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.
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.
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.
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.
The central bank controls the banking system and implements monetary policy on behalf of the government, the central bank in the UK is the Bank of England. As stated in the essay question, QE refers to the purchase of assets such as long dated government bonds -gilts- and some corporate bonds mainly from financial institutions such as insurance companies and pension funds, which is financed by new money that the Bank of England creates electronically. The central bank does not purchase short-term maturity government debt due to the insignificant time gap between the issue date and the maturity date. Conventional monetary policy involves the Bank of England raising or lowering bank rate to manage the level of aggregate demand, thus controlling the rate of inflation and hitting the CPI target of 2%, whilst also supporting the government’s economic policy objectives, including those for economic growth and unemployment. Short-term interest rates are the rates at which short-term borrowings are distributed between financial institutions. Both quantitative easing and conventional monetary policy influence aggregate demand by affecting the money supply in the economy. However, there are significant differences between the two. As aforementioned, conventional monetary policy uses bank rate to manipulate aggregate demand in the economy. If the government wants to increase real national income, employment and CPI inflation, then an expansionary monetary policy -lower bank rate- would implement this. A lower bank rate would reduce the rate of interest that the Bank of England pays on reserve balances held by commercial banks and building societies, which should in turn lower the LIBOR -the rate of interest at which banks lend to each other-; a lower LIBOR leads to a lower interest rate that commercial banks charge their customers. A reduction in interest rates makes saving less attractive and borrowing cheaper, incentivising borrowing thus consumption. In addition to lower interest rates decreasing the costs of servicing mortgage or credit card debt which increases the level of household disposable income. It may also cause asset prices to rise which increases personal wealth; both factors increase consumption which causes aggregate demand to increase. Not only does consumer confidence increase thus, but business confidence increases as lower interest rates will incentivise investment due to the cost of borrowing to buy capital goods being lower. Lower UK interest rates lead to increased selling of the pound sterling on foreign exchange markets, as owners of international capital decide to hold other currencies instead. This causes the pound’s exchange rate to fall, which increases the price competitiveness of UK exports in world markets. At the same time, the prices of imports rise and they become less competitive in the UK market causing imported inflation to ensue. The UK’s balance of payments on current account improves, with the increase in net export demand shifting the AD curve to the right. Changes in spending channel through into real output and in turn, into employment. That can affect wage costs for labour by changing the relative balance of supply and demand for workers. But it also influences wage bargainers’ expectations of inflation which is a key consideration for the eventual wage settlement. The impact on output and wages channels through to producers’ costs and prices, and eventually consumer prices. A decrease in interest rates causes aggregate demand to increase, and assuming there isn’t deficient demand in the economy consumer price inflation increases also. The opposite is true for an increase in interest rates, which causes consumer price inflation to decrease.
There are time-lags before changes in interest rates affect spending and saving decisions, the maximum impact of a change in interest rates on real output is estimated to take up to one year, and the maximum impact on consumer price inflation takes up to two years, so interest rates must be set based on judgements on the economic outlook over the coming few years, not what it is today.
Let the condition of goods market (flow) equilibrium be (Y = C(Y-T(Y)) + I(i) + G + NX) where C(Y-T(Y)) = consumer spending as a function of disposable income, I(i) = Investment as a decreasing function of interest rate, G = Government spending and NX = Net exports.
This equation can be presented as a negative relationship between income and the real interest rate. The downward sloping flow-equilibrium curve which I have drawn as a straight line only for simplicity is called the IS curve. IS comes from the fact that in a closed economy -one with no international trade- the curve gives the combinations of income and the interest rate for which effective investment equals effective saving. In an open economy, this curve gives the combinations of income and the interest rate for which the desired net capital outflow, represented by savings minus investment, equals the desired current account balance. The diagram below evidently shows that a fall in the interest rate leads to an expansion of investment, causing equilibrium output, income and employment to increase as we extend along the IS curve. A fall in the real exchange rate shifts world demand for domestic goods to the right, increasing income at each level of the real interest rate and shifting IS to the right. An increase in rest-of-world income, or an exogenous increase in consumption or investment or net exports at any given level of the real interest rate also causes the IS curve to shift to the right and the equilibrium level of output, income and employment to increase.
Alternatively, the Bank of England purchases assets in response to a sharp fall in aggregate demand as consumers and firms reduce their spending; the aim is to boost spending to keep inflation on track to meet the CPI inflation target. As aforementioned in the opening statement the Central Bank purchases assets from private sector firms including insurance companies and pension funds, high street banks and non-financial firms, but mostly gilt-edged securities; the UK’s central bank was also considering purchasing university debt, like the £350 million bond issued by Cambridge University in December 2016. ‘’The Bank of England’s injection of money into the economy works through different channels and has a variety of potential effects’’ as cited from the Bank of England’s website.
