The Politics of Eurovision?

The Politics of Eurovision?

By Maddy Jeffrey european vision

Eurovision is supposedly a song contest however in recent years the music competition has morphed into something far more complicated and arguably more political.

It has been 21 long years since the UK last won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1997; Katrina and the Waves stole the show promoting peace and love with the song ‘Love Shine a Light’ at Dublin Point Theatre. In recent years our luck in the Eurovision Song Contest has been not been particularly wonderful as despite the fact that we automatically qualify to the final, within the last 10 years, the closest we have come to winning was in 2009 coming in 5th place with the song ‘It’s My Time’ sung by Jade Ewan which was written and produced by Andrew Lloyd Weber. Even within the short time of 9 years, Eurovision (and Europe as a whole) has changed. A simple song promoting world peace is no longer enough to win the trophy. So what makes a Eurovision winner? An impactful song and well planned staging with a strong, universal message is surely the perfect package. Well… that may no longer be the case.

There’s no doubt that in order to win Eurovision a strong song is needed however whether or not the country is a ‘liked’ country plays a huge part in the voting process. If we’re completely honest with ourselves, the UK is not the most loved country in Europe. Our lack of interest in integrating with the rest of Europe hasn’t led to us being celebrated in the sparkly, diverse world of Eurovision; the results of a certain political vote in 2016 probably isn’t going to improve the perception of the UK in years going forward either. Whenever we do poorly (near enough every year), we often claim that it is political however even after the results of that certain political vote previously mentioned, in 2017 Lucie Jones came in 15TH place – the best the UK has done since entering Blue in 2011 who came in 11th (which is still not great considering the fact that Jedward placed 8th). So maybe Eurovision isn’t that political after all. Maybe it really is about having a catchy song and engaging staging.

In a perfect meritocratic Eurovision world, the best song would (win no matter where it was from) and the points given from all countries would genuinely go to what they thought was the best performance. However, in truth, it is rather comical to watch the voting as chances are you can predict how the majority of countries would vote without actually hearing the songs. Belarus almost always gives their 12 points to Russia: Norway, Sweden and Denmark kindly help each other out; Eastern European countries pass on the points to their neighbours and Greece and Cyprus could enter a horrific mess but somehow still they would give each other 12 points. This has not gone unnoticed. I’d highly recommend listening very carefully to the results from Greece and Cyprus as in 2017 the audience vocally booed when the not-so-surprising points were given. One of the only anomalous results of the ‘voting for your neighbour theory’ is the UK and Ireland as we haven’t given Ireland 12 points in recent years and they haven’t given us 12 points either.

Political voting doesn’t just affect the results of the UK. Take one of the most controversial Eurovision results in the 62 years of its existence – the head to head fight between Ukraine and Russia in 2016. Going into the competition, Sergey Lazarev (representing Russia) was favourite to win with a rather generic, western sounding pop song, complimented by impressive technological staging. In direct contrast to this, Jamala (from Ukraine) performed a song called ‘1944’ which told a personal story with a strong Eastern European sound with basic but powerful staging. If this was any other year then this showdown would be a bit less awkward however considering the annexation of Crimea in 2014; the increasing tension between the two nations; the fact that Jamala’s song was written about the deportation of Crimean Tatars in the 1940’s by the Soviet Union and the featuring of the impactful line ‘they kill you all and say they’re not guilty’, this was going to be controversial. This became true when Ukraine won. Many people claimed that people were just voting politically against Russia however many people defended Jamala’s song claiming that her win had nothing to do with politics. Ultimately, this controversy led to Russia not participating in the 2017 competition, but they are back again this year so hopefully they will be welcomed back with open arms as making reference to the 2016 slogan, Eurovision (idealistically) exists to help people ‘come together’.

Thankfully, looking past the Russian elephant in the room, the main Eurovision event in 2017 was a very entertaining, politically neutral show. The main highlight for me was Portugal winning with a beautiful ballad performed with extremely minimalistic staging and a lot of heart. After Salvador Sobral won, there was no political outcry and people were (mostly) united in the fact that he was the rightful winner. Considering the fact that the song was sung entirely in Portuguese, it is rather incredible that the song went on to win especially when observing the fact that political voting was still running rampant. Hopefully this trend continues into the future as the extravagant, welcoming world of Eurovision truly does have the power to unite Europe through music, even if it is only for one week every year!

A year has passed since Eurovision 2017 and the stage is being prepared for another fabulous show in early May. Despite the fact that it shouldn’t be political, chances are we aren’t going to send Russia many points and they won’t send the UK points either. To attempt to predict the winner of Eurovision has always been almost impossible but what we can always rely on is that Greece will give Cyprus 12 points; Cyprus will return the favour; Norway and Denmark will vote for Sweden and the UK will place in the bottom 5. If this proves to be true, I think its pretty safe to say that Eurovision is more influenced by politics rather than the song quality and entertainment value but isn’t that what makes Eurovision such trashy fun?

