Did Remain Learn Nothing about Campaigning?

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The Remain supporters’ vote is divided and political tit-for-tat has ensued. With the European Elections weeks away, is there any room for partisanship and negative campaigning, or is this a winning strategy?

If the biggest takeaway from the European Union membership referendum is something about buses and hollow promises, in at a close second is the realisation that a voter’s heart is much stronger than their head. Doom and gloom didn’t sell. Reeling off statistics from economic think tanks had a hard time contending with one liners about regaining control and being prosperous again. The sort of thing which feels a great deal more tangible than the fact the big Bank of England believes it’s better if we stay. I hold my hands up to this myself; here is a post I wrote aged 16 to argue my own reasons for staying. I sound like a carbon copy of David Cameron (as much as it now pains me to say), or the Stronger In campaign; I wasn’t saying anything particularly striking.

Now, this lesson is not something niche that I’ve picked out post-Brexit. Countless newspapers and academics have repeatedly told us that the campaigns were poorly executed. Post-referendum Nick Clegg did a good job fleshing all the ’emotional positives’ out in his book ‘How to Stop Brexit’. I suppose it’s just a shame that those praises weren’t sung with a lot more force back when it counted. He wrote a passionate account of European Integration, making you feel a lot more connected to your Europeanness. Even as a remainer you realise that you could probably have been persuaded to shout louder about the EU three years ago.

Of course I must put in this disclaimer – hindsight is a wonderful thing – and I think it was quite easy (although very naive) to be complacent about the result being ‘Remain’ in 2016 when the polls didn’t say any different. We’ve seen the consequences now, but it seems like nothing has changed. Now, in the run up to the European Elections which are kind of billed as EU Referendum take two, the campaigns haven’t brightened up.

I’m sure we can agree that there’s a line between holding people to account and smearing them to further your campaign, especially without offering any real incentives to voting for your party. It quite depressing that democracy is now a case of ‘place your vote where it makes you feel least sick!’ rather than ‘vote in line with the party in which you see the most merit’. Here’s an informational slideshow I made with a five minute scroll through Twitter to give you some context:

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Obviously, these are snippets of a wider campaign, and some parties are doing more smearing than the others.  I couldn’t fairly represent what’s going on in my slideshow without spending a fair few weeks collecting data and sifting through millions of tweets, but I wanted to give you an example. It’s also not a phenomenon which has only started now. I think British voters know too well the political smearing that goes on during the run-up to elections. However, as a voter who is also looking to cast an issue-based vote, I feel less inclined to give up my vote for a party who’s playing party politics instead of campaigning solely on why my vote is best placed with them. I was genuinely very taken aback when I saw the Liberal Democrats and Green Party firing shots at each other last week. Obviously, it’s quite possible that I am alone in thinking that though, and maybe this sort of thing is good in small quantities, or resonates with others.

Dare I say it, the Brexit vote is probably comfortably with The Brexit Party seeing as the only alternative option would be the Conservatives who most consider incompetent. So, the Remain supporting parties have now resorted to petty jabs at each other to try and claw votes. There is genuinely no comradery or sense of securing a common desirable outcome, or even trying to campaign on their individual merits. It has fast descended into messy partisanship, something I completely loathe about British politics.

I know the way the EU referendum campaign (and now the European Elections campaign) was dealt with is just a product of the nature of our politics. What illustrates this well is that if you study UK politics at college, they usually make a point of making you compare pictures of international assemblies. What you realise how oppositional the UK is in particular. The House of Commons features two sides of political debate opposite each other (literally referred to as ‘adversarial layout’ whereas some country use semi-circle/circle socialisation models – sounds a bit more friendly right, like they’re here to do good not just be contrary for the sake of it), the second largest party is called ‘the opposition’, and if that’s not enough to convince you, the House of Commons sit two sword lengths apart. Our politics is quite literally built on the premise of fighting and negativity, and has preventative measures in place so our parliamentary predecessors didn’t knock each others heads off with the tips of their swords.