When the bank buys assets this increases their price and so reduces their yield, meaning the return on those assets falls. This encourages the sellers of assets to use the money they receive from the bank to switch into other financial assets like company shares and bonds -Portfolio balance effects-. When financial markets are dysfunctional, central bank asset purchases can improve market functioning by increasing market liquidity through actively encouraging trading. Asset prices may subsequently increase as a result of decreased illiquidity premia -liquidity effects-.
As purchases of these assets start to increase, their prices rise which pushes down on yields generally. This also leads to policy signalling effects.
Lower yields decrease the cost of borrowing for businesses and households, which leads to higher consumer spending and more investment. Higher asset prices make some consumers better off, which provides an extra boost for spending on goods and services.
The graph above illustrates what happens in the economy when the Bank of England buys assets from financial institutions: the money supply increases in the economy which leads to falling interest rates, thus reducing the opportunity cost when planning investments due to attractive loans, and subsequently output increases. Put in technical terms, money supply shifts rightward from MS to MS1 which causes an extension of money demand -MD-. The result is lower interest rates and an increase in real money.
The effect of quantitative easing can be seen using another IS-LM model above. QE causes the LM curve to shift to the right. This shift extends along the IS curve; the new lower equilibrium rate induces investment and hence, higher output. This is the penultimate objective of QE , to increase the money supply, hence ceteris paribus, decreasing interest rates resulting in increased UK output, lower unemployment and finally, higher CPI.
The efficacy of QE may decrease the closer short term interest rates get to zero. This is a result of a number of factors including panic signals, mass debt payoffs, and liquidity traps.
Panic signals are psychological motivators in the economy which heed caution and precautionary saving when consumers believe the economy is not behaving in the way it should. As you can see in the graph below, the red line showing UK short term interest rates is at an all time low. As UK citizens are used to these interest rates being around 6% -mean- during the period in this graph, they may feel that the economy is in a dire situation for short term interest rates to fall to 0.57% in Q4 of 2015, thus reducing consumption.
The black line in the graph above shows short term interest rates in the Eurozone, which are at an even lower rate than the UK, suggesting that these panic signals may be foreign as well as domestic. This may lead to decreasing export demand for the UK, thus reducing the price level.
Although Central Bank asset purchases can improve market functioning by increasing market liquidity through actively encouraging trading, panic signals may reduce the velocity of money in Fisher’s Equation of Exchange; perhaps at a greater rate than the rate of increase in the stock of money, thus having a negligible effect on the price level and the quantity of real output in the economy.
In addition to this, due to short-term interest rates being at or close to zero, consumers may try to pay off their debts and mortgages sooner because it is cheaper to do so. If the mortgage companies’ and banks marginal propensity to consume is less than that of other firms, this may reduce consumption in the economy from what it was when short term interest rates were a couple of percentage points higher, decreasing AD and the price level. The graph below proves that it is becoming cheaper to pay off mortgage debt.
A liquidity trap occurs when low or zero interest rates fail to stimulate consumer spending, and monetary policy becomes ineffective as consumers prefer liquid assets greater than the rate at which the quantity of money is growing, so any attempt by policy makers to get individuals to hold non-liquid assets in the form of consumption by increasing the money supply won’t work; Quantitative Easing becomes ineffective as a policy. In general the closer the equilibrium is to the Keynesian range – which is the horizontal segment of the Keynesian aggregate supply curve that reflects rigid prices and wages – the less effective monetary policy becomes.
To reiterate, in the liquidity trap region, monetary policy is completely ineffective in stimulating income.Despite an increase in money supply, the LM curve does not shift. An increase in the money supply cannot cause the interest rate to fall below the rate given by the liquidity trap. Equilibrium income then remains at OY0.
However there are many common criticisms with the liquidity trap, the first being that even if possible in theory, conditions required are so extreme as to be unlikely to arise in practice. In addition to this, a wealth effect of real money balances implies that increases in M/P must stimulate aggregate demand even if there is no effect on interest rates -Pigou effect-. Finally, even if short-term interest rates cannot be further reduced, monetary expansion will affect aggregate demand by raising other asset prices, especially if the Bank of England purchases longer-term or risky assets.
Japan has experienced deflation and record low interest rates for decades. It is caught in a liquidity trap. The Bank of Japan’s argument is that they’ve got interest rates down to zero and they question what else they can do. According to Milton Friedman it’s very simple. ‘’They can buy long-term government securities, and they can keep buying them and providing high-powered money until the high-powered money starts getting the economy in an expansion’’. Milton Friedman was clearly dovish during this period. The quote almost perfectly mirrors the situation the United States has found itself in since 2008-2013. Zero interest rates have fooled a lot of people into thinking monetary policy is loose, but in reality it’s been tight, as indicated by the below-target inflation rate.
