Corona on A level students

I’d like to discuss something that has been on my mind for quite a bit… how the coronavirus has affected my life as a student trying to get into university. In many ways, this can be seen to be of benefit to a lot sitting no exams, and that could overall have its perks along the lines of teacher assessments. However it’s difficult to overlook the underlying negatives that come with the lack of exams happening in May and June 

Firstly, I feel the general consensus is that a lot of time has been wasted revising. Although this time that we live and could not have been predicted in any way shape or form, the copious amounts of notes I’ve made and past papers I’ve done will help to guide the teachers in giving me my overall grade. On the other hand, I just feel that maybe I didn’t have to have as much stress as I did because this virus is turning down the World as we know it. Also, as a teenager, I’m feeling rather uncompleted. By this, I mean the summer that is coming up feels like it’s happening now in April and March. This whole situation just feels majorly surreal in the sense that the last two years, we’ve been building up to this final point… this final exam that will determine whether we go to be top-notch university or not, has just been taken away by external circumstances. The feeling of emptiness and incompletion stems from not completing the overall task. I guarantee that the summer that we thought we would have, will be nothing like that completed summer for GCSEs. Mainly because we haven’t completed our A levels to an extent and so we left in a sense of confusion and for those people panic. Also, I feel that the situation is 10 times worse for those sitting GCSE’s for 2 reasons. First, the experience of sitting GCSE’s matures a lot of people and makes them realise how important it is to revise properly for exams. The students that will miss them, won’t have this experience and I feel will really struggle with the task of A levels because of this. Secondly, it is much harder to predict what students will get for their GCSE’s due to the fact that students usually jump up by 2 grades from mocks, as a lot will realise that they need to really try, whereas they won’t with their mock examinations and work throughout that of the course.

The government have helpfully set out external exams for people who feel their grades will be limited by teacher assessment. This is quite fair that people have the option of sitting a final exam, as students historically do better in exams rather than throughout the year as there are fewer distractions along with they work harder due to the fact they know this is the most important part of their life up to date. The main problem with this is that if students sit these exams in I believe January, they will not be starting university until after Christmas with all Lectures being documented online, for them to catch up on. Regardless of this being the obvious point of strain to catch up, I feel that the overall experience of the first year in uni has been lost. The first year of university, or at least the first half of the year, I believe is to settle you in and make you used to live on your own. With these external exams taking place after Christmas, the first half of uni obviously is lost. This leads me on to think that a lot of students can be massively affected physically and mentally with the amount of work they have a catch up on and also the task of getting used to being by themselves. This I know might prove to be too much for most people who would have never even had the experience of living alone

Furthermore, it’s hard to stay motivated to do work whilst at home. I know for a fact that the school I go to sets work still as if we were still sitting exams on time. Honestly, this is a good idea. I haven’t been able to post over the last few days, just due to the fact I’ve been finishing off economic’s papers along with copious amounts of essays for history and politics. With this finished though, it’s easy to look back on those times spent working where I guarantee a lot of people would’ve just been relaxing in lockdown and letting their brains get out of study mode, and settle in relaxing mode in April and March, which might last until September. The exam boards have stressed that they don’t want people to do nothing until they go to university, due to the fact that they are going to find it really hard to adjust to the hard life of university because of the difficult work amounts and the independence that follows. That’s what I want to do this blog every now and again just so I keep on top of the task of writing, which I believe I’m going to have to do when I hit University

As a final point, I just want to address how I’m going to be tackling this blog a little better. I’m fully aware this gets a few views but that’s not the point of its existence. The main reason I do this is that it helps me to stay on top recent events and it lets me just express things that I’m interested in. Along with current event posts, I’d like to talk about issues that interest me such as the concept of human rights and society in general.

Well that’s it for this post 

See you next time

Back to it

It’s been an extraordinarily long time since I’ve been able to spare the time to get down to it and write a decent blog post, however now due to COVID-19 I have more than enough time to spare in between revising and writing essays for the work I still have to do

For this post, I would like to just quickly explain why there was been a significant lack of updates. The reason, however, is simple… A Levels. My A levels took the priority over a lot of my free time and in between revising, I couldn’t find the time to deal with a good, interesting post. Due to the outbreak, I’ll be giving my take on a lot of current world affairs

Scottish Independence

Throughout 2019, for the majority of the British public, the main event/ characteristic has been that of Brexit. This hot topic has controlled the minds, voices, and ears of the British people, becoming one of the most dividing and crucial events within British history.  However, Brexit is not the only case of one country wanting ‘out’ of an international union.

