A breif look at Osborne’s Anti-May front pages as she hangs on by a thread.

Spectator, 2013. (https://www.spectator.co.uk/2013/08/the-next-tory-leadership-battle-is-boris-johnson-vs-theresa-may-and-its-already-started/)

 

In Theresa May’s first cabinet reshuffle of her new reign as Prime Minister she sacked the then Chancellor George Osborne; relegating him to the backbenches in the process. In April of this year, he resigned from his position as an MP to better pursue other projects such as his new role as editor of the Evening Standard. Since taking up this role Osborne has been vocal about his dislike for May and her trajectory as not just the Tory party leader but also PM, this was no clearer than during the election run in this June.

Last week saw the conservative party conference taking place in Manchester and Wednesday saw the ‘main event’, a speech by May herself. While there were numerous policy announcements, May taking responsibility for the loss of seats in the General Election and further talks about Brexit what the speech will be best known for is not the content. May seemed to struggle her way through the speech with a persistent cough that at one point resulted in one of her fellow cabinet ministers giving her a throat lozenge mid-speech to help her out, pieces of the stage falling off behind her and at one point a member of the audience who was allowed to freely approach her with a piece of paper. That piece of paper, a P45 followed by a comment that Boris wanted her to have it. Osborne clearly took some satisfaction from this tweeting out the following in the aftermath of the speech:

In fact, if we look through the headlines he has tweeted out about Theresa May since he started his editor role we see a similar pattern of attack and undermining, so we’re doing just that. Below are the highlights of some of the Evening Standard’s front pages since Osborne joined. It’s clear that he’s not her biggest fan.

To start with, 2nd Edition from June 26th.

Then there this one, a mere day before voting took place in June’s General Election.

Remember the backlash against the Free School Meals policy amendments?

And of course, his first edition in his new role which unceremoniously pointed out that Brexit talks weren’t going as smoothly as one would hope.

Coupled with all this Osborne has made numerous interview and TV appearances but perhaps none more telling or indeed famous than this still, taken just after the exit poll came out in June’s election predicting that May had indeed lost seats.

It’s not fun to kick a dead horse while its down and you do have to feel for May after some of the disastrous events around her speech, saying that I do know one person who is perhaps not too disappointed with how it went. I have never been the biggest fan of Osborne, I just don’t really align with him politically but in a twisted way, it is almost refreshing to see someone taking on a new sense of vigour. His post MP days have seen him become less of a headline focus for newspapers instead directing them in certain directions. He clearly has a dislike for May, or at the very least the current state of the Tory party. Whether you like him or not Osborne is enjoying the material he has to work with at the moment and he’s not hiding his agenda.May has gotten a lot of flak recently and the fact that the Tory party conference received little attention in the media until Boris laid out his speech is a testament to how things seem to be failing. I remember listening to her initial speech the day she became PM and actually finding myself excited about the prospect of a government who tried to look out for all. I still have a dislike for Osborne but the more I see his editorial direction with May I can’t help but feel two things.

Firstly, May’s days are numbered. She has consistently underperformed since the general election, in fact, her saving grace was the summer break from parliament but now that things are in full swing again Boris is more and more likely to challenge her position as leader. In fact, he could probably sit on the sidelines for the next few weeks doing nothing and he would still become the primary focus of anything Tory party related. It’s interesting to me as a Labour supporter to imagine the prospect of a general election in the future revolving around both Boris and Corbyn bumbling through speeches and PR nightmares. Similar perhaps to a certain election from last November, as scary as that thought is. Imagine a debate between Corbyn and Jonson around the tensions between Trump and North Korea…

Secondly, Osborne seems to have made his life purpose at the moment one that is dedicated to removing May from power. He seems like a child desperate to talk about her missteps, one who is jumping at the chance to tell us his thoughts whenever her name is raised, just bursting to rant about her. The issue of fairness in the media is another question for another day but for better or worse, May seems to have made a powerful enemy the day that she ousted him. The above are just a few examples of a Tory party member attacking his own party. Osborne used to be second in command, groomed to replace Cameron before the disastrous fallout of last years referendum and look at him now, you can’t say he doesn’t have a vendetta. Let us just look at that face one more time.