To conclude, I believe it to be necessary to briefly outline the differences between open market operations in the U.S and quantitative easing, to discover whether there are any similarities between UK and US monetary policy.
The Fed has 3 main instruments to influence monetary policy, these are open market operations, discount rate and reserve requirements. Discount rate is near equal to bank rate, market operations is the Fed constantly buying and selling U.S government securities in the financial markets, this impacts the level of reserves in the banking system. These decisions by the Fed also affect the volume and the price of credit -interest rates-. Reserve requirements are the amount of physical funds that depository institutions are required by law to hold in reserve against deposits in bank accounts. It determines how much money banks can supply through investments and loans.
Conventional open market operations are meant to influence the left end of the yield curve. The aim is that by directly moving the left end up or down, the whole curve will go up or down indirectly. The Fed does this by buying and selling short-term bonds.
Quantitative Easing is trying to directly affect the other parts of the yield curve by buying and selling bonds with those maturities. The hope of indirect influence on that part of the yield curve hasn’t been effective, so policy makers are trying to do something about it directly. Another thing that’s different is what is exchanged for the bonds; in Conventional open market operations it’s reserves, whilst with quantitative easing it’s money. Either way the idea is to get the banks to lend more than they otherwise would -assuming the central bank is trying to expand the economy-. The last thing that’s different is the intermediate target used. With open market operations the FED is looking at interest rates first, however with quantitative easing policy makers are looking at influencing the amount of money in circulation.
With the Government cutting funding for “soft subjects” like the Arts, it sometimes feels like nothing is being done to fight back. Drama and Dance have been removed from the National Curriculum and many fear that Art and Music may follow. But are these the subjects that we really want to be cutting out? Should we be taking away expressive subjects where children are free to be who they are and emerge from their comfort zone and be able to free themselves into a world of imagination?
As a keen Musical Theatre student, I have a passion for the Arts, especially Drama. Throughout my secondary education, there has been no Drama lesson that has put me in a bad mood or made me want to change my career path. However, over these past two years, I have realised something that I never noticed before; the lack of care and funding that is going into the Arts departments. I find this appalling. In other subjects, academic ones, the necessary equipment is there. In Maths, there are textbooks, in English there are playscripts and fundamental resources for the lesson. However, in Drama, costumes and props are heaps of towels and scarves and an occasional lampshade. More funding needs to be put into building up our expressive arts subjects and this is what the Government cannot see and even seem to be fighting against. Even though there is little funding across the board, money needs to be going equally to departments. Very little effort is being put into the Arts and it is clear that the Government wants it cut from the curriculum to make space for more academic subjects and, more likely, to save money. It’s a conspiracy and schools are falling for it.
In February 2015, Mark Brown, an Arts correspondent for the Guardian, wrote an article on “Arts being removed from the UK education system”. In the article, the Warwick commission article is discussed after just being released. To sum this up, the Warwick Commision said “the cultural and creative industries need to take a united and coherent approach that guarantees equal access for everyone to a rich cultural education and the opportunity to live a creative life.” They then went onto say “There are barriers and inequalities in Britain today that prevent this from being a universal human right. This is bad for business and bad for society.” Going back to the Guardian article, we find out some shocking statistics. Between 2003 and 2013, there was a huge drop of 23% for the number of students studying Drama and 25% for those studying craft based subjects. This is all down to the government creeping ever closer to measuring the country’s schools’ successes on the amount of students taking five or more academic subjects. This in turn has lead to creative pupils being given only one or two options at GCSE level. It isn’t rocket science to work out what is going on.
Growing up, I found Drama was one of the many ways I could be myself and no one can judge me for it. Look at stars like Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Ball. Two massive stars who, with the help of Drama and the Arts, have been able to go on to pursue huge careers.
More needs to be done to allow children to be free and choose what they want to study. Schools are trying to encourage teenagers to pick more academic subjects for GCSE because of government pressures. Furthermore, with cuts in funding for the Arts and the Government suggesting that they aren’t worth being on the curriculum, parents will not allow their child to take Arts subjects as they will follow the crowd and do “what’s best for their child” even if it isn’t.
My parents were great when I chose my GCSEs. They allowed me to do whatever I wanted as long as I knew I was focused on that and knew I could do well. One evening I was sat at a dinner party (last year) and whilst eating, a man across from me asked me where I wanted to go to college and what I wanted to do. My parents sat there and nodded but one piece of advice this man gave me, really made me feel warm inside. He said, “don’t listen to your parents, listen to yourself, do what you want to do and do what makes you happy. If you have a goal, stick to that goal and you will succeed”. After that dinner party, I felt like I could do whatever I wanted, as long I was happy and that’s what so many children, parents, carers and teachers need to understand. Children need to do what makes them happy and not what will make the schools and the Government happy.
