It was announced only a mere few minutes ago that the former Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, passed away due to a stroke this morning. She was Britain’s longest serving post-war PM and the only woman to ever hold the job.
I will be honest, on a political level, Thatcher symbolised and represented nearly everything I stand against. Her policies as PM have done more untold harm than of any PM since the war. But on a personal level, I do have great respect for her. The thought of a woman PM in the early 1970s was almost unthinkable, even to Thatcher herself at the time. Upon becoming leader she spent the next seven years fighting an uphill battle, effectively fighting those within her party who deemed little would become of her leadership and then Administration. No post-war Prime Minister has so radically shifted the discourse of British politics (with the exception of Attlee). Taken all together she commands at the very least, considerable respect for how radically she changed and shaped Britain for better or worse. I do admire most principled individuals and Thatcher is no exception.
This is how I will remember Thatcher, a skilled, principled and determined supreme heavyweight figure of 20th Century politics, but a political opponent and adversary all the same.
So how much of the Welfare budget do you reckon is spent on unemployed people? 42%? How much do you reckon is claimed fraudulently from the Welfare budget? 27%? Who do you reckon will be hit most by the 1% limit on benefits, the unemployed “scroungers”? And how much do you reckon is given to the skiving “scrounging” b*rstards on Job Seeker’s allowance (2 kids aged 6 and 10) a week? £147?
If you’d given answers close or on the same as the ones suggested, well, then, you’re completely full of sh*t.
This is what was revealed in a YouGov poll where respondents gave answers similar to the ones suggested. Want to know the real answers?
(Don’t believe me, check the link above).
This is of course shadowed by the outright attempt by Conservative HQ’s attempts to divide the nation like never before by turning the working poor on the unemployed poor (most of whom are seeking work).
While instead, this is the poster they should have published.
I’m tired of this, I’m tired of the demonisation and scapegoating of the poor. But hey, why try solve society’s real problems when you can lie and create scapegoats out of the most vulnerable in society?
Happy New Year to all our readers (yes, they do exist) whatever your political stripe or leniency! Have a great 2013!
I’m not naturally a fan of Piers Morgan (who is), but something clicked yesterday (don’t worry, I will get back to this original point). Admittedly I’d spent a very long time at work, (same lifeguard in two days was over half an hour late to relieve me from poolside, not a happy bunny) I was listening to the radio on the way home and I just happened to stumble upon the speech being delivered to a press conference by Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association (NRA). This was then followed by an NRA spokesperson being interviewed live on BBC Radio 5 Live.
Even now, over 24 hours after hearing these two men, I’m still struggling to comprehend and properly articulate a response to the sheer detachment from reality and supreme level of wheedling these two men committed. In case you missed either men, LaPierre advocated that US schools should be guarded by armed guards and that ”The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,”. The latter blamed gun violence in the US on mental health issues and lack of proper treatment.
At this point I was seething in the car. Now, I’m not saying I have all the answers, but I have a pretty good idea of what the problems are. No Mr LaPierre, giving “good guys” gun to stop “bad guys” is not a good idea. You see Mr LaPierre, I’ve never had crack cocaine for breakfast, one because I never would, but mainly as I don’t keep it in the fridge. I’ve never been butchered by my slave’s in a bloody uprising, primarily by not keeping slaves. Because you know what Mr LaPierre, not having the means to commit crimes is a far better method to preventing gun homicides than simply believing everyone should arm themselves in the name of mutual deterrents.
I’m not advocating outright banning of guns in US right now, as like I said, I don’t have all the answers and there’s a chance there’d be a backlash against such a move. But when you live in a country where there’s no nation-wide policy on firearms this allows dangerous people to easily buy guns from other states without any background checks and then bring them into other neighboring states. The system also has no check for those “good guys” who you so uphold Mr LaPierre who may turn dangerous (and indeed they do, for whatever reason). It gives no account on a federal level for other members of a family who may own firearms (as what happened with the latest Connecticut shootings). And Mr LaPierre, you live in a country where there are roughly 300 millions guns or 89 firearms per 100 civilians and have an average death toll of around 10,000 gun homicides a year (roughly 3.2 deaths from guns per 100,000 people). This is in direct contrast to countries like here in the UK or in Japan, (countries you probably believe have “bad guys” running around unchecked) have roughly 6 and 0.6 guns per 100 civilians respectively yet have a mere 0.1 and <0.01 deaths by firearms per 100,000 people respectively.
I’m sick and tired of hearing such divorced ideas from reality that if you give people more guns there’ll be less gun crime. This is something that really struck me with Piers Morgan, I actually agreed with him on something:
Like I said, I don’t have all the answers, but how many more people are going to have needlessly die before the likes of Mr LaPierre realise that having more guns to solve gun crime is an absurd idea?
For Jack Matthew’s benefit (and yes, Norway is included).
This is the result of a compilation of results taken from a website called Political Compass that enables you to complete a test that determines where you are ‘politically’. Both of these ‘Crowd Charts’ (a new feature to Political Compass) were put together on the Birmingham University Labour Students (BULS) and Birmingham University Conservative Future’s (BUCF) Facebook groups respectively. Yes, more results will be added given enough time, but for now, I though it’d be nice to have a compare of the results so far.
Here we have the results from BULS:
And here are the results from BUCF:
It seems our Tory counter-parts in BUCF have gathered tonight to watch a film called ‘Tory Boy’. At this a certain sketch by Harry Enfield springs to mind.
Enjoy. Maybe this was BUCF members 5 years ago?
This may be the third or fourth time I’ve posted this, but still good fun.
It turns out the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, was due to deliver a speech in support of gay marriage which criticised those who opposed said government proposal as “bigots”. Sadly, it seems Clegg and his aides have quickly removed the “bigot” parts of his speech on the grounds that it was included as a “mistake”. It seems the only “mistake” Clegg had made was removing the term “bigots”, and for incredibly good reasons.
