same year, Vernet’s deputy, Scotsman Matthew Brisbane, returned to pick up where Vernet had left off. However, unrest followed, and gaucho Antonio Riviera led a group of dissenters in murdering Brisbane and attacking the settlers. In the wake of this, the British returned to impose order once more. The Falklands Islands became an official Crown Colony in 1840 and began to be populated by Scottish and Welsh emigrants, descendants of whom have lived on the Islands ever since.

Like many places in the world, the history of the Falkland Islands is complex and muddied by the colonial one-upmanship of the European powers during the 18th and 19th centuries. Much water has passed under the bridge and the world has changed dramatically since Buenos Aires last had control of Puerto Soledad. But since the first official inhabitants were French, albeit briefly, if we are tracing back rightful ownership on historical grounds, should not the Falkland Islands technically belong to France?

Geography
Lying approximately 300 miles off the Argentinian coast in comparison to the nearly 8,000 miles from the UK is, admittedly, a rather significant geographical imbalance. Argentina claims that this disparity strengthens their claims to ownership of the Islands, but this case doesn’t hold up well to scrutiny. At its narrowest point, the English Channel is only 20.6 miles wide – does that give France the right to ownership of the UK as well?

…And a dash of politics
In the 1960s, against a backdrop of emerging nation states across the world declaring independence from their old colonial masters, the United Nations called for universal decolonisation. Argentina seized upon this mentality as an opportunity to further its claim on Las Malvinas, egged on by the US. But if we backtrack a little, what is it that makes Argentina (and by extension, the US) any less of a colonial nation? Modern day Argentina is a product of the Spanish colonists who settled in South America in the 19th century, persecuting and marginalising many of the indigenous people already living there. Nowadays, studies have found that some 56% of the Argentinian population have traces of indigenous DNA in their genetic makeup. They came, they conquered, and they entwined their cultures and produced a new nation. Shouldn’t this be the antipathy to outdated claims to territorial entitlement?

The British government has been perfectly willing for the sake of political expediency to ignore the views of native populations in its past decolonisation efforts – see Hong Kong and Diego Garcia, for example. But the opinion of the people who have made their homes on the Falkland Islands must be considered – the overwhelming majority of them want, as their cringe-worthy Union Flag referendum-day suits demonstrated, to remain British. They are, as has often been said, more British than the British.

As much as I have a natural aversion to flag-waving Old Boy patriotism and conceited nostalgia for the good old days of the Empire, the Argentinian government has not made annexation with Argentina an attractive prospect for the Islanders. If this changes, maybe the Falkland Islanders will begin to see the economic and trade benefits of a union with their closest neighbour. But, until then, their views must be respected. Sean Penn was right – colonialism is an antiquated notion, and just as Britain has no right to claim territories for itself against the wishes of the native population, neither does Argentina.

Author: Ellie Wilson

Tell us what you think by voting now – Should the Falkland Islands stay British?

Please note that Peepoc does not endorse or represent the views of Guest Blog Authors.

“Hell hath no fury like a social media addict scorned”

“The customer is always right”

Most people will have worked in a customer facing role at some point in their lives. If you have, then you will know that it is frustrating; your cheeks will ache from the weight of a big fake smile on your face, the customer might be rude or plain stupid, but in the interest of keeping your job “the customer is always right”.

“Stop selling. Start helping”

Let’s just get something straight. Sales people need to sell. After all, it is their job. The customer wants or needs to purchase something, and the sales person needs to convince them of that. Both parties are aware of this, but the idea is to create a win-win situation where everyone is happy.

Recruiters, Advertising Salespeople & Estate Agents have by far the worst reputation of all sales people in my opinion. Perhaps that is just from my own experience when working at a software company in a previous role, where I was the target for 2 out of 3 of the above. More often than not they were pushy, persistent (borderline stalker-ish) and had a distinct inability to listen. A veteran sales person I used to know would say “You have two ears and one mouth, so they should be used in that ratio”.

In amongst the rough, were a few diamonds who I always chose to work with, even if their product/offering wasn’t the highest spec, because I knew they would always work to help me and create that win-win situation.

Feel your reputation is being unfairly tarnished by your profession? Then prove it and “Stop selling. Start helping”.

“Hell hath no fury like a social media addict scorned”

Since the days of the used car salesman, the sales floor has changed significantly, not least due to the introduction of the internet and social media.

Social media can have a really positive effect on sales people and brands. I am the first person to recommend or review a company when the service has been top-notch, particularly as excellent customer service representatives appear to be an endangered species. If you make me happy then expect a tweet, post, email, review, survey response or at least some gratitude from me.

If you are rude, ineffective, lazy or untrustworthy however, you can be named and shamed within seconds and to a huge and hostile audience. Not only could you be limiting your own commission but you could be damaging your company’s brand, which in turn could cost you your job. Always remember, “Hell hath no fury like a social media addict scorned”.

So what have we learnt today?

1) There are far too many clichés in relation to sales and customer service.
2) If you annoy your customers people will know about it. Don’t think you can hide because the world of social media is all-knowing and the internet doesn’t forget.

How do you deal with incompetent customer service representatives? Vote now.

Author: Emily Thompson

Please note that Peepoc does not endorse or represent the views of Guest Blog Authors.

Just what are UKIP’s pension policies?

With UKIP’s recent local election success and this week’s Queen Speech setting out pension reforms from the current government, now is as good a time as ever to take a look at what UKIP’s own ideas on pensions are.

In the wake of the party’s local elections success, UKIP’s economics spokesperson Steven Woolfe called for the abolition of the UK’s state pension, wishing to replace it with a private system. Woolfe called for the party to consider the changes in its 2015 election manifesto.

Woolfe wanted all children to receive a £2,000 Government grant at birth, a grant which would be invested by fund managers before individuals and employers add contributions over a minimum 35-year period. In addition, Woolfe claimed that the Government should fund a National Pension Company which would pay for a minimum pension provision. Anyone who dies or relocates abroad before they are 25 would see their private pension pot moved into the National Pensions Company. Lastly, Woolfe wants savers to be able to withdraw down money for major life events. Buying a house or getting a major operation would become more feasible.

However, despite Woolfe’s eagerness to come up with ideas for UKIP’s pensions policy, his party were quick to dismiss the ideas, saying that they were “never party policy and are not under consideration.”

The party’s more official and less radical pension policies were written up at the beginning of 2010, based on a report from its pensions policy group – Godfrey Bloom, David Lamb and Mark Wadsworth. The trio proposed a flat rate non-means tested, non-contributory and non-taxable Citizen’s Pension. This pension would come out at £130 per week for all pensioners when they reach 65 years of age. The proposal, however, has not yet been costed.

UKIP’s pension plans also include proposals to reduce the annual limit for tax-relievable pension contributions to £10,000 gross, while they would also reinstate dividend tax credit at 20%.

Add to that UKIP’s plan to get rid of the statutory Pension Protection Fund along with the National Pensions Savings Scheme (because they are claimed to be “costly and counterproductive”) and we already have some serious changes to our current pensions system being proposed by the party.

None of these changes look set to come cheaply, however, and may have to be revised once the costs are properly considered.

Pensions are seemingly the talk of the town at the moment and my own pensions company has certainly been keeping an eye on the newspapers this past week. Along with the rest of the nation, we’ll continue to do so in the year that leads up to the next general election, expecting more radical proposals from UKIP and the other major parties along the way.

Author: Russell Davidson

What are your views on UKIP’s pension policies? Vote now.

Please note that Peepoc does not endorse or represent the views of Guest Blog Authors.