Boris Johnson and the £350 Million: Positions, pandering and relations between politicians and media

Boris Johnson Mayor
(Image sourced from Google: Labelled for reuse)

Boris Johnson; what a character… That’s probably the simplest way to describe the UK’s current Foreign Secretary. For many years he’s been in the spotlight, his time as the mayor of London being one example, though recently this has often been for the wrong reasons; last year he was one of the spearheads behind the leave campaign and while he wasn’t quite as vitriolic as Nigel Farage, Johnson still gained infamy for his use of a bright red bus with the slogan: “We send £350 Million a week to the EU; let’s spend that money instead on the NHS”. Of course, we know that this trick worked and Boris hoped this would propel him towards a leadership position, which instead went to Theresa May. Dishonesty and its openness have drastically increased in the UK since last year’s referendum; a willingness to twist facts and get the result you want, in turn gaining a higher ability to impose your personal interests on everyone else.

Vote Leave Bus
(Image credited to ITV.com)

Recently, to the dismay of many, the “£350 Million” claim emerged again. Johnson took on his duties, visiting Donald Trump in New York only to then shirk them by repeating a lie using a newspaper as a bulwark for his endless schemes to become the leader of the Conservatives. His face was plastered on the front page with the headline: “I’ll secure the £350 Million for the NHS” followed by a 4000-word article outlining his plan for Brexit and telling people to believe in Britain, another empty phrase to pander to the nationalists and the ignorant. If the lie managed to trick common Britons into voting for Brexit last year, why not do it again to make it look like he’s standing up for Britain as a country? The UK Statistics Authority expressed their disappointment at the repeated use of the figure and James O’Brien, a popular political commentator might have said it best: “As Foreign Secretary, Johnson’s latest lie is an abuse of one of the Great Offices of State. That would’ve been a very serious matter once”. Some have called for Johnson’s resignation or sacking; I can’t help but feel the same.

Boris Johnson Headlines

Johnson’s veering off to the side to write a self-promoting article speaks volumes of how the press plays a significant role in political procedure. The papers hold UK politicians to account but often they’re known to throw their support behind a specific party in the election; the Daily Telegraph in Boris Johnson’s case is no different. Media ownership by rich moguls is a big problem in the UK and this facilitates a medium where a pompous self-interest takes centre stage. Since Johnson repeated the false £350 million claim, the Telegraph has followed up with further articles showing fellow politician Michael Gove throwing his support into the mix; they spread the slogan without questioning it, common people read and move towards believing them; with such a massive disconnect with politics in the UK, this is how it usually goes. In return, many politicians find themselves working for newspapers, the most recent of which being George Osborne becoming the editor of the Evening Standard and Nick Clegg joining the i Paper as a columnist.

FCO UK
(Image credited to LinkedIn.com)

Nowadays I find myself in a somewhat similar position; writing this blog and expressing my individual opinions with a journalism degree under my belt while pursuing a planned career in international affairs, particularly through the UK’s Civil Service. I’m of the opinion that you check your biases at the door when working for this sector; what would happen if I suddenly leaked some information to the press or wrote an article bigging myself up while working to undermine my superiors? I’d probably be sacked immediately, no questions asked. This comes back to my previous post on leadership where a lack of accountability has allowed the higher-ups to get away with breaking the rules set out by democratic institutions. In my opinion, the rules and ethical conduct of country branches should travel all the way to the top, ensuring accountability is maintained and that neglect of position and responsibility is cut down. As for Boris Johnson, he’s likely to keep his job, despite the frustration from commentators, with Theresa May apparently working to rein him in so as not to look to wobbly. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess, but he’s sure to be discredited further if continues to spread falsehoods.

(Images used for the purposes of review and criticism under fair use)

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Leaders, their actions and how rhetoric reflects on the people they represent

G20 Leaders
(Image credited to Country Digest)

What does it mean to lead a country in the 21st Century? While for the most part we’ve moved past the dictators and conquerors of eras past, there are still many cases throughout the world where the few are being catered to while the many are either being pushed down or worse, tricked into following the wrong stories or ideas. The United States continues to have problems with its leadership, striking a nerve over the past couple of weeks.

Charlottesville Counter Protest
(Image credited to Wikimedia Commons)

Recently President Donald Trump hit headlines (for the 200th time this year? I’ve lost count…) on his refusal to condemn the toxic surge of white supremacists in Charlottesville, before going on to equate Nazism with the counter-protesters (Some of whom are violent themselves) standing against it. A shameful move, but the impact it had on the society at large is arguably even worse. Trump’s actions continue to damage America, but it’s also a damning example of a leadership problem that exacerbates rather than working to solve societal problems. Some of his more unsavoury supporters go along with his dismissal of the media as saboteurs and while the mainstream hasn’t been wholly balanced across presidencies, Trump should expect to be scrutinised because without coverage there is little knowledge or awareness of what leaders currently stand for. This in turn not only generates a collection of opinions on a leader but also creates a ripple effect on common people. On the one hand, leaders mislead the people to maintain their own positions or on the other, they give themselves so much status and power that citizens cannot hope to hold them to account.

What Trump says and does, not to mention every leader in the modern world, carries a real societal consequence. Consider the way President Duterte is encouraging the killing of drug dealers in the Philippines, the way Hugo Chavez planted blame on democratic institutions such as the media and courts to trick the Venezuelan people into supporting an erosion of democracy and accountability. Or look at the way President Erdogan has bent Turkey to his will over the past year and the less drastic but nevertheless infamous phrase from UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove in the Brexit campaign: “People in this country have had enough of experts”, practically proclaiming that people should deny the facts even when they are right in front of them. But Trump’s refusal to condemn hateful groups stands as one of most telling attitudes of leadership today.

He refuses to openly condemn white supremacists because it’s unhelpful towards his own self-centred goals; he wouldn’t dare anger his most ardent fans when they’re the most important group towards keeping his floundering presidency alive. They keep the likes flowing on social media and the hate running through the minds of thousands. Keep them beholding to his wildly divisive presidency and they won’t see the real problems at the very top of management. Operating within his own self-interest is the name of the game and this attitude is very damaging to the society he represents. The same also goes for fact as it is twisted and skewed to manipulate people.

White Supremacists
(Image credited to Pinterest)

Not only are people more emboldened to go out and march for a disgraceful cause, it also feeds and enhances their superiority complexes; they believe in their disgusting beliefs with a greater passion and take bolder steps to defend it. Typically, I have believed that there is good and bad in every person, but Nazism is evil, no matter which way you frame it. Having demonised themselves throughout World War II, the fact that there are people getting behind this cause shames those who fought and died over seventy years ago. We’ve reached the point where individuals are defending Nazism, a movement that committed genocide. It should never be given a platform to spread but the way America’s leader has handled the problem only amplifies this.

How you choose to represent the people and lead reflects the amount of responsibility resting on your shoulders; the people spot you so much in the media and in society that they typically form an opinion or reaction from it. Leaders should set an example to follow, not bring popularity to the worst aspects of society while turning a blind eye to behaviours that should have died out decades ago. They say that once an idea comes about, it never truly dies; efforts must be made, especially from leaders to promote and shape progressive ideas and work to shut out hateful ones, but right now that’s not on the agenda as accountability erodes and greater control is enacted either through misdirection or placing one’s self above others. The same also goes for corruption; instead of facing ramifications, it is instead swept under the rug and many unethical decisions that directly affect common citizens are hidden away behind closed doors, leaving the media, mainstream or otherwise to scrape out the details.