Sadly, I fear it will always be about polarisation, partisanship and adversarialism, and that’s becoming increasingly more apparent as the Remain campaign fail to draw lessons from previous losses. Let it not be forgotten however, that The Brexit Party have indeed got themselves a battle bus. There were of course lessons to be learnt on both sides of the debate; and I grant some credit to the Leave campaigners here. At least in The Brexit Party they have decided to discard precise misleading statistics, and instead use a nice and non-specific, no commitment ‘changing politics for good’.

 

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Political Reads for Democracy Loving Teens

Now, I am no literary connoisseur. My reviews will never make it onto Guardian Books and the books I have read are nothing particularly out there. However, today I will endeavour to break down some of my favourite political books that I have read in the last couple of years. I started reading often again before I started university, as before I stopped enjoying fiction and didn’t know what else I’d enjoy. The ‘smart thinking’ section of Waterstones is now my go to, as it’s got loads of books on politics, social science and economics. Here it goes…

  1. A Very Expensive Poison: The Definitive Story of the Murder of Litvinenko and Russia’s War with the West by Luke Harding

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This is the complete story of Alexander Litvinenko’s murder, written by Luke Harding who is a journalist at the The Guardian. If anybody doesn’t  know the details already – Litvinenko was involved in the Russian FSB (former KGB) and he defected to the UK. He died in London in 2006 from radiation poisoning, which many believe that Vladimir Putin personally approved.  Not only is this an important book exposing Russia/West relations and the sheer brutality of the KGB, but it’s also so a political thriller. Everything is so well researched, and the ending was utterly tragic. He was, after all, a man with a wife and children. Harding talks specifically about the struggle of his wife Marina, who has been pressing the UK and European Court of Human Rights for sanctions against Russia.
It’s a hard read content-wise, but it’s written so well that I ripped through it. Overall, it covers all bases, and it covers them well and in an interesting way.

2. Talking to my Daughter about the Economy: A Brief History of Capitalism by Yanis Varoufakis 

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Whilst being a politics student, I have oddly never properly studied the economy. It’s usually way too dry for me. However, Yanis Varoufakis is THE go-to economist for books about economics which won’t bore you to death. I genuinely think I got a lot out of this book about how governments, banks and people operate, and I think I’ll pick it up again soon (or one of his other books) to refresh my memory. It was short and clever and, to be honest,  I never thought I’d be able to get through a book essentially about maths so quickly. My only qualm is that it set me back about £15, but if you shop around you can get it for under a fiver second hand. Definitely recommend it to anybody who, like me, wants to understand basic economics but has never been taught about it academically before.

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3. How To Be Right… in a world gone wrong by James O’Brien 

In the words of The Sun, James O’Brien is “the epitome of a smug, sanctimonious, condescending, obsessively politically-correct, champagne-socialist public schoolboy Remoaner”. Only The Sun could call somebody condescending so condescendingly. Obviously, you won’t enjoy it if you’re a Brexiteer, but if you’re a fan of James’ radio work it’s a nice read! Probably nowhere near as ‘hard’  as some of my other recommendations, but it’s a nice little treat. James goes through a series of topics including feminism, racism, LGBT issues and Trump, injecting some of the calls he has received during his time at LBC. I can never really work out whether the calls he gets are hilarious or concerning, but nonetheless an entertaining read.

4. Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones

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Owen Jones is probably best described as marmitey. He is, what you’d probably term, a massive socialist. However, whatever part of the political spectrum you come from, I think you’d be able to appreciate this book in some way. Although I think I’ve always been predisposed to left wing and centrist politics, this changed my perspective on something I had never properly considered before. I was definitely guilty of looking down at people who I considered ‘chavvy’, but since reading this book I’ve genuinely not used the word since. Without sounding like a middle class asshole looking down on the working classes like they’re from another planet; I never considered how there are so many messed up ideas ingrained into culture and reporting. I’d never heard about the Shannon Matthews story (which is probably very telling in itself), and I’d never stopped to think ‘hey, if people aren’t at university, that’s probably not because they’re inherently lazy and bad people, it’s probably because they haven’t actually had the opportunity (or they just didn’t want to, of course). The book has led me into being really interested in the politics of economic inequality. I went to see Mark Thomas’ recent show on the NHS and he said that statistically speaking the life expectancy in the housing near Grenfell Tower is 22 years shorter than a couple of miles away in Knightsbridge. It’s crazy.
If you want a great insight into class politics and economic inequality, this is a great start. Just like A Very Expensive Poison, Chavs is written by a Guardian journalist so it’s really well written and easy to read.

5. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

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Like Chavs, this book was just a great eye opener. I’d never read much about racism specifically in the UK, but Eddo-Lodge gives a perfect crash course. It was a big shock to find out that although the US is the most talked about country with regards to racism. I don’t have tons to say about this one, but I just think it’s something everybody should try to read. Mandatory reading so you can appreciate how bad it has been in the UK, and what’s still going on today.

 

6. Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall

9781783962433If you’ve been into Waterstones in the last few years and looked on the tables in the Smart Thinking you would have seen Tim’s books. After being a news reporter and presenter for thirty years, he started writing helpful little books about international relations. Geopolitics isn’t usually my jam; I find it a bit dry. I actually found this little book rather helpful. It concisely explains all sorts like why Ukraine is of so much geopolitical importance, why China is emerging as superpower, and talks about the resources in the arctic. A really good way to know a little bit about a lot of different political situations.

 

At the moment I am reading two books: 

  1. Hired by James Bloodworth51YfQA9+lYL

A book recounting a journalist’s experiences doing low-wage jobs in Britain. So far I’ve read part 1 on the Amazon warehouse in Rugeley (can I just say, holy shit Amazon are dick heads) and now I’m reading part II which is based on being a carer in Blackpool. Some proper journalism! Super hands on approach which I think is the best way to approach the topic of economic inequality. Needless to say, I think all politicians need to have a read of this.

 

2. Everywoman: One Woman’s Truth About Speaking the Truth

51jrtSFLDBL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_This, unlike any of my other recommendations, is by an MP rather than a journalist. Jess Phillips MP (Birmingham Yardley), love her or hate her, is an incredible activist and speaker. I adore her and have done since being a young girl, and the fact I haven’t read this yet is shameful! So far I’m enjoying it tons. I like reading it and feeling all inspired to get up and do something important. Jess Phillips is most definitely my feminist icon.

 

And finally, here’s what’s waiting on my bookshelf:

  • Ctrl Alt Delete: How Politics and the Media Crashed Our Democracy by Tom Baldwin
  • Principled Spying: The Ethics of Secret Intelligence by David Omand and Mark Phythian
  • No Logo by Naomi Klein (I am a sinner who is still yet to finish a Naomi Klein book)
  • The Last London by Iain Sinclair
  • The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry

 

Please comment any recommendations you may have, let’s revel in this love of books together. We could even start a virtual book club.

Kids Are the Future, So Let’s Start Treating Them That Way

‘Dear tantrum throwing truant school kids’ one Conservative campaigner’s tweet starts; ‘Chanting “F*ck Theresa May” while disrupting ordinary Londoners going about their day is NOT going to convince any grown up to listen to what you have to say on #ClimateChange. Theresa May is our Prime minister. Show some bloody respect.’

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Much good came out of yesterday’s student protests. Countless media outlets spread the message; I was actually down in Cardiff Bay reporting for my university’s paper myself. It was a beautiful thing to witness and students turned out in force, completely crushing any assumptions that all young people are disengaged and apathetic. Obviously due to location, the protest in Cardiff Bay was nothing on the scale of that in London. I didn’t witness anything of the nature of ‘f*ck Theresa May’; in fact they sang songs in Welsh and blasted Nelly’s ‘Hot in Herre’ through a megaphone. It genuinely brought me a lot of pride in my generation, and a lot of hope for the future. Naturally though, there have been some critics of the strikes including politicians, the public, and even a message from Number 10.

