BULS Supporting Michael Chessum to be VPHE of NUS

Following careful consideration, BULS has decided to support Michael Chessum’s campaign to be VPHE of NUS and we ask Birmingham delegates and Labour students nationally to do the same. We believe that Michael is the most competent candidate, and will achieve the most for students now, and in the future.

He has been the only candidate to continuously fight against the Tories’ fee regime and its further marketisation of our education system. Michael has been instrumental inthe organising of two national demonstrations, mobilising thousands of students across the country. Such demonstrations proved highly successful, gaining the support of Labour Students, and the general student population, nationally.

As Labour students we should be fighting against the current coalition government’s outrageous, and damaging, policies concerning higher education fees and their on-going commitment to severe austerity measures. Education is a public good and, at Birmingham, we believe that education should be universally accessible and publically funded. Michael Chessum is the only candidate for VPHE who we believe shares our values and will fight to defend them.

Furthermore, Michael is the only candidate committed to opposing Theresa May’s regressive and racist visa changes, which will have a detrimental effect on International Students who contribute so much to our higher education institutions and country as a whole.

Michael’s past record shows that he knows when and how to use direct action tactics, whilst his pivotal role in founding NCAFC proves his dedication to fighting the government’s austerity measures.

We need a VP Higher Education that will offer a robust defence against the coalition’s stark attacks on education. We wholeheartedly believe it is time to put factional divides behind us and unite in our support for Chessum, as the candidate most able to deliver.

Catie, Ed, Ellis, Areeq, Alex, Sam and Dan

Out of touch

Just tuned in to Woman’s hour and became outraged at views expressed by Lord Digby Jones, (formerly ‘Sir’, formerly ‘Mr’), on the subjects of education and parenting. Jones has developed a proposal of cutting benefits to all parents whose children cannot read, write, count and work a computer by age 14. He went on to say, reassuringly, that these families “will not starve, they will be given food stamps” but will be deprived of monetary benefits as they would, apparently, only be spent on “luxuries” such as cigarettes and alcohol. Stopping families’ benefits wholesale at the drop of a hat seems to be the populist policy de jour, with no concern for the serious effects such measures would have on child poverty, human rights and the development of a lawless underclass.  Aside from the fact that such a proposal would hit migrants and disabled people worst, it is unrealistic and out of touch. Lord Digby Jones turns out to be the former Minister of State for UK Trade & Investment. Perhaps he should confine his opinions to his area of expertise.

I think this is symptomatic of a larger problem. While many of the casual prejudices held against Britain by my aquaintances here in Berlin are amusing, harmless and easily refudated, the stereotype of a British political system in which the monarchy and peers have far too much say is not only damaging, but seems to be turning out to be true.

As a Briton abroad I feel humiliated over Prince Andrew’s gaffes and mood swings, concerned by Prince Charles’ several inappropriate interventions, disappointed as to the lack of progress on Clegg’s House of Lords reform.

It all puts me in mind of an Oscar Wilde quote, spoken by Lord Fermor to his nephew Dorian Gray – “When I was in the Diplomatic, things were much better. But I hear they let them in now by examination. What can you expect? Examinations, sir, are pure humbug from beginning to end. If a man is a gentleman, he knows quite enough, and if he is not a gentleman, whatever he knows is bad for him.”

Suzy

The end of Murdoch’s political monopoly?…Let’s hope so

To be brutally honest, when this whole phone hacking milarky began to come out 6, 9 months ago I really couldn’t care that much. But now, truly, everything has changed. The biggest circulatory newspaper of all time is being dropped, Andy Coulson has been arrested, murder and soldier victim families phones being tapped and quite frankly, the media will never truly be the same again.

So what can we identify and salvage from this wreckage? Well first off to get you in a good mood only Ed Miliband’s finest performance as Labour leader to date by being the first to call for enquiries, the first to call for the axing of the PCC, the first to call for Rebekah Brook’s resignation and the first to demand the transfer of the BSkyB bid to the competition commission. Ultimately, this is a welcome overcoming of fear of the Murdoch empire. Too long has a US-based media tycoon dictated overarching control over Britain. Don’t get me wrong, Labour’s hands are far from clean when it came to dealing with the tycoon master, but this is a major break not just for Labour but for British Politics as one major political force cuts it’s links with the media empire it feared. Miliband despite his fine performance recently has to be careful as already a senior Miliband aid received a “very hostile” threat, not veiled at all, from a News International journalist warning: “You have made it personal about Rebekah, so we’ll make it personal about you.”.

This break for British politics is all very well but it depends on Cameron following suit, which he has so far shown to be unwilling. It is clear that Camero also fears the monopoly and is too entwined in the spider’s web of Murdoch’s empire to truly break free. It was Cameron’s decision to bring in Coulson fresh from News of the World not only in to his team while in opposition but as Director of Communications in No. 10 despite an uneasy background record and he has paid dearly for this judgement. Let’s hope Cameron can make the right decision over the BSkyB deal as this is truly the real prize in all this chaos.

