Month: July 2014

#PrayforGaza

For the last few weeks, there has been constant media attention on the current conflict in Gaza. With new pictures of injured children, families and people’s homes and livelihoods continuously being destroyed, it seems achieving world peace is still a distant dream. I’ve had a lot of people ask me how the whole conflict began and to be honest, there isn’t a straight answer. Here’s why…

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict dates back to 1948 with the formation of Israel which resulted in the mass expulsion of Palestinians in order to create the Jewish state. It was required so that many Jews who were persecuted during the Holocaust could have a place called home, but at the expense of Palestinians who still to this day remain stateless (for all you Politics students, you might remember studying this under Nationalism). There has been many criticisms towards the British government who intervened and gave the Palestinians’ state to the Jews. A bit like America with Native American land, if you are familiar with American history. This concerns the people of Gaza because a majority of Gaza’s residents are descendants of those who were expelled from Palestine in 1948.

We can also date the conflict back to the 1990s when the Gaza strip was still occupied by Israel and encouraged the rise of what became Hamas, a resistance movement as the Israeli’s hoped to weaken secular Palestinian liberation groups. But who started the recent conflicts? Israel says Hamas due to rockets which had been fired by the group and their breaking of the ceasefire agreed in November 2012. Hamas on the other hand have said their resumption of rocket fire was a response to the mass arrests of hundreds of Hamas members. On June 16, four rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza and were detonated safely. During a search for missing teenagers, six Palestinians were killed by Israel forces and in response, 40 rockets were fired. As you can see, this quickly spiralled into a circle of conflict – when the bodies of the teenagers were discovered on 30 June, Israel launched 34 attacks on Gaza and as a result of this back and forth warfare, it is innocent civilians who are paying the price.

Gaza under attack: Innocent civilians are caught amongst rockets fired

Why the worldwide uproar? Well the obvious reason being because of the hundreds of lives that have been lost. There was a brief ceasefire but it soon collapsed, renewing the mass murders of innocent children, men and women. With the little time Gaza residents have to leave their homes to avoid being hit by rockets, it is close to being a genocide. Israel has one of the best military defence systems in the world so are their actions necessary? What are they REALLY defending themselves from?

The uproar also goes as far as media representation, particularly BBC  coverage of the conflict. Since the recent atrocities began, the BBC has been accused of bias coverage, portraying Israel as the victims when the death toll in Gaza increases by the second. In response to this, many in support of the Palestinians have boycotted the BBC and have also written to the corporation to express their concerns. Despite being mass rallies, the BBC has failed to present this in their news coverage, stating “Many of our programs focused on detailed reporting and analysis of the latest developments in the Gaza conflict rather than a protest about our reporting.”

In terms of the conflict, it is evident that both sides are attempting to pursue their interests with the resources that are available to them, in order to stop the continuous loss of innocent lives, but at the sane time, it’s creating a never-ending cycle of violence. The underlying issue here is the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but with a ceasefire looking unlikely, the violence and endless attacks on innocent civilians continues. #PrayforGaza

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Clegg changed his mind like a girl changes clothes

This week, Deputy PM Nick Clegg changed his position on the Bedroom Tax, stating on his #CallClegg LBC radio show that “when something isn’t working the way we hoped, we should fix it”. A bit late aren’t you Clegg? However, this is no surprise as back in 2010, one of Mr Clegg’s election promises was to decrease tuition fees but as soon as the coalition was formed, he signed the agreement to increase them. I must say, he does make a habit of going back on his word. Hypocrisy some may call it… despite his apology *cringe*

But what exactly is the Bedroom Tax and what’s the fuss? Bedroom Tax is part of the government’s welfare reform which cuts the amount of benefit people can get if they have a spare bedroom in their council or housing association home.  Since the reform was passed in April last year, it has affected many households – an internal government review found that 60% of households affected by the tax found themselves in increasing debt, cutting back on essential household items and borrowing money from pay day loans to make up the difference.

There has also been recent news coverage of disabled tenants who have had no choice but to downsize as a result of the tax, despite needing the spare room for the carers that assist in their day-to-day living. Those affected also include parents whose children visit but are not part of the household and separated parents who share the care of their children. To find out more, click here.

