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Monday, 7 March 2011

The arrogance of small nation in Europe

Of course for decades, Britain was the one and only real super power in the world. We had a sprawling empire and any of the planet's resources at our beck and call. An advantage of this domination was the ability to control any situation, in pretty much any country in the world. Over the past century, this physical status had quickly diminished. But rather arrogantly, the mental thinking that Britain still has such power has continued. We are far from what we once were and the sooner many realise this, the healthier our foreign relations will become.

The British Government's appalling handling of the current situation in Libya is only one of many examples of this arrogance. David Cameron et al really took to this very offensive plan to halt Colonel Gaddafi's attack on his people and remove him from power. Almost out of nowhere. I don't think Cameron had even mentioned Gaddafi while Prime Minister before this. Although Cameron fairly began by simply 'deploring' Gaddafi's actions,   the tirade of orders that followed was embarrassing for Britain. Most notably, in Prime Minister's Questions was Cameron's announcement that he "does not rule out the use of military assets" and that he had asked military chiefs to work on a 'no fly zone' over Libya. This is just the UK government making judgments and decisions alone. The United States nor any European nation had been consulted about such plans. Although Cameron had to play down these ideas after being rebuffed by the US, he would of very much liked to have carried them out. Britain are no longer in a position were we can dictate global diplomatic issues, we are an active part of a wider continent. Europe has to be the channel in which the UK voices its opinion, the EU has very strong ties with Libya and we should be making decisions multi-laterally and in cohesion. If we don't, we are only setting ourselves up for costly blunders. The idea of a no fly zone, I think could be effective, however, it must have American support.

The recent WikiLeaks scandal revealed what the parts of the world, notably Hillary Clinton, really thinks of Britain. It's time to stand up and get counted for the country we are today, not act alone in the corpse of the country we used to be. It's time we as a country are realistic about our standing globally, continue to lead on the things we do well but begin to cohere on things we are just not man enough for anymore.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Referendum

Next year, probably on May 5th, the UK will once again go to the polls. Not to decide the outcome of an unwinnable election but to indeed decide how we go about such elections. The referendum to decide our voting system, which was a key factor in the coalition agreement, is supported by our default Prime Minister, but not by his secretary/deputy, Nick Clegg. I'm not sure how this is going to work. The Government as a unit is proposing this electoral change and I suppose will publicly push for it, however, it is well documented that Cameron and most of the Conservative contigent of the cabinet are against changing to the Clegg-preferred, AV system.

Voting reform: the options explained

The same questions will arise as we approach the next general election, if the coalition lasts that long, both Clegg and Cameron will campaign for their own parties whilst defending the same Government. Until the point when the cabinet have to get serious about the referendum, they will continue to use the 'It was in the Labour manifesto and now their against it' gag. This is of course true, although where the majority of Conservatives are against the switch, it is only a minority of Labour MP's who a similarly adjacent to the idea. As far as I know, all of the Labour candidates are supportive of changing the system and my view is similar but not at the same level of Nick Clegg or indeed his Yellow Tory Party.

In truth, the UK parliamentary system is archaic; leader of the Greens, Caroline Lucas recently compared it to the Brussels-based, super-contemporary, European Parliament and stated that as we are one of the most developed countries in the world, the UK should be moving with the times and modernising our system as needed. This is one of the few points I will probably ever agree with her on. This is the key. Not changing the literal way in which we elect our government but the way in which parliament runs. I believe that if the Houses of Parliament and the system its working under was actually modernised, all parties would be able to function better and get their views heard in the Chamber. This of course includes the smaller parties who are more in favour of switching our voting system, if they could interact in'direct politics' without the 'motion to solve a query about a bill which was revised in the Lords under another motion about a different bill proposed by an EDM' - that's just stupid, but's that's how it is. The UK are basing politics on the sentiment of keeping our tradition in place. We need an urgent revamp of Parliament, I think changing the voting system is the least of our worries. Direct politics, that's what we need.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The rise of the state comprehensive

1970's Britain. The state education system was not exactly benefiting from a good reputation and as John Crace rightly points out in his recent 'G2' article, many schools featured rapidly decaying Victorian buildings and other more 'modern' structures were coated in asbestos. These schools continued to endure hard lives as the UK embraced the 80's and another 18 years of Conservative rule. Of course, these Tory rulers were subjected to  slightly more privileged surroundings while they were educated.