One article that I find shocking to read is one I have found from 2014. The Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, said, “pupils are held back by overemphasis on arts”. She said that children aged 15 who choose Arts subjects at GCSE are risking their future career path. I find this horrendous and the fact she said that it is risking their career path is outrageous. There are so many jobs out there for young people in the film, dance, stage industry and it is people who don’t like theatre who are trying to create these funding cuts. If you can’t appreciate the Arts, I recommend you switch off every device you have, never go to the cinema, never watch a film, never go to a gallery, and never watch TV etc. ever again. Without the Arts, the entertainment industry would be flat lining. Also, I do not feel like the Arts are “overemphasised”. If anything, the Arts aren’t being promoted as much as they should be! Funding needs to be improved in the Arts and it needs to be promoted more.
Being in my final year at Hutton and writing this now, I wish I’d have seen everything earlier and done something about it. I hope that in 5/10 years time I can look at secondary schools and see a balance of an academic and creative curriculum. This would be great and would mean that the Government is listening to what people like me are trying to say.
Throughout this entire essay, I have talked about funding and how more is needed. You may tell me that there isn’t enough funding to cover the Arts however if everyone pulled together and supported the Arts maybe, just maybe, we could be one step further to a better curriculum.
12th November 2016 will forever be a historic day in the UFC’s history. It marks the date that the promotion made their debut in the state of New York. After years of dirty politics keeping it out, it was finally here. A huge accomplishment for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. The 12th also marks the date the self-acclaimed ‘face of the UFC’, “The Notorious” Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA 9-1 UFC) became the first fighter to ever hold two belts, in two weight divisions, at the same time, in the UFC. A historic moment for the sport once again.
After a challenging year which saw him suffer his first UFC defeat via 2nd Round Rear Naked Choke to #5 Lightweight Nate Diaz (19-11 MMA) in a Welterweight bout after his chance at the lightweight belt was taken from him when the then-champ Rafael Dos Anjos (25-9 MMA) broke his foot resulting in the cancellation of their bout scheduled for earlier this year. Diaz (the replacement) wasn’t able to make weight (155lbs) on such short notice resulting in McGregor putting 25lbs on to fight a bigger man. After the loss, many expected him to fade away in a similar fashion to Ronda Rousey. “The Notorious” came back stronger than ever, demanding a rematch under the exact same conditions. After a hugely entertaining, yet gruelling 5 rounds, McGregor came out on top via Split Decision. Considered one of the best fights in UFC history, the bout smashed all records, breaking the record for most PPV buys and highest gate, a record held by their first fight.
Months later, McGregor was offer his chance at history and he wasn’t going to let it slip out of his grasp once again. His opponent, the new lightweight champion, Eddie Alvarez (28-5 MMA 3-2 UFC) was a challenging opponent, on paper. After several heated press conferences, a chair nearly thrown and an all-white Gucci Mink coat, it was time to fight. McGregor came out calm, composed and dominant, using his reach to stay out of the way of Eddie’s shots and takedown attempts, whilst still landing big shots dropping Alvarez 3 times. When the round ended, there was an evident difference in the attitudes of the fighters and their coaches. In the Alvarez corner things seemed rushed with plenty of shouting, whilst in McGregor’s corner, things were calm, Conor had a bit of water and his coach told him he looked good. 2 minutes later, McGregor hits Alvarez with a beautiful 4 punch combination and that’s the end. And New.
Straight away people started to wonder; What Next?
Originally, this article was meant to lay out the different paths McGregor could go down, what the fans want and what I personally think he should do. However, over the weekend the UFC announced that the current Light-Heavyweight Champion, Daniel ‘DC’ Cormier was out of his UFC 206 title defence fight with Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson due to injury. This meant that the card was in serious need of saving with relatively average fights and a very interesting co-main event still remaining.
The interesting bout in question is former Lightweight Champ Anthony Pettis v Max Holloway at featherweight. Holloway, who hasn’t lost a fight since losing to ‘The Notorious’ way back in 2013 via majority decision, is on one of the most impressive streaks in the UFC at the moment. He’s a fighter who is very deserving of a title shot. His opponent, Anthony Pettis, is relatively new to the featherweight division. After losing his last 3 fights at Lightweight, Pettis made the decision to move down to 145lbs. After a victory over Charles Oliveira at UFC on FOX 21, Pettis has moved to #6 on the featherweight rankings and is set to face Holloway for a shot at the title.
After the news broke that “DC” was out, the UFC announced that McGregor had ‘relinquished’ his Featherweight title and that Holloway v Pettis was now for the interim title. This meant that, once again, Jose Aldo is being gifted the Featherweight title. In my humble opinion, this is a joke. There is an evident lack of faith in this fight that the UFC has felt it necessary to make it for the interim title.By doing this they’ve made this belt seem near worthless. Equally, had Cormier not become injured, this wouldn’t have happened and ‘Mystic Mac’ would still be the 145lbs Champion.
