Politics, Private schools, Teaching

Should private schools be taxed?

There is a new proposal by Labour to charge parents VAT on top of private school fees, to fund free school meals for primary school children at state schools. This has met both support and opposal…

Pros:

Many school children do not eat breakfast or lunch before or during school. This drastically affects their attention span and can result in the children becoming disruptive, lethargic and/or hyper. Although some children currently get school meals if their parents are on benefits, there are still a large number of families with employed parents but whom are still below the poverty line.

Furthermore, some people believe that richer people should use their wealth to help other, less fortunate people; and some private school parents have said they would not mind paying the tax if it would benefit poorer children.

Cons:

Firstly, many parents just barely have enough money to send their children to private schools as it is, and choose their children’s education over holidays or a bigger house or better car. The VAT would target middle-income families who may as a result be forced to send their children to state schools instead, putting additional pressure on state schools. This would drive state school class sizes up more than they already are.

One argument is that it is the parents’ responsibility to feed their children, not the state’s (or the taxpayer). Moreover, parents of private school children already pay taxes which contribute towards state education – which does not benefit their children in private education – on top of their own children’s school fees. This could be considered unfair.

To conclude, make of this proposal what you will. It may never be put into effect, but it is important to consider both sides before a decision is made.

Mental illness, Relationships, Teenagers, Uncategorized, Young people

Dating with mental illnesses

Having a mental illness is one of the hardest things a person can go through. But imagine watching the person you love most in the world having panic attacks, being depressed and/or anxious. How does someone deal with that?

Trust & Communication

Your partner may be closed off at times and find it difficult to trust you, and this can really hurt. You might be thinking, “why won’t they confide in me? I haven’t done anything for them not to trust me”, and this is understandable. Unfortunately, though, many people with mental illnesses feel like a burden on the people around them and/or are afraid of seeming attention seeking. It helps to regularly tell your partner that you love and care for them, that they can trust you and rely on you. Always make them feel like the relationship is a safe space for them to share any worries.

It is Not Your fault

You may feel like asking your partner, “why am I not enough to make you happy?” or be hurt that they feel anxious around you, but you have to remember that it’s not necessarily your fault – just find out if your partner has any particular triggers that you might set off unknowingly. Feelings of anxiety and depression happen regardless of how many people love the sufferer. Even if they are happy with you, they may not *be* happy in themselves.

Also keep in mind any outside triggers that they might have; for example, feeling particularly anxious in crowds – this could include cinemas, shopping centres and supermarkets. If they start to panic, do your best to get them out of the situation as quickly but as calmly as possible  (a bit like how they handle fire drills at school ; you want to get out quickly without panicking them more). You might have to explain to other people sometimes, too, and many people won’t understand. If your partner has anxiety they may want to avoid certain events, and though you should support them and be there for them, make sure you don’t isolate yourself in the process. Encourage, but don’t force them to go into social situations.

Take Care of You

Let them know, gently, if you are struggling, and what you need. Your needs are important too. You are allowed to be down sometimes as well, and allowed to lean on them for support. Remember you are not their therapist; you are not a professional and it is not your job to ‘cure’ them. You can merely make their illnesses easier to cope with and help them on their way to recovery.

Self Harm

It is heartbreaking if someone you love is harming themselves. Unfortunately, asking them to stop rarely ever works as it is addictive and your partner’s reasons for doing so may be deep-rooted. Try to remember that self harm is a coping mechanism; even if it is also harmful. Just try to support your partner, make sure they clean any wounds and encourage them to seek help from professionals. It may help you yourself to ask them why they self harm, to help you understand better. Is it a way of punishing theirself? Is it a way to show mental pain on the outside? Everyone self harms for different reasons, so don’t make assumptions. Additionally, there are many leaflets and helplines which offer support to the loved ones of those who self harm.

Learn Their Love Language

Different things make different people feel loved. Some people love being held when they feel down, while others don’t want to be touched at all when they feel that way. Ask your partner which they prefer, and try to respect that even if it hurts that they want to be left alone for a while. As for what to say when your partner is panicking, speak in a calm voice to try to relax them. Remind them that everything is going to be okay and they are not alone. If they are depressed, it is important that you make them feel wanted and needed as their self esteem could get extremely low; they could think you would be better off without them, for example. If you have a partner who has blacked out, just explain to them what happened and tell them they are safe now and nothing is wrong with them. Don’t feel bad if you sometimes get frustrated or don’t know what to do; the most important thing is just being there for them, even if you say nothing.

Nevertheless,  people with mental illnesses are often the most empathetic, kind people you will ever meet. They will stand by you through your hard times as you have with theirs. They may have mental illnesses, but there is also so much more to them and it is possible to have an incredible relationship even if one or both of you have mental health issues.

Samaritans UK: 08457 90 90 90 (24hrs a day)

Anxiety UK: 08444 775 774 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm)

Relate (relationship advice): 0300 100 1234 (for information on their services)

CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.

Website: www.thecalmzone.net

Depression Alliance

Website: www.depressionalliance.org

Men’s Health Forum 24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.

Website: www.menshealthforum.org.uk

Nightlife (emotional support to students -open all night)

Website: http://www.nightline.ac.uk

Men Heal – for all men who suffer from depression/anxiety worldwide, and for women who know a man with a mental health issue

Website: www.menheal.org.uk

Crisis Call Center
800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
Website: http://crisiscallcenter.org/crisis-services

Healthy eating

Healthy Eating Made Easy (ish)

Now, I am by no means a nutritionist or health expert, but I am trying (trying being the optimum word here) to become healthier myself and I thought I’d share some of my tips and tricks with others who might be trying to get a little healthier, as I know how hard it is. So here are some food swaps that might ease your cravings for less healthy options 😊 I hope this helps! Let me know if you’d like any more food/health related posts in the future.

