Opinion Issue 1
Current Affairs Politics Debate Insight Analysis
SHOULD THE VOTING AGE BE LOWERED TO 16?
Plus AN INTERVIEW WITH
SAJID JAVID SHOULD BBC 3
BE SCRAPPED? IS THE UK NOW A
4 PARTY STATE? THE LATEST ON THE
SCOTISH REFERENDUM @Opinion_Mag
Issue 1 April 2014
CONTENTS Message from The Editor Welcome to the first edition of Opinion Magazine, a magazine wrote for young people discussing things relevent to young people. In our first Issue we have: an interview from Financial Secretary to the Treasury - Sajid Javid, Guest writers - Nicola Payne and Dan Mooney, The latest on the Scottish Independence debate, Analyse on UKIPâ€™s rise in British Politics and of course our main topic up for debate in this issue is whether the voting age should be lowered to 16. I hope you enjoy reading our first ever edition of Opinion and please get involved and tell us your opinion.
Oliver McGrath 2
Got an opinion? We want to hear it! /OpinionMagazine @Opinion_Mag
Why do people hate politics?
Interview: Sajid Javid MP
Should BBC 3 be scrapped?
The many faces of Ed Miliband
08 Should the voting age be lowered?
Free Speech Exprience
Austerity is a necessity
Farage Vs Clegg: Round 1
Scottish Independence debate
Is the UK now a four party state?
Guide to US Politics
The Government Shutdown
End of the American dream?
13 14 12 @Opinion_Mag
Why do people hate politics? Guest Writer: Nicola Payne It always annoys me when I hear people moaning about politicians as if they’re another species that hates the human race. A common belief is that “they don’t care about us”, “they don’t represent us”, and “they’re all liars”. Well, firstly, who is “us” anyway? Secondly, don’t they care? Really? I’m a big defender of politics, simply because I appreciate how lucky we are to have a democracy. I will also tend to defend politicians, because I doubt that many of them don’t care, just that things can’t always go how they planned - or how we planned, for that matter. However, although I disagree with the exaggerated idea that all politicians are evil and hate us, it’s still important to understand why this apathy exists among much of the public. There’s a reason for everything, and politics certainly isn’t perfect…
“They don’t care about us”
Really? If you’re qualified enough to be a high-up politician, you’re qualified enough to be a banker or manager of a city firm; they make much more money than politicians. So what’s the motive to be a politician? Maybe I’m being idealistic here, but politicians have chosen public service over massive private-sector pay checks.
“They’re all liars”
On the one hand, they certainly do exaggerate, especially at election time. Just look at Nick Clegg and tuition fees. On the other, Clegg didn’t necessarily lie. He said that the Lib Dems wouldn’t raise tuition fees if they got into power. Currently, they’re only in partial power; they have to compromise with the Conservatives.
“They don’t represent us”
When considering the membership of Parliament, they definitely don’t represent this country’s ethnic diversity. There is also a disproportionate amount of men in both chambers. The solution is to have more diversity in the top universities where most MPs come from. This is already happening - over the next 20 years, I think we’ll see a far more representative Parliament.
“They ignore young people”
This is a chicken-and-egg situation. Loads of young people say they won’t vote because there is no party to represent their views, but, if they voted, the parties would have to take on their views. By voting, you make yourself valuable to parties. By not voting, you make yourself pointless in electoral terms.
“They don’t get anything done”
Actually, the coalition is currently on track for completing most of its manifesto, and, let’s face it, the country has not collapsed. Things do get done. I think one of the biggest problems when it comes to believing that the government can get stuff done is the media and the opposition party. The media and the opposition constantly attack government policy, leaving the public questioning whether their government can actually do the job. I’m all for criticising and investigating the government, but sometimes the media makes negative news stories just to gain readers, and the opposition criticises because that’s all it can do. It would be nice for there to be some consensus once in a while, and then maybe the public would have a little more faith in politics as a whole.