Maddy Jeffrey

 

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What is Britain’s place in Europe?

The following article was written by Madeline Jeffery: a Lower Sixth Form Student at Hutton Grammar School. Madeline successfully entered this article into a regional M.E.P competition where she won first prize to visit the European Parliament.

What is Britain’s place in Europe?

Britain’s place in Europe is changing massively; with the Brexit negotiations underway many people are asking what is Britain’s place in Europe going to be like after we leave? The European Union has arguably opened up a plethora of opportunities for the United Kingdom to grow and develop strong international bonds that have been beneficial to those not just within the UK but for people all throughout Europe. The European Union is a perfect example of how countries with bitter and aggressive pasts can come together with the hopes to build a more secure future for all, not just those within a single country’s border. The European Union was founded in 1957, just 12 years after the end of World War 2, and since then, Europe has become a far more prosperous and peaceful place that is continually leading world economically and socially. However, many British people want change – what this change will be, we have yet to find out.

As a result of the malicious Brexit campaign, in Britain, there is an ever increasing hatred surrounding the concept of immigration. There have been many times when I have heard the sayings ‘they’re stealing our jobs’ or ‘they’re ruining the NHS’ in relation to immigration to Britain from Europe. According to analysis by Professor Christian Dustmann and Dr Tommaso Frattini, between the years 2001-2011, European immigrants have brought ‘more than £20bn to UK public finances’. European immigrants continue to support this country economically and it is undeniable that EU workers have provided a strong and reliable workforce in a variety of different areas such as in agriculture or in the National Health Service.

In the NHS, according to Full Fact, around 5% of NHS staff in England are from elsewhere in the EU. Not only that, Full Fact also state that 10% of registered doctors in the UK are from elsewhere in the EU. Nigel Farage was famously quoted saying that only “people who do not have HIV” should be allowed to migrate to the UK therefore instilling the idea that EU migrants are draining the NHS and even going so far as to suggest that the rest of Europe is plagued by a HIV crisis. As mentioned previously, popular opinion suggests that EU migrants are ruining the NHS; however due to the overwhelming statistics, showing the amount of contribution they provide to the NHS, I would argue that without them, the NHS itself and the health of people within this country would suffer greatly.

Despite the fact that emigration from the UK to other parts of the EU was hardly mentioned during the Brexit referendum debates, the UK greatly benefits from the EU’s freedom of movement policy.
Once again using statistics from Full Fact in 2015, it is estimated that 1.2 million people originally from the UK are living in other parts of the EU. Freedom of movement opens up countless career opportunities for Britons who want to live and work in other parts of the world. As well as career opportunities, students are able to study in other EU countries for cheaper the cost than if we were out of the EU as shown through the Erasmus Programme. This allows students to experience new cultural experiences and learn new life skills that will last a lifetime. The ability to study in other parts of Europe lead to a more culturally diverse society and a greater understanding of other cultures that will benefit Europe’s ability to work with cohesion.

Through collaboration, the EU is working to solve some of the greatest problems currently facing people in and out of the EU, an example of this being the Refugee Crisis. The EU has worked together to try and help those fleeing from persecution or war-torn countries such as Syria. The EU Common European Asylum System completed in 2005 enforces a fair and effective decision-making process when accepting asylum seekers. I would like to say that Britain has followed this fair and effective decision making process laid out by the EU, however that isn’t the case. According to the Refugee Council, in Britain 13,230 asylum seekers were held in detention centres in 2016. The UK has some of the harshest policies in Western Europe regarding the treatment of asylum seekers. This shows the EU’s waning influence over the UK and similarly, the amount of British influence over the EU.

Arguably, Britain has never been fully invested in the European Union; the UK rejected joining the Eurozone, it is increasingly hostile to European immigration and even after joining the EU in 1973, a referendum had to be held in 1975 after renegotiating its entry terms. This could be proof that Britain has always been a Euro-sceptic nation. Britain is geographically distant which could also represent our cultural distance. British Euro-skepticism has been equally matched by a growing distaste of stereotypical British attitudes in mainland Europe (the recent Eurovision results are enough proof of this). In Sweden, a very pro-EU country, 86% of the population speak English as a second language. Britain has taken quite an ignorant attitude towards learning other European languages as only 39% of people are able to speak a second language confidently (myself included in that percentage). As well as Britain’s ignorance towards languages, comments from certain MEP’s representing the UK continue to disgrace Britain’s image in the European Parliament. Nigel Farage is a perfect example as he was quoted saying to the European Parliament “most of you have never done a proper job” and claiming that the EU was “in denial”.

