How does the 2016 Budget Affect You?

The 2016 Budget didn’t hold many surprises. Cuts to disability benefits, neglect of the North of England, and perks for big corporations seem to be commonplace when it comes to this heartless Tory government. But how does the budget affect you personally? Here is a fun device that the BBC has come up with. Enter a few details in the Budget Calculator and it will tell you if you’re better or worse off:

BUDGET CALCULATOR (CLICK!)

Jeremy Corbyn is Labour Leader (Good news, for once)

Jeremy Corbyn has been voted the new Labour leader. It’s about time we had some good political news, after years of disillusionment and disappointment!

He took almost 60% of votes in the first round of voting, whereas Liz Kendall, the most “righty” of the candidates, took a measly 4%. This shows you that Labour’s left-wing is looking healthy, and that the public zeitgeist is: “enough is enough, and it’s time for a change”. Corbyn’s victory is so comprehensive that the conspiracy theorists can’t even claim that he won because of Tory saboteurs.

Labour now has a leader with morals, and we can be confident that he will do what he feels is right regardless of corrupt external pressures.

We know that Jeremy Corbyn is in favour of renationalisation, equality, cracking down on tax avoidance, and helping the environment. We know he wants to cut military costs, and develop an alternative to austerity. We know he offers the perfect alternative to the current elite rulers whose only points of reference are people like themselves, and the wealthy they surround themselves with. We know Corbyn has engaged the youth of the UK onto political subject matter. These were all great reasons to want him to become Labour leader.

However, the most obvious reason for wanting him to be elected was the way he terrified his opponents. The media tried to drag his name through the mud (even BBC’s Panorama), casting aspersions, and using snippets out of context, where even the smallest bit of research would tell you that they were talking, for want of a better word, bollocks. The Tories tried to use reverse psychology by saying they wanted him to win. The careerists in his own party claimed that his election would tear the party apart.

All of this to contend with, and he still won with 60% in the first round of voting. This shows that he is strongly supported, and how can having a popular leader of the Labour party be bad?

This is great news. Cherish it, because good news in politics comes few and far between. Hopefully Jeremy Corbyn will win the next general election so that he can implement his ideas and make the UK a better place.

BBC Television on 26/07/15 – Oxbridge Domination

Welcome to a day in the life BBC Television on Sunday the 26th July 2015 (tomorrow’s schedule).

We will start the day off with BBC Breakfast from 6am in the morning. The most senior presenter of this show is Bill Turnbull, educated at Eton College. Following this show, we have more current affairs from the Andrew Marr Show, hosted by Andrew Marr (educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge), who will be discussing the latest policies from our government, which is run by David Cameron (Brasenose College, Oxford) and George Osborne (Magdalen College, Oxford). At 10am we have more political discussion on Sunday Morning Live, compered by Sian Williams (Oxford Brooks University).

After this we have some light entertainment in the form of Bargain Hunt, where antiques experts such as Kate Bliss (Brasenose College, Oxford), look for antiques at jumble sales.

12:15 – Formula 1 racing. We get to watch the current champion Lewis Hamilton (graduate of Cambridge Arts and Sciences) drive around in a shiny car. He is currently strong favourite to retain his title. But if you’re not a sports fan, you can watch Chefs on Trial instead, hosted by Alex Polizzi (St Catherine’s College, Oxford). Following the F1 we have a sports-based gameshow ‘A Question of Sport’ with rugby star Matt Dawson (Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe)

At 15:45 we have property show, Escape to the Country, with Alistair Appleton (Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge), followed by the Two Tribes gameshow hosted by Richard Osman (Trinity College, Cambridge).

We can then chillax and sing along to Songs of Praise, hosted by the likes of Bill Turnbull (Eton College), and Sally Magnusson (University of Edinburgh). At 17:45 Richard Osman (Trinity College, Cambridge) returns for Pointless, a gameshow which he hosts with Alexander Armstrong (also of Trinity College, Cambridge). Then it’s a news update from Reeta Chakrabarti (Exeter College, Oxford).

At 19:00 it’s time for one of the BBC’s flagship shows, Countryfile, with Ellie Harrison (King’s College, London), and Joe Crowley (Magdalene College, Cambridge). If you’re not into this you can watch Locomation: Dan Snow’s History of Railways instead (Dan Snow is a graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, if you were wondering). At 20:00 we have Fake or Fortune? with Fiona Bruce (Hertford College, Oxford) and Bendor Grosvenor (Harrow School, Pembroke College, Cambridge). Alternatively you can watch Dragon’s Den, where the entrepreneurs are joined by new girl Sarah Willingham (Cranfield University, Oxford).

We end the day at 21:00 with crime mystery entertainment, Partners in Crime, starring David Walliams (Collingwood Boys’ School in Wallington, and the independent Reeigate Grammar School).

