Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
"They're just doing their job""So were the Nazi guards""That's a ridiculous analogy""That policeman knocked my mate over without any possible justification""But violence is not the answer"
'Thursday night's the best night for TV""I've missed Misfits now!""And Never Mind The Buzzcocks!""And Question Time!"
Monday, November 1, 2010
I have no longer any time to write on either of my blogs (or have any kind of social life), so I am henceforth going to occasionally post essays I have done for school. It's lazy, yes. But maybe someone will be interested?
“University tuition fees are political dynamite” starts the Economist’s article, before vehemently launching an attack on those protesting the coalition government’s latest reform. The Economist declares that British universities need increased funding to increase supply as “demand for higher education is booming around the world”. In other words, ‘all these poor people have high aspirations, what are we going to do about it?’
There is currently a shortage: effective demand is higher than supply. The government’s initiative would produce a rationing effect - as price increases, demand decreases (some consumers leave the market). The higher price acts as a signal to producers of this particular service, higher education, and presents an incentive to maximise supply (and profit). However, “universities would also lose out” asserts the writer, although only if subsidies are taken away. This remains to be seen, but, if correct, Ed Miliband’s claim would be justified: that the higher fees would “plug the gaps created by its programme of cuts” instead of benefiting universities.
The author further argues that, of all the Lib Dems, only “one backbencher” is openly opposing the recommended rise in fees. Yet after a glance at Twitter, I can affirm that Tim Farron, John Leech, Stephen Williams, Gordon Birtwistle and John Hemming are some of the other MPs ready to vote against the legislation. Clearly, this attempt to demean the “Lib Dem mutiny” is founded on hyperbole.
Tony Blair, the Prime Minister at the time of the introduction of tuition fees in 1998, approaches the subject in his memoirs imploring the reader to sympathise with him. He emphasises how “fiercely contested” his attempt to make a “change in the modern world” was. Did you know it “almost led to my resignation”? Aw, diddums.
Like other controversial times during Blair’s career, he expresses his admiration for the US and idolises their competitive education system. David Blunkett’s worries over lower-ranking universities are described by the former Labour leader as “a typical egalitarian muddle”. Trivialising equality is a speciality of Blair’s.
He acknowledges the 2001 “manifesto commitment not to allow top-up fees” yet dismisses its relevance. The commitment had sparked controversy when the new top-up fees were put forth in 2006, under the same government who had previously asserted “We have no plans to introduce University top-up fees”. This is reminiscent of the now notorious photograph of Nick Clegg proudly showing his signature beneath the promise “I pledge to vote against any increase in fees”.
Once the author arrives at the actual issue and morality of tuition fees after much gabbling, he justifies the policy by putting particular strain on how much it would help universities, albeit mentioning “And poor students would get real and significant help.” (almost as an afterthought). In my view, siding with firms instead of consumers is not very left-wing; this is a prime example of Blair leading the Labour Party whilst keeping his affection for Thatcher firmly in mind. As he writes, “if Labour was to govern for significant periods, it had to be as a party of the future-orientated centre ground” – put differently, ‘I’m not a leftie, please like me’.
The Tories have never made any promises not to increase tuition fees and consequently are not constrained by their manifesto, unlike the Lib Dems. Presumably this stems from the fact the latter party assumed they could ensure rainbows would really be made of skittles, without ever having to come close to implementing these policies. They would not be in the firing line, they would be able to vote however they liked.
The Conservative manifesto states that, in power, they would “enrich students’ lives”. A little ironic, although upon further reading it is revealed this would only be done by improving the quality of teaching, not their financial situations. To do this enriching, they affirmed they would “consider carefully” (or simply agree with) Lord Browne’s review, which had not so far been released.
Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy, Clegg’s predecessors, have both expressed their concerns over the Lib Dems’ betrayal – as well as Liberal Youth’s chairman. The Liberal Democrats seem to be divided over the issue as some prioritise their morals, others their newfound friendships with the Tories.
