Why is racism becoming more violent?

Racism is a problem that has plagued the frameworks of society, and its continued use has in many forms, evolved. Its development is frightening, and much like a lot of modern tendencies, the internet is culpable.


The deadly ‘Unite the White’ rally in Charlottesville (2017) presented modern democracy with a clear question- are the extreme capabilities of liberty of expression (or free speech) evidence enough to suggest that such a right be removed? A controversial issue – if not immediately relevant one- has been the subject of enormous scrutiny in political discourse. Is the incitement of hatred and discrimination simply too egregious an aspect that absolute free speech should be conserved? From a contemporary perspective, the UK limits freedom of expression, if content is deemed to be harmful, hateful or discriminatory.

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The First Amendment in the US is arguably the most significant right preserved by the Constitution- but has its founding intention been heavily distorted?

The UK’s legal permutation may historically reflect some important philosophical cornerstones; Thomas Hobbes explicitly outlined that speech of a discriminatory or derogatory nature should be fundamentally discouraged by the state. He suggested that such speech could, in effect, entrench loathsomeness and anger; which would go onto form a constituent proponent of the state of nature- a violent status-quo of instability and human conflict. And although it is important to note that Hobbes lived in a time of civil war and social unrest, he may have made a vital point. If, as he suggested, humans were susceptible to acting irrationally and in contempt, then some limitations on free speech may be constructive in combating the cancerous growth of modern-day racism.

There is an even stronger link with Hobbes’s historical ideas regarding the relationship between the ‘sovereign’ and the people- self-restraint. This concept suggests that the citizens of a society should listen, and be guided by the actions and gesticulations of the sovereign; or in a modern, more democratic appropriation- the government. This all was closely tied into the self-restraint that Hobbes wrote that citizens should have. As touched upon previously, Hobbes placed impeccable importance on this, in order to conserve the civil piece of a society. In many senses, the role of the ‘sovereign’ is to lead by example and be untethered in their judgement to reflect the needs of the population and base his rationale on the wider necessities. Particularly in the United States, it doesn’t seem alienable to suggest that the perceived role of head of state by Hobbes is abundantly relevant today.

ABC’s take on Trump’s ‘go home’ comments (above).


President Trump’s rhetoric- dangerous to some and far reaching for others- may have drawn comparisons between the contempt that Hobbes had underlined in his work Leviathan. The suggestion is hardly disjointed- Trump’s first speech as a candidate in 2015 labelled Mexicans “rapists”; in the 2018 midterms, white nationalist groups were joyful over Trump’s language use in tweets during the “immigrant caravan” and the infamous “send them back” comments this year sparked worldwide criticism. This in many respects underlines with a red marker how Trump has normalised racism in society today. How then, can a leader or ‘sovereign’ use suitable rationale if he has continuously befuddled minority groups over his political career? If Hobbes’ suggestions about self-regulation were to be applied Trump and his leadership, the racist rhetoric surrounding political discourse today is only reflective of the example and norm set by the state. And in Trump’s case, this may well be relevant.

It goes without saying that the concepts presented by Hobbes were fundamentally set for a specific-age, although they did allow for the new-era of political and social thought regarding human nature, the state; and society. Relative to Trump, Hobbes cooked-up an intriguing assessment of human behaviour and its categorisation. One of these categorizations of the ‘vainglorious’- people who have unwarranted and ‘obsessively delight’ in their personal flattery. Often, Hobbes noted, people of this sort had a bleak understanding of themselves and the issues fronting humanity. Hobbes assessed that these people were delicate and revel in a conflated authority and power. Such people were prone to moral corruption and differed from the ‘confident’, as the vainglorious are vulgar and unrepenting.


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The people of Charlottesville demonstrate their solidarity following the deadly white supremacy protests. Such solidarity was lacking from President Trump’s initial responses. Some called this a soft endorsement to racism by Trump.

Locke adapted this theory: he suggested that if such a man enter power, the office would further erode him and his morality. But here is the instrumental argument: these people, as leaders, are extremely susceptible to the flattery of his supporters and his opponents’ critics. Often, such support would result courtiers having a detrimental effect on a leader’s policy- distorting it to its worst moral and political inclinations. Arguably, such a trait is visible through Trump’s political support- particularly from some white supremacy movements. His messaging taps into a dangerous reality- some of his close ex-advisors such as the ex-chief executive of Breitbart, Steve Bannon, have alternative world views that coalesce with the technology-based phenomenon of ‘accelerationism’. Although not directly involved with such a tendency, Bannon’s eagerness to utilize this medium of communication to spread alternative politics highlights the risk of rapid technologicalization in spreading misinformation- something which is undoubtedly reflective of the neo-Nazi proliferation of campaigning on the internet we are seeing now.