As of writing this, McGregor has yet to make comment on the matter. Merely two weeks after making history for the promotion and the sport, he has been stripped of the belt. For me, I can’t decide whether the fact that the UFC are throwing interim belts around willy-nilly or that Aldo is now the Disputed Undisputed Featherweight Champion is more annoying.
After being KO’d in just 13 seconds, Aldo understandably wanted a rematch. He was told that once Conor had fought Diaz he would receive this rematch. Then he was told after he fought Frankie Edgar for the interim title at UFC 200 he would have a unification rematch. When Dana White spoke at the UFC 202 post-fight conference he said that after overcoming Diaz in their rematch, Conor would have to return to 145lbs and defend his title. Some time later, the papers are signed for Conor to fight Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205. This meant that McGregor’s belt hadn’t been defended for 11 months and that Aldo, the companies only Featherweight Champion prior to McGregor had been messed around on multiple occasions.
Whilst at this point many may feel sympathetic towards Jose, once he was informed of the 205 fight, he decided to retire. Once he was told he was contracted and couldn’t simply leave the UFC, he threatened to ‘throw’ future matches. During his previous reign as champ, Aldo pulled out of a total of 5 fights and went a period of 13 months without defending his belt. Aside from Aldo, other champions have taken longer periods of time not defending their belts. For example; Cain Vasquelez and George St. Pierre both didn’t defend their belts for a combined total of around 33 months. Although it was expected that McGregor would eventually vacate one of his belts, this all seems a bit soon, a bit ridiculous and a missed opportunity by the UFC.
It’s a well known fact that ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor is the biggest star in the UFC. Regardless of the amount of time UFC President, Dana White insists that its former UFC Bantamweight Champion, Ronda Rousey. It has to be McGregor. McGregor holds the top 4 Pay-Per-View records, has the highest gates and highest attendance and when faced with the pain of a big defeat, was back in the Octagon inside 5 months. Yes, it may have once been Ronda, but after she disappeared for a year, it’s now the McGregor Era. So why wouldn’t you want more than one of your biggest star?
By keeping McGregor as the featherweight champion and lightweight champion, you effectively have 2 Conor McGregor’s, a huge draw in multiple weight classes. With Conor as the 145lb champion, it allowed the division to remain in the spotlight. Each fight amongst the top contenders was a potential future title defence for McGregor. Now he’s only the Lightweight Champ, the buzz will slowly but surely fade away from the ‘fw’ division.
In the past year alone McGregor has fought 3 times, the same amount in 2015 and fought twice in 2014. He is one of, if THE most active fighter in the promotion, this allows him to be such a big draw. It was and is more than possible for him to defend both of his belts at least once inside a calendar year.
When ‘The Notorious’ fights, it’s an occasion. Fans travel from around the world to watch, fans tune in to see him win, haters tune in to see him lose, part time fans tune in to see one of the few names they know fight and new fans of the sport start with the biggest draw to see what it’s all about. When McGregor fights, there’s a lot of money coming the UFC’s way.
Whilst this article was originally intended to say what he could do next, it looks like it’s now about what he could’ve done and what the UFC have missed.
So, what have the UFC missed out on?
Firstly, it’s a well known fact that Conor and his long time girlfriend are due to have their first child in May of 2017. This means that Conor will be taking some time off from the sport in order to spend time with his girlfriend and not to stress her out in the run up to a fight.
In the time between now and McGregor’s return, countless different and exciting events could’ve taken place. Firstly, the lightweight division is filled with some of the world best. The top 2 contenders, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson hold some of the longest streaks in the company. Khabib is currently 24-0 MMA whilst Ferguson is on a 9 fight win streak. Both are brilliant fighters with rather different skillsets. A fight between the two would be phenomenally entertaining. Therefore, in McGregor’s absence, the fight should be for the Interim title. Not to make the fight more interesting or a bigger draw. But the current Undisputed Champ is absent for legitimate reasons and a division is being held up. The best in that division is therefore the champ until the undisputed champ returns for a unification bout.
Meanwhile in the featherweight, Jose Aldo should’ve remained the interim champion and Holloway v Pettis fight for their shot at Aldo. The winner of Aldo v Holloway/Pettis then fights McGregor to unify the belts and again find the undisputed champ. Personally I believe this fight must come before the defence of the lightweight title for obvious reasons. But like I’ve said previously, had the UFC not panicked and haphazardly jumped to this conclusion this is could be the reality as its more than possible.
