UK General Election 2017

The political landscape has been shook up as Theresa May u-turned on yet another promise. The conservatives are very far ahead in the polls now and Mrs May announced that she chaired a meeting of the cabinet where they agreed the government should hold a general election on the 8th June.

In the recent local council elections, Labour was trounced. This election holds importance in the type of Brexit the UK faces will largely be decided come June 8th. Most policies enacted by government aren’t as wide sweeping, and certainly aren’t as destructive over the long-run as leaving the European Union will be.

Therefore, it’s not only critical that everyone gets out to the ballot box. It’s also crucial the public make an informed choice on the type of Brexit (as well as type of governance) they want. Already we have felt the sting of food price rises due to a weakened pound. As prices continue to rise and real wages stagnate over several years this will only compound those at the lower end of society. The social cost is high, as will be the political cost of any government who commits to Brexit in the long-run.

Public opinion can change and political parties would do well to remember that. The public should too. The reality is only starting to just starting to bite, when the Brexit pain really starts to dig in it will be interesting who the new bogeyman will become. Will discourse simply deepen its focus on the other? With people saying we didn’t go far enough about rejecting immigration. Will it just continue to be the EU? The conservative, right-wing dominated media controls information in the UK at the moment so we can make a prediction based on that.

These are all pitfalls that will beset any new government, and could make them unelectable at the next election in 2022.

With all this in mind, choosing the next government is not a decision that any voter should take lightly. This is the most important election of the 21st century so far.

Tim Farron, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Main party leaders: Tim Farron, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn

Appleton’s election tip:

Think wisely about the main issue that affects you. Whether that’s the environment (clean air), the NHS (which certainly is from what I’ve experienced recently at breaking point), Brexit (will affect this, and future generations including tie up government resources and development for years to come), immigration (because a sizeable chunk of the population perceive this to be the issue of our times), disability (major cuts over the past 7 years) or if it’s something I missed. Have look at party manifestos see what party best stands up to fix the issues you face. I’d recommend this approach, and not basing it on personality, a leader is an important part of a political party no doubt but the people behind it and the values/issues they wish to tackle are as important.

This marks my first post since December 2016. I want to continue on a little more but I have just come out of a two night stay at Barnet Hospital due to severe glandular fever. I was not able to swallow at all, only spit and was on the verge of throwing up, my tonsils were killing and almost touching.

Hope all readers are well. I’ll be back posting soon. Even more so as I’ve finished and passed my masters for this year. Just one year left πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

Peace all,

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

The British Public and the EU – Democracy

British and EU flag
Britain and the EU need each other.

It seems a significant proportion of the British public believe we should have a referendum to stay in the European Union.

I will try to answer these the best I can to the extent of my knowledge currently it’s a work in progress as always.

What distresses me is the lack of any intelligent discourse when the subject (The European Union) is debated. This ranges from when the media interviews a member of public on TV or writes an article in a newspaper and let’s just not even mention question time, responses range from; the EU is undemocratic, the EU is a gravy train and what we spend towards the EU budget is too large, and it robs nations of their sovereignty. To add to this, It seems the public still believe lots of the Euromyths that have been proven to be nothing more then myth!

Furthermore, many citizens in other nations (from what I’ve been seeing on social media) now view UK citizens as being uninformed, or trying to hang on to a lost notion of empire, and due to this have many come to the conclusion that the UK is a burden on the rest of the EU.

I also worry just how misinformed the populace are and their opinion on vital constitutional issues, it often decided by the media or fringe/protest political parties. Important policy decisions and constitutional changes seem to be more knee-jerkingly drawn up. Independent research and rational reason seems to have disappeared.

Put the choice to the people they say.

The people have a choice at the ballot box. To vote for a anti-EU party such as UKIP (we can hardly call them Eurosceptic, more anti-Euro?) or vote for liberal democrats for example. Its how our representative system works and its how representative democracy has worked for hundreds of years. We seem to have a proportion of people who believe that unless a referendum is called on such issues there is no democratic choice. Do people now think we should implement direct democracy in this country then? Where a majority of decisions that affect the population is taken to the ballot box at regular referendums? Like the Swiss semi-representative model? Does the general public know the advantages/disadvantages of a direct system or more direct model of democracy?