Craving crisps?

Try peanuts instead!

There. Did my enthusiasm make that sound any more appealing?… Maybe not, but the saltiness you’re craving from crisps might be satiated by salted peanuts, cashew nuts or almonds. Another of my fave options are chilli coated peanuts like these: https://m.tesco.com/h5/groceries/r/www.tesco.com/groceries/product/details/default.aspx?id=265879153

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You could also try almond butter on oatcakes or brown bread. It takes a bit to get used to, but it’s pretty good.

Hate the taste of porridge but don’t want to add 50g of sugar?

Try putting fruit or jam on porridge so you add less sugar. You could also try adding cacao powder, which is unprocessed cocoa and also vegan. This makes it slightly chocolatey but still healthy, as cacao is rich in iron & potassium, extremely high in copper & magnesium and loaded with zinc. I know some people like putting almond butter on porridge too, but that’s not my cup of tea. Here’s a link to cacao powder from Holland & Barrett: http://www.hollandandbarrett.com/shop/product/naturya-organic-cacao-powder-60010234?skuid=010232&&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_adid=189474749514&utm_adgID=58700002322859892&gclid=Cj0KEQjwnPLKBRC-j7nt1b7OlZwBEiQAv8lMLLw1DrGRaSBWzHCZPtx4i3kw5VIT8UVDLnydk0E6TBgaAvjL8P8HAQ

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Can’t get enough of your carbs?

Honestly, baked goods are my weakness. I love me some toast, but for a while I’ve been having brown bread, rice and pasta instead of white. Two slices of white bread actually raises your blood sugar levels more than a chocolate bar! 😳 crazy, right?! Brown sugar is also better for you; or, if you want a healthier alternative to sugar you could try agave nectar, which is vegan and sold in all your local supermarkets. This one is from Tesco: https://m.tesco.com/h5/groceries/r/www.tesco.com/groceries/product/details/default.aspx?id=282060773

Craving chocolate?

Try having fruit/nut and chocolate shots instead of a chocolate bar – I like these ones from Whitworths: http://whitworths.co.uk/our-products/shots/

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Other options that are healthier than a chocolate bar include chocolate covered fruit and dark chocolate (I love the Lindt dark chocolate with orange).

Craving chips?

Have sweet potato fries! Chop up a sweet potato, shove it on an oven tray with a dash of olive oil for 20 minutes or so and bam! A healthy but delicious snack or side dish. You can also add a bit of paprika if you’re feeling wild. 😉 And if you’re feeling lazy, supermarkets sell pre-prepared sweet potato fries too. I hadn’t even tried sweet potatoes before about a year ago, and now I love them.

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Literally the easiest way to add more vitamins and minerals to your diet

Pop some seeds or superfoods into your cereal and smoothies. You can’t really taste them at all but they add loads of good vitamins and minerals. Some good ones include chia seeds, flax seeds and spirulina (some people who are pregnant or have PKU or autoimmune illnesses don’t react well to spirulina though, so check with your doctor first).

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Remember, the most important thing should not be losing weight, but being healthy and happy. These are just some tips I’ve found helpful, but I’m no expert. 😊 If you need more advice, see your doctor or a nutritionist for help.

Here is the number for Beat, an eating disorder helpline (UK): 0808 801 0677

Here is the number for Butterfly national helpline (Australia): 1800 33 4673

Here is the number for NEDA national helpline (USA): (800) 931-2237.

Education, General election, Politics, Teaching, Young people

Easy Politics ~ Nationalism

What is Nationalism?

Nationalism is broadly defined as the belief that the nation is the central principle of political organisation.

All forms of Nationalism contain the following key beliefs:

  • Humankind is naturally divided into distinct nations
  • The nation is the most appropriate, and perhaps only legitimate, unit of political rule
  • The nation is an organic community (this belief that nations are ancient and deep-rooted is called primordialism).

When did Nationalism originate?

The idea of Nationalism was born during the French revolution. Previous to this, countries had been thought of as “realms”, “principalities” or “kingdoms”, and the inhabitants called “subjects”. The closest they had to a political identity was their allegiance to a ruler or ruling dynasty, rather than any sense of national identity or patriotism (love for one’s country). This was changed when the revolutionaries in France rose up against Louis XVI in 1789 in the name of the people, or the ‘French nation’, rather than in the name of the Crown. Nationalism was, at this time, revolutionary and democratic.

What is a nation? Are there different types of Nationalism?

“A nation is a collection of people bound together by share values and traditions, a common language, religion and history, and usually occupying the same geographical area.” – Political Ideologies by Andrew Heywood.

Nationalism is sometimes said to he based on ethnic/racial criteria, but then what about people who move to a new country and gain citizenship? These differing beliefs mark the two main strands of Nationalism: inclusive civic nationalism aka multicultural liberalism, and exclusive ethnic nationalism aka conservative fascism.

There is also liberal nationalism, conservative nationalism, expansionist nationalism and anti-colonial and postcolonial nationalism.

Liberal Nationalism

– The oldest form of Nationalism, dating back to the French Revolution and embodying many of its values.