This day of entertainment will be brought to you by Director of BBC Television, Danny Cohen (Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford), Director of News & Current Affairs, James Harding (Trinity College, Cambridge), and Director of Strategy & Digital, James Purnell (Balliol College, Oxford).

BBC Mission & Values (link to quotes below)

  • We respect each other and celebrate our diversity so that everyone can give their best
  • Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest
  • Audiences are at the heart of everything we do.

Judging by the disproportionate number of people from privileged backgrounds on the BBC, I don’t feel that socio-economic diversity is being sufficiently celebrated. I also don’t think the BBC’s employment track record is very “impartial”. And if audiences are at the heart of everything the BBC do, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a proportional representation of the average UK citizen on our screens instead of people who won the postcode lottery?

Weekly Chart Countdown (of how the rich stay rich and poor stay poor)

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the weekly charts. Boy, have we got a show for you today! You’ve heard the rest, now hear the best. This is your top 10 countdown of how the poor stay poor, and how the rich get richer. Mind the gap, folks, or you’ll fall right through!

  1. Privileged in high-power positions

Yes, this one is an oldie but a goldie. Virtually all of society’s most sought after positions are occupied by people born into wealth and privilege. Politicians, masters of industry, actors, singers, bankers – you name it, the privileged have a monopoly on it!

  1. War

War. Huh! What is it good for? Making lots of money! (Iraq). But then there’s total war, too, such as World War 2 when the common folk had to go into battle while the privileged gave them orders. But it was all to protect our way of life! Well, the privileged were doing well before the war, and the poor had it bad, and that’s how it has been afterwards and ever since. So that’s the way of life all the common folk were asked to protect. Sometimes I think it might be time to give those commoners a break….NAH.

  1. Cut Vital Public Services

Nee-naw nee-naw nee-naw. That’s the sound of an ambulance arriving 3-hours too late. The rich can pay for private healthcare, but the poor tend to rely on the NHS. But we can’t make this service too efficient because if the poor aren’t worrying about their health, then they may be trying to steal a slice of dosh from the rich.

  1. Bankers

Bankers (rhymes with wankers) storms in at #7. They take risks and the masses pay the price. The bank charges you a fee if your account balance drops below a certain level (yeah, cos that’s going to help my low bank balance), and they make you pay higher interest rates on loans because you haven’t got a summer house to put up as collateral. Expect this one to rocket up the charts in the coming weeks.

  1. Demonising the Welfare State

This is a zinger. Demonising the Welfare State (B-Side: Fuck Communism) is a new one, and expect it to linger in the charts for at least another 5 years. If the most vulnerable members of society are having a hard time, get everyone to turn against them. This distracts from the bankers (rhymes with wankers) and other Chosen Ones who are slowly killing the working class. That’s right-wing morality for ya!

  1. Withdraw Power

The poor cannot be allowed any sort of power. It is a threat to the rich, and their hedonistic way of life. The number one target? Unions. We can’t have the scum protesting and causing a disturbance because they feel they should be paid a fair wage.

  1. Expensive/Inaccessible High Education

Call us old fashioned, but us English believe that knowledge is only for the richest in society. Otherwise, how would they stay rich? We like the poor to be uneducated so they continue to make bad decisions. Besides, who’s going to clean all those mansions? (no mansion taxes to worry about now, chums).

  1. Fear

Boo! Yes, this is David Cameron’s favourite tool. He wants to scare you into blaming others (immigrants, people on benefits), he wants to scare you about the economy (it’s fragile, but the Tories can fix it; we just need to destroy your lives in the process!), and he wants to make you believe that any positive change would end up destroying the world in the long run.

  1. Don’t tax the rich!!!!!!!!

For God’s sake, don’t tax the rich! They need as much money as possible so they can provide the scum with low-paid, exploitative jobs…so we can tax said scum. The perfect system for keeping the rich rich and the poor poor.

AND COMING IN AT NUMBER 1……SCRAPPING THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT

May God have mercy on us all.

The Tories to make Strike Action “impossible”

The Conservatives are “the party of the working people” according to David Cameron. He said this in the same week that it was announced by his party that strike laws would be significantly changed to prevent working people from taking industrial action. We know that this Tory government has absolutely no regard for human rights (they plan to scrap the Human Rights Act), and this proves it further. Companies will be allowed to treat their workforce horrendously, and workers will be virtually powerless to fight back.

The new law will state that any strike affecting essential public services will require 40% of eligible union workers to back it, and there will have to be a turnout of at least 50% at the strike ballots.

It’s time to do some maths. Let’s say that our imaginary union has 100 members (because this makes the maths bit a lot easier for me). We are all members of this union, and we are being treated unfairly in our workplace. The wealthy people at the top don’t care and won’t listen to us. We decide to strike in order to make a positive change.