I have long despaired at the remarks by opponents to gay marriage from the Catholic Church, the Church of England and other smaller organisations. This is something we here in the UK have been able to watch, almost smugly, across the Atlantic in the USA for many years now. But no, it turns out the UK has it’s bigots on this issue as well. Yes, that’s right, I’m willing to say what Clegg never could. Given there is no reasonable or legitimate secular reason to oppose gay marriage, what so ever, I am fully inclined to regard those who oppose gay marriage as bigots. This is not said in attempt to silence opponents, it’s not an attempt to close the conversation but it is simply the most logic explanation given the reasons we’ve heard so regularly in the USA and now here. And I’d like to take a moment to address four of the most common I hear:
- So? Your point being? First off, marrying for love is a rather recent idea, until the last 150 years or so marriage was arranged around power relationships between families and often the woman would become property of the husband…but we re-defined that. In fact, the ‘re-defining’ argument fails to provide any reason why this would be a bad thing to do in the first place, but all is given is vague unfounded assertions.
- Well ok, you’re welcome to oppose upon religious grounds. But the thing is that we make laws based on secular reasoning. You can’t force your religious views on another section of society…period.
- Now this is what we call a slippery slope fallacy. Just because one thing is allowed it does not mean we’ll move onto other actions. That’s why when homosexuality was decriminalised under Roy Jenkins in the mid-1960s, bestiality and polygamy have still yet to be legalised by this obscure argument. Hell, while I wouldn’t call it polygamy (polyamory for a better term), I would have absolutely no problem with polyamorious (if that’s how it’s spelt) marriage.
- There’s two problems to this assertion. 1 is that there’s absolutely no evidence that a gay couple would fair any less in raising a child than a straight couple. 2 this argument implies the sole purpose of marriage is to produce children which is just nonsense on so many levels. First off, would you then not bar seniors or infertile straight couples from marrying as apparently the only purpose of marriage is reproduction? It also implies that having children out of wedlock is fundamentally wrong, which of course is complete bull, don’t even go there.
For once, Clegg could’ve made a principled stand on something that really matters to ending LGBTQ discrimination, but it turns out he’s too much of a coward. Thankfully, when I see an individual oppose gay marriage for incredibly poor reasons such as above, I’m happy to make no reservations in pointing out the most logical assessment.
They. Are. Bigots.
Sorry for lack of substantial blog post, we’ve all been a bit busy recently. But here’s a pretty good summation of the solution proposed by conservatives and neo-liberals to every problem they have faced in the last 30 years.
In light of the recent Cabinet re-shuffle Jeremy Hunt has been moved to the portfolio of Health Secretary. It also turns out Hunt endorsed Homeopathy in 2007. Maybe the NHS may end up like this soon:
Sorry for the long loooong hiatus we’ve had here at BULS. But hey, A-level results are in and we may as well set a tone and good impression for those students (and potential future BULS members) that will be joining the University of Birmingham in a month’s time.
So, with the US Presidential race entering it’s final stages Romney has finally played one of his last cards (so to speak), Congressman Paul Ryan. Well, daring dynamic or damp squib of a running mate? Well thankfully at least, the American public have so far opted for the latter with Ryan failing to provide any real boost to Romney’s campaign. Ryan may well give Romney a boost in the single Vice-Presidential debate given his reputation as a ‘numbers guy‘. Having Chaired the House Budget Committee in the House of Representative since January 2011 Ryan does have the potential to give Romney the detailed policy and authority he has so lacked up until now. However, Ryan, like Palin (though probably to a lesser extent) still has the potential to be the Republican nominee’s undoing….as can be seen here:
Now I accept these political stances, as disgusting as I may find them may not always quite enrage the American people, there are some ideas that Ryan believes that potentially could:
Still believe Ryan will be a game changer for Romney? Well I sincerely hope not, but you never know when it comes to the often intellectual backwardness of American politics.
FYI: for those wondering why I’m still ‘blogging’ here, why you might think, “Didn’t Max graduate last July…isn’t he no longer a student.” Well yes and no. I did graduate last July but I will be returning to the University of Birmingham (and BULS) this September to train as a Primary School Teacher, so will ‘Ramsay’s F Word’ will see one last final year out of it.
Good news peeps!:
I’ve always been one for giving credit where credit is due to opposition parties and I make no exceptions here. It seems the SNP Government in Scotland has the good sense to bring forward draft proposals to have Gay Marriage legalised in Scotland (after proposals here in England were put on hold). This is nothing less than a momentousness step in the right direction for LGBTQ rights and the UK as a whole. I’ve become in recent months splutteringly enraged at the pathetic excuses made by those who oppose Gay Marriage, “It’ll redefine marriage” (which isn’t even a reason). I’m incredibly happy the Scottish government has moved beyond such bigotry and I hope the Scottish Labour Party gives this proposal it’s full backing.
When I started University back in the September of 2009 (back in the middle of the previous recession) I always had it in my mind that, ‘Hey, at least the recession will be over once I finish my degree.’. Now ignoring the fact that I’ll be returning to the University of Birmingham (and BULS for that matter) in September to train to be a Primary Teacher. But now I’ve finished my degree I realise that this was a foolish assumption to make as the UK now suffers it’s 3rd consecutive quarter of negative growth at 0.7%. Now of course, we’re going to hear all the usual excuses, oh the Jubilee Celebrations, oh the weather, oh the Eurozone (which is nonsense on the latter given the UK and Italy are the only two major G20 economies back in a double dip recession). This was a recession made in Whitehall and in Downing Street.
It’s about time Cameron, Clegg and Osborne own up to their own mistakes and take responsibility.
Neo-liberalism has had its day.