I’m generally against this form of direct democracy which is often slow. Another drawback are the effects if the population not understanding what they are balloting for clearly enough (voter ignorance), financial imbalance can mess up outcomes, some issues are complex and thus cannot be reduced to a response as simple as yes or no, and question wording might mean the voter not being given the opportunity for their preferred option.

Representative democracy is not perfect but better then the alternatives. The politicians often don’t seem it but they often are the people most qualified to take such decisions. We elect a party (the party leader is chosen by the party) that represents us and who have (hope πŸ™‚ ) qualified people to make decisions on our behalf

The EU is undemocratic.

As the only international government that has some element of democracy in the form of the EU parliament I find this statement odd in the least. To add, When did anyone have a vote on the founding of the UN?

I’m not saying that there is no democratic deficit. There is in the best of democratic parliaments and governmental systems.

Elections occur in every member state every 5 years. Some people on social media say this Jean-Claude Juncker, this Martin Schulz, we never voted for them. But they come through a similar party system as they do in the UK. The largest political group are the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European parliament Jean-Claude Juncker was selected. How both democratic systems work is quite complex and I believe this is one stumbling point between the public as nobody really understands it. I confess, I don’t understand the democratic system fully with regards to the EU, but it’s something over the next few years I’ll definitely understand more.

So, there is a democratic deficit. Just like at Westminster. Where we have a unelected House of Lords, both systems have flaws. No government is perfect but if we want to reduce a democratic deficit shouldn’t we look closer to home first? Westminster is archaic and out of date.

The problem I have with referendums is that they quite often slow down any good governance. The vocal few never are often not satisfied and continue to push for another/other referendums. The method of direct governance has it’s pitfalls, and I don’t think some have been entirely thought through in the past few years.

The UK still faces the possibility of a breakup of the Union in the near future (popularity of the SNP) and calls of another referendum will be on the cards as to whether Scotland should stay in years to come. The very dynamics of the country have changed with elements of direct democracy. Britain a place once known for stable politics within Europe is looking rather different (more like Belgium!), it needn’t be a bad thing though.

There is much more I have to say on this subject (as I do so many!). I’m always open to debate or expansion of points. Please leave a comment below. You can sign in using Facebook/Twitter or register for an account on my blog.

(Published from my iPhone)

Hope you all had a good summer πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

Sources: Image and quotations courtesy of – Oxfam

Changes and a visit to Brussels :)

I’ve just had a busy few weeks. I paid another visit to Brussels in July.

I haven’t been there in 13 years but this is the first time I stayed there for 3 days, so I guess that’s what counts right?
Spent time loving the country, the European quarter in Schuman (where all the important EU decisions are made), and eating good food. Travelled on the metro numerous times and visited the nice suburb of Stokkel, enjoyed lunch in a nice cafe there.

I travelled on the Eurostar it was quick comfortable and easy to check in. I can see obvious benefits over any form of air travel. Some characters do ride on trains (they will have you laughing inside).

I brought you readers a few pics. Btw, I did buy Chocolates and have Mussels and Frites ;)..

The Grand place and it's amazing grandeur..
The Grand place and it’s amazing grandeur..
Manneken Pis
Manneken Pis
Another famous Belgian. Tin Tin!
Another famous Belgian. Tin Tin!
The Grand place
The Grand place

I loved it and am planning to do European Voluntary service there. Will see how everything pans out.

Got a few good reads before I start my next university module.
Got a few good reads before I start my next university module.

I’m trying to learn French again. This time to fluency and will do this with German again eventually.

I’m also doing a bit of pre-reading before I start my next OU module in October. I’m really looking forward to starting again after a difficult time with philosophy. This module DD209 – Running the Economy sounds really interesting and sounds like something I can engage with.

I’ve been applying for new jobs. Sick and tired of where I work now. Looking for something PA/Admin based in London. If you know of anything kind readers. Do link me up! πŸ™‚

Getting better at go-karting event by event too. I don’t have any practice time though which puts me at a disadvantage. Last weekend I suffered a high speed accident in qualifying when a wheel came off. I did run wide and bounce heavily over grass and a kerb two laps before which I think broke something. Then in the high speed corner the wheel came off. It was a big impact. I went to hospital after the race. I had some headaches and felt sick as well as neck, back and foot pain! My foot still hurts now it’s very tender. I really should massage it to be honest.

