Featured

Why are we not listening to Corbyn?

From before he was elected leader of the Labour Party to the current day, Jeremy Corbyn has been branded as a ‘bad leader’, ‘weak’ or ‘not prime minster material’. The question I ask is, what makes a strong leader? If we base this on Theresa May, it’s the ability to shout condescending, cheap rhetoric over the dispatch box in the House of Commons.

My challenge to you, the reader, is to question the status quo. Be critical. Read the facts. Dare to think outside the bubble of what the tabloid newspapers are telling you. Be critical of the establishment. Corbyn is accused of being weak. Here are examples where I think Corbyn has proved to be absolutely the opposite:

Iraq: The Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair told the House of Commons that war with Saddam Hussein was urgent. He imposed a Labour whip to force as many MPs as possible to vote in favour of invading Iraq, 412 voting in favour, 149 against. Corbyn and the 148 other MPs who voted against invasion were branded as ‘cowards’.

Apartheid: Corbyn was passionately against the Apartheid regime in South Africa and would campaign even until he was once arrested. He stood by Nelson Mandela even when he was branded as a ‘terrorist’, by many members of the British government at the time.

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Jeremy Corbyn has been a lifelong opponent of Apartheid

Nationalisation of the railways: Arguments to privatise the railways included that privatisation would result in competition which would eventually cause lower fairs. This has been proved entirely incorrect and the real result has included higher than ever prices and the taxpayer now has to subsidise the railways £4bn per year. Corbyn has always been passionately against privatisation.

LGBT rights and issues: Corbyn’s main opponent, Theresa May has either voted against or been absent from any LGBT voting topics. Corbyn meanwhile has voted consistently in favour of LGBT issues. Pink News, one of the leading news outlets for LGBT issues, says that Corbyn has been fighting LGBT issues before it was even widely accepted, while being deemed as ‘loony left’ by the Conservatives and the establishment media.

Miners’ Strike: Corbyn fully supported the effort of coal miners when trying to prevent the total destruction of their industry, and thus ruining the economy in their towns and villages when Thatcher’s government were shutting them down. He went against the government and many of his party during this time. Many ex- mining communities still feel the effect of these closures of the mines 30 years later and are yet to get any investment from the government. This has caused deprivation and high levels of unemployment. Today, in the first speech of his campaign, Jeremy Corbyn said he would boost investment in those areas to make them prosper like they once did.

Afghanistan: After 9/11, the political and national consensus was to invade Iraq. In 2001, Corbyn opposed this invasion and finally 13 years later troops were removed from Iraq.

I think these examples prove that not only was Corbyn right on the big issues, he has proven that if and when he becomes Prime Minister, he will continue to make the right decisions on the most important issues facing the United Kingdom today. The final message I will give on this post is to remind you to always be sceptical with the media. Make your own opinions. When it comes to representation of Mr Corbyn in the mainstream media, it will either be wrong or heavily misrepresented. Jeremy Corbyn has been on the right side of history for 30 years, Theresa May hasn’t, who is the one with real leadership now? That’s your decision to make.

Connor French (@connorfrench96)

Featured

High Heels and Feminism

A couple of days ago, Parliament had a debate on whether to make it illegal for companies to require women to wear high heels in the workplace. Considering we’re in 2017, this seems rather late. Up until now, companies could literally force women to wear high heels at work and if they refused, they could be fired.

The debate was started because of a petition by London receptionist, Nicola Thorp after she was dismissed as a receptionist because she refused to wear high heels – specifically those with a “2in to 4in heel”. The petition reached 150,000 signatures which meant that it had to be debated in parliament. More info on Nicola and her campaign can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-36264229

nicola thorp
Nicola Thorp was dismissed for refusing to wear high heels

It came as a great surprise to me that this issue even had to be debated in the first place, especially in the 21st century when many politicians and people claim that men and women have equal rights. Yes, technically maybe they do. But, in reality women face gross inequality and sexism in the workplace on a daily basis. Speaking at the debate Gill Furness, a Labour Party MP told Westminster Hall that her daughter had suffered a metatarsal fracture while at work due to wearing high heels for a prolonged period of time. Then was denied any compensation or sick pay while she recovered. Another Labour Party MP, Helen Jones spoke about how some women were told to wear revealing clothing in order to sell to male customers and some female flight attendants were forced to wear the same shade of lipstick. This forces women to suffer pain for long periods of time and makes them feel sexualised while at work, while some women said it is demeaning.

helen jones
Labour MP Helen Jones

Women still also face an 18% pay gap in the UK, according to the IFS. And a separate report showed that male managers are 40% more likely to be promoted than female managers. These are outrageous statistics and go further to demonstrating the inequality women face in the workplace. More than 40 years since the supposed Equal Pay Act has been put in place and women are still, on average, being payed less than men.

Feminism is as important now, as it always has been. Furthermore I think that the definition of feminism has been lost, not helped by controversial figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos when he describes it as “cancer”, or when Piers Morgan says there is no need for a women’s march. We need to remind them that feminism isn’t complicated, it isn’t controversial. Feminism is simply equality. I am proud to call myself a feminist and support the complete equality between both genders.

Connor French (@connorfrench96)

20 million people face starvation – what are we doing?