That is the face of a man who knows what he is doing.

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Immigration – Staistics, Statistics, Statisitcs

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Small island mentality, a phrase that I would suggest perfectly encapsulates the ‘era’ that we are living in here in the UK and I don’t just mean recent history such as the EU referendum, although it certainly seems to have exacerbated the problem. I’m still in my early twenties and I recognise that I am an idealist, I don’t know with certainty how the world works. No one does.

My views have been shaped by my childhood, university and of course my faith. My circumstances and parents have tried to bring me up within a certain framework, one that has focussed my attention but prepared me for adult life. I am grateful for the way in which I have been allowed the freedom to disagree with family throughout my life but since the age of sixteen I have differed more, both in terms of politics and faith, from my parents. This is not to say we are at odds with each other, we are often on the same page but at different paragraphs. The way my parents bought me up means that I have always tried to respect people not just because it was socially acceptable but because I understood that they were people, that there is a world outside of the UK and that every life is important.

I spent a few years in a school that prioritised good grades over those who struggled, they would rather see an A become an A* than they would see a D become a C or B. This was my first real life experience of looking out for number one that I saw in context and at the time I didn’t even realise it was happening; for purely selfish reasons, I just thought it unfair. The idea that one school has to be better than everyone else, that students were brought in almost purely based on which letter could be used to show good results. It seems trivial compared to most issues but there was little sense of human cost. I’m not trying to portray myself as a victim it isn’t even my life that I talking about here it’s just the culture I saw in my few years there. It’s not about what the school can do for you; it’s about what you can do for the school. I’m not trying to single this school out; realise that what I am writing about here is a view that occupies British thought on a variety of different levels, namely government; it’s not a direct attack but an analogy for further discussion.

I was in the car driving with my family a few months ago listening to Radio 4 and the conversation we had has stuck with me since. We tuned in halfway through a debate on how immigration controls post-brexit would result in more stress and pressure on the NHS. According to a government report, 12% of NHS staff come from overseas with 5.5% coming from other EU countries. This caused a stir in the wake of the EU debate due to worries about possible future shortages of staff. We listened to the programme as people mulled over facts and figures debating about whether immigration was good or bad for the economy, how it affected the NHS and issues around unemployment. Not even ten minutes in one of my family pointed something out about the debate which in hindsight is seemingly applicable to the majority of media coverage in the UK on immigration.

The way we approach the issue of immigration in the UK rarely talks about the human cost, we hear about how we need X number of workers or how they could do X amount of damage to the country’s finances. When we discuss immigration in a public context we rarely think of migrants as people, we see them as a statistic. While this is not an issue that applies exclusively to immigration it is perhaps the context in which thinking of the person behind the number is the most important. The only media event in recent memory, that I can think of, which doesn’t follow this trend is when the pictures emerged of the three-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up dead on a beach. Even then within a few days, we had moved on. In fact, The Daily Mail posted an article the day after the photos hit the headlines in which it used the media discussion of the events to call comment on Jaqui Smith ‘tarting-up’, hailed back to Germany and WW2 ‘Unlike Germany, we’ve got nothing to be ashamed of’ and subtly shifted the blame across to the family ‘So why didn’t he move to Kurdistan? Who knows?’. The ironic thing here is that this wasn’t even about immigration but the refugee crisis still, the issues around real lives still persists.

Seriously think about the last time you read, watched or heard the news talk about immigration, and not refugees or asylum seekers, as people? This is partially down to the interchangeable use of terms which actually have very different and distinct meanings but it is also because it rarely ever happens. We often hear about how immigration will affect British people, whether it be businesses losing staff or otherwise, but rarely do we hear the other side of the story.