Whether you’re a ‘Remainer’ or a ‘Brexiteer’, the future for Britain seems uncertain – there is no clear direction for the UK and many important factors such as restrictions on immigration, trade and the cost of the ‘divorce bill’ seem to be up in the air. Does anyone honestly know what is going on? As of November 2017, the Brexit divorce bill (according to the Financial Times) will be between €91 billion and €113bn. We all remember the Leave campaign battle bus with ‘We send the EU £350 million a week’ smeared across the side with that £350 million promised to the NHS. However, if we rely so heavily upon immigration for our NHS workforce, without them , what NHS will we have to fund? That £350 million a week goes towards helping some of the most vulnerable people across Europe, building new community projects and supporting industries such as agriculture. The Remainers across the country have been left wondering what that pricey divorce bill will actually do to benefit the UK. The Leave campaign was built upon putting Britain first however I can’t see how this massively expensive bill (or Brexit as a whole) is putting Britain first at all.

Many people are confused and frightened about what the future holds for Britain’s relationship with Europe. The fear that the UK must become a capitalist tax haven for businesses to survive in an ever globalising world is looming over many. Isolation is never the way forward as we have seen throughout all of history; I do not want an iron curtain between us and the rest of Europe. Europe is ever changing and the UK must change with it, not close ourselves of from our closest friends.

However, all we can do is speculate what this new Britain will be; It’s safe to say that until the end of March 2019, Britain’s Place in Europe will remain a mystery. Will the new Britain be open to working with Europe outside of the EU or will Britain become an inward looking capitalist hermit-kingdom? Until we find out, lets just hope for the best and don’t forget, if our relationship with Europe crumbles, the UK can always take President Trump up on his offer of a ‘very big and exciting’ trade deal.

The Huracan Peformante Spyder: A not so Distant Dream?

Ben Lawrenson (Year 7)

A Brief History of Lamborghini

Lamborghini – even saying its name out loud creates the impression of quality and excellence.  The company which is based in Sant’Agata Bolognese near Bologna, Northern Italy, is known for making the worlds fastest cars such as the Aventador and Huracan. It all started with a man called Feruccio Lamborghini who was infatuated by cars but made his living building tractors, so one day he decided to construct a car that would beat his arch-enemy: Enzo Ferrari, and eventually he did.

Will Lamborghini make a Huracan Peformante Spyder?

For starters, the staggering Huracan Performante is a wild beast of a machine with its 631HP V10 engine blasting out until it reaches its 202mph top speed limit. It’s a track focused version of the standard Huracan (which has less horse power) and also weighs 60g more which means the Performante can corner as quick as an F1 car. A version of the Gallardo, the predecessor of the Huracan, was made into a Gallardo Performante which was a convertible version of the already overpowered Superleggera. However, the convertible form does mean that it loses speed by 3mph leaving it at 199mph which is a downside.

I personally think that a Spyder* model will be made just because of the previous cars which have been produced and because of the prototype cars which have been continuously sighted. If finally produced, this would mean it will be rivaling cars such as the £750,000 Ferrari 458 Speciale Aperta.

Conclusion:

The Performante Spyder* is certainly (in theory) going to be an incredible car and so we can only wait and see if they finally release it; let’s just hope they do!

 

*A Spyder version of a car is when it has a folding roof, or a convertible form. This can be expressed in many different ways such as: Spyder, Spider, Cabriolet, Roadster, Conv’t and Convertible.

Theresa May: where did it all go wrong?

The following article has been created by Angus Brown: a former student of Hutton Sixth Form. During his time at Hutton Grammar, Angus published several articles for the Hutton Press. Angus is now studying History and Politics at Oxford University and the following article was first published (by him) on to the Oxford Student Website.  

Theresa May: where did it all go wrong?

A year ago, the Prime Minister was invincible. She was faced on the left by an ageing, seemingly out of touch, old socialist who was under constant assault from his own party on every possible issue. On the right was a slightly mad bloke from Liverpool who lied about his doctorate, whether he’d been at Hillsborough, and presumably on whatever form he signed saying he was capable of leading a political party. And as for the centre ground, it was occupied by a mild-mannered Christian whose credentials as a ‘Liberal’ were dubious at best, and who’s only talking point was how much he loved referendums.

There was speculation Labour would be annihilated – May would win over 400 seats, the Conservatives would be in power until the late 2020s, even the 2030s… Now she is faced by a Labour Party whose conference was the victory lap of a party who are certain they’ll be in government after the next election, a Liberal Democratic Party led by a veteran leader with ministerial experience unrivalled in his party and a history of competence and prescience, and even by a cadre within her own party who seem desperate to dethrone her. Forced to sack two cabinet members within just a week of one another, and with her chief ally and loyal deputy Damian Green under suspicion of serious sexual misconduct, Theresa May seems to be the most vulnerable Prime Minister since John Major. How did a woman once seen as an Iron Lady for the 21st century become the Tory Gordon Brown?