There are points throughout history where established cultures near a breaking point. Today is one of those days.
£13 trillion ($21tn) is the rough size of the US’s and Japan’s economies combined. That same £13 trillion (and this actually a conservative estimation) has been hoarded and hidden from tax by a mere (estimated) 90,000 individuals.
I don’t think any one individual can truly comprehend what this £13 trillion could have been effectively used for. To find a cure for cancer, to vaccinate millions of vulnerable people in third world countries, to fund an almost infinite supply of scientific research or to provide free education for millions of children worldwide.
This is what has happened under the culture of neo-liberalism. The right has found it fitting to shift the blame onto “benefit scroungers”. What is apparent instead that this has been a mere smokescreen for a far wider problem. We have also been encouraged to not question and even idolise these “wealth creators”.
As Labour members we must accept that our party had helped facilitate such actions, we’re not innocent in all this.
I can only hope that one day soon, the established culture will finally break.
I have touched on the problems of the rail industry on this blog before and the whole area surrounding Privatisation vs. Nationalisation. Well I think to someone in the Labour party may have been listening. We have a policy! And it’s crackin’ good un’ at that. An effective re-nationalise the Rail industry.
To remind you why this is such a cracking idea, here’s some reasons why:
In a nutshell, Privatisation has indeed failed for the rail industry. There’s no real ‘choice’. If I want to get a train from Birmingham New Street to Manchester Picadilly I can only go via CrossCountry and if I want to get a train from Birmingham New Street to London Euston I can only go via Virgin trains.
As a semi-regular train user, this is a brilliant step in the right direction for Labour and the rail industry. Hell extend it to Buses as well!
I’m going to say this now and nip it in the bud, I’m no fan of the Blairite think-tank Progress. But ultimately, this post is not on the ideological flaws and merits of Progress and any personal problems I have with the think-tank. This post is about the continuation of plurality within the Labour party.
In the last week, the Trade Union, GMB, called for the expulsion of Progress as an affiliate organisation to the Labour party. Now whatever you may think of Progress this is indeed a nasty authoritarian streak by the GMB leadership. The Labour party has always prided itself on being a broad church and it’s only through open and fair debate within the party that we can come to a united progressive/social democratic/socialist agreement and movement. Yes, I’ll admit in the last twenty years or so this open debate and communication between different segments of the party has often subdued or ignored. But as a party pluralist and a man of consensus this is the ideal way forward.
If GMB is really not a fan of Progress, how about an open and honest dialogue to attempt to come to a common agreement or even to persuade members of any ideological flaws they may have.
We are stronger united as a Labour party and yet we are still entirely capable of having our own internal disagreements and discussion. Childishly excluding segments of the party will only take steps to further alienate ‘factions’ and even lessen our electability.
Last night I thought I’d be incredibly sad and watch as much as I could of the final Guild Council of the academic year being streamed from GuildTV. I missed most of the first half of the meeting (most of the motions and preamble) due to work. What I did catch was primarily the Guild Officers leaving speeches and I’ll say this now. After listening to the speeches I respect all the Guild Officers so much more (but no change on actual agree and disagreement with them). Probably the most thought provoking and even moving speech was the outgoing Guild President’s, Mark Harrop. I do believe he will have a fair fewer ‘haters’ after last night. Though there was one area of the speech that I did find a problem with, the not so ever present “silent majority”.
I’d like to nip this in the bud now. To say this is a personal attack on Mark (as some short-sighted individuals claimed my tweet from last night regarding this claimed to be) would be hugely misleading and would be over-flattering of our outgoing Guild President. There’s a very small select group of individuals I feel comfortable attacking personally and Mark certainly doesn’t feature as one. As someone who genuinely cares in determining what is true I find it entirely comfortable criticising absolutely any idea. I find it entirely reasonable to point out to individuals when they believe the wrong ideas (given the right circumstances) they are then able to recognise their mistakes, because we are all stupid on issues at some point in our lives. I’m incredibly stupid when it comes to understanding cricket, art, pop culture references and popular music. As I’ve already said, I have a great deal more respect for the outgoing President and all the other outgoing Sabbs after last night. Mentioning Mark in my tweet and this post is not a personal attack as some individuals may claim, it is an attempt to make him and many others realise the flaws in the idea of the “silent majority”.
Moving on, the “silent majority” idea invokes my own personal love/hate fallacy of argumentum ad populum. In a nutshell, the level of popular support has absolutely no bearing on what is right or wrong, true or false. If we’d always bend to the will of the “silent majority” homosexuality would not have been decriminalised in the UK in the 1960s and desegregation in Southern US Schools in the 1950s would have also never have happened. Or at least without it, introduced both far too sooner.
You may ask how this is relevant to the wider Labour party, NOLS and BULS. Sadly far too much. Too often do I hear 60% believe x, 80% support y. So what?! This has no absolutely no bearing on the truth! This personal distaste for argumentum ad populum has been particularly tested over the Diamond Jubilee and to be honest, I’m becoming incredibly tired of hearing it. More often than not, the “silent majority” fallacy is too often produced to legitimise truly false or morally wrong policies and ideas. As someone who cares about the truth and its ultimate pursuit, I hope we would all speak out against such basic yet widespread fallacies.
FYI: I anyone wishes to submit a counter-response to this post please feel free to email it into firstname.lastname@example.org thank you.
I seemed to have developed a particular reputation of disdain for two prominent branches of British society in my final year of University, religion and the institution of the Monarchy. Religion bashing is something I spare for my own personal blog as after all BULS is an entirely secular society. So today my focus will be on the institution of the Monarchy and the case against it.
