Posts Tagged ‘Conservatives’

I begin my apologetic defence of remaining within the EU by categorically stating that I am not sorry for my opinion. Equally, some of the scathing critique you’ll read below will only offend you if you identify as one of the perpetrators of such an insensate argument. Enjoy.

There are many arguments which I have found frustrating in regards to the whole #EUReferendum debate; both sides have also been frustrating in their petty politics rather than dealing with getting factually based information to the public. Ultimately, this has reduced me to feeling like this is nothing more than a pathetic internal Tory squabble, masked with a referendum, whilst they try to continue to project their issues onto Labour leadership. Essentially, Cameron is struggling to hold back the 1922 abaft crew where, laughably, Johnson has found purchase. At the same time, the #StrongerIn campaign have been scaremongering by stating that the #VoteLeave campaign are scaremongering.

This referendum is a farce, a waste of public money and, unfortunately, is a previous generation struggling to let go and allow the new generation to decide their futures for themselves.

Alas, I am not that angered by the above; it’s customary of British politics and I have grown to love the challenge of pushing through the quagmire whilst identifying as a young (aspiring) politician.

That being said, there is one political football being used that I simply cannot move past and ignore. It has kept me awake at night (no joke!) with anger, and I can feel it seething in me now as I write this; ultimately, it is the most lamentably fatuous battleground within the context of this ludicrous referendum. Democracy.

It has been suggested that the way in which policy is made within the EU is undemocratic. I’d be tempted to agree with this, if I had not done my own research into this area and it is for that reason that I do not blame the general public for having this belief – there is a lack of information out there. However, as with various issues in the public eye, it is a web of spun lies and misunderstandings that has gained traction; by and large led by papers with owners and writers that seek to profit from a #Brexit.

The EU commission is a body of appointed policy proposers. Each member of the EU appoints somebody to the commission on behalf of the country and the role of the EU commission is to propose policy which is debated by the EU Parliament and EU Council. On the face of it, I admit, it looks undemocratic. However, when we compare it to the organisation of 10 Downing Street, it is easy to see that it is a similar system to the one that the UK uses which has not received any criticism by the Vote Leave gang. The Prime Minister alone has access to special advisers who steer and generate policy proposals – if the PM/Cabinet like those proposals then they are pushed through Parliament and very rarely defeated because of the absolute majority that the Government normally has.

What frustrates me further is the ignorance of the fact that people refuse to accept that our Prime Minister (whether we like him or not) has been elected to make decisions: including those that he appoints into the EU on our behalf. Much like the advisers he has surrounding him to help write policy. Do the Vote Leave lot really expect a costly referendum on every little decision? If they do, then I hope they also will fund it out of their own pockets because I’d rather see public money go into the NHS or Education.

The cherry on top of the cake, in this argument, which annoys me and pillages me of precious sleep through sheer, pure, anger is simply one question:

Where were the Vote Leave lot, in the name of democracy, during the referendum on electoral change?

If the Vote Leave lot were truly supporters of democracy then these same prominent campaigners should have been fighting fiercely for electoral change despite the fact that it could have meant the loss of their seats in Parliament. Equally, I do not see a campaign for the reform of the House of Lords to elect them… they have influence over UK policy and they’re not elected!

It’s time that people wake up and see the Vote Leave campaign for what it really is: self-absorbed, middle-aged, white-collar individuals that would benefit from leaving the EU due to a political power struggle currently afoot. If you’re reading this and thinking: “But I’m working class, and I’m not part of the political elite, and I support Brexit!” then I have one thing to say to you:

Stop believing headlines, news reports and Facebook status updates as truth and do a little bit of research yourself. If you’re unwilling to do actual research for yourself – then don’t vote. It is your democratic right to be politically illiterate and I will die defending it, but please don’t use your political illiteracy to screw over a country that has been battered enough over the last decade. Simply use your democratic right to abstain and let those that care enough to read a book to make the decision.

