RSS Feed

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Should we leave the EU?

David Cameron has promised a referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union in 2017, if the Conservatives win the next general election.  It is interesting that this topic has continued for so long, yet, the public’s opinion seems to be equally divided with no heavily weighted obvious direction:

Image

Below there is a chart of positive and negative attributes to leaving the EU, this chart does seem a little bias to the ideas of a referendum… However, you must bear in mind that it was taken from the rather opinionated ‘different minds’ website, whose slogan is: ‘Where great minds differ’ and seem to resemble a Russell Brand style illusionist stance on political matters… Nevertheless, the chart does portray a great visual tool in terms of talking of the EU referendum: 

Image

 

“We need to get out the EU, their taking all our jobs!”

When you’re average Joe is asked of the EU debate, a common theory is that the EU causes immigration problems, that ‘foreigner’s take our jobs’ and we should be an English only workforce.  I think this topic is generally, a great misconception… what the average Joe fails to see, is that a lot of the work ‘foreigners’ have adopted, is work that many British people refuse to take part in. (Check out this documentary ‘The day the immigrants left’ to see just how ironic the ‘take all our jobs’ statement really is.)

Similarly, if we were to leave the EU and banish the ‘dreaded’ immigration laws, people will probably forget that this means us ‘sun hungry’ Brits, will struggle to achieve the idealised 6months of sunshine working abroad. Visas for us could become a problem, and, British students would have to pay the extortionate British fees, rather than flee to somewhere extravagant and get a cheaper education. (Which, by the way seems very hypocritical that we get annoyed at foreigners using Britain as a free ‘meal pass’, however, we think it perfectly acceptable to send little Johnny over to Denmark to come back cultured and educated… for free.)

Image

 

“Britain could leave the EU and save BILLIONS, but still trade fairly with the European countries… The EU is not about trade it is about a centralised, federal government”

It is suggested that trading as part of the EU benefits us immensely, however, on average the membership of the EU is costing us billions:

“The UK paid £8.9bn into the EU budget in 2010/11, says the Treasury, out of £706bn in public spending .That’s slightly higher than the country spends on railways and similar to cost of unemployment benefits. The European Commission puts the UK’s contribution at £5.85bn” (BBC online, Brian Wheeler and Laurence Peter).

  Furthermore, it is said that trading with Europe wouldn’t stop if we left the EU, if anything, it is believe that is could be better: “We will continue to trade with Europe, as part of an association of nation states,” (Bill Cash, Tory MP).The UK would be free to establish bi-lateral trade agreements with up and coming trade markets such as China, Singapore and Russia because of the world trade organisation. Similarly imported food from non-EU countries could get cheaper, as tariffs are lowered. A break from the EU could enable broader trader deals with other countries.

However, is this really doable? The UK’s main trading partner is worth £400bn a year that equates to 52% of the total trade for our company. This main partner is the EU.  According to Emma Reynolds, the UK’s European spokeswoman, “The UK is always likely to be better positioned to secure beneficial trade deals as a member of the EU than as an individual and isolated player.” The future paves way for the EU and the US to create the world’s largest free trade area… Something that the UK would most defiantly benefit from if they were part of it. Yes, yes, the UK’s allies would probably agree to trade with them whether they are part of the ‘gang’ or not, but is it really advisable to bite the hand that could possibly feed us so to speak? 

Image

 

“An EU withdrawal is necessary if Britain is to regain control of its justice system”

The topic of human rights …Well I could probably go on all day about this, the pros and cons of the EU’s influence on this are endless, and I don’t think there’s an obvious answer. The case of Abu Qatada, Is a small scale example of the request to abolish the EU’s  Human Rights laws, for the UK to take full control of our judiciary system. The radical was finally deported from Britain, not by our force, but because he agreed to do so. This case cost the tax payer £1.7 million. 

This extremely controversial topic of human rights will start fires within the most timid of people. Who are we to take away the rights of a human being, irrelevant of what they have done? Similarly, why should we have to support a foreign terrorist, just because he so happens to reside in our country?

