Tag Archives: Tories

The Year in Flags: A Review of 2012

30 Dec

Old GloriesSadly, this year, the American flag seems to have spent quite a lot of time at half-mast. In July, it was lowered for the victims of the Aurora shooting; in August, for the victims of the Oak Creek shooting; in September, for the victims of the attack in Libya; and now for the victims in Newtown. Flying the flag at half-mast symbolically honours those who died, but I can’t help thinking that preventing future tragedies might be a more meaningful tribute. Unfortunately, that would require big picture thinking—not always a popular choice as evidenced by this year’s Presidential election. Thankfully, the right man won, but enough voted for Romney to show that many Americans are confused by issues of class. “Middle class” seems to be interpreted as “not homeless” and ultra-rich means “me, not at the moment, of course, but any day now.” One’s actual lifestyle and the reality of how it and the country would be affected were inconsequential. A bit like what’s happening with the current debates on gun control. And on mental health care. And on who should have won The Voice.

Surely, there’s got to have been something positive in America over the last twelve months . . . let me think . . . oh yeah, more states and even the President spoke up in support of marriage equality. Oops, I forgot, it was that which directly led to shooting in Sandy Hook, right, Rev. James Dobson?

Union JacksCloser to home, though, things looked much cheerier: the Union Jack was flying all over the damn place. We waved the flag for the Queen’s Jubilee, for a successful London Olympics and for William’s good work in promptly impregnating the wife. Well done to us all!

Of course, the Tories still want to continue with their obviously-successful-so-far austerity cuts (after all, those Jubilee and Olympic celebrations don’t come cheap, you know), but luckily, this year the BBC taught us that if you close your eyes to the bad stuff, it goes away—never to return. So as long as you’re not young, old, unemployed, working or a Christian woman who wants to serve her church, 2012′s been champion for you!

Now, my dears, I know this sounds quite gloomy and doomy. (Perhaps I should have warned you in advance to delay reading until you’re sober, I apologise.) If you were expecting a bit of harmless fun, I’m afraid you may have confused me with black tar heroin. I’m all about the harsh truth, you know that, so put your seatbelt on, baby, because you’re about to get hit with the harshest truth of all: I’ve still got faith in humanity. You, yes, you, the one sitting on the chair, your continued commitment to keeping my books in circulation bettering yourselves and our world is proof that, despite the bad news, there is goodness out there, my friends.

So together let’s make next year a better one, yeah?

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Students—You Gotta Love And/Or Hate ‘Em

14 Nov

I always find myself in a bit of a sticky situation when discussing students and their financial woes, because I grew up in America, where they do everything bigger, including their student debt. This year there are more than 100 higher ed institutions in the US charging over $50,000 a year for tuition, fees and room and board (for those of you who failed your maths O-levels, that’s about £31,000). Fees vary, obviously, and also increase for out-of-state students. This total does not even factor in the required books and other supplies, VD treatment, bail money or legal fees for when students take professors to court for not giving them the grades they wanted. We’re talking big bucks here, people. Although financial aid and loans are available, the price is so high that a deal with the devil is often the only option. This explains why most US university students are soulless twats.

But English higher education has never been run in this way, so far be it from me to make a comment—as you know, I never speak on things on which I am not an expert on.

However, the protest raised one issue that affects all of us, and that is the issue of hypocrisy. Let’s take a hypothetical situation. Let’s say you have a country where three major political parties win most of the elections. Let’s say the third party, while admittedly holding far fewer seats than the other two, represents the possibility of change to much of the electorate: a belief that just maybe we could have a party in power whose policies were, I don’t know, let’s say, more “liberal” than the status quo of the two other parties, who seem to grow more and more like each other each year. Then through some odd twist of fate, the leader of that third party (just to keep the story simple I’ll give this character the name “Nick”), through some bizarre aligning of the stars, a global financial disaster and the scary smile of the incumbent, Nick somehow actually becomes Deputy Prime Minister. Hurrah! say the electorate, we are going to finally have a little bit of influence on the way things are run. This man, this Nick, he made promises—maybe even signed pledges—that if he were ever in power, he’d do right by us.

Then he didn’t.

Maybe we’d believe that this hypothetical Nick wanted to stop certain policies but just got outvoted. Maybe he would say, I have not abandoned my principles—I just don’t have enough power to overrule.

But imagine he didn’t say that. Imagine instead that he said, on reflection, he wasn’t being careful when he made the pledge, that now he knows he should have been promising the exact opposite of what he pledged. In fact, now that the older boys in the blue ties have explained everything to him, he actually reckons their ideas are more progressive than his party’s.

Now in my little story, I imagine quite a few of us would feel pretty cross at our Nick. Maybe cross enough even to, hypothetically of course, bust out a few windows and throw a few things around. It wouldn’t fix things and would probably lead to our arrests, but the anger itself would not be an inappropriate response.

Tens of thousands of students showing up at Millbank Tower Wednesday has had two important and hopefully long-lasting effects: 1. it proved that the younger generation is not apathetic and will speak up against hypocrisy and 2. because so many students were otherwise occupied, downloads of that lady’s gaga music dipped drastically. Both of these can only be good things.

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