I’m not saying that people are fundamentally wrong if they vote a certain way, that’s not the point. All I’m trying to say is that even just occasionally we should look beyond the statistics and remember that there is a human life behind each immigration number that we hear. Our small island mentality means that we seem to be disregarding people purely based on numerical worth. Immigration is a difficult subject and the answers around it are complicated, I know we can’t just allow free borders there are issues around security along with many others but we should not be so quick to boil the whole thing down to a few numbers. The UK has had a storied and contentious past with immigration, it is a question that has gone numerous decades now unanswered and in the wake of the anti-globalisation movement we are seeing ourselves become more and more bitter to the human stories here, selfishly trying to examine the potential worth of each human being as if that was something that you could put in purely numerical form. To me, we are noting that someone isn’t British and disregarding them. I’m not even necessarily talking about allowing a more open immigration; I’m saying that we should recognise that there are people behind these numbers.

I love the UK but we’ve had a pretty clear sense, and history, of isolationism and despite the advent of globalisation over the last few decades we’ve always been weary and wanted to fight it off. It’s not perfect and there are some serious flaws but I worry that we are far too quick to blame other people for our problems and examining them as if they were equations in a math test rather than human lives.

I was never strictly sheltered from the world as a youngster but it wasn’t until I had conversations with adults who saw me as an adult, and not just an extension of my parents’ political views, that I began to realise the nationalist way of thinking we employ in the UK. We stick our noses up at people and tell them they can’t come here because they don’t offer enough ‘value’ that they steal our jobs and simultaneously drain our benefits system. It has become worse across western culture over the last 24 or so months but the rhetoric we use to describe these real people portrays them as nothing more than a cog in the ‘restore her to her former glory’ machine. Like the school I mentioned earlier, as a country we are exclusively talking in terms of results and numbers.

Somewhat ironically, we are still striving to ‘make Britain great again’ but in doing so we are forgetting to talk about people as people and are instead treating them as if they are an inconvenient transaction.  Immigration has been an underlying issue in UK politics for years and it seems as though the more we discuss it the less we actually discuss it. The media constantly refer to immigration within stories using just a sentence or two to posit it as a possible reason behind a problem, whether that be a crime, economic difficulties etc. In the run-up to the EU referendum the tone around the subject took a turn for the worse, we were constantly reminded of effects it has had on both sides of the argument but it is hard to remember specific examples of human stories instead, we were bombarded by numbers and figures without digging much deeper.

There is a reason that immigration has dictated political discourse in the UK yet we need to look at the human cost. When we talk about the NHS and overworked staff we are looking at human lives, when we talk about the downturn in the economy and how it affects peoples budgets we are looking at the human cost but for some reason when we examine immigration figures and its knock-on effect we focus on the statistics and how it affects our daily lives without even a whisper of immigrants themselves. Like it or not immigrants have been granted legal status, there is a distinction between refugees or asylum seekers, and are part of our country; it may be short-term or it may be longer, ultimately it doesn’t really matter in the context of our discussion here. As a country, we need to do a better job of seeing through the numbers and realising that when we talk about immigration we are talking about real human beings not merely figures on a spread sheet that we can manipulate for political gain.

This results-driven trend is not exclusive to immigration; one only has to look at recent stories around St Olave’s . While competition is not an inherently bad thing, in this case, it is again disregarding the human cost in order for a school to better its league standings. It is a more extreme case than the anecdotal one mentioned above but it still shows us an element of our culture that focuses far too much on letters and numbers and not enough on the people behind them. I want to live in a compassionate and fair society but it is something that we simply cannot do if we don’t stop occasionally to take in the stories behind the statistics. Numbers help you back up claims but there are real people behind those numbers that too often don’t cross our minds. Immigration coverage and discussion in this country needs a shakeup, the starting point for that is recognising that these figures represent real lives and real human consequences.

The Needs of the Forgotten Many Outweigh the Needs of the Few

Tuesday night was an odd night for me. From the outset it wasn’t that different a night to any other as I watched TV, poured myself some coke and then watched more TV. What was different about Tuesday was that it was the first time, in what I call my political life, that I and another family member disagreed on a public political issue. The much publicised Labour leadership debacle.