It is important to remember, no matter how blood boiling this topic can get for supporters and non supporters of the EU, leaving the EU would not abolish the UK’s attachment to the human rights act. The country would be free from the EU warrant arrest law, and other such EU instructed protection laws, however, the European court of human rights is a separate system, and the UK cannot escape these boundaries, despite people’s strong opinions.

Image

 

In reality, we Brits can’t have everything we want, we might be used to this ideal lifestyle of ‘having our cake and eating it’. But when it comes to political attachment, there is no way we can take and not give. Wanting to un-latch ourselves to the EU, yet still trade with them and remain strong allies is essentially the kid in school that goes to every party but has no real friends. Yes, there are endless benefits the country could gain from total independence, but in reality, you can never really escape certain EU laws, and surely it is better that we help write them, than be dictated by these laws that we have no valued opinion on.  

Advertisements

Guantanamo bay – a fate worse than death?

Image

Shaker Aamer has been in detention for eleven years now, having been arrested in Afghanistan, 2001, due to accusations that Mr.Aamer was part of a high profile British Taliban extremist group. Since capture, Aamer has denied any association with the Taliban and insists he was in Afghanistan with his family commencing charity work. Aamer has been held in Guantanamo, Cuba, for 11 years, but never been charged with an offence, as the last British inhabitant of the high profile centre, requests for his bale and cleared for release, yet, despite all this, Aamer remains on lock down. With no knowledge as to why he is still enslaved:

 “I wish someone official would give me an explanation and they won’t. No one will say why they won’t let him go.”

 A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “Mr Aamer’s case remains a high priority for the UK government and we continue to make clear to the US that we want him released and returned to the UK as a matter of urgency.”

 This exclusive recording of Aamer from his cell in Guantanamo was aired on US televisions highest ranked channel, CBS, the recording and the pleading from the  163 inmates at this prison, begs the question, how humane is this place?

 

Image

 The bay itself is known as: a detention centre, a place in which people are retained, encapsulated…no, enslaved for indefinite detention without trial. The men have had their hope taken away from them, and the phrase ‘innocent until proven guilty’ bears no echo on the walls of the detention camp. The camp, was opened in Cuba, 2002, yes, 2002, THIS side of the millennium, THIS side of advanced civilisation. The camp was created after the horrific 9/11 attack. However, and said with the deepest sympathy, it seems that America under panic, lead to erratic, and, extremely irrational behaviour. In fact, a file released from the bay suggested possible terrorist signs, one to watch out for being Islamic men who wore a specific Casio watch. It seems Guantanamo bay is a result of panic, which is now in desperate need to be forgotten.

 Agreeably, I do not suggest that dangerous men are left to run the earth because they have not officially been convicted of evil, nor have they been charged. However, to enslave someone, to banish their human rights without an official trial is inhumane. To fight evil, with evil, makes the government worse than the inmates themselves, (assuming the inmates are what the US government suspects them to be.) Western civilisation prides itself of empathy and a fair justice system, surly Guantanamo is the epitome of hypocrisy.

Barrack Obama, has often talked of closing Guantanamo and many, thousands, of civil rights campaign have begged for this to be followed through. It seems ridiculous that it remains as four walls, despite it’s obvious breach of humanity, as though slavery has broken the time barrier and remains under US supervision. “Please colonel, act with us like a human being, not like slaves.” “You cannot walk even half a metre without being chained. Is that a human being? That’s the treatment of an animal… It is very sad what is happening in this place.” (Shaker Aamer, from his cell room in Guantanamo.)

 

See more: Life in Gitmo – EX resident 

Shaker Aamer in Gitmo

secret diaries

Image

Poppy People

images-1

Remembrance Sunday marks the armistice day of the First World War, people wear poppies as a sign of respect to the brave people that gave their lives for their country. Since World War 1, the brutal fact is, more wars have come, and more lives have gone. During the 2 minute silence on Sunday, people remember the lives of everyone who has fought for their country since 1914.   The paper poppy that pins to chests symbolise sympathy and respect for the people who lay down their lives so that we can carry on.