“It is important to emphasise that disruption increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for” the response from Downing Street read, “That time is crucial for young people, precisely so that they can develop into the top scientists, engineers and advocates we need to help tackle this problem.” A message which firstly, misses the point of going on strike (to you know, create disruption) and says, in other words, it’s your problem, not ours. You become a top scientist! An engineer! Clearly, they’ve exhausted every last avenue of action and were now waiting for a scientist to come along with a greenhouse gas sucking hoover to stop the temperature from rising.

The reality is this; the scientific evidence proving climate change is happening right now. The UK’s summer of 2018 was the hottest on record according to the Met Office. As Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank, said; “We are clearly the last generation that can change the course of climate change, but we are also the first generation with its consequences”. The issue has been neglected by the government, and the Paris Agreement is failing. Theresa May is leading a government who have sat on 30 years of inaction on climate change.

School children striked and demanded change,  we can see it will be the defining issue of their generation but yet they are afforded little respect by the government. See below for an example of Conservative MP James Cleverly reiterating what many have said. He later dismissed it as a joke, probably something about us all being snowflakes or something.

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The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove’s wife also wrote in her Daily Mail column that “Presumably, like 99.9 per cent of those taking part, they see it less as a political protest than as an excellent opportunity to get out of doing any work”. This is the respect young people are being given, and they are expected to give it back to the government.

Nelson Mandela said that “our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation”. He is right. We need to stop dismissing children for being too naïve, too apathetic, only wanting to miss a bit of school. We need to promise them action on climate change because they care about their future and don’t deserve to inherit a wreck. Children are the future, so start treating them as such and listen to their voices.

Click here to see my video piece on the School Strike for Climate Cardiff.

I’m moving to Germany for a bit.

It’s January 2019 and I’m three months away from flying to Germany to study Politikwissenshaft (Political Science) for a semester. It’s both exciting and terrifying. I’ve decided to document my entire experience on this blog for you to enjoy as I’m sure it will have some comedic value as soon as I become dependant on my German language abilities. Until that point I hope it serves as a useful insight into what preparing to study abroad is like, and that you can get something out of that! I’m not sure what, but I’ll try very hard to be helpful.

This has been a really new process for me. Whilst I’ve had my university’s support, figuring this out solo is an experience. The curveball of Brexit has provided me with some ‘wait, what if I’m not technically an EU citizen?’ moments with regards to healthcare and so on, so I will attempt to flesh out all of the details for anybody also confused.

As I’ve said; this process is quite daunting at first because of how big of a deal moving abroad is. I’ve read posts by other exchange students and they’ve reassured me, so hopefully these can do the same. If none of this interests you then hopefully I can provide some good anecdotes and pictures of my time abroad; I’m sure I won’t be lacking in crippling stories.

So, in order to start this off here is some background information. Many, many people are often quite confused why I spontaneously took up German in my first year (including some German exchange students I’ve spoken to) and now I’ve gone one step further by signing up to three months of full-on Germany. I’ve actually only visited once in secondary school, which you can see in my attached image. I’m in the middle, and I wasn’t interested in politics back then, but I’m outside of the freakin’ Bundestag. Simply put, I’ve always been interested in German culture and history. I already had base knowledge of the language as well, so it was a natural choice.

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Germany is a cool country. I know most people opt for somewhere further afield and, well, English speaking, but I wanted to prove to myself that I can cope with being out of my depth. Beyond this, I study politics and Germany has an incredibly interesting political system. I get excited about that kind of thing, it’s sad.

It’s probably important to note at this point that I don’t speak German fluently, or even remotely well if I’m honest. My German is nicht so gut. I can brag 100 duolingo crowns, and a couple of beginners CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) language courses, but that’s all. I will be studying politics in English, and trying to learn German alongside it. Luckily, where I am studying is incredibly international and previous students have gone speaking no German. So, if you think about it, I actually have an advantage for being able to say “Das Mädchen isst das Brot” (“The girl is eating the bread”). Of course, the chances of seeing a girl eating bread are relatively high. However, the chances of me needing to call her out for it are somewhat lower.

I hope this serves as a good introduction, and I’ll make the next posts about the application process and then a bonus one about Brexit and Erasmus. Then, the fun (Spaß!!!) will start, so if you’re only here for that I’ll see you in April.