For Murdoch to jettison the very paper that brought him into the British media it seems that he realised the true potential of BSkyB. Newspapers are in decline, the future is the internet and TV. Sky’ revenue is already greater than the BBC’s which combined with his remaining papers would place Murdoch beyond reach of any rival media circles and organisations. With this power he could begin to truly cripple one of Britain’s greatest institutions, the BBC. Any chance that Sky would remain a fully bias free organisation is impossible given Murdoch’s record with the Times, the Sun, the NoW and Fox News over in the USA.

We’ve made our move, it’s time for Cameron to follow suit and do the right thing and remove this poison from British politics once and for all.

Max

A congratulations is in order

Justine and Ed Miliband

Now sorry for the lack of blogging lately, we have all been massively pre-occupied with exams and the like. I myself will commence normal blogging levels after the 3rd June or so.

But anyway, I’m sure everyone in BULS and the wider political spectrum wishes Ed and Justine the very best in their marriage and wish that they have a long and happy life together.

Max

Doesn’t it seem that everything happens when you’re away

Sorry on behalf on all of the bulsonline team for the lack of activity lately. The end of term shenanigans have kept us all busy these past few weeks and I personally have been away in Edinburgh for the past few days.

Anyway, first thing on my blogging list to write about is, yes you guessed it, the Cable incident. In some ways, like potentially many Lib Dem grass-root members, I’m quite glad that Cable is fighting his own corner for the Lib Dems (it sure is a better alternative to the other option). In some respects, I can sympathise with Cable. Like I said on the whole Mervyn King incident via the wikileaks, people often let slip their own personal view points, we are human after all. However, that is where my sympathy stops. A Business Secretary has to rule on each case on the facts and evidence, you can’t go in with a pre-existing views. This applies to every case, despite the idea that “declaring war on Mr Murdoch” is something I very strongly sympathise with. It is a direct breach of the ministerial code and should result in nothing less than resignation. This is where the double standards come in.

I’ve always been rather sceptical about the Coalition claiming to “come together in the national interest” (naturally). But, it certainly seems in this one case that what happened was that DC’s decision not to sack Cable was in the Coalition’s interest rather than “the nation’s interest”. It’s blatantly clear, if this had been a Tory Minister, they would have been left out to dry long ago. What is also interesting is that Cable described the Coalition as “Maoist”, given that he believed they were trying to push through too many radical changes at once, many of which he disagreed with. Which neatly leads onto the next event I missed.

Apart from taping Cable’s views on the Coalition, the Daily Telegraph also recorded Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, Business Minister Ed Davey and Pensions Minister Steve Webb doubts over the Coalition’s claim to “fairness”. They criticised Child Tax Credit reforms and the Trebling of fees. Now rather than criticising the Lib Dems as a whole for supporting these measures, we should be working to encourage not only Lib Dem MPs, but party members and voters to think again about the Coalition and whether it is truly taking the right direction (although with the latter part, little needs to be done there). This is why I welcome Ed Miliband’s move to start calling the Coalition a “Conservative-led Coalition”. Also, I welcome (more or less) the reduction party membership fees for Young Labour members (15-27…ish) from the already ridiculously low £1 to 1p(!!). I know if Labour wants to increase membership amongst the younger generations sound policies are far more important, but you can’t say it wont help a bit.

Finally, on a completely different note. Yet even more genuine change has come to America. The old “don’t ask don’t tell” policy on banning gay people in the armed forces in the USA has finally, been repealed! Now some may say this won’t be good for the army as it’ll stir up homophobia, but if it is stirred up because of this at least it’s tackling homophobia. Consequently, because of this logic, not repealing this ban would have meant homophobia culture would have gone unchecked and unchallenged in the US armed forces.

Overall though, a rather good few days….shame I missed it all.

Max

Wikileaks

“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” ~ T. Jefferson.

Julian Assange and his colleagues have acted in a brave and selfless way, persisting in outing secretive documents despite smear campaigns and pressure from the highest levels of government.

Even if Wikileaks’ actions achieve nothing in terms of delaying action against North Korea and Iran, a point has been made. The internet is a weapon for transparency and democracy, and governments have never been more accountable.

Another possible consequence is simply increasing the security of intelligence, which can only be a good thing in a world threatened by terrorists.

Suzy

Some actual sound moves from the PM, for once

Chris Riddell 21 November 2010

I’m not going to lie, I personally have not been hit that hard by the recession and by the cuts (yet for the latter). But, credit where credit is due, for once the DC has made some sound moves. Lord Young’s comments are completely out of touch, low interest rates are of little concern for those struggling to make ends meet (or meat, not sure which) on minimum wage or a part of the 2.5 million (ish) unemployed. This incident alone does not equate to DC being out of touch, in fact, this shows humility for once (though I can’t say the same for a lot of everything else he stands for).

Other good news, DC has also decided to take his ‘vanity photographer’ off the Civil Service payroll (although it should not have been on it in the first place, we do welcome the U-turn). Also, we welcome the news of aid to the Irish Republic. They are one of our closest trading partners (and the only country to share a land border with the UK). This is in our, and Europe’s interest to help out Ireland (though I do feel and note the sheer irony and contradiction on part of the Tories in regard to government bailouts, which is effectively happening here given their own abrupt u-turn on the UK’s own bank bail out two years ago). But, don’t forget DC, Ireland is in this mess because they went down the road of austerity measures two years ago, take heed of the warning in our backyard.

Max