I’m looking forward for the next event. I’ve progressed a lot though despite having little practice time!

The blog is on a much faster server. I’ve switched to VPS.net and they have impressed so far. Still got lots of things I want to install and configure but not much time!!

On top of that I’ve kind of developed something with a nice lady. Shes gone away for six weeks now so have to see how it goes when shes back but good times all round πŸ™‚

How are my readers doing?

Holiday for next year

A Da Vinci holiday
The Vitruvian Man (c. 1485) Accademia, Venice – One of Da Vinci’s most famous works.

I’ve been thinking where to go on holiday next year. I want to keep it factual and just be in awe.. One of my heroes is Leonardo Da Vinci, just a genius in my eyes and I’d love to go to one of the Da Vinci museums in Rome or Florence.

Then there is Sweden where I’d like to spend a week or two. It’s a country I’ve always wanted to learn more about and I’d love to tick it off my list πŸ™‚

I think Italy might be winning me over simply because of the Da Vinci factor. If you don’t know who he is. Please read about exactly who Leonardo da Vinci is.

As for Sweden I’d like to stay in Stockholm visit the city and the countryside if possible. I’d love to see the old town in Stockholm. Try some local food (something other then meatballs!) and I’d love to explore the very cultural heart of Sweden too.

I guess I’ll visit Sweden after Italy. Just gotta begin the big save!! πŸ™‚

Anyway have a good weekend all. I should be doing stuff today but I’ve done nothing… been so lazy. Have fun and stay safe πŸ˜‰

More freedom? Less freedom?

Freedom - Is the only way!
Freedom – Is the only way!

More freedom? Less freedom? What does the populace want and need?

Happy New Year! Hope everyone have a great one πŸ™‚

Readers of this blog will know that I do like to mention the education system quite a bit in my posts. So, I’ll start with a familiar trend πŸ˜‰

In the UK the education system is formal and rigid. However, The pupils are given more freedoms then in certain other countries. We have moved away (mostly) from the i’ll teach and you write (no opinion for the pupil) years. Moving on however, There are plans in place to introduce the army into schools to deal with poor behaviour. Is instilling what we call discipline militarily in schools the right way to go about things? Or is it just painting over cracks that lead to a much bigger issue? What are the children rebelling against? Bullying is at crisis levels in UK schools too.

Go into most state and even private schools and you will see shocking behaviour. This seems like outright rebellion of rigid rules to me.

Imagine a school with a progressive, democratic education with punishment delivered by pupils as well as teachers in the school community. You imagined this school. Look what talent it has produced.

Parents and our modern society put ridiculous pressure on children. From a young age many parents map their children’s path out! No wonder why some break out! Life is about the pursuit of happiness not at the expense of others. I know a lot of people are going to suggest that discipline only comes from strict rules being laid down. This is not the case. A needs guidance in a childs younger years and up to their teens they should be enjoying life. Enjoyment in life should continue through adulthood at work or wherever. If the sole pursuit of someones glory is a career thats guided by parents, or lines the pocket with wads of money in the hope of happiness you will not discovery true happiness.

One reason why schools fail so hard is what they produce. All they produce are factory made children ready to serve the state. If you have a child, What would you say if your child said he wanted to become a refuse collector?

This is just from a educational perspective. I feel more school choice is needed.

I don’t feel I’ve explained this as well as I wanted! I never feel I do πŸ™

I’ll leave you with a few quotes….

“No one is wise enough or good enough to mould the character of any child. What is wrong with our sick, neurotic world is that we have been moulded, and an adult generation that has seen two great wars and seems about to launch a third should not be trusted to mould the character of a rat” — A.S. Neill

“I would rather Summerhill produced a happy street cleaner than a neurotic scholar.” — A.S. Neill

“The basis of a democratic state is liberty.” — Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC), Politics

Hope everyone has stuck to their resolutions! If any were made πŸ™‚

Enjoy the rest of your January. Fun to all.