3 March 2018

Should We Have a Second Referendum?

The idea of a second referendum was mentioned immediately after the first as the losing side were not happy with the Leave side’s bus figure, to name one thing. Since then, it is one of the most discussed topics on television, radio and print. Even the king of Brexit, Nigel Farage, has hinted that a second referendum should happen if certain outcomes were not agreed. So, essentially, what we have is Remainers stating that Leave lied and misled the public during the campaign and Leavers stating that the government are not trying for a hard Brexit. Perhaps there should be a second referendum then, right?

In reality, the general public do not want a second referendum. In reality, we are all Brenda from Bristol. We’ve had enough politics, enough votes, enough campaigning for the next five years. We don’t want to have to debate with our colleagues, shout at the TV screen, receive dozens of leaflets through our doors or go to the local polling station. We have had enough. This is partly why there is a disconnect between the general public and politicians. The latter vote on things almost every day. It’s their job to campaign, to debate and to post leaflets. They don’t see an issue with another vote because, quite frankly, they enjoy it. We the people do not care. In all honesty, most of us are fine with voting in a general election every five years and couldn't give a toss about local elections, European elections, assembly elections, mayoral elections, PCC elections - Parklife.

So, that’s the reality and here’s the issue. We shouldn't be in a position where there are calls for a second referendum because the first should've been done properly. We’re in a position now where the country is bitterly divided. Where Leave won 51.89 per cent and Remain won 48.1 per cent. Rounded, both numbers are 50 and you have a result that doesn't factor out people who didn't care about the result or people who didn't really understand what they were voting for. What should've happened was the winning side should've had to have won 60 per cent of the vote or a supermajority. This would've meant the winning side would've had a clear victory and calls for a second referendum wouldn't be a thing. Yes, people would've moaned that the majority of people voted to leave, but perhaps you shouldn’t change the course of the country with such a small majority, where almost half the population are not wanting that change. 

I also don’t think we’d be in this position now if the campaigning was done properly. What we had were two ‘official’ groups talking for either side. Neither had a plan for Brexit and both sides were saying things that other people within those sides didn't agree with. What we needed was for the main parties to have published Brexit manifestos even if they weren't campaigning to leave. Or, at least, the government should’ve. Then, voters would have had an official argument for both sides instead of lots of lies, manipulations and scaremonger (on both sides). Politicians wonder why the public hates them.

I think it would be very messy to have a second referendum now considering the government have already begun talks with the EU and triggered Article 50. Even having a public vote about the outcome when the government officially announce the plan will be messy because the discussions would have to start all over again. I know, a lot of people on both sides aren't going to be happy with the outcome. Hard Leavers will complain about Brexit being too soft and Remainers will complain about not being given a vote on the outcome. Like I said, we should've never have been in this position. A second referendum now would be messy, annoying and costly. You’d probably see a drop in turnout and I’d predict Remain would win due to the anti-establishment votes not turning up. Then what do you do? Best of three? I think we should just let this Tory government get on with it and wait and see what happens. After all, most of us are simply waiting for one thing…

11 February 2018

Bernie 2020 - Why Not?

Although Trump is only in his second year as the 45th President of the United States, it is quickly becoming that time when we speculate who will challenge him at the next election. It seems very soon to be talking about the next election already, but it’s one of those topics that never stops getting discussed. Partly due to the excitement that an election entails, but specifically this year, it’s almost definitely the eagerness and will of the people to see the back of Trump. Realistically, we will know who most of the candidates are by the autumn of 2019. 

Back in 2016, Hillary Clinton was fighting tooth and nail to try and stop an old independent Jewish socialist from beating her in the Democratic primaries. At times, she struggled to win big against Bernie Sanders in states that she thought were hers by default, and during the debates, she was battered and bruised by the enigmatic Senator from Vermont. One of Clinton’s biggest mistakes against Sanders was assuming the nomination was hers. Clinton came across as if she believed that she deserved the nomination and was the heir apparent to Obama. Unfortunately, for her, Bernie Sanders stole the hearts and minds of a nation. He stood up against the most establishment candidate to have ever run in the Democratic primaries. Clinton eventually beat Sanders, but news surfaced soon afterwards that the Democratic Party were never going to let Sanders win. In fact, it turns out, they attempted to rig the primaries and unfairly gave Clinton the nomination.

A battered Hillary Clinton went on to fight against the winner of the Republican primaries, and now 45th President of the USA, Donald J. Trump. Although Clinton won by quite some votes (a couple of million to be more specific) she failed to beat Trump in the electoral college, which meant Trump took the presidency. A once joke candidate beat the assumed heir apparent. People were in shock as they watched Trump win. Their cockiness and ignorance assumed that people wouldn't possibly vote for Trump. How wrong they could've been. However, Trump is officially the least popular president of all time and people are wondering who can beat him in 2020. Moreover, that’s not just Democrats. Republicans too long to replace the Alt-right Trump. 