The Labour leader communicated his opinions on the matter as far back as June, advocating a graduate tax in an article for the Guardian. Miliband wrote he would “bin tuition fees” altogether, instead opting for a payment “between 0.25% and 2% of their income” over 20 years. However, perpetually rising numbers of foreign students are coming to England for their advanced education. You cannot devolve taxation, can you Mr Miliband?
On this note, it is vital to bring up the subject of the anomalies of devolved Britain. Welsh and Northern Irish fees are presently the same as English fees. On the other hand, the year 2000 brought an end to tuition fees in Scotland. The Scottish are now able to attend their universities free of charge at the British taxpayers’ expense. Furthermore, foreigners from the EU can acquire degrees in Scotland free of charge, unlike the English. In the current economic climate, during these times of austerity, surely the situation has to adapt.
I will most likely want to eventually possess a degree in a subject that interests me, such as English or Politics. I am fortunate in having grandparents who pay half of my current fees and a mother who works hard to make up the rest of the bill. Of course, I will also have to take out a loan for accommodation, living expenses, etc. As someone whose principal foible is stressing over the most minute nuisances, one of my worst fears is being in debt, and this is a certainty with even higher tuition fees. Assuming there will be a cap on the fees, as assured by Nick Clegg earlier this week, I will personally not be put at such a disadvantage though. Be that as it may, I know students that would be and, on a more selfish level, I would prefer to expect a wide range of backgrounds in all universities. After all, I will go there to gain experience and I suspect this rise in fees would jeopardise that.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Andrew Neil thrust rosettes emblazoned with ‘CONDEM’ in Lib Dem members’ puzzled faces, attempting to stir things up. Nobody obliged to wear one, instead placidly informing him that they would, if only it were DemCon. These endeavours were a recurring theme during the press coverage of the Liberal Democrat conference.
After 60 years out of government, presumably most Lib Dems were having the most astonishing conference of their careers yet. Neil affirmed that one never had to queue for drinks before, and declared that “there are 60% more journalists than last year”.
Many have professed that the conferences not only differed in popularity, but also the attire worn (woolly hats and sandals being commonplace). Furthermore, attitudes have become more mainstream; Michael White, an assistant editor of the Guardian, wrote that “in the 90s Paddy Ashdown suffered a conference where activists flirted with abolition of the monarchy and legalisation of cannabis”.
Vince Cable arguably stole the show, as even the Liberal Democrat leader was largely ignored. There was a notable absence of controversy, or anything happening at all in fact. Consequently, the only story really afloat was the Business Secretary’s speech, as the BBC asked ”Is Vince Cable the new Karl Marx?”. (In retrospect, this was an estimable warm-up for Red Ed’s forthcoming success.) The Torygraph – sorry, the Telegraph – lead with “Cable turns his guns on home owners”, and the Mail later reported that it was an “anti-capitalist attack”. ‘Mountains’ and ‘molehills’ are two words that come to mind. ‘Bankers are erm.. really bad… and not nice, oh and greedy..’ is essentially what Cable shockingly divulged (admittedly, I am paraphrasing).
Nick Clegg spouted the usual rhetoric: “We haven’t changed”, the coalition has “become more than the sum of our parts” and “Stick with us and together we will change Britain for good”. “Just imagine how different our country will be” he encouraged, as some said he was a dreamer, although were assured he was not the only one. All the speeches were engineered not to provoke any emotions (or polemics), apart from Cable’s. His produced a small rumble, something for the media to chew on, but nothing substantial.
In this sense, the Lib Dems would certainly have called it a good conference. Journalists may have divaricated here, due to its lack of scandal. Perhaps it was too good.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
I don't know how, but I seem to have two 'Film Classics' (given away in The Times I think) on my book shelves. As my books have recently been reorganized into alphabetical order (according to the authors' surnames), I have decided to work my way through all those I haven't read. I am reading as much as possible before next Friday, when term begins, because when attending school there is not time for such mundane activities. In authoritarian eyes, reading enjoyable fiction is just as bad as playing some kind of games console and is worse than going out with friends. This really pisses me off and is the main reason I think I would be much better educated if I didn't go to school. I am rarely believed however.
