Tag Archives: politics

UK Unemployment Drops: Why It May Not Be A Sign To Celebrate.

Image

Official figures have stated that finally the rate of unemployment in the UK has dropped. But before you leap out of your chair to yank your nearest job-hunting graduate away from their computer to tell them everything is going to be okay, bear in mind that the drop was from 7.8% to 7.7%, a measly 0.1%.

The Bank of England has however informed the public that this fall will most likely continue to drop until it reaches 7%, whereby it will (according to Bank of England governor Mark Carney) rise again.

This news was twinned with the information that those claiming jobseekers is at its lowest since early 2009, dropping by a total of 32,600 claimants.

Unemployment statistics have always been a matter of confusion. Throwing every UK citizen into one of two pots, one marked “Employed” and the other “Unemployed” does not tell the whole story. A more interesting statistic is that at the same time as unemployment figures have dropped those employed part-time has risen by 25,000 to 1.45million, the highest it has been since 1992. Also interesting is that fact that wages are still rising at a rate far behind that of prices. Average pay has risen by 1.1% compared to last year, whilst prices are rising at a rate of 2.8%.

It is obviously true that many people employed in part-time labour are happy with their job, but just as that is true that many are employed in this fashion because they are unable to find full time work and with rising costs are forced to take whatever they can.

This is something that is not noticed by looking at unemployment figures alone. In fact, there is a whole plethora of areas missed by the official statistics. Placing people into one of two camps means they are unable to look any deeper into a person’s individual situation. Statistics cannot tell whether the individual is employed in part or full time but is unhappy because they are working well below their pay grade. Likewise they cannot tell if the individual is registered unemployed but is employed illegally, finding income through prostitution, drug sales or gambling.

It is not the fault of the official statistics, they are simply relaying what the data says, and it is not as if they do not tell us anything. Yet it is important not to assume that because official statistics have stated unemployment figures have dropped that this alone is the story. There are many reasons the unemployment figures could have dropped. The statistics could be telling us that unemployment is dropping and we are on the road to recovery, or they could be telling us that people have given up looking for the full-time job they want and are taking whatever they can grasp a hold of.

Official figures have stated that finally the rate of unemployment in the UK has dropped. But before you leap out of your chair to yank your nearest job-hunting graduate away from their computer to tell them everything is going to be okay, bear in mind that the drop was from 7.8% to 7.7%, a measly 0.1%.

The Bank of England has however informed the public that this fall will most likely continue to drop until it reaches 7%, whereby it will (according to Bank of England governor Mark Carney) rise again.

This news was twinned with the information that those claiming jobseekers is at its lowest since early 2009, dropping by a total of 32,600 claimants.

Unemployment statistics have always been a matter of confusion. Throwing every UK citizen into one of two pots, one marked “Employed” and the other “Unemployed” does not tell the whole story. A more interesting statistic is that at the same time as unemployment figures have dropped those employed part-time has risen by 25,000 to 1.45million, the highest it has been since 1992. Also interesting is that fact that wages are still rising at a rate far behind that of prices. Average pay has risen by 1.1% compared to last year, whilst prices are rising at a rate of 2.8%.

It is obviously true that many people employed in part-time labour are happy with their job, but just as that is true that many are employed in this fashion because they are unable to find full time work and with rising costs are forced to take whatever they can.

This is something that is not noticed by looking at unemployment figures alone. In fact, there is a whole plethora of areas missed by the official statistics. Placing people into one of two camps means they are unable to look any deeper into a person’s individual situation. Statistics cannot tell whether the individual is employed in part or full time but is unhappy because they are working well below their pay grade. Likewise they cannot tell if the individual is registered unemployed but is employed illegally, finding income through prostitution, drug sales or gambling.

It is not the fault of the official statistics, they are simply relaying what the data says, and it is not as if they do not tell us anything. Yet it is important not to assume that because official statistics have stated unemployment figures have dropped that this alone is the story. There are many reasons the unemployment figures could have dropped. The statistics could be telling us that unemployment is dropping and we are on the road to recovery, or they could be telling us that people have given up looking for the full-time job they want and are taking whatever they can grasp a hold of.

