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Hypocricy on BBC Question Time

Britain is holding a snap election on the 8th of June to determine who is going to be the next prime minister. During the campaigning period, all party leaders have (to greater and lesser extents) taken part in televised question and answer sessions with the British public. That’s what the BBC Question Time special last night was all about: current prime minister Theresa May and the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn both spent 45 minutes answering questions from the British public.

What struck me about the debate is that the two biggest areas the Corbyn was challenged on were not his plans to nationalise the railways, there was just one question on scrapping zero hour contracts, no one seemed to care about his vision for social care or the NHS. What people did want to know is why he won’t outrightly condemn the IRA and why he won’t commit to sending off nukes to blow up people if  ‘we had to’.

The thing about Jeremy Corbyn is … he’s a nice guy. He has been campaigning for peace for decades and he is clearly against nuclear weapons. This should not come as a surprise. His party won’t let him get rid of the weapons, but obviously, he doesn’t want to use them to blow up entire regions and murder people.  Our nuclear weapons are there as a deterrent so I can see why it’s a little alarming that Jezebel won’t even make it look like he would use them if he had to, but he never outright said he wouldn’t use them either.  He said he wouldn’t just send them off without weighing up the situation and trying other options. Is that really so bad?

The other thing that always seems quite popular is Jeremy Corbyn’s supposed links to the IRA. He did meet with members of the IRA, as did many other members of parliament, in an attempt to create a ceasefire. People also think he supports the IRA because he spoke at a remembrance ceremony for them and because he refuses to condemn them without also condemning the violence of rival groups.

History is complicated. It isn’t always as simple as saying these were the good guys and these were the evil people. Both sides normally do terrible things and neither side is ever blameless. Acknowledging that the situation with Ireland was complicated and that deaths on both sides should be mourned isn’t the same as advocating terrorist attacks. I’m really not sure why this and nothing else seems to bother people so much.

This leads me onto my next and main point. Britain currently sells weapons to Saudi Arabia. We know this. We also know that Saudi Arabia uses those weapons in ways which most probably violate international law. We know that those weapons were used on civilians in Yemen, and there is pretty strong evidence to suggest that some of those weapons are also going to ISIS in Syria. So it just seems a bit crazy that we are so quick to jump on Jeremy Corbyn over not wanting to celebrate people dying during the troubles but we have no moral qualms about selling weapons to a country which uses them in violation of human rights and often violates the human rights of people within its own country.

Things are complicated, and I am not suggesting that the U.K should break their ties with Saudi Arabia. I just want to highlight the hypocrisy in condemning Corbyn for his ‘friendliness’ towards terrorists whilst we just ignore things like this. Judge them on their policies and their record and their actions. But if you want to judge one of them for ‘leasing with terrorists’ then take a closer look at what is actually going on before you let that be the deciding factor.

I wrote an article about this topic in more depth. If you would like to read it please go to: https://evonews.com/world-news/2017/jun/03/opinion-the-bbc-question-time-debate-theresa-may-jeremy-corbyn-and-saudi-arabia/

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Tories and the theatre

Hello everyone,

I am a writer for an online cultural/reviews magazine called ‘The Upcoming’ and on Friday I went to review a piece of experimental theatre called ‘Cock and Bull’. The show was a mixture of performance art, dance, and avant-garde theatre and it centred around the election, politicians and the words they say. The show was originally created in 2015 for the election and I really wish I had seen it then because the three identically clad gold handed Etonian performers were really channelling David Cameron, Ed Milliband and Nick Clegg (particularly David Cameron). This time around you can’t really say that Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn look alike, say the same things or really have much at all in common with each other.

If you hate the tories, you like experimental theatre and you want to commiserate about broken political promises see if you can get a ticket to the FINAL performance this evening!

Take a look at my review here: http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2017/04/28/cock-and-bull-at-the-southbank-centre-theatre-review/ 

 

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Milo Yiannopoulos and Free Speech

I wrote an article about Milo Yiannopoulos on my MCXV platform following the Berkely University riots and I’d be interested to hear what people think of the whole thing.