For me, it’s hard to see McGregor not coming out on top against any of the possible opponents at 145 and 155lbs after he dismantled Alvarez inside 2 rounds. Providing he does, this could perfectly setup the trilogy fight with Diaz for the ‘55 strap, a fight that most if not all MMA fans would love to see. If he choose he could attempt history once more and fight the Welterweight (170lbs) Champion, Tyron Woodley or even have that boxing match against Floyd Mayweather (I personally dont care for this fight at all), but who knows?
At the end of the day, the UFC have panicked and made a brash decision that hasn’t gone down well. But with regards to what’s next? We’ll have to wait and see.
I, like many of you, was disgusted to hear that Donald Trump had been elected President of the United States, and almost as disgusted by Britain’s decision to leave the EU, but I was also disgusted by my own reaction and the reactions of many of those with similar views to my own. Yes it’s true that, to us, the decision that the majority of people (or the majority people lucky enough to live in states whose vote actually matters in the case of the US) was awful, but that did not excuse how many of us reacted.
In a remarkable feat of embittered anger, we turned our backs on our principles in the days and weeks following these two divisive votes. I’ll say it again, this is not an attack on people – I was just as guilty of this as any other liberal or leftist was – but it is an attack on our attitudes, which were simply abhorrent. Maybe Donald Trump and Brexit do represent triumphs of authoritarian (at least in Trump’s case) and racist tendencies over liberty and tolerance, but does that excuse how we all reacted?
For those who don’t know what went on in liberal and left wing circles (and those of right wing centrists who supported Remain), allow me to explain. Following these votes, we suddenly abandoned some of the principles which we had thought defined us – we abandoned the notion of a liberal democracy in favour of things going our way. This strange, dark, impulse reared its ugly head, with many of us questioning why the people should be allowed to make decisions, why should we accept what the people want if it isn’t what we think is right? We veered dangerously from democracy and towards a kind of technocratic world order, where everything went exactly as the “educated” liberal, white middle class wanted it to.
I do agree that we should never have had a referendum; referenda are not part of the tradition of British constitutional law or democratic decision making, and are dangerously susceptible to populist outbursts. Nevertheless I am not demanding that the referendum is overturned by another, called only in the hope of preventing the British people’s decision from being acted upon. Even in my darker moments I never did that, and I hope I never will do. It is undemocratic to demand that people keep on voting until they vote “correctly”, even if it is backed up by unreliable polls which claim the result would now be in your favour (may I remind you that the polls said the same thing right before the referendum was actually held). You would not have done so if the referendum had gone your way, even if afterwards people had regretted their vote – it is the antithesis of democracy, masking itself as allowing the people to keep having a say.
Many of us also had an immediate, far, far more sinister reaction that was to say “Maybe we shouldn’t let the people make decisions anymore”. This, I eventually came to realise, was a terrifying reaction to not getting what we wanted. Far from acting gracefully, we decided to throw a tantrum and throw the toys out of the pram like we had so smugly predicted our opponents would in the case that they lost. We spent whole campaigns painting our opponents as tyrants and demagogues waiting in the wings then, when the alleged tyrants won out, we began to doubt that the “plebs” should be allowed to make decisions for themselves. Some of it was joking, but under the joke was a dark undercurrent of bitterness and resentment.
We ascribed to ourselves a kind of moral superiority more expected of Jesuit missionaries than of liberals; we painted ourselves as superior people more capable of making decisions than everyone around us. This is the kind of patronising “we know better” behaviour that is normally seen in certain extremists on the “Patrician” right (such figures include the likes of now deceased former Conservative Minister Alan Clark) or the moralisers of the religious right in the US. It is totally counter to values of egalitarianism and liberal democracy… it was a betrayal of our principles, a total and utter rejection of everything that we had positioned ourselves as fighting to preserve.
The least of all criticisms is that it is simply untrue that the “ignorant” working class caused both of these events. True, the working class did vote for Brexit, but so did 55% of homeowners, as well as 55% of those with mortgages or renting in the private sector – this was not a purely working class revolt. Similarly, across the Atlantic, Clinton actually won the working class vote, whilst Trump (although capturing disaffected white voters in a number of key swing states) also swept the affluent middle class. It is all too easy to create a narrative in which the ignorant white working class voted in this way because of ill-conceived racial biases and a dissatisfaction with the results of neoliberalism, but this is disingenuous and does not tell the full story. Even if it were true, would it not be the height of foolishness to berate the victims of a problematic economic model for trying to secure a better life for themselves when we have provided no solutions to the very real problems that they face every day?
It is this smugness, this sense of superiority, which is creating such a stark divide in both British and American society; the educated and the elite see those “below” them as crazy fanatics and racists, whilst the working class (particularly the white working class – Blue Collar voters to Americans) see the “elite” as smug and effete, mocking them whilst providing no solutions. Those in positions of power and influence (and thus responsibility) mock those who dare to think differently from them, calling them “deplorables” and casting them as one step away from marching down the streets in jackboots and brown shirts. They do not work to find solutions that work for everyone, but instead focus on a narrow constituency of educated and liberal middle class voters who have profited from globalisation, driving the working class and disaffected Conservative members of the middle class into the hands of proto-demagogues and petty tyrants like Donald Trump and his increasingly irrelevant lackey Nigel Farage.