Typically, but probably more so now because of Trump, rumours of celebrities running for the presidency have been discussed. Not least after the Gold Globes and Oprah’s magnificent speech. Along with Oprah, Tom Hanks, Ellen Degeneres, Kanye, Lady Gaga and the Rock have all been spoken about as potential candidates for the Democratic nomination. Of course, they will all probably stay as rumours and the celebrities won’t attempt to take on President Trump. Although, tell Kayne not to do something and he’ll probably end up trying to do it…

Naturally, there will be numerous senators and governors declaring their candidacy in the end. American politicians on both sides who we’ve never heard of before. And, of course, there’ll be the unlucky losers of last year’s primaries who will have a second/third attempt. People such as Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker. Also, other notable politicians such as Joe Biden, Paul Ryan and Elizabeth Warren will all probably throw their hat in the ring. However, there’s only one person I care about for 2020. That person is Bernie Sanders.

The thing is, if it wasn’t for the rigged Democratic Primaries, I think #BernieWouldveWon. Without going into the technicalities of why he would've won, it’s clear that Bernie has started a revolution in American politics. As I mention in my latest book, We the Extremists, Bernie Sanders represents the leftwing populism that is attempting to counter the rightwing populism of Donald Trump. We have two extremes in American politics at the moment. You have the new socialist left and the alt-right. (In the middle, the conservatives and neoliberals sit crying about how it’s not fair) As Trump knew his target voter, so did Bernie Sanders. What’s more, like all populism, the populist right can easily be won-over by the populist left. At the end of the day, populism targets disenfranchised voters. Trump’s populism uses messages of fear. Bernie’s populism uses messages of hope. Both sides say they’re on the side of the worker but they choose different reasonings to explain why the worker is worse off and how they can fix it. 

By polling day 2020, Bernie Sanders will be a prestigious 79-years-old. I bring that up because some people suggest that he’ll be too old to run; too old to be president. I can understand why people would think that. A president should be of good health - both physically and mentally. A president should be at the top of their game. A president is expected to travel a lot and work long days. It’s natural that people would doubt a 79-year-old man’s capability. However, Bernie Sanders is of great health, he campaigned immensely hard in 2016 and visited far more places than Hillary did. 79 sounds old and by the time he finishes his first term, he’ll be 83. Maybe then people should doubt whether he’d be fit enough for a second term. But late seventies doesn't mean wheelchair bound, in a home and losing your mind. I believe Sanders will be up for the job in 2020 and shouldn't be pushed aside. Let’s face it, William Gladstone was 82 when he was appointed Prime Minister in 1892 for the fourth time and Churchill was 80 when he left office in 1955. 

bernie sanders GIF

23 January 2018

Misguided Abuse

Currently, in England, men who have had sex with men in the last three months (with or without a condom) can’t donate blood. Women who have had sex with a man who has slept with a man in the last three months also can’t give blood. Ten years ago, men who had sex with men were completely banned from donating blood. That changed in 2011 when men who had sex with men could donate blood if they abstained from sex for a year. The law was adjusted to three months back in 2017 and was welcomed by charities and the NHS. 

It was pointed out by LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall that although this was an important step, there’s still a long way to go regarding this law. Many gay and bisexual men are still exempt from donating blood. Many other equality charities also suggested that men who are considered low risk (not likely to catch HIV) are still banned from donating blood. 

Although the law on gay and bisexual men giving blood has shifted in trending with liberal views on gay rights, many people still aren't happy with the current laws. Essentially, the current law forbids gay and bisexual men, who are in stable and long-term relationships, from giving blood. The fact that these men are low risk and simply won’t catch HIV from having sex with each other doesn't change the fact that they’d have to abstain from sex for three months before they're able to donate blood. 

I’m writing this article because of tweets that I’ve recently seen sent to @GiveBloodNHS. This Twitter account is the main handle for NHS blood donation. Naturally, as they do on TV, radio and with posters, they campaign and advertise in order to encourage blood donation. My issue isn't with this NHS Twitter account, my issue is with other Twitter users stating why they can’t give blood.

A typical post from @GiveBloodNHS is something like: ‘Do something amazing! Give blood and save up to three lives.’ This seems like quite an inspiring tweet that would potentially encourage people to give blood. However, as seen below, a lot of people direct their anger towards the NHS because of the current law on gay and bisexual men giving blood. One person said: ‘Shame I’m gay and I can’t due to outdated stigma’. Another said: ‘I’d love to but you still needlessly discriminate against me because I think men are hot…’ 

My issue isn’t with what these people have to say. I simply find it strange that these people direct their dissatisfaction with the law towards the NHS. It’s understandable that these people are angry due to being unfairly discriminated against due to their sexuality, however, directing this hate towards the NHS is not simply sad but also incredibly pointless. There is nothing the NHS can do about this law. It’s not like they can open up the donation centre one day and rewrite British legislation. Directing these messages towards the NHS is like telling your local Tesco to sell weed. Perhaps people at Tesco would like to sell weed but it would be against the law to do so, and it wouldn't be up to Tesco to change the law regarding the sale of cannabis. 

