Thursday, 22 October 2009

Why Gag Griffin?

The BBC are preparing for impending doom this afternoon. Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right British National Party is set (despite much objection) to appear on tonight’s highly anticipated Question Time. Predicted protests promise to be a thousand strong.

There has been much discussion about the party’s legality, cabinet minister Peter Hain still argues that the party are an ‘unlawful body’ as there white’s only membership rule breached codes of race relations laws. However right now, they stand as a legally elected party. They gained six percent of the vote in last European election and won two MEP seats.
What irritates me about this particular debacle is that lefties are always banging on about free speech, there favourite past-time is standing outside parliament with lentil soup lobbying on behalf of some pressure group about some fellow’s human rights.
Surely if they really believe in human rights for all they should support the public’s right to a free political opinion, however abhorrent one may find it on a personal level. If free speech is something to be valued then why gag Griffin? Even if we let him speak only to be horrified or amused at the lunacy of such a man, don’t prevent him from expressing his political point of view just because the majority oppose it.
Pressure groups love the phrase ‘infringing human rights’, by having their membership lists printed in the press, surely the rights of the member’s are infringed?
It seems the left advocate free speech as long as it is free speech that concurs with their ideals.
I believe in freedom, freedom to vote, freedom to choose.
The BNP hold a horrendous reputation and I certainly would not support them, however I believe there are a lot of people who jump on the political bang-wagon, who in reality know very little about the party. The BBC has always claimed to be an impartial informant to the public. The BBC maintains they represent a fair proportion of the public. So let’s hear what Griffin has to say for himself, let’s hear what his party stands for, what his manifesto contains, what they would like to achieve, and more importantly let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth! This is an opportunity to challenge him, to expose his party’s weaknesses.
I commend the BBC for having the courage to stand up to politicians and viewers alike. I believe it to be the right decision. Not because I excuse the BNP but because I believe it just to represent all extremes of the political spectrum.
Geert Wilders, the far right wing Dutch MP, if you remember was refused entry to the UK, under the grounds that he would incite racial hatred.
This decision was overturned this month and he has since gained entry. What the public forgot was that this man, who was immediately dubbed a racist because of which side of the fence he sat politically was invited to the UK by The House of Lords. The House of Lords invited him to provide an acute party perspective. Let there be more of this, if there is not debate, if both sides of the coin are not fairly represented that what does that mean for the future of democracy?

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A little aside article which i thought should go up

Students; Allies or Aliens? 

Students. This word once conjured the image of a studious looking fellow, standing in front of an archetypal Oxbridgesque building, gowned, wearing a graduation cap and looking decidedly smug.

Today I feel we have a somewhat different reputation. Human beings seem to view us with pitying disdain. They appear to cower away believing that our disease ridden, spot infested bodies may infect them with some sort of anti-social plague. 

I like fight with full iron fist this stereotype. I talk to old ladies at bus stops, I hold doors open for people, I even smile.

‘What? Why?’ I hear you cry; surely you are too hung over, drugged up or illiterate to make any of the aforementioned gestures, but no; Arguable though it is, we students have a brain and heart. We, as a breed can even be respectful.  

My grandma, living in a bungalow on a busy street, curses like a scullion at us ‘youth’. What precisely is it Nanna that you dislike about today’s student generation? I ask facetiously. ‘Well, they’re noisy, vandalising yobs, who litter our streets and clutter our pubs.’ Admittedly find me a student who doesn’t enjoy a night out, even a night out which results in inebriation and sometimes vomiting. Nevertheless, drinking copious amounts of alcohol and sleeping in until noon is not all we are good for.


In July this Year, question-time produced a novelty ‘young persons’ special and keen teen Suzanne Burlton’s competency made me squeal with joy, there are indeed teenagers with something to say who hope to go on and invest their time and energy into books and politics as opposed to beer and one night stands. 

Still, the younger generations are taking less interest in politics. During the recent Tory party conference I conducted a ‘vox-pop’ for my journalism degree; I asked nigh on fifteen students whether they thought David Cameron would make a good prime-minister, a startling response re-occurred time and time again.

‘Who’s David Cameron?’ this makes my political blood curdle and my heart weep.

We are the generation who will inherit the repercussions of the recession; we are the generation who will have to live with the decisions of our forefathers. We must take an interest in the world around us, because even if politics affects us little now, it will certainly affect us later.

In the 2009 UK European Elections the turnout was 35 per cent of the population entitled to vote. I daresay more people vote on x-factor. Whilst I do watch x-factor, this statistic is abysmal.

