Appleton Online Just another opinionated blog...

25Dec/160

It’s been a great 2016, now to 2017

Happy New Year!

2016, WOW. What a year.
No, I'm not just talking about Brexit or Trump here (equally big, but on a negative level). But personally!

This was the year of the graduation. The completion of my degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE). The beginning of a MSc in International Public Policy at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and a couple of interesting study trips.

The end of the year also marks the reshaping of this blog. It's no longer going to be known as it once was. Some readers may already have noticed this but it going to taking on a more professional, politically inspired form.

I hope everyone has a great remainder of 2016, and a very happy new year 🙂

Take care!

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10Sep/160

Degree complete, Masters to begin!

I've neglected my blog this summer. I've been immensely busy as usual but I've got a degree. I finally feel that achieved something finally (see below) 🙂

My delight

My delight! A 2.1!

I should have posted this ages ago but I've been busy planning and doing things. My graduation is booked up for Friday 16th September (next week).
At the beginning of the month my grandad in Jamaica passed away. Whilst my other one is quite ill himself. So, it's been a bit sad on that part.

A lot has happened now. I'm kinda in the hunt for a new job part-time/full-time that gives me useful experience. I had an interview with BP as a duty manager that I ended up not attending due to sheer distance, it was simply too far to work.

I recently applied for a Masters degree in International Public Policy at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). I got accepted on 1st September, and I've decided to commit and go for it 🙂

The full course (MSc International Public Policy) will be part-time and taught at a distance. However, I will be making heavy use of my university campus facilities due. The campus for the school of Politics and International relations is quite close, just on the London Overground line.

Having completed pre-enrolment. I've now just registered my modules for this year (semester 1 & 2). Currently waiting for my degree certificate and a few final bits to fully enrol.

I'm getting ready to study again. Buying folders, switching from Dropbox to Google Drive, and getting prepared mentally.

Anyone who is starting a Masters anywhere this year contact me 🙂

Images from the past few months (will be posted here)

I'll be blogging soon friends!

27Jun/160

UK votes to leave the European Union

Lack of understanding..

The ref exposed a large lack of understanding

The UK has voted to leave the European and thus will no longer be part of the European Union (at some stage). Something that is part of the greater good, it might not be perfect but what form of governance is. The UK has voted to leave an important block, in an increasingly interconnected, interdependent and globalised world.

Let me get to what I believe we have just caused through our decision to leave both nationally and on the continent.

It's all self-inflicted harm

We've produced a period of self-inflicted instability nationally and throughout the continent through these areas;

• Economically, the market has crashed. The pound has dropped and has stabilised at its lowest level since 1983

• The UK Economy and the Eurozone could suffer from more Economic turmoil if decisions aren't made quickly and rationally to instill business confidence. The Eurozone affects us in or out of the EU. As we live in an interconnected world, with a full globalised economy.

• Socially, areas which benefited from EU funding such as Yorkshire, Hull (marina and port areas entirely built on EU Social finds), Cornwall now need to worry about where investment will come from. The many care institutions and other institutions. Who were funded in total or part by the EU now need to worry about their future existence

• Again, products that are protected under the EU. Like Melton Mowbray pork pies etc, may be concerned about region protection but we should get a deal that allows us to continue protecting these inside the single market. Albeit at greater cost

• Our European soft power has now been diminished in one move politically, economically, and diplomatically

Now some of the specifics. The quitters sold the public a line that they should pass more sovereignty back to Westminster. To analyse the sovereignty issue:

• Sovereignty is not a whole. There is no such thing as overall sovereignty as politicians have continually alluded to. Sovereignty is split into three parts; international legal, domestic, and Westphalian-Vattelian sovereignty.

• Sovereignty is fluid. Not absolute in the 21st century, there is no empire or commonwealth (as there before was)

• Globalisation has eroded sovereignty more than the EU ever did, or will. The EU provides a mechanism for democratic control over the pooled or contracted out Westphalian sovereignty. Transnational corporations, the media etc, lobby parliaments and invest large sums into campaigns, and in some cases directly target politicians. In an effort to influence them. Some even use threats of leaving a market (for another country) or threaten intervention in the market through other forms (not just capital flight). This is one reason many countries are increasingly being held hostage by the likes of Amazon and Google etc.

• Without a regulatory body or large block that has a lot of influence the trend will continue. Just ask Microsoft or Google about business in the EU. It's been regulated very well for the most part, to make sure people are not exploited and that corporations do not run a mock. There is a fine balance but the UK alone will struggle unless it co-operates more in this area. The laws that are often passed in business and the tax world thus often favour these corporations massively.

The End Result

End result: We most likely will end up with the Norwegian model. Inside the single market, and contracting out our Westphalian sovereignty. The difference being where it was once pooled out democratically in the EU and we had influence on laws and any potential reforms of the democratic process. There will now be none. So, we have no democratic input on the Westphalian-Vattelian sovereignty that we will contract away under ANY future model. Of course we could opt for nothing at all of course (which means not trading with the EU and being in the single market!). So, we we've given away democratic control (which you can reform and change) for none at all on the sovereignty that will have to be contracted out.