– Defence of popular sovereignty and the ‘general will’.

– Popular self-government + liberal principles = liberal nationalism.

– Came about because the multinational empires which nationalists fought against were autocratic and oppressive.

– The nationalist ideology was largely forged by applying liberal ideas, initially developed in relation to the individual, to the nation and to international policies.

– Liberalism was founded in defence of individual freedom, traditionally expressed in the language of rights. Nationalists believe nations to be sovereign entities (possessing supreme or ultimate power), entitled to liberty and also possessing rights, especially to the right of self-determination. Therefore, Liberal nationalism is a liberating force in the sense that:

1. It opposes all forms of foreign domination and oppression, whether by multinational empires or colonial powers.

2. It stands for the ideal of self-government, reflected in practice in a believe in representation and constitutionalism (a system in which government power is distributed and limited by a system of laws that the rulers must obey).

– Liberal nationalists believe in political democracy rather than autocracy; they believe that nations, like individuals, are equal and thus equally entitled to the right of self-determination.

– Liberals also believe that the principle of natural harmony applies to the nations of the world and not just to individuals. Widespread self-determination would establish a peaceful and stable world, which would then prevent wars as democratic nation-states would respect the sovereignty of their neighbours and have no incentive to initiate war or subjugate others. Free trade would also make the costs of war far too great. For a liberal, nationalism does not divide nations from one another; it is a force capable of promoting unity.

– The ultimate goal of liberal nationalism is the construction of a world of independent nation-states (a sovereign political association within which citizenship and nationality overlap; one nation within a single state), not just the unification or independence of a particular nation.

Conservative Nationalism e.g. Margaret Thatcher

– Believe that nationalism is a natural ally to maintain social order and defending traditional institutions like the army and the monarchy.

– Social cohesion and public order (fuelled by patriotism) are more important than self-determination.

– Believe that society is organic, therefore nations emerge naturally from humans wanting to live with other people who share their views, habits and appearance. They seek security and meaning.

– Some conservative nationalists believe that nationalism is the solution to social revolution, as the nation includes the working class.

– Believe that military victories are defining moments of a nation’s history. Traditional institutions like the monarchy are also used as symbols of national identity (e.g. national anthem is God Save the Queen).

– Conservative nationalism is particularly popular when the sense of national identity is felt to be threatened by issues such as immigration and supranationalism (national/global bodies imposing laws on countries, for example the European Union), because there is a belief that cultural diversity leads to instability and conflict – this stems from the idea that stable and successful societies must be based in shared values and a common culture.

Expansionist Nationalism 

– Expansionist nationalism is an extreme form of nationalism.

– Belief that national pride is linked to the possession of an empire.

– Nations are not equal in their right to self-determination; some are superior to others due to ethnic or cultural purity.

– Expansionist nationalism is the aggressive form of nationalism which was taken on by the “white” people of Europe and America in the late 19th Century (in the conquest of Africa) and by Germany in the early 20th Century.

– Individuals and independent groups are less important than the all powerful nation.

– Feeds from the portrayal of another nation or race as a threat or an enemy, as the nation draws together and experiences an intensified sense of its own identity and importance.

– Belief that developed countries have a duty to less developed countries to bring aspects of civilisation to them.

– Military glory and conquest are the ultimate evidence of national greatness; the civilian population is militarised, absolutely loyal and dedicated and willing to sacrifice theirself for their nation – this makes this type of Nationalism emotional rather than rational, as all sense of Self is lost. When the honour or integrity of the nation is in question, the lives of ordinary citizens become unimportant.

– International anarchy

Anti-Colonial and Post-Colonial Nationalism

– The experience of colonial rule helped the citizens of Asia and Africa to forge a sense of nationhood and a desire for national liberation.

– Many of the leaders of the nationalist movements in Africa and Asia were inspired by the governing powers in Europe and the ideas of liberal nationalism. They became aware that they were less economically advanced and were attracted to socialism as they sought both economic and political liberation.

– Socialism embodies the ideals of cooperation and community which already existed in African and Asian countries. It also provided insight on inequality and exploitation which they could relate to, as they saw colonialism as equivalent to the class struggle spoken about by those such as Karl Marx.

– Socialism became an appeal to a unifying national interest. African socialism was based not on Soviet style state socialism but on traditional communitarian values and the desire to lessen tribal rivalry in lieu of economic progress.

What do other ideologies think about the nation?

Socialists regard the nation as an artificial division of humans, used to disguise social injustice and solidify the established order. Socialism should be international and inclusive.

Anarchists do not accept the state or the nation as a concept, as it is another system of oppression designed to promote obedience and subjugation in the interests of the ruling elite. (Find out more by keeping an eye out for my upcoming post on Anarchism 😋)

Liberals places much emphasis on political allegiance as on cultural unity. Nations are moral entities in the sense that they are endowed with rights, notably an equal right to self-determination (define).

Conservatives regard the nation as an “oeganic’ entity, bound together by a common ethnic identity and shared history. As the source of social cohesion and collective identity, the nation us perhaps the most politically significant of social groups.

Fascists view the nation as an organically unified social whole, often designed by race, which gives purpose and meaning to individual existence. However, nations are pitted against each other in a struggle for survival.

Fundamentalists regard nations as, in essence, religious entities: communities of ‘believers’.

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Let’s be honest though, the only way you can be truly British is by loving tea and Doctor Who, and believing that Emma Watson is a national treasure.