So whilst I firmly denounce the stereotype of the student I believe that we collectively need to do more to regain our once prestigious reputation. In light of the recession it’s highly likely that we, upon graduation will find it hard to gain our dream job, which the government unrealistically promise as a prize for completing our degree.

Your browser may not support display of this image. We need more apprenticeships, we need companies to take bigger risks on graduates without much experience but who are enthusiastic and eager to learn. There are no pub crawl apprenticeships.  

Joyce & Zola: Salacious & Scintillating

 After two fascinating concurrent lectures, one common theme leapt from the warm, dark lecture theatre. Sensationalism. The ramblings of Joyce (Ulysses) and the drama of Zola (Germinal) both seek to evoke a strong reaction from their readers.You can taste the bile of both writers; the novels are bold and uncompromising.

They strip away convention and etiquette and expose what they believe to be the harsh reality of the world. I think of dipping into Ulysses, like a child dipping into a huge tub of chocolate ice cream; it’s messy but good. I enjoy the raw semantics, the crude depiction of war, sex and suppression. Both Novels convey a powerful message and create allegories for social injustice. Ulysses’ modernist style permits the idea of liberty, the freedom of the writing and the freedom of the thought. Much of the novel reads like a stream of consciousness, the voice of the novel is heard through the imagery; Joyce paints us a picture of the time. Zola does the same, rather than using the voices of the characters to tell the story, he uses the suffering and the hardship of their lives to show the audience who his characters are. The writing in both novels has clear inspiration from the time they were created.

Germinal (1885) has a clear motivation to reveal the oppression of capitalism, the influence of Carl Marx has a clear voice. The ‘iron fist inside the velvet glove’ is what is keeping Germinal’s characters from reasonable living conditions. Zola’s character Etienne provides an insight into the world of the proletariat. The struggle for a voice under suppression. Throughout the novel, the conditions of the miners worsen and the result can only be a strike, where they can use the only strength they have, numbers.

This inevitable revolt is an example of the dialectic theory; synthesis Hegel defined as the result of a thesis and an antithesis co-existing; the synthesis is the consequence, in this case a strike.

Germinal’s title refers to the name of a month in the French Republican Calendar, a spring month, as ‘German’ derives from the Latin word meaning ‘seed’, the novel describes the hope for a better future, Zola plants a seed he hopes will grow into realisation of the need for change.

Thursday, 1 October 2009


Having been granted an incredibly lengthy summer break, I thought only fair to intellectually challenge myself. ‘The History of Western Philosophy’ by Bertrand Russell has long graced my bookshelf, used only as a resource. When coming across philosophers in other literature, I could easily refer to this book to glean a little information on their theories. I have found this an immensely useful tool. However I firmly believed it would be nigh on impossible to read this book cover to cover as if an Austen novel. Nevertheless (hopefully I get some points for endeavour) I tried. I have to say to varying degrees of success. I skipped some bits, I read with intrigue some bits, overall I found much of it relatively comprehendible, the chapter titled Hegel was not one of these bits.
However since today’s lecture I have put together a mini-analysis of Hegel, which I think one can digest with relative ease.
Hegel has three major theories which you can dissect to understand his wider philosophy.
1) Alienation. This is the idea that the mind can perceive it’s own thoughts, thus being alienated from itself. Hegel has a circular conception of life, starting from an ‘enlightened’ state, being ‘at one’ with god, at this point our consciousness is internalised. Then, after ‘the fall’ from the garden of Eden (when Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge) our thoughts become externalised. Our minds will only internalise again when humans regress to a state of ‘oneness’ with god.
2) Change. Hegel believes, contrary to empiricists that there are no objects, there is only change. Nothing is static. This preceded the scientific idea that all matter is an evolving chemical reaction. Furthermore, he believes change is constantly occurring, change is time. Therefore you can only understand what is happening to you after it is has happened, and it is therefore no longer happening. This suggests to me that we are only able to conceive our thoughts retrospectively.
3) The previous theories of Hegel are substantiated by the last, which is Dialectic. This theory explains that everything has a counterpart, and an outcome. ‘Dialectic’ coming from the Greek, meaning debate is defined as ‘the investigation of the truth of opinions, especially logical discussion.’
The idea of a debate is that there are two opposing sides of an argument and a result, this result may not necessarily be a solution, one of Hegel’s favourite outcomes was often revolt or war. However there will always be a result.This affirms again the scientific atomic theory, as a good example would be a proton existing, it’s counterpart being an electron and matter being the result of these two co-existing. The proton would be the thesis, the electron, the antithesis and the matter would be the synthesis. The idea can be used in an abstract sense or a more practical sense such as the Thesis; a home team Antithesis; an away team and the synthesis being the game.