Free Press March
(Image credited to Common Dreams)

Indeed, no leader or the country they represent has ever been completely spotless which brings us to the official definition of the word: “the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.” Surely now is the time to refine that statement by adding on at the end: “with good grace, ethics and accountability”. We have the modern systems to include the people in political procedure including NGOs and some efforts from the UN but more of an effort needs to be made to raise awareness of leader’s deeds and how they are held to account. UNA-UK, an organisation working to build a bridge between the UK and the UN has suggested some measures to bring more accountability regarding the sustainable development goals, which speaks volumes of greater issues. If you have stonewalling and deflections at the highest levels of governance then the world’s problems will be very difficult to solve; therefore, leadership and ethical conduct are becoming increasingly important as world issues affect more and more people.

(Images used for the purposes of review and criticism under fair use)

General Election 2017: Winners, Losers and Change across the board

 

Image result for UK General Election 2017
Image credited to the City of London Corporation

The UK’s General Election in 2017 was an amalgamation of paradoxes, coming only two years after the previous one in 2015 and a year after the EU Referendum When campaigning first got underway in April this year, the Conservatives expected an easy win, a landslide that would, as the Daily Mail put it: “Crush the saboteurs” and give them free rein to do whatever they wanted to the UK, even if it came at the expense of everyone who wasn’t earning £100,000 or more a year. On top of that, they hoped that such an audacious announcement would send the other parties into panic mode, giving them barely enough time to organise a campaign to combat the Conservative onslaught. The results were far from what the Conservative party wanted. While they still came out on top with 318 seats in Parliament, this was just short of the 326 needed to form a complete majority. Labour came in second with 262, a drastic increase on their previous result, while the other parties including the Liberal Democrats and SNP in Scotland made average ground by comparison. UKIP were the biggest losers of the night, winning no seats as their leader Paul Nuttall resigned shortly afterwards. All in all, the BBC ranks the overall voter turnout at 68.7% but the real gap between votes showed with age differences. The younger crowd turned out in droves to support their preferred candidate who would deliver change while the elderly were on the opposite end of the spectrum, going with what they voted for numerous times over the years and wishing to keep things as they were.

Image credited to The Liverpool Echo

Jeremy Corbyn didn’t win the election itself but he still achieved his own victory by shrugging off every personal attack levelled at him to deny the Conservatives their majority Is socialism a real possibility for the UK? Absolutely. With such a massive youth turnout led by a man of principle and impassioned goals, we stood up to the elites and showed that another UK is possible. The Conservative party spent over a million pounds on targeted advertisements made to attack Jeremy Corbyn and the fact that he withstood all of that and more speaks volumes about his unwavering commitment to improving and mending the country. By doing so, he’s also won over the support of just about every Labour candidate in the party, even those who doubted his ability to lead. He went on to inspire thousands of people with his message up and down the country, addressing countless rallies and word quickly spread, especially through the internet. This was the first UK election where social media overpowered the influence of the mainstream with countless shares and spread getting the word out. Whether it was news of Corbyn’s impassioned speeches, or May’s embarrassing blunders, the two sides were clear cut, resulting in a mostly two-horse race across the country. While this drew a line between the socialist and capitalist policies, it was disappointing to see a lack of support for a progressive alliance. While the Green party did stand down at several seats, many oppositions were unable to best the Tories in their respective constituencies.

Image result for Theresa May rallies
Image credited to The Sunday Post

As for the opposing side, it was clear that Theresa May was not pleased when she entered Number 10 a day ago and her struggles will only continue despite managing to scrape together a majority by going into coalition with the DUP (Democratic Unionists Party). Ironically enough, the very basis of her personal attacks on Corbyn has now become the ground-work on which she bases her latest government. A coalition of chaos alongside known terrorist sympathisers. At this point it’s looking like there will be quite a few disagreements between the two parties, especially where Brexit is concerned, which has caused the Conservatives to water down many of their controversial policies; considering how the Tory campaign was essentially a crush that only the super-rich would escape, this is a much better result. Even Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul bankrolling the worst aspects of journalism and manipulation in the United Kingdom, apparently stormed out of the room when exit polls showed the Conservatives would not obtain their desired majority. In fact, some individuals were fed up with the lies published by many mainstream outlets and moved to support other parties. All the patriotic drivel spewed by the papers couldn’t overcome the power of voters spurred on by the possibility of real positive change.

UK Electoral Map
Image credited to Research Briefings at the Commons Library. (Information in the public domain)

 

What went wrong with Theresa May’s campaign is down to many things; from the moment she first announced the election, she was u-turning on something she had promised not to do and from there her public opinion went downhill quickly. She barely met with any voters out on the road, refused to meet and debate with her biggest opponent and came off as incredibly weak whenever she did show up on televised debates. In short, May hid away from the public eye, manufactured her “strong and stable” position with robotic repetition and waited for the billionaire owned press to spin the election for her. Her gamble was a failure because she underestimated the power of the voters, who this time had an inspiring and capable leader to get behind. Now she’s facing calls to resign; respectfully she should, considering how David Cameron had the good grace to step down after his EU Referendum fell flat last year. According to the blog Another Angry Voice, 60% of all Tory MPs want her to resign but May insists on clinging on. Instead she’s letting her advisors take the fall which may only be the first of many wobbly steps towards maintaining her power. That and her new cabinet which doesn’t seem all that progressive so far; with a few exceptions, most of the higher ups in the Conservative party are keeping their jobs. Things aren’t much better since last year. We have an environment secretary who doesn’t believe in climate change, a justice secretary who doesn’t believe in LGBT or human rights, a health secretary with schemes to destroy the NHS and a foreign secretary who hasn’t been all that effective so far. After further research, the DUP is merely a number to cobble together a government, unable to vote on any issues in the UK.

With a plan to create stability turning into even more uncertainty for the UK, where will we go from here? Instability is the centrepiece of the Conservative-DUP coalition with some backhanded deals being made to ensure their cooperation. Currently the Queen’s speech is on the way and Corbyn saw fit to throw Theresa May’s insults back at her at the first meeting of Parliament. Is there still a possibility of his morals and values becoming the guiding force of the country? Perhaps, but Jeremy Corbyn has given an inspiration unlike anything seen before from the Labour party, something that has the potential to change the shape of UK politics. That alone is incredibly commendable; the predictability of previous elections has taken a step towards progressive change.

(Images used for the purposes of review and criticism under fair use)

 

Clippings: UKIP’s end and their impact on British politics

Image result for UKIP

Of all the political parties in the UK, it’s UKIP who have been the biggest wild card. Formed from a set of disillusioned Conservatives who broke away to build their own party, UKIP has been difficult, a thorn in the side of their former party for years. Even the entire EU referendum was proposed by David Cameron to get the rebels in line. Last year, the United Kingdom Independence Party was one of the staunchest supporters of the leave campaign and celebrating across the country when the result came; Nigel Farage declared Brexit the UK’s Independence Day and despite only having a single MP in parliament, the party nevertheless made their mark.

Image result for ukip local elections 2017
(Image credited to The Independent)

Almost one year later and UKIP is singing a different tune; its entire namesake was based on leaving the EU and once they got what they wanted, the tide began to change for the party. Nigel Farage would step down on July 4th 2016, having achieved his goal and was replaced by Paul Nuttall who has proven to be an incredibly weak leader; his lies concerning Hillsborough and the bending of the truth in general have dragged his reputation through the mud, putting a lot of people off UKIP as a whole. Media coverage slipped away as Farage went off to join the LBC (Leading Britain’s Conversation) radio station, directing much of the traffic towards him instead. There may also be a problem with funding for individual members as well. In the lead-up to local elections I spoke to a UKIP candidate who said that they had no team, no office and hardly enough funding to get their message out. All they could do was man the polling stations from time to time; when a party is this weak on a local level, it’s hard to see them making an impact.