One feature that I have been familiar with about the Scottish Nationalist movement is that it refuses to engage in extreme methods to advance its cause. At the time of Spain Supreme Court jailing Catalan separatist leaders, for a time around 9 to 13 years for sedation, due to a following of and illegal independence referendum in 2017, we saw the SNP gathering peacefully in Aberdeen for its annual conference. A completely different approach of that happening within Spain

Nichola Sturgeon, The First Minister of Scotland and the Leader of the SNP, was very quick to condemn the Spanish court’s decision as dreadful. When we think of radical activity within the SNP, we see massive marches through streets or sometimes claims of the BBC are biased. The main point here is that they do follow the law. Throughout history, we can see this to be the case as the UK has been in the union for around 300 years by choice, with Scotland’s having the union work their way and having no need to leave, even with SNP have being elected into power frequently. Scotland’s choice to be in the union can be seen through them voting 55 to 45% of the nation to stay within the United Kingdom in 2014 

However, we can see the situation that we find ourselves residing in today is not the same as it once was in 2014, and the public opinion for Scotland leaving the United Kingdom has been creeping up to 50%. This can be seen to be the case due to a number of reasons. The more low-key reason will be the fact that both of the major parties within the UK hold such radical ideologies, that’s to the general public they are neither appealing. The more common reason would be the fact that the Scots voted to remain within the EU and opposed to Brexit by 62 to 38, which has evidently made things difficult with Scottish relations with the rest of the UK. This makes some Scots believe that the union has now become fractured beyond repair

Sturgeon has said she will request a section 30 order from Westminster which will enable another referendum by the end of the year. One massive problem with this is that it seems that a Conservative government would not oblige before the next Holyrood election in 2021. However, this referendum may still be on the cards due to the next general election which has been accepted by Corbyn. A Labour government under Corbyn may actually support the SNP in having a second referendum, If the SNP, support them in forming a government. This will only happen if the Tory party fails to form a majority government and the price to pay for labour getting into power would be a second Scottish referendum.

For some radical Scottish Nationalists, this prospect of a second referendum has made them realise that they need to have it sooner than later. This can be shown by the SNP leadership in Aberdeen having to fight off an attempt by rebels to force the party to adopt a plan B for securing independence. Some of the critics of Sturgeon have begun to say there is a sense of drift at the top, “ support for independence may be at 50%, but given the state of UK politics why isn’t it at 60%?” which was asked by one politician of the SNP party.  

On the other hand,  SNP strategists have decided they are more likely to win a majority for independence in Holyrood in 2021. This is due to the fact that it would establish an undeniable mandate for a new referendum and they wanted deep-rooted support for leaving, so when the referendum does eventually come to be, they will have more than 50%. 

Despite some unrest from SNP radicals, the gradualist of today still has the upper hand. This is due to the fact that they believe that the ability for a second referendum has never been greater and that by waiting for the right moment will give them what they deserve sooner rather than later with also a truth being that Miss Sturgeon doesn’t want to have to undergo a referendum as serious as this until she is certain of victory

What’s the best voting system?

One question I’ve been pondering ever since I was first introduced into the world of politics is that of ‘what is the best type of voting system’. Although it’s a difficult one to fully confirm with confidence what makes a successful voting system, I believe I’ll be able to determine this via inserting my own criteria to work around. In order to determine what makes a good voting system, I’ll be looking at the different types of voting systems within the UK (for simplicity), what should the age requirements be for young people to vote and should voting be mandatory or not.

First of all, I believe it necessary to address what would be the best type of voting system to have via the way people vote. Out of personal preference, I would have to say that the First Past the Post (FPTF) voting system within the England and Wales general elections is very good. This is due to the fact that it’s a simple plurality system. For me, these systems speed and simplicity are its main strengths. It doesn’t take long to count up the results of this as voters cast a single vote by placing a cross next to the name of their preferred candidate. Furthermore, the ability of this system to produce strong and stable governments is also a major strength whilst it is able to produce a strong link between MPs and their constituents. However, there are notable disadvantages of the system. For example, there is a lack of proportionality and there is limited vote or choice. MPs also allowed to be elected with less than 50% of the vote which gives votes unequal value and can lead to under representation. 

