Why regaining sovereignty after Brexit was a myth…

Why regaining sovereignty after Brexit was a myth…

Articles

Editor’s Note – This opinion article, passionately written by Nathan, discusses the issue of sovereignty – a topic that was at the heart of the campaign to leave the European Union. But was the promise of regaining sovereignty after Brexit a myth?

Why regaining sovereignty after Brexit was a myth…

According to the Lord Ashcroft poll, a desire for ‘sovereignty’ was the main motivation for the vote to Leave on June 23rd. Since then, Theresa May used her speech at the 2016 Conservative conference in Birmingham to argue that Britain must leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. This was put forward on the grounds that it was “neither necessary nor appropriate” for a Britain not in the European Union.

However, despite this seemingly conclusive evidence that Theresa May believed we should take back sovereignty some of her earlier speeches seemed to contradict this. This was most obviously shown through her tone during the referendum campaign which highlighted the flaw in this reasoning. In this speech she argued that “no country or empire in world history has ever been totally sovereign,” saying that “even at the height of their power, the Roman Empire, Imperial China, the Ottomans, the British Empire, the Soviet Union, modern-day America, were never able to have everything their own way.”

This speech by May encapsulated the problem of voting to leave solely on the grounds of sovereignty: that it is a total myth. In a recent speech, Tony Blair challenged his audience to name a single judgement by the European Court of Justice that they disagreed with- naturally no such disagreement existed. Indeed, the ECJ is an independent court of arbitration that is a necessity in any free trade agreement. What May’s conference speech seemed to suggest was that Britain would negotiate bilateral free trade deals across the world which would all be arbitrated by the British Parliament. In reality, these would be arbitrated by the World Trade Organisation, no different to the ECJ as a point of principle.

Equally, it is a great irony that the vote to Leave was viewed by many as ‘taking backing control’ from ‘unelected bureaucrats’ when the often criticised EU bureaucrats appear to be outmanoeuvring their British counterparts at every stage of the negotiation- and now have much more ‘control’ over Britain’s future than they did before. Leave voters don’t seem to be so concerned by Britain’s unelected civil servants, upper chamber and monarch.
In reality, British influence has always been maximised as a member of the EU, when it pools sovereignty with 27 other nations in order to tackle issues that can’t be solved alone- climate change, cross-border crime and global tax avoidance naturally being some of them.

What the Leave campaign were able to cynically manipulate was a desire amongst the British people for more control over their own lives and the decisions they take. The solution for this legitimate concern is increased devolution, more direct democratic engagement and community outreach programme to help engage more people so they take an interest in decisions such as whether to leave to EU.

 

Nationalisation: is it too good to be true?

Nationalisation: is it too good to be true?

Articles

Editor’s Note – In this latest opinion article, Josh successfully conveys his concerns regarding nationalisation, a topic which is a battleground for political debate. He sets out to answer the question ‘Why do people in Britain, despite the growing debt and underfunding, consistently support nationalisation over privatisation?’ 

Nationalisation: is it too good to be true?

Ever since the liberal reforms in the start of the twentieth century the number of services run and funded by the government has massively increased. The government created a nationalised health service (or NHS), nationalised education (from ages 4-18) and other nationalised services like the railway service (National Rail), the postal system and many more. This lasted near eighty years basically uncontested with most politicians not seeing an issue with this support for the under-privileged who could not afford these services before. They raised taxes to pay for them and most people agreed that this was a necessity that we all would have to deal with.

Unfortunately, some of these services ended up being expensive and complicated organisations to run. So as a result, they started to cost more money due to: the high demand for these public services, the increase in non-practical workers i.e. admin staff and inflation meaning some costs spiralled. Unluckily for citizens these costs were covered by either increasing the cost of the service (like train tickets or postage), increasing taxes or cutting the costs in the service (like lower pay and worse quality). Whichever way the customers lost out. This lasted for up to 80 years until Prime Minister Baron (Margaret) Thatcher suggested re-privatisation. This was a shock and a horror for most people as they feared the idea of paying for something they had come to know as being free. This thinking has followed any suggestion of privatisation every time it is mentioned; people say that it is unfair on the poor as they cannot afford the luxury.

This idea is not one based on fact or evidence, merely fear. If the rest of these services were privatised, like a lot of them have been, it means that there would be no need for such high taxes as there would be less to fund. I would say that this privatisation creates a competitive market that lowers the price while also raising the quality of the good or service that is being paid for. The analogy I like to use is that access to healthcare and education are human rights, but so is access to food. Everyone can afford food because it is cheap due to the competition of shops. This results in people paying less than they did before but this way they pay to the service not the government.

One of the Labour Party’s major policies was the reintroduction of nationalised industries e.g the rail network and what I would call ancient relics such as the Royal Mail. I personally believe this is a bad idea as there was a reason a lot of these companies were sold off. Mostly this reason is funding issues either due to inefficiency or general economic problems nationwide. Although this gave Labour much support from the student vote they took a lot of criticism with this exact issue being pointed out. Even with the condemnation of their so-called “false promises” they still gained much support just for saying they were against privatisation.

However, this is not just a British issue; the allure of supposedly free services is nearly always supported by the majority. On 14th April 2013, the now president of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro won the presidential election. He was a leading socialist and came in on the promise of reform and help for the poor by nationalising most of the public services. This, as you can now tell by looking up any modern article on Venezuela, was a failure. This programme thrust the country into debt and allowed the corrupt leader even more power. Now it is suffering in poverty and starvation.

I know Venezuela is a very extreme example of a worst-case scenario but it was originally praised for its revolutionary support of the poor and its radical view on nationalisation to help everyone. Even though this is very far from what we have done in Britain it is worth mentioning. So, if as I think the private market is cheaper, more stable and more efficient than a nationalised service, why do so many despise the idea of it? And after reading this, do you?

