Tag Archives: Politics

Your mandate is tiny. Stop telling people to be quiet

Jun 23, 2016 will go down as a historic and victorious day for a marginal political party who never stopped banging their anti EU drum. UKIP not only scored their ultimate victory on that date but managed something of a secondary victory by bringing about the opportunity to turn the Labour and Conservative parties into deeply divided political entities, both more intent on infighting and political ambition than running the country. 

This isn’t a cheerleaders post for Nigel Farage or anyone else in UKIP this is merely a representation of events as I see them.  Britain joined the European Economic Community on 1 January 1973, along with Denmark and Ireland. Ever since that date there have been those amongst the electorate and political class alike who have been described as ‘eurosceptic’. There are a whole host of reasons as to why people didn’t agree with Britain’s membership with the EEC and ultimately the European Union. I won’t go into those now as people must be bored of justifying which way they voted on both sides of the debate. In 1993 the United Kingdom Independence Party was born and it was born out of decades of frustration regarding Britain’s membership of the EU.

nige
UKIP leader Nigel Farage

The beauty of living in a democratic society is that if you don’t like the way something is happening politically you are afforded (at times) the opportunity to change it. UKIP helped tear an already divided Tory Party apart over EU membership, with some MP’s defecting to the party. UKIP has taken a huge number of working class votes away from the Labour Party too, in fact 6 million in last years General Election represents a big loss of votes to both of the UK’s biggest parties.

In the aftermath of Brexit there have been a flurry of articles, Facebook status’ and broadcast appearances telling those who voted remain to ‘suck it up’ and get on with it. Here’s why that won’t happen: If eurosceptics had just ‘got on with it’ post 1973 UKIP would never have been born and the EU referendum might never have come about. It is only by ‘whinging’ and voting and campaigning and becoming activists that anything of political significance ever comes about.

Long after Theresa May or Michael ‘Brutus’ Gove are made the countries next PM, long after the Labour Party coup of Jeremy Corbyn fails or succeeds, long after Britain has gone through economic uncertainty, long after Article 50 is invoked will people be rallying for rejoining the EU. It may take years or decades and is most likely not to happen in my lifetime but rest assured if enough people are passionate about EU membership or something like it, the next generation may be asked to vote on where they see their future.

In the mean time it might be an idea for the young to stop attacking the old and vice versa despite whatever valid points each may have. Scapegoating the working class rather than listening to their worries and concerns is deeply unhelpful too. Which ever of the two main political parties realises this the quickest and stops their respective civil wars has the best chance of giving the county some much needed leadership at a time of real fear and concern, especially for minorities. There is an opportunity here to fix the mess made by two Etonians who have been in competition with each other since the day they clapped eyes on one another. They aren’t going to pick up the pieces and if Labour and the Tories aren’t quick to fix the current national divide, a rejuvenated UKIP might just cease the opportunity to inflict more damage. That for many is a huge concern.

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.

 

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.

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.

Technical hitches and shocks to the system

The back end of last week and the weekend saw the end of any self indulgence with regard to my time, at least for the time being. I have lots to think about and get on with in the coming weeks and months and I am looking forward to getting focused and producing good work and crossing the finish line that is the end of my second year at university.

That being said I was looking forward to Friday more than ever as I knew it would be the last time for a while that I would be able to do anything as extravagant as take time out for myself on weekends. They say all work and no play makes you a dull man but at the moment it is all I can focus on and to be honest I am really looking forward to it.

Friday took me on a trip down memory lane and to Bristol to see Less than Jake, an American ska band who I have enjoyed listening to since my early teenage years. There was lots of dancing and singing as you would expect and a huge amount of fun was had by all.

Saturday saw me catch up with a friend who I haven’t spent time with in years, he had been through a tough time and it was good to have been a helpful distraction. The weekend gave me a bit of an epiphany. As much as it is nice to be there for your friends and help them in any way you can you also have to make sure you take enough time for yourself. I am happy to take responsibility for my problems and I realise now that you can’t always get the help you are willing to give to others. Some people don’t have the time or inclination to help out as much as they may want to. It’s no ones fault it’s just life.

I have alluded to my workload in recent posts and many who are in full time employment might see that as a bit of a joke. University is fantastic. You acquire new skills, make great contacts and have the opportunity to meet important people. That said if you want a job relating to your degree when you graduate you have to be prepared to put in the hard yards and more often than not that means working for no pay.

The idea behind this blog is two fold. Firstly I can keep a collection of my thoughts and document them for myself and others to read. Secondly it gives potential employers an opportunity to read something written by me. I try and post at least once a week but I am aware that is not all that frequent. On top of this I contribute work to a couple of websites and this is something I really enjoy doing. I am also in the process of trying to obtain work experience which means filling out forms, tailoring my CV and sending out cover letters. Next on my list of things to do is provide coverage for the local hustings and work with a group of students on all things election based for the next few months. All of this before I have even mentioned anything to do with assignments. Whilst this workload might be daunting for some people I have a strange sense of excitement attached to the next few months and hope I can make the most of the opportunities available to me.

 

Tonight I am attending hustings at the cap n gown in Worcester and will be hoping to get some content for a story I need for an assignment whilst also seeing if any copy I get can be sent out to local outlets such as the Worcester News or BBC Hereford and Worcester. As with anything in life it is important to be well read on your subject and so I have been trawling the net for information on candidates and party policies. The subject for tonight’s debate is climate change and the environment, something that will be in the minds of many voters as Worcester regularly floods.

I am grateful for being back in Worcester and back with easy Internet access. Getting my head down for the next couple of weeks is a must as my parents get home from a couple of years abroad in early April and I hope to have something tangible to show off to them for my efforts.

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.