Some other systems used throughout the UK also could be seen to be decent voting systems. AMS is used in the Welsh assembly and is a hybrid mixed system, combining elements of FPTP and proportional representation. This is due to the fact that voters have two votes with one being for a constituency rep, which is elected via FPTP and the seconds it’s for a party list and uses multi member regional constituencies. The main reason why this can be seen to be a decent voting system is that there is a strong link between the voter and the constituency, and also there is a proportional element that gives votes more weight. The problem of this though is that I feel it creates two different types of members (some with constituency responsibility and some without) and also smaller parties have less representation than under a fully-proportional system due to the FPTP element. 

Finally, another voting system that can be considered to be decent is STV. This is a form of proportional representation as voters make a choice with a 123 preference. The votes are calculated using a complex counting process that takes into account voters’ second preference. If the candidate reaches the quota on the first round of counting, they are elected and the second preferences are redistributed. The advantage of this is that there is a close correlation between voters and seats whilst being a high voter choice. Within Northern Ireland, it has created a power-sharing government that has solved a lot of problems that the country faced prior to this system being in place. However, it is not fully proportional and in multi-member constituencies, the link between members and the votes may be lost. Also, power-sharing governments also cause new types of problems.

So in my mind, the best voting system by which votes are physically taken is First Past the Post, however, there are still two more crucial criteria by which people are still conflicted. One of these criteria is that of ‘what’s the age limit of voting?’. This stems from the question of should the vote be extended to 16?

One good argument that would support extending the vote to 16 would be that of future policies and legislation affecting the younger generation more than the elderly. This question was seen at the Brexit 2016 referendum where young 16 to 17-year-olds were not given the vote to decide the future of Britain’s EU relations. Within the Scottish independence referendum 2014, 16 to 17-year-olds were given the vote. This allows for a more genuine answer to the question of remain or stays with Scotland’s UK relations. however, it would be expected of me as a 17-year-old to support the extension of the vote to 16 but I have to say I’m not a full supporter. I do believe that within a good voting system, on some policy aspects and referendums the voting age should be limited to 16 and over. Unfortunately, I do believe it is also a case of maturity which can be very hard to come by with 16 to 17-year-olds and giving them the power to vote on such dense issues, may not be the best for a good voting system

Also, another question that I’ve been thinking about is that on certain issues, should there be a voting cap.? This is a question I pondered due to the Brexit referendum. Where elderly people were allowed to vote on a situation that wouldn’t affect them entirely in the long run. For me I partially agree with this, however, I have to say it is entirely undemocratic and I wouldn’t implement it into my ideal voting system due to this reason.

Finally, the second piece of criteria that can be seen as crucial to looking at a good voting system is that of mandatory voting. This is because living where I live right now (The United Kingdom), we have a situation where voting is not mandatory. This can lead to the more active and inspired political motives to come out but can also lead to low turnout. On the other hand, a situation with mandatory voting can lead to a negative outlook upon the voting process. Also, it may lead to a lack of care when people go to vote, making half-hearted decisions and not thinking about who they are really voting for. For me, I have to say that the mandatory voting system isn’t ideal as you want people to want to go out and vote willingly, making  decisions based on what they truly believe and not just what they think they have to do.

That in sum is briefly  what I think the ideal voting system would look like. It will include the first past the post voting structure, with an 18 and above voting age limit and also non-mandatory voting.

 

 

What makes the perfect Politician?

Something I’ve been musing about lately is,  ‘What is the perfect politician’.

To many, this may be a simple answer. The perfect politician is a professional, well-spoken, charismatic and confident individual. With some of these characteristics being met within the modern-day, I think it’s important to note that to many the perfect politician has changed and been twisted into something that previous generations deemed to be a disgrace and something that would not receive much power. Within this post, My goal is to address what the perfect politician looked like historically, examples of twisted and different modern-day politicians and finally will this new wave of difference change or revert back to its historical roots. 

First off it’s best to address the history of what made the perfect politician. An example to demonstrate what historical politicians looked like, is to look at politicians from the 19th century. From my studies of Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, I can say that the prime minister that was elected wasn’t anything like we see today. William Pitt was the prime minister when Britain went to war with France after the French Revolution. Ideas were swarming the nation of revolution and liberalism. Pitt passed laws so that these ideas would be suppressed and he would not give in to the ideology of populism and listening to much to what the people wanted. Furthermore, regardless of the way and means that the Prime Minister would have been elected, there wasn’t nearly as much controversy and fear when one was elected. Therefore a politician back in history would be able to pass legislation without worrying about serious repercussions and the idea of giving in to the will of the people wasn’t seen to be a common affair.