Bastille Reorchestrated: A Review

Screen Shot 2019-05-14 at 02.48.28A review of Bastille’s recent ‘Reorchestrated’ tour from the perspective of a quite embarrassing fan who claims to be out of her Bastille phase.

Perhaps not long ago Bastille felt lucky and slightly awe-struck by all the success ‘Bad Blood’ had to offer. Although this may be my perception and probably why I found them so endearing as teenager, it is hard to imagine Dan failing to talk to a large crowd when recent projects have included music for television, film and a Craig David collaboration. Despite this, still he seems to lecture the crowds on what the songs mean, telling them anecdotes about their previous shows and about moments from years ago. Bastille may seem like a project which is way out of proportion from even the success ‘Bad Blood’ brought, but there’s something still incredibly special and humble about who they are today which is not so distant from the Bastille conceived in 2010.

They may now be lucky enough to tour with a microphone without a lead, set design exceeding a small triangle logo, a few violinists, cellists, a brass section and a show-stealing marimbist, but they still bring their good friends To Kill A King along with them and insist on playing some of the less popular tracks off Bad Blood I was convinced they’d forgotten about like Laughter Lines and even a little bit of Durban Skies. A quite incredible moment for a complete loser like myself was when Ralph Pelleymounter invited both Dan Smith and Charlie Barnes (who joined Bastille recently as a touring member) to the stage to play a stripped back rendition of Choices. It had the appeal and warmth of this (linked) performance, feeling raw and completely untouched by anything apart from the bands live instruments and the three powerful voices of Barnes, Pelleymounter and Smith. It was completely effortless and very, very beautiful to watch. They even slipped ‘No Angels’ into their set, a calm mix of The XX’s ‘Angels’ and TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’, ripped straight from the slightly illegal pre-album Other People’s Heartaches.

The entirety of To Kill A King’s set was immaculate and impressive. Their first album is very marmitey and it took me until seeing them play a pub nearby to properly enjoy; it’s a bit slow. I think things are looking incredibly promising for them though, and I have confidence they won’t have to crowd fund their next album because the one they have produced is so much more accessible. There was a happy balance between older tunes and the new groovy stuff, it was definitely a crowd pleaser and I hope they earned themselves some fans. Preceding To Kill A King was the touring member of Bastille, Charlie Barnes’, solo music. Barnes has an unexpectedly polished and dynamic voice, and although I wasn’t particularly interested in the music he played, there was no denying he was a talented musician especially vocally.

Opening Bastille’s set was a small rendition of Pompeii which was, to be honest, very welcomed. Maybe this was a poor decision if you consider less ‘dedicated’ (painfully sad and too anoraky to be honest) attendees, but I think it was an honest and clever decision to not properly include it. The set was carefully tailored towards their most orchestral, cinematic tracks and although they still managed to squeeze tracks like Flaws, Laura Palmer and Bad Blood in which may not lend themselves as well to an orchestra, they were still well received.

Songs such as Glory, Things We Lost In The Fire and Oblivion featured the most intricately arranged soundscapes, complemented by the vocals. The songs, especially from the second album, felt like you were hearing how they’d always been intended to be played. Two Evils, a solemn, slow-paced interlude even received a complete restructure which injected life into an otherwise easy to overlook song. Setlist-wise, I think the only shame I felt was that they didn’t include any of VS. (OPH3), the mixtape album, which seems like a no-brainer when constructing a orchestral performance. I think it would have sounded so perfect to have had Fall in to Your Arms introduce the set like it opens the mixtape, and to have songs like Weapon follow it could be incredibly powerful.

My only non-setlist related criticisms include that maybe unavoidably, the other three members (Kyle who plays keys, Woody who plays the drums, and Will who plays bass) were so spread out across the stage they felt uninvolved. This could just be a consequence of having shit tons of other instruments on the stage, but often I felt like Dan was the only member in the spotlight. It was nice to see him stroll across the stage occasionally though, greeting the others and at one point singing some affectionate lyrics to Woody who was confined in a sound-screen surrounded drum kit. Also, I think the backdrop could have been better lit because the amount of light happening at the very bottom of the set meant the actual artwork was pitch black at the top.

