Category Archives: World News

UK politics is leaving the electorate nowhere to go

Over the last six years there has been plenty of talk about the ‘mess Labour left’ and the famed Conservative ‘Long term economic plan’.

In May of last year 24.3% of the population registered to vote gave the Conservatives a small majority government. There are several issues with our current voting system (first past the post) none more infuriating for those who vote than the lack of proper representation. UKIP and the Green Party for instance missed out enormously because of the current system and whether you like either’s policies, a huge number of people in Britain voted for them.

The Conservatives whilst in government have reiterated a few messages key to getting the public on board with their plans. Most notably they have spoken time and again about the huge deficit left to them by the Labour government before them.

That Labour government borrowed staggering amounts of money. So did every other nation in the world capable of doing so. When the banks went bust the taxpayer footed the bill. Whilst Labour aren’t blameless for this situation they are no more culpable than Conservatives.

The reason the Conservatives have to take their shame of the blame of the global financial crisis is because their spiritual leader, the late Margaret Thatcher, deregulated the banks in such a huge way that small banks were swallowed up and eventually the country was left with a group of super (investment) banks. Whilst Thatcher was doing this in Britain Reagan was doing the same in America. Their banks pretty much owned ours, so when their empire fell ours did too.

Whilst establishing a service industry in the country she systematically took apart Britain’s manufacturing industry and for short term gains privatised several public services. These include telecommunications, the rail network and the banking system.

There has been a great deal of focus on production in the country over the last few days and in order to stimulate growth the Chancellor has come up with the idea of cutting corporation tax. Fine in principle, flawed when it comes at the cost of the disabled and vulnerable.

For anyone thinking this is a love letter to the Labour party here is an assessment of where they have left us up to this point. They failed to reverse any of damage Thatcher’s policy inflicted on the manufacturing industry leaving the country reliant on the city of London to stimulate the economy. It’s pretty clear that when banks are given freedom to behave as they please, it doesn’t work out for the average tax payer.

They also spent a disgusting amount of money on an illegal war *cough* Hutton report *cough* at the cost to lives to those in Britain’s armed forces but more importantly huge numbers of civilians in the region. The Middle East is now as unstable as it has ever been and that is largely due to the handy work of Tony Blair and his cronies within New Labour. It is no exaggeration to say that the last Labour government left the world in a bloody and violent mess. This is almost certainly due to leaving a vacuum of power across the Middle East (Iraq, Libya, Syria) that has been swallowed up by terrorists.

Back to today and we have a Chancellor too scared to appear in the House of Commons because he has no answers to the question what on earth has happened to your budget? During his time as Chancellor George Osborne has imposed several targets aimed at impressing the electorate and failed almost every one.

The scary thing is Iain Duncan Smith stated in his resignation letter he couldn’t stand by these proposed cuts to PIP which would have seen the disabled of this country over four billion pounds worse off. This the man who was happy to endorse policy such as the bedroom tax which has been linked to the rise of suicide. Worse still given what has been said in parliament today we will have no clue as to where this black hole in funding will be filled until the autumn statement.

The SNP (and much of Scotland) have had enough and think their chances are better off going it alone. Financially it would be tough but given what’s currently on offer in British politics who can blame them? The Labour party is engulfed in tribal infighting surrounding their future direction. The Conservatives are tearing themselves apart over Europe and ‘compassionate Conservatism’ whilst the Liberal Democrats barely even exist.

When politics fails as miserably as is happening in Britain today there is always a groundswell of support for smaller parties. If history has taught us anything, this unfortunately leads to a surge in sympathy for the far right.

Labour and the Tories need to get their act together for sake of the electorate. Unfortunately too many in government forget that’s how and why they are there in the first place.

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Why a flat out refusal to learn anything from history makes me so angry.

I’ve been putting off writing this post for a good while now as the subject matter is both sensitive and infuriating. I have used this blog as a form of therapy in the past but can’t see how putting my worries, thoughts and concerns on this subject matter into writing will help this time. That being said I can hold off no longer and I have learned from past experience that bottling things up only makes things worse.

On the November 13 of this year something truly terrible happened in Paris. I need not go into any detail on who, what, where and why as the fallout and exposure to this story has been intensive and at times divisive. As a result of what happened in France on that Friday night the public, politicians and media have been whipped into a frenzy about what this country should do to protect itself against such attacks and how big a part we should play in other countries foreign policy.