General election, Politics, Uncategorized, Young people

Easy Politics ~ Socialism

Welcome to episode 3 of Easy Politics 😊 This one is on Socialism; if you haven’t checked out my other two already (on Liberalism and Conservatism) then please do so, and follow so you can see when a new episode is added.

What is socialism?

The core values of socialism are the following:

  • Equality (equal rights, equality of opportunity, equality of outcome, absolute equality and equality of welfare)
  • Social justice (dislikes that capitalism does not reward people equally depending on their worth e.g. Footballers earn more than doctors)
  • Collectivism (people prefer to achieve goals collectively rather than independently; actions taken by organised groups are more likely to be effective than individuals working alone)
  • Common ownership (private property is unnatural and a result of the pursuit of self interest; common ownership would alleviate most/all of the evils of modern society).

Socialism proposes that humans are naturally sociable, prefer to achieve goals collectively rather than individually and are content to cooperate with others to serve the common good. It also asserts that people are of equal worth and should therefore have equal rights and equal opportunities. Extreme examples of socialism argue for total economic and social equality and common ownership of all means of production, whereas more moderate forms accept less than full equality in lieu of various ideas of social justice and partial common ownership of property. Modern socialists have accepted a variety of compromises between the pursuit of individual goals and the collective provision of welfare.

When did socialism originate?

There are many examples of small scale experiments in socialism in Europe’s history, but the English Levellers mounted one of the first attempts at organised socialism during the civil war of the 1640s. They set up a self governing community, working land together and sharing out its produce equally.

Are there different types of socialism?

Yes. The main strands of socialism are democratic socialism (evolutionary) and Marxism (revolutionary). Democratic socialists believe that socialism should be achieved by gradual, subtle changes; capitalism should be adjusted, not abolished. Marxists, on the other hand, believe that socialism should be achieved through a revolution of the working classes, abolishing capitalism so that society can be rebuilt from scratch without classes, private property or capitalism.

Social democracy/fundamentalism

Social democracy is based around the idea of fair distribution of wealth in society, which is achieved by social justice. Social democracy is centrist, which means that it takes the social policies from the left wing and combines it with the capitalist policies of the right. Thus, social democracy recognises that capitalism isn’t going away anytime soon, and so aims to humanise and reform it.

View on community and cooperation: There should be some collective enterprises e.g. nationalisation of selected industries, welfare state etc. Capitalism should be allowed to continue as a method of creating wealth, but controlled by the state to prevent the system being abused. The profits made should be used to promote social justice.

View on equality: There could be relative social equality through the redistribution of wealth e.g. welfare state and progressive taxation. Their goal is the eradication of poverty as this is central to needs satisfaction. Relative social equality is where everybody is equal (wealth, opportunity etc) in relation to the rest of the population.

View on class politics: Class is about the income and status differences between the upper and lower classes. The division can be narrowed by social and economic intervention.

View on common ownership: Originally, most Social Democrats believed that the state has a role through which wealth could be collectively owned and the economy could be rationally planned, but not all Social Democrats now believe this. Modern Social Democrats tend to be more interested in social justice than the ‘politics of ownership’.

View on capitalism: Capitalism is the only reliable means of generating wealth; socialism includes capitalism. Capitalism is currently a morally defective and ineffective way of distributing wealth, causing structural inequality and poverty, but this could be rectified by the state. Social Democrats recognise that humans are motivated by economic as well as moral incentives, thus capitalism should be tamed rather than abolished.

Marxism/communism 

Marxists believe that absolute social equality can be achieved by the abolition of private property and capitalism in general. In its place would be collectivisation (the government seizes all land and everything produced, and then redistributes it equally).

View on community and cooperation: Collectivism should be championed through abolishing (getting rid of) capitalism. They ultimately believe in Stalinist collectivisation (i.e seizing all private property at once, so that there is state/public/common ownership). They believe this would end the class struggle and solve the issue of over production, as people would have only what they needed.

View on equality: “To each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” There should be absolute social equality by the abolition of private property and collectivisation.

View on class politics: Class is the deepest and most significant social division; it is an irreconcilable conflict. Class is linked to economic power through each class’s relationship to the means of production i.e. the upper classes own the produce, the lower classes make it. Workers should be allowed to keep the products of their labour, be creative and fulfilled in their work. Marxists believe that there will be a class war/revolution where the Bourgeoisie (upper classes) will be overthrown and a classless society will result. Marx and Engels envisaged a proletarian revolution (the class-conscious masses would rise up and overthrow capitalism), whereas Blanqui proposed that there would instead be a small group of dedicated conspirators who would plan and carry out the revolutionary seizure of power.

View on capitalism: Capitalism is a system of class oppression, based on class conflict and exploitation: capitalist profit comes from the exploitation of the surplus value of workers. Marx claimed it would bring “stagnation, immigration and unemployment”.

View on common ownership: Private property will be abolished; the state will control and direct economic life, governing in the interests of the people (Lenin and the Bolsheviks). Everything will be nationalised e.g. railways. Alternatively, there could be small scale self governing communities (Bakunin and anarchists).

What do socialists aim to achieve?

1. Community

  • Humans are social creatures; we overcome social and economic problems by community
  • Human nature is fixed at birth; we are all born equal; what we become is dependent on our experiences (nurture not nature)
  • Individuals are inseparable from society (interestingly, Margaret Thatcher had this belief too)
  • Humans have great potential to become something if society allows it – this is a utopian idea.