Accelerationism has been reappropriated by radicals, particularly the far-right nationalist groups. The term refers to fast and radical change of social and political orders, that initially originates from broader economic theory.

Neo-Nazi accelerationism has in many cases, stemmed from the failure of an attempt for groups to use the political system as a means to provoke racism and enforce such policy. Most groups, despite their political endorsement of Trump, see him as a president that is an ‘outsider’ – meaning he is likely more open for adopting vaguely similar messaging. Following the ‘Unite the White March’ in 2017, participation in such movements drastically fell- indicating that these means of white-nationalism had by-gone. Instead, the accelerationism process has been adapted- which has seen more murders and attacks carried out on the basis of the core ideas relative to white-supremacy and racist thoughts.

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The white-nationalistic ideas have overstepped racial lines- Jo Cox was tragically murdered by a man pleading to “bring freedom to Britain”.

Rather than be political, the movements are now dangerously violent. The Christchurch Mosque attack in New Zealand was done on racial and provocative ideological grounds; a similar attempt was stopped in Norway, and internal terrorism is becoming more of a threat based off of right-wing radicalism (according to TIME Magazine, AUG 19, 2019). But more than ever, these attacks are being linked to the obsessive online activities of groups, who through an instantaneous medium, can hit wide coverage across the world. These ideas, ideologies and messages are more accessible, and play an undeniably imperative role in the fostering of terrorism on the basis of hatred. The internet has highlighted the flaws of politics and its institutions. If technology is rapidly increasing, so to will the volume and expansion of these groups’ core values. And if global governments are struggling now- how will they adapt feasibly enough to counter future threats?

This question above all needs an answer, as ‘accelerationism’ is arguably the new face of deadly racial and nationalistic hate crimes in developed countries across the world. It needn’t take another travesty to realise this- lives depend on it.

A Brief Examination of Locke’s early principles in Britain today.

John Locke arguably set the scene for modern political thought- but how influential are his ideas in Britain-and indeed the world-today?


The ideas and concepts surrounding John Locke have unsurprisingly formed an impactful political debate over how immediate and modern his ideas on property, law and state of nature are today. Coupled alongside separated government, there are glimmers – or sharp bursts- of Lockesian thought in 21st century Britain.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of Locke’s works is his focus around natural law, particularly when these ideas arguably form heavy bonds with his other fundamental principles. First, it would be plausible to tackle the important nature of divine law in his work- to better found a potential argument about Locke in modern sentiment. Divine law, as widely covered, refers to the words that God has invested into scriptures and entrusted writers; and is fundamentally not universally understood, but in turn influential. Natural law is relevant in the sense that it represents moral traditions and duties- a key bonding element of human interaction and behaviour.

Such ideas can be used to explain the relevance of both in regards to the politics of gay-rights, particularly in the early corridors of the 2010s. Being gay was a violation of both the divine teachings of God and the peoples’ duties, relative to natural law. This link, albeit ambiguous, has perhaps been reflected in opposition to gay rights by prominent Conservative MPs- Thatcher implemented Section 28 in her government’s Local Government Act, and proceeding the 2013 Gay Marriage Act, a significant number of Conservative MPs voted against their government’s motion.

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Protestors campaign against the repressive, and now revoked, section 28.

Yet, it is hard to subscribe to Locke’s influence in modern respects over such a link in natural and divine law. Such ideas reflect a by-gone age of interpretations about moral duties, and they also demonstrate the vast inconsistencies in the works of Locke. It could therefore be of substance to suggest that Locke’s ideas regarding the premise of natural law is wholly moulded and entrenched in a older age. If this is to be the case, it should be underlined that urges regarding Locke’s influence as a catalyst for modern equality movements are desperately out of shape. Socially, gay rights is certainly prominent on the contemporary agenda, and of current relevance in the recent LGBT celebrations. Locke therefore, cannot be regarded as a stockbroker with an investment into modern politics- as the composition of interpretations relevant to natural and divine law today have arguably diverged on a grand scale since his time of writing.

