Door knocking for Labour

I’ve been doorknocking for about 2 months now and I can say without a doubt it’s been a very strange affair. The entire concept of it depends on the fact that the residents are in, let alone willing to speak with you.

The first-ever time I went door-knocking was around September. I received an email from my local labour party who were letting all constituent members of events that were coming up to help promote and support Labour in the then-upcoming local elections. When I read it I decided that this would be a fun and useful way to further delve myself into the political world. The door-knocking event took place at half 5 on a Thursday, and due to the fact that it, unfortunately, takes me an hour to get home from my sixth form, I had 2 mins to get ready to run out the house and meet the others.

When I arrived at the meeting point, I was greeted by 10 people, one was our local electorate, who was wearing a suit and the others were just either normal members and people with jobs within labour. It was decided that it would be best if we split into two groups of 5, to cover more ground.

The whole idea of the operation was that we all had little fliers which had the email of local labour at the bottom. Within our gang, we had one who held multiple sheets of paper which told us what specific houses to knock within the assigned roads we were given. We did each house individually and were told the names and ages of the residents, alongside the vital information of whether they had ever previously voted Labour.

The key issue of the area where I lived, was the fact that it was a marginal seat, this means unlike the rest of  Merseyside, this area was hotly contested within two parties. In this case that parties were both Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The consequences of this meant that most houses were torn between which party to vote for.

When we arrived to begin door knocking, as it was my first time, I tagged along with another knocker for 6 houses, just to get the swing of things and to learn the routine. The routine I learnt was that I would introduce myself by saying “Hi my name is George from your local Labour Party “this would remain constant throughout the house. After that, I would ask him/her in a polite manner what party they will be leaning towards for the upcoming local elections. This point was very important to note down as this will determine whether they were voting for us in the local elections. I would usually get three different responses; yes I am voting labour, I don’t really want to say or no I won’t be voting labour. After all, this has been completed I would give them a sheet and see if they had any queries at all they can email the email attached to the bottom.

After we receive the information of what the constituents will be voting for we would then relay this information back to the person who was holding the sheets of residents we were knocking for. This person then wrote down what we told them and we would know next time whether to bother with these houses or not. Also, this will be useful to know who will actually vote for labour in the upcoming elections.

Most of the houses I knocked that ended up telling me that they weren’t actually decided on who they were going to vote for, I took this upon myself most the time to end up trying to convince them to vote Labour. I wouldn’t do this in a forceful manner I would ask what queries they had and talk to them about these issues. The most common query I got was the fact that Jeremy Corbyn is in charge. This common theme seemed to deter these voters and the main problem was that they didn’t like his policies or the handling of Brexit. 

Strangely enough, the first house was the most strange one by far. I had just gotten into the swing of things and was ready to give it a go. However, I was greeted by an elderly gentleman who the longer I spoke to seemed more and more unwilling to vote. He kept mentioning how he felt he was too old to vote and his vote wouldn’t fully represent the area and was meaningless. He was an old Labour voter and I tried to convince him otherwise, the best I achieved was he decided to consider voting. The entirety of our conversation was built around the difference between the elderly and the youth and how they both want different things. I found this to be an interesting view on the voting as a whole, it’s made me question whether there should be a voting age cap. However, I decided that that would be undemocratic as those who are eligible to vote should be able to vote even if they are elderly and decisions taken might not affect them as long as younger voters.

Overall I found doorknocking to be an incredibly fascinating experience with a lot of different views and opinions people were more than willing to share. This led me to want to become an advocate doorknocker to not only help labour but to enhance my involvement in the political sphere.

Berlin Trip

IMG_1266.JPGBack in February, I visited Berlin with my family for my Dad’s 50th. The trip overall lasted about 3 days which was enough to see the political and historical side of what the capital of  Germany has to offer. From the Reichstag to Museum island (very creative), it was evident why this city is one (if not the) most historical capitals of Europe.

There was nothing much to talk about on the first day, we touched down in Berlin around midday so no one felt like exploring right off the bat, and even doing that seemed like a challenge on the first day at the airport we landed at was about a 40 min train ride. I can recall two changes until we arrived at Alexandra Platz (Where we were staying) in our air BnB apartment which wasn’t all too far from the city centre.)

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Jewish Holocaust memorial

All that happened that day that was significant, was that we went out to try about the Berlin local cuisine in a bar not too far from the hotel. Later in the evening, we went to a nearby supermarket to stock up on food for the following 2 days.

I’d say the second day of my trip arguably had the most to see, this is mainly due to the fact that we were booked on a fat tires bike tour around the city. On this, we were able to see the most of what Humboldt to offer.