To fully understand what is now happening to Theresa May, we have to look back at why she seemed so powerful in the first place. Why were the Conservatives, just a month after effectively ousting David Cameron at the end of a civil war over Brexit, able to secure a 16 percent lead over Labour in some polls? What was it that made Theresa May so palatable not just to traditional Tories, but also to the white working-class voters who had propelled the Leave campaign (and UKIP) to dazzling success? It seems likely to have been a combination of the following factors; firstly, May seemed perfectly positioned to lead Britain through Brexit – a Remainer with clearly Eurosceptic instincts, she could garner support from both sides of the aforementioned civil war, and seemed to voters to be more than just an ideologue mindlessly pursuing Brexit at all costs (however laughable that may seem now).

How did a woman once seen as an Iron Lady for the 21st century become the Tory Gordon Brown?

But May also represented an oxymoronic combination of continuity and radical change. She was a firm hand on the tiller as one of the longest serving Home Secretary’s in British history, with a proven record in a department normally seen as a poisoned chalice, but she wasn’t just “Continuity Cameronism”. May (guided by the now reviled Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill) was promising a new programme of social and economic renewal for the disenfranchised. Hers was a brand of “Red Toryism” designed to appeal directly to the Labour Leave vote, which she knew traditional Conservatives voters would have no choice to back – the other option, after all, was Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, or UKIP plunging, as it was, into insignificance.

Having remembered just why May was so popular makes it feel shocking all over again to recount the reasons why she fell from grace; but, with hindsight, they are abundant. For one thing, May’s ability to actually win over the working class was always dubious. Yes, maybe working class voters might express interest in voting Conservatives in polls, but this was not like voting Leave; for many tribal alignment (easy to ignore in a referendum which was, to some extent, transpartisan) was simply too strong to ever stomach voting Conservative, hence why, when it came down to it, the new “Tory working class” failed to manifest itself.

Secondly, May did seemingly everything she could to alienate her party’s traditional support base, driving away elderly rural Tories on the one hand by threatening their ironclad pensions, and younger urban free-trading economic liberals on the other by pushing for a hard Brexit at any cost and promising to bring back, of all things, fox hunting. This left her without the Conservative’s key constituencies on two fronts, as well as without many of her backbenchers. In appealing to the working class (and perhaps more narrowly to the UKIP-voting working class) May made a gamble which disastrously failed to pay off. What’s more, May’s promise not to hold an early election followed by her dramatic U-Turn did nothing to help her credibility; if the Prime Minister would lie about thatfor political advantage, what else would she be happy to ‘change her mind’ on?

It is hard to say whether the current wave of sexual and political scandals would have weakened May so dramatically if she had done as well as expected in June’s election, but it’s doubtful. Such scandals tend to knock the confidence out of weak governments (see the swathe of devastating scandals which afflicted the dying days of Major’s government), whereas under strong governments they tend to be little more than a momentary embarrassment as they were for Thatcher – a quick resignation, an official apology, and then the government carries on reshaping the country. The crisis now engulfing the Conservatives is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the weakness of a party now doubting a leader who has successively alienated both the electorate and her own colleagues.

In appealing to the working class, May made a gamble which disastrously failed to pay off

All of these factors have mounted to create chaos in the government. The Prime Minister is weak and fighting for her political survival, and she survives only because there is no one strong enough to remove her – not the perpetually gaffe-prone BoJo, nor the increasingly hated ‘spreadsheet Phil’. Only David Davis has the clout and the authority to seize power, but he seems keener to retire as soon as possible. Theresa May has squandered the chance to reshape the country to her own liking, the chance of a political lifetime to gain political hegemony as your opponents descend into infighting, as Thatcher did before her. Now her failure has reunited her opponents around the hope of victory, and shattered both her party and the electorate’s confidence in her ability to govern. So much for a strong and stable government in the national interest.

 

 

Baby Boomerblivion

Don’t think it’s just YOUR grandchildren that get on your nerves ever so often, as there are plenty of Baby Boomers out there who get gradually tired of the constant typing, swiping, ‘head buried in your device’ing. You may see it like it’s a problem, but in reality these electronic-crazed guinea pigs are ready to take the test of life, that you’ve decided for them.

I’m not too sure on why they’ve been dubbed ‘Generation Z’, but plenty have their theories. Some say they’re ‘Z’ because they’re last in the line of descendants, whereas some crazies have even gone to the extreme of saying that they’re the final generation before the end of what we know as the world. But can your grandsons and granddaughters handle this pressure? Are people giving them a chance to show what they really can do?

Well unfortunately, the cruel reality is that some people reading this article may not be here to see the day when their relatives “stop global warming”, or “end world peace”, (Don’t stop reading, it’s the truth), but that shouldn’t make you think that they won’t do. You see, when these young robots are slumped in the corner of the couch, believing “ummm dunno” to be a suitable response to anyone who tries to connect vocally with them, they actually have access to one of the fastest growing things on the planet. Now what you might be about to hear might scare you, I’m actually speaking about the “I word”. Yes, you guessed it: The Internet.