All About Milo

Some of you may remember that I wrote an article last year following a frankly embarrassing TV debate involving Milo and a few feminists who shouted over him, accused him of calling for someone’s assassination and were generally rude and obnoxious to everyone including other female speakers.  This doesn’t mean I’m a fan of Milo and his political opinions, but at least when he turns up to a debate he attempts to address the question, he allows others to speak and he comes across as calm and logical rather than angry and crazy.

If you actively hate the guy then this is actually a really big problem, because if he really is as dangerous as some people need then the last thing you want is to make him look like the good guy. And unfortunately, when he gets into debates this tends to be what happens. People spend so much time calling him a bunch of names that they never try to respond to what he says, and that just makes it look like there is no good counter argument so he must be right.

Freedom From Speech

The thing is that people are growing concerned with what is happening. It’s becoming really hard to talk about politics at all because the people who believe in a particularly rigid type of identity politics seem to have decided that everyone who disagrees with them isn’t just wrong, they’re bad. It is obviously true that hate speech is not the same as free speech and just shouting insults or going on racist tirades should not be tolerated in the public sphere, but I’ve been watching a lot of ‘discussions’ in the past year and that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening.

What is happening is that a lot of people has such a binary view of things that they refuse to take anyone who doesn’t agree with /everything/ they say seriously because they think they are just bad, ignorant people who don’t want to learn the ‘proper’ way of thinking. And the thing is their ideas aren’t particularly problematic or hard to follow: Yes you should listen to people and not dismiss their personal experiences, yes you don’t know what life is like for someone else, yes we should fight for equality, yes there are still problems and it’s not okay.I haven’t really seen anyone actually disagree with these things. It’s the way they put them across and all these other beliefs mingled in with them that are the problem.

The problem is the idea that you are either a feminist or a misogynist, that you are either left wing or a member of the alt-right, that you either believe all white people are inherently racist or you refuse to ‘let go of your privilege in favour of equality’. That you are either an SJW or a member of the alt right. That’s not how it works. You may disagree with the things typical social justice people focus on whilst equally disagreeing with the alt-right. You may be left-wing and critical of identity politics.

People should develop their ideas through a mixture of listening to other people, learning via reading up on things, and their own rationale. You can’t just be told: “this is what is right and you have to agree or you’re bad”.  A lot of this stuff came from sociology and if you have studied sociology then you know that the whole point is to learn about different theories and arguments, not just decide that this one theory is now suddenly absolute fact and everything else is evil. It all comes down to the different ways people are defining things and even though there is truth behind these ideas they should NOT be above criticism.

Debate Is Not Hate

It is getting to the point where people are being banned from the very groups that are meant to be ‘safe spaces’ for them. I’ve known of trans people who have been kicked out of discussion group for disagreeing that something was transphobic. I’ve known of mixed race people who have been told to ‘check their white privilege’ by a white person because they didn’t disagree with something someone said about racism. People forget that the world is made up of individual people with their own experiences, opinions and ideas. It is not made up of all-encompassing groups which necessarily speak for each other. Surely the whole point of equality is that we are not judged by whatever ‘group’ we belong to but by what we actually do ourselves.

Disagreeing with someone’s solutions or someone’s particular take on the world does not mean you are disagreeing with equality itself. People need to be able to have open, civilised and respectful discussions where they do actually listen to people with different points of view so they can see where the other person is coming from and either strengthen or question their own arguments. I’ve been getting into YouTubers recently and I’ve seen videos by people like Blaire White and Roaming Millennial, people whom I know a lot of people seem to regard as ‘dangerous conservatives’, but even though I may disagree with what they are saying they are not spreading hate speech, they are just giving their view of the world which you are then free to disagree with.

