Parties must not underestimate Wales’ electoral influence

(c) Steve Snodgrass

Anon

Wales has always been pivotal in deciding British rulers. In past years wars have decided the occupants of the royal throne, and voter preferences have decided the occupants of Number 10. The 2015 general election to the House of Commons will be no different.

Since Margaret (now Lady) Thatcher’s premiership, Scotland has shut itself off to Conservative MPs. In spite of a similar attitude, Wales has had many of their MPs over the last two decades. Interestingly, the 5.7% swing from Labour to the Tories suggests no bucking of the trend. Read more of this post

Grayling’s New College will only aggravate the UK’s educational divide

(c) Steve Bowbrick

Ben Rowan

The announcement that A C Grayling’s New College for the Humanities will be open for business in September has been met by an uproar on the left.  With annual fees at £18,000, and having a plush spot in a central London location, it is easy to see why such an elitist notion has turned many people right off the idea.

The college boasts it has a staff to student ratio better than 1:10 and that it is ‘education in excellence’ in an ‘outstanding environment‘. Set in Bloomsbury, one of London’s more prestigious locations, it does have a favourable staff to student ratio, especially in a time of far reaching government cuts to higher education. Read more of this post

Refugee Week – a look back

(c) British Red Cross

Katy Owen is a recent history graduate

It was Refugee Week this week (20-26 June), the aim of which has been to explore and highlight refugee experience. This year’s theme was 60 years of contribution, aimed at celebrating refugees’ contributions with the tagline “100% British, Created by Refugees” for such British cultural icons as the Mini, fish and chips, Marks and Spencer and even the Miliband brothers. This was covered not only by the Guardian, but also the Telegraph and even the Express.

This has made a refreshing change from the usually hostile and occasionally outright xenophobic coverage of refugee and asylum seeker issues in the majority of the mainstream media. You only have to pick up a copy of certain newspapers in order to read headlines such as ‘Family of 12 Ethiopian refugees land in UK – and are handed a £6,000-a month home paid for by you’, or ‘No room for gays’. Read more of this post

Big Society? More like Big Fallacy

(c) Leon Kuhn

Henry Fowler is a recent politics graduate

The ‘Big Society’, David Cameron’s flagship policy, has been widely discussed and criticised. In an age where austerity measures are undermining key public services and exposing the vulnerable in our society, Cameron is replacing these vital services with a nudge to encourage a great volunteer spirit. This agenda mirrors past prime ministers’ attempts to engage society in an understanding that being a part of the UK contains rights; but one has to be responsible within society to gain these rights. This concept has been called numerous things, Tony Blair called it communitarianism. What is consistent with this policy, whatever shape it takes is farcical and shallow. Read more of this post

Notes from a Scottish student

(c) Ipoh

Matt McPherson is President of Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA)

If one is to look cynically at the way devolution in Scotland has operated, it is apparent that for every ‘solution’ to Scotland’s challenges, all we seem to do is create another long term problem. With almost no fiscal autonomy devolved to Scotland’s Parliament, we are entering a gulf with growing wants on one hand, and finite resources on the other, with no solution as to how that gap should be filled. Read more of this post

Chinese investment in Africa can be a force for good

China & Africa - C Gavin Coates

(c) Globalab

Henry Fowler is a recent politics graduate

The recent economic downturn has seen country after country in Europe finding themselves ‘cap in hand’ to their other European neighbours, either to bail them out or to help stabilise their disintegrating economies. China, the emerging superpower of the world continues to grow in influence with heavy investment in Africa. Justin Rowlatt’s recent BBC2 documentary, ‘The Chinese are coming’, only scratches the surface in this increasingly complicated and growing relationship. The estimated number of Chinese migrants in Africa is at about one million and looks to grow in the not too distant future.

With the growth in immigration and investment from China to Africa, what does this mean for Africa? As Rowlatt’s programme illustrated, this relationship creates many negatives for Africa. The negatives include the selling-off of large amounts of industries such as copper mines and steel works, mistreatment of workers and a lack of native employment in these Chinese-owned industries. There is an argument that this investment is merely 21st century economic imperialism. Read more of this post

Let’s hope for real reform

(c) UK Parliament

Tim Johnston is a Labour Party activist and recent graduate

It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of real reform going around, nor that much of it is being suggested. The Tories’ plans (which the Lib Dems are totally opposed to) of re-drawing the electoral boundaries and slashing the number of MPs from 650 to 600, is not real reform. The AV referendum, although very welcome, is not real reform.

There has been little in the way of real, ethical reform over the past several years. Perhaps the exceptions to this lack of real reform are negative too. The Terrorism Act, immigration law, a fake ‘reformed’ foreign policy (the idea that we are now a force for good as opposed to destruction) as well as reforms to education and welfare are very present: but they are not real. Read more of this post

State liberalism has failed

(c) The Prime Minister's Office

Henry Fowler is a recent politics graduate

David Cameron’s announcement this February claiming that “state multiculturalism has failed” has had ramifications not just in Britain but also throughout Europe. These comments have been combined with similar declarations from both President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel over the demise of multiculturalism. However, these political leaders’ comments have sadly become the authorisation of a wider current of intolerance sweeping Europe and her neighbours.

This current of intolerance has mainly focused on the ‘threat’ of Islam. The reaction of Western European governments has been to directly reject the physical remnants of this faith within its borders. This is most neatly characterised through France’s recent legislation banning both the burqa and the niqab in public places, and Switzerland’s referendum result banning minarets. Read more of this post

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