There will be a constant erosion of Westphalian sovereignty, the state system itself is eroding. There was a good quote, I can’t remember where it came from but it was basically along the lines of; Europe is where the sovereign state was born, there it shall end.

Globalisation is the largest threat to sovereignty but that doesn’t have to be all bad, As long as there are checks and balances, which by the vote to leave yesterday we’ve removed another layer of.

The 350million a week figure which was a lie was more like 180 after our rebate, most likely won't be spent on NHS or other services in this country. Nigel Farage said so, so hey it must be right. Of course we already knew that. The cost of any other agreement with the EU will probably be quite significant, along with replacing any social funding that we now may have to provide to institutions or under developed regions. The EU did quite well with wealth redistribution in that sense.

Of EU, Empire and Commonwealth

The EU project is something very unique and is so difficult to quantify. A project looking to promote and nurture peace, freedom and security in a very unstable world. For those who say NATO gives us security. Well, they're right but so does the EU. The member states work through diplomacy, soft power, and economics (the ability to apply sanctions). It's not all about hard military power. Border disputes must be settled before any country is admitted into the EU. The African Union, Caricom, ASEAN use it as a model for security and trade.

What we can look forward to is a government full of hard right-wing, casually racist prats. Boris Johnson, I don't think he knows where he is on the political compass, just snaking his way to the leadership of the Tory party. Jacob Rees Mogg, and Daniel Hannan. We can’t rule Mr. Farage out too of course, can see him defecting back to his old party to party in the sun.

But hey, we got the commonwealth and the empire right? Right? Haha.
I've not been a fan of direct democracy and referendums due to the amount of misinformation sides can promote, and the public can often vote on issues for the wrong reasons. I feel this has pretty much proved that case.

If you made it this far, congratulations. I didn't mean to make it this long.

What this vote has shown is that we are a nation divided. We now project ourselves as insular and at worst living with some past notion of empire. Britain is better than this.

“When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice” - Rupert Murdoch

As you notice, racism has reared its ugly head again in this country 🙁

A petition that made me chuckle. Including all countries of the commonwealth (sarcasm). Except the Brown people, yes those people. If you are an ethnic minority and you voted to leave on the hope that there would be a deeper connection with the commonwealth. You will be let down. Especially if you are brown. The petition - http://tinyurl.com/l272w2k 😆

Conclusions

By now it's clear to see the quitters have no central plan. The Tory leadership is a poisoned chalice. The opposition along with the elected party is in a total state. Those poorest will suffer first, particularly in poor regions of the UK that benefited from the EU social development fund, regions like Kingston upon Hull, and Cornwall. The economy is taking a battering and the racists/xenophobes are out in force. We got to brave our self-inflicted storm and try to re-unite what now is a very divided, inward, and increasingly intolerant country.

Some hard-hitting images post-referendum

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18Apr/160

IAPSS: Study trip to Brussels – Conclusion

European Parliament with IAPSS

European Parliament with IAPSS

My conclusion from my week at the political heart Europe, in Brussels.

Everything here is formed of my own opinion, and the speakers involved in the IAPSS study trip were not speaking on behalf of the EU in any official context. To protect each individual speaker's identity, I won’t name or quote anyone officially.

Institutions visited: EU Parliament, EU Commission, Council of Europe, Institute for Europe Studies at the Free University of Brussels, A lobbyist (Burson-Marsteller), Representation of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the European Policy Centre (EPC).

The question is “the EU under threat” naturally leads one to think yes. There is certainly recognition from many speakers that we engaged with during the three days.

Crisis and governance

Being a government means crises are very much the norm. The EU is a continental governance of 28 member states, with a political-economic union, various active liberalisation policies, and over 500 million citizens. It's easy to see how easy crisis builds up and stack up upon each other. I will not go in depth about factors outside of the union (the Arab spring and its aftermath, which led to an ongoing refugee crisis). It seems as though expansion, has happened too quick. Early success from many early EU projects, led to over-optimism. It seemed to me that most of the speakers I engaged with realising the brakes now need to be applied and recognise the need to consult EU citizens more. It seemed to me many were aware that no government/union can survive without the desire/will of its citizens.

Consulting citizens is all good and well, but I think the EU has one hand tied behind its back. Member states refuse to have the promotion of any factual information by the union. It's clear that elements in member states would brand it as propaganda anyway. The problem when consulting citizens at the ballot box is they don't tend to get the facts. There is a massive void between independent sources that can promote and provide facts and EU citizens. So, it's no surprise that populists, charismatic politicians fill this void. What Europe needs is more independent (non-biased) fact-finding charities reaching out to the populace.

Political integration and democracy

I am going to stray a little and talk about the early founding of the EU. To add to this I will put forward my own opinion, which is that the EU should go back to its founding values. Political integration is something, not every member state is ready for and not every EU citizen is ready for. Political integration has come too soon, and without the consent of many Europeans. I think integration could be rolled out slowly over the next 30-50 years in but only in small chunks, and by consulting EU citizens through the ballot box. Although democracy does already exist within the EU (contrary to populist claims). Unfortunately, much of the control over political integration isn’t in the hands of ordinary EU citizens.