I had the opportunity to write about this subject matter for a university assignment but have declined to do so as I find it next to impossible to write on this subject completely objectively although this hasn’t stopped anyone in the press or media from doing so. The line between opinion and news has not so much been blurred in recent weeks but breached so heavily one wonders whether the flood can be stopped. The biggest and worst example of this was the poll ran in the Sun newspaper which was tantamount to inciting racial hatred.

Spending the last couple of weeks measuring arguments put forward both for and against UK involvement in bombing Syria I have noticed tribal politics getting in the way of level headed thinking and a complete lack of empathy from many for anyone who lives further away than western Europe.

Despite the fact that western interference in the middle east for more than a century is directly responsible for the mess we currently find ourselves in, colonial attitudes and habits die hard. ISIS, ISIL, Daesh whatever you want to call them are the love child of Bush and Blair’s embarrassing failure in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The idea that you can drop bombs and stop these people is insane. I use that word very deliberately because the west has been dropping bombs for a hundred years and yet terrorism is blossoming.

The argument from those who want to see the UK bomb Syria seem to be broken down into three camps: Those who want to see something done as an act of revenge. These people are either ignorant to the fact that innocent people will be killed and this will have consequences or they merely don’t care as long as those who die are not British. The second group are those trying to make political capital from a complex situation. These people are pushing for borders to be closed and for refugees to be abandoned on the premise that this will keep our citizens safe. They also fail to recognise that any terrorist attack in this country is likely to come from those born here and have been manipulated by terrorist propaganda and hate speech. The third group is the military elite who are desperate for the armed forces to remain relevant and give Britain a presence abroad. These people are trying to keep themselves in work and believe the military should have a voice beyond protecting people on these shores. Theirs is the most honest and straightforward argument of all even if it does lend itself to accusations of warmongering.

As the son of an immigrant I find a lot of what I hear from people around me and those online fairly hard to stomach at times. I have had family displaced, threatened and shot at as a result of past misadventures from western forces in the middle east and yet I am supposed to believe that dropping bombs on people living in the region is the best solution to a complex problem caused by prolonged military and political interference there.

Britain has propped up and helped dictatorships and family dynasties in the region with financial help and the selling of weapons since before anyone who is reading this was born. They have encouraged and whipped up revolutions in countries where the leadership was not to western taste only to withdraw support in these countries leaving innocent people to be butchered and gassed by blood thirsty dictators. They have placed incompetent puppets in charge of countries and watched as they go to ruin. This country has befriended others who behave in much the same way as the terrorists we fear so much in this country for financial gain . All of this and more is why I cannot understand why dropping indiscriminate bombs on an already war torn, desperate country will help to keep our citizens safe.

There will  be those of you who know me (and some who don’t) who will read this and think it is an opinionated and biased view but with a bit of research you will see that all I have said is the truth. I actively encourage people who think bombing Syria is a good idea to look at the background and history of the middle east before deciding that the innocent people who are being killed by air strikes are just collateral damage. Just because they speak a different language and have a different culture to you and me doesn’t make them any less human. There is no way to bomb the terrorists without killing innocent people. That’s wrong not just on a moral basis but because it will turn more and more people against us here in Britain making us far less safe.

 

The difference between Aung San Suu Kyi and Maya Angelou

I have just returned from my first lecture of the year ‘Reporting politics’. It was a good day for it I suppose with the Labour party conference in full swing and newly elected leader Jeremy Corbyn delivering his first speech at conference. I was a speech clear in message if not in policy. That isn’t to say it was policy free just that there is obvious work to be done.

As a journalist I thought that a warning had been sent out; Jeremy Corbyn is not afraid of those in my profession and will decide on his own terms who he speaks to, pointing to a drive in social media to deliver his message to people as opposed to media outlets or the press. Whether or not this will work remains to be seen but it is a bold move from the man only recently elected to lead the Labour party.

He made reference to several points or in his words ‘key issues’ that were of interest to me. As a student I often feel that the rise in tuition fees has led me and many others to scrutinise what is now seen as a product. Instead of being content with the learning and support provided to students the money paid to universities has many students, myself included, wondering how the money is spent and what on.