Like I said…
I’m all for scrutinising the government. I’m all for scrutinising politicians, but I’m also all for praising them. If we keep assuming that they don’t care, that they don’t want to help us, and that they can’t be trusted, our democracy will continue to break down. So go and vote - even if you just scratch the ballot - because if we’re not willing to play our part in our democracy, why should we expect politicians to play theirs? If we don’t make our voices heard, the voices of big business will get louder and drown us out.
People don't necessarily HATE politics they don't see the point. People don't feel the benefits. Just a way of cleaning up for the rich - George Driscoll, 17
People hate politics mainly because they either don't like the current government or have little understanding - Ainsely Youngson
Interview with Sajid Javid MP
Unfortunately Mr Javid did commit to an interview but did not respond before our deadline after being named the new Culture Secretary
be scrapped? BBC 3 is set to close as an on-air channel from 2015 It was announced on 5th March that as part of BBC cost cutting measures, BBC 3 is set to have its budgets cut, and moved from its slot as the corporation’s third major channel to an online iPlayer only channel. This announcement comes only a week after the corporation’s director general Tony Hall last week, warned “tough choices” would have to be made if the corporation was to meet the savings target. In response to the announcement the hashtag #SaveBBC3 has gone viral and a campaign has already gained support from over 230,000 people signing a change.org petition against its closure. Amongst the supporters are some of the channels biggest exploits such as Bad Education creator and star Jack Whitehall who said “I really hope reports that the BBC may kill BBC3 are just rumours. Their support of new comedy in particular is vital.” Another comedian from the channel, Russell Kane said: “It’s not necessarily a youth channel, but it is youngerskewed. I don’t see why it should be cut because people who are younger have quieter voices in the political process.” The BBC’s argument is that out of all of its viewers, BBC 3’s are the most mobile and can cope with the move to online based viewing. They have also said that it will not stop investing in a new comedy and talent while also freeing up later timeslots on BBC 1 for BBC 3’s current and future programmes. Before BBC Three’s move is confirmed, the BBC Trust, which is the body that represents the interests of the licence fee payers, must have public consultation and assess whether it is necessary. In the past, both BBC radio 6 music and BBC Asian Network have been saved by the BBC Trust so our attention now turns to the BBC Trust to see whether BBC 3’s future remains on Television or merely on the iPlayer only.
Engaging with youth is crucial and BBC 3 provides that platform. Without it would not be surprising to see less political/social interest - Jay Chauhan, 18
BBC3 allows new comedy and youth discussions of politics, suicide and other heavy topics not often discussed on other channels. So, no - George Driscoll, 17
The Many Faces of Ed Miliband
Should the voting
For the first time in time UK history, 16 and 17 year olds will be given the right to vote in a voting age to be lowered to 16 years of age has increased dramatically with the formation surely it can’t be long until this resolution will become law. Therefore, Opinion is going to form your own opinion on whether you t
16 year olds can marry, pay taxes and leave home. You can also legally have sex which implies it is the age at which the government deems you old enough to become a parent. If you are deemed old enough to become a parent, get married and contribute to the treasury, then you should be deemed old enough to decide who makes the policies affecting their life.
16 year olds can also join the armed forces, so they should be given the right to vote for who sends them off to war.
Political apathy is one of the biggest problems the UK faces, by reducing the voting age, political education could been introduced to create an informed generation. Therefore, young people would be more motivated to vote in the future.
