From time to time, I have written what can broadly be classified as political posts. Most of these have been designed to present an overview to those readers who live outside of the UK and may not be familiar with the subtleties of British politics. Furthermore, I am not affiliated to any of the major UK political parties and broadly see myself as politically homeless at present. This post is a brief overview on today’s change in UK Prime Minister and is intended to explain how this situation has occurred and what happens next.Read More
Filtering by Category: Politics
On the 23rd of June 2016, the UK held a referendum on whether to remain or leave the European Union. The results were 51.89% to leave and 48.11% to remain. Due to the significance of the subject matter and the way the European question has been discussed in the media over the past decade, there was a high voter turnout of 72.21%. 33,577,342 people cast their vote out of a total electorate of 46,500,001. The levels of public engagement were far higher than those seen with local or general elections. However, despite a binary question yielding a binary result, the issue of Brexit has not been laid to rest. It can be cogently argued that the entire referendum was rushed, poorly thought through, with neither side running campaigns that provided all the relevant facts of the impact of leaving the EU. As ever the entire matter has been driven first and foremost by party politics and remains so today. Perhaps the biggest issue that stems from the 2016 vote is the size of the leave victory. A “win” of 1.89% is far from decisive and makes a nonsense of political rhetoric such as “the will of the people”. At the time, Nigel Farage, then leader of the UK Independence Party, stated that “a 52-48 referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way. If the Remain campaign win two-thirds to one-third that ends it”. Unfortunately, nearly three years on Brexit shows no sign of ending.Read More
Theoretically, the fallout from the Christchurch mass shooting should be far reaching. There is at present an opportunity to address numerous problems and issues while the tragedy still has both political and social momentum. Because “it is the doom of man that he forgets”. 24-hour news culture has severely strained the public’s attention span. Plus it is in the interests of numerous institutions for the news cycle to move on, because current scrutiny is highlighting how culpable they are. The tabloid press, media commentators, tech companies and internet communities have been found wanting for a while and last weeks carnage is now raising questions over their involvement in the growing culture of hate and therefore their potential regulation. This may be the last chance for many to put their own house in order before the establishment does. And considering the knee-jerk, ham-fisted nature of contemporary western politics, the latter is not likely to be either subtle, efficient or even beneficial.Read More
I’ve heard some journalists and political pundits refer to Brexit as an insoluble problem. Technically that is not the case. A Hard Brexit would effectively meet the criteria of the 2016 referendum result and its binary question. What is insoluble is the government delivering a result that pleases all parties and more importantly doesn’t put the UK economy at risk. Brexit is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with UK politics at the present. The original very straight forward question on the ballot paper did not indicate in any way the logistical, procedural and legal complexities of extricating the UK from the EU after over forty years of major harmonisation and integration. The leave campaign openly stated that this very process would be easy and getting a good deal was not an issue. Both were lies. Hence, we now find ourselves in a situation where the realities of what Brexit entails are manifestly clear, and no one agrees as to what is the best way to proceed. And all of this is panning out against a background of broken, tribal and hostile politics. It is a recipe for disaster and now that the Brexit Pandora’s Box has been opened, there is no scenario that doesn’t lead to future problems and unrest.Read More
There are numerous local elections taking place in England today (not Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). 150 councils are electing new councillors, and there are six mayoral contests. They include all the seats in all 32 London boroughs, as well as every seat in the metropolitan districts of Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle. Specific seats are also being contested in areas such as Liverpool, Sheffield, Sunderland and Wigan. All the major UK political parties are fielding candidates with an aim of gaining the majority of seats in a specific area and thus controlling the local councils. These local authorities then subsequently control and administer the borough budget for services such as policing, local schools, refuse collection and such like. The budget is raised through a borough council tax, which is based upon property banding.Read More