Unlike some fellow Republicans, I’m not too fussed about the costs it brings. My own personal gripe of the Monarchy is how it undermines our own basic sense of ethics and morality. We can all say as an ideal that we strive to not treat anyone differently or give special privileges or persecute others merely because of their background or the family any individual just happened to be born into. In a nutshell we try not to value an individual’s self-worth on the family they just happened to be born into. This is the very basis of meritocracy and equality (well at least equality of opportunity). Yet, when it comes to the Monarchy we seem to conveniently forget this ideal.
Now personally, I like to have a consistent a world view as possible. If a base ethics works in one area I’m sure as hell it’ll probably apply and work in nearly any other area. And this is what we get from many Royalists, a suspension of such basic ideals and ethics all in the name of making them feel special. This is also an argument I often hear/see “But the majority of people are in favour of the Monarchy.”. So what? Popular support/belief has absolutely no bearing on what is right or wrong, or true or false.
I’d also like to address the famous fallacy from tradition. Last year at my work (Lifeguarding) at around the time of the Royal Wedding where one of the cleaners (a lovely old dear) asked what I’d be doing on the day of the Royal Wedding. I honestly replied, “Oh, I’ll be avoiding the celebrations as much as possible as I don’t think we should have a Monarchy.”. I was met with a disgruntled reply with mutterings of ‘It’s good for tradition.”. I didn’t have the heart to say this at the time as she was an old dear but what I really wanted to say in response was, “So was the bubonic plague for 300 years, and so was persecuting gays and women for hundreds of years and not giving them the vote!”. Like popular support, tradition has no bearing on whether something is right or wrong, or true or false. Tradition is not a reason to keep or get rid of anything.
I realise I’m in a minority here and I realise that my dream of a Republic is far flung dream probably beyond my lifetime. But all changes for the better have to start from some where.
Thank you Labourlist for pointing this out from the night of the local elections:
This is a tweet from Conservative Central Head Quarters (CCHQ) twitter account from the middle of the results night.
Labour had a net-gain of 824 councillors by the next day.
Ed Miliband in Birmingham yesterday with Birmingham Council Labour Group leader, Sir Albert Bore
That’s right, throughout Friday Labour saw it’s best performance in a local election since 1995 (all in proportion to how many Council elections were up for grabs as last year we gained more but far more were up for grabs). And similarly the Tories saw their worst local election result since 1996 and the Lib Dems now have dropped down below 3,000 councillors for the first time in the party’s existence.
This was a result that exceeded everyone’s expectations on all fronts. With most Tories attempting to spin the result to say we needed around 450 councillor gains to be seen as a success, we only smashed that with 823! When everyone expected Scottish Labour to lose Glasgow City Council we not only fought off a SNP challenge but took control of the council at the expense of the Lib Dems and Tories. When everyone said Labour would only win a slight majority in our very own Birmingham City Council, we smashed all expectations by gaining 20 councillors and winning a 34 seat majority. When it was expected Welsh Labour would fail in taking Cardiff City Council, we defied all predictions by gaining 33 councillors and winning a majority of 17! And we’re very proud of very nearly almost gaining control of the Greater London Assembly, falling short by 1 Assembly member.
This election wasn’t without its disappointments though. BULS’s very own Honourary life Member, Dennis Minnis, was unsuccessful in taking Edgbaston. And biggest of all, huge disappointment at Ken’s defeat. We are all glad Ken did defy most (but not all, sadly) odds by not letting Boris have a shoe-in election by pushing the margin on the second round to a close 3%. Many Tories see Boris as the next leader and Prime Minister in waiting. “Wiff-waff” may well have edged it in London, don’t expect the country to do the same.
Of course, the results did see successes close to our hearts in BULS. Obviously there was turning Birmingham City Council red, but BULS saw former student of the University of Birmingham, Karen McCarthy, join former BULS Secretary, Brigid Jones, as a Councillor for Selly Oak. Quinton ward, where Grandee Nash played a large hand in, was also successful in electing Caroline Bradley.
All in all, while this was a brilliant result for Labour nationally we have to remember this has happened to opposition parties in the past. Hague, Howard and Kinnock all saw similar successes at mid-term local elections in their time in opposition. This was a much needed boost, not a prelude for the general election. Though it is safe to say, that the media, politicians and the wider public can no longer claim Miliband has no chance at 2015. There’s still a hell of a lot of work to be done, but we now know that we still do have a shot at 2015.
I remember posting this video to this blog just over 2 years ago. We all warned of the dangers drastically chanfed, but as we’re now officially back in recession, we hate to say we told you so.
If you’ve taken a nosy around the BBC Website recently you’ll have noticed a video on the imposition of VAT on constructions and repairs for religious institutions and buildings.
Now for those of you who know me personally as an ‘angry atheist’ may start worrying “Oh no, what’s he going to come out with now, destruction of all religious buildings?”. Fear not, while many of you do see that side of me I’m also an ardent secularists. I recognise the right of religious organisations to play a legitimate part in society but I also am opposed to having the state play any part in religious affairs. So this is why we need to tax religious organisations like any other organisation that has an income.
Some of you may have reeled back from such a suggestion, but hear/read me out. To become a legally recognised religion with a tax-exempt status an organisation has jump through a large variety of hoops set by the state. That’s right, the state sets the criteria and by extension determines which organisations are worthy of having tax-exempt statuses. I’m not proposing we take religious rights away from organisations and individuals, rather to take away the privileges granted by the state a select group of institutions based on no sound secular reason.
If you want to ensure true neutrality from the state in regards to religion (aside from a much needed separation of church and state, but that’s a whole other post) no tax-exempt status should be granted to any religious institution and yes even atheist/humanist/secularist groups that may have won a tax-exempt status. Churches are free to continue with any charity work they so wish and I think we can all agree that area will remain tax-exempt but separate from the organisation.