Margaret Thatcher and Death Parties.

Originally published on The Daily Touch

On the 8th April the Twitter hash tag #nowthatcherisdead started trending, sending a jolt of panic through Cher fans worldwide. Thankfully those who did not suffer heart attacks were on hand to inform everyone that it was in fact Margaret Thatcher who had died.

The whole thing initially resembled the death of Michael Jackson. From the moment news broke the Twitter-sphere predictably exploded in a torrent of jokes, vitriolic remarks, and hash tags. Everyone spewing out their own addition to the list of puns so they could say “I thought of this first”, “Thatcher? More like Twatcher #awesome #impopularonline”.

Even in death Margaret Thatcher has managed to dramatically split opinion. Her life and political career has been both commended and criticised. Many of those on the critical side have however taken things to rather questionable levels.

Over the last few days many cities across the country have experienced people taking to the streets to celebrate the demise of the Iron Lady in so-called “death parties”. Participants chant along to the 1939 Judy Garland classic “Ding-dong the Witch is Dead” (causing utter confusion for those off to the cinema to catch Oz: The Great and Powerful) swigging from bottles of Prosecco or Adsa’s own Cava, depending on how they fared in the BBC’s Class Indication Quiz.a-reveller-holds-a-sign-to-celebrate-the-death-of-britains-former-prime-minister-margaret-thatcher-at-a-party-in-brixton-south-london-april-8-2013

If your local high street is not hosting a fun-filled Thatcher funeral extravaganza, fear not. Odes to Thatcher’s demise are everywhere. Yesterday as I walked past the local suspicious hippy shop I discovered that their window display, usually containing a shrine to the Russian feminist band “Pussy Riot”, had finally been replaced. The new exhibit included a poster exclaiming “Thatcher is Finally Dead!” adorned by a few empty bottles of champagne. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were against the death penalty. Surely if they were, celebrating someone’s death as if it symbolised their “just deserts” is somewhat contradictory.

Many people hold legitimate grievances with Thatcher’s policies. I’ve seen Billy Elliot and things didn’t seem great back then. Yet glorifying her death seems a rather childish form of criticism. While Thatcher’s death has brought her policies back into question in a big way simply coming to the conclusion that she was a “bitch” and a “whore” does not provide the nation with much to build on.

Maybe she was a bit of a bitch. She has been called it by countless people. Those in her own party, those in opposition, and citizens all across the country. These insults provide nothing new to the opinion there is of Margaret Thatcher. They do however provide something new to the opinion of those criticising her. Anyone who reacts to someone’s death by organising a street party so they can bellow slurs about the deceased to the Wizard of Oz soundtrack is not someone I want to know.

Assuming that everything is going to be a-okay now she is dead is short-sighted. Her policies and their effects will not be wiped away just because she is gone. People’s legacies can last longer than their lifespan. So it is probably best to re-cork that wine, pack up the party-poppers, and approach politics from a different angle.

¡Viva la Revolución!

Originally posted on The Daily Touch

As my third year of Politics at university began I started to feel as if I had not been as involved with the student political scene as I should have. As a 50 year old man who looks back on his life thinking “What do I have to show for my time on this earth?” decides to visit his nearest Porsche dealership, I decided to join a student protest.

The particular one I joined was around late November last year, rallying against further cuts across the country. It had been semi-hijacked by people calling for a stop to violence in the Gaza Strip, but telling them to go find their own angry mob seemed rude.

What first struck me about protesting was the intense anger generated by some. The Socialist Party in particular seemed to have drawn up an intriguing list of demands. Topping which appeared to be a call to “cut off the fucking Tories’ heads”. Whilst I have studied politics I am in no way an expert on the construction of political manifestos, but to me this seems unrealistic, problematic and messy.