As evil and as dark as this may sound to some, to our new breed of young optimists this is a word completely familiar. The world is changing, and as scary as it may seem, Z have the ability to handle that change. It’s an era of technology of all kinds, 50 years no one would’ve even dreamt of having “Virtual Reality” headsets, or even pillows that track how you sleep. The general assumption was that by 2020 the world would have flying cars and spaceships, but I believe what we have instead may not be as cool, but definitely more useful. But hey if you have a thing flying cars and spaceships, I’d recommend watching Back to the Future – like you haven’t seen it anyway.

Let’s face it, this new era is closing upon us quicker than we know, so who better to handle it than the people who know so much about it? Often, we are too quick to judge the younger generation, but maybe that’s because we were too used to playing with dolls and toy cars at 8 years old, not your older brother’s new “PlayStation 4 with HDD and 1TB of data”.

So now it’s time to face the facts. We have to put our trust into this ‘Z’ generation, because we’ve made the decisions that will inevitably carve their futures. No-one knows the outcome of Brexit, but what we all know is that the people who will take the most effect from it will be our grandchildren.  No more modelling them on what we expect them to be, because the world has changed, and Generation Z know exactly what they’re doing with it.

Ben Sagar

 

Zenos- The Fight Back

By Thomas Hayhurst 11F

Since its founding and start up in 2012, Zenos rapidly established itself as a creative and exciting addition to the lightweight British sports car industry. Founded by a group of former Caterham and Lotus engineers, their first car, the E10 was an interesting spin on the classic Caterham formula of lightweight front engined RWD cars, maintaining the sort of charm that Caterham’s still possess and have had for almost 60 years. However, in early 2017, the company went into administration- the reason was due to a string of cancelled orders from overseas markets, which was Zenos’ key market it needed to sell to in order to survive.

Despite that, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for this young new manufacturer. In March 2017, a consortium of backers, headed by Adam Lublinsky’s AC cars, a name in the automotive world known for making small affordable cars, and the base from which legendary American racer turned tuner Carroll Shelby built the iconic Cobra. This is excellent and exciting news. Zenos as car maker was a solid financial idea, but the cars were sometimes temperamental, and sometimes felt as though they had underinvested in. Hopefully, the new owners will reverse these issues

In my own opinion, I always thought that Zenos was a new manufacturer that would rise from the ranks of uninspiring manufacturers, and become the world conquering sports car manufacturer it truly deserved to be. When I heard the news that they had gone under, I was shocked and disappointed, because I truly believed they could do great things, but starting a new car manufacturer is now such a gamble in this day and age, that so many brilliant ideas and businesses never take off. However, when I heard that AC had bought Zenos, I was surprised and delighted, and I hope that this new relationship will be hugely fruitful for both parties now and in the future.

car

Apple, Android or Something Better? -By Conall Burke-Mackey, Year 10.

A new Iphone 7 plus, Apple’s flagship phone, would cost you anywhere between £719 and £1038 and that doesn’t even include a normal pair of headphones but it does have a telephoto camera. And I’m not saying that Android phones are cheaper! Samsung’s flagship phone the S8 can vary from £600 for the base model to £759 but that includes a headphone jack, a curved screen, dual sim and expandable storage. So which one should you go for?

Now, some might say that you cannot compare the two because one is a manufacturer whereas the other is a running system; that would be unfair because Apple only accounts for about 17% of the market. However, in my opinion, Android is the better option because it is cheaper. I am not the most careful person with a phones; I break them a lot. I also prefer the Android GUI. Furthermore, Apple’s technology isn’t the best but you pay a lot of money for it. My sister,however, prefers Apple because she thinks the running system is neater and it is easier to transfer between devices  when you upgrade.

Lots of people say that Apple have better cameras than other phone manufacturers but this isn’t true. The camera in the iphone 7+ (the fancy two lens one) was released on the Huawei P9 in 2015. This type of camera has also been put in the LG 6. But just because it has two lenses, this doesn’t make it the best camera as it is still only 12MP. The Elephone Rainbow 2, a £50 phone from China, has a 16mp selfie camera and a two lense camera!

Not much is said about the processor on the Apple phones. On the website, it says it is an A10 chip, which is not helpful at all. So I looked around for a bit and found out that it is a quad core 64bit processor clocked at  2.34ghz. The Elephone Rainbow 2, which I mentioned before, has an Octa core 64bit processor clocked at 2.4ghz which means it has 8 cores as opposed to the 4 in the iphone 7+. Also, not toolong ago, Xiaomi, another chinese phone company, said that in December they are releasing a 16 core phone with a processor clocked at 5ghz which is a processor that would put most gaming PCs to shame. Maybe we should look to alternatives, instead of going with the trend?

