Tag Archives: Thoughts

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.

 

Freedom and what comes next

Finally it is all over, I can stop complaining about university work and start thinking about the summer and what lies ahead. In all honesty I am still working out what that is. I have some work experience lined up and would like to get some more before the start of my final year. No doubt there will be some much needed paid graft for me over the summer months as well. Just as well really as my current physical state is more reminiscent of a whale than of a human male in their late twenties!

Horsing around.
Horsing around.

Thoughts now turn to filling the void left by the absence of uni work. I’m not complaining but it is a strange feeling to go from having little else to think about to a time of planning and forward thinking. Speaking of voids I will need to fill another as one of my favorite ever television series ‘Mad Men’ has come to an end. Many of my friends have asked me in the past what the show is about and my inability to articulate an appropriate response has led to not many of them giving it a go. All I will say is if you are looking for box set to watch and keep you entertained you could do a lot worse than AMC’s amazing show. The character development of some of those involved is incredible and keeps you hooked on every story line whilst others just exude ‘cool’. I won’t bleat on about it any longer but it paints the American dream in a frank and honest light and is worth the hours you will have to commit to it.

As I was saying before the freedom of completing my uni work is pretty liberating. I’m able to sit and write this post not because I feel I should but because I want to. On top of this I can make plans to do things I will never get around to due to monetary or time restrictions but it’s still fun to try and shape your summer and have something to look forward to. I have a ‘stag do’ (sic) to look forward to and more along the way. It seems amazing to me (and also some kind of sick joke) that in my time at university I seem to have been invited on more holidays and breaks that at any other time in my life. As if some unkindly being deems it necessary to torment me during my least stable financial period of life.

In another cruel twist of fate I have thus far been unable to find anyone to celebrate my newly found freedom with. As a result I extend an open invitation to anyone reading this to join me in a beverage of their choice. I wish everyone a happy summer and hope the sun graces us all with its presence. Until next time folks.

Celebrations and returning to normality

I have to start this post by once again apologising for my absence. I have had an extremely busy but fruitful couple of weeks, unfortunately I spent much of that time without Internet access.

I returned to uni  today after a weeks work experience at the Gloucestershire media group which is based in Cheltenham. I had an absolute blast there, met some fantastic people and feel more confident than ever that I have made the right decision to come to university.

As well as working on a couple of newspapers and their online editions, last week provided me with the opportunity to go and stay at a friends house. I have seen very little of this friend in recent times and I feel a little guilty that my first visit to his and his partners new place comes on the back of a favour.

Anyway having caught up in the usual fashion it turns out that not much has changed other than the location it takes place! I should use this blog as an opportunity to thank them both for their hospitality and the fact that they made what could have been a very stressful week completely stress free.

On my first day working in Cheltenham I couldn’t have been much more nervous. Thankfully the news desk made me feel very welcome and provided me with a platform to get my work published. I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my working life and the beginning of me realising my dream of becoming a journalist.

When I left on Friday I was a little gutted that it had all gone by so quickly and that I was returning to university which felt so incredibly normal and basic. The flip side of that is I have a big workload to get through before the end of year two which has sped by at an alarming rate.

I had no idea at the time but a story I worked on Thursday made the front page of the Gloucestershire Echo on Friday. The first I heard of it was when my mum text me to tell me. I must thank Aled Thomas at the Echo for getting my name on the front page something I could never have envisaged at the start of the week.

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The whole experience taught me a great deal of new skills such as working with new software and the different writing styles for online publication and print. Of course these are things we have worked on at university but putting those skill into practice was a real eye opener and something I thoroughly enjoyed.

Friday was an incredibly busy day. On finishing work I couldn’t wait to go and share my experience with my friends and family. After a brief chat with my parents I went off to a wedding reception to pass on best wishes. I was only there briefly as the excitement of the week got the better of me and I felt exhausted. I must remember a special mention to a certain someone who expressly asked to feature in this post (although I’m not sure she will remember the conversation) and apologise for being unable to stay longer.

After a solid nights sleep I woke up feeling refreshed and invigorated. The afternoon was spent by the river with friends at a gem of a pub with so much selection I was blown away. A lot of fun was had by all which continued when we got back to our ‘local’. It was a great way to spend the Saturday after what had been such a brilliant week.

Sunday saw me reminiscing about several things including a phone call I received just a couple of weeks before I returned from my time away in Australia. The call in question was from my best friend to tell me his partner had given birth to a little boy. I was pleased as punch and can’t believe I spent Sunday afternoon at his fourth birthday party. As you get older you realise how quickly time flies by and to appreciate the people in your life. What a week? I am unlikely to top it any time soon!