Some people go out of their way to let people know that they are not wearing a poppy out of choice, (Omar Brooks climbed a 9ft building to preach to others to not wear a poppy). This, I think, is insensitive and totally disrespectful. If you do not want to wear a poppy, then this is fair enough, I am no poppy Fascist! Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, after all we are British and we pride ourselves in our freedom. However, if you choose not to wear a poppy and then become a diva about it. That then, to me, is wrong. If you must have a negative opinion on such traditions as respecting the dead, then please do not voice them when people are in the process of anniversary mourning.

On the other hand, why do people need to be so fascist towards the people who choose not to wear one? yes, I said not to publicly preach your opinions in an unnecessary way, but two wrongs do not make a right. I read yesterday that the news reporter Charlene White, chooses not to wear a poppy on TV.  Charlene doesn’t like to wear one on the television because she would rather support the cause privately and discreetly, rather than wearing the poppy live on a politically independent news channel: “I prefer to be neutral and impartial on-screen”. The news reporter was faced with violent racist hatred from social networking sites such as twitter and Facebook because she was not wearing a poppy.

Poppy’s are worn out of a sign of respect, remembrance sunday is supposed to be about the troops who have fought for our country, it should not be tainted with such debates as who is and isn’t conforming to society. The egotistical people that preach about not wearing poppy’s should be quiet and have some respect. The ignorant groups that choose to threaten and abuse those who chose not to display a poppy quietly should appreciate the soldiers lives rather than make a hullabaloo out of something so irrelevant to the bigger picture.

The poppy debate –

Poppycock

Preposterous

Why the poppy?

Imagine if David Cameron was a ‘Twerker’?

Image

Take Miley Cyrus, Russell Brand, Lady Gaga and Robert Webb, put them all in one room together and observe.

Immediately you’d think you’d have provided Brand and Webb with enough material to last them a world tour. The total sexualisation of the crazy, bi-polar, ‘twerking’ sensations that are Gaga and Cyrus would be vented and satirised at the drop of the hat by any intelligent comedian.

But in all seriousness, these four characters have a lot more in common than we think. Brand and Webb make profit out of (pardon my French) not giving a flying Fuck about the impact of their impact. In fact, the more opinionated these comedians can be, the more attention they will probably get from the young sponges of Britain that soak up any eloquently put opinion and retweet it through support. (For example every member of OneDirection, followed by Ed Sheeran came up as the most influential celebrities on twitter, all before David Cameron. Click here to see more.)

Similarly, the craziness of the two women mentioned has sat them at the top of the charts, it probably wouldn’t be an absurd statement to suggest that without the psychotic sexually absurd music videos, and crazy ‘papped’ pictures, these girls would not be making the money they do. okay okay, Cyrus and Gaga are not an individual per say, they have an immense team of PR, managers, script writers that create this shocking persona. But, at the end of the day, they make money out of the publics desperation to follow something thats rebellious. Wether you love to ‘twerk’ or mock these money making booty shakers, I can guarantee their names will have been on your lips.

So are these great influential ‘stars’ a help or a hinderance upon society? Russell Brand has now stepped into the world of politics, writing for the NewStatesman. After an interview with Jeremy Paxman on news night, Brand urges people that a revolution is nigh, that the British public should not be voting.  (To see Brand in action click here). Webb replied to Brand’s written editorial in the NewStatesman from a very saintly perspective, and it’s fair to say I think Webb’s liberal, take on Brand’s agendas is pretty spot on. (To read Webb’s input click here)

The truth is, these comedians as political spokesmen are dangerous to society. I am the young twitter obsessed generation, and to be honest with you, if Ricky Gervais told me to vote labour, I probably would be inclined to sway that way. Just like when Rihanna dyes her hair, so do hundreds of obsessed fans. Without any actual visual responsibility these celebrity characters can do what they want. David Cameron on the other hand, well he has responsibility. You might think that the first responsibility that falls under his job title is to be hated by anyone and everyone, but secondly he has a responsibility to better the nation. He cant say or do what he wants because he would get publicly annihilated. Imagine if David Cameron was a ‘twerker’? admittedly, the popularity of twerking would probably take a massive hit, but, I don’t think his Tory supporters would be ticking his box in the next election, wether his policies are good or not.

