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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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Merry Christmas

It’s Christmas eve! This year has gone scarily quickly and I know a lot of you can’t wait for this year to be over. Some of us (like me!) have had a great year and others have really, really not but hopefully we can still all spend tomorrow celebrating what we have in our lives right now.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! 

Seasons greetings from London.

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My response to Everyday Feminisms post on ‘concern trolling’, body positivity and fat shaming

If you read my blog regularly (and you should!) you may already know that I’m quite critical of the modern feminist movement. This does NOT mean I don’t appreciate and I don’t support 1st, 2nd and 3rd wave feminists (to me 3rd wave feminists were in the ’90’s and is encapsulated by shows like Buffy, Xena, Dark Angel etc), nor does it mean I have some archaic view of women belonging in the home as baby making machines with tiny brains and men controlling everything. I just believe that feminism as it exists today has been derailed onto petty issues, bad arguments, and dodgy politics and in its current state it isn’t something I want to be associated with. If you’re interested in reading my thoughts on feminism in more detail go here.

For this post I’m not going to be talking about feminism per se but I will be critiquing a feminist publication: the infamous Every Day Feminism. This website is a pretty good example of everything that I believe is wrong with modern day feminism and oppression politics. It is often really badly written and either unedited or very, very badly edited, it makes erroneous claims which it then backs up with other articles from the same damn website, and it assumes moral superiority to the point that if you disagree with the argument, not even the principle but the argument, then you are an evil bigot who needs to be educated and/or shut out for your toxic views.

The article I’m going to be critiquing is “11 Reasons Your ‘Concern’ for Fat People’s Health isn’t Helping Anyone.” Before we begin I would like to clarify that I do not support bullying, harassment or general nastiness on an individual basis. I am not writing this to support or condone people who physically or verbally harass fat people. It is also true that there are underlying medical conditions which can affect someone’s weight and fatness is not necessarily a result of over eating or poor lifestyle. This article is also about obesity, not people who are just overweight.

1. Because Stereotyped Assumptions About Someone’s Weight Are Oppressive

“To hear assumptions from dietitians and other healthcare practitioners that because of a physical characteristic, their weight, they must be unhealthy and engaging in poor self-care.

To then have people on the Internet dedicating entire comment threads to berating them.

Everyone – fat or thin – is severely harmed by this message. And as social justice activists, it’s first and foremost your job to show empathy to marginalized folks – and then look inward to examine your unchallenged assumptions.”

This is true to some extent. You cannot know a strangers health just by looking at them. There are healthy fat people and there are unhealthy thin people and you can’t know someone’s health status unless a: they tell you or b: you medically examine them yourself. It isn’t okay to go up to strangers and go “OMG you’re so fat. You must be sooooo unhealthy. Do you have diabetes?”. Obviously that’s not okay and I for one don’t support accosting individuals on their life choices in any case.

But what this article seems to be saying is that the medical health practitioners who examine someone and suggest they lose weight for their health are assuming based on stereotypes rather than the medical facts for that individual person. It basically assumes that there aren’t any health problems associated with being obese and anyone, even if they are a medically trained professional, is being a bigot if they express concern. And that’s just nuts. 

It is an excepted medical fact that obesity can lead to many health problems ranging from breathlessness, back pain, fatigue, excessive sweating and general unfitness to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancers. Naturally, if someone has medical training and these are medical facts if they see someone who is excessively overweight they will inform them of the risks and suggest they make some changes in their lives. As this medical professional would presumably have access to their medical records they would not be making the assumption that this person being overweight was due to their lifestyle when it was actually caused by something else. It is not oppressive for a doctor to tell you the truth and suggest you make some changes to improve your life.

2. Because Fat Doesn’t Kill

Again this is partly true. No one dies from ‘fatness’ in itself and there are overweight people who lead very healthy lifestyles, eat fairly healthily and have regular life expectancies. Being overly thin as well as overly fat can also be an indication of severe health problems and health problems could happen to anyone regardless of their body type. Being thin or being an average weight doesn’t make you immortal and won’t necessarily protect you against the health conditions mentioned above.

But what fat does do is put excess pressure on your organs, raise the risk (not the certainty, the risk) of certain health problems including life threatening illnesses, and can reduce the quality of your life. Being extremely obese, becoming immobile, not being able to take care of yourself and not being able to lift your own body weight are real concerns for some people. Sure scare mongering doesn’t work, but telling people as long as they feel beautiful everything will be fine isn’t helping anyone either.