On a more personal note, with the billions upon billions of pounds that go into religious organisations world-wide only to spent on other churches, missionaries and aid to foreign countries which is too often conditioned upon meeting certain religious criteria. This money could be far better spent on real secular matters like schools, hospitals and roads.
I joined the Labour Party in 2008. This was before I was prepared to accept my sexuality. I have now come to realise that it was joining the Labour Party, and learning of all of Labour’s achievements in Government in striving for sexual equality that helped me on my way in accepting myself. Being proudly gay and proudly a member of the Labour Party can and should be mutually reinforcing. I will always be thankful to Labour for this.
Whilst we can look back proudly on all Labour achieved in equality – and there is no need to list these here – ending legislative homophobia is not the same as ending homophobia engrained in society. Top-down measures can only work so far. Greater acceptance of homosexuality as being ‘equal but different’ to heterosexuality can only be achieved through increased exposure of what it is to be gay, i.e., being capable of loving someone of the same sex. At its most basic this can include couples walking down the street holding hands. Unfortunately, we are not yet at a stage where this simple statement of homosexuality is uncontroversial. There is still a need for gay couples to act as pioneers. I can speak from experience that some members of society are not ready to witness such sights.
Labour is at its best when fighting for the rights of minorities within society, championing the fundamental need for equality. However, whilst I am well aware that homophobia remains an issue, the greatest issue of inequality relates to income. The lack of equal opportunity in the world of work adversely affects women, the BME community and disabled people more than it does the LGBT community. With this in mind, the LGBT Labour needs to rally round and support those who also fall under the umbrella term ‘minority’. Liberation Campaigns and caucuses are vital in recognising and celebrating our differences (note the very discourse of the word ‘Pride’ in our annual Pride Marches, and the rightful presence of Labour at these marches), but our shared difficulties and experiences need to be at the forefront of our campaigns.
This is, I believe, should be the next step of LGBT Labour in Britain, standing up for the voiceless in society, speaking for those adversely affected by the Government’s draconian and ill-balanced cuts. Even if we do not self-define as members of a particular caucus, Labour needs to unite and continue the fight for equal opportunity for all.
By Dan Harrison, Outgoing BULS Chair
Today saw BULS’s 2012 Annual General Meeting (AGM) with most of the positions up for grabs. And the results are as follows for the new committee-elect:
Chair – Catie Garner
Vice-Chair – Ed Gilbert
Secretary – Areeq Chowdhury
Treasurer – Ellis Stacey
Website Editor – Alex Swanson
Communications Officer – Sam Faulding
This represents the beginning of the end for what I’d like to call, the ‘General Election generation’ of BULS. The last contingent of the BULS society who still remembers the day the final Leader’s debate came to campus, the day we met the Cabinet (shame he didn’t shake my hand) and the day we watched Giesla Stuart win Edgbaston in Joe’s Bar on results night.
I wish the new committee-elect all the best and hope they will be a progressive force for good and a committee based on consensus and mutual trust and respect.
By Max Ramsay, outgoing Vice-Chair
In light of Chris Huhne’s resignation yesterday as Energy and Climate Change Secretary BULS would like to submit this tribute all in good humour:
Great news y’all (may as well get in the spirit of this post) America has seen its fifth consecutive month of falling unemployment; down by 8.5% to 8.3% with 243,000 jobs being created. Coupled with growth figures from last week showing a rise of 2.8% in GDP in the final quarter of 2011 (1% higher growth on the previous quarter) it’s becoming increasingly apparent that America’s strategy of economic stimulus is comparatively buoyant when next to Europe’s strategy of austerity. Yes, unemployment levels are higher than here in the UK (for now at least), but that’s primarily because of the USA’s private sector economy focus (when compared to our economy at least) and some of the weakest employment protection laws in the world.
What is beginning to emerge is that Europe’s (and more specifically, the UK’s) austerity programmes are not working. If you make too harsh a cuts to the public sector you’ll also damage the private sector as numerous contracts are arranged between the two sectors. That’s right, they’re intertwined, you attack one part too harshly it will have a knock on effect on the other.
It is hugely unlikely Cameron, Clegg and Osborne will take notice of Obama’s successes. But at least the American people hopefully will this November.
Andrew Lansley recently showed a prime example of how not win your case by describing the ever growing opposition to his NHS reforms as being motivated by “political” reasons.
I’m sorry but “political” reasons? The British Medical Association (BMA), Royal College of GPs, Royal College of Nurses, the Conservative dominated Commons Health Select Committee and Norman frigging Tebbit all oppose the reforms, which will open up the NHS to EU competition law, for “political” reasons? These are not organisations (with the exception of the latter obviously) that sit from the outside and attempt to vaguely analyse the inner workings of the NHS. No, these are organisations that deal with the inner workings of the NHS every single day. They know how it works. They know what will be detrimental. And they are the ones that will know that these reforms will fundamentally destroy the NHS.
Cameron said it himself, no top down reorganisations of the NHS. Now drop this bill!
Sorry for the break in blogging, we’re trying to up the ante this year
Probably the most pressing of all news items is the recent dismal growth figures. Over a year ago when Cameron and Osborne claimed we were “Out of the woods” and “Out of the danger zone”. How very wrong they were. With the final quarter of 2011 seeing a contraction of 0.2% this then means that in the last 15 months since Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) in October 2010, we’ve had a massive 0.3% of growth. Cameron then has the audacity to blame the recent growth figures on the Euro crisis. Well I’m sorry, the UK economy has been stagnating long before the crisis began to effect.
Cameron you said it yourself, “I take full responsibility for everything that happens in the economy.” then take responsibility and change course!
Now confirmed to be Wednesday 22nd February 3-5pm (unless there’s any change), every Committee position bar Fresher’s Officer and CLP Liason Officer will be up for grabs. This will be held in the Guild Council Chambers.