Image result for Nigel Farage LBC
(Image credited to LBC.co.uk)

Is UKIP on its way out? Maybe; the local elections on May 4th 2017 saw the party lose almost all of its seats on councils all over the UK, setting them up for “annihilation” at next month’s election. This is sure to be good news for the Conservatives as many members of UKIP may re-join their side through assimilation as the June General Election approaches. Just as the Liberal Democrats lost massively in 2015, the same now happened with UKIP. Why? Because no one can take them seriously anymore. But ironically as they spiral down their outlandish ways have been adopted by both press and politicians. Speak to the people in loud, simplistic repetition and you’ll win them over in no time. By playing to people’s fear and anger it was UKIP’s ideas, not their political strategy that stood out recently, so much so that the Conservatives have adopted this mind-set too.

Theresa May 2017 Front Pages

Recently Theresa May scolded the EU for apparently interfering in the upcoming UK elections in June. This manner of speech combined with the papers following along is a nasty way of framing proceedings, painting a superiority complex, something personified by the party’s 2015 slogan: “If you believe in Britain, vote UKIP”. Alex Salmond, the former leader of the Scottish National Party hit it on the head recently: “The sort of extreme language that Theresa May used in Downing Street the other day, that could have come from Nigel Farage”. Sadly with such a massive disengagement with politics nowadays, this divisive in-your-face attitude is quickly becoming the norm when it comes to winning votes, especially in the right-wing campaigns. In the end, UKIP was a party that could not be ignored; they may not have made it into parliament but their mannerisms did and that could stick around in UK politics for a long time to come.

(All images used for the purposes of review and criticism under fair use)

America’s Syria strikes: Influencers, deflections and the media band-wagon

Chemical Attacks UN Discussion
Image credited to nytimes.com

In April 2017, a sarin attack slammed into Khan Sheikhoun in Syria; 80 people, many of them children, lost their lives in horrific images that quickly spread worldwide. In response to this, President Donald Trump, quickly pinning the blame on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, authorised the US navy to launch 59 tomahawk missiles (each costing about a million dollars each) at Assad’s air force bases. From here Trump is now openly intervening in Syria and more recently said that NATO has regained its relevance, his first major U-turns since coming to power in January. His decision to hit Syria is extremely dubious for not consulting congress first and the fact that the cost of a tomahawk missile could have easily gone towards other sectors including education and infrastructure. On top of all that, we had no idea who carried out the chemical attack, but now there’s plenty of evidence that points to the American government’s point of view being a fabrication, a sham to justify the further use of more powerful and expensive weapons that do nothing but exacerbate current conflicts and give more fuel to companies consumed by a lust for profits. Appearing on the BBC, Staffan de Mistura, the UN’s special envoy to Syria said that Trump had just “given jihadis a thousand reasons to stage fake flag operations”; it’s baffling that we still don’t get that dropping more bombs creates more terrorists. Ironically it was the Bolivian representative Sacha Llorenti who called out the United States for its actions and demanded further accountability and investigation at the UN itself.

US Tomahawk Missile
Image credited to nbcnews.com

The decision itself raise many questions about America’s newest president; what does he really stand for? Are the Syria strikes proof that he panders to the war profiteering business or is it a distraction to break off from his apparent collusion with Russia? In either case, it’s extremely hypocritical that Trump is more than willing to react when an atrocity occurs by dropping more bombs but fails at actually helping refugee children caught up in the horrendous attack. They say that weapons used to be manufactured to fight wars, now wars are manufactured to make weapons; it’s very telling that Raytheon’s stocks (The company who builds the tomahawk missiles) went up right after they were launched by the US Department of defence. Whether Trump himself profits from this remains unknown.

Battle lines in the Syrian conflict remain incredibly one-sided with the United States and Russia placing their own interests into the conflict with their respective allies following behind. Recently I spoke to a fellow student on my course whose family originates from Syria who had a lot to share about recent events. He believed that Assad would not use chemical weapons and risk an international incident when he is close to winning. In turn this is also backed up by other often obscure sources; the UN’s Carla Del Ponte branded investigations as “inconclusive” while pointing to evidence that rebel fighters in Syria may have access to chemical weapons. In addition, further evidence from American MIT scientist Theodore Postol said in a fourteen-page paper that the so-called crater made by the chemical bomb may have been fabricated “Any competent analyst would have had questions about whether the debris in the crater was staged or real,”. No competent analyst would miss the fact that the alleged sarin canister was forcefully crushed from above, rather than exploded by a munition within it.” It all points to a suspicious event that paints a narrative of warfare masquerading as humanitarian intervention.

CNN Chemical Attack Fake News
Image credited to theduran.com

Throughout the week that followed, the mainstream media was utterly complacent to the use of tomahawk missiles; one particularly horrifying quote from Brian Williams of MNSBC remarked: “I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: I’m guided by the great beauty of our weapons”. In addition, many articles written about the chemical attack were framed towards assigning blame, rather than considering evidence. What does this say about the media at large? They hound Trump down all the way through the campaign for his bigotry and now suddenly they’re perfectly fine with the use of destructive weapons? World Socialist Web Site sums it up best: “No lie is too great. If the US intelligence agencies declared tomorrow that Putin was responsible for an outbreak of tornadoes or a hurricane striking the US Gulf Coast, by means of a secret Russian program to alter the weather, their claims would be presented as the gospel truth by NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and Fox, while the New York Times would publish a four-page “investigative” report, complete with maps and charts provided by the CIA.” It’s indicative of the way fake news is slowly consuming modern society What better to distract the masses than with a major conflict facing further ignition by the entrance of western players? If anything wars also deliver profit for the media as they can rack up the viewership and social media hits with every nasty event that occurs far from their shores.

MOAB
Image credited to USAF/Getty Images 

Most recently the United States chose to use a MOAB or mother of all bombs to target terrorists; easily the most powerful non-nuclear device ever built, it’s a further escalation of an already raging fire. Just how far can Trump and the United States go? Will the bombs ever stop dropping? As an administration and as a country, they must rethink their attitude and approach now. Pompous use of military muscle can only lead to more conflict and more profiteering at the expense of innocent people.

(Images used for the purposes of review and criticism under fair use)

Sources (In order of appearance)

Britain’s NHS: A devious plan for privatization

NHS Hand-in: Department of Health

Britain’s National Health Service; good healthcare for all. Proposed in 1948 by then health secretary Aneurin Bevan, it has been the envy of many nations, many of whom are forced to pay gargantuan fees just to ensure their own wellbeing. Ever since the Tories came to a majority in 2015, the problem of underfunding has intensified; as 2017 has kicked off, the full scale of the crisis has exploded onto the scene. Hospital beds are filled to burst, waiting times are higher than they have ever been and the Red Cross, a humanitarian organisation usually dedicated to lending assistance overseas has been drafted in to help. It’s the lowest point the service has faced in decades and is the result of deliberate mishandling for the purpose of eliminating free healthcare in the UK altogether.

Consequences of the government’s abuse have so far been disastrous; 66 out of 152 health trusts across the UK have declared major alerts, meaning that they are under extreme pressure and cannot deliver comprehensive emergency care. Operations on cancer and other serious illnesses are being cancelled due to overfilled schedules and some doctors are choosing to leave because of sheer pressure placed on them and their colleagues. According to a post by Evolve Politics, this kind of exploitation stretches all the way back to 1992 when the Conservatives dreamed up the idea of saddling public services with expensive leases from the private sector; they were then forced to pay back debt on ridiculous interest rates over thirty or even fifty years. Under the guise of friendly modernisation, private finance initiatives, which cost an estimated £3,700 every minute, have been slowly eroding the funds dedicated to the NHS and its ability to serve the public effectively. Sure, the hospital buildings we see may look modern and capable of handling modern medical needs, but they’ve been built on the promise that they will one day be sold off for private use, removed from the hands of NHS trusts across the country.