What I’m trying to say is, celebrities do not realise the impact they have on people, because they don’t really get any comeuppance. Miley Cyrus papped smoking a ‘naughty cigarette’ does not really show kids a role model that parents would appreciate. But, Miley Cyrus papped smoking a ‘naughty cigarette’ would in fact boost public attention, she would be in the limelight, which is right where she wants to be, popularity makes money.

Brand encouraging people not to vote for example, I’m not patronising my generation, but, a lot of people would not think any further into the debate, other than “Brand said don’t vote, I’m not going to.” I do have faith in my age group, but i don’t have faith in the vulnerability of us media obsessed zombies. we are too greatly influenced, and these comedians preaching a political agenda could be very dangerous.

Eat Me!

Image

It was proposed last week that to help the burger obsessed British with their obesity epidemic, big institutions such as subway and nestle would reduce their saturated fat amount within some of their products. Statistics show that the materialistic and image obsessed country have over indulged amid westerns excessive obsession with excess. Only 39% of women and 36% of men have a normal BMI in Britain, resulting in 65% of men and 58% of women being overweight. Worryingly, 1 in 100 of the UK’s population suffer from anorexia, which although an opposite illness, they all boil down to one common denominator. Food.

Institutions have agreed to lower the saturated fats within some of their products, however, saturated fats, although a ‘big’ problem, is only “one hidden nasty” (Malcolm Clark, Children’s food campaign) that is part of the ‘large’ problem, but the government insist that this voluntary scheme, put forward by Jane Ellison, will make a FAT difference. It is suggested that on average people consume 3 times as much saturated fat as is recommended by NHS.

So who is to blame for this food crisis? Who can we paint with our sins and fault for our food issues? Is it the food retailer’s responsibility to reduce the fat in their foods? Is the government at fault because of their lack of education in healthy eating? Or, is it the individual’s responsibility to have a healthy diet?

The government have, for a long time tried to tackle the problem off over eating within our country, curriculum in schools deem it compulsory to have 2 hours of exercise a week, teaming up with Jamie Oliver in 2005 enforced healthy school meals, and in 2011 (now mandatory as of this winter) it was suggested to place a traffic light chart on food packaging to reinforce what we are putting into our bodies. Despite all this, things haven’t helped. Childhood obesity is now thought to cost the NHS around £4.2billion every year, according to estimates put forward by the Royal College of Paediatrics, and shockingly one 10 month old baby was admitted to Portsmouth hospital last year due to obesity issues.

These shocking statistics keep on getting fatter and fatter! So is it really the government at fault here? Education begins at home as they say, logically; I would assume that most children don’t start really taking care of their bodies and food intake alone until they are 16 or older. The parents of a child are responsible for that child, in terms of punishment, moral teachings and guidance. So why does this responsibility stop at what the child eats?

Image

“Of course chivalry should die a death in the modern age”

Image

During PMQ time last Wednesday, Jo Swinson a Liberal Democrat representative for East Dunbartonshire was left standing in he House of Commons for the duration of the half hour. Not one of the elected MPs offered Swinson a seat, despite the fact that she is 7 months pregnant.