"This is why we can't have nice things" is a well-established internet meme. Over time it has been over used and has become a bit of a cliché. Yet under certain conditions it can still be utilised in a pertinent fashion to make a salient point. Recently, something somewhat innocuous and trivial occurred that caused me to recollect this saying. The incident itself is not of any major importance but it resulted in me realising that this sort of thing happens more and more often these days. Allow me to explain myself. I like many of you frequent a few forums and subreddits. On one particular site, a thread was derailed by someone who decided to just simply name call. Nothing unusual there I hear you say. But for me personally, it was one time too many. Name calling serves no purpose in an adult debate, so I decided to point this out. Eventually, the problem post was removed as there were others that thought that such behaviour was crass. However, the person in question who posted the remark, would not concede the point in any way shape or form. They either did not want to or what was more likely, were totally incapable of comprehending their own transgression.Read More
I have both a love and fascination for the English language. I enjoy both its formality and informality, its diversity, as well as its inherent evolutionary nature. To my mind having a wide vocabulary is an invaluable social and intellectual skill as well as being essential to self-expression. How can you mean what you say if you cannot say what you mean? So, when confronted by contemporary phrases such as “milkshake duck”, rather than balk at them, I strive to understand them. Language is not immutably, set by the parameters and standards of when you learnt it. If you endeavour to grasp the subtleties of popular culture along with slang from different socio-economic groups, communication becomes so much easier. The English Language is beautifully malleable and offers different modes for different situations. I therefore choose a specific manner of speech depending on who I’m talking to.Read More
I have been subject to a continual barrage of emails over the course of the week, promoting Black Friday sales. These have covered everything from power tools to medical supplies, children’s toys and even granite work surfaces. Obviously. there’s also been a lot of promotions for discount games. This eclectic mix reflects the fact that I use my online accounts to purchase items for my entire family. I hate to think what the various analysts and number crunchers make of this. My Amazon recommendations includes both urine bottles and Thomas the Tank Engine paraphernalia. But I digress, I’m sure pretty much all of us have been battered around the head and shoulders this week by various kinds of unsubtle marketing. However, I am happy to report that I have not succumbed to this “encouragement”. The simple fact is that I don’t need anything at present so have bought nothing. Furthermore, I had an epiphany nearly two decades ago, when I discovered that buying stuff really doesn’t make you feel any better, solve any of your problems or fulfil any of the inferred promises of the advertisements.Read More
If you wish to enjoy the benefits of living in a “civilised” and democratic society, then there are certain “obligations” that the state calls upon its citizens to fulfil. Taxation is one. It’s is not especially popular but most rational people understand that the machinery of government and the provision of public services needs financing. Another example of a “civic duty” is jury service. All UK citizens have a right to trial by jury of my peers, should the need require. Naturally, these juries have to be filled with people, so you may well be invited to serve if you meet the following criteria.
- Between the ages of 18 and 70 years old.
- Registered to vote in parliamentary or local government elections.
- A registered citizen in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least five years since their 13th birthday.
This post has been fermenting for a while. I’ve postponed writing it because I've gotten somewhat tired of constantly “spitting in the wind”. Because that is what speaking out on certain subjects frequently feels like these days. There is a sense of tedious inevitability that any post on sexism, racism or any form of marginalisation will eventually lead to a torrent of vile, ill-informed and just plain dumb comments. The list of subjects “best avoided” seems to be getting bigger each day. Politics, religion and social issues have now been joined by the likes of economics, education and healthcare. But it doesn’t end there. Critiquing a book, movie, TV show or game can be deemed contentious and open a can of worms. Frankly, soliciting comments on any subject via social media seems to be courting disaster these days. The sad reality is that some people just revel in being vile and trying to hurt others. It puts me in mind of that quote from Platoon "Hell is the impossibility of reason". And you'll find precious little reason on the internet.Read More
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am a child of the seventies. I was born in late 1967 so my most formative years were from about 1973 onwards. I really don’t remember a great deal of things prior to the age of five. Does anyone? Now the thing about the seventies is that in many ways it was a transitional decade. It had one foot in firmly planted within the post war socio-economic and cultural norms. The other was set in the new era of societal change that came about during the Sixties. Hence, I was raised with a mixture of both old school and modern values, ethics and ideologies. I believe these have provided me with a broad spectrum of “soft skills” (a term I abhor but it serves a purpose in this instance) that have been beneficial.Read More