Eton, Westminster, Winchester and Harrow. Just a few of the schools that have educated Prime Ministers, London Mayors and Royals. But I think that their prestigious reputations of creating the egos to fill the top positions is coming to an end. John Crace compares two schools; Eton, former school of David Cameron, Boris Johnson and Princes William and Harry, with North London comprehensive Haverstock, alma mater to the Miliband brothers, 2012 London mayoral candidate Oona King and Liverpool football player, Joe Cole. And the article makes the obvious point that although Eton has produced some illustrious names; Haverstock could soon boast both the Labour leader and the Mayor of London.

Now, in May, I left the comprehensive school that has taught me for the past five years and taken me through my GCSE programme; Noadswood. It like most other state schools in the UK benefited hugely from the 13 years of Labour who rightly invested huge amounts in education. Noadswood has not quite seen a complete rebuild but has definitely seen huge refurbishment and development; as has Haverstock; which now boasts contemporary buildings with modern classrooms and wide corridors. An age of austerity for the less privileged but not for the more privileged, which will inevitably occur while Tories are in government, will only bring down the continuing success of many state schools whose GCSE results are ever improving as a direct result of this extra investment.

Of course, cuts need to be made, we all acknowledge this, but halting the Building Schools for the Future Programme, then ring fencing the International Development budget is not the way. The need for cuts, I believe, is met equally by some schools with the need for redevelopment. There are schools in this country falling to pieces, literally. Just 3 months in to a coalition, a great mistake has already been made. This doesn't bode well for the next five years of this parliament. If sustained spending can be kept at schools then perhaps the cases of Noadswood and Haverstock can be the cases seen across the UK, I can't see it happening though, not while the coalition is in place. Before the election, the Labour needed the country, now, the country needs Labour.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

A stark Miliband bias.

Up until last night both my 1st and 2nd preferences for Labour leader were taken up by the Miliband brothers. However, last night I watched a replay of the BBC Radio 5 Live debate with Victoria Derbyshire. Now, as every debate has done so far, it completely reaffirmed my support for my 1st preference, Ed Miliband. But it also knocked the David quarter of that family off of his 'Ashley Giles 2nd place perch'. He reminded me of Blair, not that that is an entirely bad thing, but it is not going to give Labour the different direction we need. On the front of David's leaflet his team sent out recently, it tells us on the front cover that he believes ''we need to change the way we do politics'' - very true of course, but his performance suggests that he is more of the same, juts not listening really. Going off on a tangent on questions, so different to Ed though, he quickly referred back to audience members and it seemed like he was really engaging, that is what we need, that is how we should 'do politics'. I also found him quite annoying at times as well and dare I say it, felt like he was talking and remarking like he was somehow better than the rest. That is of course a huge public turn off.  I don't doubt his ability however, he was an excellent Foreign Secretary, actually, an outstanding one. And I think he will be again, but under his brother's leadership.

So, on the back of that 'performance' and the other debates, I currently have a top two made up of Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham. First and Second respectively. People talked of the Miliband's being too alike to fight against each other, but I have found that couldn't be more untrue. In personal terms, I find Ed to have his priorities right more so than David, the fact this isn't about one person be elected by many, but many electing one person.It's just about the one leader and what they will do. But it's about how they are going to engage the membership and increase it so the movement is big enough for the new leader to be able to do the things they are suggesting.  The factor of the people and the use of the word 'you' is much more prominent across Ed Miliband's campaign who I believe will recreate the people's party.

Support Ed's campaign, click here.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A leader you can depend on, a wage you can depend on

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) today announced that unemployment in Britain has soared by 20,000 up to 2.47m. However, the most shocking statistic outed was a 29,000 people strong rise in those who were deemed 'economically inactive' meaning they are contributing absolutely nothing to the economy or similar to what a 7 year old would offer. This, of course was layed out to us by coalition clown Chris Grayling, who was quickly demoted from his Shadow Cabinet role of Home Affairs to Employment Minister in the Government. But of course, a Conservative being a conservative preached that the jobless would be back to work soon and they would endeavour to get unemployment levels as low as possible. So, how are you going to do that Mr Grayling? By cutting the Future Jobs Fund, like your coalition have done? No. I don't think so. It is obvious that the new government are taking an attitude of disregard to the threat of mass unemployment and we look set to be once again Con/Dem-ned to the Tory toils of the 1980's.