I’m not sorry if this article offended you; sometimes, people need to be shaken back into reality.  

 

 

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I’ve written on this kind of topic before; equally, I have hi-lighted some of the issues that governmental policy have on education and, subsequently, young people. I think it’s no secret that I probably stand with Ken Robinson when he suggests that we need to completely rethink how we do education and that we need to move away from standardisation.

I would like to weigh in and suggest that there is a need for re-thinking education in light of political participation; that is to say that we should be empowering our young people to think about how they will choose to participate within democratic society.

A few things to outline from the start is that I do not uphold ‘active citizenship’ necessarily; although I’m no great objector. I believe that young people, and people in general, should be encouraged to participate but I have fortunately withstood developing a linear mind-set on what participation should look like. Political participation does not have to include turnout at elections, although that would be nice. On the other hand, despite how I might be sounding, I’m fundamentally against the conservative perspective of citizenship which played out through the development of the ‘Big Society’. I don’t think that it is fair to encourage voluntary work in areas where there should be a salary; I don’t see the economic sense in that. Equally, Big Society suggests that political participation is intrinsically linked to work and employment.

In light of the above, I’m probably suggesting nothing new or original, but I am hi-lighting an idea that is rarely spoken about. Using education to empower rather than standardise. Let’s explain through the medium of a mini-story:

“Mark decides that, having completed his education, he would like to seek employment. He struggled at school academically, and never managed to find something on offer that suited him. He appreciates that in the modern economy the lack of a job can lead to more pressures which come from exams; benefits, forms, targets, etc. Mark decides to go down to the local McDonalds with a view to apply for a job; unfortunately, having spoken to the manager he finds that there are no jobs available. Disappointed, he decides to grab some food whilst there and notices that the person who serves him is someone that he perceives not to be British (it later transpires that this person is British!). Dejected, he goes home and switches on the television only to find that it is the news. He finds that boring but as he goes to switch the channel he sees a man standing in the pub talking about how immigrants are taking our jobs and how our links with things such as the European Union are breaking this country and putting people out of work. He then realises that this person leads a political party that is anti-immigration. Mark feels strangely connected to the man that is speaking like he would, in a pub, but talking politics – that’s a man that he can get behind as a leader! He signs up to campaign with them and feels like he is making a difference and feels like he has a part to play despite his social situation. He remains loyal to the political party that gave him his first voice on the first issue that he felt truly passionate about to this day. “

Okay, so it’s an easy story to write – but are we sure that this isn’t the case for some young people like Mark? I do not believe that there is a generation emerging that is more racist than the last. Racism does exist, in many forms, but I can’t accept that this example would make someone like Mark intentionally racist. I think that it is the outpouring of an individual that seeks to have a voice, having found none previously. Unfortunately, what has empowered him is a racist narrative that they have accidently bought into!

Everyone goes through education but few are empowered by it, and even fewer are those that are empowered and turn to politics to participate. What if we radically re-thought how we used education? Imagine using Politics and Religious Education as cross-curricular subjects which helped underpin the holistic individual. In Maths, why not learn the mathematic principles through the context of current economic issues? Or in English, studying a religious text for the use of poetry or metaphor? They’re both subjects that address some of the fundamental issues the UK currently faces socially; I believe that education in this way can help alleviate the issues.

I’m only at the beginning of this thought process, and it is a journey that will last a couple of years. I’m hoping to have a solid manifesto for political and religious education by the end of my PhD. However, in the mean time I plant this seed:

“Education isn’t enough, we could be doing more; we are blind if we think we’ve done enough. Change is not an enemy; complacency is”.

It’s been over two months since the 2015 election. I feel that there has been enough recovery time, for the winners and losers, and so now seems to be a good time to write this.

Anyone that knows me will be aware that I worked tirelessly, with others, for Amina Lone to get elected in Morecambe & Lunesdale on behalf of the Labour Party. We suffered a significant defeat that was much in line with the national swing. I have my reasons for voting Labour but this blog is not about that.