The debate regarding Locke’s purchase on natural law has also been consumed with discourse relative to the clarity of his ideas of natural rights, which opens-up an interesting triadic between God, duty and preserved rights- such as freedom. Freedom was by accounts, the centrepoint of Locke’s philosophy, with fundamental chains locked between the intellectual capacity of humans to think rationally, and to obtain information to build identities associated with the wider institutions of the world. This has been labelled the ‘democratization of the mind’, to which he believed was spread in an egalitarian composition through the creation of humans- every one possessed such an ability that would aid their development as rational individuals. However, many believe he failed to adequately outline how one, through the material they had available to them, would adhere to God’s sanctions on life and duty. This in many respects is dependent upon the premise of the close relationship between divine reason and natural reason. The assumption that these variables draw upon similar distinctions is rather vague and possibly naive. It suggests Locke thought so confidently in the similarities of divine and natural reason that natural law (as affirmed by its close relationship to God) could not appear as arbitrary or as a potential loan to dystopian ideals, which would conflict with someone’s self-preservation.

Those who voted for Brexit on the basis of immigration, arguably were not self-conserving- they followed if anything, an arbitrary trail of political decision making.

In terms of modern relevance, this ambiguity may be indicative that such a position is broadly incorrect, and in some cases, discredits the potential of social struggles in shaping rational thought. It could be argued that issues over poverty, unemployment and immigration are interesting characteristics that are not applicable to the rational inquiries of Locke.

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Can the examination of political institutions, like Locke suggested, be critically examined if public perceptions of its adequacy are conflated with resentments about public life?

The conflation of social issues in the Brexit campaign for example, may be a symbol of this inadequate shaping of modern behaviour by Locke. Immigration played an important part in the Brexit debate, and if we take Locke’s natural law, which centres around self-preservation and the self-preservation of others; we can deduce that the ‘immigration’ vote centred around an abstractionist rational pursuit by some to vote against the interest of others. This is arguably a negation of the principle of natural law- as it can be interpreted as a direct action to expunge or violate against someone’s ability to own and invest in property. In terms of a rational prescriptive, this is uncommon as those who voted for Brexit on the basis of immigration, arguably were not self-conserving- they followed if anything, an arbitrary trail of political decision making. This is a potential example that suggests the lack of distinction in Locke’s philosophy for the human potential not to be rational, and to be insufficient in separating respectable materials and ideas from widely discredited ones. This in turn is relevant to the moral and social values that have perhaps elapsed since Locke. Economic depravity, resentment in the political system and a general discontent with public life may mean that his ideas simply cannot be present in today’s contemporary status-quo. The institutions of public life have vastly adapted, and so to has the composition of ideals in a largely developed social and economic time.

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“ASK ME MY THREE MAIN PRIORITIES FOR GOVERNMENT AND I TELL YOU: EDUCATION, EDUCATION AND EDUCATION”

This allows for a potential vacuum in his thoughts: were his ideas simply limited to the age in which they were written, or are they not definitive enough to be applied to the contemporary life of today? My mind, although fresh to such sensibilities, is partial to to the idea that Locke’s concepts on rationality are vaguely distributed today. Blair won in part down to his ‘education, education; education’ slogan (who doesn’t want better schools for their children?). And arguably, we have seen past Conservative party phrases such as the ‘long-term economic plan’ (2015-16) be shrewd components of political campaigning. But these examples rely upon vaguely associated ideas of Lockean thought and they are hardly binding enough to advocate for a clear presence of his thought today. 

Yet with many things in political discussion, it may all come down to one’s bearing of issues through their democratized processes of thought.

Order! What has Brexit done to our courts?

Is Brexit about to return a plethora of sovereign capabilities back from the EU?


The principle of Parliamentary sovereignty is the most important element of the British constitution, as it gives the British Parliament in Westminster, as an elected body, supreme power and legislative authority over anything. Often, ideas about sovereignty are conflated with notions of patriotism, but they are robustly different things.

Although the sovereignty of our Parliament is longstanding, the historical significance of such an imperative principle is disputed, so the best I can do is present historic law:

Perhaps one of the most important Acts of Parliament (statute) in the union’s democratic history is that of the Bill of Rights (1689), in which all royal political powers were removed. A succeeding statute, the Act of Settlement (1700) removed the monarchy’s influence from the judiciary, allowing for the first time in modern British history, a completely independent legislature and judiciary from Royal interference. But, questions about the sovereignty of Parliament have been contested and with the prominence of this issue escalating both previous to and after Brexit, the understanding of such a crucial constitutional principle is vitally important. With the sovereign power derived from the Crown, is it correct to suggest that the UK lost sovereignty to the European Union as a member? Or, is it another one of those conflated-mistruths I spoke about earlier?