The first site that really piqued my interest was the Jewish Holocaust memorial in Berlin, with more specifically with how it was it was designed. When we arrived at the site we were told we were not allowed to stand on top of the blocks but we were allowed to walk through them. When I walked through it felt like you were being absolutely consumed by a sea of white pillars and every corner was met with the question of what’s around?

The floor was very bumpy, so it was at times weird to walk around. This I believe was representing the difficult road Jewish people had to suffer on at the time. It was designed by the architect Eisenman after he won the second competition after the first competition was left with two designs that were over the set budget. He won together with the artist Serra. Their design originally envisaged a huge labyrinth of 4,000 stone pillars of varying heights scattered over 180,000 square fees. Serra ended up quitting, citing personal and professional. Among other changes, the initial Eisenman-Serra project was soon scaled down to a monument of some 2,000 pillars.

Personally, I believe that the memorial is a perfect tribute. Each stone is a different shape and size, representing uniqueness and the sameness of the people who were murdered. Finally, the walkway represents that of a labyrinth, which the architect wanted people to feel whilst wandering through, feeling lost, disorientated and confused, just like Jewish people felt.

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Brandenburg Gate

The next site that I found fascinating was the Brandenburg Gate. The Brandenburg Gate is an 18th-century neoclassical monument in Berlin, built on the orders of Prussian king Frederick William II after the successful restoration of order during the early Batavian Revolution. This is one of the most important monuments in the entirety of Berlin, representing over 200 years of history, Germans from east and west Berlin would climb to the top during the cold war to catch a glimpse of what life was like on the other side of the iron curtain. The charity, pulled via 4 horses, is carrying a woman carrying a staff with the Black Eagle which used to lay on the Prussian flag. I believe that this statue can have many different interpretations in which people can see it as a sign of unity within Germany, or of a display of old-time Prussian dominance over central Europe. Behind the gate, there is a massive open road which to me, symbolizes unity and openness with what Germany is now, the statue uppon the gate holds up the Prussian black eagle, which to me highlights the fact that the admired political and military strength of Prussia, has now been lifted and shinning over what is now a united Germany.

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Top of the Reichstag

This is the top of the Reichstag, which is strangely holding a gigantic glass dome with a 360 view of the city of Berlin. The dome was designed by Architect Norman Foster to be environmentally friendly. A massive sun shield tracks the movement of the sun electronically and blocks direct sunlight which, wouldn’t only cause large solar gain but also amaze those below. The dome has a huge spiral walkway which takes you up to the top which arguably, presents the greatest view of Berlin. The overall design of the dome is to represent a futuristic and transparent Reichstag, pushing Germany away from their horrific past (Nazism). The dome presents a more united and democratic Germany.

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looking down onto Parliament

 

One of the greatest aspects of the Reichstag dome is its core, which contains a transparent view of the German Parliament. Personally, I found this extremely fascinating as most Parliaments around the globe will keep debates behind closed doors (e.g the UK house of commons and lords), this represents the openness of the post WW2 and Cold war Germany. The mirrored centre cone actually directs sunlight into the building, and so that visitors can see the working of the chamber.

 

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Berlin Opera house

One thing I had never done and absolutely, never expected I would do was actually watch an Opera. Never the less, we visited the Berlin Opera house to watch an Opera called ‘Carmen’. The story of Carmen is a gipsy girl named Carmen who gets into a fight at the factory she works at, and before she can get arrested, she falls in love and manipulates the army Corporal of Dragoons called Don Jose. Don Jose and Carmen end up falling love and Carmen convinces him to desert the army to follow her in a life of crime. He does and as events unfold, she falls for a famous Spanish bullfighter named Escamillo. She leaves to watch him fight and Don Jose meets her outside the arena. As Escamillo kills the bull and cuts out the heart, Don Jose does the same to Carmen.

A New Approach​

I know that I haven’t been posting on here as much as I should, so I believe that alongside the news posts of Brexit (the hot topic at the moment) I’ll include more personal political aspects of my life I believe may be interesting.  I probably should have talked about these earlier. Ah, the benefit of hindsight!

An extension

Barnier has suggested that it is possible that the EU may not actually grant a long article 50 extension unless May backs a customs union. He has already stated that the UK will remain an ally and a partner, also that an orderly withdrawal agreement has been the EU’s goal.

If the UK wants to leave the EU in an orderly fashion, the only way to do so is on the basis of the withdrawal agreement. He says the UK and the EU could add to the free trade agreement already proposed in the PD a customs union. This could be added rapidly, “within a few hours or days”, he says.