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?

Sunshine and high hopes

It is nice to start this post with some real positivity and I owe much of the good feeling to a strategic attack on my workload. I had a really pleasant, relaxing and productive weekend which was a mix of catching up with someone I haven’t seen for ages, chilling with folk I spend lots of time with and getting some uni work done.

Key to my mood is a routine of early starts that have made lots of things improve. Firstly I seem to be far more productive when I have had a good nights sleep followed by an early start. As a result of this my mood is heightened and this triggers a positive cycle and one I am happy to be reaping the benefits of.

I hadn’t planned on returning to the Forest on the weekend but my mum asked me to check in on a few things for her and I am always happy to go and see my friends at home. The weather on Saturday was nothing short of glorious for early March and that morning I was determined to get some work done so I could take in some much needed vitamin D.

It was decided that we would do a tour of well known sun traps in the local area and get some fresh air. Our tour took us to Ross on Wye and from there to Aylburton with a few pit stops along the way. It was great to get a few hours of sunshine with the only downside being unable to take in as much FA cup football as I would have liked. Drybrook were away and so there was no rugby we were likely to watch locally but I must admit I would have liked to have seen a cup match between two of the areas football teams. I have talked at length before about my passion for local and live sports and it is a fire that no matter how hard I try, I can’t put out.

With cup exploits in mind I must admit I am struggling to write this post without being distracted by various websites and publications. Whilst I love the romance of the FA cup I also revel in the chance to watch the big boys take each other on in the latter stages of the competition. There is a rich and great history in tonights fixture between two of England’s best sides in the competition. In my lifetime alone there have been some truly spectacular ties between Manchester United and Arsenal. I hope the fixture tonight can live up to that billing and provide fans of the cup with the spectacle this competition deserves.

My thoughts outside of football are torn between assignments and trying to secure work placements. Life would be boring if there weren’t a few things to worry about along the way.  I have some avenues to explore and try and get myself a foot in the door. Fingers crossed I will secure something sooner rather than later.

With an empty fridge a trip to the supermarket might be just the way to kill time before kick off. A restock is long overdue!

Alternative lessons and overreactions

I have decided in the last few days to take a step back. I have always been a bit of a people watcher. Makes me sound like a crazy stalker I know but I must admit I can often be found staring into space and taking in my surroundings. At the moment I need to focus on my reactions to things rather than everyone elses.

Last night I lay in bed struggling for sleep for a long time and I started to over think. This is one of my biggest faults at times, I am really good at giving myself a hard time and making what is a relatively simple task to overcome a whole new outlook whereby I am doomed to fail.

I mentioned before that I needed to start a ‘to do’ list and having made a dent in it I have realised that I can over complicate things at times and cause myself stress that isn’t necessarily there. I am going to blame my dad for this particular fault as I am almost certain it is one of the many traits we share.

I am still all over the place with sleep and so I’ve decided to set an ‘early’ alarm for the mornings this week in the hope that some sort of settled routine will eventually make a difference.  Having to get up early for work everyday in the summer seemed to have a positive effect and I am hoping for similar results.

Yesterday was another reminder of how much I enjoy Sundays. It is nice to sit somewhere with a relaxed atmosphere and catch up with friends and chat about how our weeks have gone. I am lucky in a lot of ways as my friends and I share a similar sense of humour and when conversation gets to a stage threatening to be too serious there is generally someone there to lighten the mood. Always important to do so on a Sunday I feel before the weekly grind restarts.

I will use this as an opportunity to plug a friends business and more to the point, pub. Sundays seem to provide a theme of catching up with old friends and although it was only a brief conversation it was good to catch up with my friend and chef at the Butchers Arms in Clearwell. Food was spot on and we were treated really well by the staff.

Last Sunday saw me pay a visit to another old friend. This time for a proper catch up. As we talked babies, work and laughed at each other with some pretty awful football on the tele in the background, I realised how easy it is to slip out of peoples lives. On the flip side to that it was great that despite not socialising for such a long time, we were able to chat away straight away like it had only been a day or two since we had last hung out.

Going back to reflecting on myself I have come to conclusion that despite all of my protestations, I can be, at times all too easily influenced. Sometimes by other people and other times by what is going on around me. I don’t want to dwell on this too much but it is worth reminding myself every now and again, especially when taking part in large social gatherings.

Speaking of which I am looking forward to catching up with lots of people at the end of the month for more reminiscing, laughs and storytelling. The results of which I will no doubt transcribe on here soon.