A common phrase during that referendum campaign was ‘let’s take back control’, and a big political part of that message relies upon the importance of Parliamentary sovereignty- something which was eagerly discussed in that campaign. And, perhaps the biggest message was the the NHS money bus which promised an extra £350m investment if Britain decided to leave the European Union. There are two things wrong with the campaign slogans above. Before Brexit, the UK had around 98% control of its public expenditure through both the executive privileges of the government and the sovereignty of Parliament. This means that the NHS’ budget is not restricted by the European Union, but rather controlled by the British Government and scrutinised on by the various functions of the House of Commons. If politicians such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were so obsessed with better funding the NHS, they should’ve said so when the Conservative Party’s manifesto was written in 2015. It is the government which sets public spending via the Treasury- it isn’t threatened by zombie European leaders in Brussels or Strasbourg. They are zombies, by the way. Indeed, Brexit is something which has caused such stirs at the heart of a wholly outdated political system that people are starting to doubt whether taking back control is actually possible. As the Brookings Institute highlighted, there is a world of difference between national sovereignty and national autonomy- so don’t you dare get them mixed up!

Those who think that sovereignty will restore complete control of immigration, economics and international law are purely and simply wrong.

In simplified terms, sovereignty is something exclusively political to the nation and it cannot control the external influences of the outside world, and the effects they have within our borders. Those who think that sovereignty will restore complete control of immigration, economics and international law are purely and simply wrong. Those who do, well, I’m glad your reading my blog. I present the big questions of our day to you, On Face Value.

What is fundamental to understand is that if I was to vote based off of a usually salient issue, say the economy, and wanted the EU’s grubby hands off of it; I wouldn’t vote off of the basis of sovereignty. I would be voting for greater political and economic autonomy, which is a different idea entirely. If I want an economic structure that reflects Britain’s wider presence in the world, these changes rely upon a plethora of different contributive chapters in order for the story to be written. Elements such as trade deals, socioeconomics; politics in government and the economic tendencies of the wider world. In all truth, sovereignty should never have even been an issue in the referendum, simply because it has always been present.

A crucial example that I would point to would be the relationship between the UK’s judicial system and the legislature in Westminster. In this case, Westminster Parliament has complete favorability; it is a sovereign body, so it cannot be overruled even by the courts. The subordancance of the Courts is noticeable through legal doctrines that are referred to as ‘Common Law’, and these legal conventions follow the legislation passed by Parliament. So, if you’re unhappy that the courts haven’t got control, it isn’t a European issue at all- this precedent dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Blame them.

The European Court of Justice & The Supreme Court

Here’s where it gets spicy though, because it is true that we have a large chunk of our constitution reserved for the European Union- particularly in the judicial branch. Much like our courts, the European Court of Justice is a body which regulates the implementation of law, via the outlines stated by treaties and secondary legislation. Our Supreme Court must refer to the ECJ over such issues, because they are important protected elements of EU policy that must be adhered to in legislation. If the ECJ does rule that a piece of legislation is incompatible with EU law, it doesn’t have the power to strike down national law passed by a sovereign body. It is true that through a European ruling in 1964, states that had agreed to limit some of their sovereign capabilities would be obliged to follow the word of the treaties when making law. In this sense, EU law takes precedent in the manufacturing of legislation.

In 2016, the ECJ ruled that the Investigatory Powers Act was in breach of EU law on surveillance. The Supreme Court then followed with a Declaration of Incompatibility, to which the government agreed to reword their legislation.

If Parliament passed a law that was incompatible with EU law and directives, the Supreme Court would rule a Declaration of Incompatibility. This highlights a very important checks-balance process between the Judiciary, the EU and the British Parliament. The courts have very limited powers over Parliament, so if a law was to found to be negating the words of the EU treaties, the Supreme Court would attempt to find a resolution through the use of common law and legal conventions. Ultimately, Parliament still effectively has control of its laws and clearly; all this process does, is it makes law more representative and better worded for adequate enforcement by the courts.

As some Brexiteers would be quick to point out, there is another European court that does have some influence over the legislation that Westminster Parliament must adhere to- The European Court of Human Rights.

This is perhaps one aspect of the European Union that has got under the nails of many Conservatives and Eurosceptics. Originally founded to protect the EU from totalitarianism in 1959, the Court of Human Rights’ oversight has been an issue of national deliberation ever since its first involvements with the UK. Correctly or incorrectly, the role of the court is fundamentally to protect the rights of European citizens across the EU, particularly in areas such as employment rights. The court oversees the implementation of and the adherence to the European convention on Human Rights, which came into force in October of 2000. Essentially, any appellate can appeal to the court, on the basis of a human rights issue; including at times, states themselves.