Reflection on the votes

On the 27th March, Theresa May stated to Conservative MPs that if they back her EU withdrawal deal –  In the PM’s own words, ” I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party”. She did not set a specific date for her departure. However, the PM said she was aware that the Tory party didn’t want her to lead the next phase of the Brexit negotiations.

There were many different types of withdrawals that were put forward via groups, some assuming Mays deal will pass. Some of these proposed options consist of;  of a NO DEAL, which was put forward by  John Baron (Tory MP), this is when the UK will leave on the 12th April without a deal, Common Market 2.0, proposed by Tory MP Nick Boles, The UK will join the European Economic Area and negotiates a temporary customs union until a deal can be arranged. Labours Alternative plan put forward by Jeremy Corbyn, A customs union with the EU and “close alignment’ with the single market, Confirmatory public vote, by Labour MP Margaret Beckett, Parliament cannot ratify or implement any agreement on the UK’s withdrawal and future relationship “unless and until they have been approved  by the people of the UK in a confirmatory public ballot” and more proposed deals by MPs.

However, when it came down to the vote on the 1st of April, (for a second time) none of the MPs’ proposed Brexit options ended up receiving clear support from the Commons.

 

 

 

The Brexit March continues – no pun intended

On the 21st of March, Theresa May announced that as the deadline for Brexit was agreed to be on the 29th of March 2019, both herself and EU leaders have agreed to a delay plan. This means that the UK will be offered a delay until 22 May, IF… MPs approve the withdrawal deal negotiated with the EU next week. However, this may be shortened to the 12th of April, allowing the UK time to get the deal through or to “indicate a way forward”. The PM said that there is now a “clear choice”, for MPs to vote for or against her deal for the third time.

In other news, the organisers of a campaign known as “Put It To The People”, have stated that apparently, 1,000,000 people turned up to their march before rallying in front of Parliament. The apparent protesters were raising EU flags, claiming that any future Brexit deal should be put to a people’s vote. Some notable people who attended the rally included Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, former Tory turned independent MP Anna Soubry and former attorney general, Dominic Grieve.Protesters at the People's Vote march

A further speedbump slowing down Brexit *sigh*

So now officially another speedbump has been laid out upon the Brexit fiasco. Theresa May’s new deal was rejected earlier this week, making us wonder if a no-deal situation is inevitable at this point. May has stated that if her withdrawal agreement is accepted before the EU summit meeting on Thursday, the UK will seek a short delay to Brexit to pass the necessary legislation. Ms May said it would be a “potent symbol of Parliament’s collective political failure” if a delay to Brexit meant the UK was forced to take part in May’s European elections – almost three years after voting to leave the EU.

Meanwhile,  the leader of the opposition,  Jeremy Corbyn has written to MPs across the Commons inviting them for talks to find a cross-party compromise. He also told Sky that while he “has to see the wording of it”, Labour MPs would be told to vote in favour of an amendment calling for another referendum next week, and he said he may propose another vote of no confidence in the government if the PM’s deal is voted down again.

Labour for a Second Referendum?!

So, on the 25th of February Jeremy Corbyn told Labour MPs that if their own Brexit deal is rejected, they will fully support a second referendum. To understand this situation better, let’s have a look into a Labour Brexit deal.

Some points Labour has stated on their official website include ” Labour wants a close future relationship with the EU based on our values of internationalism, solidarity, and equality – maintaining and extending rights, standards and protections”. This differs from some Tory views of a hard Brexit which would cut all ties with the EU, also this will protect workers’ rights which Labour has always set out to do. Another part of a Labour Brexit, ” Labour respects the result of the referendum, and Britain is leaving the EU. But we will not support any Tory deal that would do lasting damage to jobs, rights and living standards”. From this, it is clear to see why Labour would want a second referendum as they won’t support no-deal Brexit, which is becoming more likely. With a no-deal Brexit comes uncertainty and if someone works abroad, it isn’t clear what their rights would be. Labour, therefore, sees it beneficial to have a second referendum so the people can decide whether they still want Brexit to go through, with a big chance of a no-deal.

In order to support a second referendum, John Mcdonell (The shadow chancellor) has stated that rather than allowing a free vote, Labour will whip their MPs into supporting a second referendum. This shows how serious Labour will be in supporting a second referendum as they’re reducing the chance massively of the Tories from getting any Labour MPs who are on the fence about a second referendum.

Interesting times ahead I think.

 

My MP resigned and my first dramatic CLP

Before this post starts, I think it’s worth me mentioning the fact that there was no blog post last week as I’ve been swamped with work, but now that’s finished I’ll try to organize my time better so I can get more posts out.