Asked if anyone had heard of Maya Angelou after Corbyn had quoted her in his speech, I was a little disconcerted when my lecturer confused the American poet and author (just two of her many wide ranging talents) with Aung San Suu Kyi. It is not that I expect my lecturers to be the font of all knowledge but to ask a question and then tell a student that they are wrong when clearly they are not did get my back up a bit. People will read that and think well don’t be such a know-it-all but we are talking about two very different and equally brilliant women and I have always been told by my lecturers that accuracy is crucial.

Aung San Suu Kyi AC is a Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma. In the 1990 general election, the NLD won 59% of the national votes and 81% of the seats in Parliament.
Aung San Suu Kyi AC is a Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma. In the 1990 general election, the NLD won 59% of the national votes and 81% of the seats in Parliament.

I won’t let it get to me though. As the late great Maya Angelou said:   “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

Political ramblings of an increasingly irritated and disillusioned voter.

By writing this post I am betraying myself. I always said I would keep this blog free of politics but I also said I would use it as a form of self therapy. Of late I have found myself more and more irate and depressed about the state of play in UK politics. I am acutely aware that when it comes to the welfare state the Conservative ideology of ‘scroungers’ has been swallowed whole by a huge number of people in this country and as a result the party has been able to drive home the point that their version of austerity which slashes funding to much needed services is a way of reducing national debt. I am not so naive that I believe no-one in this country exploits the welfare state. I am however aware of how little that contributes to UK national debt especially when compared with tax avoidance of the incredibly wealthy.

Tory austerity in it’s current form does two things: As I mentioned before it cuts vital services to those who need them most. Secondly it privatises debt for those ‘lucky’ enough to be able to gain it. Instead of the government putting money into the welfare state for things like the NHS or Working tax credits the individual who needs the support is expected to front the bill by applying for loans from those companies on tv with the infuriating adverts and unbelievably high rates of interest.

Some of you out there will read that and think ‘tough, the government can’t pay for everything’ and if that is your belief you are entitled to it. What happens however when you fall ill from no fault of your own and the services you desperately need have been cut? Not only that but you can’t get those tax credits anymore because you are not working. As a result you get a payday loan you can’t afford to pay back and rack up huge interest repayments. The chancellor can go to the press and media and claim he has made inroads into the deficit because he no longer has to help out people like you; the debt has been privatised. All that will be reported is the deficit reduction part.

Whilst they are at it the government think it is a good idea to reduce young doctors pay. Doctors are all super rich so who cares right? Who are they to moan? They only go through ten years of education and training to become GP’s (other specialisms can take up to 16 years) on low to no income relying on loans and when they start work they are offered £23,000. Seems like an awful lot of work for that much money if you ask me and I am extremely grateful that there are people out there willing to do it. If they continue to be treated in this way however they won’t be and some have already said they will work abroad which will eventually leave the country with a serious labour and skills shortage.

Finally this is not about trying to get people to vote one way or another, it is about trying to address some of the misleading arguments put forward by those currently in power. Not to worry though, our chancellor has just secured over £12 billion of investment from a country on the brink of recession.

Pace and convenience

A few days ago, whilst scouring various social media sites and news outlets, I noticed a trend that really struck me. Now it may have been the result of coincidence or a clever algorithm put together by Zuckerberg or one of his employees but there was no mistaking the constant and glaring link. Nearly all the stories I read or skimmed through had an underlying message of impatience. Be it a story about 3D printers or a road rage attack on a country road, everything led me back to this theme.

No longer can we wait for our goods to come into a shop. For better or worse the Internet has put pay to that. At the same time I notice the same restlessness and need for everything to be done quickly in most matters of daily life. I am no saint when it comes to this subject. I am renowned amongst friends for chastising anyone who dawdles at traffic lights or refuses to do the correct speed limit in appropriate areas.

It does make me wonder if society can sustain such a brutally selfish and pacey way of life for any length of time before the bubble bursts. I have no problem with the advancement of technology but on a daily basis I see that technology not only improve things and make outdated systems more convenient but streamline and minimize that which was previously well managed and thoughtful.

Take for instance the profession I aim to immerse myself in. This time next year I will be looking for a job somewhere in the field of journalism. Whilst I believe the Internet has done wonders in terms of reach and accessibility it does seem like, at times, it has diluted the artistry in journalistic writing. Nowadays there seem to be more Buzzfeed type, list stories and misleading, click bait headlines than ever before. I appreciate there is a time and place for this sort of journalism but social media is awash with it and for me it devalues stories of importance and encourages what my lecturers like to call ‘churnalism’.