Back To Milo And The Riot

So getting back to Milo for a moment. Some of the things he says are pretty bad (especially his fear of Islam and rejection of refugees) and others are more reasonable (his criticism of the wage gap as misleading is pretty well acknowledged by economists and statisticians). He says things in a deliberately provocative way, he is quite obnoxious and realistically he is just a bit of a dick, but does that justify rioting on your own campus to stop him giving a talk? Is he really the epitome of all evil? Is he even worth the effort? Isn’t it just fuelling his growing fame?

Some people think he or Breitbart or both orchestrated the whole riot thing for publicity and if they did it was very effective. Milo has a new book due next month which is already on Amazons best seller list and so this recent media attention has happened at a very good time for him. Milo’s book is about how college campuses are closing themselves off from debate, how they police points of view and refuse to give anyone with whom they disagree with a platform. The Berkeley university riots were the perfect advertisement for his book. Maybe he did orchestrate it because it seems to have worked out very well for him.

What do you think?

https://mcxv.com/lets-talk-milo-yiannopoulos/

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So … Donald Trump eh?

I wrote my first ever article about Donald Trump yesterday. It’s hard to know what is actually going on with him and his supporters if you a: don’t live in America and b: tend to only hear very anti-Trump opinions. I attempted to be as objective as you can be with someone like that and read his campaign policies to get an idea of what he wants to do with his time in office. I got the policies from politiplatform.com and some don’t appear on his official website, but they are all based on things he has said. Obviously, people are getting quite hysterical about him and it’s hard to tell what’s actually going to happen, but from the looks of it, things are likely to get worse.

Read my full article here. 

It hasn’t even been a month yet and already the immigration ban, ongoing commitment to the Mexican wall and refusal to fund foreign organisations which even /mention/ the word abortion has got a lot of people quite understandably scared, and judging from some of his policies and statements things are going to get scarier. Is anyone from America? What do you think of Trump? Are you scared? Do you support him? What on earth is goin on?

 

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Amber Rudd’s’Name and shame’ proposal leaves a lot of unanswered questions and a rather irksome feeling.

Despite all claims to the contrary I’ve always tried to avoid the simplistic view that BREXIT was primarily about race and xenophobia. Whilst no one is denying that the ‘breaking point’ campaign and indeed a lot of the leave campaigns rhetoric was focused on immigration (despite EU immigration being limited to Europe these campaigns tried to focus on refugees, which is kind of ironic considering we still have a duty to them with or without our EU membership) there were other factors that would encourage someone to vote leave.

My article on Public Opinion and the Young People Who Voted Leave discusses several of these alternative reasons and shows that many people were influenced by the perceived anti-democratic way the EU was run, they wanted to leave what they saw as a global superpower that was trying to control 28 countries from a remote headquarters, and/or they wanted Britain to have more control over their destiny and economy. It would be very naive to assume that no one voted leave due to racist and/or xenophobic reasons, but the idea that these were the only reasons highlights the remain campaign’s failure to appeal to people in the first place.

Recent events have made me a little disturbed, however.This ‘name and shame’ policy that attempts to look at how many non-British born people work for a particular company does sound quite sinister because the aim appears to be quite clear. This policy seems to have been discontinued due to the backlash it recieved, but the fact that this was an option, the fact that this is what our government wanted to focus on is a little scary and perhaps shows what is to come. According to The Guardian Amber Rudd’s aims were as follows:

“Under her proposals, firms could be forced to disclose what percentage of their workforce is non-British as a way to encourage them to hire more locals. Ms Rudd said she wanted to “flush out” companies abusing existing rules and “nudge them into better behaviour”.

Source http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37561035

Whether they publish their findings or not the goal seems to be to check how many migrants compared to how many British born people work for a particular company and if they are not satisfied that British people are getting first pick at the jobs they may take measures to encourage the company in question to focus on British applicants and give them first choice for employment. I am not sure if these policies will focus on people who weren’t born in the U.K themselves or people whose ancestors were immigrants, nor do I know whether it will focus on a particular group (i.e European immigrants or non-EU immigrants).