2. Cooperation

  • Humans are naturally cooperative, not competitive (competition encourages people to deny their human nature and therefore become selfish and aggressive). Cooperation reflects the belief that humans are motivated to moral and economic incentives.
  • The state should promote collective interests e.g. the welfare state, nationalisation, taxation etc.

3. Equality

  • Inequality is the result of an unequal society. We are not born equally able but most inequalities are produced by society, not nature. Justice demands that people are treated equally; legal equality is not enough because it ignores structural inequalities in a capitalist society. Equality of opportunity legitimises inequality.
  • Social equality underpins community and cooperation: if people live in equal circumstances, they are more likely to identify with eachother and work for common benefit, therefore equality strengthens social solidarity while inequality leads to conflict and instability. Equality of opportunity leads to survival of the fittest.
  • “Needs satisfaction” is the basis of human fulfilment and self realisation. Need = necessity, so basic needs such as food, water and shelter are necessary. People have similar needs, so this makes distributing wealth pretty easy.

4. Class politics

  • Socialists believe that humans tend to think and act together with others sharing the same economic position/interest.
  • Socialism can be achieved by the working classes rising up against the upper classes (often called the Bourgeoisie).
  • Social class is not permanent; their aim is to create classless societies or societies where class inequalities are substantially reduced.

5. Common ownership

  • Competition and inequality are the result of private property. Private property is unjust as wealth is produced by collective effort, not individuals; it encourages materialism and is morally corrupting (rich want more, poor long to acquire it); and it is divisive, creating conflict between owners and workers, employers and employees, and rich and poor.
  • Private property should be abolished or the right to it balanced against the interests of the community.

Is there a Social Democrat Party in the UK?

There is still a Social Democrat party, but as of 2016 it  only has a few elected councillors and no parliamentarians. It was originally formed in 1981 by a group of Labour MPs who disagreed with the official Labour party’s policies at the time. This party merged with the Liberal party in 1988 to form the Liberal Democrats but some others formed a breakaway group immediately after with the same name. That party dissolved itself in 1990, but some activists met and voted to continue the party in defiance of its National Executive, leading to the creation of a new Social Democratic Party. If you identify as a Social Democrat, your best bet would be voting for either Labour or the Liberal Democrats, depending on whose policies you agree with more. Just make sure you vote on the 8th June, whoever it is for!

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Thank you all for reading! Come back this time next week to read my next post 🙂 please like, share and follow if you enjoyed this.

Education, General election, Politics, Uncategorized, Young people

Easy Politics ~ Conservatism

Hey guys! Welcome to the second installment of my new series, “Easy Politics”. As you can tell from the title, this one is all about Conservatism as an ideology. I hope you enjoy, and learn something new. And don’t forget to check out my post on Liberalism if you haven’t already!

What is Conservatism?

The core values of Conservatism are the following:

  • Tradition and preservation (Tradition reflects the accumulated wisdom of the past, also creates social cohesion and a feeling of rootedness by linking people to the past and providing them with a sense of identity. Change is uncertain and to be feared, whereas established customs are familiar and reassuring).
  • Human nature (Conservatives have a negative view of human nature; they believe we are psychologically limited and dependent creatures and we should sacrifice liberty to ensure social order; our only incentive to abide by the law is to have strict laws in place).
  • Order (without order, we would have an unpleasantly short life. Control is crucial and there is a necessity for order to maintain institutions. We wouldn’t have hierarchy and structure of government without order – there would be revolution otherwise).
  • Hierarchy (society is naturally hierarchical, characterised by fixed social classes. Social equality is undesirable and unachievable – talent and leadership qualities are unequally distributed and cannot be acquired through self-advancement).
  • Pragmatism aka practicality (any change should be sensible and gradual.)
  • Individualism (Clear distinction between private and public spheres. Best environment for individualism is state of control – a nomocratic (ruled by law) society. Humans are security-seeking creatures. Individual cannot be separated from society, but is part of the social groups that nurture him or her – negative freedom results in the individual suffering from anomie (weakening of values and normative rules – associated with feelings of isolation)
  • Property (Provides security – ownership gives people a sense of confidence and assurance. Those who possess property are also more likely to respect other peoples’ property, thus maintaining law and order. They also believe that property can be an extension of an individual’s personality. Why burglary is so frowned upon – individuals feel personally violated – home is personal and intimate).

Conservatives tend to want less state interference – low taxes etc. They like the status quo to be maintained rather than any radical change. They usually want to maintain tradition and institutions like the monarchy; they look to the past as a guide. They want the individual to flourish in terms of pursuing goals and achieving fulfillment (much like classic liberals). Conservatives also want good social order and security even if that is at the expense of freedom, rights and equality.

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When did Conservatism originate?

Conservatism began more as a response to other ideologies than as an ideology itself. Before the late 1700s, and the Enlightenment period, there weren’t really any true ideological movements for Conservatism to react against, thus this could be considered the dawn of Conservatism. People were challenging long-held beliefs affecting religion, ethics, politics, the physical sciences, mathematics, the arts and architecture. In the 19th and early 20th century,  Conservatism was associated with class interest aka as the Industrial Revolution gathered pace and the economics power of the new capitalist middle glasses grew, the “landed classes” (those whose wealth was inherited) found themselves threatened and wanted to ‘conserve’ the interests of their class.

Does being a conservative mean you have to support the Conservative party?