3. Because Fat Doesn’t Cause Disease Either

This point basically goes on about correlation, not causation and uses the ice cream and drowning example as a way to show that obesity does not cause health problems but is correlated with them.

And it’s not exactly wrong. Being fat does have a positive correlation to health problems and it can make them more likely, but it does not guarantee them. You could be obese and live a long and happy life. That does happen. That could happen to you.

But you know what? I could say the exact same thing about smoking. Because smoking has a strong positive correlation with health problems but we all know a story or know someone personally who smoked all their lives and lived a long and relatively healthy life. If you’re a young smoker (16-35 say) you’re fairly unlikely to die from your habit. Your quality of life may be affected and there’s never any guarantees but realistically speaking we all know smokers who seem pretty healthy. Correlation does not guarantee causation but the increased risk is real. If you want to take that risk it’s up to you.

4. Because, If Anything, Fatphobia Causes Adverse Health Effects

It is true that depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation are listed as possible symptoms of obesity. I don’t think you should be promoting an unhealthy lifestyle or saying that lying around and eating junk all day is a lifestyle choice that should be celebrated, but you shouldn’t abuse or harass people based on their appearance either. It is also true that we have extremes in our fashion industry which normally only depict thin women or fat women and completely ignore everyone in the middle which creates this idea that if you’re not 5’8 and skinny you’re automatically fat which may make people less likely to try because being 5’8 and a size 8 (English sizes) just isn’t realistic for a lot of people. We should have more diversity in fashion and in the media.

But you can’t blame everything on other people. A lot of people, including a lot of fat people, don’t see obesity as an attractive body type and if you are uncomfortable with your body shape it is likely to lead to feelings of low self-esteem.  These body ideals are probably influenced by the media but they are not solely created by the media. 

If I put on a lot of excess weight and I don’t like what I see it’s not because I’m thinking about fashion models or even about how other people will see me, it is because /I/ do not like what I see. When I then lose weight it is because /I/ want to be comfortable with myself. I have a huge problems with people pushing this idea that all of our insecurities and ideals are solely shaped by the patriarchal media. Can’t people try to lose weight because it makes them feel better inside and out? Maybe it doesn’t do that for you, but it certaintly does it for me.

If you are uncomfortable with your body shape and there is no underlying cause for it surely the way to make yourself feel better is to try and work towards something you find more attractive in a healthy, realistic way, not simply be told that ‘if people don’t like how you look it’s their problem’. Because it’s not always about other people. If you are happy with how you look and you’re not worried about health then by all means do whatever you want, but if you’re not happy with being obese that doesn’t mean you’ve just been ‘brain washed’ by the media. You are not incapable of knowing what you want for your own body. Can people please stop being so patronising?

This point is also only addressing a few areas of a much larger problem. Depression and anxiety are not the only health problems associated with obesity. Does fat phobia create heart disease, diabetes, breathlessness, sweatiness, cancer, and stroke?

5. Because Mental Health Is Also Health

Because when you ridicule someone, or a group of people, based on their social disadvantages, especially wherein you hold power, what we call that is bullying.

Of course it is. I’m not sure why these people always assume that if you mention anything in opposition to what you say you’re automatically bullying them. My approach to talking about obesity is simply this: You never, ever, ever attack someone personally. You do not chase strangers down the street, you do not send people on the internet hate abuse, and you do not bully people you know by making fun of them. When you talk about obesity it is either objectively as a health problem without talking about any one individual or, and this is up to your own discretion, to a close friend if you’re worried about them and they have expressed an interest in losing weight.

Pointing out the risks objectively isn’t the same as bullying someone. As a semi/ex-smoker if someone were to come up to me in the street, flick my cigarette/e-cigarette out of my hand and shout at me about cancer then I would feel personally abused. But if I see an article on the internet talking about the real medical health problems associated with smoking… that’s not personally targeting me. That’s letting me know the risks so I can choose what to do with my own body. Why should obesity be different?

6. Because ‘Glorifying Obesity’ Isn’t a Bad Thing

Isn’t it? Overeating/Binge eating is an eating disorder which is mentioned on eating disorder websites alongside bulimia and anorexia nervosa. Now it’s true that not everyone who is overweight is overweight due to their lifestyle choices, there are underlying medical issues which can have a huge effect and everyone should keep this in mind, but for a lot of fat advocates this really isn’t the case. They do say that it’s fine to eat whatever you want whenever you want in whatever quantities because as long as you feel good about yourself nothing else matters.