The novel is by Charles Webb. It's really very strange, and rather annoying that you don't know the characters much more after reading the book than you did before. You don't know how they feel or what they think and therefore can't take a stance on anything.
Personally, I think one of the best perks of reading is taking a position, having opinions on topics and characters. I have no idea what to think with this novel as the reader's insight is based solely on the awkward monosyllabic conversations between the one-dimensional characters.
On the other hand, it was written quite well and is easy and quick to read. I did so in just a morning; at least you don't spend more than a day (at the very most) on what you may regard to be a waste of time.
It's worth a read, just to say you've done it. Although you could say that about any book really.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
(If you have not read Part 1 please go and do that first. Quicker! You haven't got all day.)
Thursday, July 15, 2010
They moved from Ldn to L.A. for their dad's acting career as the amount of jobs there is obviously beyond comparison. He is doing very well there but purely for selfish reasons I so want them to return. They hated it for years, in particular the school they attended (LILA I think) and the wanky superficial Americans.
To celebrate their arrival I had a BBQ for everyone who attended L'île Aux Enfants, the tiny French primary school near Gospel Oak, in my year. Mother also blogged about it of course, although she was more interested in the food (which noone ate, way too healthy).
My friend Martine took some photos:
We've also become obsessed with cards, mostly playing Bullshit or Speed.
If you've read the title of this blog post you've probably just sighed and are ready to wince at my opinion on this touchy subject. I just wanted to write briefly about the statements people have declared, notably "R.I.P RAOUL MOAT YOU LEGEND! ♥" (the title of the now notorious Facebook group that currently 37,767 people have 'liked'). I do indeed think it's disgusting to call the murderer a "legend" and I'm shocked at the public's reaction. Raoul Moat was responsible for the wounding of his ex-girlfriend, the death of her partner and the blinding of a police officer.
One of the reasons for calling him a legend, and putting a heart in the same sentence as his name, is that he reportedly had a troublesome childhood. Well so did Rose and Fred West. There aren't any groups calling them legends, although they too were both abused by their parents.
Another reason is that he hid from the police for a number of days, which is deemed an admirable feat by some, and shot an officer in the head. These commentators clearly share Moat's hate for the police. I think it's reasonable to hate the concept of the police, or the corruption that goes on, or the laws they enforce, but the individuals themselves? Really?
Other justifications are just moronic racist/sexist scrawls. Many blame his ex-girlfriend. "If his stupid ass ex-bitch hadn't lied none of this would have happened" wrote one person. Another commented "so sad this beautiful young man is dead yet we got immigiants roaming the streets alive. fuked up world man". Some are self-contradictory and make no sense whatsoever ("FUCKIN LEGEND ??, NO.. he wasnt in the wrong but he deserved to die .. he should have killed that Samatha BITCH !! , its ALL HER FAULTT!!! KMT").
Friday, July 9, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
I'm reading a collection of his poetry in preparation for next year as I'm taking English Lit (if my GCSE results are good enough). As I was reading this book, 'The poetry of Robert Frost', I picked this one as a knock-out. I then googled it and according to Wikipedia it's one of his "most famous poems". I guess I have amazing taste.
Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
I shopped on High Street Ken on Wednesday and in Westfields yesterday.
I quite overspent and many of the items were too expensive really... but I was in a 'fuck it' spending mood.
Here are my buys:
A Hyde Park tree.
My friend has a massive field behind her house (she lives in Dulwich - ie the middle of nowhere).
This was taken last summer at sunset in Cannes. Magical right?
This I used as a concept for my last Art GCSE project. The contrast between urbanisation and nature and, as the leaves are in quite bad form, modernisation/industrialisation eating away at nature? That kinda thing.