Politics is a controversial and emotive subject. It’s also something that a lot of bloggers are very wary of writing about sadly, because it’s seldom debated with any wisdom or civility. You’ll find my thoughts on the poor state of UK politics in this previous post, so I don’t need to reiterate them here. On this occasion, I would like to venture a few opinions on the General Election that was held in the UK this week, the interesting results and the potential fallout. I’m not here to champion any party, ideology or dogma, as I’m a floating voter without any major affiliations. I just merely want to express what I have observed and some of my hopes for the future.Read More
A third of registered voters in the UK do not vote in either Local or General Elections. Out of an electorate of approximately 46,200,000 that is 15,700,000. Yet despite this substantial group not participating, it is seldom covered or discussed in the media. It is usually just written off as “voter apathy”, implying that those who did not cast their ballot are feckless, lazy or stupid. Not only is this patently untrue, not voting has major consequences. If this group of people were engaged and voted in the upcoming general election, then it would have a tangible impact upon the results. By not voting you are effectively giving the next UK government carte blanche to ignore your interests and pursue their own agenda. As Leonardo da Vinci famously said, "Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence".Read More
At present, there is talk in political circles of the prospect of an early General Election in the UK as a means of dealing with several looming political problems. If such a situation were to arise, then it has to contend with the fragmented state of the UK electorate as well as voter apathy and low turnouts. Perhaps the biggest issue is the mechanics of the election process itself. It has its roots in the past when there were two major parties. Things have changed in recent years with more political groups competing for parliamentary seats and the system now seems to be inequitable. So I thought it may be of interest to readers to offer a broad overview of the process. It differs quite considerably from other countries and as you'd expect with anything British, it has more than a few quirks and foibles. This is not in any way a discussion about party politics. I am simply writing about the actual mechanics of the UK First Past the Post system that determines who will form a government.Read More
Both the US Presidential election and the recent UK Brexit referendum are subjects that can be dissected from numerous angles and perspectives. Pundits, journalists and academics alike will be debating these “shock results” for months to come. As for the proverbial man in the street, let it suffice to say that these electoral outcomes have come as far less of a surprise. The divide between electorate and political classes has been clearly highlighted in 2016. However, it should be noted that the overall sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo is a very broad church and that the public are motivated by a wide variety of ideas, concerns and motivations. Analysis of both these political outcomes is complex and should not simply be dismissed with broad brushstrokes.Read More
For the last twelve months residents of Sidcup, in South East London have been fighting against the sale of Old Farm Park but sadly the local council have approved the “disposal” of this asset. Many who live in the area are of the opinion that this was a done deal right from the get-go. However despite the inevitability of this situation, residents as well as some councillors and even the local Member of Parliament have been robust in their efforts to prevent this sale.Read More
On Thursday 23rd June the UK will vote on whether to remain a member of the EU or leave the community. It is possibly the biggest political, economic and social issue that I have voted on in my lifetime and both outcomes have the potential for both positive and negative effects upon the country and its future. As you would imagine with an issue of this magnitude, the pros and cons on both sides of the debate are complex. Immigration, security, trade, financial stability are some of the factors involved that shape people’s opinions. Then there are more nebulous concepts like sovereignty and nationalism that influence voter’s perspective. Whereas the logistical and administrative arguments are far more couched in facts and data, the more emotive issues are driven by tribal politics and feelings. I’m not a fan of either.Read More
I’ve written this post from the perspective of politics in the UK but I daresay that some of the points are relevant to other Western countries. Please note that this is not a post advocating any particular political stance or ideology. It is a commentary about the system itself and the public’s current relationship with the world of politics per se.
Two party politics has dominated the UK for over two hundred years and the electoral system that has evolved reflects that. The first past the post system has major shortcomings when dealing with emerging parties and diverse voting patterns. In recent years the traditional parties have seen a decline in membership and they no longer enjoy the levels of support with the UK electorate that they did fifty years ago. My parents grew up in a culture of tribal politics, driven by class, wealth and left wing and right wing ideologies. I personally think the notion that a single party can adequately represent all my political, philosophical and ethical needs is risible. Therefore I have no specific party allegiance or cleave to a particular political school of thought. I am a floating voter when it comes to both local and national elections.Read More