The 16 year-olds that would vote would be a self-selecting, politically interested minority who would add real value to the political discourse
There are 16 year olds who as informed if not more informed than adults
Labour to lower the voting age
Early this year one of Ed Miliband’s closest allies, Sadiq Khan announced Labour would lower the voting age to 16 if it wins the 2015 election. Khan argued that lowering the voting age is the only way to tackle “the public’s malaise towards all things political”. Labour’s argued that if young people are encouraged to vote young, then political participation would increase in turn. “Getting the public into the habit of voting is clearly a key part of any solution if we are to raise the numbers of those who participate in elections. We need to get people hooked on voting at an early age because the evidence shows if you vote when you first become eligible you’re more likely to keep on voting for the rest of your life. Don’t vote when you’re young and you’re more likely to never vote. He continued to add that by changing the law, future governments would be foolish to ignore the voice of young people. Political participation and engagement amongst young people is at a record low level as the Hansard Society’s recently revealed figures have shown, with only 12 of young people saying they would vote in the general election. The shadow justice secretary commented that “A lot of work is going to need to be done if political parties are to re-connect with the public, and demonstrate they are relevant to the issues which affect people’s lives on a day-to-day basis.” The political engagement of young people is in no doubt with young people joining pressure groups and regularly signing online petitions however, the amount joining political parties is minuscule. “The millions of ordinary voters who are involved in campaign groups and charities put political parties to shame, and shows the appetite for involvement is out there. But translating this into support for party politics is a challenge for everyone in Westminster, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast and town halls up and down the country”. Alongside lowering the voting age, Labour also wants to improve citizenship education in schools and plans to put polling stations in schools and colleges to target young people.
Votes at 16 is a paigns for “ou the abilities of include us in o trust and respe by giving us th
Votes at 16 is one of the bigge paign for the voting age to be key organisations such as the tional Union of Students and S addition to having support from sations, Votes at 16 also has b Plaid Cymru and the Liberal De
Their main aims are to engage people in politics and argue th cratic right to influence decisio future.
g age be lowered?
an a public ballot, in the Scottish referendum. Over the last 15 years, the demand for the of the pressure group Votes at 16. Moreover, with the public backing of the Labour party, way up the arguments for and the arguments against lowering the voting age and let you think it should or shouldn’t be lowered.
They are still maturing, and have not learned enough yet through education as well as experience to make fully informed decisions.
Those 16 years who are ill-informed will overlook the main parties (Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats) and may vote for extremist parties without knowing what they are doing.
Giving young people the vote before they are educated and experi enced enough to make truly informed decisions would be a disaster.
There’s an argument that Young people still wouldn’t vote due to the lack of political education and apathy so it wouldn’t change the political situation.
16 year olds could be manipulated and alienated by speeches.
Even with greater political education, the information is not independent and would be tainted by teacher bias.
There’s a theory that extending the amount of time it takes for some one to vote will increase their desire to eventually vote.
s at 16
an organisation which camur political system to recognise f 16 year olds. To properly our society and show us the ect that society expects of us he right to vote”.
est UK pressure groups camlowered and is a coalition of e British Youth Council, NaScottish Youth Parliament. In m many non-political organibacking from the SNP, Labour, emocrats.
e, empower and inspire young hat is young people’s demoons that will define their
Opinion Only when politics is taught properly should the vote be given to 16/17 year olds - Kath Powell, 16
With the current turnout of 44% for 18-24 year olds at election, why would we allow this to increase by giving vote to a uninformed population - Jay Chauhan, 18
Opinion 16 & 17 year olds shouldn’t have the vote until politics is compulsory on the school curriculum - Nicola Payne, 18
After applying, a number of Woodrush Sixth Form students and Politics t to be chosen to be appear on BBC Three’s ‘Free Speech’. The programme is led by a youth audience and is broadcast monthly. Upon arrival at Birm our seats in a built for purpose studio and began a number of practice d which centred on whether the UK should have a Royal Family, with Ollie the hot seat of a panellist. However, Ollie was soon ushered away to pre
Then it was lights, camera, action! Presenter Rick Edwards arrived on sta were live! The panellists that joined the discussion were comedian Heyd and Paris Lees, Liberal Baroness Susan Kramer and entrepreneur/ex Con for debate was to discuss the BBC’s recent announcement that BBC3 is t no longer be available on TV. Both myself and Ollie engaged in this area the panellists and questioning their views on the subject. Following on f the UK government doing enough for youth unemployment?’. Mr Lovell to the studio audience that young people need to vote more to make th ticians. However, the debating did not end there with Ollie asking the pa torate be given the right to decide for themselves whether the UK shoul At this stage, Dan passionately announced to the panel “behind you says preach and let’s have a referendum”.