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With a struggling public sector comes far greater pressures on the workers within it. Jeremy Hunt, having done an abysmal job as health secretary is set to earn millions through the sale of his private business, earning 722 times that of the ordinary NHS worker; he claims that only a small number of hospitals are having problems but there is countless evidence to counter that. Eyewitness accounts from hospitals have been grim to say the least, with patients being turned away and staff members feeling unsafe in their own jobs. It all comes down to the contract he forced on NHS staff last year, one which drastically demotivates current staff and any who wish to train and join. Drive out the junior doctors, make them less inclined to join the NHS and the service will grow understaffed; then the knock-on effect on hospitals means more waiting times and fewer GPs to see patients. The same also goes for the countless EU citizens who are delivering their time and skills to the country’s healthcare system. This causes a frustration among citizens who are then manipulated into believing that the system isn’t working, make them believe that and you have a set of people who become willing to trust in private care. The cost will be a hard pill to swallow, but if it’s better than the free version then people are more likely to pay up.

The connections to private healthcare are nothing new, third parties such as Benefit Fraud have uncovered seventy different connections between MPs and private health companies. The deal goes as follows; MPs work towards dismantling our NHS and the private health corporations deliver donations to the political parties to help them fuel their propaganda machine (and possibly pop a few pennies in individual MP’s pockets as well). Corporations bank on elections being won and the slow process of gutting public services continues unabated. With control of healthcare in their hands, they would be free to set prices on treatment, medication and even things as miniscule as plasters and personal items. The list includes the likes of David Cameron, Ian Duncan Smith, Liam Fox, David Davies, William Hague, Phillip Hammond, Amber Rudd, George Osborne and even Nick Clegg. It speaks volumes of a rotten greed at the heart of our political system.

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Without a doubt, the NHS is suffering right now and instead of addressing the problem, our government is pointing fingers and denying any accountability, all the while working on their plan to deconstruct one of most comprehensive universal healthcare services in the world. “It isn’t us or underfunding” they cry: “It’s the foreigners, elderly and working class scroungers bleeding the NHS dry”. It’s horrendous how this deflection from the cuts destroying our healthcare system is working, it will have faced an insane £40 billion worth of cuts by 2020 and some NHS staff don’t believe the service will last the next winter. But amidst the crisis, there is a strong pushback going on; as Aneurin Bevan put it: “The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it”. Countless protestors and NHS employees are standing up to the government’s lies, particularly groups such as UniteTheUnion and KeepOurNHSPublic. Surprisingly even the Mirror newspaper is targeting May, Hunt and other abuses of the NHS; all being told, you simply cannot put a price on health and privatising the NHS can only lead to further exploitation by corporate power.

Sources

(Images sourced from Google: Labelled for reuse)

2016: A year of nastiness unchained

 

2016 was a difficult year in many ways, there was much in the way of bitterness and little in the way of understanding; what went wrong over the past 365 days could almost be considered a chain reaction of sorts; there was something radical about this year, a point where numerous systems and sensibilities were suddenly thrown out the window in a blind rage. This is something I’ll try to consider and reflect on here, however difficult it may be from a purely UK perspective.

Was it any surprise that the same year white swimmer Brock Turner got a lenient sentence for sexual assault was the one in which a misogynistic, lying billionaire cheated his way to being President? The year itself seemed very backwards in general; Brock Turner’s judge was recently cleared of any misconduct while police brutality remained a serious problem in the United States. The Zika virus broke out at the start of the year in Latin America, India and Africa, prompting several relief efforts. Brussels and Istanbul both suffered horrific terror attacks at the hands of ISIS, delivering further prominence for far-right groups across Europe. President Duterte of the Philippines took a dark turn as he launched a violent war on drugs throughout the islands and Venezuela continued to plummet with rapid inflation ravaging citizens, most of whom can now barely afford food, water and other essentials. The internet saw a rise in fake news as it spread rapidly through Facebook and other sources, casting further doubts and requiring further checks and tensions began to flare between America and China as Donald Trump began to forge his own awkward rulebook as a millionaire president. Rising from the ashes of TTIP, CETA, a trade agreement which would put more power in the hands of corporations has made progress in the EU and Canada, a blemish on an otherwise welcoming and tolerant nation who have taken in over 38,000 Syrian refugees as of December, this year.

Image result for Trump and Farage lift
Image credited to Huffington Post UK

When talking about the Western world however, most eyes point to the UK and the United States who both took grossly misguided steps that may well end up destroying the values of openness, acceptability and freedom. The picture above explains better than words what happened to both nations in 2016; two lying conmen, masquerading as anti-establishment standing in a gold-plated lift with smug grins on their faces over how they managed to trick two of the most powerful western nations into voting against their own interests. They really did bring change this year; specifically, they made things worse and both times, events that should have derailed the two conmen had little to no effect. In the UK, MP Jo Cox was murdered by a far right terrorist chanting “death to traitors, freedom for Britain” while in the US, Trump could get away with making vulgar remarks about women and walking free from his criticism of a disabled reporter and countless ethnic minorities. It was blindingly clear that the two cons were disastrous. Britain has been hurled to the back of the queue on the world stage and into a period of uncertainty without any plan or a deal that would leave us better off and the United States has an incredibly misguided and potentially dangerous presidency coming in January 2017. On both sides of the world, the two big votes were fraught with infighting, vitriolic exchanges across social media and many instances that whipped some (not all) people into frenzies of anger and resentment. This often happens with any election but 2016 felt so unhinged and furious in the West that the structure of politics, left and right, looked set to come crashing down; not for reasons of progress but for more efficient division and manipulation of the masses to go down a specific path.

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Image credited to Flickr user David B. Young. Labelled for reuse

It all came unravelling rather quickly on both sides of the pond; Nigel Farage has never been in the political arena for anyone other than himself; right from the get-go, his act in appearing to support the common man deluded thousands into believing his lies and frankly we should have expected this. The UK public elected him as an MEP where instead of collaborating, all he ever did was run his mouth off about how much he hated the European Union while receiving a hefty salary for it. 2016 saw him become especially bold in his vile rhetoric, spearheading the propaganda of the leave campaign and coming to a head with an utterly shameful comparison of the Hope Not Hate group to extremism and a subsequent disrespect of Jo Cox’s husband Brendan (Who is still grieving along with his family after their loss). Even now Farage is continuing to be a thorn in progressive UK politics, proclaiming himself the bridge between us and Donald Trump and propping up on division and bigotry. Most recently he felt the need to insult the Archbishop of Canterbury and his message of peace and acceptance, as if a country where division isn’t commonplace won’t be acceptable for him.

This erosion and hacking of Britain’s democracy didn’t stop at the EU referendum; Theresa May’s government passed the snoopers charter into law, perhaps the most extensive surveillance laws in the world; no discussion, no debate, they were simply put through and will come into effect next year. All companies will be required to hold browsing data (Categorised by who, what, when and where) for thousands of people across the UK with public authorities having free rein to access devices. On top of this, the government can demand a backdoor into devices from companies to allow for even more intrusion; consider the notion of all MPs being exempt from the charter and you have an extremely suspicious law coming into effect. Then there was the successful bid for Sky by media mogul Rupert Murdoch; after his last attempt was derailed by the phone hacking scandal in 2011, NewsCorp will now take over the large British broadcaster for £11.2 billion, handing over even more control to corporate media. It doesn’t bode well for public perception (which for years has been manipulated by the tabloid press) and it certainly doesn’t bode well for journalism either as a greater control and agenda is enacted on the media. Some have stated that Sky News won’t turn into Fox News in the States, but it may be worth taking their future coverage with a grain of salt. What could happen next? According to an account in the book: Hack Attack by Nick Davis, Murdoch may wish to steamroll British regulator Ofcom, imposing a complete domination of the UK press without any barriers. That’s worth keeping an eye on.