Our union holds a strike ballot. We rally around and get a big group of workers to vote. The votes are counted up, and the decision is unanimous. 100% of votes say YES, LET’S STRIKE! We cheer, but the cheers come prematurely. Only 49 people voted in the ballot. And despite every single one of the voters agreeing with strike action, this doesn’t meet the new 50% turnout criteria that will be put in place.

This is very hypocritical of the Tory government because if these new rules were to be applied to the General Election vote, the Tories would not be in power, and therefore wouldn’t be in a position to impose these voting conditions on unions. The mind boggles!

That’s not where the attack ends, though. Read this BBC article for further information on how the Tories plan to put restrictions on picketing, and how they want to lift restrictions on using agency workers to replace striking worker: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-32702585

I’ll leave you with the words of the TUC general secretary:

“This is a government not so much on the side of hard working people, but Britain’s worst bosses – those who want their staff to be on zero-hours contracts, poverty pay and unable to effectively organise in a union so that they can do something about it,” said Frances O’Grady.

“The government’s proposals on union ballots will make legal strikes close to impossible. Union negotiators will be left with no more power than Oliver Twist when he asked for more.

“After five years of falling living standards, the prospects for decent pay rises have just got a whole lot worse.”

Our Flawed Electoral System #2

As a follow-up to my last blog, “Our Flawed Electoral System”, I thought I’d point out the approximate percentage spread of votes for the UK General Election 2015. The following figures come from the BBC website (keeping in mind we’re waiting for 40 more seats to be confirmed at the time of writing).

CON 36.4
LAB 30.7
UKIP 12.4
LD 7.8
SNP 5.1
GRN 3.7

So, despite getting only 5.1% of the votes, the SNP will get 56 seats in parliament. On the other hand, UKIP have 12.4% of the votes and will get 1 or 2 seats. The Green Party have 3.7% of the votes, not too far behind the SNP, and will struggle to get one seat. The % difference between Labour and the Tories isn’t very big, but it looks like the Tories will have a majority government.

This underlines how flawed our voting system is.

For the last month we have been told how important it is to vote. If it’s so important, who don’t they switch to a fairer system? Proportional representation is the way to go. If voting is so important then they should put their money where their mouth is and make the change! Every vote should count. Every vote should be equal.

Don’t get me wrong, I despise UKIP, and I’m glad they’re going to be irrelevant during the next political phase. But that’s not the point. Democracy should reflect what the people of the state want.

On another note, David Cameron will be in power for another 5 years (or until Boris Johnson takes over!), which is depressing, especially considering that this time he may not even be tempered by the Liberal Democrats. Expect grey skies and empty bellies for the foreseeable future while his Dave’s upper class friends sip champagne and hunt foxes.

Anyway, mustn’t grumble too much. Things could be a lot worse. Think about (or, even better, donate to) those poor people suffering in Nepal. I’ll leave you with this Billy Bragg song that sums up my mood perfectly right about now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xC9nSkZ1ZI

Our Flawed Electoral System

Our current voting system is flawed and outdated.

On Thursday, when we go to the polling booths, we may find ourselves in a position where we feel we have to vote for a party we don’t support in order to prevent a party we oppose from getting into power. This isn’t how democracy is supposed to work – we should be able to vote with our hearts, without having to play games.

The “first past the post” suits our two major parties to the ground, and helps them maintain their stranglehold on politics. We should have adopted “proportional representation” long ago in order to give people more choice about how their land is run. However, the switch wasn’t made. Now the British public are forcing the issue. The Labour and Conservative Parties are no long able to gain a majority government, and the people are giving power to smaller parties (in the sense that they are giving them enough seats to be able to form coalitions with one of the two major parties).

But this shouldn’t be something we have to think about. Yes, we can vote tactically, in an attempt to get the result we want, but, at the end of the day, we don’t know what the parties are going to don when it comes to making deals and/or forming coalitions. I know many people who voted Lib Dem last time in an attempt to keep the Tories out of power – that didn’t turn out too well for them, did it? Our current voting system is ridiculous in this sort of situation because we have no way of knowing who we’re voting for! We might as well do an “eenie-meenie-miney-mo” and put our X next to anything.

Many of you will be in constituencies where one party dominates every time there’s a vote. You might decide not to vote at all – after all, what’s the point when Joe Bloggs always wins by a mile? If the voting system changed to proportional representation you would be more motivated to get up and vote, because you would know that it wasn’t a waste of time. Even if you’re party only gets 10% of the votes, and no majority in any one constituency, you can rest assured that they will get their just desserts overall, and gain political power on your behalf.

If we adopt proportional representation we will be able to vote with our hearts.  Let’s get rid of this outdated “first past the post” system!