Some of you might be thinking, why does he keep on referring to this Chinese phone? Iphones aren’t made by Apple in California as some of you might think. They are made by a Taiwanese company called Foxconn who employ over 1.3 million people and are the 3rd largest tech company in the world after Samsung then Apple. Foxconn’s customers include Nintendo, Google, Apple, HP, Dell, Huawei and Sony to name but a few. At their Hon Hai precision engineering plant in China, the working conditions are so poor that in 2011, 7 workers attempted to take their own lives by jumping from the top of the building. So what did Foxconn do in response? They put up nets around the building so that if you jump you get caught and lose your job. Ethical?

So, is it worth buying an Apple or even a Samsung product? In my opinion, no. Not financially; not technologically and certainly not ethically.

 

Does Social Media have Positive Effects on Society? -William Sherrington, Year 9

Social media has, as one would expect, affected us socially; it has separated us and brought us together at the same time. The ones who are closer to us physically may now be less connected to us and the ones geographically further away may be more connected to us.

More often our friends and relatives abroad freely communicate with us through social media. We’re sending more messages than ever and 90% of teenagers use some type of social media (BBC News, 19th May 2017). It’s also preferred by many than more traditional methods of communication such as text, phone or email. We’re often encouraged to download social media apps in different forms, e.g. Instagram and Facebook.

We’ve become more disconnected with our families. We don’t talk to them as much as we used to. They seem to be becoming normal, unexciting people and because we are used to their presence it’s not as fun. To reinstate the fun we had talking we send messages on social media. Instead of talking to our brother, sister or parents, we’ve turned to our phones and social media.

On the plus side though, we’ve reconnected with long lost friends. It doesn’t matter where they came from; it’s easy to find old friends on Facebook. Searching for their name is a lot easier than trying to find their phone number. It is also a lot easier to communicate. With a call, the person on the other end would need to answer that call and spend the amount time it may take speaking. On Facebook, they can share pictures and just see what each other has posted at a time that suits them.

Through social networks, we are connected to people who we don’t know, maybe friends of friends but many can easily friend a stranger, by the touch of a button. This can prove to be fatal. In 2010, the news was dominated by the death of Ashleigh Hall. She arranged a meet up on social media. As a result, she was killed after meeting a stranger in public. Social media present a range of security risks; this means that people have to be careful on social media. Instead of friends talking in person, they’ve turned to social media. As an entertaining alternative, friends are using social media to communicate rather than meeting in person to have a chat. This is making us socialize in a different way.

Technology has already affected fitness levels; obesity is higher than ever in the UK. In 2014, 35% of English 11-15-year-olds were overweight (NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care, 2015). Social media is just another reason not to go out. Many more are staying inside and even if they are outside it is much less likely that they are doing physical activity. As a result, fitness levels have been affected. Many young people run a sedentary lifestyle.

Obesity is a serious issue, one year ago; the government proposed sugar tax, in order to lower levels of obesity. By July next year, sugar tax will be in force for soft drinks.  I believe that technology is making a large effect on obesity. The UK is just getting fatter. Adult obesity rates are even more dramatic with 63% of adults overweight in 2015 (NHS Digital, 2015).

In particular, social media is affecting teenagers most. Many are addicted and it’s fairly popular among teenagers; 90% teenagers use social media of some sort (BBC NEWS, 19th May 2017).

The NHS recommends that young people have at least 60 minutes of activity each day (NHS, 2015). This should range between bone strengthening activity for example jumping and football; moderate activity such as a walking to school or cycling and muscle strengthening activity for instance swinging in a park or gymnastics. Many do not fulfill the NHS recommendations.

There are ways though that social media can actually be good for fitness. Someone may share their fitness achievement such as running a marathon. This will boost their self esteem and develop their fitness even further. Not only that but it can inspire others to also follow them and do the same. As a result, people can come together and support each other.

Mobiles have also have had negative effects on thumbs. Injuries such as RPI (repetitive strain injury) and osteo-arthritis are becoming more common. Our thumbs also have quite limited movement. We use our mobile phones every day. It would release the stress on our thumbs if we used our fingers to control mobile devices since they have more movement.

Computer screens also affect sleep in a negative way. Computer screens release a lot of blue light. This prevents the production of the chemical melatonin a chemical which makes us feel sleepy. The effect of blue light tricks our brain to thinking that it is still bright outside thus meaning that we don’t need to sleep yet. It will then take a while for the melatonin to collect up and send us to sleep. Blue light also lowers the quality of sleep.

Most social networking sites have character limits on messages. To combat this, users condense their information, which is a useful skill. A lot of condensing has been done using abbreviations such as LOL, which stands for ‘laugh out loud’. This has made writing more punchy and short. In some ways, it is improving our writing skills. Social media has also got people writing for a larger audience. This makes them used to be writing a little more formal and writing what their followers will like.

