Faith in Humanity

It has struck me a number of times that; the more “ordinary people” I meet, the more my faith in humanity is restored (and the more I want to get involved in making our world a better place for all people).  Because I have met so many people who might seem ordinary until you spend a few minutes getting to know them – and usually appearances would have been deceiving.

We are literally surrounded by heroes; from the chap who cleans up the coffee station in the reception of my office building at the end of the day (who volunteers for the RNLI and saved two teenagers from the North Sea this weekend just gone) to the gentleman who brings live music to the living rooms of those in greatest need of cheering, to the lady who founded a charity collecting donations for wildlife vets in Africa and nurses British Wildlife in her spare time.

I have also been inspired by A Bed for the Night, run by a group of 7 Reading churches, in a brilliant effort to give Reading’s homeless a hot meal and somewhere warm and safe to sleep through January this year.

So whatever happens on Thursday, I only hope that the fantastic work of all these amazing people we have in Reading West will continue and will be supported by whoever the local MP will be.

Hopefully we will have a new government which will listen to all those brilliant experts who have worked so hard to prove that it IS possible to have a strong economy AND a functioning NHS and social safety-net, AND quality, free education for all, AND a greener economy. 

 

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You want to vote

If your potential future leader was Daenerys Targaryen, you would register to vote, right?  I mean the leader of your city, your constituency, YOUR Member of Parliament (MP).  Someone you can actually vote directly for and go to with your problems and ideas.

Stuff trying to choose between Cameron and Miliband.  Boring!  And your vote has almost no chance of changing that as it depends on how people in the other 649 seats vote.

But if you could have an MP who would listen to you, vigorously defend your rights and challenge the government to do better – for YOU…  wouldn’t that be worth registering to vote and then casting your ballot for?

I plan to be that kind of MP.

I have no interest in politics for politic’s sake.  I’d much rather risk crashing and burning my political career trying to achieve a brave new world (no tuition fees, equal opportunities for all, fair taxation and benefits, an NHS with the resources it needs), than tip-toe around currying favour in the hope of a ministerial position, double my salary and getting a cushy pension.


On the 7th May 2015, you get your one and only say on central government of the UK in 5 years.  You can vote for your local councillors most years, but this year, it is a General Election.

It is time to choose the 650 MPs “representatives of the people” we want to sit in the House of Commons and decide policy for our country – how much tax to put on beer, hot food, cars, petrol, your income.  These people choose what it is important to spend your tax money on and what will be cut back.  They are responsible for ensuring you are safe from terrorists, climate change and free to live your life.

Most of the candidates you will see will be Party Candidates. Political parties such as Conservative, Labour, UKIP have a huge memberships.  They choose who will stand as their candidate for each seat, do much of their publicity and write the manifesto – what the party promises to do if elected (these promises do not have to be remotely possible, and they rarely keep them).

While most candidates are supported by a party, they are supposed to act for their constituents first.  I am standing as an Independent so that I never have to choose between what is best for the Party and what is best for you.

It is important that you can trust your local MP to put your best interests first.  All of our best interests first. Regardless of their party.

Once elected all MP’s sit in the House of Commons and vote on proposed changes to how our country is run, whether they are “in government” or not.

The party which wins the most seats forms the Government and appoints ministers, such as the Minster for Education and the Chancellor (who sets the budget).

If no party manages to get an overall majority, the biggest parties will try to form a team with smaller parties and the Independent MPs, until they have a team big enough to make a majority (as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats did in 2010).

The Prime Minister is (strictly speaking) appointed by the Queen as the person who can command that majority team and be the leader of the government.


All you have to do, is to register to vote (here), and then choose the candidate who you believe will be the best.  

Your elected representative will be voting on your behalf on hundreds of issues over the next 5 years.  They need to be a good and strong person in their own right.

If you do not vote, nobody will never know who you thought would be the best and we will all be worse off for that.

What you think; matters. Please register to vote.

Animal Rights, Animal Welfare & Cruel Sports

There are a number of great campaigns underway to ensure that we are talking about animal welfare and the status of cruel sports in the run up to the General Election in May 2015.  I am currently aware of at least three, from Compassion in World Farming, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the League Against Cruel Sports.

I fully support all three of these campaigns, their requests are all very reasonable, well thought out and quite clearly the right thing to do in our modern, humane society. 

The League Against Cruel Sports outlines five calls:

1. To defend and strengthen the Hunting Act
2. To ban the use of snares
3. To conduct an independent inquiry into the commercial shooting industry
4. To take tough action to deal with illegal dog fighting
5. To strengthen protection for racing greyhounds

Further Information from the League Against Cruel Sports can be found here.

IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) have asked all candidates to declare their stance on a number of key issues core to what IFAW stand for.  I completely agree with IFAW that:

Improving the welfare of animals is a top priority.

The UK should continue to lead international efforts to combat the illegal trade in endangered wildlife and wildlife products.

Commercial whaling should end.

The Hunting Act should remain in place.

Initiatives to better protect native wildlife species should be supported.

Further Information from the IFAW General Election campaign (and which other candidates agree with IFAW) can be found here.

The campaign from Compassion in World Farming is rather more in-depth and explicit.  I have been following Compassion in World Farming for many years and fully support everything they request in their charter (below).  I will campaign in parliament for it to be adopted 100%, and for us to come up with a sensible plan to make it become a reality from the less than ideal situation we have today.

I grew up in a farming village on the edge of the New Forest and have been inside a battery chicken house; it was horrendous.  But it wasn’t until I studied factory farming at Totton College that I realised just how widespread this miserable treatment of animals, especially pigs, is in our food production industry.  At that point I became vegetarian and vowed never to eat another battery egg.  I have kept to that since 1997.