You cannot reduce unemployment by scrapping grants from the Future Jobs Fund. If anything, the government should be ring fencing such initiative in times like these and supporting Ed Miliband's campaign for a living wage. It was a great thing that the past Labour government set up a minimum wage, but that was only the first step to a truly fairer, living wage for those whom, when it comes down to it, usually work harder in worse conditions. The lowest paid in shops and banks as well as councils need their wage increased, so they can live. The word 'live' is often derived harshly away from its true meaning. But in this case, a LIVING wage doesn't just mean it pays to keep a person from entire subsistence, but it means a person can LIVE their life without having to scrape by, a wage where a person can treat them self every so often, a wage where a the stresses of final demand letters become a thing of the past. A living wage. So I am asking you to support Ed Miliband for Labour leader, he can be a strong realistic leader who can fight against the likes of Chris Grayling and Cameron himself and once again stand up for fairness, equality and social justice that was being built up over the past 13 years under Labour, that in stark contrast, is now in danger of being completely dismantled by an elitist Government.

Support Ed's campaign HERE.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Ed Miliband on the BP oil spill

Thought I would sort of 're tweet' this statement as he has echoed exactly my view, but in better words:

The Prime Minister and President need to say loud and clear that the most important lesson of Deepwater Horzion is that we need to be serious about weaning ourselves our chronic dependence on oil and the other old ways of providing energy.
We all – not just America – must dramatically reduce our voracious appetite for oil, so that we are not forced to keep drilling ever more deeply under water. If we are serious about alternative energy sources, not only can we create thousands of highly skilled jobs, but we can avoid another disaster like the one that is still going on off the Gulf Coast.
On the immediate crisis, rather than pointing fingers, a proper investigation must establish the responsibilities of BP, the other private companies involved and the American regulatory authorities. Regulators and corporations must act responsibly to protect the public interest.
Ed Miliband

Friday, 11 June 2010

Lost election, new leader!

I'm in the middle of my GCSE exams at the minute so there is likely to be a few more breaks in my posting. Sorry. To keep the whole thing fresh, I have also given the place a makeover! Hope you like!

Onto the politics, I haven't actually posted since before the Election, so after reading my last post you'll realise how very wrong I was. In fact, I couldn't of be any more incorrect. And although, for obvious reasons, I don't want to dwell on the election, it was very interesting watching how the country didn't take to Nick Clegg as much as the poll said they would and how good, old Gordon finally conceded defeat.

Anyway, moving very swiftly on, to the new leader of the Labour Party! Miliband, Miliband, Burnham, Balls or Abbott? Well, i'm going for Miliband, Ed that is. I don't want to tempt fate but I do believe he is the best option and I do believe he will become our leader. Although I wouldnt begrudge any of the other candidates the leadership, except maybe Ed Balls, but David M is fantastic on foreign affairs and the other three, I believe just don't have the spark needed to salvage Labour, which apparently, is no longer New and the New Statesman-organised leadership debate outlined that, although, Diane Abbott spoke very well on the main talking point of the event, immigration, Balls & Burnham preached the usual "power to the people" talk and David, I'm afraid to say, seem to do a lot of sucking up to various factions who are supporting him, such as young people. Put simply - EM4Labour. Support him now.

And that really has been the hot political topic since the election...oh, except the, ahem, cuts. The cuts devised by George Osborne and David La- Danny Alexander. As unclear as they were, what stood out was a repulsive decision to scrap the Child Trust Fund; an initiative introduced by the former Labour government to support children, financially, once they turn 18. Just another sign of the Conservative minded way in which the finances of the country look set to run over the course of the next Parliament. £6.2 billion has been taken out of the budget, yes, while the economy is still trying to recover. I fear for the future, to tell the truth. £620m comes out of Education and £836m from the Communities budget, the strong infrastructure put in place by Labour, slowly being dismantled. The coalition are criticising the former government for wasting money, so what are they doing now by scraping initiatives and re branding departments?

Anyway, i'll try and keep up the posting, although, there is now the added distraction of a certain tournament taking place in South Africa...