Image credited to Chicago Tribune

In the United States, things weren’t looking much better; after another horrendous spike in racism and abuse, thoughts turned to President-Elect Donald Trump’s oncoming term. Once again, Trump’s lies quickly came to fruition as his cabinet was filled to burst with the richest millionaires ever seen in a presidential cabinet. Draining the swamp as promised? People will soon learn that what they voted for was a sham. Any hope of the terrible decision being derailed was again quashed, this time by the electoral college, who placed Trump into the White House by passing the 270-vote mark. There’s something baffling about this to me; the electoral college is made up of many educated men and women; surely, they could clearly see that Trump is both unqualified and unfit to lead and yet they put him through all the same. According to an article in The Daily Signal, electors are pledged to support the candidate voted in by the general public; could this be another sign of appeasement, a need to avoid infuriating the masses? Either way, Trump is headed for the Oval Office and his presidency may be a rocky one; lately he has been tossing around the serious topic of nuclear weapons like a game, possibly meaning to rearm America’s stocks rather than disarm; some ties to Russia have also been difficult to swallow.

Then came the 19th of December in which a final flurry of insults was hurled at everyone; Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov was assassinated in Turkey, a truck ploughed through a Christmas market in Berlin in another terror attack and Trump received his key to the White House all while Aleppo burned, the world failing to gain any more clarity on the Syrian battle lines. A chaotic close to a dreary year in world affairs and local politics.

Image sourced from Google: Labelled for reuse

Looking back at 2016, I feel that an explosion of anger and hatred was unleashed after being bottled up for years, something which the rich, powerful and the opportunists took advantage of to better achieve their goals of manipulation for personal gain. Yet despite all this, there were still some genuinely positive moments for the year. The Paris Climate Agreement, after being established a year ago, has been coming into its own. This was then followed up by Leonardo Dicaprio’s climate change film: “Before the Flood” which fired back at environmental sceptics. War criminals Jean-Pierre Bemba of the Congo, Radovan Karadžić of the Bosnian-Serb conflict, and Hissène Habré of Chad all faced justice at the hands of the International Criminal Court, Belgrade War Crimes Court and African Union court respectively. Austria rejected far-right nationalism in its presidential electionThe snoopers charter ran into trouble at the EU Courts who said general and indiscriminate retention of emails and electronic governments in illegal, ironically providing further evidence that the Brexit con was extremely short-sighted. The Rio Olympics went relatively well despite Brazil’s economic problems and the later impeachment of President Dilma Rouseff. Over 30,000 Muslims in Hampshire protested the disgusting ideologies of ISIS and students turned out in droves in London to protest tuition fees on November 19th, continuing the pushback against rip-off education costs. Dakota’s controversial oil pipeline hit a major wall as communities of indigenous Americans and their supporters showed the power of protest. The final camp of terrorist group Boko Haram was captured by the Nigerian army, leaving them on the run and Israel’s crimes against Palestine were subjected to a pushback by the UN. A vaccine for the Ebola virus, VSV-EBOV was proven to be effective with a 70-100% success rate. Finally, China has announced that it will aim to completely ban the ivory trade by the end of 2017. As angry as we can get, it’s very reassuring to know that our ingenuity can win out in many cases.

Looking ahead to 2017, what kind of progress can be made? Can we manage to learn from the massive uptake of xenophobia and division? Or will some nations, especially the West, descend into further nastiness? It may well come down to common people, who can’t be blamed for 2016’s missteps as they were horribly misled by the people above them, to make the biggest action against changes that will negatively impact them in the future, not to mention challenge racism, bigotry and those who would cause further damage and division. To close, I think this alternative Christmas message from Brendan Cox suits best; it’s something that everyone should watch and consider as we go into the new year.

(Images in the public domain used for the purposes of review and criticism)

Sources

Brock Turner released from jail after serving only three months of his sexual assault sentence: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/brock-turner-released-three-months-sexual-assault-stanford-rape-case-a7222051.html

Brock Turner sexual assault trial Judge Aaron Persky cleared of misconduct: https://mic.com/articles/162780/brock-turner-sexual-assault-trial-judge-aaron-persky-cleared-of-misconduct#.DAAnZPWDI

Zika outbreak: What you need to know: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35370848

Brussels to Istanbul: Two airports, two bloody attacks: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/06/29/europe/turkey-istanbul-airport-brussels-similarities-elbagir/

Philippines: Death toll in Duterte’s war on drugs: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2016/08/philippines-death-toll-duterte-war-drugs-160825115400719.html

Venezuela on the brink: a journey through a country in crisis: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/11/venezuela-on-the-brink-a-journey-through-a-country-in-crisis

2016 Lie of the Year: Fake news: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2016/dec/13/2016-lie-year-fake-news/

WHAT IS CETA?: http://www.waronwant.org/what-ceta

Jo Cox murder suspect tells court his name is ‘death to traitors, freedom for Britain’: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jun/18/thomas-mair-charged-with-of-mp-jo-cox

Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-recorded-having-extremely-lewd-conversation-about-women-in-2005/2016/10/07/3b9ce776-8cb4-11e6-bf8a-3d26847eeed4_story.html?utm_term=.e4b1a8a3b281

Donald Trump aide Wilbur Ross: ‘Use Brexit to steal UK trade’: http://www.lbc.co.uk/news/world/donald-trump-aide-wilbur-ross-use-brexit-to-s/

Trump fan goes on rant on Delta flight, yells obscenities at Hillary supporters: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/man-calls-passengers-hillary-b-es-trump-rant-article-1.2889096

Nigel Farage launches scathing attack on Ukip’s ‘low-grade people’: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/dec/09/nigel-farage-scathing-attack-ukip-low-grade-people

Nigel Farage insults Herman van Rompuy, calls EU President a “DAMP RAG”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bypLwI5AQvY&index=22&list=WL

Nigel Farage refuses to apologise for ‘Breaking Point’ poster in final pitch to voters: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-poster-nigel-farage-eu-referendum-live-latest-vote-leave-remain-a7095236.html

Nigel Farage faces threat of legal action over Hope Not Hate accusation: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/dec/20/nigel-farage-accuses-jo-cox-widower-brendan-cox-of-supporting-extremism

Nigel Farage hits out at Archbishop of Canterbury over Christmas message: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/nigel-farage-archbishop-of-canterbury-negative-christmas-message-a7495186.html

What is the IP Bill and how will it affect you?: http://www.wired.co.uk/article/ip-bill-law-details-passed

UK’s new Snoopers’ Charter just passed an encryption backdoor law by the backdoor: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/11/30/investigatory_powers_act_backdoors/

Politicians will escape intrusive spy powers of the Snooper’s Charter: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/politicians-will-escape-intrusive-spy-powers-snoopers-charter-1594320

Sky reaches agreement for 21st Century Fox takeover offer for £11.7bn: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/sky-21st-century-fox-sale-takeover-agreement-reached-rupert-murdoch-a7477011.html

Why we use electoral college, not popular vote: http://dailysignal.com/2016/11/07/why-the-founders-created-the-electoral-college/

Donald Trump declares ‘Let it be a nuclear arms race’ with Russia: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/22/donald-trump-vladimir-putn-signal-renewal-nuclear-arms-race/

