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!

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!

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 🙂

What I’ve been up to..

Studying French to C2 level.
Studying French to C2 level.

I’ve enrolled onto my French course for the summer. The aim is to learn French right up to C2 (Fluency). I’m excited, and start on the 8th June. So, next week! I’ll also be in Brussels in two weeks, so, a lot to look forward to.

Today, I also officially completed my project for DD309 with the Open University. I will be driving up to Milton Keynes to hand it in on Tuesday morning (tomorrow). It’s all been printed and bound, after a lot of blood, sweat and tears.. well not entirely true but almost! 😉

I’ve enjoyed this module immensely my tutor has been great. Assisting me through Skype/Email and face to face at our session at the London School of Economics. The project involved huge amounts of research regarding Environmental Economics and Carbon Trading. I’ll never look at the European Emissions trading scheme in the same light again.

On the way, I learnt so many things about how the EU operates. From using their direct line service (for help on EU matters) and Email. All of which delivered exactly what I needed. I feel that like most things regarding governance most of the information and is there if you ask for it.

I’ve also become more aware of how deeply important the environment is to us as a public good. Not just due to climate change, but the air we breathe, the views we enjoy. The things we can’t make excludable and struggle to protect. In conclusion, I found the EU ETS did assist with reducing emissions but only by a marginal amount and it maybe a little too early to say we collected any meaningful data. As the ETS has only been running 10 years. Environmental policies tend to take many years and not show improvements in short or even the medium-run. Many weaknesses within the EU carbon trading system can be solved by EU policymakers (which I will reveal in another blog post when I have my results back 😉 ).

It’s been incredible this module and I want to thank friends (some who are no longer with me), close family for the support. It’s been tricky at times to self-motivate myself. Many times I’d have a beer and watch question time doing little else. My degree is not over but it’s been an amazing journey so far and I feel everyone in my life is part of it. I’m so lucky to have you all. So, thank you!

My Pictures of the Month are below

Few notes: EMA stands for end of module assignment it’s basically my project for my Economics module. The intimate relations thing is an economic valuation I guess! How much time we spend and the net effect of those things, Got a few vanity shots… I don’t often go vain but I thought I’d go against the grain a little. And protect the NHS, our human rights might be disappearing but can we at least protect that? Too bad the tories got in.

My blog may be down at various points over the next month. It really needs an overhaul a nice new theme, it needs to be mobile/tablet friendly (hint, hint can anyone help in any way? 🙂 ).

Also, I’m taking action to address why the blog is slow loading. The database has pretty big over the years. I know the comment feature is not working properly for all readers. I’m trying to fix that too.

Whilst reading I was listening to:

Danke, Merci, Thank you

The Environment and the EU

The Environment and the EU

Climate Action is needed.
Climate Action is needed.

Many people have asked me why do we need regional or world governance at all. Apart from the diplomatic, trade, economic benefits (not just economics in terms of financial, social, welfare etc) but a properly governed regional/world government can provide change and action for the most important category of them all.

The Environment

Care of the Environment is no longer confined to a few tree huggers but has become a major international concern. Climate change is real and the years we have lived through from the year 2000 are proof of that.

We just had the warmest year on record (2014). A second typhoon in a year just battered the Philippines with enormity (though you could argue it’s not directly linked). Climate change isn’t new and has happened in the history of this planet before, but never has it been down to mankind as it has been since the industrial revolution began. We have been unlocking carbon stored underground and pumping it directly out into the atmosphere (along with CFCs and other gases). Yet, We have some that still deny whether climate change is happening. This isn’t a post of whether climate change is or isn’t happening however. It’s about the environment, keeping the air we breath clean, the seas we fish in clean, the rivers we fish in clean, our existence and that of many species safe.

Why national governments can’t succeed with Environmental policy

National governments are often short sighted. It’s not their fault as most governments serve a term of 5 years. The focus will always be on the next election. The Environment requires very long term commitments and not short-run policy patches.

This is where regional or world governance can come in. The UN is not restrained by terms or the slow speed of democracy in this case. The EU does have a democratic parliament so can be restricted in terms of speed. In acting to form policy. Some issues which national governments have are not present at EU or international level.

But Climate Change will only effect other continents

Well, this isn’t the case (and stop being so selfish if you think that’s the case!) “A recent paper produced by the Climate Action Network highlights the impacts of climate change on Europe, of which Oxfam is focusing on the food and agriculture aspect of the report. With projected agricultural outputs expected to decrease 2% each decade for the next century in a world where food demand is set to increase by 14% in the same period, it is time for climate impacts on food security – inside and outside Europe – to be brought onto the agenda.” As agriculture represents 3.5% of the 28 Member state European Unions GDP and employs 17 million people it would be one of the hardest hit sectors and this is what the Oxfam source recognises.

We have seen yields in Europe decrease this year due to a change in climate (regardless of whether it’s a one-off or the beginning of a pattern). I talk of the Olive yield this year which is down on years previous, due to drought.

How far should things be left to the market to resolve?

It’s a normative question and the answer to this may depend on a persons politics. Politicans on the right would tend to favour a lesser degree of intervention (a more hands of approach) those on the left generally would prefer intervention.

The EU uses ‘cap and trade’ principle. The EU Emissions trading scheme is in it’s third phase.

Note: I’ve decided to make this a living post and will update accordingly (in the post or comments below). I chose to do this mainly as I don’t have much time now not even to proof-read. I’m doing a project in my Economics module, focusing on Environmental Economics. I hope I can provide more of an insight into this subject area (and be able to explain whats in my head with clarity!) more then! I’ll update this often once I’ve completed my project 🙂

Sources: Image and quotations courtesy of – Oxfam

Britain’s Racist Election

Readers, its General Election time in the UK in May 2015. This documentary lays bare the human classification of race and the dangers it poses for any election. After watching it fully through I shall review it.

The story of the anti-immigration campaign in the 1964 General Election – featuring one of the most infamous slogans in British history – that made a small Midlands town notorious around the world

Linkhttp://www.channel4.com/programmes/britains-racist-election/on-demand/59088-001