If that’s what you want to do with your life I’m not going to stop you. I do believe we should focus more on health rather than appearance and we need to acknowledge that different shapes and sizes are natural and not everyone has the same body shape, but without an existing condition I just cannot believe that being obese is natural.  Yes the BMI is a bit dodgy and yes some people get higher results because of bone density, muscle and/or other physical attributes but it really just comes down to common sense. Just because the BMI /can/ be faulty doesn’t mean it is /always/ faulty. You are welcome to do what you want to your own life but when you start saying it is not only a personal choice but something that should be emulated, promoted and glorified … then expect criticism.

7. Because One-Size-Fits-All Definitions of ‘Health’ Are Ableist and Perpetuate Heathism

There are still a million questions that we have for you.

Like how the fuck do you define “health” in the first place? And who gets to decide what that is? And how is there any possible way to judge health based on a person’s size?

And is it even really appropriate to value health?

I would say that medical tests for your blood pressure, BMI and general fitness level would be a pretty good place to start. I actually agree with the whole ‘no one size fits all’ thing because it is very clearly true.  People have different body shapes and some people have naturally different proportions. We cannot and should not all try and have the same body because we aren’t meant to have the same body. What we should be focusing on is how to make the most out of the body we do have, not the body we think we should have or wish we had.

 It is also true that skinny people and regular sized people can experience health problems. I know skinny people with health problems. And rapid weightloss can be a sign of a huge variety of medical conditions.

But I feel that this is kind of avoiding the point. Saying that other people experience health problems as well doesn’t mean there isn’t a link between health problems and obesity. Just because you might experience them regardless of your weight doesn’t mean you should increase the risk by eating loads and loads of food. If you see someone who is immobile, or someone who cannot walk up stairs or has trouble moving, or someone who is constantly out of breath and sweating, or someone who has loads of digestive problems, or someone who is just miserable with how they look … that’s a pretty good indication that they aren’t healthy. This doesn’t mean everyone who is obese is necessarily going to suffer these problems but it doesn’t change the fact that it makes it more likely.

In the U.K there is also the NHS argument for the last point. I don’t particularly like this argument because if we want universal health care it must be universal and ultimately people have autonimy over their own bodies, but for the sake of debate if you are obese due to lifestyle choices and you have avoidable health problems which you are treated for on the NHS then it is kinda everyone’s problem because you are taking up money, resources and beds which could be used for non preventable conditions.

Also what is heathism?  I’m going to assume that’s an example of Every Day Feminisms fabulous editing and it actually means ‘healthism’. What is healthism? Is it really a bad thing to promote health? Granted not everyone has the same level of health but if you don’t surely it’s even more important to be as healthy as possible? I really don’t get that one to be honest.

8. Because Weight Loss Doesn’t Actually Improve Health Anyway

What they do in this point is try to argue that weight loss alone doesn’t improve health. And yknow what? They’re right. Starving yourself, going on fad diets or yo yo diets or getting surgery probably won’t improve your health and weight loss surgery should really only be done in an emergency. But saying that fad diets, starvation and medical surgery won’t improve your health is kind of a given because … they won’t. Weight loss can’t be a quick one step process. It is a gradual thing that happens naturally as a result of fairly small lifestyle changes. Exercise and not living a sedentary lifestyle are also really, really important.

Everyday Feminism says that they promote a healthy diet and exercise. If they do then that’s great, but do they?

  It depends on what you mean by a healthy diet as portion control, calories and what you are eating are obviously going to play a part. It also depends on what you mean by exercise because going to the gym and doing some light cardio once a week is unlikely to improve your fitness levels that much or help you lose weight. But if you do follow a healthy diet with potion sizes that still make you full but not to the point of over eating AND you follow a exercise regime which incorporates cardio, weights and generally moving around … unless you have a pre-existing reason for being obese … I just don’t think you would stay obese if you did those things.

9. Because No, Being Fat Is Not At All Like Being a Smoker

First, being fat is a physical characteristic, not a behavior.

Second, smoking has been proven to cause death and disease. Being fat, on the other hand, has not.