The Russian ambassador’s assassination was no work of art: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/22/assassination-russian-ambassador-turkey-9-11-art

Berlin terror attack: Horrifying dashcam video shows truck speeding into Christmas market: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/22/berlin-terror-attack-tunisian-suspect-anis-amri-investigated/

Donald Trump Completes Final Lap, Electoral College, to White House: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/19/us/politics/electoral-college-vote.html?_r=0

The crisis in Aleppo: who’s fighting who and why: http://thenewdaily.com.au/news/world/2016/12/15/aleppo-crisis-war-syria-explained/

Simple Politics: https://www.facebook.com/simplepoliticsuk/posts/1437746876270138:0

Marrakech climate conference: world forging ahead on climate action: http://ec.europa.eu/clima/news/articles/news_2016111801_en

Austria just decisively rejected the far right’s presidential candidate: http://www.vox.com/world/2016/12/4/13833796/austria-presidential-election-2016-hofer-van-der-bellen

EU’s highest court delivers blow to UK snooper’s charter: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2016/dec/21/eus-highest-court-delivers-blow-to-uk-snoopers-charter

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff removed from office by Senate: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-37237513

More than 30,000 Muslims from across the world meet in the UK to reject Isis and Islamic extremism: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/more-than-30000-ahmadiyya-muslims-from-across-the-world-meet-in-the-uk-to-reject-isis-and-islamic-a7191306.html

Student march: Thousands protest education cuts in central London: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/student-march-thousands-protest-education-cuts-in-central-london-a3399941.html

UN Security Council urges end to Israeli settlements: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/12/passes-resolution-israeli-settlements-161223192709807.html

We finally have an effective Ebola vaccine. The war on the disease is about to change: http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2016/12/22/14039628/rvsv-zebov-ebola-vaccine-trial-effective

China Bans Its Ivory Trade, Moving Against Elephant Poaching: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/world/asia/china-ivory-ban-elephants.html

Alternative Christmas Message 2016: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/alternative-christmas-message

President-Elect Donald Trump: How, why and what comes next for the United States

November 9th 2016 will be a long remembered day for the world, the moment that American politics lost its mind; the point where millions voted for an unqualified, racist bigoted man to be the leader of the free world. Defying all the polls and the media putting him down (“Brexit times ten” as some are calling it), Donald Trump has won the White House and is set to be inaugurated in January 2017. Hillary Clinton was far from an ideal candidate but at least she held some notions of not regressing, most notably a push towards combating climate change through supporting renewable energy projects and companies.

Why did Trump win? What was it that convinced millions that he had their best interests in mind? Really it was a collection of factors and components, some of which were hardly down to Trump himself. First of all the media attention was concentrated on him beyond reasonable doubt; from beginning to end, Trump’s face was plastered across every TV station and every front page, his unethical behavior being under constant viewing; according to the New York Times, Trump received two billion dollars worth of free media. The likes of Tim Cruz and Jeb Bush had no chance of gaining the Republican nomination when the media wasn’t interested in them. In the eyes of the media Trump was a source for an endless string of stories sure to get some attention and clicks but right from the get-go, the election proved to be very one sided, especially during the nomination process.

bernie-sanders-image

The second strike hit when Bernie Sanders lost the democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton, despite his selfless policies and wishes to create a brighter future for everyone. If Bernie Sanders had been the nominee, it’s very possible that he could have bested Trump while also delivering a case for positive change. Sanders seemed very genuine and much like Jeremy Corbyn in the United Kingdom, he struck a chord with young people. But according to the media, his campaign did not exist and it was confined to “invisible primary” status; with barely a blemish against Sanders’ name, the 2016 election could have been a landslide in a far more desirable way. On the whole, socialism isn’t a preferable concept in the United States and considering Hillary Clinton’s position in the centre, rather than the left, the odds ended up being stacked against Sanders. In the midst of this selection and the road campaigning, Brexit took place and I feel this is partially responsible for Trump’s win; it gave him momentum to know that the English had “taken their country back” (Though leavers still have no idea who or what they were taking it back from…), not to mention the always hateful Nigel Farage coming over to the States to voice his support.

donald-and-hilary

Lastly when the two chosen candidates were entering the campaign trail, Trump saw fit to endlessly bash his opponent, crafting a carefully built message in the process to indoctrinate Americans, especially aspects of the working and middle class white crowd. The overall sentiment I feel was as follows: “Whatever I say or do, that’s nothing compared to what Hillary has done and will do if she becomes president”. Taking cues from white privilege, nationalism and exploiting anxieties, Donald Trump, as a businessman was able to craft a message that drilled itself into the minds of millions; it went so deep that Hillary’s words were to ring hollow, despite her victories in the primary debates. People eventually disregarded or worse gave in to Trump’s filthy words because they were so helplessly brainwashed by them; the “grab em by the p*ssy” tapes could and should have been the end of his campaign but instead they only rallied more unsavory individuals around him who had been sitting in silence until now.

This “whitelash” and sense of entitlement against the establishment was evident across America. A perspective was taken on by the masses; if a media outlet is supporting Clinton then they were automatically assumed to be bribed or part of the corrupt establishment. The more the media pushed against Trump, the more people vowed to go against it, proclaiming that they were taking control; even when they were being truthful, people chose to disregard it; some became so hell bent on mistrusting anything remotely close to the mainstream that viewed Trump with a reverence unheard of in any election. Combine this with a massive complacency on Hillary’s part and you begin to see why Trump claimed the Oval Office this year.

marine-le-pen-image

If a nationalist can obtain the most powerful position in the world, then there is absolutely no doubt that other far right parties will be spurred more than ever to spread their toxic perspectives. Most recently French far right leader Marine Le Penn celebrated Trump’s victory, proclaiming that their new world was being constructed. What kind of world could this be? One where the far right triumphs all over Europe, seceding from union into isolationism and selfishness? It’s a scary prospect indeed.

donald-and-melania-trump

But all of this fear could be completely unfounded; Trump could get into the Oval Office next year and suddenly do a 180 on much of his hateful rhetoric, or perhaps his drastic policies may need scaling back and thus reduce the damage they might do. Was his campaign all lip service to get him into the most powerful office in the world? Already he has stated that he will not completely scrap Obamacare as he initially promised and will not throw Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran out the window either. Despite his many failures as a businessman though, Trump certainly knows how to get people on his side because of a sly charisma that Clinton just didn’t have; his speeches were uninhibited and vulgar compared to every other candidate in recent memory. This in turn weaponised the populous against his opponent, creating a group that would follow him religiously. This comes back to a point I made in a previous post; “if you are an American who for years “if you are an American citizen who for years has listened to politicians sound sophisticated while accomplishing nothing, you might just be primed for something that is everything they are not”. It’s this kind of approach that has fuelled the rise of post-truth politics and in turn it’s created a nasty collection of borderline evangelicals in the political space.

donald-trump-protest-march

When you consider the perspective of some Trump fans, the word “deplorables” doesn’t seem too far-fetched when you look at it in the aftermath of the election; this is a group of individuals who vowed to riot if Trump didn’t win but are now attacking minorities when he has. A fight is beginning in America, one to push back against the racism that holds the country in a tight grip; just like Brexit there have been many horrendous incidents with Twitter users such as Shaun King have been working to document incidents of racism and abuse. As I look back on all the coverage of the negative rhetoric that swept through America it’s hard not to be fearful, especially for those across the pond. The one positive thing I can say about Trump is that his focus on putting the US first may cause them to turn away from the world stage; only then will they be able to look themselves in the mirror and understand the fundamental problems that have infected their nation for years. All that can be done now is waiting until Trump’s eventual inauguration in January; that is if his upcoming time in court doesn’t throw him off the rails…