Everyone is encouraged to stand for any position and please feel free to contact us at email@example.com if you have any questions. We would recommend writing a short speech to read and if anyone wants flyers or manifestos printing then send them to the BULS account and we’ll sort it. However, this is optional and we would want to reiterate that we encourage anyone to stand and get more involved! If you can’t physically make the meeting and wish to stand for a position, email us at the above email address and someone will read it out on your behalf.
Preliminary position descriptions:
The chair liases with the National Organisation of Labour Students as well as the Guild of Students. Organises events and chairs committee meetings and full member meetings. Organises speakers and writes speaker-request forms.
The Chair is a financial signatory on the clubs accounts.
Assists chair in organising events. Organises transport for all events necessary, eg. Trains to national events. Assumes duties of the chair if the chair is temporarily unable to carry out his or her duties or if a complaint is made against them until it is resolved.
The Vice-chair is a financial signatory on the clubs accounts.
This Secretary takes charge of the organisational side of the club and, along with other members of the committee, helps to organise events. Assumes duties of the chair if the chair and vice-chair are temporarily unable to carry out their duties or if a complaint is made against them until it is resolved. Also writes the minutes for full member meetings and committee meetings. Writes the risk assessments for events.
The Secretary is also a financial signatory on the club’s accounts.
Has full-responsibility for the management of accounts. Decides on levels of subsidies when appropriate. Organises fundraising and Workers Beer Company summer work.
The Treasurer is a financial signatory on the clubs accounts.
Writes weekly email, to be sent to all members. Uploads member email address onto email account at start of term (with assistance if needed).
Has editorial responsibility over the website;
also jointly responsible for updating the pages on the website along with the Communications Officer.
Elected in a seperate caucus (i.e. chosen by Women only). The Women’s Officer has the job of liaising the views and grievances of all Women of the BULS ot the committee. The Women’s officer is also encouraged to organise campaigns on women’s issues such as eqaulity in the workplace, maternity leave, etc.
Black and Ethnic Minorities (BEM) Officer
Elected in a seperate caucus (i.e. chosen by Black and Ethnic Minorities only). The BEM’s Officer has the job of liaising the views and grievances of all Black and Ethnic Minorities of the BULS ot the committee. The BEM’s Officer is also encouraged to organise campaigns on Black and Ethnic Minority issues such as rascism, equality, etc.
Elected in a seperate caucus (i.e. chosen by LGBTQs only). The LGBTQ’s Officer has the job of liaising the views and grievances of all LGBTQ of the BULS ot the committee. The LGBTQ Officer is also encouraged to organise campaigns on LGBTQ issues such as discrimination, right to marry same sex marriages, etc.
Elected in a seperate caucus (i.e. chosen by Disabled only). The Disabled Officer has the job of liaising the views and grievances of all Disabled members of the BULS ot the committee. The Disabled Officer is also encouraged to organise campaigns on Disabled issues such as discrimination, etc.
On behalf on everyone in Birmingham University Labour Students (BULS), Happy New Year to all. We all know 2012 will be a testing year, but in the meantime enjoy the celebrations!
5 years ago today former BULS Chair, John Richtie published the very first post on Birmingham University Labour Students’ (BULS) blog.
5 years, 992 posts, 3,940 comments, 138,862 views, 16 regular contributing authors and 3 Total Politics Blog Awards later the BULS blog has never been stronger. The BULS blog was originally set up in response to our Tory opposites in BUCF way back at the tail end of 2006. It’s now safe to say we’ve long since overtaken our rivals. BULS has also branched out onto twitter and become prominent amongst fellow Labour Student societies (and even recently Guild Council).
So here’s to another great 5 years and huge thank you to everyone who has ever contributed, commented or hell even viewed the BULS blog. Things can indeed only get better.
On behalf of Birmingham University Labour Students (BULS), we would like to wish you all a very enjoyable and merry Christmas regardless of party affiliation. BULS has come a long long way in 2011, let’s hope we can build upon those successes in 2012.
By Max Ramsay, BULS Vice-Chair
As I approach my role as Vice-Chair of Birmingham University Labour Students (BULS) by keeping religion and my position in BULS totally separate. So, this post you’ll be reading from BULS member and atheist Max Ramsay, rather than BULS Vice-Chair Max Ramsay.
Today David Cameron declared “Britain is a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so” and “that the Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today.”.
Now, I’d like to point out that I respect everyone’s right to have whatever faith they so wish. But, to be quite honest, Cameron really hasn’t read much of the King James’ Bible if he believes this is the case.
Now the first point is something seemingly imported from the USA. Given that a poll in 2004 conducted by the BBC showed that 39% of the UK population did not believe in God. That’s right, today we’re anything but a Christian nation, we’re a secular nation.
You may say, “Oh, but we were founded upon Christian ideals and it has played a such a vital part in history in the last few centuries.”. Really?! If we did derive our morals and values from the bible we’d still find acceptable;
Now can Cameron really claim that we were founded upon these values? That we derive our morals and values from the bible? And that we’re still a Christian nation? Again, while I respect people’s right to believe this, it is quite clear that what binds us and gives us true sense of values is secular enlightened thinking.
That’s right, four by-election victories on the trot. Yes, all these were in Labour held seats, but it’s important how every single one has seen a significant swing towards Labour each time. The results were as follows:
Labour – 12,639 (54.42% up by 10.79%)
Conservative – 6,436 (27.71% down by 6.32%)
Liberal Democrats – 1,364 (5.87 down by 7.87%)
UKIP – 1,276 (5.49& up by 3.45%)
This has seen a 8.6% swing from Tory to Labour, when compared to the last general election which saw a mere 4.8% swing from Labour to Tory. Yes, the turnout was very low, but what do you expect at this time of year?
Either way, great result!