Perhaps this law is still outdated and it discriminates against gay and bisexual men, however, these messages should be directed at the government and the health minister if you want to see the law changed. Directing these messages towards the NHS isn't doing anyone any good. 

3 December 2017

Man is Hot

‘And as we reach four o'clock in the morning, I can confidently say that Jeremy Corbyn will be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.’ This sentence might not be as far-fetched as we thought. In a recent poll by Survation, who were the most accurate at the 2017 General Election, Labour have an eight-point lead on the Conservatives. (Labour 45, Conservatives 37, Lib Dems 6, UKIP 4, Green 1) This would give Labour 317 seats and the Conservatives 267. Although not a majority, they'd find it simple to form an alliance with the other progressive parties in order to have a working government.

How can it be then that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has taken such a huge lead in the polls since the General Election? Since June, Corbyn has continued campaigning all around Britain in order to bring his message to the people. Corbyn campaigned so well during the election that he closed the polling gap in June to a single point. Even his toughest of critics had to eat their own words as they couldn’t fault his tenacity and excellent campaigning skills. Since June, Corbyn has campaigned as hard as he did during the election and has slowly won over even more of his critics.

Part of Corbyn’s campaigning has seen him conduct interviews with popular magazines, appear on Channel Four’s ‘Gogglebox’ and pose for the front cover of Tory-boy magazine ‘GQ’. The latter has caused some to ask why Corbyn has chosen to appear on the front of the magazine that is openly aimed at Conservatives with their glamorous products and flashy adverts. However, some believe it is a stroke of genius. Corbyn has given himself an audience that might not usually give him the time of day. Part of Corbyn’s charm is his openness to popular culture and knowledge of trends. Corbyn’s infamous ‘man's not hot’ quote is one example of this. We have to wonder if this is down to him or his team. We’re all aware of his relationship with Stormzy and support from the grime industry. Many believe Corbyn references youth culture in order to keep the youth vote, but others believe he is genuinely up to date with youth culture.

The question now is, can Corbyn and Labour keep the lead and continue to build on it, or will the Conservatives, who are currently self-destructing, regroup and regain their lead over Labour? With the current state of the Brexit negotiations and controversy surrounding misconduct by cabinet members, the Conservatives are at loggerheads with each other and aren't portraying the ‘Strong and Stable’ image that they were so keen on peddling in June. If things continue to go the way they are, I don’t how the Conservatives can continue to cling on to power. Labour’s lead in the polls will naturally also depend on the Conservative’s actions over the next few years. But for now, Corbyn is doing everything right and the Tories are doing everything wrong. We shall see how the Brexit negotiations pan out and what will happen to certain cabinet members in the next few months. All of this will have an impact on the polls.

5 November 2017

21st Century Political Prisoners

How can it be that we have political prisoners in Western Europe in 2017? Earlier today, former Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont turned himself in to Belgian police after fleeing Spain to seek political asylum. Before Puigdemont fled Spain, he was leading the campaign for Catalonian independence. The Spanish government constantly blocked Catalonia’s calls for independence and called their referendum illegal. Things turned nasty when Spanish police violently quashed the Catalan protests. When Puigdemont left Spain in fear of his freedom, Spain put out an arrest warrant for him. 

How is it possible that we are accepting of political prisoners in 2017? Puigdemont’s arrest warrant was in place because of his political ideology. What happened to political freedom? We have to remember that we’re talking about Spain here and not East Germany. Puigdemont has done nothing wrong and is being treated like a violent fascist revolutionary. The Spanish government stripped Puigdemont of his powers as leader of Catalonia and called their vote for independence illegal. What we have here is a Spanish government that is scared of losing a vital part of Spain’s economy. Catalonia makes up around twenty per cent of Spain’s GDP. It’s natural that they’d be scared in their position, but that doesn't mean you can start governing like the Soviet Union. The should respond by granting people their democratic right.

Whether you believe that Catalonia should be an independent country or not, you should agree that the Catalonian people should get the right to decide for themselves. It is not up to us or the Spanish government to decide Catalonia’s future. I’m a firm believer that people should have the right to determine their own future. Scotland democratically decided their future in 2014 with their independence referendum. It showed the world how democracy should be. What Spain is doing to Catalonia is utterly undemocratic. Imagine if Scotland weren't granted their referendum in 2014. Imagine the uproar there would've been. But the British government gave the Scottish people the right to decide their own future. This is how it should be. It doesn't matter if you believe Catalonia should be an independent country. In 2014, I didn't think Scotland should've been an independent country. However, I supported their wish for a referendum because we should all have this right.

It should now be the role of other nations to speak to Spain and insist that Catalonia is granted a referendum. For Britain, it should be the role of the foreign secretary to speak to the Spanish government. Although I agree that we shouldn't tell other countries how to govern, when foreign governments are disregarding fundamental human rights such as democracy, it should be down to other democratic governments to push them in the right direction. Although I doubt the British government will want to interfere with Spanish affairs, it should be our duty to guide the Spanish government. It simply can’t be right that we have people fleeing because of their political ideology from a democratic country in the 21 century.