Fast Food Giant in ‘Supersized’ Controversy

Fast Food Giant in ‘Supersized’ Controversy

Articles, Current Affairs

Editor’s NoteThe treatment of workers with regards to both condition and pay is something often neglected by CEO’s of large corporations. A fast food giant has been making headlines in the news recently as it faces a huge backlash from its workers, who demand better…

Fast Food Giant in ‘Supersized’ Controversy

McDonald’s have long had a bad reputation with regards to working conditions and pay, but this time its employees have had enough. Today, 40 staff from two McDonald’s stores in south-east London, Cambridge and Crayford, are walking out. This is the first time workers at McDonald’s have gone on strike in the UK, and it has really brought some of the harsh realities of what it is like to work for a company of this nature into the spotlight. This is a very important moment for young people as in the UK around 42% of McDonald employees are under 21.

So what is it exactly that they’re asking for that McDonald’s aren’t willing to give them? Firstly, many of them are on zero-hour contracts. In other words, they have little job security and no steady income. Employees wanted these contracts to be abolished by the end of the year. They also complained about the poor working conditions – there have been countless stories of bullying behaviour, extreme stress and sexual harassment, much of which goes unchecked and unchallenged. Finally, the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union that is representing the McDonald’s workers said that staff also want at least £10 an hour.

Some might argue that McDonald’s have a right to pay employees what they want to, and that if people are dissatisfied they can choose to work elsewhere. However, the truth is that there are many other companies that treat their employees exactly the same way. Workers don’t have the option of leaving their job because they depend on the income, which is what leads to their exploitation with regards to their contracts, their conditions and their wages.

Another moral perspective on this argument is the idea of equality. Not only do employers have power over their employees leading to social inequality in the working environment, but there is a vast difference between the amount of money going to those working in the McDonald’s outlets themselves and the executives and share-holders at the top, making it economically unequal. McDonald’s seem unable, or unwilling, to pay their staff £10 per hour. Its CEO, Steve Easterbrook, earns $15.35m per year. The Guardian calculated that, assuming he works a 40-hr week, Easterbrook would be earning £5,684 in an hour. In other words, McDonald’s are refusing to pay their staff 0.18% of what it CEO is earning in the same amount of time. This is simply unjust.

McDonald’s is the world’s second largest employer, and so a victory for the workers could really change the lives of millions of people, not just here but globally. This is also a huge cause that directly appeals to the younger generation who face uncertain hours and the prospect of losing their job that so many desperately rely on for a source of income. There are so many young people trapped in jobs such as these, earning what is deemed to be a living wage but is in fact impossible to live on. Hopefully today is only the first of many occasions where vulnerable employees will stand up to big, powerful corporations, and we will start to see real change in how workers are treated.

Are Feminists ‘Man Haters’?

Are Feminists ‘Man Haters’?

Articles, Opinion

Editor’s Note – In this passionate opinion article, Mariam makes the case that feminism has been portrayed in an unfair and untrue light, and should distance itself from the popular misconception that it is related to misandry.

Are Feminists ‘Man Haters’?

The misconceptions surrounding feminism are something I find very alarming. The number of people who are unaware of what feminism means or represents is shocking, and this has led to the miscommunications of its ideas and values. By far the most popular misconception is the idea that feminists are misandrists. This is simply untrue. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, feminism is “a belief in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes”. Misandry on the other hand is defined by the oxford dictionary as an “ingrained prejudice against men”. These two definitions show that the two sets of beliefs are not only different, but also mutually exclusive. A feminist cannot be a misandrist, so why are people so confused, and where does this link between feminism and misandry come from?

In some dictionaries feminism is also interpreted as the support for women’s rights and it is this definition that is responsible for a lot of confusion. The two definitions have vastly different meanings, one supporting equality between the sexes and the other siding with women only. In short, the feminist movement comprises of a collection of perspectives, some of which contradict each other. Misandry has become just another perspective on feminism that no feminist, by its definition, identifies with. This has led to the mislabeling of misandrists as feminists and consequentially the link has been formed.

Misandry has now, to an extent, been normalised within feminism through humour. It has become a joke that women are supposed to identify with. For example, a common phrase associated with the feminist movement you may have heard is ‘ban men’, and you can even buy T-shirts and bracelets with phrases such as these or the word ‘misandrist’ printed on them. Whilst these phrases hold little truth and are often expressed in retaliation to misogynist views, the irony and humorous element is all too often lost. However well intended the use of misandry is, its inherent meaning is hatred, and the justification that the right type of man will understand is simply unconvincing. If men were to start wearing T-shirts with the word ‘misogynist’ printed on them, there would most likely be outrage, so why are we not only allowing but welcoming misandry?

Feminists don’t hate men. What feminists truly hate is the patriarchy, the systemic oppression of women, and to overcome this obstacle and achieve equality more people need to be involved. Telling half the population that we hate them is no way to do that. In fact, it is entirely counterproductive. According to a poll carried out by Huffington Post, only 16% of men would describe themselves as feminists, and surely even fewer would find misandry funny or appealing. The toxic attitude that has started to grow within feminism is only preventing the feminist movement from reaching its sole aim of absolute gender equality. Appealing to the sense of humour of a minority is a great way to alienate the majority and cause a miscommunication of beliefs and values. This is what has happened within feminism. This has not only led to the stigma surrounding the word and the reluctance to be associated with it, but in fact nearly a fifth of people use ‘feminist’ as an insult, according to the Independent.

The use of misandry within feminism has damaged its reputation and how others view it. This in turn has prevented the growth of a very important movement. The two ideas need to be completely separated. Having misandry come under the label of feminism has caused confusion and contempt toward a perfectly acceptable notion. I believe it should have no place in the movement if it is to progress.