Those calling for the removal of body parts were in a minority however. The majority had come to show their objection to increased tuition fees and further austerity cuts.

I was not disappointed once the rally started. Being part of a protest is a fantastic thing. You are one amongst a sea of thousands, with no-one particularly knowing where anyone is heading. It is the best way to understand the term “people power”. You are a people, and you feel powerful. Roads must be shut down to allow you to walk along them; you didn’t even need wheels, let alone a tax disc or number-plate. It took all I had to prevent myself from yelling “Fuck the police, no justice no peace!”

That said, the whole thing must have had the strength of papier-mâché, as once it began to rain people fell apart from the procession in damp clumps. We had already passed the Houses of Parliament and drifted into more suburban areas. Our performance had become something of a more private exhibition as there did not seem to be more than a few passers-by to demonstrate for. Those committed to the cause stayed with the parade through the oncoming storm, and those of a more fickle nature began to desert as we passed the odd café or pub.

We were among the first to go AWOL, diverging from the protest route after maybe the third drop of rain. Our shame must have inclined us to find a place far away from everyone, as by the time we finally entered a café we were sodden. Thankfully we were not the only cowards; within a few minutes around ten other students from the protest joined to share our guilt.

We crowded around one small table over mugs of coffee discussing how everything had been ruined by the weather, it all felt incredibly British. No one had much hope of change being brought about on account of our actions. It was more a rite of passage. To go through student life without complaining about the state of our own country and being a public nuisance while you do it was unacceptable.

I do not foresee ever joining a protest again, simply because I do not yet have a cause to rally under, but I would recommend every student tries it. Standing up against the government somewhere other than the seat at your computer or the family dinner table is an excellent feeling, weather permitting of course.

How Exactly Does One Pope?

Everyone knows what a Pope looks like: that killer smile, those beautiful Daz-white robes and that strange little hat. However, not everyone understands what exactly the point of him is. As the burning bush enlightened Moses, let me try and enlighten you as to what a Pope does.

He re-hydrates baby’s foreheads.

Just in time, this one was drying up.

Everyone knows that babies have notoriously dry foreheads. Their incessant crying results in the need for regular moisturising. Without this each successive tantrum will cause them to increasingly resemble a raisin. Unfortunately parents’ hectic schedules often just do not give them enough time in the day. Thankfully a combination of devout piety and copious amounts of holy-water means the pope is essentially a walking tub of Nivea cream.

He dresses to kill.

As the Pope is the figurehead of religious community numbering approximately 1.2 billion members he must be dressed appropriately. His dress sense typically resembles an advertisement for Persil washing-powder, not a single grass stain is to be seen on that beautiful robe and even his hair is as pure as the driven snow. This is all offset magnificently by an abundance of gold. Catholics do love their gold. In fact word has it both the Pope and Kanye West shop at the same jewellers.

He works crowds.

Pope Francis I held his first gig at St Peter’s square to a crowd of approximately 200,000 people. This guy has so much stage presence he can hold his gigs in Latin. Who the hell speaks Latin these days? People don’t care about understanding what it is he says, all they want is to catch a glimpse of his holiness. Move over Justin Bieber.

The new Papal range by D&G (Davidé and Goliáth).

He is pretty fly.

Not only has he got one sweet ride which allows him to gaze out upon his adoring fans, but he also has a personal workforce to cater to his every need. These include a team of nuns who cook and clean, a valet, two secretaries and a team of speechwriters. That is one lavish lifestyle.

He washes feet.

While he may have a small army to cook and clean for him, the Pope is not one to shy away from humility. Word came to Pope Francis I that some prisoners were suffering from dirty feet. With the speed of a biblical flood Pope Francis I snatched up his holy water and swept to their rescue. And before you all cry in disbelief: “surely tradition dictates that only lay-people may have their feet washed by the Pope, and even this may only take place within specific Basilicas inside Rome?!” Yes it does, but tradition is no excuse for below standard podiatry hygiene with this Pope. Good on him I say.