Overall, the evening was an unforgettable experience tha -ions on a range of relevant and current issues. I know I James, Dan and Ollie when I say that we had a fantastic ti political spotlight. Much of the discussion on the night w -sues that matter in modern society. For one night, a gro Form (and their Politics teacher) made sure that their op
Article wrote by Jay Chauhan
Sixth Form Students given on National Telev 10
teacher Mr Lovell were lucky enough e centres on a live debate, which mingham Central Mosque, we took debates before going live. The first of e (Head Boy for the Sixth Form) taking epare his question for the live debate.
age and in a matter of minutes we don Prowse, journalists Mehdi Hasan nservative Shazia Awan. The first point to become an online channel and will by providing facts and statistics to from this was the discussion point: ‘Is l was quick to express his viewpoint he issue of greater importance to polianel the question: ‘Should the elecld be part of the European Union?’. ys Free Speech, so practice what you
at gave us a chance to voice our opin can speak for Lois, Nicola, George, time and relished our moment in the was about giving youth a voice with is oup of students from Woodrush Sixth pinions were heard!
n ‘Free Speech’ vision @Opinion_Mag
Austerity: a neccessary evil? September 13, 2007: After over a month of volatility in the UK stock market, news breaks that Northern Rock has sought emergency funding from the Bank of England in its capacity as "lender of last resort". This prompts the first run on a bank for more than a century. This period of instability amongst the housing market and banking sector continued with some of the county’s largest banks being bailed out. The late 2000s recession was the longest in history with 6 quarters of contraction leading to a reduction of 7.2% off of the UK’s GDP. Despite the UK coming out of recession in Q3 of 2009, the effects of the recession were still felt with unemployment rising to 8.1% the highest since 1994. In the last 23 quarters, 9 of which were recessionary and in 2011/12 it was believed the UK suffered a ‘double dip recession’. Until 2010, the administration in power during the recession was Gordon Brown’s Labour government and their policy and the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling’s policy was to try spent the country’s way out of the economic downturn. However, this policy proved unfounded as we saw with the lack of revival of the economy. After the general election, the new government decided the only measure to improve the economy was to install a policy of austerity. The coalition led by David Cameron made sweeping cuts to government budgets and job losses were at a scale never seen before by a British government. The view was the economy had hit such a low that the only way to grow once more would be to reduce the massive deficit that the Labour administration had left. I’m not an economist and this analogy is far too simple to ever be completely accurate about a country’s economy but from a political standpoint this is my opinion on the economy. The economy is like a house (a very large and complex house) and for this analogy we’ll say that debt is someone pouring petrol through the house. The money you receive through taxation and other means is sand to stop the petrol and a recession is like a fire. If you’re trying to grow the economy (or the house) while there’s a high level of debt (petrol) then you’re risking a recession because your exuberance will eventually be tested and become the trigger of an economic downturn (a fire) like we saw with the collapse of the housing market in 2008, where people couldn’t actually afford the houses they were buying and relying on the prices to increase. Although there are many complex economic principles that cause recession, perhaps the simplest isn’t a particularly complex; living beyond your means. If you’re in a budget deficit (spending more money than you’re receiving) then it’s not going to be long until you have more petrol in your house than sand to cover it. During the credit crunch the UK’s budget deficit hit £90 billion and was completely unsustainable. A degree of debt is sustainable but when your economy is based on gearing (funded by long term debt) this can lead to tragic consequences. In terms of our analogy as the petrol increases (debt) it could pass a point where it becomes unsuitable and leads not only to a fire (recession) but to the house being destroyed (depression). Therefore, the policy initiated by the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition is a complete necessity. There are alternative theories and methods to initiate growth by spending but in 2010, the UK economy was not in a position to spend to get out of the recession. At its peak the budget deficit stood at 11% which is one of the highest budget deficits amongst the G8 however because of the last 4 years of austerity this has halved and by 2018-9 it is predicted that the UK will be in surplus for the first time in almost 20 years. Therefore, I believe that by enduring so far 4 years of austerity and perhaps a few more years will help us in the long term. The signs for the future are positive, 2013’s 1.7% Economic Growth surprised many Economists and It is also predicted that the economy will continue to grow in 2014, by as much as 2.8% and surpass the 2008 pre-recession peak by Q3 of 2014. So was austerity necessary?