Upon reading this, it seemed a little shocking to see comments left on the article such as: “Of course chivalry should die a death in the modern age”. The irony of it all is that Jo Swinson is the Liberal Equalities minister, which seems to throw 100 more spanners in the works, it seems political correctness has really gone mad! The entire modern movement in my opinion has gone totally ‘tits up’…

Reports suggest that Ms Swinson implied that it would’ve been quite sexist if any of the MPs had in fact offered her a seat. In fact, many women seem to actually agree with this point, Sally Peck writing: “Pregnancy is not an illness and it IS sexist to suggest that Jo Swinson ‘needed’ a seat”

The feminist movement in the 21st century is the strongest it has ever been, any form of discrimination against gender is deemed extremely offensive, and in some cases can lead to prosecution (Sexual discrimination when hiring a member of staff etc.). In fact, it was a great pain for me when it was made illegal to discriminate gender for car insurance, as personally, I rather enjoyed the cheaper bill! However, that is by the by. Today the pay gap between men and women is closer than ever, with only a 10.2% gap between wage earnings (ONS 2011).

The extent of equal rights seems to have reached a point at which now we are totally unsure of what is and what isn’t acceptable anymore? Its a sphere of extremes that seem to get very muddled when they clash in the middle.

If women want to be treated equally – then no, Swinson shouldn’t have been offered a seat. The idea of equal treatment should be seen within everything, from gentlemanly gestures, to maternity care. But the fact is, biologically we are different beings, and traditionally, this has been so since the dawn of man. I am not proposing that every women should go back to the ice age, where her man would go out hunting and she would dust the cave, but I am proposing that people should get a little perspective embedded with their opinions of what is equality.

Chivalry manners and etiquette is what makes our country so great, a true British gentlemen (such as the people we vote to run a country) should offer a seat if a women is pregnant. Furthermore, a woman should offer her seat if an elderly man is in need of it. Having respect and manners should not be viewed under the equality umbrella.

Click here to see the original story

To learn more on this topic click here.

Mean-ie Testing?

Image

       Benefits – the political hot potato that is served up at almost every dinner table, canteen and communal place in society.  If you know politics, you have a lot to say on it, if you don’t know politics, you’ll still have a lot to say on it! The benefit system immediately sparks thoughts of council houses and child allowance, some people forget the true ‘benefits’ of old age, and disregard the states pension aids as part of the benefit system.

State pension age has recently changed. Depending on what year you are born in, the age you are allowed to file for a state pension will increase (to find out when you can claim a state pension go on checkout the state pension website.)

It currently stands that upon starting your state pension you are entitled to:

  • A free bus travel pass (check out the pensioners that travelled 500 miles with their free pass!)
  • Winter fuel payments (including a Christmas bonus)
  • Even if you haven’t paid enough through national insurance, the government will ensure that you will get a reasonable amount of state pension to keep you going.

This is all very nice; I for one feel very reassured that I would not go hungry when I am old and grey! Similarly, it is comforting to know that my favourite grandma will not be too cold this winter!

However, the reality of this kind gesture is, can the government really afford to do this for every man and woman at state pension age? Britain’s state pension is one of the lowest in the developed world, but the benefit system needs a desperate reform in order to get the economy back on track. A proposition to means – test the winter fuel payment is currently under siege.

On paper, this proposal seems perfectly fair, in my opinion, if you have enough money to heat your house as a pensioner, then accepting the winter fuel payment is unnecessary charity, some pensioners would very much appreciate an increase in the winter fuel allowance, which the higher income elderly could probably afford to donate.

In reality, means testing isn’t that easy. Where is it that you draw the line between a modest income and a high earning income? “Only 2pc of pensioners pay higher-rate tax and those who are not on pension credit are still only on incomes of around £12,000- £15,000” (Ros Altman – The Telegraph)

Statistics show that on average, 20,000 pensioners die of cold each winter. Implying that the benefits aren’t reaching those who really need it. There is no doubt that the cost of social care is a massive predicament within politics, and there doesn’t seem to be an obvious answer for it.

To ‘means test’ these pensioners would cost the government more money and time, and probably result in more pensioners with modest to low incomes freezing to death. It saddens me that people who do not need this benefit accept it anyway as a matter of principle. I think that it becomes a moral obligation to help those who are worse of than you, rather than accept what you are offered, simply because you are entitled to it.

To read more on this debate:  The Telegraph   The BBC