Now modern-day politicians can and seem to be the opposite of what was sewn

in history. To explain this I’ll use examples of politicians that have completely thrown off the scale of what a politician should look like. First, there is Boris Johnson the UK Prime Minister. Regardless of being a bright individual (studying classics at Oxford), he has arguably had the most controversial part of any British prime minister and before he was in the race to become the next Conservative leader, no soul within Britain thought he would be the leader. I believe Boris Johnson is a good example as to the turning point into what a politician should look like because of his controversial past. This is the same as another example I’ll use, of Donald Trump. Both of these figures have had massively controversial and different pasts to the point that at any other time, this would’ve led them not to become the leader of their respective nations. So why are they, leaders?  I believe this is because we are entering an era of massive change and this has affected what we look for in a leader. Trump was elected because America wanted something different and he said what he thought regardless of its effect on people. At any other time, this would’ve killed a campaign, but he won.  The people want something different something unique and that’s where these leaders come in.

I think the view of a modern-day politician has turned into a “man of the people” (or woman) and overall someone who doesn’t do what they are told to do by the ‘organisation’. This was the basis of what Trump was elected on, saying he would do controversial things such as build a wall between Mexico and the United States. However, this has been seen to have not been the case recently as he has not been able to do almost anything he promised to do and in some cases, looks to be one of the most ordinary Republican presidents to date.  Furthermore, Boris Johnson’s ambitious aim to “get Brexit done” has led to him having the support and helping him secure his job as prime minister. He does not show any characteristics and similarities to that of a Conservative leader. It has not happened in the past that we have seen a Conservative leader talk about the will of the people. He does this because he is not a Conservative, he is a populist. This has led to a morphing of the view of the perfect politician, as it is just what the people want. When Trump was elected, America wanted something different. Trump delivered that by promising ambitious things and doing outrageous stuff. Within Britain when Boris Johnson was elected, the nation wanted Brexit to happen. Boris Johnson promised and made it his mission to make this a reality, causing him to ditch traditional conservative values and become a populist in order to get the support of the people. Therefore the perfect politician is just what the people want at a certain point in time. 

When I heard of the UK’s new PM (Short)

So, it’s been apparent for a while now that we are on the brink of a new age, new dawn if you will… a time where Boris Johnson is the new PM of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I know that at least 80% of the country (especially labour supporters and the Scots) will be devastated by the new PM. Due to his prior actions he’s undertaken, you can’t really blame them.

Before I get into talking about the potential havoc the new PM may cause, let me just tell you about when I heard the news over the announcement of who won the Tory premiership.

It was the day of the tour de France as I was sitting within my hire car with my brother as my dad drove us to go see the bikes pass near the house we were staying in. The temperature was around 39° so as you can imagine I was absolutely boiling all day. We put the BBC on the radio to hear who had won the Tory premiership. When it said “Boris Johnson” and we heard him give a speech I knew for a fact that Britain would be entering a very interesting time. Regardless of whether he is a successful prime minister or he fails to live up to the low standards a lot of people have set for him, I know for a fact that the next few years maybe some of the most interesting in history.

The day after that, I remember sitting down with my grandparents, who currently live and have lived in France for the last 10 years, watching the entire day of Theresa May leaving office and Boris Johnson entering. During Theresa May’s last speech I remember her final dig at Jeremy Corbyn, suggesting whether both of their times were up and he should accept that,  regardless of my own political views, I do think she may be right and labour may need a new face.

Boris Johnson’s first speech from Downing Street was one that a lot of Tories may be able to hold in high regard. It was very bland but inspirational at the same time. In my own opinion, I feel he talks highly of what he ‘may’ be able to do and sold a dream he may not be able to deliver. He offered solutions and answers to problems that people had but he didn’t actually say how he would do that. 

 

 

Will the UK regret its decision​ to leave the EU?