Before I start on the issues and debate we had I feel like I need to add context. I’m a twenty-two-year-old who graduated this week and as such realise that I am not in the same position as everyone else around me. One of my biggest flaws, of which there are many, is that I am an idealist. While I realise that this may change with age I also accept that this is the stage I am at. You may mistake this for naivety but for me, I believe that a left-wing government is both an ideal and feasible one. That does not mean I am unwilling to compromise.

I recognise that I am biased towards a left-wing Corbyn and accept that, to put it mildly, he is not to everyone’s taste. There are numerous issues that have sprung up, both pro and anti-Corbyn, that have for better or worse seemed to harden my views. From the moment my Corbyn vote helped usher him in as the new labour leader last September the parliamentary party has tried to oust him. Brexit has seemed like the worse time they could choose to do it but it is also an opportunistic one.

There is clearly something here that is wrong, even recent changes to the leadership voting regulations, show us this. The tightening of the rules, to me at least, did not seem to be as much of an issue when he was running as an outsider last August and September but now that they could help Corbyn stay on as leader they have been changed to make it harder for new members to vote. While the rules on voting are a whole other debate, it is clear that there is a disconnect between a labour membership and the parliamentary party that could genuinely split the party officially. Just ten days ago Labour officials were trying to work out who exactly owns the name of Labour. While this is only a precaution it shows the real danger that the party is in. My debate on Tuesday helped me realise that while part of me says if they want to split let them split there is, in fact, a bigger picture at stake here. Not just a credible opposition, a credible left of centre government that would look out for the poor and vulnerable in our society.

As much as you can praise Cameron and the latest government for fiscal security, it is hard to deny they have achieved something, I still believe that there is a way more benefiting for those lesser off that could have taken us to the same destination, just down a different path. Rising food bank usage is just one example of the social inequality of the Tories’ actions. The Trussell Trust wrote up a press release just four months ago that noted food bank level uses at an all-time high. ‘1,109,309 three day emergency food supplies were provided to people in crisis by the charity’s network of 424 foodbanks in the 2015/16 financial year, compared to 1,084,604 in 2014/15’, a figure that is constantly growing. While not intentional this is one result of what I think comes with a right of centre line of thought. People will disagree with me, the Tories won a majority in last May’s general election after all. The point is that to me I see a left of centre government as being beneficial for those more vulnerable. This debate on Tuesday was not a debate about left or right, we are both left to varying degrees. It was about how under the current Labour infighting and its possible consequences we could be stuck with a right-wing government for decades. Something that neither of us wants.

On Tuesday night I defended Corbyn in the same way that I have since September, he has the mandate. What I failed to realise until recently was that this is not simply the PLP versus the membership. The many million 2015 labour voters interests should play a bigger part and they are represented by the PLP, a factor that didn’t cross my mind until Tuesday night. I still think the treatment of Corbyn is unfair and unjust. The way he has been treated and disrespected is ironic to me. One of the reasons I voted for him was not because he would win a general election, although I think it possible that he could, but because I was convicted to support a man who seemed to be above the slimy, untrustworthy and sleazy politics that have plagued the system since I have become involved, the MP expenses scandal was one of the first major things to happen when I started to take a more active interest in politics. The sleazy politics that is now trying to remove him and has had people dropping out of his cabinet rather than working with him. To me Andy Burnham is one of the only people whose reputation hasn’t been dented because while he has been public of his differences with Corbyn so has he also been public about how he wants to try and make things work, there is very little he can do to change things when he is away from the table. The problematic issue I face is that the side of me that is disgusted with how he has been treated is fighting against another principle of mine social injustice and inequality.