Unless the fat is a result of a pre existing condition then it is a pretty strong indicator of a behaviour. And obviously you can’t ‘catch fatness’ from standing next to someone eating a cheeseburger. Obviously not. There are however links between obese parents and obese children and children who have obese parents are likely to become obese themselves so in that way you can kind of ‘catch it’, but through eating behaviour and lifestyle rather than actually catching it just because you stood near a fat person.

In reality, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, an epidemiologist named Richard Doll published research suggesting first that smoking could cause serious health damage and second that there was a close link between smoking and lung cancer, which was repeatedly confirmed.

Surely this ‘close link’ is a positive correlation much like the one that links obesity with numerous health disorders?

No one is saying that smoking is exactly like being obese. But the way it is handled and the way you should talk about it are quite similar in my view. In the same way that it is unnacceptable to approach a fat person eating in the street and lecture them on the importance of a healthy diet it is also unacceptable to accost an unknown smoker and talk to them about lung cancer. But both parties need to know the risks, they should know that there are options availible is they want to make healthier choices and we should not glorify or understate the potential problems associated with either thing. 

Ultimately people have the control over their bodies and no one else has the power or the authority to change that, but that does not mean we have to pretend it’s all fine.

10. Because You’re Subscribing to a Harmful Bootstraps Myth Mentality

So when we perpetuate the narrative that we all have a choice in whether our bodies are fat or thin, we push the idea that everyone should be striving toward thinness all the time – and that is something that actually harms us all.

Can we just get off the thin thing for a moment? It’s not a question of being extremely fat or extremely thin. Those are not the only two options. It is not a question of trying to force everyone to be thin, it’s about encouraging extremely obese people to make changes in their lives so that they lose some weight and have a better quality of life. 

This is why I think we are desperately in need of ‘average’ sized models who are not plus size but are not super skinny either. We need to show that there aren’t just two options and that you don’t just leap from skinny straight to plus size.

11. Because, Straight Up, Fat-Shaming Just Makes You a Jerk

Concern trolling does not make you a hero. You’re not saving anyone’s life.

You’re not motivating anyone toward health. You’re not helping someone cope with oppression. You’re hurting people. All concern trolling does is hurt people – both individually and socially.

And if that isn’t a good enough reason to reevaluate your actions, then what is?

I’m really not sure how pointing out medical truths is hurting people, nor how ignoring medical truths is helping people. There are people out there who can be really mean on an individual basis and that’s not cool, but if talking about a medical issue which is already all over the media as a nation if not western world wide problem isn’t allowed because it might hurt someones feelings then surely nothing will ever get done and our government will continue to try and push sugar taxes and healthy eating down our noses whilst people like you sit back and say the only problem is mean people.

If you have been hurt, upset or felt victimised by the contents of this post then please let me know how and why. Any comments, queries or criticisms are encouraged but flames, trolls or anything which just goes “OMG YOU’RE SO MEAN!” without saying how and why will be ignored and deleted.

 

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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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An update on my life, and a rant about Jeremy Corbyn

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

Me

I’ve been neglecting my poor blog.

Things have been quite busy. I’m trying to work as a freelance writer, which basically involves sending pitches and searching the internet for writing opportunities for hours and perhaps actually getting something once or twice a week. It started slow, but I’m feeling optimistic about it. I’m working as a ghostwriter, which isn’t great as you get no credit for your work, but on the other

I’m working as a ghostwriter, which isn’t great as you get no credit for your work, but on the other hand I’m getting paid to write. It’s ghostwriting for a tech company, so I have to rewrite and research these tech topics like virtual assistants for android phones and then write a load of words on them. It’s quite fun, I’m learning a lot of trivia and I’ve discovered some really addictive phone games.

I’ve also found a few other jobs along the way, including a job which literally paid me $100 me to record myself saying phrases. I think they were testing for a Google app, as I had to repeat the word “Google” so many times it stopped sounding real. It did get a bit repetitive, but realistically making $100 dollars by lying in bed and talking is pretty much the best thing ever.

Getting paid for journalism, opinions and analysis is pretty hard, especially for newbies, and as that’s what I really want to do it kind of sucks. I’ve written a fair few articles which, whilst they weren’t paid for, did manage to end up on a legit website and reach a reasonably large number of people, so that was pretty cool. I have written an article for this website, and please forgive me for being a shameless promoter but please click and read it.

Jeremy Corbyn

The article is my attempt to levy the playing field for Jeremy Corbyn by writing something nice about him. I should probably clarify, as he goes against a lot of what I write about, that I don’t actually want him to run the country, and I don’t agree with a lot of his policies.