Somewhere amidst the perfectly crafted renditions, Smith claimed an album was just weeks away. I call bullshit, but I hope it’s real. It will be interesting to see if the band hold onto their politically-skewed lyrics and fresh pop beats or whether they are looking to move in the direction of their newer chart climbing successes (like the Craig David collaboration). I hope this review hasn’t been the most unapproachable thing ever because I do write like a proper anorak dad whenever I talk about Bastille, and I hope you’re excited for new Bastille stuff (because god only knows I will review it in stupidly careful detail).

 

Wild World by Bastille: Album Review

GUEST_dc1d910a-605f-458c-a8ae-0d12266e0ff6.jpegIn their review of Wild World, NME said; “For anyone wondering whether Bastille can make another ‘Pompeii’, they’ve created a whole album of them” but I fundamentally disagree. I’m sure what they actually meant was that Bastille have created some new chart-toppers, but that’s pretty unattractive to me if we’re thinking about a Bastille album. It’s a good mindless compliment I suppose, but what’s great about Wild World is that it doesn’t really have “another Pompeii”. It has deep analysis of society, political suggestions, comments on anxiety; Wild World reaches deeper into the passions of Smith which he didn’t dare share on a debut album. It’s got heartache, it’s got history, it’s got literature, it’s got a political edge. It boasts a new intellect and intelligence which is one-upping the gimmicky use of ancient history before, and showing that Bastille can chime these unbelievably catchy and bright tunes but they can give you food for thought and an opportunity to reflect on yourself. It’s got it’s Overjoyed and it’s Laura Palmer too you know, it’s not just full of Pompeiis. That’s why I think it’s been so well received by the majority of fans.

During this album you are supplied with some pretty explosive up numbers which, as they are curated by Bastille, have to feature comments on subjects like human grief and the use of platforms to spread hate. ‘Mindless pop music’ can be immersive, and it can have thought- I think Bastille prove this.
That’s a big contradiction, but I think they capture an eternal youth in their upbeat tunes often associated with mindless pop whilst also showing that they’ve got a thing or two to contribute to the music industry and the world.

With regards to the political nature of this new album, Wild World is connected with ‘WWCOMMS’- a mysterious ‘Bastille Company’. This is where Bastille have succeeded with total immersion; when you buy Wild World you also buy into this sort of dystopian narrative which is like a Banksy-esque exposition on the media’s monopoly over money and their influence on people’s emotions. Several visual experiences as well as the digital Facebook messages hinting at releases from the album have really revolutionised the way bands could release music. The work and thought that has gone into this marketing is evident, and I feel like they’ve definitely one-upped the edgy stuff The 1975 created in February (pop up shop experiences and the online promotion). Bastille even took to the Bestival stage in white boiler suits and white safety masks to reenforce the ‘Dismaland’ reminiscent world they’ve created- they’re pretty committed to their message.

This record oozes personality. I couldn’t be more sure this is the album Smith would have created if he could afford being this risky on a first album, and if he’d found the confidence he is clearly developing more recently. This is a complete passion project which just so happens to be a career. The film quotes, subtle political commentary, and the extensive list of intellectual words Smith has pulled out to illustrate his thoughts all fit together in harmony to create perfect satire.

Complexities and pretentious nonsense aside, Bastille have done a good job. With more instruments than Bad Blood, you get a proper scope of sound. I can’t imagine how exciting it’s going to be to hear ‘Send Them Off!’ live with it’s powerful bass line and brass section. Over their Glastonbury recording it sounded crisp, but live? It’s going to be a treat. Especially with that new performance crew they’ve enlisted.
The much anticipated recordings of Blame, Oil On Water and Campus have also made an appearance on the track list; unfortunately no Hangin’ or Overload but maybe that would be asking too much!

Is the world really ready for Wild World? It’s a bold statement which pushes the traditional barriers of music releases, but I think it will be welcomed nicely. Maybe some fans will take some convincing, and some winning over, post-Bad Blood. Eventually though, this record will be in the music history books- just like Bad Blood.