Once again, the ECHR can judge a law to be in breach of the Human Rights Act, and UK courts can give a declaration too. The ECHR can override the decisions of UK courts if needs be, which could highlight the discontent of some toward the powers the court holds. Although, as a sovereign body, it remains Parliament’s jurisdiction to decide to amend said law or not. Usually though, public opinion dictates that they do.

The way to rid the United Kingdom of such a court is to repeal the Human Rights Act, which establishes the link between the court’s jurisdictions and ‘interference’ with British law. This is relevant particularly to 2016, when the government drafted a ‘British Bill of Rights’ to replace the potential omission of the Human Rights Act. This was widely condemned as a rushed and ‘populist’ proposal which gained very little traction, and there hasn’t really been much chatter since. Apart from Theresa May threatening to remove it as part of the Brexit withdrawal in January of this year, no solutions have been pushed. The House of Lords Brexit Committee warned that the Act was under threat after Brexit, after they labelled the government’s response as ‘diluted’. Talk about ‘good, strong government in the national interest’.


Historic rulings from the European Court of Human Rights on the UK:

 

 


Brexit and the separations of power:

This brings me to my conclusive segment- the current dilemma of the Supreme Court. The question over whether Boris Johnson ‘lied’ to the Queen is currently being mulled over by all 11 Justices, and a ruling is widely expected next Monday. Regardless of the verdict, this case highlights the extraordinary political climate of today and to think we had seen it all. John Major (former Prime Minister) even testified through a lawyer this week, indicating the extent of the political rupture. Forget bonkers. This is unheard of.

These developments are lurching into a constitutional crisis, particularly in regards to the makeup of the balance of powers between each branch. Bear in mind that the uncodified state of our constitution makes the coming decision even more important; if the Supreme Court adjudged that Johnson misled the Queen, some will cry political interference from the Judiciary. Therefore, the key question is this: is it for the courts to intervene in such a matter? If so, what an earth does that mean for the future? Remember, legal doctrines are a vital part of the judicial process. This would break the trend.

The immediate future is indifferent; if the Supreme Court rules that it isn’t within their jurisdiction (which is quietly expected), we return to the normal state of play. Well, Brexit normal. If an opposite decision is arrived at, Parliament could be recalled immediately. Chances are, Johnson would prorogue Parliament again.

What would the likes of Erskine May, A.V Dicey and Lord Bingham think of this mess? Better not answer that. Politics students like me? Well, we’re pulling our hairs out trying to keep up. Wish us luck with that.


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The Death of a Great British Democracy

With the unstoppable rise of populism and the effects of technologilisation, is it any wonder that British democracy is being called into disrepute?


The political earthquakes of the past five years have shone a light onto the adequacy of world democracy more than ever before. The significance of such issues aren’t new- they come as a result of historical failings- ones which have amounted to consequences of epic proportions.

The extent of the ruptures of modern democracy are far bigger issues than events such as Brexit; the current tendencies are simply just a product of intergenerational complacency- it has been 45 years since the end of Nixon, as an example. Highlighting Nixon’s tenure in office is just, as his presidency was one that rocked public trust in elected officials to an all-time low. His example was so prominent, that every political scandal has since been shipped with the -gate suffix, a grammatical aspect which hints at the failings of a manipulated democracy. He never recovered and seemingly, nor has democracy.

The culmination of today’s seismic political events have only highlighted the grave splits that have been hidden in institutions of democracy.

Brexit only highlighted politics’ shortcomings- it didn’t forge them.

Nixon’s presidency coated a quilt of doubt on the ability of politicians and governments across the world to use their power with responsibility and maintain accountability to the people. That quilt of irrepressible gloom suffocated the bedrock of public trust, and now it seems as though the veils are being pulled over the eyes of the public. Ironic, considering the ‘biggest ever’ democratic exercise in the UK only took place a mere 3 years ago. Ironic, considering Donald Trump promised to fix a ‘broken Washington’. The culmination of today’s seismic political events have only highlighted the grave splits that have been hidden in institutions of democracy, to which haven’t been as noticeable as they are today.

Perhaps the biggest question of British democracy is that of our parliamentary component of convention is an element which has perhaps reached its viability as a tolerable tool of politics. There is no doubt that it has worked, but the heavy collision between direct and representative democracy has corroded trust from both sides of the European question- even if it was initially a party spat. There is no doubt that democracy in the UK had one of the boldest inceptions in the world, and traces of that beginning are very much still demonstrative today. It is notable that belief in history and political precedents is important, but there must now be a pragmatic change to the way politics works. Pragmatic being the realisation that the system is broken, and by using the last three years as examples, learning from the grave errors that have now preceded this piece.