We need to introduce high standards of farm animal welfare. It is time to phase out production that uses cages and crates as they thwart the basic instincts of many animals to roam, forage and explore.

Animals should be kept in outdoor systems or, if they are housed, they should be kept in large barns with ample space, plenty of straw, natural light and effective ventilation. Genetic selection for fast growth or high yields should be avoided if this results in compromised welfare and systems should not be used if they require mutilations.

Across Europe, around 700 million farm animals (hens, sows, rabbits, ducks and quail) spend some or all of their life confined in cramped, often barren cages.

Cages are a form of inescapable and extreme confinement which renders an animal dependent solely on its keeper for food and water, with minimal comfort, and deprives an animal of autonomy, severely restricting their ability to meet essential behavioural, physical and psychological needs.

It is for these reasons that cages should be consigned to the history books and food production should be developed using extensive, outdoor and cage free systems.

Sustainable farming that nourishes our health, the environment and promotes higher animal welfare must become the rule, not the exception.

Further information on Compassion in World Farming’s Charter can be found here: http://www.ciwf.org.uk/charter and here: http://www.ciwf.org.uk/charter-briefing-notes

I am similarly against industrial scale fishing, which is also both unsustainable and damaging to the environment and to the future of smaller, more environmentally responsible fishing operations (see Hugh’s fish fight from celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall).

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to the barbaric practise of culling badgers as an attempted method of reducing the risk of badgers transferring tuberculosis to cattle.  I say attempted because it is not very successful and is not supported by scientific evidence.  There is an alternative method, involving badger vaccination, which could be used instead, and would not require the widespread culling of wildlife.

For more information on the campaign against badger culling, please see here.

Campaign Update – Communication, Photography and Printing

Last week someone asked me on twitter, “when are you planning to start your campaign?”.

I started writing to newspapers, launched this website and set up my campaign e-mail address, Facebook and twitter accounts in August 2014, so this surprised me a bit.  A number of people have asked me if and when I will be knocking on doors, as this, apparently is a standard way to show you have started your serious campaign in the run up to the election.

Well actually, I wasn’t going to knock on doors.  I won’t rule it out, but from a non-career politician’s point of view, I’m not sure I see the value in it.  It seems a lot like disturbing people’s privacy and interrupting their precious free time and family time, just to try to demonstrate that I’m “taking it seriously”.  And it might even be dangerous, I certainly don’t think it would be a good idea to go alone…  I did some door knocking for Marie Curie, just up and down my own street, during the years I was living in my flat off Dee road in Tilehurst, and that is not an experience I care to repeat.  I think I managed to collect about £2 and one “neighbour” even threatened to set their dog on me if I didn’t get away from their door fast enough.

If anyone really wants me to come and knock on their door please comment below or e-mail me at SuzieFerguson4MP@gmail.com.  Otherwise I plan to rely on keeping this site, and supporting social media accounts, as well up to date as I can and organise and attend meetings, which will be advertised on-line, with flyers and, hopefully, in local papers.  I have hustings with the Federation of Small Businesses (30th) and with Churches in Reading (19th) in the diary for April, already.

I like that people can find out what they want to know at a time of their convenience using so many different means in 2015.  Invading people’s privacy just doesn’t seem necessary.

Suzie None smile 1
Suzie by Bink Photography

My campaign is progressing…  I have found a fantastic photographer; Frankie Cox, here in Dubai, recommended by a colleague.  Frankie has very generously donated his time, skill and resources in the form of a photoshoot and post processing towards my campaign.  Frankie’s company, Bink Photography, is available for freelance work in Dubai, working with families and individuals to create special memories.  Please check out his ‘hire-me’ page at www.bink.photography.  He also has some stunning work available for purchase up there, like the header picture I have used, so I was very lucky to find him!

A couple of Reading local businesses will be helping me with flyers as soon as I have put the right words together with Frankie’s great pictures, so hopefully I will soon have some information available around Reading which is not exclusively via the internet!

On the note of printing paperwork… I have enough funds, and offers of campaign support discounts, that I should be able to manage something like 2000 flyers.  However, with more than 70,000 registered constituents in Reading West, that probably will not go very far.  So I have set up a Paypal account associated with “SuzieFerguson4MP@gmail.com” so that, should anyone wish to contribute towards my campaign, then here is a way for them to do so.  This account is not linked to any personal banking etc, I will pay for printing directly from the Paypal account and publish everything I have collected and spent.  We need transparency like this for MP’s to have any hope of regaining people’s trust!

Suzie Side Tattoo 1
Suzie by Bink Photography

The only funds I really need are for printing costs, which run at approximately £70 to £100 for a batch of 2000 flyers.  The rules also state that donations of £50 or more must be recorded and declared with donor information, so I will only be accepting donations below £50.   Now I just have to work out how to put a “donate” button on my site…

I would also like to thank the same colleague who put me in touch with Frankie Cox; Andrea Kelly. Andrea simultaneously manages to be a Lifestyle Coach, Online Marketer and all round social media guru, which she fits in around the day job as an engineer.  It is Andrea who has introduced me to the additional platforms of Instagram and tumblr and the supporting apps for managing multiple social media accounts, like Crowdfire, PicLab, TagsForLike, Iconosquare, MailChimp and more. Please check her out if you need some help with your accounts for promoting your business; www.Andrea-Kelly.com (Instagram, andreak3lly; twitter, AndreaK3lly; Facebook, AndreaKellyMLM).

P.S. I managed it (with more help from the lovely Andrea) here is my Paypal donate button…