Politics for Non-Politicians

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you. ”
―Pericles

Party-Rosettes

This May I signed up to a political party because at 17, I felt in the current political climate it was necessary to have a voice. I cared about the nature/execution (or not-execution rather) of Brexit, I care about the health service, I care about progression, I care about education, etc. and the only way I could express this was through paid donation in terms of formal participation due to my age.
Last night, as a consequence of this membership, I was invited out by our candidate to see how the council election works the next day. Somehow I ended up canvassing and coming to a conclusion about where I stand. Of a fashion.

I loved canvassing but for a hundred reasons I probably shouldn’t have. I was of course decorated with a coloured rosette indicating a supposed party allegiance, and I was excited because I usually just do this sort of keyboard warrior-like thing. I’ve never knocked doors; I’ve never felt the political atmosphere in my neighbourhood first hand. Usually I just share a plethora of facebook articles and type my mediocre commentary in to a website where I know everybody would accept my points. It’s really kind of self-indulgent I suppose, so I thought canvassing would stop sheltering me from a system which is actually fuelled with passion and specific relations which you can’t really appreciate from your 400 or so college aged friends who share your experiences for the most part and so agree with your every post.

I think I didn’t care what they were voting for, as long as they returned my smile and when I asked them; “have you had an opportunity to vote today?” they said yes or begged me for the polling station opening hours so they could rectify their mistake.
I think canvassing made me passionate about democracy, and although ours is flawed and I clearly dislike quite a few parties and what they stand for, I think the politically active are invaluable.
There were the few that would poke their eyes around the door, or through the little viewing hole, or even be flat out rude; but I know I didn’t need their votes to my cause, or respect (although that would have been lovely) to be content, I just kinda wanted them to vote and be kind about it even if the cross on their ballot paper didn’t match the words on my little rosette. I also wanted them to vote with utter conviction, and without tactic they felt obliged to follow, also for them to be fulfilled by the fact they have the power of the franchise- something which I don’t actually have myself.

Party politics doesn’t sit well with me. I think as a true pragmatist, you must assess the situation you find yourself and choose accordingly. Party leaders change, policy wavers, and any one party could be appropriate one election but inapplicable in the next. It’s like nationalism, ploughing blindingly through despite a country’s shortcomings and in the case of parties, forgetting the manifesto entirely. When you subscribe to a party, you follow an image in my mind rather than a series of intricate values which evolve and differ from one election to the next. Having said that, when appreciating change you must also surely remember not tar every single leader with the same party political brush. Once Corbyn, Farron (at the time) and May move along a new era will come upon each of the parties (to an extent), and to progress whilst we shall always remember the mistakes made to ensure they don’t reoccur, surely we shall also allow progression and not berate them of previous government’s mistakes. Corbyn is no Miliband, May is no Cameron, Farron is no Clegg; that’s why party leaders resign post-failure and new ones are re-elected surely.
I think the system of party politics has also created the disenfranchised as a by-product, and many of those that I canvassed that seemed to echo that. Generalisation, I have also discovered, plagues politics.

Maybe my duty in this political climate is to mobilise, and to be fair. I want people to realise their potential as voters without being pushed around because a much more aware and active political climate may ensue. As a politically engaged person such as myself, as long as you supply factually correct information and do all the research which you can, surely that is enough? You can’t do any harm that way.
Frankly, a person’s ideology is so incredible and intricate that in my mind it would be trivial to utilise a system of party politics, forcing them to conform to one or the other. At least being non-partisan enables us to adapt and draw from all the sides of a political spectrum when we see fit.

All I know for certain right now as far as my ideology goes is as follows;
I hope we could reinvest the hungry nationalistic machine underneath the UK at the moment into a passion for our beautifully complex (even slightly dodgy at times) democracy, an understanding of the British constitution and perhaps more pride in what really makes us unique. Any nation can be proud of their history, forged by their ancestors but reclaimed by those with the obligation to celebrate it, but how many can be proud of their diversity? Their undying commitment to equality, tolerance?