Farage Vs Clegg
Round 1 After Nick Clegg challenged Nigel Farage to ‘a public open debate about whether we should be in or out the European Union’ few thought that the debate was likely happen. However, on Wednesday 26th March, live on TV and radio, the two leaders clashed for the first time. The debate after the president of the Liberal Democrats warned the Liberal Democrats could be wiped out at this year’s European elections. Mr Clegg commented “He is the leader of the party of ‘out’. I am the leader of the party of ‘in’. It’s time we now have a proper public debate so the public can listen to the two sides of the argument and judge for themselves”. When asked to participate in the debate Mr Farage said “when the Deputy Prime Minister says he wants to go public and have a debate with me on this issue, I have absolutely no choice. I’ve got to say yes because we need to have a national debate on what I think is the most important issue this country has faced for hundreds of years”. He continued on to express his concerns that the leaders of the Labour and Conservative party weren’t getting involved with the debate. The Debate The hour long debate was broadcast on LBC and Sky News and tacked issues such as: Immigration, trade, gay marriage and the political integrity of the two candidates. Mr Clegg opened proceedings in an opening statement focussing on the negative effect on the economy and jobs if the UK were to leave the European Union. Mr Farage then fought back by discussing the membership fees the UK faces in Europe and breaking the ‘Status Quo’ in which Britain must be part of the European Union. The debate continued with fiery exchanges dealt on Immigration, with Nick Clegg attacking a UKIP leaflet claiming that 29 million Romanians and Bulgarians were set to come to the UK as “scare tactics”. Mr Farage responded by saying: “I am not claiming 29 million have the right to come to Britain, I am saying 485 million people have the total, unconditional right to come to this country.” The immigration debate continued with Nick Clegg proclaiming immigration was good for the economy and telling Mr Farage to base the debate on facts. UKIP’s leader’s response was to discuss the UK’s inability to gain skilled labour from outside Europe. “Not only do have no quantity control, we also have no quality control” he continued to label the immigration policy forced upon us by the EU as “crazy”. Across the course of the debate the two leaders further clashed on both the job prospects and impact on business, if the UK were to leave the Europe market with the leaders dealing personal blows questioning each other’s political integrity. Verdict In a YouGov instant poll, 57% of those 1,003 voters questioned, thought that Nigel Farage had performed better in the LBC debate with 36% backing Nick Clegg. Despite, Mr Farage winning in the instant polls, like the presidential debate of Kennedy-Nixon, the reaction differed between those watching on television and those listening to the debate on radio. Likewise, the reaction between political analysts is also mixed with no candidate dealing a ‘knockout blow’. One analyst commented that no candidate lost Wednesday’s debate with both candidates winning support. Our eyes will now turn to April 2nd when Clegg Vs Farage round 2 will be broadcast on BBC 2.
Is Scotland Bette
With the political scare-mongering already upon us, 2014 sees the Scottish Independence full flow preparing for 17th September 2014 referendum date. Opinion will take you throug
What is the It was announced by the Electoral Co would be: Should Scotland b
SNP Scottish Greens Independent MSP Margo MacDonald Next Ineous Aviva Ryanair Morrisons Asda
• • • • . • • • • •
Who are the campaign teams? Yes Scotland is the official campaign for independence. While Better Together is the group arguing to keep Scotland part of the United Kingdom
Decisions about Scotland will be taken by those who live and work here A reformed tax and benefit system Public services including the NHS can be kept in public hands. With independence, decisions about the level and allocation of public spending will be taken in Scotland An independent Scotland can invest our oil wealth for future generations. Nuclear weapons and the Trident system will be removed from Scotland. Pensioners’ incomes protected A Fair Work Commission and a guarantee that the minimum wage will rise at least in line with inflation. Return of the Royal Mail to public ownership in Scotland, guaranteeing the quality of service that all parts of our country currently enjoy
Yes as I don't agree with them being able to vote on English legislation but english MPs can't vote on Scottish legislation. Also, they discriminate against us in terms of Uni fees - Kath Powell, 16
Maybe economically because of the oil, but it would be really sad culturally. Massive loss for Great Britain as a whole - Nicola Payne, 18
When is the Re 17th Septem
Impact of a Yes vote?