The European Union is a unique economic and political union containing 28 EU countries that together cover much of the continent of Europe. The European Economic Community, founded in 1958, was formed due to the detrimental aftermath of the Second World War, initially increasing economic cooperation between six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Since then, 22 other members have joined and a massive single market has been created. What was purely an economic union evolved into an organization spanning policy areas, the name change from the ECC to the EU in 1993 reflected this. A Referendum was held on Thursday 23 June 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union, Leave won by 51.9% to 48.1% with a turnout of 30 million people (71.8%).

The key issue at stake here is the question: will the UK benefit or suffer from its exit from the EU? In order to provide the best analysis, it’s necessary to look at the different types of deals the UK may end up leaving under, as these will have different effects on the UK as a whole. The concept of a No Deal Brexit is at the centre of the debate. Mrs May has made it clear that the UK does not want an “off the shelf” trade deal, and has repeatedly stated, “no deal is better than a bad deal”. The underlying cons of a no-deal are causing much concern and creating a situation in which a loss of confidence from foreign countries and business alike are rising, affecting the UK politically and economically simultaneously. With that being said, let’s look at the potential pros and cons of a no deal Brexit.

This scenario will arise if British politicians fail to come to an agreement before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, the country will walk away with no deal. There are undeniably numerous cons from the UK exiting the European Union without a proper deal in place, such as The Bank of England has warned that a No-deal Brexit may shrink the UK economy by 8% in a year and lead to domestic house prices falling via a third. “The U.K constituents only about 2% of the global economy and 4% of the world goods trade, so global ramifications of all realistic scenarios are likely to be manageable”, said John Lynch. Capital Economics has warned that a disorderly exit could hurt British GDP Growth by 1%-2% spread over 2 years.

Furthermore, politically a No Deal Brexit would prove to be detrimental to the Irish Backstop. A No-Deal may reignite the troubles that once subsided in Ireland, as Ireland is an EU state and Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK. This will cause a hard border to come into place, and 35,000 commuters will be forced to have to travel across the hard border to get to work. However, as opposed to the overwhelming negatives of a No-deal Brexit, there may be some benefits which may leave the UK not regretting the Brexit vote, for instance, the Government would not have to pay the annual £13 billion contributions to the EU budget. However Britain would lose out on some EU subsidies – the Common Agricultural Policy gives £3 billion to farmers, but it is likely that both the EU and the UK will have to honour financial commitments under the 2019 budget. Also, the UK would revert to World Trade Organisation rules on trade. While Britain would no longer be bound by EU rules, it would have to face the EU’s external tariffs. The price of imported goods in shops for Britons could go up as a result. All this suggests that a No-deal Brexit might overall leave the UK regretting Brexit, due to the uncertainty it will cause politically and economically.

Looking into detail at the scenario of a no-deal Brexit, we can clearly see how this would cause the UK to regret its decision on Brexit. However, with the new Tory leadership race coming to a close and the deadline looming, there is still a chance for another type of deal to be struck with the EU about its divorce with the UK.

This may be in the form of a ‘Hard Brexit’. This term is essentially another way to say a clean break from Europe. That means Britain giving up membership of the single market. If Britain finds itself outside of the Customs Union, imported goods will become suddenly more expensive, squeezing consumer spending across the country. It is undecided and disputed between British politicians alike whether the UK will end up regretting a hard Brexit, as the terms we would leave under aren’t yet decided. At present, roughly 45% of the UK’s exports are to the EU with 50% of its imports coming from the EU. “Should the UK go down the hard Brexit path, the UK economy would likely slow further as EU trade uncertainty weighs on consumer sentiment and business investment”, said John Lynch, chief investment strategist at LPL Financial. Furthermore, even with an agreement, a hard Brexit could prove to be detrimental to the country. The city of London reported that 5,000 jobs could be lost. Housing prices have already started to fall. London is already losing many nurses and other health care professionals. In the year following the Referendum, almost 10,000 quits. On the political side of things, under a hard Brexit, Scotland could end up leaving the UK. This is because it may opt to join the EU on its own, as some countries within the kingdom of Denmark have. It may even have its own referendum, as 62 to 38% of Scots voted to remain. The entire concept of a hard Brexit is not entirely negative and though it might leave the UK regretting its decision to leave, there are some irrefutable positives that may arise. With a hard Brexit, the goal is to take law-making powers away from Brussels and return them to Parliament. The Conservatives’ Great Repeal Bill aims to gradually remove the UK from EU courts’ jurisdiction and all EU legislation will be copied into UK domestic law, allowing the British parliament to “amend, repeal and improve” laws as necessary.  A hard Brexit will also increase UK involvement with the commonwealth and the UK will devote its entire budget to it, ‘keeping money in the family’ so to speak’, this is beneficial to the UK as keeps commonwealth member states from leaving. A group of economists who do back Brexit has predicted that Britain leaving the EU will add £135bn a year to Britain’s economy. Overall, it is clear to see that Britain has more to lose than gain from pushing for a hard Brexit. In the long-term, though, its citizens may find that the autonomy and right to self-determination afforded by that decision to be worth it. 