This isn’t exactly fresh news but it may not surprise you that the University of Birmingham have never been one for true free speech. Now it seems they’ve taken it one step too far with the recent high-court injunction banning all occupation style protests on the entirety of campus.
This is a move that has been described as “aggressive and censorious” as criticisms have been voiced by Liberty, Amnesty International, the NUS, University of Birmingham Liberal Democrat’s Chair, Will Mieville-Hawkins and the University of Birmingham’s apparently sole UKIP member, Dave Glenwright (that’s right, this s**t just got real).
Now, there are without a doubt members of BULS who don’t support the aims of many of those in occupations throughout campus. There are many more who don’t agree with methods used by those occupying (occupying a shed at North Gate, really?). But I’m sure many BULS members will oppose the University’s crack down on free speech and expression.
Putting this aside, it turns out the University of Birmingham’s Vice-Chancellor (VC), David Eastwood, has awarded himself yet another obscene pay rise from £392k to £419k a year…plus all the added bonuses (free chauffeur, house, etc). That’s right, while lecturers, cleaners and lower management staff are having a real-term cut in pay and having drastic changes to their pension plans forced upon them. It seems our VC seems it acceptable to award himself the largest VC salary in the country.
Now you may say he deserves it, which is something I got into a debate with a BUCF member around six months ago. This may or may not be true (though I personally doubt it) but if you believe the VC deserves a substantial pay rise because of the “good work he does”, then you have to apply the same rule for lower paid staff on campus. And personally I believe the cleaners, the lecturers and the lower management have also done a good job and deserve the same rewards.
So David Eastwood and University of Birmingham higher management, take a long hard think. Because this time, you’ve taken it too far.
Friday was the day the old fetish returned. The day Cameron delved into nostalgia. And the day he set Britain at odds not only with the other 26 EU member states, but rationality itself.
What we saw on Friday was a Prime Minister with his hands tied by dogmatic backbench MPs. But not to worry, it seems Cameron had unveiled his all powerful ‘veto’. The only problem with this is that it’s not a true veto of any sorts. Negotiations will still be ongoing, the remaining 26 EU states will still formulate an agreement and Britain will not be present to have any say in the talks.
This is catastrophic failure for Cameron who has severed any attempts to help salvage the Euro which is not only in the EU’s interest but vital in Britain’s interests. In the words of a Facebook update by my own brother:
“Tory lol. Blame the economic problems on the Euro crisis, then veto the plan to save it knowing full well that the the EU will cut you out and essentially get rid of any say you have in determining the future of Europe, and by extension, Britain“
Some may call it Bulldog spirit, I’d like to call it naively dogmatic.
I’d like to thank Political Scrapbook for providing this in light of two new residents in Scotland. Enjoy.
Today we saw Gideon (George Osborne) unveil his first ever Autumn Statement (last year it was a Comprehensive Spending Review) which used to be Brown and then Darling’s Pre-Budget Report, although it’s still the same thing more or less.
What we saw today was a Chancellor willing to blame everyone except himself for his own failures. Gideon may claim as much as he likes that the growing crisis in the Eurozone may have put a dent in its works, but that would just be disingenuous as it’s not at that stage to truly have an impact on a non-Eurozone country such as the UK.
But in a nutshell what we had is:
So essentially, we have growth being revised down for the fourth time in 18 months and borrowing expected to be £111 billion higher in 2015.
So when Gideon said “we are out of the danger zone.” around a year ago I didn’t think we’d get around to us saying “we told you so” so soon.
An interesting video from Unite upon the upcoming day of strikes set for tomorrow.
#godisgove and #torybible are to hashtags on twitter which have both appeared in recent days in the wake of Michael Gove’s decision to issue a King James edition of the bible to every state school in England. Now I’m not going to get into the whole inappropriateness of this act (If you know me well enough you’d remember I’m a massive atheist, but, I like to keep my role as BULS’s Vice-Chair totally separate from religion). But here according to LabourList are the top 10 best tweets featuring those hashtags.
@4harrisons - And Cameron said “let there be growth” but lo! There was no growth
@mattedbrooke – And God said, “why have you eaten from the forbidden tree?” And Adam said, “we inherited this fruit from the labour government”
@ChrisBryantMP – Faith, hope and charity – have now been abolished as they were unproductive
@politic_animal – And on the seventh day he would have liked to have rested, but the government had opted out of the Working Time Directive
@lethandrel – And the lame were made to walk and the blind to see – well, according to the new assessments ….
@johnprescott – Blessed are the coalition for they shall inherit from and blame the last government
@cllr_robbins – Blessed are the freeschoolmakers: for they shall be called the children of Gove
@MatofKilburnia – And Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt, which Gove did putteth in school dinners & lo Jamie Oliver was displeased
@GoodmotherMobbs – And the lepers were ‘cured’; as ATOS found them fit for work
@evilflea – And then He createth all of the beasts and the animals, excepteth the cat, which he did not make up.
It seems the case for a low pay kitemark has been widened to include co-founder and former co-Chair of BULS, Richard Angell. Richard now works as the Deputy Director of Progress and recently published a post on the national Labour Students website.
So please take a look at the case he is making.
Yesterday we saw a good sign in the economy that inflation had fallen from 5.2% to 5%. We welcome it but it’s still not good enough, especially when Eurozone inflation has remained at a reasonable 3%. It seems however, this is rather irrelevant with the news released today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) where unemployment has risen to 2.62 million from July to September.
That’s right, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer who over a year ago claimed “we were out of the woods” now had the audacity to have one of their Ministers for Work and Pensions, Chris Grayling, claim that ”What we’ve seen over the last quarter has been the real impact of the crisis in the eurozone”. That’s right, they’re blaming their old punch bag, Europe. Don’t get me wrong, the crisis in the Eurozone is severe, but it in now way at a stage to make a real impact on unemployment figures, especially in a non-Euro state.