This polarisation has the potential to have disastrous consequences if we do not act quickly – the people do not truly want the solutions that Trump suggests, they want security both financially and geopolitically, but right now only the far-right seems to offer this to them. They believe themselves to be under attack from hostile enemies. It’s an increasingly cliched line, but we really do need to supplant this politics of fear with a politics of hope, but we also need to recognise why people are so despairing and have to accept that globalisation has produced just as many losers as it has winners, if not more.
Ultimately this is not a time for us to pit ourselves against one another, it is a time for everyone to unite despite barriers of social and financial class, education, upbringing, gender or even political opinions and try and strive together to build a world that will work for everyone. If those like myself who did not want either of these events to come to pass (and I still deeply regret that either did) continue to pit ourselves against an “enemy” that should in fact be our ally then we will damage both of our causes. It is societal division on which extremists feed, by pitting people against – real or imagined – and by uniting the working people against an out of touch elite. Our reaction to Brexit and Trump was not only morally wrong, it was also dangerous.
One mistake. One tiny mistake can cost you a game against the All Blacks of New Zealand. In their most recent game, a Rugby Championship match up against South Africa it was a knock on by South African fly half Elton Jantjies on his own 5 metre line that was that mistake. New Zealand seized the chance, scored, and went on to outplay and outclass the South Africans for the rest of the game. This ruthlessness and capitalisation of mistakes in my opinion is one of the attributes that make the current All Blacks of New Zealand the greatest Rugby, if not sports team, ever assembled.
As I have just said, it is hard to pinpoint exactly which team in the history of sport can be classified as the greatest of all time but I do know that New Zealand’s national Rugby union team of recent times come incredibly close. They play the game with incredible skill, passion and power; they are real masters of the game and it is truly breath-taking to witness what this incredible team can do. My fascination with this indomitable side of Rugby came about after the 2011 World Cup held in New Zealand in which they beat France in the final. After this they then went on to win an incredible 51 out of 55 test matches over a span of 4 years, including an unbeaten season in 2013, almost unprecedented in international Rugby, especially when they played tests against the likes of the tenacious Springboks of South Africa and the brave Wallabies of Australia who both boast incredible players. They have also amassed 3 Rugby championship wins, 4 now after winning the 2016 edition with 2 games to spare, and 4 Bledisloe cup triumphs too, dominating Rugby in the Southern hemisphere as well as the North, most recently winning the World Cup in 2015 for the second time in a row.
When critics say that Northern hemisphere teams are a step below the Southern hemisphere I think they are wrong, as proven by England’s whitewash of Australia in their summer tour this year. Any Northern hemisphere nation can beat a Southern hemisphere team, but with one exception – yes you guessed it, New Zealand. Sure England managed it in 2012 at Twickenham but that was after a huge performance by all the England players that day. As shown by England it would take a monumental effort for any team to beat the All Blacks and even if they played to their absolute maximum it may not be enough to beat them, they are just that good. They play Rugby with ease, cunning and ruthlessness and will capitalise on any mistake that is made. This can best be shown in their Rugby Championship performances just recently in which they were simply dazzling. They demolished the Australians with ease in 2 tests, produced a second half master class to beat Argentina and played simple, effective and incredible Rugby against South Africa most recently, winning 41-13. I mean really, the Springboks are one of the greatest teams in World Rugby right now and they have been absolutely torn apart, what a team these All Blacks are.
As a Rugby fan there was nothing better than watching in amazement as this wonderful team won the Rugby Championship with incredible ease and with such great Rugby on show. Their win also marked an incredible record over 112 years in which they have won 414 games out of 537 played, thus cementing themselves as the most successful team to ever play professional sport.
The other thing that strikes me about New Zealand is the ease in which new players can adapt to still create the formidable aura that makes New Zealand such a great outfit. After the World Cup they lost inspirational captain Richie McCaw, the greatest fly half of all time in Dan Carter, the slick centre partnership of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith, as well as the veteran hooker Kevin Mealamu. Losing key players such as this would prove incredibly challenging for most teams, but not the All Blacks. New flanker Sam Cane looks like a captain in the making, hooker Dane Coles is a carbon copy of the great Sean Fitzpatrick and Malaki Fekitoa is an exciting prospect in the centres. They are just a well-oiled machine that show no signs of breaking down. The British and Irish Lions actually tour New Zealand in 2017 and Warren Gatland may lead them in with a roar but I seriously fear they will come away from New Zealand with their tails between their legs.
