Tag Archives: analysis

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.

Advertisements

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.

 

Anger and disappointment

I will start off this post by making clear that it will probably be a little self indulgent on my part. I started this blog post to vent my frustrations and share good and bad memories with those with the inclination to read it.

When it comes to the world of journalism much of the advice and teaching I have been given has focused on being accurate and removing any sort of opinion or belief from the copy. When writing features I have been told that I need to love what I am writing. I may have mentioned in the past how it feels to write something and really enjoy what you’re doing. Sometimes the words just flow, other times your background and notes offer the inspiration to write something you are truly proud of and then there are the times where the writing becomes a chore and although there isn’t anything wrong with the piece, there is little to no enjoyment in proof reading it when you think you are done.

A while ago I was scanning social media when I came across a hashtag on Twitter which caught my attention: #TipsForYoungJournalists. I clicked on it and read through the various attempts at humour and sarcasm, tips that had already been drilled into me by lecturers and the nitty gritty interesting stuff that you can only get from experience in the field. Out of all of the tips I read there was only really one that stood out to me on a personal level. Alex Thomson of Channel 4 in the UK told me (it felt like it had been written for me) get into journalism because you are angry. Do it because you want to challenge the status quo and be part of a change for the better. This sentiment goes against everything I have been taught at university and is something I have been wrestling with ever since. On the one hand the press in this country are, in the majority, on the right of the political spectrum with a few exceptions in the centre and then smaller brands such as the Morning Star on the left. This leads me to believe that belief and opinion must be deeply entrenched in the ideology of the press. Whilst a readership might not care what I think about the copy I am writing, the outlet I am writing it for most certainly must. On the other hand I value impartiality in my work as highly as I do anything else. Either way it feels like it’s a mental struggle that can’t be won but must be taken into consideration.

I have had a frustrating summer all in all and not just because of the recent downpours that have blighted most of August. I have spent an enormous amount of time calling, emailing and writing to people in order to gain some much needed and invaluable work experience with little to no success. On top of this I have spent too many hours scouring the Internet for potential employers for when I finish my degree. It is important to see what the market wants and what I can offer with my skill set. What employers are looking for might not be my preferred route into journalism but I am not naive enough to think the perfect job will fall into my lap. Hard work and dedication are not just buzzwords they are going to be essential if I am going to succeed. Nowadays you need something to make you stand out. There is an ocean of talented writers and young journalists out there all vying for a place in tiny pool of jobs.

In the mean time I will stay on top of the news and keep plugging away with potential projects and ideas, after all I have one more year left at university and then the real fun and games begin.

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..

Fruits of my labour and a feel good factor

Last week was busy, hard work and on top of that an awful lot of fun. It seemed like every day was packed full of things to do, deadlines to meet and accomplishments to achieve. I am glad to say that it feels like it was all worth it.

After covering the hustings for the election I felt I had made good progress with regards to getting content for news stories.  I used a couple for a live newsday assessment on Thursday that was fairly stressful but I think it went really well.

Everyone contributed and in my role as radio news editor I found it difficult to choose between stories, which can only be a compliment to the group I worked with. Everyone worked hard and produced good stories for both radio bulletins and online publication. I had a real buzz after it was over on Thursday and can see how being part of a news team and newsroom must be seriously addictive. I was especially pleased about the number of stories where the group had obtained exclusive content. We spoke to charities, the mayor, companies, sports coaches, chairmen and politicians directly and gave all of the stories a good angle.

I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted after it was all over but the workload hasn’t eased up as our final assignments in all modules are due in the next few weeks. It sounds almost crazy to say it but I am looking forward to getting the interviews and doing the work for them as most of the tasks that have been set are interesting and cover subjects I am enthusiastic about.

On top of all of this I have just received good news, feedback and a great grade for an assignment I was concerned about. Without sounding too arrogant it is always nice to get good feedback about the work you have produced and it is important to recognise where you can improve. When I write something I generally want it to be the best version of what I am capable of producing. This often drives me when working on any project and at times it can even get in the way as I am guilty of overthinking and over editing my work.

