The old fetish

Chris Riddell 11 December 2011

Friday was the day the old fetish returned. The day Cameron delved into nostalgia. And the day he set Britain at odds not only with the other 26 EU member states, but rationality itself.

What we saw on Friday was a Prime Minister with his hands tied by dogmatic backbench MPs. But not to worry, it seems Cameron had unveiled his all powerful ‘veto’. The only problem with this is that it’s not a true veto of any sorts. Negotiations will still be ongoing, the remaining 26 EU states will still formulate an agreement and Britain will not be present to have any say in the talks.

This is catastrophic failure for Cameron who has severed any attempts to help salvage the Euro which is not only in the EU’s interest but vital in Britain’s interests. In the words of a Facebook update by my own brother:

Tory lol. Blame the economic problems on the Euro crisis, then veto the plan to save it knowing full well that the the EU will cut you out and essentially get rid of any say you have in determining the future of Europe, and by extension, Britain

Some may call it Bulldog spirit, I’d like to call it naively dogmatic.



A great year for Irish Labour

Michael D Higgins, of the Irish Labour party, is set to be confirmed as Ireland's ninth president. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA

Michael D Higgins and Eamon Gilmore will now go down in History as two of the Irish Labour Party’s electorally successful Politicians. It was announced today that Michael D Higgins is to be elected the 9th President of Ireland receiving almost 40% of the first preference votes. This will make him the first ever Labour Presidential Candidate to have become President without the support of from other parties.

Of course this adds to the great success Irish Labour received in the Irish General Election last May where Eamon Gilmore led Labour to its largest number of seats in the Irish Parliament ever. This meant Labour has entered its 8th time in a Coalition Government where it takes up 8 out of the 20 Cabinet posts.

On behalf of all of us in Birmingham University Labour Students (BULS) I would like to wish our sister party across the Irish Sea a huge congratulations on the results they’ve had this year. And we hope the best is yet to come.


Sex is not the enemy

David Cameron is set to announce a new set of proposals for child-proofing the internet. A new opt-in scheme to be unveiled today would have internet providers blocking access to pornographic material to all but those users who request it. Clearly children, some teenagers and even adults can be shocked and upset by explicit imagery.

I don’t think we should run (seek to understand exotic acts and complex power games) before we can walk (understand a basic ideal of sex between adults who respect each other). But wouldn’t it be nice if the government were to replace one (misleading, fantasy-based) source of sex information with another (safe, inclusive) source?

The classically repressed British are living proof that ignoring sex does not make STIs or unwanted pregnancy go away. Only proper education, support networks and open adult discussion can do that.

I think we have some things to learn from our friends down under:


Priorities please

It was announced yesterday (I think) that the UK has rejected a call by the EU to implement a financial tax of a mere 0.01% on bank transactions which could raise £50 billion a year.

I’d like to draw your attention to a video posted on this blog before about the absurdity of the Coalition decision to oppose the so-called ‘robin-tax hood’.




Meeting terror and violence with more democracy

Flowers are placed at the Utvika campsite where victims were evacuated to from Utoeya Island (background) during Friday's shooting massacre, July 24, 2011. REUTERS/Sindre Thoresen Lonnes

“We meet terror and violence with more democracy,” are the words of Eskil Pedersen, leader of the Worker’s Youth League (UAF), the youth-wing of Norway’s Labour party, the governing party and our sister party, upon leaving the island of Utoeya. Given what he and the around 200 other UAF members endured during those fateful and horrific hours on the island can only give you hope in humanity’s ability to better itself and strive for a better world.

This has been a test for the very fabric of Norway which has always prided itself upon, openness, freedom of expression, their feeling of safety, tolerance and equality. The stories and witness accounts of Breivik shooting teenagers in the tents they fled in to. Teenagers attempting to swim away from the island. And Breivik checking the bodies for signs of life of those who decided to play dead for two hours. This shows nothing less than the very worst of humanity. Breivik was fuelled by hate and intolerance for progressive politics and multiculturalism so much so to murder 95 innocent victims with a bombing in Oslo and a horrific shooting spree.

But Pedersen’s words I hope are the ones that truly endure in Norway’s darkest hour. For when presented with the worst humanity can throw at us we must always emulate the very best in our ability to do good.


The Euro Takes A Pounding

The single currency was once such a contentious issue; only a decade ago it seemed likely that the UK would be joining the Eurozone. What happened? Today, Jack Straw predicted that the Euro will indeed fail following the inevitable defaulting by Greece of its sovereign debt, leading to a return to those old holiday favourites like the Drachma. As the media keeps reminding us ominously, despite our not being part of the monetary union, a collapse of the Euro would have a devastating effect on our economy, because of the global nature of our trade regime and our over-reliance on our closest neighbours for exports. This begs the question that if we cannot escape the effects of these sorts of economic crises in a globalised world, is it not time to become more unified to prevent the two-track system we have at the moment, where richer nations are being forced to bail out those in trouble?

I am no economist, yet if I learned anything from my second-year Interwar Economy course (between lapses into and out of a coma), it is that the attempt to ‘force’ currencies of varying strengths to use the same interest rates as part of the Gold Standard was in hindsight a fairly disastrous decision, without some sort of accompanying political union where individual nations have the same tax-and-spending and trade regimes – like BULS members’ attitudes to musical theatre, it seems we can only be either completely pro or completely anti EU. Given that Labour is a progressive party, and that in today’s global economy an insular economic nationalism is unthinkable (we have no industry for that), is it not the time to at least ‘float’ the idea of some sort of European federal state, if we are to keep the post-war dream alive?

This idea may be too much for many people to swallow, and the media will never accept it, but do we really have any realistic alternative when we are competing with economies like China and India? We cannot afford to let the European ideal crumble on the back of this financial crisis.


Something we can agree upon

It’s not exactly a secret that us in BULS have our, ahem, tad differences with David Cameron. But I personally like to make a point of mentioning areas and events we can agree on (and that is a rather event) and Cameron’s defence of the safeguarding of the international aid spending against the own right of his party particularly that of Defence Secretary, Liam Fox. Never should we balance the books on the back of the poorest people in the world, it is morally wrong and completely unjustifiable. To say other wise is a completely vile idea particularly when Liam Fox advocates this simply as ‘common sense’ which is nothing less than disgusting.

I also welcome Cameron’s pledge for immunisation 243 million children to keep with the millennium development child mortality goal. Far, far too often are third world deaths completely and utterly preventable and especially by such quick and easy means.

We should not be afraid to accept our similarities when they arise and so on this exceptionally rare occasion (and I mean exceptionally rare), thank you Cameron.