Slightly sexist?

Hazel Blears's height, the Zimmers and Tinky Winky's sexual orientation

Dear Marina,

I was watching the deputy hustings on Newsnight the other day and thought that Cruddas was gorgeous. But why was Hazel Blears sitting on a chair all the way through. Do you know why?
 
Confused of the North East
 
At 4ft 10 inches Ms Blears punches well above her height in the Labour party. But she obviously lacks influence at the BBC where the Newsnight director could easily have arranged for candidates to be seated, thus allowing the cameras to track smoothly along the line up without skimming across the top of her head and on to the next candidate.

Or they could have given her a soap box to stand on. There’s not enough of that sort of business in politics these days. I call upon the chair of the Labour Party to carry her own in future. I may not agree with all she says (suggesting criminals be dressed orange boiler suits for community work – I ask you) but she’s a feisty female and I have to respect her ilk. As for you, confused of North East, I suspect you are slightly sexist and really, quite rude.

Dear Marina,

Pop music has sunk to a new low. I thought we'd seen it all with Mr Blobby but now fame - hungry pop artists are dressing up as pensioners just to get in the top ten. What next, people in terrorist bomb belts singing Auld Lang Syne?

Angry of Peckham

Don’t be crass. The Zimmers, a band with a collective age of over 3000, has released a cover version of The Who’s My Generation to raise awareness of the plight of the elderly and cash for Age Concern.

The elderly are a much maligned and extremely lonely demographic mainly due to them living too long to be much use, not being able to resist voting Tory and hating young people.

But Age Concern does much good, for example electric blanket checking and podiatry sessions. So go out and buy the record. These people were active in the war, for which we must be grateful. And how have they been repaid? Their pensions don’t keep up with fuel price and council tax rises, they pass on still waiting for hearing aids, cataracts and hip operations on the NHS and get rewarded for their voting habits by continued council tax rises and cuts to essential adult social services.

Either they’ll learn, or die trying.

Dear Marina,

I am a bloke who likes to wear a purple babygrow with a coat hanger sticking out of my head, so imagine my shock when Ewa Sowinska who is influential in the Polish government took issue with my handbag saying it made me seem like a poofter. Has the world gone mad?
 
Tinky Winky

I think what Ewa Sowinska actually said is you and your purse could possibly promote homosexuality. Interesting, given the majority of those watching are babies – could their sexuality really be influenced by an actor in a purple jump suit carrying the kind of handbag made iconic by Maggie T?

I have only two concerns: firstly Teletubbies encourages students to smoke too much dope. Secondly, the programme inculcates TV viewing habits which is soooooo bad for young tots, stifling communication skills and setting them up for a life on the sofa watching crap.

Swing your handbag with pride, Tinky Winky. If Teletubbies gets banned in Poland we’ll have more communicative plumbers and bar staff and the skunk will go further in a drought.

Marina Pepper is a former glamour model turned journalist, author, eco-campaigner and Lib Dem politician. A councillor and former Parliamentary candidate, she lives near Brighton with her two children.
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Our union backed Brexit, but that doesn't mean scrapping freedom of movement

We can only improve the lives of our members, like those planning stike action at McDonalds, through solidarity.

The campaign to defend and extend free movement – highlighted by the launch of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement this month – is being seen in some circles as a back door strategy to re-run the EU referendum. If that was truly the case, then I don't think Unions like mine (the BFAWU) would be involved, especially as we campaigned to leave the EU ourselves.

In stark contrast to the rhetoric used by many sections of the Leave campaign, our argument wasn’t driven by fear and paranoia about migrant workers. A good number of the BFAWU’s membership is made up of workers not just from the EU, but from all corners of the world. They make a positive contribution to the industry that we represent. These people make a far larger and important contribution to our society and our communities than the wealthy Brexiteers, who sought to do nothing other than de-humanise them, cheered along by a rabid, right-wing press. 

Those who are calling for end to freedom of movement fail to realise that it’s people, rather than land and borders that makes the world we live in. Division works only in the interest of those that want to hold power, control, influence and wealth. Unfortunately, despite a rich history in terms of where division leads us, a good chunk of the UK population still falls for it. We believe that those who live and work here or in other countries should have their skills recognised and enjoy the same rights as those born in that country, including the democratic right to vote. 

Workers born outside of the UK contribute more than £328 million to the UK economy every day. Our NHS depends on their labour in order to keep it running; the leisure and hospitality industries depend on them in order to function; the food industry (including farming to a degree) is often propped up by their work.

The real architects of our misery and hardship reside in Westminster. It is they who introduced legislation designed to allow bosses to act with impunity and pay poverty wages. The only way we can really improve our lives is not as some would have you believe, by blaming other poor workers from other countries, it is through standing together in solidarity. By organising and combining that we become stronger as our fabulous members are showing through their decision to ballot for strike action in McDonalds.

Our members in McDonalds are both born in the UK and outside the UK, and where the bosses have separated groups of workers by pitting certain nationalities against each other, the workers organised have stood together and fought to win change for all, even organising themed social events to welcome each other in the face of the bosses ‘attempts to create divisions in the workplace.

Our union has held the long term view that we should have a planned economy with an ability to own and control the means of production. Our members saw the EU as a gravy train, working in the interests of wealthy elites and industrial scale tax avoidance. They felt that leaving the EU would give the UK the best opportunity to renationalise our key industries and begin a programme of manufacturing on a scale that would allow us to be self-sufficient and independent while enjoying solid trading relationships with other countries. Obviously, a key component in terms of facilitating this is continued freedom of movement.

Many of our members come from communities that voted to leave the EU. They are a reflection of real life that the movers and shakers in both the Leave and Remain campaigns took for granted. We weren’t surprised by the outcome of the EU referendum; after decades of politicians heaping blame on the EU for everything from the shape of fruit to personal hardship, what else could we possibly expect? However, we cannot allow migrant labour to remain as a political football to give succour to the prejudices of the uninformed. Given the same rights and freedoms as UK citizens, foreign workers have the ability to ensure that the UK actually makes a success of Brexit, one that benefits the many, rather than the few.

Ian Hodon is President of the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union and founding signatory of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.