Yesterday, the United Nations warned the world that we are facing the greatest Humanitarian Crisis since 1945 – the end of World War II. They say that more than 20 million people face the threat of starvation concentrated across 4 countries; Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. This was echoed by UNICEF when they warned that up to 1.4 million children are expected to starve to death.

unicef
UNICEF warn 1.4 million children face starvation

To put this into context, as there are approximately 60 million people in the UK, this is the equivalent of 1 third of the entire population starving to death. This is an alarming figure and I think when put into context really shows how shocking that figure is.

A separate study for the UN shows that the richest 1% of adults in the world own approximately 40% of the world’s wealth. With few individuals owning vast amounts of money. This is grotesquely unjust and these kind of figures show that the current capitalist model our richest nations are governing themselves by, is making the rich richer and the poor poorer. The divide is large and the combined wealth of the most powerful nations could do something, but they are simply idle about it. Divides create levels of power and power is what they want.

However, it is clear that there is a serious issue in the distribution of wealth worldwide and although they help, simple donations from ordinary people isn’t going to solve the issue. There needs to be serious reform in how wealth is distributed to seriously improve the absolutely abhorrent levels of inequality that millions of people on the planet currently face.

Connor French (@connorfrench96)

 

 

Hypocrisy

How I think Trident is having a negative effect on the UK

noun /hɪˈpɒkrɪsi/

 “the practice of claiming to have moral standard to which one’s actions do not conform”

When I read the news as I do every day, undoubtedly there will be an article, usually in the politics section where the word ‘hypocrisy’ will pop into my mind. Recently, this has been the news regarding the vote at the the United Nations to start negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

On the 26th of October 2016, 177 countries came together at the UN General Assembly to vote on this very issue. A ban on the use of all categories of nuclear weapons. 38 countries voted against the proposal, including the UK and US. Whereas 123 countries voted in favour, including maybe surprisingly, North Korea.

Source: ican

North Korea is a country mentioned in the media frequently concerning the use of nuclear weapons. Only in June of this year, were the Guardian and other news outlets reporting that “Kim Jong-un has boasted of North Korea’s ‘sure capability’ to strike US targets on the Pacific”. Yet, a country perceived as such warmongers in the media, voted for the proposed ban. Why did the US and UK vote against the ban? Well that’s a complicated question that I suspect many people differ on opinion.

Security? I doubt it. Nuclear weapons are systematically useless. Mhairi Black MP, put it brilliantly when addressing commons, she said: “We have already established the fact that we would not fire this weapon first, we would not launch this weapon. So the only time we are saying that we will ever use this weapon is if somebody has a nuclear strike against us, and to be quite frank that means we’re all dead anyway. And if I’m dying, I don’t care if we’re sending one back or not, I’m more worried about the one that’s coming towards me”.

They do not defend us against the real threats of today, those being terrorism, epidemics and climate change.  It’s hugely disappointing when your own government won’t support a ban on nuclear weapons, yet one of the supposed enemies of the west is voting in favour of it. However, I don’t hold North Korea to be in anyway innocent and their proposed ban could be for more sinister purposes, but of course this is just speculation.

It appears to be unequivocally unjust that there are the funds for Trident, which will cost the government in excess of £205 billion, yet there isn’t enough money to properly fund our public services, our welfare system and our higher education system. This can be seen by the growing waiting lists for operations in hospitals, more people than ever using foodbanks at over one million uses per year, and larger than ever class sizes with most children not getting their first choice of school.

nhs
The NHS is in crisis

Hospital operation waiting lists in the UK are at a record high of 3.9 million (as of Sept. 2016) and this year has been the worst for referral-to-treatment waiting lists in more than 5 years. These figures show that our NHS is underfunded and understaffed. I have many close family members and friends who work in the NHS and they have a first-hand experience of the service on a daily basis.

They tell me that in some job roles, if someone leaves or retires, in many instances those roles don’t get filled again, causing other members of that team to have to take that outstanding workload.

Foodbanks usage
Foodbank usage is at a record high under the current Conservative Government

More people than ever are using food banks, and between April 2015-16, the Trussell Trust say that over one million three- day emergency food supplies were given to people In crisis. The latest Trussell Trust figures show a 2% increase in foodbank use on the previous year, with the most popular reason for needing to use a food bank were ‘delays to benefits’. The primary reason people used foodbanks last year was because of a faulty system. A system that could be amended or changed, yet nothing is done.

And finally, class sizes. 100,000 pupils in the UK now face being in an oversized class (over 30 pupils per teacher), with increases expected. In fact only 6 years ago, in 2010 there were 31,000 students in oversized classes, now there are 69,000 extra, more than a double in 6 years.

It is also worth adding that this year alone, 1 in 6 children did not get their first choice of high school, and in London only 63% got their first choice. With a growing population, an increasing demand on school places and not enough investment in schools, a disaster is beginning to unfold.

Clearly, the current approach to these services is not sustainable. As CND have said, instead of spending even £100 million on nuclear weapons, “we could employ 150,000 new nurses, build 1.5 million affordable homes or pay the tuition fees for 4 million students. 2 million jobs could be created, rather than 7,000 currently sustained”.

I began this piece with the word ‘hypocrisy’. Hypocrisy is when you care to spend £205 billion on an arguably redundant set of nuclear weapons, and then say that there is no money for more important things.

Glaring hypocrisy has been the underlying theme of this piece, because for me, our government’s stance on Trident compared to its stance on the NHS, social care, education, welfare, housing, poverty and other important issues, absolutely screams of hypocrisy. To me, our government are hypocrites.

Connor French (@connorfrench96)