In a Liberal democracy prided on the political freedom of the public to sway the biggest political decisions of the day, the incompatibility of this week’s events not only highlight that more scrutiny needs to be placed on government, but also, more transparency on MPs. The Democratic Audit, published annually with the LSE, had warned of the importance of improving the state of parliamentary process before this most recent implosion. Minimal actioning followed. The adequacy of scrutiny is simply non-existent, and this is not a new phenomenon contrary to popular knowledge- Blair got away with it. His actioning of the Iraq war in 2003 was the biggest scandal to slither past the coat of scrutiny preceding the issue of Brexit, and families will argue they still haven’t seen the light of day since. The deep lies in which his government told over ‘weapons of mass destruction’ had fooled Parliament then, and the now infamous ‘Dodgy Dossier’ could have spared the livelihoods of British soldiers. Had there been more accountability, perhaps this course of action may have been prevented- lives saved, democracy preserved. There must be no mistake: the failures of the constitution are not simply down to a lack of modernisation, but rather the failure of a Parliament to advocate for meritocratic representation. Forget ideology or partisanship, this obnoxious slide in good representation has been flummoxed by the conscious decision of parties to promote tribalism and opportunism.

Dominic Cummings represents the conductor of this government’s tendencies to turn the constitution into a sword of political manipulation.

Boris Johnson’s selection as an MP in 2015 is evidence enough to suggest this; as Mayor of London, he made his intentions clear that he would combine his role as MP with mayoralty. This not only a negation of his role to the public of London, but also to his new Ruislip constituency. It is not feasible to suggest that he could have done both jobs well enough, as both are in essence, full time jobs. Boris was a personality, one which would have proved vital for the Conservatives in 2015 (which they won). This was not a selection based off of Boris’ skills to help his new constituents, because if it were, the job would have gone to someone with more time and availability to represent a constituency. And, is it at all a surprise that Boris’ best contribution as PM so far has been dubbing Jeremy Corbyn as a ‘chlorinated chicken’? It probably will not come as such a shock that his decision to suspend Parliament was seen by 46% of people as undemocratic, compared to 32% on the contrary (YouGov, snap poll). Ipsos Mori have also chipped in with a poll: 75% of people are already dissatisfied with the government- making it the least popular incoming government in 40 years. This may just be a speculative poll, but if this has any true indication of the state of British democracy, then there is a lot to fear. There will inevitably be an election though, and with the government electioneering through policy proposals, it could be about to change. There may be a mandate, and suddenly all the issues over a non-legitimacy would be resolved. Brexit could even be finalised. In a Utopia, yes. With the electoral system however, the woes are set to continue.

Forget ideology or partisanship, this obnoxious slide in good representation has been flummoxed by the conscious decision of parties to promote tribalism and opportunism.

VOTES AND TECHNOLOGY

It does usually fall on an election to fix the broken political split in Westminster, but any potential election could be one that threatens to have the opposite effect. Our current system of voting has been widely criticised for some time: First Past the Post relies upon a simple majority in each constituency for a candidate to win a seat, and as a plurality system, often the national results are skewed quite significantly. Take the Labour heartlands for instance, these constituencies collectively voted to leave the EU, with 70% of the heartland constituencies doing so. But, DeltaPoll suggest that any chance of a pro-Brexit party winning there is extremely slim as these areas decisively vote for Labour on a habitual basis. So, Labour will keep their heartlands regardless. The problem comes when pro-Brexit parties will begin to contest tight seats that change hands often, and with the vote being split significantly, the possibility that remain parties could sweep in and win a seat are likely (i.e. Lib Dems). Labour are behind in Wales, the Conservatives face the possibility of being wiped out in Scotland and potentially, the Brexit Party’s vote could be completely misrepresented due to the voting system.

Boris Johnson may be polling at around 35% at the moment, but in today’s politics that will only be worthy enough to be a minority government, if polls were to stay at a similar place during an election. The voting system may well suit parties like the Conservatives, but in a time of political toxicity, it is hard to imagine how long it will remain in place if hung parliaments are consistently produced. There may be a bigger issue with democracy now; a problem that threatens to misinform, lie and destroy the premise of accountability. The fake news and distorted political propaganda on social media platforms such as Facebook have already allegedly flirted with the EU referendum and the 2016 US election; there are genuine fears that it may continue if a new election rolls around the corner.

