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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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Should Fake News Be Banned?

https://mcxv.com/fake-news-made-illegal/

I recently attended a debate which focused on whether or not ‘fake news’ is covered by free speech.  This topic is very relevant for bloggers because if you tend to focus on news and current events, you are contributing to the discourse and you are presenting your own view of the truth, a view which may or may not be widely accepted.

Would fake news laws shut down blogs just because the powers that be don’t agree with them? Who decides what is and is not fake? And what would that mean for political commentators, Youtubers, bloggers and keyboard warriors? Before you decide whether or not fake news should be banned you first need to think about what fake news is and who defines and decides what fake news is.

Donald Trump believes that the mainstream media deliberately lies about him and his fans. The public has, to some extent, always been dubious of the mainstream media but the rise of independent news outlets seems to be fuelling this distrust. Facebook and Google are clamping down on fake news. People are being implored to actually research the facts before they share a meme. Fake news is very relevant to a world where basically anyone can be a journalist and users alone decide what will go viral, but is fake news detrimental to or in fact supported by free speech?

I have written an article about whether fake news should be banned, the definition of fake news, the difference between interpretation and facts, and whether or not fake news should be banned. The article was published on MCXV, an independent news website which allows contributors to make a small profit based on a number of views they get. Is this the kind of website which would be targeted by anti-fake news legislation? Take a look and let me know what you think!

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Why I am an egalitarian, not a feminist.

For quite a while now my facebook feed has been full of feminism. Feminist quotes, feminist videos, and memes showing why everyone regardless of whether they know it or not has to be a feminist if they believe in the equality of men and women. When you tell someone you’re not a feminist you are normally met with a bit of ridicule and a lot of patronising attitudes.

The Definition of Feminism

People will tell you that feminism means equality, so if you believe in equality you must be a feminist. If you deny this and  continue to say that whilst you do believe in equality you are not a feminist, the person you’re talking to either gives up on you entirely or just assumes that you don’t understand the definition of feminism in the first place. A lot of discussions don’t really go anywhere because the person you are talking to either assumes you don’t know the definition of feminism or they assume you have misinterpreted it. So just to clear something up let me bring up the definition of feminism as according to Google.

feminism

ˈfɛmɪnɪz(ə)m/
noun
 1. the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.
I am not saying feminists don’t believe in equality. The definition states that the aim of feminism is making women equal to men, not making them more powerful than men. The definition is not about taking away men’s rights, it is about giving rights to women. Some feminists do hate men and some feminists believe women should do away with them entirely, but crazy ideas and crazy people exist in all ideologies and the majority of people who identify as feminists do not believe that.

So why aren’t you a feminist?

You may be wondering at this point what the hell my problem is. If I know that the majority of feminists believe in equality and I believe in equality then why won’t I just identify as a feminist? Well the answer is in the definition, it’s just not the conclusion most people seem to come to. The definition above states that feminism is the advocacy of making women equal to men, so that implies that men are equal in all areas and women are not equal in all areas and so in order to achieve equality we need to bring women up to the level of equality enjoyed by men.
I believe that society in the present day is not as black and white as that definition assumes. I believe that women are at a disadvantage and do experience inequality in some areas of life, and I also believe that men experience inequality and are at a disadvantage in other areas of life. I do not believe men have the advantage in all areas and so I do not believe equality can be achieved by making women equal to men when in some areas they may actually be better off than men. Therefore I believe equality has to be achieved by looking at the issues that affect women and the issues that affect men.

Equality works both ways

I’m a little short on time at the moment and I will bring in detailed examples in a separate post a bit later on but some of the areas I am thinking about includes:
The disproportion rate of suicide in men, that fact that although male victims can make up as much as 40% of domestic abuse statistics they are still not taken seriously, the fact that men are often given harsher sentences for the same crimes whereas women tend to be treated more leniently, the fact that whether a man wanted a child or not he will have to pay child maintenance for the next 16+ years and still be called a deadbeat father.

The fact that men are more likely to be victims of physical violence and yet feminists claim men feel so much safer walking the streets at night. The fact that white working class males are now actually the social group that is least likely to succeed in school and go to university whereas female students up and down the country now outperform their male counterparts and yet white males are still constantly told they are the most privileged group in society. The fact that prostate cancer does not get anywhere near the same publicity or funding as breast cancer. The fact that there are far, far less men’s shelters than there are shelters for women and children even though men are more likely to become homeless in this country.

Feminists often say that they fight for men’s rights as well as women’s rights, and I am sure to some extent that is true. However what I tend to see is that when feminists talk about how feminism can help men it is still on female terms. Men will benefit because gender stereotypes will be pushed aside and men will be able to be emotional, these ideas of gender roles will be destroyed so that men can stay at home and take care of the children etc. This is certainly true for some men, but I do not believe all of men’s problems would be solved if they were allowed to be like women any more than I think the only way for women to succeed is if they act like men.