On a continued note, as opposed to completely leaving the EU and having a minor agreement with it, there is a possibility of that of a ‘soft Brexit’. Such a scenario would minimize disruption to trade, supply chains and businesses in general, as the UK will remain closely aligned with the EU. Economists have described that the least damaging path for Brexit to take. Supporters, of a soft Brexit to benefit the UK called for a deal similar to what Norway has with the EU. This is because Norway is a part of the single market but in return abides by the free movement rules. It’s already become clear that UK Politicians aren’t willing to compromise on immigration with the EU, claiming that such a deal will betray the wishes of the British public. “We expect UK domestic stocks to outperform UK exporters by 20% if a soft Brexit materializes,” said Sebastian Raedler, head of European equity strategy at Deutsche Bank, in an interview with Bloomberg. However, many parts of a soft Brexit will actually leave a lot of the UK pleased with the terms, for instance, the UK will keep control of Immigration control, which has been the main goal for UKIP (a rising single goal party). Also, both the EU and the UK will have access to its single market, resulting in non-tariff trade. Some pro-exciters have estimated that with a clean break from the EU, the UK will be free to negotiate trade deals with other countries, this is to make up for 12-24 months of non-EU trade. The Irish border is likely to be open with clean negotiations, so there is no need for a hard border. Overall, a soft Brexit may leave the UK not regretting its decision on leaving the EU, as it will still have access to the single market and it’ll have control over immigration levels. However, there are still unfavourable terms within a Soft Brexit, as the UK may have to abide by the EU’s free movement laws, which contradicts UKIPs policy on controlling immigration.

In conclusion, A soft Brexit has the pros of keeping the UK within the Single market but comes at a cost of the UK accepting the EU free movement laws, which contradicts Britain wanting to keep a tighter grip on immigration. A hard Brexit will bring about (in the short term), uncertainty and major losses to the British economy (e.g. the city of London reported that 5,000 jobs could be lost) but in the long term, the British citizens may like the increased autonomy and self-determination. A hard Brexit will cause major economic and political problems but will allow the UK to be an entire spate entity from the EU. Overall, the UK might regret its decision to leave the EU, as a Hard Brexit and a No Deal Brexit are likely to happen, and these carry too many major cons for the UK politically and economically. 

(Biography) … 

https://www.fxcm.com/uk/insights/economic-impact-hard-brexit-vs-soft-brexit/

http://inews.co.uk/news/brexit/hard-brexit-vs-soft-brexit-difference-meaning-what-consequences/

http://www.thebalance.com/brexit-consequnces-4062999

http://www.investopedia.com/hard-soft-on-hold-or-no-deal-brexit-outcomes-explained-4584439

https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/816563/Hard-Brexit-V-Soft-Brexit-facts-explained-pros-cons-European-Union

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Young Labour Political School

On the 11th of September, I travelled all the way down to Birmingham to attend Labour’s political school. One of the main reasons as to why I decided it would be interesting for me to attend is that this event would further my knowledge of the politics of labour under Jeremy Corbyn, and also the fact that it would expand my view of the world we live in today.

I arrived around 9:40 and had to wait until 10:25 until we were able to go to the main hall and receive our programmes. The first thing I was drawn towards was the fact that the first event of the day was a speech from Corbyn himself, I did find this both exciting and intriguing. I knew it would be a great experience of viewing a speech from an MP, let alone the leader of a political party. However, I don’t consider myself as a socialist and I knew it would be interesting, to say the least, to hear a speech from one. I decided to listen to it with a very open mind, as I was willing to be swayed with the policies and views Corbyn enlisted.IMG_3254

The experience of hearing a speech from the leader of the labour party was surreal, to say the least. I don’t believe that it would be accurate to identify myself as a socialist from this experience, however, I found myself agreeing with a lot of the policies he suggested as the overall achievability of them isn’t ridiculous. One idea he proposed was that of a Green industrial revolution. Humanity won’t be able to pursue the path any longer, as this path will lead to a rise of the global temperature by 3 degrees. One example of the trouble this will cause is the fact that this will lead to the flooding of major cities like Miami, due to rising sea levels. Furthermore, he also proposed that of a national living wage, which seems like a decent idea in theory but begs the question of how it’ll be funded.