Brittany Kaiser’s whistleblowing has further increased scrutiny on how media companies have a foothold on democratic practices.

The select committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport recently published a report that suggested that on sites such as Facebook, genuine news stories are getting less coverage than fake news due to the level of manipulation that these headlines go through to get featured. This all follows the concerning revelations that during the 2016 EU referendum, around 50 million Facebook profiles were ‘harvested’ by former data company Cambridge Analytica. These figures and profiles were shared with Leave.EU and the UKIP campaign during the referendum. The now infamous Brittany Kaiser released emails to the committee earlier this year that were indicative of the rigorous data campaign that Cambridge Analytica performed, giving a further indication that mass manipulation of voters by technology has undermined British democracy- that much is clear.

Problems over populism and fake news have been liked as a matter of certainty in Italy, with fake news ‘having undoubtedly favoured right wing populist parties’ there. So is it that surprising that democracy is suffering as a result? A report by Italian researchers suggests that people choose to be apart of a ‘fake news bubble’, due to their prior preference of digesting news from populist sources. The biggest issue that this report outlines is the self-echo chambers that platforms like Facebook allow for; people are able to share their political views and tendencies, which is reinforced by confirmation bias. In this particular study, it is open to suggest that for whatever reason, people are taking rational decisions to share and believe warped information. There could be a link with socioeconomics and the news someone chooses to share, but there are limited links to suggest such an explanation, although it does hold some logic.

People are taking rational decisions to share and believe warped information.

In a liberal democracy, the media system should be diverse and pluralistic and there could be a case to blame social media for the the erosion of free, correct and informative publications during an election. Fake news is so threatening, that consecutive governments have outlined approaches of tackling this manufactured, false medium of information. Whether these measures are successful or not will be hard to interpret. The beauty of being in a liberal democracy is that news is overly unregulated, with the formal news outlets all have binding codes of conduct in regards to journalistic integrity. Social media and other such outlets don’t, but establishing such a conduct would be near impossible. The social media companies will need to step-up, and with Facebook’s employment of Sir Nick Clegg, it would appear as though they are trying to tackle these problems seriously. But, evidence suggest they just haven’t. Another election could be submerged in dangerous rhetoric fuelled by populist ideas, starting from the very social media apps on everyone’s phones. That will not mend a political crisis. Undoubtedly, it will worsen it.

Democracy has flourished through the failings outlined; the vibrancy of Westminster is indicative that actually, informal political interaction is strong. But, what has it achieved? It takes formal political change to tackle the key issues of the day, but if formal political interaction is failing, where is it that change can really be achieved? This is the question that is facing our times and an answer is needed fast. If not, a broken democracy will soon become a dead one.


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The horror of Britain’s Hidden Majority

Poverty is a term which has a string of misconstrued representations in the modern day. The type of poverty that has arisen over the last decade lies in the wake of the biggest financial crash of the 21st century: a crash which consumed livelihoods, took jobs and resulted in economic turmoil for the general population. The response, at least here in the UK, was to enter a harsh era of austerity, something which Theresa May declared was all but over in October of last year. The former Prime Minister took office with a heralding speech which promised to “fight the burning injustices” in modern Britain- words that befitted a historic speech by only our second female leader. May made it her mission to make our Union a “country which works for everyone” an idea which was, at the time, a mirroring of David Cameron’s ideas regarding the importance of society. Even he, the bespoke Etonian schoolboy, believed in a ‘society’, as long as it was not confused with the state. Modern Conservative Party ideals have since been lost in translation, and regardless of political alignment, this has to be admitted. In her relatively short period in office, the indications are that Theresa May failed in justifying the promises in her premier speech three years ago.

“That means fighting against the burning injustice that if you’re born poor you will die on average nine years earlier than others”

Theresa May, July 13 2016.

In England, life expectancy has worsened between the richest and poorest, a solemn rate which goes some way in highlighting the massive disparity between the well offs and the worse offs. This could still yet change, with May sanctioning an extra £20 billion in funding for the NHS to improve health provisions across the country. What shouldn’t be misinterpreted is that life expectancy is a figure delicately dancing between various important variables, but this goes no way in hiding that the United Kingdom is still lagging behind in expectancy- ranked only at 18 in Europe in 2016. But, life expectancy isn’t the most serious indicator screaming over the horrors of poverty in the sixth biggest economy in the world, much to the anguish of the ‘silent majority’. Yet, the failings of a decade are only being noticed now, a full eleven years on from the crash that inflicted such societal wounds in the first place. It would be ignorant to suggest that poverty is a new phenomenon, but the displacement of finances and the consequences that have entailed since 2008 have been the heaviest of a generation.