After stating last week that I would not be indulging myself in any extracurricular activities, the weekend sport made sure I was unable to fulfill my promise. Not only did I take time off to watch the rugby and football on offer, I gorged on it. I was completely consumed by sport this weekend watching all of the six nation and nearly all of Sundays football, Including Match of the day!

One particular result left me in a state of complete satisfaction. I have mentioned before about my trips to Old Trafford and so it is fairly obvious which game I a referring to! I explained to my housemate that I look forward to this fixture all year around only to dread it in the hours leading up to kick off, feel physically sick whilst watching it and then exhausted, upset/delighted as soon as it is over. It really can and does define my week. I have been walking around today on cloud nine with a subconscious puff of the chest a la Cantona.

Anyway enough ego massaging and gloating for one day I have work to do and that is sure to bring me back down to earth with a bump. Enjoy your week people. Who said Mondays suck?

Anticipation and new starts

February is here and that can only mean one thing. Rugby. This month will be dominated by the sport. The six nations starts soon and I am really looking forward to it. International rugby seems to produce the best quality rugby union and the sport should be proud of that. It is something I have felt that football should aspire to for a long time now as the Champions league has dominated the sport in terms of best quality.

There is something about the winter months that attracts me to Rugby. I don’t know if it is the ascetic appreciation of what takes place or a sense of recognition to the players battling it out in the wind, cold and rain. I have watched my local side play quite a lot in recent weeks and the sense of playing for each other is something else the prima donnas of football could learn about. It seems to transpire at all levels of the game and that is as valuable to team sport as individual flair and ability.

As I sat in the club prior to kick off I took stock of how I was feeling. Despite the cold weather and poor show from the opponents, I was happy to be there. I felt as though it was the least I could do as the team were about to run around with a high chance of pain in the cold weather. I realise they don’t play just to entertain those who go to watch but I do get the feeling they are grateful for the support.

As for who might win the 6 nations, who knows? England, with the resources available to them should win the tournament year on year and yet that is not the case. They are favourites again this year and probably rightly so and yet I would not like to call it. Much importance has been placed on the first game at the Millenium stadium against Wales in Cardiff. I do get the feeling that many seem to have forgotten the Irish claim to the tournament and you can never discount the unpredictable French. Anyway enough Rugby for now, as I said before, this time of year does seem to enhance my feelings for the game!

I have not long returned from my first lecture of the week and new semester. Work has been set which I have made a start on. I am grateful for this new start as my focus on university has been somewhat limited of late. I have spent a lot of my time with my head buried in books, unfortunately not uni books. My sister bought me ‘Fergie rises’ for Christmas. A biography of Sir Alex Ferguson’s time at Aberdeen. It is an utterly fascinating read and helps to explain how the man, now synonymous with Manchester United, was moulded and shaped as a manager from his time at Aberdeen. It is full of quotes and stories from those who played under him and worked with him. You can really see the process that built him as a football manager.

As a journalist I was really intrigued to read about how Jock Stein taught Sir Alex to use the media and even play them at times. The ‘mind games’ he became famous for were not directed purely at opposition managers and players but also (and probably more directly) at the press and media. He accused nearly every publication going of a ‘Glasgow bias’ and coerced some journalists into writing things they themselves did not believe. He developed relationships with those he felt he could trust and banned others from press conferences. All of this is common place at football clubs across the world nowadays but it wasn’t in the 80s and ‘Fergie’ has more to do with introducing this behaviour than most.

On the social life front life has been pretty quiet, other than watching  rugby of course. I was sat around in a world of my own the other day thinking about how much time I dedicate to sport. I can’t imagine my life without it. I enjoy so much about it. From facts, dates and figures to ability and techniques. I love getting my head wrapped around tactics and piecing things together.

It is a shame there is no Monday night football tonight as I really enjoy listening to Neville and Carragher dissect the weekend games. Their involvement in punditry has raised the bar considerably and all other broadcasters have done their best to catch up. The analysis of sport is incredible nowadays and Sky must be praised for the work they have done since dismissing Keys and Gray.

Sorry to all the non sports lovers out there. This post (if you managed to stick with it) probably put you to sleep!