No. For a traditional Conservative, the Conservative Party’s values may seem too left wing (welfare state etc) and for One-Nation Conservatives, their left wing policies may not go far enough. Similarly, nationalists may agree with the Conservative Party’s policies on leaving the EU etc (follow my blog so you can read my post on Nationalism and find out if you are a nationalist!), and some classic Liberals may vote Conservative for their want for less control over the individual and lower taxes.

Are there different types of Conservatism?

Yes.  The main types are Traditional, Liberal New Right (Neoliberalism), Conservative New Right (Neoconservatism) and One Nation Conservatism. Here are some of their core beliefs and values.

Traditional Conservatism:

– Change is natural and inevitable (the French revolution being an example) and should not be resisted: “change in order to conserve”

– Change should be cautious, modest and pragmatic, drawn from a suspicion of fixed principles whether revolutionary or reactionary.

– Pragmatic conservatives support neither the state nor individual, but are prepared to support either, or both…depending on ‘what works’.

– There should be tough laws in place to discourage criminal behaviour

– They believe in an organic society – people cannot exist outside of society; they need to be nurtured and protected.

– Institutions such as the monarchy, the House of Lords and the Church should be protected (strong respect for tradition)

– Individuals should be left to make their own mistakes – they are anti welfare state for fear that it would weaken people’s values

Liberal New Right Conservatism/Neoliberalism:

– Radical change is better than gradual reform

– Stand for independence of mind and thought free from obligation to any authority

– Tax = legalised theft

– The fact that something exists and has done for a long time is no ground for respecting/keeping it (disrespect for institutions and tradition)

– Free market economics because government intervention causes economic problems

– Universal human rights (commitment to individual liberty and freedom)

– Anti welfare state (cut public spending) because it leads to a culture of dependency

– Privatisation increases quality.  Nationalised industries are inefficient

– Support a liberal view of property

New Right Conservatism/Neoconservatism:

– Increase social discipline, authority and leadership

– Anti globalisation and anti immigration

– Belief in a natural hierarchy in society

– Belief in the patriarchy and traditional family values (the man is the leader of the household)

– Let people have freedom of action – anti welfare

– Classic liberal economics + traditional social theory (defence of order, authority and discipline)

– New Right attempts to fuse economic libertarianism with state and social authoritarianism.

One Nation Conservatism:

– We need to reform or there will be revolution: revolution ensures stability. The purpose of one-nationism is simply to consolidate hierarchy, and its wish to improve the conditions of the less well-off is limited to the desire to ensure that the poor no longer pose a threat to the established order

– Progress must be pragmatic, careful, respectful of past practices

Feudal principle: the rich have a duty of care to the poor; on Nation Conservatives are pro welfare because of the organic conservative belief that society is held together by an acceptance of duty and obligations. Society is naturally hierarchical, but also inequalities of wealth and social privilege give rise to an inequality of responsibilities. Wealthy and powerful people must shoulder the burden of social responsibility – this is the price of privilege.

Keynsian economics: we need full employment and enlarged welfare provision

– One Nation Conservatism is a middle way between classic Liberalism and socialism; “planned capitalism” – a mixed system which combines state ownership, regulation of certain aspects of economic activity with the drive and initiative of private enterprise.

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Stay tuned for my next blog post, and be sure to follow so you are notified when I release a new post 😊 requests are welcome.

Politics, University

Easy Politics ~ Liberalism

Whether you are studying politics and want some help with revising, or you are just interested in politics and want to learn more, this is the place for you. This is going to be a new weekly feature on my blog where I do a summary of different political topics such as ideologies, elections, pressure groups etc. My first one is on Liberalism, so do give me feedback so I can improve this series!

What is Liberalism?

Liberalism is an ideology which centres around a few core values:

  • Freedom/liberty (freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion etc)
  • Tolerance (the state should tolerate all beliefs and activities which do not harm the security or integrity of the state, and do not harm anyone)
  • Equality (equality of opportunity is mainly promoted through universal education and universal healthcare, but it also applies to class differences, gender issues and ethnic diversity. Some Liberals also believe in Natural Rights, which John Locke said were our rights to life, liberty and property. Liberals believe that all individuals are born equal, in terms of two equal rights, namely “legal equality” and “political equality”. However, as people have different talents or abilities, liberals are devoted to provide equal opportunities for everyone to realize their uneven potential.
  • Individualism (human beings are individuals, rather than subjected to any collectivity. Therefore, liberals aim at constructing a society in which individuals are provided the freedom to pursue his or her own good or happiness. Classic liberals believe that humans are self-serving and self-reliant, whereas modern liberals have a more optimistic view.)
  • Justice (legal justice consists of the equal application of the law to ALL citizens. Classic and Modern Liberals have different stances on the issue of social justice.)
  • Reason (we are born free, rational individuals, who are the best judges of our own interests.)
  • Constitutionalism (the state should be limited and held accountable to the people to prevent it from becoming tyrannical.)

Liberals believe that humans are, first and foremost, individuals. They also believe us to be reasonable creatures – though not perfect. As reasonable individuals, we should enjoy the maximum possible freedom and should be entitled to legal and political rights. These rights should be ensured by constitutionalism (states and governments should be controlled by a binding constitution which limits their powers and protects the rights if individuals) and consent. We should also be rewarded for hard work and/or merit.

Where did Liberalism originate?

The roots of Liberalism began in the 1600s-1700s, round about the time of the Renaissance and Reformation. The feudal system (the system where peasants were given land in return for serving a lord or monarch, and were expected to perform various duties in return for their own land) was breaking down and people began to think that the wealth and power of nobles was merely an “accident of birth”, whilst before kings and queens were believed to be “chosen by God”. People wanted to own their own land and be free.