I also don’t know if ‘British born’ is going to be based on race or residential status and how that’s going to be qualified (will Amber Rudd count you as a British citizen if you weren’t born in Britain but have British citizenship? Will a recent immigrant with a better application be turned away in favour of someone who has no relevent experience but is a Britis citizen?) but either way this seems very contradictory to our apparent commitment to inclusion and the need to encourage a more representative, diverse workforce not only so our workforce reflects the country we actually live in but so we don’t end up with stale ideas and we don’t miss out on talent.

We already know that we have a problem with diversity in British industries, and even though we have schemes and quota systems in place to encourage a more diverse workforce they don’t always seem that effective. We know, for example, that around 8% of the Creative sector (i.e media, film and art-based jobs) are nonwhite, and when we consider that a lot of these jobs are based in London where the demographic is roughly around 40-60% this is quite shocking. (source here: http://www.gold.ac.uk/news/the-creative-industries-and-meritocracy/)

From a quick Google search on the subject I found the following statistics:

  • Black workers with degrees earn 23.1% less on average than white employees with the qualifications
  • Ethnic minority people were more likely to live in poverty than white people
  • Ethnic minorities are still “hugely under-represented” in positions of power – such as judges and police chiefs (info found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37114418)When they are talking about hiring more locals, what jobs do they mean? Do they mean the NHS where a significant portion of the workforce is made up of Non-British born staff? Do they mean the jobs many British people simply don’t want to do or don’t have the skills for? Do they mean the more competitive industries where diversity is still a real issue? And what do they mean by foreigners? Is this based on your race, where you were born, or is it simply how soon it was that you moved to the UK? If you were brought up here and lived most of your life here but you happened to be born in another country how do you fit in? How do you qualify a British person and how do you qualify a non-British person?

    It is hard to get a job in the U.K and a lot of this is because there is too much competition for certain jobs, not enough jobs to go around and a real preference for free labour under the guise of ‘internships’. How we could sort that out is a whole other issue, but the solution isn’t to close off all opportunities to people who ‘aren’t British enough’ if they have the skills that the particular job needs. Surely if companies are encouraged to hire as many ‘British’ workers as possible it will exasperate inequalities. Surely changing hiring policies so ‘the British come first’ would increase racial profiling? Surely ‘British Jobs for British workers’ is quite an open statement which doesn’t really mean anything,  because who is British and who isn’t? What are you basing that on?

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Jeremy Corbyn

Click for my article on Jeremy Corbyn as the underdog of British politics.

I have long felt that the Labour party is suffering an identity crisis. The old Labour movement, the movement of Atlee, the NHS, and the welfare system was abandoned in favour of Tony Blair’s centrist movement, but that doesn’t appear to be working either. Jeremy Corbyn offers a return to old Labour, to the values Labour used to represent. Perhaps those values don’t have a place in this country anymore, perhaps the working class has changed too much.

Perhaps society has changed too much. If this is the case, and Labour cannot go back to its roots but it can’t re-imagine itself as anything more inspiring than a second rate Tory party whose main policy is seemingly slightly ‘nicer’ than the Tories, then perhaps it’s time for something new. Perhaps Labour should split, if that is how things are going. All I know is that we need differences of opinion in parliament, we need parties that differ enough that people feel that they have a choice. We need parties that represent people, that give them a voice. Parties people will support. And if Labour can’t be what it used to be but doesn’t have a good enough alternative, then something needs to change.

Corbyn has the support of a lot of people because they don’t see him as part of the establishment, because they see how much the media and the MP’s hate him. And this increases his popularity because he seems different. He’s an underdog. He shares people’s values, and that scares the establishment. He seems nice. He would rather hang out with and support local, ordinary people, then bother with the rituals and ceremonies required of politicians. Perhaps this isn’t a good enough reason to support him, but if enough people feel this way then they deserve to be heard, and if enough people want him in power he should stay.