However, character limits are employing slang like ‘ye’ which means ‘yeah’ which is also slang for yes. People are beginning to think that it is alright to use slang in academic writing, only to be corrected further down the line. Writing for social media may have a negative impact on general writing.

Social media has also affected the neatness of people’s writing. Many have traded pen for keyboard. Technology has made it so that it possible to write on keyboard rather than by hand. A third of people had difficulty reading their own handwriting in 2012 (CCN, 2013).

Social media affects us emotionally in a range of ways. It has given us a sense of connectedness as we can communicate all the time with whoever we want.

Many people use social media to gain followers. They see it as a comparison factor, the more followers you have the better your account. When the account owner receives an amount of followers, a chemical is released in the body called dopamine. Dopamine is a reward chemical usually released after achieving a goal, usually after exercise.

Many social media accounts are carefully managed. Only what the person wants their followers to see is posted. This makes social media curative, only the good stuff gets through. This “edited picture” may make their followers feel inadequate. You can’t always read their true emotions because you can’t see them.

Social media has a broad range of positive and negative effects. I think that the negative effects are quite significant over its positives, such as family withdrawal and obesity. These are effects which I think are too significant to ignore. I think that social media has a  negative impact upon society.

Mrs May- This election is not a foregone conclusion: A Socialist View. By George Fiddler, Year 12

As the June election draws ever closer, four weeks to be precise, one could be tricked into thinking that it’s a forgone conclusion; that the Tories under Kim Jong May and her “Supreme Leader” image will win an absolute Landslide, leaving Labour and The Liberal Democrats in the political abyss. But I’m not too sure and frankly easy about this analysis. Labour Can win this General election, but first we need to explore the situation as it stands, and what Labour needs to do to Win this Election.

It is widely regarded as fact that if you repeat a lie often enough, it can be taken as truth, and Lynton Crosby, the mastermind behind David Cameron’s 2015 victory at the polls and May’s campaign at this general election is using that analogy to great effect. “Strong and Stable” and “Coalition of Chaos” seem to be the taglines of this Election. But there is a flaw in May’s little red book of wisdoms- they are false. Firstly, May isn’t Strong nor Stable. As we have seen over the past few weeks with the negotiations with EU, the leaders are getting more dreadful and one could be inclined to think that May could not negotiate her way out of a wet paper bag. The leak by Jean Claude Junker proved this. The leader of the EU cited that May was “Living in cloud cuckoo land”. May has repeatedly provoked the EU and her top diplomats into near fury. Junker even claimed that “English is losing importance”, which frankly must have been a direct attack at those who voted for Brexit, and Mrs May herself. Also, if Mrs May and her conservatives were so Stable, why are we having an election in the first place? To me the answer is clear. The Tory Election fraud. Now, of course May stood outside 10 Downing Street last April contorting her face in the usual manner sprouted that this Election was “In the national interest”. I’m afraid it’s not. It doesn’t take a political scientist to see that what with the Tories having a 20 point lead in the polls over Labour, and the fact that up to 30 Conservative MP’s are on course to lose the seats they won in the 2015 General election because they broke the law, it’s easy to see that this election is all about creating a One party state, crushing all opposition, giving the Conservative party a free hand and protecting its legal status with the Electoral Commission. The coalition of Chaos argument is also wearing a little thin. Not only has the leader of the anti-democracy, not-so liberal Democrats Tim Farron said that he would not go into partnership with Labour, the Green party have also said the same. If the election doesn’t go as well as May wants it too, it will be an outright Labour victory, with no coalition from other parties that will “Prop up” Jeremy Corbyn.

The Labour party seem like they are finished; the proverbial political dodo, what with the biased Right Wing media and press, sprouting anti-Corbyn rhetoric and thoroughly deserving the name “Murdochs Mouthpiece” you could be forgiven to believing this stance, and voting Tory because Corbyn likes to make Jam, wears cloth caps and is a Marxist? But many people are seeing through this veil of propaganda. Even today of writing (10/05/17) the Conservatives have announced that they want to bring back fox hunting, and of course, destroy the NHS and burden the Education System with more cuts all while keeping Teachers pay at a cap of a 1% pay rise, but all the media is concerned is about how Corbyn will “Lose the Election”- The media win elections, not politicians and parties. If we look at every general election since 1979, The Sun has supported every winning party, and even ran the headline “It’s us wot’ won it” in 1997, after the New Labour landslide under Tony Blair. People are demanding change, and this can be seen in the millions of members that the Labour party has attracted under Jeremy Corbyn.