So, you’re talking about the Lib Dems?

No, not exactly. The reason the Lib Dems have the word “Liberal” in their name is because the Lib Dems originated from the fusion of the Liberal party and the Social Democrat party. The Lib Dems may have policies which are slightly conservative, slightly socialist, etc, and this often depends on who their leader is but each member will have their own beliefs and ideas. Liberalism is just an ideology which people can draw their beliefs from.

Are there different types of Liberalism?

Yes. The two main types of Liberalism are Classic Liberalism and Modern Liberalism, and they are very different.

Classic liberals generally believe that the state is a “necessary evil” and should not interfere with the personal lives of its subjects, as individuals know what is best for them to make them flourish. The state should only provide protection (from each other, from other nations and from the accumulation of economic and political power). The state should be in the hands of a representative democracy. They believe there should be a free market economy (a market economy based on supply and demand with little or no government control) except where monopolies are developed; they do not believe in having a welfare state, because “Heaven helps those who helps themselves.” This system of meritocracy (people selected according to merit) ensures social justice.

On the other hand, modern liberals believe that the state has a responsibility to help people who cannot help themselves, aka the state should get involved in the economic and social lives of its subjects. This liberal thought led to the birth of the welfare state. Modern liberals believe in using economic management to rectify the inequality caused by capitalism and social prejudices.  They believe that the minimum position in society should be raised (for example through having a higher minimum wage) and taxes should be used to level the playing field via the ‘trickle down effect’ – the amount of tax you pay depending on how much you earn, so that richer people pay more and poorer people pay less so in the end we all have the same amount of money.

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I hope you enjoyed this post! Don’t forget to like, follow and comment if you did, and keep an eye out for my future “Easy Politics” posts. 🙂 I’ll be writing about other topics too though.

Politics, Teenagers, Young people

Political Promises ~ A Guide to the 2017 Manifestos

Although the official Conservative manifesto isn’t due to be released until the 8th May, and the Labour manifesto on the 15th May, the main parties have all made announcements concerning their election promises. These might help you decide who to vote for, so here they are:

Labour

Labour seems to be focusing most of their manifesto promises on the NHS – reportedly the most important election issue for 63% of voters.

Conservatives

Out of all the main parties, the Conservatives have been the most secretive about the contents of their manifesto. However, they have made a few announcements on the subject. They have promised:

Others have speculated that the following will also be included in the manifesto:

  • Scrapping the HS2 high speed rail link project
  • Some kind of “long term solution” to the social care crisis (though Theresa May hasn’t specified what exactly this solution is)
  • Protecting the current police budget
  • Aims to increase the number of grammar schools

The Conservatives seem pretty confident that they will achieve a majority in this election, which 1/3 of the country agree with (hence why Theresa May called it in the first place); so I believe they are relying mostly on what they have done over their last few years in power to land them a victory. We will know more once their manifesto is released. (Also, I am going to write a blog post tracking the parties’ popularity in the opinion poles, so follow my blog if you want to be notified when that’s up.)

Liberal Democrats 

  • A second referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal

Other possible inclusions in the manifesto:

  • A hypothecated tax (dedication of the revenue from a specific tax for a particular expenditure purpose) to pay for the NHS and social care
  • An increase in the threshold at which students pay back tuition fee loans (good news for those of you at uni)
  • Tim Farron (leader of the Lib Dems) has also ruled out a coalition deal with both the Conservatives and Labour

The Green Party 

  • A ‘ratification referendum’ on the terms of the Brexit deal – with an option to remain in the EU
  • Scrapping tuition fees and bringing back maintenance grants
  • Continuing the Erasmus student exchange programme after Brexit
  • Pledging to maintain equivalent funding for Universities losing cash from the EU

It is clear from this that the Green Party is focusing a lot on education, but not so much on the issues of the NHS, immigration etc.

UKIP

  • A ban on full face coverings
  • An explicit ban on the practice of Sharia Law
  • Abolition of postal voting for most electors
  • Making a difference in race an aggravating factor in grooming offences
  • A moratorium (temporary ban) on new Islamic faith schools
  • Mandatory reporting of Female Genital Mutilation
  • Mandatory annual medical checks for girls “at risk” of Female Genital Mutilation
  • ‘Presumption of prosecution’ of any parent whose daughter has suffered FGM, which is already the law
  • A £10 billion a year cut in the foreign aid budget

Of course, do your own research before the election in June. I recommend the website http://uk.isidewith.com/political-quiz to help you decide who to vote for.  I hope this helped or just was interesting!

Register to vote here by the 22nd May: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Remember, young people’s votes count so much! The political parties implement policies that will draw in the most voters, so if young people don’t vote… Parties won’t create laws which are in our best interests. The general election is on the 8th June 2017.

Advice, Apprenticeships, Education, Teenagers, University, Young people

Uni Vs. Apprenticeships

Most schools and colleges act as though the only option post-school is university. And who can blame them? Apprenticeships are only for things like carpentry and hairdressing, right? Wrong.

Although degrees are extremely useful and respected by employers, something that is equally – if not more – important, is experience. With university + social life taking up most hours out of the week, a lot of university students don’t have time or energy for a job, therefore they leave uni at minimum age 21 with a degree but little/no experience. This often leads to them starting off at the bottom of the pile all over again. On top of this, they are left in thousands of pounds of debt from their student loans.