Sources

  • Why Wall Street loves Hilary: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/11/why-wall-street-loves-hillary-112782
  • Is Hillary Clinton’s ambitious solar energy goal for the US workable?: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/28/is-hillary-clintons-ambitious-solar-energy-goal-for-the-us-workable
  • $2 Billion worth of free media for Donald Trump: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/16/upshot/measuring-donald-trumps-mammoth-advantage-in-free-media.html?_r=0
  • ‘Mr. Brexit’ Nigel Farage Speaks at Donald Trump Rally in Jackson, MS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj4K9fr_WgY
  • How Donald Trump made hate intersectional: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/how-trump-made-hate-intersectional.html
  • Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-recorded-having-extremely-lewd-conversation-about-women-in-2005/2016/10/07/3b9ce776-8cb4-11e6-bf8a-3d26847eeed4_story.html
  • America and Britain Are Being Hit by the Same ‘Whitelash’: http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/america-and-britain-are-being-hit-by-the-same-whitelash
  • Marine Le Pen: Donald Trump has shown how we can ‘build a new world’: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/13/marine-le-pen-donald-trump-has-shown-how-we-can-build-a-new-world/

  • After campaigning against Obamacare, Donald Trump wants to keep two major provisions: https://mic.com/articles/159253/after-campaigning-against-obamacare-donald-trump-wants-to-keep-two-major-provisions?utm_source=policymicFB&utm_medium=main&utm_campaign=social#.8Jg9YJsyo
  • Trump Just Announced He Will Not Cancel Obama’s Iran Peace Deal: http://occupydemocrats.com/2016/11/12/trump-just-announced-will-not-cancel-obamas-iran-peace-deal/

  • In Context: Hillary Clinton and the ‘basket of deplorables’: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2016/sep/11/context-hillary-clinton-basket-deplorables/

  • Shaun King’s Twitter profile: https://twitter.com/ShaunKing
  • BEFORE TAKING THE WHITE HOUSE, TRUMP DUE IN COURT OVER FRAUD: http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/11/donald-trump-university-lawsuit

(All images sourced from Google, labelled for reuse)

 

 

Hard Brexit: The UK’s farewell to acceptance and accountability

Hard Brexit is the latest big topic on the mind of UK parliament and to put it bluntly; things are not looking good. The crashing of the pound is just the first of many major downturns faced by the country. In a previous post I claimed that the will of the voters should be respected, but now I see the real impact of the shoddy vote coming to light. I ask you this: why should the people’s vote be respected when they were conned into going down that route? Since the newly reshuffled (and unelected) Tory government came to power, a series of hits have been railing against the UK’s reputation for diversity and inclusiveness, hinting at a more sinister plan, a downward spiral bound to create further division on the basis of gross nationalism while handing even more power to those at the top. Theresa May gave her first major speech at a Conservative party conference and it revealed some damning motives for an unelected government. The big slogan this time was “A country that works for everyone” but there is countless evidence to the contrary. I believe there’s a reason why UKIP isn’t getting nearly as much coverage as they used to; the Tories have practically become them in the aftermath of the Brexit con, recently personified by the Tory statement: “There is no more money for the NHS”.

Some of the more glaring choices made by the Brexit government include…

map-of-uk-grammar-schools
Grammar Schools across England shown in red
  1. A further set of grammar schools, along with a second attempt to get into them at age 14 or 15

In the United Kingdom, Grammar Schools are held as a higher level of secondary education; when schoolchildren across the country are close to leaving primary school, they take the 11+, an exam to test their learning abilities. To get into grammar school this exam must be passed. Some would argue that they give the UK’s pupils a chance to flex their academic ability on the right level, but Theresa May’s plan is flawed because it holds grammar schools up as the be-all-end-all of the UK education system. Speaking from experience, I can say that a school doesn’t necessarily have to be private, an academy or a grammar school to be the best. The secondary school I went to from 2006 to 2013 had none of those distinctions but because of the brilliant way it was managed and ran, it ranked at the top of the Buckinghamshire country many times. More grammar schools can only bring more division to children through their education, the notion that if you fail to reach grammar school both times then you’re simply written off. What will they do next? Make it a requirement for university?

uk-military-parade

  1. The UK’s military set to become exempt from the European Convention on Human Rights

What exactly does the European Convention on Human Rights do for us? How does it affect our military and its deployment overseas? For starters it prevents abuses of human rights and gives a right to liberty and security. The current government believes that lawyers in the European Union exploit the convention and use it to make unfair accusations but I have to disagree. Any kind of legislation that works to prevent wrong doing and uphold citizen rights including the prohibition of torture, slavery and hard labour needs to be placed across our military to ensure their own accountability. Now that they’re becoming exempt from it, will there be fewer obstacles in the way to commit atrocities wherever they are deployed? It would be even more worrying if this same trend eventually carried through to our own home affairs.

brexit-school-letter

  1. The requirement of all schools to list the nationality and place of birth of all children who aren’t British

Towards the end of September, most if not all schools across the UK sent out a letter to parents by order of the Brexit government. On it the school asked for the nationality and birth place of foreign schoolchildren while also stating that if their child was British they did not have to fill it in. This is what the UK has come to; we’re going to be marking and monitoring schoolchildren who aren’t from this country. Why? Is this down to some unknown purpose that may or may not impact their prospects? Whatever the reason for it may be, it’s a disgusting decision that throws away the UK’s power to welcome and accept people regardless of their background. This leads into the fourth point which may well continue to impact children in adult life.

  1. The requirement of all major firms to list any workers and employees who are not British nationals

In a second horrible move to repulse and deter people from coming to the UK, firms will be required to list each and every worker who is not from this country. Again, it’s a shocking decision that would treat foreigners as second class citizens, making them feel unwelcome and therefore allowing anti-foreigner sentiment to fester even more than it already has. How will those who contribute their great skills and expertise to the UK feel when their names are being marked on a list? They’ll want to go elsewhere; it’s a horribly misguided attitude in every way that once again highlights that nasty nationalism that is sweeping through the nation. Luckily though, this decision was recently set back by protests and negative feedback from other nations.

In addition to these four strikes, there was also the incredibly frustrating news of fracking being pressed onto a Lancashire community by the Tories despite numerous community efforts to prevent it. It’s a characteristic of a government with a disregard for local democracy and it may be telling of the plans they have for the future.

The EU referendum itself quickly devolved into a debate on immigration crafted by conmen and the impacts of this are beginning to creep in; plans for Hard Brexit are representative of the right wing stance that has crept into modern politics. As I’ve gotten into my masters in international politics, there have been some incredibly deep discussions about various topics. A fellow student from Poland noted that in the West, free speech is offered, but only up to a point; the far right has been fairly suppressed over the years, mainly because people don’t want their controversial and sometimes racist viewpoints to be spread. But now with so much sentiment building against refugees and foreigners as a whole, the facets of right wing politics have burst explosively onto the scene and in turn, xenophobic tendencies have risen to wild levels of prominence. Would the better option have been to allow these viewpoints to come out and allow common people to reject them on their own? It’s a question that now hangs over the entire referendum and its aftermath for me.