This is one reason why the EU feels so distant to many of its citizens. It’s good to see though that this has been recognised by the Juncker commission. It's in the top ten priorities for Europe and it’s something I will follow to see just how the democratic deficit is being tackled. It’s important to remember that within any democratic governance/parliament, there is a democratic deficit so this isn't EU specific. The question is to what extent and also what do those who hold power intend to do about it. The media/politicians/some citizens in the UK tend to raise the case of democracy a fair bit, overlooking the fact we have a large deficit in the UK parliament with an unelected House of Lords and some would argue an unfair balloting system at elections (no proportional democracy).

Many EU citizens are unable to understand the rather complex form of democratic representation within the EU, the processes are not the same as to how most state democracy works, which is far easier to understand. This is then exploited by politicians and the media, leading to a void between the governance and its citizens. There is a lack of independent sources out there, although this has improved in the run up to the UK referendum with sites such as fullfacts.org. There are still questions about how much real independent material citizens from other member states are able to access. The EU does provide facts about its operations but they aren't allowed to advertise, and independent groups often have more credibility than government sources.

To conclude

The EU should look at its successes, which in turn have in many cases created its various crises. Some were undoubtedly unavoidable and were not caused by poor governance, such as the migrant crisis. However, this now faces a huge risk of being mismanaged!. However, with these sort of crises along with climate change the EU will be measured upon how it reacts and acts. The EU should stick to its liberal and inclusive democratic foundation. Liberalism won't please everyone but the very fact it tries to accommodate everyone should see the EU through its toughest days yet.

One representation, In my opinion got weighed down too much by statistics and econometrics, not including any real social or “field” analysis. This is the problem with statistics and regressions.

Governing 500 million people with many different languages, cultures, religions, and differing viewpoints means the EU will always be in one crisis or another. What's unique about today is the amount of crises the EU face all at once. In the past, they may have been one (or at most two side-by-side) now they are faced with multiple crises and growing populism. Populism is best defeated by sticking to the core values of inclusivity and by making rational decisions (no knee-jerk reactions), not by shifting to ideas which have brought bloodshed and grief not just on this continent but many others.

I went off on a bit of a tangent there, but it's hard to talk about each institution individually. Maybe that's an idea for a future post!

{Originally, I had planned to post this Tuesday 22nd March. However, I decided to hold this after the dreadful attacks in Brussels. I offer sympathies to all those involved in the terror attacks in Brussels, and across the world (most recently Iraq and Pakistan).}

Photos from the trip

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As a side note. I've purchased this book. I have gaps in my understanding about how certain things work in the EU. I don't think you ever can know everything about governance really, pics and reviews will be in the books section.

It was an informative trip and was thoroughly enjoyed. I met a great set of people and may attend more events with IAPSS in the future (watch this space 😉 ).

I've been stressed out because of a university assignment. All back on track now 🙂

13Jan/160

Happy New Year all

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

I've not been around the past few months, things got real difficult towards the end of last year. This was for personal reasons.

I just hope all my friends, family and colleagues had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I hope this year will be peaceful for all. I've got several personal goals to meet this year. Which will be quite challenging. Needless to say, I'm going to be happy to graduate in May. Simply because it's been a long tough road and I really need something for my efforts and my career now. I will try to update this actively throughout the year as I have so much planned (I'd rather not release everything here). If you want to find out things that I have planned just stay tuned. More to come in later blog posts.

Right now, I'm focused on getting the target grades that I want for my target degree classification! Easier said then done. Wish me luck!

I have some assessments (other students) to give feedback on as part of my third assignment. The whole focus on Humanitarian intervention and the UN's doctrine on the responsibility to protect has been interesting. Something I will expand upon in a post here when I have time.

Four pictures of what I've been up to the past two months (yes, that's all I have but I've done more than that!)

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Whilst writing this, I was listening to Architechs - Body Groove

I will be going back to Oxford quite a bit this year. Got one trip already planned. I really should have gone back there more often! But I've been so busy.

I know I say it all the time, but I'll try to post more often. Happy new year everyone and take care! 🙂

15Nov/151

My constant curiosity

Curiosity

I've found more and more out about myself this past year. One thing in particular is my constant curiosity.

Ever found yourself wanting to know how a nuclear power station functions, the differences between diesel and electric trains, why a suspension bridge is used over a standard type of bridge, why society is ordered in a particular way in different places? I have and I've been more open and accepting of the fact that I am so curious. In the past, I would have hidden away this fact about myself. Almost like I'd be ashamed of my differences.

https://experiencelife.com/article/the-power-of-curiosity/

But yep, I don't care now. I don't watch a ton of films or read novels much. If that makes me boring. So be it 🙂

Peace all,

RIP to all those lost in the dreadful attacks in Paris on 13/11/15

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30Aug/150

DD313 Materials have arrived!

So, my DD313 module materials have arrived! I actually meant to publish this last week. But I'm all ready to start my final Open Uni module in October.

I'm eager to get started. Though I know when the going gets tough, I'll be looking for the end!

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