I mentioned earlier that I think the best for the poor and marginalised is a left of centre labour government, not just the Blairite model but a genuine left. This is why I support Corbyn but over the last few days I have come to realise that as left as I am I must be willing to compromise otherwise we will not get a Labour government at all for the foreseeable future. The battle is how far I am willing to budge to vote for a different candidate against the need for an effective opposition that could prevent years of the Tories. I am saddened by the way Corbyn has been treated by the very style of politician that caused me to vote him in but I am weary the effect five consecutive Tories governments would have on those lesser off while labour either united under Corbyn or separated. Labour would have to reinvigorate themselves to a point where they would be electable again. I don’t know the answer here but with each day I am swinging towards the latter. I think a suitable opposition for me that prevents a ‘focused on the rich Tories’ is more important than the need for a radical left wing at this moment in time.

It is a conflict I am going to be trying to resolve right up until we eventually vote on the leadership, I can actually vote in this as I’ve been a member of the party for a few years now. The Labour Party members are not the be all and end all I have to take into account the Labour voters that the PLP represent. While it may not completely justify all their actions it does change my perception. Along with this I simply feel too strongly about the need for greater equality, an equality that would seem further off if I voted for Corbyn and was one of the reasons for a potential split. Having said that we need to find a suitable candidate who is trustworthy and capable of both unifying the Labour Party while simultaneously being honest and offering a new era style of politics. I don’t think I can vote for Angela Eagle. I’ve come to realise that Corbyn probably needs to go, as much as that pains me, but I want a suitable candidate to run against him. When someone who can unify the party arrives I will vote for them, it may be a pipe but it’s a requirement. An austerity-heavy government would cause more pain for the poorer than my need for my heavily leftist views to be represented in Labour. For the first time in my political life, I am having a legitimate political struggle. But, as Spock rightly says in The Wrath of Khan, ‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few’.

A Democratic Vote Doesn’t Mean a Unanimous Decision

I hate the term Millennial, the connotations of which make us a self-obsessed generation. ‘Seventy-one percent of American adults think of 18-to-29-year-olds — millennials, basically — as “selfish,” and 65% of us think of them as “entitled.” That’s according to the latest Reason-Rupe Poll, a quarterly survey of 1,000 representative adult Americans.’ (http://time.com/3154186/millennials-selfish-entitled-helicopter-parenting/)

This article is going to be one of self-indulgence because, and I realise the irony, once again our voices have not been heard. I’m emotional and angry and I know we need to be unified but as a young person living with other people’s decisions, I’ve had enough.

In the wake of the referendum, ‘the people have spoken’ is a notion that I struggle with. I respect that this has been a democratic decision but I don’t agree with it and herein lies the struggle; I have to respect your decision and you mine, mine and the generation of young people who will once again feel hard done by.

Much has been said in the press over the last decade or so about how millennials are selfish  or how we are trying to make every other generation feel inferior but I’d argue the opposite. We are rebelling against a system that has been built and fitted around a generation that damaged our economy. The baby boomer generation has not had it all easy but they have had the following which we will not, free university education and an unsustainable pension scheme that mine will pale in comparison to, I bet that by the time I am of retirement age I will be about 80. A far cry from the 65 that has been the norm for decades.

As a young person I was subject to a conservative government who tripled university fees and as a recent graduate am sitting on a minimum of £45,000 in debt this doesn’t include the whole dilemma about interest fees and the selling of-of student loans. I was subject to another 5-year term of financial inequality and a recession that I was not responsible for. And now I have been subject to leaving the EU, again something my demographic were seemingly overtly against. ‘Those living in Scotland, with a university education or aged below 30 are most likely to want to stay in the EU, according to new polling data released by YouGov.’.