Under Alex Salmond plans, there would be a Scottish Independence day in March 2016, with the first elections to an independent parliament in May. Before Scotland could become independent however a constitutional settlement would need to be agreed with the UK government. This would discuss issues such as defence (especially because the SNP Britain’s nuclear trident weapons removed from Scotland), Scotland’s share of the national debt, its continued use of the pound (despite George Osborne and Ed Balls declaring an independent Scotland wouldn’t be allowed to keep the pound) and Scotland’s membership (or non-membership) of the European Union and Nato.
e Referendum reach its climax. Yes Scotland and Better Together’s campaigns are now in gh all of the ins and outs of the referendum and likely talking points leading up to the vote.
e Question? ommission that the yes/no question be an independent country?
Who can vote? Anyone who lives in Scotland on the day of the referendum and is old enough on the day of the referendum can vote. The voter franchise has been extended to include 16 and 17 year olds.
eferendum?? mber 2014
Labour Tories The Liberal Democrats Shell, BP & BAE RBS & Lloyds Standard life 48% of Small Businesses (telegraph) Thomas Cook Alliance Trust British Airways Aggreko
Against • • • • • • • •
A strong Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom gives decision making power and a key role in the EU, UN Security Council and NATO Scotland and the UK are stronger together Scotland's prosperity will be strengthened by keeping the British connection. Independence would cause uncertainty, instability, and barriers for businesses. In these tough and turbulent times, the size, strength and stability of the UK economy is a huge advantage for Scotland's businesses. By remaining in the Union, Scotland can keep the strong pound. Scotland's security will be strengthened as part of the United Kingdom. The British Armed Forces that protect us are the best in the world. Hundreds of thousands of Scots and English have made their homes in each other's nation.
Impact of a No Vote
The referendum has been described as a once-in-ageneration event with all of the unionist and proindependence parties keen to avoid the situation in the Canadian province of Quebec, where multiple referenda has led to confusion over the independence debate. A “No” result could also spell the end for the SNP as a mainstream political force as their sole political aim is for Scotland to become an independent country. If there is a “No” result Holyrood is likely to ask for more devolved power. - with full fiscal autonomy (where Scotland receives all of the taxes taken from Scotland opposed to the grant it currently receives from UK Exchequer) could become a more serious option.
Scotland will not be better independent and neither will the rest of the UK. It's too much hassle to change - Ainsley Youngson, 18
It is a democratic way to solve an arguement has been going on for hundreds of years. It will be interesting to see whether Scotland can handle their own issues without input- Hannah Lombard, 16
IS THE UK NOW A FOUR PARTY STATE?