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Why you can’t trust politicians

Since my country voted by a small margin to leave the E.U on Thursday, things have gone a bit crazy. Our prime ministers resigned and it looks like we now have a choice between Boris Johnson, a very memorable public figure but not exactly a trustworthy leader who is reported as being homophobic, and Theresa May, a sour faced woman who has said some  nasty things about refugees in the past. The Labour parties falling apart; Jeremy Corbyn, who wasn’t exactly vocal during the referendum campaign, has had his leadership challenged and has now lost 23 members of his cabinet and counting. Neither party looks prepared to lead this country in regular times, let alone sort out a Brexit, and no one really knows whats going to happen next.

Our pounds fallen to a 31 year low, some stock shares are falling, the future of our city is in question and the people continue to fight amongst themselves. It also looks, although no one can be sure, that the leading lead campaigners are now having a change of heart. Boris Johnson has assured the public nothing immediate is going to happen, that we will have a continued partnership with the E.U and this decision will not affect our universities, science, arts or the ability to live abroad. But how is that the case? Does that mean we will stay (and pay) for the single market? Whilst that is the scenario I personally am hoping for, the fact that so much of the leave campaign was about immigration and about us making our own trade deals, how will those who voted leave for this reason react when they realise nothing in that area will change? If we stay in the single market, that means we will also accept the continuing free movement of people. I would be very happy with this result, but many won’t be. Can the leave campaign betray their own supporters and take back their own words like that?

Of course they can. Their politicians.

I always feel that you can never totally trust politicians, but not because they are all scumbags who lie to get votes. You can’t trust them because the public again and yet again assumes they have far more power then they actually do. Look at what happened to poor Nick Clegg when he had to retract his promises over tuition fees.

David Cameron had as much to do with putting them up, but because Nick Clegg made the mistake of promising something, something he probably didn’t know he couldn’t deliver, he paid the price. The fact is that under the current system tuition fees couldn’t have stayed the same price. If you have as many universities as we have, and if more and more people start going each year, people the government gives tuition and maintenance loans to, what happens is that if these people fail to get well paid jobs quickly (which, as the degree keeps falling in value and as it is getting harder and harder to get a graduate position, is quite likely) the government is basically giving away more money then it is getting back. In that situation they either need to throw far more money into education, we can debate about whether they could do that or not, or they need to raise the prices so eventually they may break even (which they won’t).

Nick Clegg made a mistake, but it wasn’t not keeping loans the same price. He made the mistake of making people believe he could, made the mistake in becoming too popular. That was his downfall, because now people will always blame him for it regardless if it was actually his fault or not.

That was a pretty long analogy, but it may well end up applying to the leave campaigners as well. I’m not saying Nigel Farrage didn’t lie about his claims that money saved on the E.U would be spent on the NHS (he most definitely did, we’ve all seen the bus) or that these politicians shouldn’t be held accountable for their broken promises, even if they are promises you didn’t personally want in the first place, but the public isn’t blameless either. The public cannot assume that the government has all these over arching powers that can totally rewrite reality. Individual politicians will never be able to deliver all that they promise because none of them have that much individual power. That is what living in a democracy means. That is why it is up to the public to research their claims and make an informed decision for themselves. That is why it is up to the press not only to report but to analyse and to explain what they are actually saying and what the reality may be.

I don’t know, again I don’t think any of us know right now, but in the short term at least it may not be possible to totally break from the E.U. And whilst it is acceptable to blame the politicians for not following through with their pre-referendum promises, it is also not acceptable to believe everything they say as fact and not do your own research. People are saying they feel cheated, that they didn’t understand the referendum, voted leave and now ‘want their votes back’. This makes me angry. If you wanted to leave, and you knew why you wanted to leave, then fair enough. But if you are going to live with your head under a rock for all of your life, take it out really briefly, believe a bunch of confusing things a bunch of confusing politicians said and then get upset when it turns out it wasn’t strictly true, then you don’t get my sympathy. This is why voting shouldn’t be made compulsory; if  someone doesn’t really know what they are voting for, then why should they be obliged to vote?