I feel that the more subtle aspects of Theresa May’s motives tie in with keeping the Conservatives in power, a manipulation of the masses to ensure their continued seat in power. The new direction on immigration and the tracking of foreigners panders to the racists and xenophobes who voted leave and their vote is secured for the next election. It was also announced that foreign economists will no longer be able to give analysis or advice on the UK’s economic situation in the aftermath of Brexit. Why? Because they’re not British nationals; it’s a move to suppress and censor anyone who could discredit the government’s procedures and call them ineffective after leaving the European Union. The same also goes for Scotland who is now considering a second independence referendum, having been relegated to a side note in the Brexit discussions. Add to this the media spin from a majority of mainstream outlets stating that May has the UK’s best interests in mind (Especially with her recent private meeting with Rupert Murdoch) and you have a means to dupe the public into voting for the Tories again and again.

Ultimately it is Theresa May’s line: “If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere” that speaks volumes of what the UK’s political system has come to; a trinity of awful representatives that would seek to shift Britain away from the world stage and turn in on itself. In addition, the set of abysmal UK tabloids; most notably the Daily Mail and Express cosy up to the corruption like nothing else, saying that any who would criticise the Brexit con should shut up, literally. With the Hard Brexit plans bearing down on the UK, there is now little to stop the elite from imposing a full dominance over the country through division and because of this, I’m a little worried about the future. The only reprieves to the horrendous policies currently sweeping the nation is a set of strong protests from foreign workers and a successful challenge in parliament to the Hard Brexit terms, a call for more close scrutiny and public debate. In time this may somewhat diminish what the Tories are enforcing, but one thing remains clear to me; Brexit (At least from the offset) has brought far more regression than positive benefits to the UK.

Sources

  • Theresa May signals that the UK is heading for hard Brexit: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/10/theresa-may-signals-uk-heading-hard-brexit
  • No extra money for NHS, Theresa May tells health chief: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/oct/14/no-extra-money-for-nhs-theresa-may-tells-health-chief
  • Theresa May’s grammar schools plan slammed as ‘backward step’ by Sir Michael Wilshaw: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/education/theresa-mays-grammar-schools-plan-slammed-as-backward-step-by-sir-michael-wilshaw-a3340886.html
  • Human rights no more? UK to exempt troops from European Convention to stop ‘annoying’ claims: https://www.rt.com/uk/361516-human-rights-convention-troops/
  • Firms must list foreign workers: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/firms-must-list-foreign-workers-gw20ndp5x
  • Theresa May’s speech sparks Twitter backlash over ‘citizen of the world’ remark: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/theresa-may-sparks-twitter-backlash-over-citizen-of-the-world-remark-in-conservative-party-a3361701.html
  • Daily Mail And Express Brexit Front Pages Call For ‘Unpatriotic’ Remainers To Be Quiet: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/daily-mail-express-brexit_uk_57fdfd14e4b08e08b93d2ad3
  • Britain’s youngest MP slams Theresa May over the rise of fascism, in her most searing attack yet: http://www.thecanary.co/2016/10/10/britains-youngest-mp-slams-theresa-may-rise-fascism-searing-attack/
  • Theresa May in ‘U-turn’ over pre-article 50 Brexit debate in parliament: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/oct/12/theresa-may-accepts-need-for-brexit-debate-in-parliament

(Images sourced from Google: Labelled for reuse)

(School letter image sourced with the permission of Benefit Fraud via its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BenefitFraudVSCorporateFraud/)

Black or White? The glaring issue in the discussion of world issues

 

As with any point in history, the world has some issues to grapple with, but in 2016 in particular I’ve noticed an especially ugly trend that’s creeping about; black or white. There is hardly any room for a middle ground to satisfy both sides, no room for a happy medium in-between; it must be one extreme or another; keep it simple and the people will remain riled up and they too eventually become susceptible to easy influence.

Military use is a prime suspect in when choosing one extreme over another and when looking back at the strategies in the Middle East, it’s all too easy to point fingers. Bush’s military strategy for Iraq and the War on Terror was hackneyed, charging in with reckless abandon. Applying military intervention without careful thought led to the Iraq War and in turn the deaths of thousands of people. The trend has continued somewhat with the constant airstrikes and drone attacks sent by President Obama to the Middle East and of course Trump, paying no regard to the damage and civilian casualties caused, said he would “bomb the sh*t out of ISIS” thus amplifying and furthering the issue of terrorist radicalisation. Looking at the awful comments below the video supporting his wretched morals leaves me shocked at the lengths people sink to.

trump

Now Trump is going to the other extreme; the possibility that America won’t help out its NATO allies at all. He said that the financial contributions from the likes of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania would be reviewed; in other words, if they aren’t paying enough, then they don’t deserve America’s help, according to his statements. It’s an unbelievably selfish and self-centered move from the Republican candidate whose focus is entirely geared towards putting himself first while also driving a wedge between Americans and anyone who isn’t from their country. Cutting off bonds to other countries can only lead to more conflict and a greater leaning towards a gross nationalism that is sweeping through politics today.

Division is a trend that has never burned more strongly in the modern western world and with this the notion of a careful approach is quickly tossed aside; we already had the infighting in the UK over the EU Referendum. The anti-immigrant rhetoric was an incredibly toxic aspect of the campaigns; all too often I’ve seen countless comments that categorise the influx of refugees as the importing of terrorists with no thought paid to the victims fleeing conflict (Many of which we in the West created).

burkini

Simply put, it’s indoctrination on both sides as resentment against immigrants is free to run wild in the West and this treatment reflects outwards on the people; recently in France, a demeaning Burkini ban came into play and a restaurant refused to serve Muslims because in the eyes of the chef: “All Muslims are terrorists”. This theme of paranoia runs rampant in today’s world to the point that individuals grow so narrow-minded in their attitudes. The same trend of indoctrination is occurring in the States; a video in which Trump supporters literally attempt to cover up a protester with a “No racism, no hate” sign at the Republican National Convention emerged earlier this year. This is the attitude posed in the 2016 election; you’re either with Trump or you’re against him and if you’re against racism (Judging by the attitudes of those in at the convention) then that automatically makes you an enemy of the campaign. There’s not a single person in that video that stops and thinks about an alternative perspective or questions their precious little idol. It’s a sure sign that fear is winning out when individuals view world affairs with such simplistic abandon.

This kind of extreme leaning also applies to race relations in the United States; to Trump and many Republicans, there is no consideration that maybe not all Muslims are terrorists. Yet again generalisation and stigmatisation sweeps in; either the entire religion is guilty or not at all; there is no middle ground there. No discussion, no debate, just the common people being led blind by a man who preys on fear and emotion, simplifying everything in the process. Blind labelling has given ridiculous ideas further traction, most notably the possibility databases for American Muslims and Syrian refugees, segregating groups off to be constantly monitored. It will undoubtedly fuel further bouts of racism and discrimination; that sends a message that these people are to be treated with suspicion.

Calais Jungle.jpg

And now most recently we’ve had the announcement of a wall, yes a wall, to keep refugees and migrants from coming to the UK from Calais; no doubt a direct result of the Brexit vote several months to appease the selfish racists of the country who fell for the fear-mongering leave campaign. No thought there, not a single consultation of how we could create a balance between taking in refugees while also securing our borders from illegal immigration. If this announcement proves anything, it’s that irrational decisions are slowly becoming the new norm in today’s world. To those who made this horrendous decision I ask what kind of benefit this will bring? I see it doing three main things; adding momentum to Trump’s vile campaign in the United States, add another tool for terrorists to use in their propaganda and create even more sentiment against foreigners.

This flawed perspective on world issues is creating divides and allowing the views of the ignorant and inconsiderate to be pushed to the forefront. There needs to be a better understanding promoted in the world, an attitude that emphasises a middle ground when dealing with difficult issues we all face from the simple civilians to the highest government officials.

Sources

  • “Trump would “bomb the sh*it out of ISIS”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWejiXvd-P8

(Images sourced from Google: Labelled for reuse)