Oliver McGrath Ofcom has announced that United Kingdom Independence Party must be treated a “major party” by all networks broadcasting PEBs (Party Election Broadcasts). This means that Nigel Farage’s party will get the same amount of coverage as Labour, the Tories and Lib Dems. This is a major breakthrough for UKIP ahead of the European elections where they are expected to make significant gains. Ofcom released a statement saying: ‘Our decision is that the United Kingdom Independence Party (“UKIP”) should be added to the list of major parties in England and in Wales for the 2014 European Parliament elections’. This decision is vital in UKIP’s aim to be included in the TV leaders’ debates in next year’s general election. The question that keeps on cropping up is whether UKIP have now become a dominate force in British politics. Despite UKIP having no MPs, the UK is now being described as a four party state. In a YouGov/The Sun poll taken on 2nd April, UKIP were said to have 12% of the vote. UKIP were placed higher than the Liberal Democrats and therefore could be seen as the third party in British politics. In addition, after being declared the winner of both of the European Union debates, Nigel Farage is being seen more and more as a serious politician of an emerging party. Another poll commissioned by YouGov will be joyful reading for Farage, with UKIP gaining 9% (on top of their current 17%) of the European vote compared with the 2009 result. Furthermore, During past election cycles, UKIP’s support has increased as the elections approach. If this is the case then Farage’s party could leapfrog Labour (currently six points ahead) and claim an overwhelming win. Another factor which must be taken into account is the impact of the European Union leaders’ debates with Nick Clegg. Polls state that Farage won the debates 57%-36% and 68%-27% respectively. In this initial polling, UKIP have gained ground at the expense of the Tories, Lib Dems and BNP and YouGov predict their support could rise almost 30% higher. With the presumption that UKIP resoundingly win in the European elections, then Clegg, Cameron and Miliband should be worried. As well as being embarrassing for the three main parties to lose seats to UKIP, this could give Farage the political scope he needs to be included in the 2015 leaders’ debates. Referring back to the news that Ofcom has classified UKIP as a ‘major party’, if they claim more seats than their current 9 in the European elections, then UKIP’s case for representation in the debates will be even higher. Moreover, it has to be commended that for a party than only has 9 MEPs to be declared a major party, is frankly remarkable. This could be referred back to the ‘Farage effect’ or the rise of Eurosceptism. Without Farage, it isn’t an exaggeration to say that UKIP wouldn’t be in the position they are in now but the reason why Farage has had such an impact baffles some. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown from the Independent spoke candidly about him in a recent television documentary: “He’s not handsome, he’s not sexy, he’s not charismatic but what’s the appeal”. The fact of matter is that Farage is appealing to the UK electorate and winning the hearts and minds of the working class on a daily basis. Despite David Cameron previously describing UKIP voters as “Fruit cakes, lunatics and closet racists”, UKIP are now becoming widely supported, moving from being a cause-based pressure group to a mainstream political party. Not only should the emergence of UKIP be worrying for the Conservative Party, but also Labour. Casting aside the media perspective that new UKIP voters are coming from disenchanted Tories, in fact UKIP’s main voter haul is actually coming from ex-Labour supporters and those who don’t normally vote. At the moment, UKIP are party of 35,000 members, 9 European seats and 223 council seats. From a glance UKIP are nothing to shout about but in fact, over the last 18 months UKIP have transformed from an irritance to the main political parties into a political heavyweight in the making. If Nigel Farage’s party do as well predicted in the European elections, it could act a catalyst for 2015 and for UKIP to gain their first seats in the Commons. From what we’ve seen from Farage in Brussels, Parliament would in for a major political shake up crushing the current Status Quo.
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Guide to US Politics
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What caused the Government Shutdown?
For the first time in 17 years, the US Federal Government entered a partial shutdown. This affected 2.1 million federal employees with many being furloughed and told to stay at home or continue to work without knowing when they would be paid, but why did this happen? The US Congress failed to pass the Continuing Appropriations Resolution 2014 before the fiscal year ended on 30 September. This resolution funds the Federal government for the up and coming year and needs to be agreed by both houses of Congress (House of Reps & Senate). The bill was introduced to the House on 10th September 2014, and the Republican-led House of Representatives wanted to add a clause defunding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act commonly referred to as ‘Obamacare’. However, when the bill was returned to the Democrat controlled Senate these rules were removed and the resolution started going back and forth between both chambers. At the centre the shutdown row were conservative groups such as the Tea-party and Heritage Action led by Republican Senator Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz, a fiscal conservative, praised the House of Representatives for continuing to fight Obamacare while criticising his Senate colleges for throwing in the towel. When quizzed by reporter as to why he strongly opposed the motion Cruz said. “The deal that has been cut provides no relief to the millions of Americans who are hurting because of Obamacare. The deal that has been cut provides no relief to all the young people coming out of school who can’t find a job because of Obamacare. It provides no relief to all the single parents who have been forced into part-time work, struggling to feed their kids on 29 hours a week.” He continued to say “Unfortunately, once again, it appears the Washington establishment is refusing to listen to the American people”. In return President Obama made a television address warning that A shutdown would have “a very real economic impact on real people, right away,” adding it would “throw a wrench” into the US recovery. “The idea of putting the American people’s hard-earned progress at risk is the height of irresponsibility, and it doesn’t have to happen.” The political stalemate continued and the Federal government remained closed for 16 days until a bipartisan resolution was agreed on 16th October 2013 to end the budget crisis. The bill was only a temporary fix but allowed the government to re-open from 17th October 2013. Obama expressed his relief hoping the deal would “lift the cloud of uncertainty”. Furthermore he commented that “Once this agreement arrives on my desk, I will sign it immediately. Speaking on the Jay Leno show months later, John Boehner revealed he warned against the GOP trying to shut down the government but he followed what his party wanted. “You learn that a leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk. So I said, do you want to fight this fight? I’ll go fight the fight with you”. He later agreed that the Republicans could rightly be blamed for the shutdown.