The recent election saw an increase of those that did not vote for the traditional three party’s. It also saw two leaders resigning which is normal, and now we’re experiencing a period where there is little scrutiny being given to the current Government.

Through the elections I witnessed relationships torn apart; people being labelled racist (even though they’re not!); elected representatives make horrible comments about those less fortunate than themselves; candidates trying to instil hatred into the hearts of people that trust them; promises being broken; and communities divided all in the name of politics.

I have fallen prey, at times, to that culture and taken part in some of the aforementioned tragedies of the most recent election.

I’ve come to the conclusion, and somewhat conviction, that it is my duty as a citizen to only speak well of those that lead our nation and vehemently pray for them – especially those that I disagree with.

The truth is, as a Christian, I want to build others up, encourage people to exercise their democratic rights, and engage with politics free from persecution but not without appropriate challenge.

The Bible shows (Rom 13:1-2 & 1 Peter 2:13) that we are to submit to governments and uphold them honourably; even when they don’t act justly we are still to do so. Hate will always breed hate but love will breed hope and genuine, real change.

I want to apologise to anyone who has ever been pressured by me to think or vote in a certain way. Equally, I want to publically declare that I am so thankful for people like David Cameron, and those that he leads in Government, for committing to a life of public servitude. I am so grateful for having leaders that allow democracy and do things as best as they can.

I will continue to pray for our Government, and anyone reading this is invited to join me in doing so.

I end this with a plea to the Christians reading this: always seek to highlight the good that the Government is doing and seek to build relationship with your local representatives. Equally, continue to engage with politics, social issues and current affairs; when trying to make change you believe in – do so with love and grace. Let’s be known as individuals that are productive and encouraging – let’s be known as the church God intended us to be known as within the sphere of politics.

So this blog, on request of my birth giver, is about Osborne’s latest idea that has come straight out of his ‘Crazy Idea Machine’.

It is conference season and the Conservative conference 2013 is in full swing, and if my humble opinion is anything to value, it’s in the shadow of a gleaming bright and hope giving Labour conference – but then what does an unemployed, postgrad student who has been demonised by the current government actually know?

George Osborne has announced the new scheme of “unpaid work for benefits” and, as expected, it received a resounding round of applause at the conference.

Firstly, let’s start by stating the obvious – “unpaid work for benefits” … why not just pay them!? I mean come on, I’m no economist and I’m certainly not as suave as Osborne but even he could have thought of that one. Why not show the advantages of paid work by giving people paid work? We’re going to put them in private sector jobs, working for free (because it’s not just litter picking they’d be expected to do) and increase private sector profits… WITHOUT PAY!? It’s disgusting.

Alas, with the death of the ‘Big Society’ they had to find other ways to get jobs done without paying for them whilst at the same time still having the ability to demonise an entire demographic on benefits, continuing to feed a moral panic with a lack of evidence, and still failing to target the crimes that cost this country the most money: White Collar Crime (something that many Conservative MP’s are guilty of might I add!).

Yet again, those on benefits are being targeted as free loaders and it is the same old discourse coming from the Conservatives, and their blind followers, that victimise millions of people who are on benefits for various reasons. All of this happening while hundreds of corperations do not pay tax appropriately, the majority of those in top earning positions are avoiding tax – BECAUSE IT IS STILL LEGAL – and those that cost this country very little in comparison are targeted. It’s a fallacy and nothing more than a moral panic.

However, let’s be fair. There are some good aspects to this proposal. Offering those that need an opportunity to change illiteracy and other issues. That’s a positive thing. Well… let’s look at that…

How can you trust a Government to provide training and education to those that need it when they have already marginalised education, attacked the sector, and successfully blocked those that could have gone into further and higher education? I don’t know about you, but those good aspects seem a little too good to be true. I’m sure they’ll be an unannounced loop hole in that entire policy, just like there’s already loop holes announced in the freezing of Fuel Duty (but that’s for another blogger to discuss).