After the speech given by Jeremy Corbyn, we were allowed to split into three different fringe groups which were called “ fringe breakouts”. There were three of these in total and I decided to go to the one which discussed trade unions, more specifically how to organise. I chose this over transformative local government and Windrush and the hostile environment. This is because within one of my history papers we are learning about Britain from 1785 to 1870 focusing on the movement to a more modern state. Within this course, trade unionism is a massive part and I thought it would be very interesting to see how tradings compare now to how they can be compared back in the 19th century.

The overall meeting I found to be very inspiring as we were told stories of the horrific experiences some workers have had within their workplace, most notably ASOS, which was deemed to become the next sports direct. We told how some workers are treated very unfairly, for example, we were told a story of a woman who was getting a lot of stress from her current work hours and saw a therapist who recommended her to change her shifts. She discussed this with her manager and was fired.  Other talks, for example from Brian Simpson, describes how he ran his own Scottish trade union and how we can become more involved. I learnt from this that anyone can join a trade union within their work and how important and necessary they are in defending workers.

This lead onto 12:45 which was lunch and after that there was a panel for Britain’s role in the world towards a socialist foreign part of the policy. This talk mainly focused on oppressed countries and what their international situations are like and how we could potentially help. The two most notable talks for me was by Asif Mohammed and Dan Carden (MP). Asif Mohammed spoke about the Cuban solidarity campaign and the situation there. Asif said that is despite having a socialist government and limited support from the US blockade occurring, they had very little poverty and high education levels. This showed me a different outlook on socialism, even though I don’t agree with the ideology personally, I began to see some benefits and some ways in which it could actually be rather positive. The other talk was from an MP named Dan Carden, who is actually the acting shadow secretary of state for international development. He spoke of his work and the world we working on this only heightens my political interest and showed me that I do want to work towards a job as an MP potentially in the future and it seems exciting and rewarding.

There were more fringe breakouts at 14:45, which I chose to attend one which was about community organising. I was told stories of corruption within small businesses who had too much money to spend and spent it on the wrong things. We did this exercise which I found to be quite useful where we had a sheet of paper and we drew a cross. On each end of the cross, we had different groups of people and we had a common theme which for us was about public transport. We had to place different ways of getting attention to improving public transport on the piece of paper. For example at the top of the cross was government officials, and we had to find of ways that they would pay attention to public transport. I found this method of jotting things down to be very different to what I’ve ever done in jotting things down however it is very useful and I can say with confidence I’ve used it myself sometimes after the day!

Finally, the last talk was at 4 o’clock with a panel on socialism in our lifetime. This panel spoke on many things to do with Labour law and the way the party is moving. Policies included trade union recognition and access rights to be simplified, Aa framework of stronger statutory rights, enforcement mechanisms will be strengthened and National joint Council’s will be rolled out in every sector to negotiate sectoral collective agreements. To end off this post I’ll explain each of these in more detail.  With trade unions, there will be improved and simplified rates for trade unions to inspect workplaces where a member reports non-compliance with the law will be introduced. Also, the laws prohibiting requirements to recognise and/ or negotiate with trade unions in contracts will be repealed. A framework of stronger statutory rights includes a living wage, equal rights from day one for all workers regardless of whether they are employed directly, for an agency, or contracted for a mobile app. There will also be a minimum number of guaranteed hours for all workers and stronger protections against discrimination and harassment plus many more positive policies to protect workers. Enforcement mechanisms include such policies like blacklisting should attract criminal sanctions also failed to pay compensation should be treated as an aggravated breach, attracting financial penalties and criminal sanctions for the worst offenders. Plus many more policies for crime and order. Finally, NGCs will also represent the interests of the sector to the government so that workers, employers and lawmakers can work together to plan future challenges and opportunities, making the best use of emerging technologies and industries to strengthen the UK economy. All these policies sound great but I would wonder how they could be introduced and they would work within our modern society.