With the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance rising to 1.6 million by 5,300. The highest number of women out of work since February 1988 at 1.09 million rising by 43,000. Youth unemployment breaking the 1 million mark at 1.02 million with a rising by 67,000 and the unemployment rate of 8.3% being the highest since 1996 and the total number of unemployed people the highest since 1994, it’s about time Cameron and Gideon took another look at their plan.
“…So shall we honour war?
and shall we now praise troubled men?
Or shall we remember what war is
and give true meaning
to “Never again” ?”-David Roberts
“…My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.”-Wilfred Owen
Lest we forget.
Michael D Higgins and Eamon Gilmore will now go down in History as two of the Irish Labour Party’s electorally successful Politicians. It was announced today that Michael D Higgins is to be elected the 9th President of Ireland receiving almost 40% of the first preference votes. This will make him the first ever Labour Presidential Candidate to have become President without the support of from other parties.
Of course this adds to the great success Irish Labour received in the Irish General Election last May where Eamon Gilmore led Labour to its largest number of seats in the Irish Parliament ever. This meant Labour has entered its 8th time in a Coalition Government where it takes up 8 out of the 20 Cabinet posts.
On behalf of all of us in Birmingham University Labour Students (BULS) I would like to wish our sister party across the Irish Sea a huge congratulations on the results they’ve had this year. And we hope the best is yet to come.
The Dear Leader has requested that his speech from David Miliband’s launch for the Living Wage Campaign at the University of Birmingham from the 28th October be published:
Hello and welcome to Birmingham University Labour Students launch of the Living Wage Campaign with David Miliband. I’m Daniel and I’m Chair of Birmingham University Labour Students.
Many of us in this room are members of National Labour Students, and I hope many others are soon to become members. I believe that National Labour Students are a really important wing of the Labour Party; in mobilising for Labour at elections, hosting national events and workshops, but most importantly National Labour Students proud history of campaigning, against the extortionate rise in tuition fees, in the liberation campaigns, fighting for the rights of women, disabled students, LGBT students and BAME students, rights that other students may take for granted. And now in the Living Wage Campaign, taking place on campuses across the country in Kent, Cambridge, Leeds and Leicester, and today starting here in Birmingham.
The Living Wage is the minimum hourly rate someone has to earn to afford everyday basics like housing, food, childcare. A wage as the name suggests, that you can live on, not merely exist.
In London the current rate is £8.30 an hour. In Birmingham the current rate is £7.20. £7.20 is a target that is not only morally right, but financially achievable.
I am proud to be a member of a party who when in office introduced the National Minimum Wage. This was a huge step. The Tories said it was economically unsound. It wasn’t. The Tories said it would cost jobs. It didn’t. The same arguments are made against the Living Wage.
It is great to see in the room…
Now, I know David doesn’t need much of an introduction. David was elected to Parliament for South Shields in 2001, and in 2006 was Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs where he oversaw the Climate Change Bill, before becoming the Foreign Secretary in 2007. But more important than that, Political Top Trumps gives him a ‘fanciability’ of 84.
Boys and Girls, David Miliband.
With inflation around 5%, consumer confidence falling for four months on the trot, business confidence falling to a two year low, growth flat-lining in the past 9 months and growth expectations themselves being cut, you would have thought Gideon (George) Osborne would think things could not get any worse.
Well apparently they can. It seems 100 leading economists have written into the Observer to tell Gideon to adopt a plan B. Now while letters like this have been done in the past, the difference being that this time it has an alternative outline. It’s an alternative Miliband and Balls should take head to:
I think most of us can agree that sex education has an important role to play in public schools. But to what level of importance would you say it is?
To Conservative MP, Andrea Leadsom, it seems not very. Let’s put this into context. In England and Wales sex education is not a compulsory subject for public schools (I know for one that I personally received nothing at my High School) and that parents are allowed to “opt out” their child if the school does teach it. And you wonder why we have the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe.
Anyway, back to Andrea Leadsom. It seems she believes that parents should have to “opt in” their children to sex education classes and that current sex education books are “inappropriate”. This is while a report published by Ofsted last year pointed out that a quarter of schools in England are not providing good enough lessons about sex, relationships and health. At the same time new research in the last couple of weeks provided information that “81% of 14 to 18-year-olds said their information came from the internet, the television and their friends.” and “one in four pupils do not have any sexual and relationship education in school.“.
Now some may say that abstinence only sex education is the only sound and “moral” way forward. But when we analyse this claim, it’s quite apparent that this argument is not grounded in research and facts. The Council of Scientific Affairs states that ”Current research findings do not support the position that the abstinence-only approach to sexuality education is effective in delaying the onset of intercourse.”.
I have already done a similar post on sex education before. But the point still stands, we need more not less sex education. If we truly want to tackle STDs, teenage pregnancies and yes, even abortions (again look to my previous post and subsequent comments regarding abortions) we need sound and effective sex education with no “opt-outs” for pushy and insecure parents.
So please Leadson, could the education system have some more.
In light of the NHS reform bill being pushed through the House of Lords, I’d like to draw attention to what many Tories may be thinking now because of it.
Going to use a bit of the Brigid Jones BULS blog formula this morning.
It turns out there’s going to be the biggest drop in middle-income families incomes since the 1970s and so pushing 600,000 more children into poverty according to the IFS. This is while Gideon (George) Osborne has announced a £840 million tax break for multinationals using tax heavens while it turns out the amount of tax money lost in the FTSE 100 by tax avoidance is estimated to be £18bn. So much for the cuts being “progressive”.
To insult to misery, it turns out public sector job losses will 50% higher than originally predicted. So much for Cameron’s pre-election claim that any Minister who came to him with front-line public sector cuts would be told to go back and have a rethink.