The most sinister aspect of this entire policy, in my opinion, is the way in which those that breach the rules will lose four weeks of benefit, whilst a second offence will be three months. EVERYONE knows how easy it is for there to be errors and miscommunication which lead into someone “breaching the rules”. Are we seriously going to support a government that will take away a month, or three months, worth of benefits? Whilst at the same time use those in that situation to increase the profits of private companies without offering them pay?
The implications of that are catastrophic. That’s a month – potentially three – that someone is not going to be able to eat and will be worried sick about money and therefore negatively effecting mental health. This seems very right wing indeed, especially when those that avoid tax or even illegally dodge paying tax, get a slap on the wrist and a fine that is well within their means to pay.

So this idea that it is “fair for those who need it and fair for those who pay for it” is – dare I say it – bullshit.

Quite frankly, I’m bored of the same old Tory discourse. Bashing the poor, demonising single and unmarried parents, ostracizing those on benefits and looking down on anyone that is unemployed.

We are at a time when, more than ever, we need social cohesion and an integrating society. We have an increase of immigration (A GOOD THING!), varying cultures finding their place in UK Society, an increase (we’re not there yet) in equality and a flux of people out of work because there are not enough jobs to give.

We need a government that ceases to suggest policies such as this with an undertone of elitism and disdain. We need a government that targets corporations that avoid paying their way. We need a government that’s not in the back pocket of bankers and other individuals that have a lot of money. We need a government that is willing to listen to the majority of the people, and not the top 2% of those with wealth.

Let’s see this latest proposal for what it really is. A proposal that promises nothing tangible, will create more inequality, continue with a class divide and fan the flame of the stigma of those in that situation.

This proposal is nothing more than an attack. So make sure you attack back at the next General Election.

Nick Clegg’s recent apology is nothing but salt in students’ wounds. It comes at a time where we’ve seen a drop in admissions, a cut in our block grant and the squeezing of budgets. It comes at a time when we’re sad and angry at the bleak landscape we see before our eyes. It comes at a time when sorry simply isn’t good enough.

The last couple of years have been a frustrating time for those in both the Further and Higher Education sectors. It has seen the introduction of up to 9k Fees, loss of funding to certain subjects, applicant control numbers dropped and less stability across the sector putting Higher Education under attack.

The picture, however, looked vastly different before the last General Election. A previous Student Affairs Committee at UCLan Students’ Union worked with other students from all over the country and the National Union of Students (NUS) to get candidates from across the political spectrum to sign a pledge to not raise tuition fees. One of the most notable of course, was Nick Clegg.

Nick Clegg then broke that pledge upon becoming Deputy Prime Minister. He turned his back on students and turned his back on his promises. Now he’s released an apology just as empty as that promise. It wasn’t an apology for turning his back on us; it was an apology for making the pledge in the first place. He said that he shouldn’t have made a promise he couldn’t keep. A promise which, no doubt, helped increase Lib Dem votes and ultimately resulted in Nick Clegg being part of the coalition Government.

As a result of that Government we’ve seen an unforgivable rise in fees; a rise in graduate unemployment and cuts across the Higher Education sector on a scale that can only be described as horrific.

Nick Clegg sold us down the river for his own political gain and for that, we say no.

We say no to accepting his apology, we say no to forgiving and forgetting and we say no to accepting what has happened and just moving on.

That is why on November 21st 2012 we will be taking students to London to stand up to everyone who turned their backs and voted for attacks on yours and our education and tell them enough is enough as part of #Demo12.

We hope you will join us.

Edd Graham Hyde –Students’ Union President
Ben Latham – Activities and Participation Officer
Lee Mac – Campaigns Officer
Joey Guy – Education Officer
Sophie Bennett – Media Officer

More information about #Demo12 will be posted on the website shortly but until then please email us directly at yourunion@uclan.ac.uk if you have any comments or would like to get involved.