For the Labour party to succeed in the General Election and beyond, it must resist the urge to move back to the dark days of New Labour, and creeping back to the centre ground. Centrist politics ultimately always ends in failure. This can be seen in the story of Blair and all the “Moderate” parties across Europe masquerading as socialists; which of the exception of Emmanuel Macron’s “En Marche” party, they die an ultimate slow and painful demise. But the Labour party needs to stick to its roots, and keep hold of the Key socialist ideals that Kier Hardy injected into the Labour movement in the early 20th century; after all, the Labour party is a Democratic Socialist party. The clue is in the name Labour- for the worker. The divisions in the Labour party orchestrated by Blairite MP’s who wish to sabotage the “New Dawn” of Labour have affected its chances at the Election, not Corbyn. Labour need to get the message out to the masses and tell all that all is not well in Westminster, and that we have a Prime Minister hell bent on Destroying Public services, and using Brexit to turn the UK into a Tax haven, where the likes of Phillip Green and Aaron Banks can flourish in their Tax Dodging activities. Socialism under Jeremy Corbyn is the saviour that Britain needs.

In these weeks leading up to the General Election, Labour need to be as strong as ever in its core socialist beliefs, campaign hard and dirty; and pave the way for a Labour Victory on the 9th of June. This election is a fight between two parties, one for the few not the many, and one that is for the many not the few; Let’s go forward, and make June the end of May.

A Film Review of Withnail and I -Toby Smith, Year 11

Title – Withnail & I

Age Certificate – 15

Release Date – 1987

Genre – Dark Comedy

withnail

Unless you really know British cinema, this title will mean absolutely nothing to you. You may be thinking “Who are Withnail & I?”. If you’re thinking like that, don’t worry. I had the exact same thoughts before I watched this movie; however, you’d be doing yourself a massive disservice if you don’t go and check this film out; it is truly one of the funniest movies ever made.

Withnail & I tells the story of Withnail and ‘I’, who are two young, unemployed (and unemployable) actors living in London in 1969. Withnail, played by Richard E Grant,  is an alcoholic with a reckless attitude, while ‘I’, played by Paul McGann, wants to know what the point of everything. Having them together in scenes is hilarious, as Withnail is always doing things without thinking of the consequences, while the ‘I’ character simply has to put up with him. No matter how much insane stuff Withnail does, ‘I’ sticks by him, even though it is obvious to anyone viewing that Withnail is dragging him down. The ‘I’ character is never given a name in the movie. Instead, we know of him as the narrator.

The two men become so fed up of their dreary lives in London, that they decide to take a break, and go on a holiday to the countryside in a cottage. The cottage is owned by Withnail’s uncle, Uncle Monty, who is played by the late Richard Griffiths. Once the two have permission to stay in the cabin, they then get on the road in their terrible car, and drive to the cottage. Naturally, hilarity ensues as soon as they arrive; sure, the movie was terrific up until now, but, when they are at the cabin, the film becomes side-splittingly funny. It’s just wonderful.

Unlike modern comedies, which tend to focus too much on the more generic ways of making people laugh, this film makes the viewer feel uncomfortable. Dark comedies tend to thrive on this. A dark comedy is the same as a regular comedy, except it uses much more mature themes, language and performances. Withnail & I is the best example of this that I can find. If you don’t like humour that is often mean-spirited, and blunt, then this isn’t the movie for you; however, if you do, you’re bound to love this movie as much as I did.

To start, Richard E Grant is absolutely perfect as Withnail. A sober man in real life, Grant plays the raging alcoholic with great charm and skill. His actions make him seem like a horrible person; however, the way that he is portrayed makes him an insanely likeable character. Paul McGann is also terrific as ‘I’. He plays the character with a subtlety that makes him like a partner to a side act. However, when he stands up to Withnail, and gets angry, it can lead to some of the best scenes in the whole movie. In fact, everyone is perfect in this movie. In terms of side characters, Richard Griffiths is wonderfully absurd as Monty, giving the character the flamboyant attitude that makes him so memorable.

Not only that, you’ll also be given some of the most surreal, strange and downright bizarre minor characters. For example,you’ll get Danny, who is basically a bizarre drug dealer. He’s only in two scenes, but you’ll remember them vividly. He’s just so hilarious, but so oblivious to the world, and you’ll instantly like him.

One more thing that I want to touch on is the ending of the movie; don’t worry, no spoilers here. For some people, the ending can be seen as frustrating, as it is quite abrupt, and sudden. Yet, despite everything that goes on, the ending can be seen as a surprisingly touching and powerful moment, as it is summing up the stories of two characters that we have come to love so much. In addition, the way that it is acted really shows the strong bond between the two actors, which makes their on-screen bond even more believable. It’s a great little moment from such a loud, bombastic movie.

To conclude, this film offers up brilliant performances, terrific writing (which is insanely quotable), a meaningful story, an extremely catchy soundtrack and one of the most touching endings to a movie I think I’ve ever seen. It is truly a masterclass in British comedy.

Withnail & I – 10/10