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The End of the American Dream? Guest Writer: Dan Mooney The United States of America prides itself on the ability for anyone of its citizens to live the “American Dream” where all of their needs and wants are achieved. However sadly this is not the case and a growing trend has developed where the gap between the rich and poor has only expanded further. Shockingly 50% of the entire U.S GDP is held within 11 “mega-regions” within continental U.S.A representing how wealth is not only being kept to the few but denied to huge agrarian sectors of the United States; to the disadvantage of millions. The United States of America prides itself on the ability for anyone of its citizens to live the “American Dream” where all of their needs and wants are achieved. However sadly this is not the case and a growing trend has developed where the gap between the rich and poor has only expanded further. Shockingly 50% of the entire U.S GDP is held within 11 “mega-regions” within continental U.S.A representing how wealth is not only being kept to the few but denied to huge agrarian sectors of the United States; to the disadvantage of millions. The U.S Census Bureau has claimed that as of 2012 at least 16% of the American people including at least 20% of children were living or experiencing some form of poverty; the highest level since 1993. In the state of California alone poverty levels had reached crisis levels of 23.5%. Unsurprisingly it is in ethnic minority communities, most notably the “Black Belt” of Southern USA; that find themselves the hardest hit by poverty. Years of racial prejudice and red scares has resulted in a culture where the educational and social opportunities of the working class are suffocated by the more powerful 1%. Yet very little is being done to help lessen the gap between rich and poor, the few attempts are misguided and may even worsen the situation. Affirmative action is one such controversial programme, initiated to aid African American students into getting places within colleges. So far the programme has deepened ethnic divides despite minor relief it has given the African American communities; most notably Asian groups and working class white members of society find themselves in conflict with the Affirmative action programme citing discrimination against them. Many are worried by the programme claiming that you cannot fight discrimination with discrimination, yet despite being overturned in California, Michigan and Washington on several occasions it is always reinforced by the federal government. In my own personal opinion Affirmative Action should target all Americans regardless of ethnicity but based on their financial situation, those communities that are struggling economically would then be able to send the next generation to college; giving thousands of poverty stricken children the opportunity to achieve their slice of the American Dream. But to thoroughly combat the continued cycle of poverty among generations, the American government needs to grant economic stimulus’s to the educational facilities of these areas, by building new schools and adult education development programmes. The Obama Administration could give the people the tools they need to build a better future. Socially Americans are at a disadvantage compared to the rest of the Western World. Unlike Europe, America has never experienced its taste of socialist thought excluding it from the benefits of the welfare state. Where free health care is available universally in other liberal democracies such as the UK and Canada in the U.S.A if you do not hold health insurance you will not be able to receive healthcare. Obamacare was a shining example of how America can match the standards of its neighbours, however due to the complex political system of Washington the original law has been modified on thirty eight different occasions and more changes seem likely’ leaving America with a bare bones policy rather than the strong arm it needs to lift it out of despair. “There are 47 percent - who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement.” Directly quoted from 2012 nominee Mitt Romney this quote symbolises all that is wrong with the established political class, a class that do not see the working American as a person but a cheap vote. Until the both the President and Congress realise that it is the working men and women that need their help the most, the American Dream will remain just that; a dream.
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