So, recently a shocking turn of events has hit the UK’s two main political parties, some MPs have taken it upon themselves to resign from the Tory and Labour party. The labour party MPs who did end up resigning were Joan Ryan, Luciana Berger (my MP) Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Ann Coffey, Gavin Shuker, and Chuka Umunna. This sparked major interest and confusion into the ins and outs of these significant resignations. These Labour resignations have also pushed to some tory resignations, with Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston following suit.

It has been now recognised that the Labour MPs resigned due to their shared idea and belief that a no-deal Brexit must be prevented.

Heidi Allen was asked on BBC Newsnight if they could all agree on issues such as this, she responded with “probably not, but it doesn’t matter because this is a fresh start”. To me, this quote is very significant to the future of the new break off the group as it shows that they are not fully ‘one entity’, meaning they will not unanimously agree on every single issue that comes up, this could lead to tension within their Independent Group. Potentially, the group could form an alliance with the Lib Dems as they are a centrist party and this sort of alliance will strengthen the stance of centrism with the United Kingdom. However, this future looks unlikely as the Independent Group has denied any similarities with the SDP forming an alliance with the Liberal Party, meaning they will not be looking to create some sort of alliance with the Lib Dems.

On another note, I wanted to make a post on this a while back but I could never find the time to get around to it, but now I’m going to be making sure this blog is of the highest quality and I have time to get up lengthy posts. So with that being said…  On the 15th of February, I attended my first ever (Wavertree is my constituency for anyone wondering) CLP. The meeting as a whole was fascinating, I could really see how democratic it was as when the speaker brought up a topic, members were allowed to raise their hands to ask a question which would be answered by one of the panel members.  Highlights of the evening consisted of two key moments for me. One was the discussion of how important Childwall was as recently Labour in Wavertree had lost Childwall to the Lib Dems. Activities such as door knocking were proposed which showed how active they were and serious the loss of votes in one area can be.

Another fascinating part of the meeting was the talk of specific topics, more specifically the issue of Sudan. A guest speaker from Sudan was allowed to speak and talk about the horrors of countless murders and corruption which is currently taking place due to the dictatorship which is in place within the Sudan government. The guest’s speech also brought our attention that western countries aren’t doing enough to help the people of Sudan and to an extent supporting them. When it was time to vote in favour of the guest’s cause, there wasn’t a single abstained or vote against it, this display of care and support for foreign affairs demonstrates the goodness in people and how Wavertree wants to help Sudan.

Prior to the meeting, I was emailed a meeting agenda which proposed ousting our recently resigned MP Luciana Berger and quoted things she had said about Jeremy Corbyn.  I’m very sad to see Luciana leave.  Whilst her appointment was somewhat controversial with many believing she was helicoptered in to a safe seat from her home in London – with no links to the community or Liverpool itself,   she personally helped one of my very close family members who emailed her and asked her to step in and help to resolve a situation which was preventing them from earning a living.  She did so, very quickly, and the situation was resolved for my family member who was very grateful for Luciana’s prompt assistance.

Therefore I can personally say that Luciana acted in the best interests of her constituents and got involved in our community.  I was also very supportive of her actions regarding mental health, which is something I am passionate about.  I am very sad to see her go and wish her the best in her future endeavours.  In the meantime, I am not quite sure what the future holds for my local CLP but it’s an exciting time to be a member.

No deal plans and a potential majority

I know this post is late I’ve had a lot of work over the past few days but as its all cleared up we can get talking about everybody’s favourite topic… Brexit! (again). It pains me to talk about it this much, however (for me at least) it’s the most interesting topic within British politics at the moment.

To start off, let us consider a potential “new deal” situation which is becoming increasingly likely as the deadline is approaching at an alarming rate. As a potential no-deal situation is approaching, many businesses have pulled out of investing within Britain because of the uncertainty a no-deal Brexit brings. I’ve heard that  Civil servants are distributing no-deal Brexit advice, such as the fact exporters will have to put stickers over their produce, confirming that it has come from the EU; it is predicted that although no shortage of food will occur, there may be a lack of distribution in some regions. Also, 3,500 troops are now ready for action, and 4,000 civil servants were told to switch role in preparation for Brexit.

The problem is,  Theresa May has to find a way to get a majority in Parliament to help any Brexit deal she proposes to pass. The road to uniting the Conservative party and passing a deal here is not looking likely, however… could a majority come from Labour MPs who are looking increasingly unsure about Brexit? The cash for vote system doesn’t seem to have worked so far, as only one Labour MP has accepted the deal (John Mann), with others offended. MPs could receive extra money for their vote to poorer constituencies of which they are elected. Theresa May may try to woo the 24 unsure labour voters. Ms May seems unlikely to accept Jeremy Corbyn’s 5 amendments (including a customs union) as such a bargain will shift the dynamic of Britain’s political system.