But I am fascinated by him. For a man like him, a genuine, scruffy do-gooder of a man who would rather hang out with local people and go to his constituents citizenship ceremonies then pander to the press and attend all the official occassions … he really is something different. Whether you agree with him or not, don’t you get tired of politicians saying the same things, politicians who don’t seem to have anything to do with you?
So many people are disillusioned with politics and can’t be bothered to vote in elections because they don’t agree with the leading parties. Because they don’t feel that they represent their views. Sure some people are just lazy, or uninformed or simply don’t care, but there are a lot of people who don’t want to give their support to a candidate they don’t trust. This is at least partly why so many young people don’t tend to engage in politics, because politics has made them apathetic.

Why I like Jeremy Corbyn

And I’m personally interested in seeing Jeremy remain in parliament, not because I think he’s right, but because I think he represents the people who don’t normally get representation, and the leading party should have some decent kind of opposition even if he is a bit mad. Some say that he is incompetent, that he has crazy ideas and he abandoned England to Brexit whilst he went on a sunny holiday, and at least some of these are things are probably true. But it does appear that people really can never be satisfied.

So many people complained that the Remain campaign was pushing itself down people’s throats, that David Cameron spent tax payers money on leaflets. Some people got so sick of the constant warnings and threats that some of them voted to leave just out of spite. So how is it that the one person who didn’t do that, who didn’t make wild claims and belittled the people by giving them threats rather than actual facts, how is he suddenly the evil villain of the story?

A few newspapers have discussed this and shown that  more Labour members actually voted to remain than the Conservative party, and those that voted to leave did so because of reasons that had nothing at all to do with Jeremy Corbyn. Yes, he could have done a better job, and yes he didn’t seem that into it. Realistically, he probably wasn’t. You can’t really have his opinions and be totally in favour of the E.U. Perhaps he was hoping we’d leave. Perhaps as a man who has such strict principles, he couldn’t properly campaign for something he didn’t really support. Perhaps his main fault is that he finds it hard to lie.

Perhaps he was hoping we’d leave. Perhaps as a man who has such strict principles, he couldn’t properly campaign for something he didn’t really support. Perhaps his main fault is that he finds it hard to lie.

But he did campaign to remain, just not enough. People saw him giving talks on workers rights within the E.U and why we should have stayed in to reform it. He didn’t do it as well as he should have done, but he did so it and  we can’t know how much he actually did do because no one reported it.

I want him to remain, at least for a while longer, because I think it’s interesting to see a real difference of opinion in parliament and displayed across social media, even if it’s an opinion I don’t agree with. I want to see the parties represent different things, so people actually do have a choice. And perhaps Jeremy’s old labour socialism thing just isn’t popular enough with the majority of people, perhaps Labour itself no longer works because the world has changed and it no longer has a place in it.

The Labour Party

Perhaps if old labour can’t work anymore it’s a sign, because we don’t need a party which bases half its support on the fact it seems a bit ‘nicer’ than the Tories. I am sure there are people who really love the Labour party and believe in what it stands for today, but I don’t come across these people very often. ‘New Labour’ doesn’t seem to have the same appeal it used to, and if Labour goes back to it’s ‘Tory-lite’ image it could be years before they are re-elected.

I just feel the Labour party spends so much time saying “look, we’re not the Torie’s and you hate the Tories so you must like us”, without giving us enough of a reason to like them. I don’t feel the majority of them, including Jeremy’s contester, know what they stand for, just that it’s not the same things as Jeremy Corbyn. We need them to say what they are, not what they are not, and if they don’t know they had better start thinking. There are some things they have to agree with, because there is no way to change them. Perhaps there isn’t a good enough alternative to the tories because they actually have it all right and there is no other way, but I’m not convinced.

Maybe it’s time for a new party or several new parties. Maybe we’ll see the rise of a (real) liberal party, perhaps the greens will take over, who really knows. We would (and should)  change the electoral system, which that would involve a lot of headache and paperwork, but there are other options beyond out current brand of politics. It’s not crazy to suggest we may need to think about them at some point.

I don’t know what will happen, but I have an inkling that something has to change. Maybe Jeremy isn’t the right kind of change, but he shows that it is possible for non-Etonian champaign socialists/strict Tories to get into positions of power and at the very least, we can hope he will inspire other people to try and do the same.

 

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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?