As a man turning 22 in three weeks the last decade or so have taught me that I am going to be paying the price for decisions that I did not want or could not have a say in. Call me greedy if you want but I had no hand in the overextension of borrowing that caused the 08 crash. Call me selfish but I have had university fees forced upon from a government who took advantage of those who weren’t even of age to vote and a party who went back on an explicit promise. A recent Guardian article included the following ‘A poll published last week showed the extent of the generational schism in the EU debate. It was revealed that 75% of 18- to 24-year-olds said they supported remain, compared with 38% of 50- to 64-year-olds (and 34% of those aged 65 and over). For many of us, this is the generation of our parents, our friends’ parents, our uncles and aunts. We have been raised to believe that they have our best interests at heart, but as far as this referendum is concerned all I have seen is self-interest.’ Call me self-obsessed but there was an overwhelming cry from my age to remain a member of the EU and look at the bigger picture and yet again we have been overruled, I guess that is just part of democracy.

I’m not saying I know the perfect way to run a county or make decisions, I don’t agree with them but I have to respect the democracy, the problem is that democracy is not in my favour. I  understand that this was a democratic vote and necessary but that doesn’t mean that I have to agree with it and not be frustrated by it. It does, however, mean that I have to respect it.

There is a reason that young people seem to become disengaged in politics and it is because time and time again we are bearing other people’s consequences.  We are the future of Britain and yet again we have been overruled by the very system that we are meant to believe in. So call us millennials and call us selfish or disengaged but remember that we are living with the consequences of others choices. We have been told to trust a system that has continually let us down. Don’t be surprised when we become ambivalent towards that system.

We have had choices forced upon us. We have been overruled constantly and yes we are young and learning but unfortunately, we are learning that no matter how hard we shout or how hard we try we are being forced to go it alone. Even in the face of an EU split when we are meant to pull together and unify, and I stress again that we will try, we are finding out that doing it on our own is best for business. I don’t want to do that and will actively try to not to but it is hard when our voices are not heard and we have to bare others choices.

This is a momentous day in politics for good and bad reasons but it is also a momentous day for my voting habits as my faith in the system and value of the ‘young vote’ has been seriously dented. Just another one in a long line of injustices that I cannot help but feel hard done by. I said this article would seem selfish and an emotional response and it has been but while I’ve had enough of having a minority voice I still have to live with the consequences and we should all work together to work out how we move forward. I need to get over my disappointment and will do in time, we need to be a United Kingdom, but it will not be easy. Once again I’m am going to struggle to try and accept a decision that my generation didn’t want but we will try anyway because we want a better Britain, even if that confidence is fading every time decisions are made on my behalf. Remember that while 52% voted to leave 48% still want to stay. We need to accept the fact that it is done but also that it was not unanimous.

Despite this let us soak in this moment whether we agreed with it or not we have changed the face of the U.K., Europe and the world. We may not like it but we have no choice now what has been done is done. I just pray that my generation isn’t disenfranchised by it. Just remember that we are not a selfish generation we are a generation who are seriously losing faith as our voices are drowned out time and time again but a generation who will try to move forward in unity with the rest of the UK. It is not, as some have said, only dark days ahead, we have control of our future. I am merely trying to raise the issue that there is a reason that the young can feel disenfranchised.

A Place to Ramble

My name is Matt, in less than three weeks I will finish university, that’s it. Done. I don’t know what I want to do, what I’m going to do or what will happen and personally, that’s exciting. There is nothing that will prepare me for the next year. Currently, I’m thinking of applying for an MA. I don’t know whether or not I will but its the ‘plan’.

I’m starting this blog to ramble. I love all things from all works of life, even more so writing about them. I am a man who loves to write, a man who loves to read and a man who loves to talk. I don’t know why I’m urged to start this but I am. I’m not new to blogging or even writing in general, I have started many for different reasons, but for some reason I have a refreshed appetite for writing. Will anyone read this? Who knows. Will anyone listen to what I say? Who knows.

This is a personal project of mine there will be no specific theme that we will always talk about, well there is one theme. My personal taste, which often involves politics. I mentioned the fact that I love all things and I do have a wide range of interests, these interests are what I will ramble about. Some posts will be about movies, some politics and some will just be my thoughts. This is not an attempt at a professional style of writing its just a man who loves writing and wants to improve. It’s an alleyway into the mind of Matt.