Now, this is not at all to put anyone off going to uni; it is a fantastic experience and extremely valuable, and necessary for certain careers. However, it is not for everyone, and it is certainly not the only way to get a qualification.

Apprenticeships have advanced a lot in recent years, with a lot of money now being put into them, and you can now get a degree from them – on top of the experience you get! And there are apprenticeships in almost every career out there: accounting, journalism, business, marketing, law, education etc.

In addition, as most apprenticeships are only a year long – unless you get offered a job at the end – you could still go to university afterwards. Apprenticeships are a good way of seeing if that career is right for you and getting experience which would look good on your personal statement, especially if you have never studied a subject close to the career you want to go in to (e.g. marketing, which you can’t study in school or college). Universities like to see that you have done something which shows you are passionate about the subject you will be studying. Moreover, for someone who is uncertain of the career they want to go into, the average £40,000 cost of 3 years of university (for tuition and maintenance fees combined) is an exorbitant amount of money; there is no point in spending that much money “just because”. Apprenticeships also suit people who prefer to learn by doing, rather than by theoretical learning.

And you get paid, instead of ending up in more debt! Granted, the minimum wage for apprenticeships is only £3.50 an hour for the first year, but they are also paying for your qualification, and some companies pay a fair bit more than the minimum. It’s also a good way to save up a bit before going to uni. You could earn up to £10,000 per year instead of spending £9000 a year on tuition.

How apprenticeships work:

Technically, in an apprenticeship you will have a job. You will have an interview and work for the company as any other employee. However, it is slightly different as on either 2 days a week, or in a block of a few weeks, you will go to a college or education centre to learn your qualification, which will link in with what you are doing at work. Your employer won’t expect you to know everything at first, but they are there to support you. According to QA Apprenticeships’ research, 94% of those who do apprenticeships though QA go on to have a full time job once the apprenticeship is finished, and 100% are satisfied with their job.

Whatever you choose to do post-college, it is important to know all of your options and not be rushed or pressured into a decision by family/friends/societal expectations.

Here is a link to the government website with a list of all possible apprenticeships at all different skill levels: https://www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsearch

Here are some apprenticeship providers:

QA Apprenticeships: http://apprenticeships.qa.com/

AIM Apprenticeships: http://www.aimapprenticeships.co.uk

3AAA: https://3aaa.co.uk/

Here is another good post on the topic:

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/66040468/posts/1851

Don’t forgot to follow my blog if you enjoyed this post!

Eating disorders, Feminism, Mental illness

Why doesn’t anybody care about men?

In 2013, 6,233 suicides were recorded in the UK for people aged 15 and older. Of these, 78% were male and 22% were female. (source: the Scottish Health Survey, 2013 edition)

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence estimates around 11% of those affected by an eating disorder are male. However, recent research from the NHS information centre showed that up to 6.4% of adults displayed signs of an eating disorder (Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, 2007). This research suggests that up to 25% of those showing signs of an eating disorder were male.

So why do men get the least help?

The truth is, many men are afraid or ashamed to ask for help because they are stigmatised by society. People think that the patriarchy only negatively affects women, but it targets men too as they expected to be masculine and unemotional. This begins right in childhood when a boy is told to “man up” and not cry if he falls and hurts himself, whereas a little girl will be cuddled and comforted. Men are encouraged to take on more and more: have six packs, drive a nice car, have a great job – all piling on the stress and increasing the likelihood of mental illness. Bottling up all these emotions also can make men lash out and expose their emotions via violence rather than by crying, and this is often praised as being manly.

A Samaritans study found that just 19% of men felt comfortable sharing their problems with other people, despite saying that they would be happy to listen to other people’s problems. This is the issue; men are told to always be the listeners – told that women love talking about themselves and to always ask about their day and their problems. But a man who treats their partner well, should receive equal treatment. Ladies reading this, create a safe place for your male friend or boyfriend or brother or son to come to you with their problems; don’t pester them with it but tell them that the option is there.

Although more women are reportedly abused than men, this presumes that all men who are abused, report it. However, this is not the case. Even if more men did report abuse, there is a severe lack of refuges for male domestic abuse victims, especially those with children that also need refuge. (In a recent research project 90% of men who called a domestic abuse helpline said their main reason for staying with their abusive partner was their concern for their children). AMEN is the only domestic abuse resource in Ireland for men.

Additionally, abuse of men is normalised by the media; too many films show scenes where a woman is being emotionally or physically abusive to a man and it isn’t taken seriously. This makes the situation worse as it could mean some men might not even realise they are being abused. Abuse can occur in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, and should be taken seriously whether the perpetrator is male, female or other.

Nevertheless, the situation for men is getting better as more and more people realise that there is a severe lack of help for men who are victims of abuse or mental illnesses. I have left below a selection of numbers and websites which might help. Please share this if you know a man who might benefit from this.

Men Heal – for all men who suffer from depression/anxiety worldwide, and for women who know a man with a mental health issue

Website: www.menheal.org.uk

CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.

Website: www.thecalmzone.net

Depression Alliance

Website: www.depressionalliance.org

Men’s Health Forum 24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.

Website: www.menshealthforum.org.uk

Suffragents

Website: http://www.suffragents.org.uk

Refuge

Website: http://www.refuge.org.uk

Mankind Initiative: 01823 334244

Samaritans UK: 08457 90 90 90 (24hrs a day)