One of my most ridiculous and often infuriating guilty pleasures is reading comments left by readers. In doing so I have encountered an awful lot of bad feeling towards the kind of stories I have previously mentioned. Great institutions of the press and newspaper industry are being told exactly what is thought of their new story formats in no uncertain terms by the readership and online audience but it appears the complaints are falling on deaf ears.

Many editors will argue that the click bait stories provide the advertising revenue needed for the sustainability of hard copy newspapers and that those seeking more in depth comment and analysis are free to purchase a copy of their respective newspapers to obtain this level of sophistication. All of that is well and good but smacks of a sense of arrogance and mistreatment of online readership.

As a student of the profession I am probably putting my career’s life at jeopardy by writing this (a thought that has only just occurred to me) but I have been struggling for artistic inspiration of late and I live by the mantra that if I have something to write then I write it. Probably not the best read for any prospective future employers and I have been warned in the past by those already in the game to take care about what I write about within this blog. No doubt in a year’s time I will wish I had taken heed of such advice but for now I am just grateful for the opportunity to pen (read type) my thoughts.

On that sombre note I think I shall finish up. Maybe next time I will find something less controversial to write about. Maybe..

Economics and nightmares

I must profess that I know very little about finance and economics and for a long time I did consider leaving this post as one of my nightly debates I have with myself when all too often I cannot get to sleep.

One thing I do know however is that Germany managed to centre itself as the capital of a European empire just in time for the world banking crisis to first damage and then cripple the eurozone.

Whilst the world is distracted with what will become of Greece and the loony leftists that seek to shave off large amounts of the country’s debt, Britain watches on from the sidelines. This happening while Angela Merkel (let’s face it ultimately it will be her who) decides what happens next.Make no mistake whatever decisions are made there will be serious economic ramifications for this country.

When you add poor relations with an angry Russia, who is involved in a conflict with the Ukraine, it doesn’t make for rosey reading of world news.  Let us not forget that we have imposed hard hitting sanctions on the country and are unlikely to make Putin’s Christmas card list for the foreseeable future.

On top of all this madness there is a new, large and highly mobilised terror group tearing apart an already fragile and dysfunctional middle east. ISIS have managed a successful propaganda campaign that the western media seem only to happy to indulge. We are constantly hearing about Jihadi John who sounds more like a childrens cartoon character than the leader of an evil terror group. They have even successfully managed to kill quite a lot of white people and that really caught peoples attention, including my own.

A little closer to home and we have newspapers who are governed by their sponsors and political parties funded by them. Both the Labour party and Conservatives have accepted donations from HSBC, the world’s most helpful bank if you are rich and don’t wish to pay tax. I am not naive enough to think that this only applies to them but they are the ones in the public eye at the moment and are an easy cheap shot on my part.

Then we come to those who are in charge of leading us out of this unholy mess. Those who have been democratically elected and those who are old and sit on red seats making up legislation that will benefit few people including themselves.

Our very own chancellor of the exchequer has been wiping egg from his face recently after archive footage shows him giving advice to a viewer on how to avoid paying tax on a political magazine show. It must be pointed out that this was some time ago and long before he was in his current office. Makes you wonder just how he got there and who voted for him, a discussion for another day me thinks.

You can now sort of understand why Russell Brand is so upset about all this politics stuff. I am too. Is it too much to say we are walking blindfolded into world war 3.0 ‘this time there are nukes’?

Meanwhile in America Obama takes the time to show us his human side in an unsettling buzzfeed video. Talk about political letdowns. I can remember being genuinely excited when he first took office. I can’t really comment on what he has done for America as I don’t live there but would it really have been too much to ask for Barry to sort out some of the problems outside of ‘the most powerful nation on earth’? After all we in Britain have been suffering as a consequence of America’s foreign policy ever since world war 2.0 ‘this time russia was a mistake’. The ‘special’ relationship has hit the rocks however with Obama stating he would rather play with Merkel when forced to cross the pond nowadays.

So what do we do about it? On the one hand you can take Russell’s advice and protest about a wholly unjust political system that doesn’t represent anyone but a few influential fat cats. On the other hand if you don’t then you are most likely going to get picked on by the political elite. I mean let’s face it, if you’re not going to vote then you are kind of an easy target.

Anyway this has kept me up long enough. Time to lay here safe in the knowledge that I will be paying back my student loan till the day I die unless if by some miracle I manage to win the governments hidden tax that is the lottery.