‘Toxic Masculinity’

A lot of the time there is this assumption that all of masculinity is in some way toxic and that femininity can cure society of all its problems. This idea exists because these days we see masculinity as a social construct rather than a biological fact. It is true that your upbringing, the society you live in, your parents, your friends and your childhood will influence your adult life, but when you talk about men and women you can’t just pretend biology doesn’t exist because if you do you are ignoring half the argument. The nature vs nurture debate is an old one and one that has never been fully proven either way,  yet now apparently sociological theories are no longer theories but more factual than biological science.
When you look into it it does appear that women and men  deal with emotions differently. Women are more likely to find comfort in talking about it and letting their emotions out, whereas men are more likely to do one of three things: try to solve the problem, get angry or try to avoid the situation if they don’t feel it can be solved. This is of course not 100% accurate and people do vary, but again and again I keep seeing evidence that men and women’s brains deal with emotions in different areas and women typically find it easier to verbalise their feelings whereas men are more likely to try to solve or avoid the issue at hand.
I am not a scientist but I have watched videos and read articles that keep saying the same things, and I am happy to provide links if anyone is interested.
If this is true, even if it is not true for everyone, the type of talking therapy that is currently available may not appeal to men as much as women because they don’t find talking about their feelings as helpful, in fact they may feel unable to and this may cause them greater distress.
It is all very well to say that men have been conditioned not to express themselves because of toxic masculinity, but if their brains are literally wired differently when it comes to communication and emotion then surely we should be focusing on finding mental health care that benefits both parties, not assuming that all mental health care that works for women would work for men if only they could get away from toxic masculinity and just open up.

Egalitarianism

The biggest problem I have with feminism as an ideology isn’t what it says or does. I agree with a lot of the things it says and some of the things it does. What I do have a problem with is this idea that you have to label yourself a feminist or you are automatically a bad person/a woman hater. When a woman says she is not a feminist she has ‘internalised the patriarchy’ and she is ‘hurting fellow women everywhere’ because she has chosen her own definition.

I don’t mind if you want to identify as a feminist as long as you are open to debate, so I don’t see why the same can’t apply to me or to other non-feminists.Time and time again I see people pushing this binary view of the world, this idea that you either have to be a feminist or you have to be a sexist and there is no way you could believe in equality without defining yourself as a feminist. This idea that ‘my group is all good and your group is all bad’ is a really simplistic and reductionist way of looking at the world, and it is not helpful for debate or any kind of progression.

Egalitarianism (from French égal, meaning “equal”)—or equalitarianism—is a trend of thought that favours equality for all people. Egalitarian doctrines maintain that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

I am an egalitarian because the definition works for me. I am an egalitarian because I  don’t see the proof in this black and white all or nothing oppressor and oppressed way of thinking. And I am an egalitarian because I am not just concerned with male and female equality but equality across the board, and in some cases I feel other cases of inequality are simply more important at this time.

I fully support the first, second and third wave feminist movements that have taken place in the last 100 years because they did fight for inequality and at that time women were less equal than they are today. The right to vote, the right to control your own body and the move towards strong and interesting female characters in popular culture (i.e Buffy, Dark Angel, Xena etc) were all fantastic things that I fully support. But I feel fourth wave feminism often focuses on the wrong topics, goes about things the wrong way and alienates and denies anyone who disagrees with them regardless of what that person actually says. I feel that I can support equality between the sexes/genders without having to identify with a group I don’t feel comfortable with, and I don’t see why that should be a problem. That is why I am not a feminist, and in the next series of posts I’ll be looking at things like the gender pay gap, sexism, inequality and structural oppression and questioning if the progressives are as progressive as they think.

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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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Donald Trump and the banning debate

A section of British MPs have debated whether the controversial republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has caused worldwide outrage for his comments regarding Muslims including the call for Muslims to be banned from the US, should be banned from visiting the UK. This is a result of an online partition calling for Trump to be banned from the UK which currently has 576, 447 signatures SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh claimed that the ban could be justified on ground of ‘religious harmony’, but others have said that the ban could actually create more support for Trump because it may give him ‘martyr’ status, and even those who would usually abhor his claims would support his right to free speech.

I do not think Trump should be banned from the UK. This is not because I agree with Trump; frankly I still can’t quite believe the guy exists, let alone that anyone would consider letting him run a country. However, the worst thing you can do with a bigot like this is deny them their right to speak. If you do this it gives them ammunition. It gives someone whose views are normally ridiculous a genuinely valid argument, because we are denying them the free speech we often fight so hard to protect. And we would also be denying ourselves a golden opportunity to ridicule this man and show his ideas for what they are.
We should not ban him, rather we should try and set up a televised talk with a live audience and panel who would be given the opportunity to challenge Trump, to put him on the spot and to make him squirm. I remember years ago the UK wanted to stop Nick Griffin participated in a BBC debate. The debate went ahead anyway, and Nick Griffin was put on the spot and he showed himself for what he was, which gave him opponents even more ammunition to criticize and challenge his views.
This is precisely what we need to do with Trump. Rather then deny him free speech, we should use free speech against him. Clearly no matter what we do we won’t change his or his more hardcore supporters beliefs, but we can try to trip him up on his logic enough that maybe the more intelligent potential supporters will question him. This is not guaranteed, but it can’t hurt. We shouldn’t be scared of these people, we should show that rather then just try to hide from them and pretend they don’t exist we can and we should challenge them, not just from behind a keyboard but in real life. The call to ban him was a valid form of protest, and is good because it shows that a large number of UK citizens disagree venomously with his assertions, but we need to go beyond that. We can’t just say we disagree because we don’t like what he says, we need to take that and then show why  what he says is wrong. To simply disagree isn’t enough, we need to engage with these kind of views in so much that we can break them apart, ridicule them and prove them wrong. That is the only way we can even hope of defeating someone like that.