I wrote this to show my appreciation for what I consider the greatest team that sport has ever seen, and I hope you will join me in recognising this remarkable team. We will never know when New Zealand’s dominance of Rugby will end but I hope it is not soon because I will never tire of watching them play the great game of Rugby. Enjoy them while you can, you will probably never see a team as good as this ever again.
Like all “Big Tent” political parties, the Labour party is a coalition of different groups with different interests, from the working class traditional voters that support the party to the educated metropolitan middle class voters who have bolstered the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. Within the party itself there is an even starker divide between the centrist social democratic/third way supporting wing of the party aligned partly with the “Blairite” ideology and who support a more centrist and pragmatic approach, and the more ideological and dogmatic socialist wing of the party typified by Jeremy Corbyn and the socialist campaign group.
Under a first past the post system these two disparate groups have been forced together by the fact that, if they do not cooperate, they will both face electoral annihilation. Under our present electoral system if two left wing candidates ran against one right wing candidate the vote would be split (this is called the spoiler effect) and as a result even if combined the forces of the left got more votes than those of the right, the right wing candidate would still win as long as they acquired more votes than either left wing candidate did individually. This generally leads to the emergence of two ideologically broad parties (one on the left and the other on the right) in order to prevent their opponents from winning power.
The problem that has arisen in the UK, however, is that the increasingly fragmented Labour party has reached a point where many on the right of the party are ideologically closer to those on the left of the Conservative party, and many on the left are closer to other parties such as the Greens. That is all to say that for many in both factions of the party, their internal opponents present a set of policies that they wouldn’t want to see implemented, rendering a coalition in order to further shared objectives useless. If the two groups think that each other’s policies are worse than those of other parties then remaining as one party makes almost no sense.
The conflict between the Blairite and Corbynite groups (internal factions on the hard right and hard left of the party) shows just how senseless this party grouping is. Whilst both have similarities to the “Soft Left” faction in the centre of the party they have nothing in common with each other – to Tony Blair and Jeremy Corbyn one another’s policies and goals anathema and their supporters are openly at war for the soul of their party. If asked to form a party tomorrow these two groups would say no, so why does it make sense that they hold one together today?
Labour today is essentially a Frankenstein’s Monster – it is politically unnatural, cobbled together from parts that do not fit with one another. Across the world we see countries with a distinct social democratic and socialist party, both arguing for a more progressive world, and often entering into coalitions together, but remaining distinct forces able to advance their own ideology and capable of disagreeing without tearing their party apart. If this were to occur in the UK then the splits between different factions would not be healed, but that isn’t the point – whilst now any dispute between the two groups leads to the opposition collapsing and entering into Civil War, a falling out between two parties would lead to a lack of cooperation temporarily, but would not lead to the opposition turning on itself so thoroughly as Labour has done over the last few months.
There will of course be some obstacles in the way of forming separate centre left and left wing parties, most notably (as I have already discussed) the current electoral system in this country. In order for the left to remain credible, Labour must therefore abandon its current commitment to maintaining an undemocratic first past the post system. For far too long the Labour party has supported maintaining this totally unfair system because they benefit from the Conservative/Labour duopoly on power in our current two party system, indeed despite promises to the contrary by Tony Blair, Labour has made no substantial efforts to make the electoral system fairer as it believes it stands to gain from maintaining it.
Labour should immediately, therefore, begin to advocate for a proportional electoral system (such as the Additional Members system, the Closed Party List system or the Single Transferrable Vote system) before it begins the process of splitting. In doing this, Labour would be doing a service not just to left wing politics, but also to the British people and British democracy by making democratic reforms that are long overdue (having first been proposed seriously in 1917 but narrowly defeated).
Obviously any split would not be in the mould of the 1981 split between Labour loyalists and the centrist SDP; such a messy scenario is totally undesirable and would only result in a bitter enmity between the two and the kind of electoral annihilation that was seen in the 1983 General Election. Instead the Labour Party should pursue what is dubbed in geopolitics a “Velvet Divorce” – an amicable split based on a shared decision (as opposed to the splitters of the 1980s, whose decision to break away surprised many on both the right and left of their party) based on a carefully arranged plan designed to reduce the damage any such break could cause.
The road ahead for Labour is going to be difficult no matter what, at present the Conservative party presents a more effective, pragmatic, and competent alternative and has the distinct advantage of being the incumbent government. Despite this the future of the left is not entirely bleak; if Labour can overcome the protracted and foolish internal struggle it faces then it will be able to win back power eventually, and upon doing so, if it implements a proportional electoral system (as it should) will be able to commence the split between factions that it must now undertake. Division does not seem like the best route to power, but for Labour it is the only option – if the same kinds of divisions persist in the Conservative party as they do at present then it may be the future for both right and left. Whatever the outcome, the old two party system is in its dying days.