Poverty hasn’t a fixed state, nor an actual face value. The problems surrounding poverty are formulated through a principle that poverty has relatively few forms. Poverty is an all consuming black hole which has scores of different forms- each one having varying levels of strenuous pressure on families and society alike. Poorness isn’t the sole bearer of poverty in the United Kingdom. Economic disparities among people are the easiest trends and figures to allude to, but poverty does indeed have far reaching social implications for a society- social richness being the cornerstone of a generation. Whether that be childcare, strong schooling, healthy community support or certain local provisions, the increasing deficit in social wellness is hard-hitting on the hidden majority. The hidden majority are those who desperately need help from strong local community institutions, but through the unnecessarily deep measures of austerity, their concerns fall on deaf ears. The Conservatives’ response to poverty has been irresponsible and tragic: a UN delegate condemned the “uncaring ethos” of the governmental shift of social policy. It should have been better, in fact, it had to have been better. The “tragic consequences” which Professor Alston reported should have been something unthinkable for a One Nation Conservative government; whose ethos centred around the core principle of Noblesse Oblige-stating the need to look after the worse-off in society. Both Mr Cameron and Ms May were clear of their One Nation ideals, so, hiding behind a staunch Conservative facade is useless. And, as the jittering process of Brexit stumbles on, there is a genuine concern that the hidden will soon be the forgotten.

David’s (Cameron) true legacy is not about the economy, but social justice “”

May’s first speech as Prime Minister thanked Cameron for his social policies.

While May’s government increased spending into local communities in the final months of her administration, the problems are so deeply cut that throwing money at the problem will not change the fate of those trapped in trouble. Trouble being a plethora of consequences which have manifested across Britain. The effects of poverty on local communities have been alarming- social deprivation being the most prolific killer. Around 33% of young children are in poverty in the United Kingdom, according to results found by the Social Metrics Commission– a leap of approximately 400,000. And, there is an inextricable link between children experiencing social turmoil and those living in poverty to gangs. The harsh realities that local communities have faced has allowed for exploitation of young people with an invariable connection with growing gang-related activities across the board. Research is indicative that fourteen to seventeen year-olds are the children at greatest risk of falling into the trap of gang life and following a warning from The Children’s Society group, a coherent response from local governments and the government itself is needed.

It is always difficult criticising a government for making cuts following a heavy recession, but there has been evidence enough to suggest that the extent of the cuts exceeded what was required. Yes, borrowing had to fall. Yes, the deficit needed to be cut. But no, there wasn’t a need to perform such stinging reductions in welfare and social care areas. Some organizations have even accused that infamous coalition of ‘economic murder’ in which may have resulted in 120,000 deaths. That is no feature of a ‘compassionate conservative’ party. That is carefree Conservatism.

There is undoubtedly a social crisis in this country, alongside the impending political one. The mismanagement of political institutions in general has given way to such problems, which will have long-term consequences. London is at breaking point- more rough sleepers than ever before. A soaring crime rate. Something needs to give and quickly. The works of small organisations isn’t enough- Homeless Link is barely managing with the help it gives to those on the streets.

There is clarity over one thing: something needs to change. This shouldn’t be an ideological battle, there are real people who haven’t a voice and haven’t hope. There could be light in the idea that there was a revolt in the referendum three years-ago. Why wouldn’t there be? An incompetent opposition, behind a bulldozing ‘do or die’ government. It’s a shame that Brexit is becoming a partisan issue. Or, an opportunity for ideological, purely fantastical dreams about a ‘correct Brexit’. The only Brexit that should be in consideration is one that would ensure social security, so that society’s worse-off don’t fall into an even deeper hole of insecurity and poverty- financial or social.

It says alot about the state of politics that neither party is trustworthy enough, or ‘alive’ enough to enforce impactful change. If Brexit is to happen, a deal is the only option viable enough to safeguard the social security nets, which are already on the brink. A no-deal would further the pain of those of us on ‘running the fine line’; those of us already struggling and members of society who have been left in the dark. This is a clear dividends in our politics. Drop the ideological toxicity- gamesmanship isn’t a solution to the serious political questions of our time. If there was ever a need to do politics properly, this is it. The end of the road for political posturing. Communities are on the verge, and they need to be resuscitated or it could signal yet more struggle and more uncertainty. There must be an urgent focus in the following weeks and months ahead in helping to improve the lives of the hidden majority.

There needs to be urgency, as the hidden could well become the lost.

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