Indecisive Clegg: The Deputy Prime Minister announced the Liberal Democrats’ change of heart to the Bedroom Tax

Now the fuss.. It was Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrat’s support of the Bedroom Tax that allowed it to be enforced, which of course means if the party had opposed the reform in the first place, it would not have been passed and many families would not have been affected by it. So what now? Well Labour has always opposed the reform, with Ed Miliband promising to repeal the tax if the Labour party win the next general election. For the Liberal Democrats, this u-turn only further proves that they are an indecisive party, losing supporters in their numbers. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy for the conservatives to run rings around Clegg? Either way, with the general election next May, Clegg needs to up his game and be consistent about it.

Alright the Lib Dems don’t have a chance, but hey, let’s not kick a man when he’s down.

Everybody’s talking about… Cameron’s reshuffle

Out with the old, in with the new. New Education Secretary Nicky Morgan (left) and Michael Gove (right)

With the approval of female bishops to Cameron’s appointment of more women in his cabinet, it’s fair to say that it’s been a week of celebration for us women. But has it really? I mean yes, Cameron has gotten rid of the likes of Michael Gove (hurray!) to appoint women such as Esther McVey and Nicky Morgan, but do they REALLY represent the average British woman? Take myself, a young black female Londoner educated my whole life in state institutions compared to our new Education Secretary who was educated in fee-paying schools such as Surbiton High School. Before you all start saying it shouldn’t matter, it clearly does – not just to me but to many Britons out there. Why? Representation that’s why. How can we expect to be represented by a ‘legitimate’ government if it’s core ministers do not reflect our growing multicultural society?

Fact: Baroness Warsi is the only ethnic member in Cameron’s cabinet. Makes you think doesn’t it?

Other conservative MPs have failed to support Cameron’s #reshuffle – centrists have unhappiness about the removal of Ken Clarke as minister without portfolio whilst those more on the right have shown backlash against the demotion of, you guessed it, Mr Gove. During his post as Education Secretary, Michael Gove had many disputes with the NUT so of course his demotion was celebrated. It does pose the question: What next for the world of education? Will the radical policies continue or will Nicky Morgan be a tad bit sympathetic? You know, being a mother and all.

In response to his reshuffle, Mr Cameron stated “This is about putting in place a team that continues to deliver the long term economic plan & ensures a brighter future for all.” What happened to the initial purpose of “reflecting modern Britain” eh Dave?

But, is it all a decoy? William Hague, replaced by Philip Hammond as Foreign Secretary, decided to stand down as an MP in the next election. Quite a coincidence after the revelation that Hague stifled a 1996 paedophile report which may have potentially unearthed evidence of key figures who had abused children. In resigning as an MP, is Hague failing to take responsibility and instead hide behind his own faults? Nevertheless, it might seem there’s more to this reshuffle that meets the eye.

Deliver a long term economic plan? More like brush everything under the carpet and carry on with a shady government, but hey, let’s not be too biased about this.

Cameron’s Cabinet: The Lowdown

Now that we’ve established the meaning behind this week’s reshuffle, methinks it’s about time  you know who’s who.

First up, we have William Hague. Okay, he’s not new, but someone has to educate you lot! Back to Hague. He was Foreign Secretary but he’s moved to Leader of the House, replacing Andrew Lansley who is also to step down at the next general election. However, you won’t be seeing his face for long (well in Parliament anyway) as he’ll be stepping down as an MP.

William Hague (right) replaces Andrew Lansley (left) as Leader of the House

 

Next up is new Defence Secretary Michael Fallon who was previously the Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party. He replaces Philip Hammond who takes up the new position as Foreign Secretary.

From left: New Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, New Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond who replaces William Hague

 

Another newbie in Cameron’s cabinet is new Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, who replaces Michael Gove who has been demoted as Chief Whip.

Nicky Morgan (left) replaces Michael Gove (right) as new Education Secretary

 

Liz Truss replaces Owen Paterson as new Environment Secretary. As well as Nicky Morgan, she is also a mother. In fact, they are the only mothers in the cabinet.

Elizabeth Truss (left) replaces Owen Paterson (right) as new Environment Secretary

 

Stephen Crabb, the first bearded cabinet minister since 1905, replaces David Jones as Welsh Secretary

David Jones (left) is replaced by Stephen Crabb (right) as new Welsh Secretary

 

Another women replaces a male minister as Tina Stowell replaces Jonathan Hill as House of Lords Leader. Mr Hill has been sent to Brussels to be the UK’s new EU commissioner. Least it’s not a demotion (sorry Gove).

Tina Stowell (left) replaces Jonathan Hill (right) as Leader of the House of Lords

Tina Stowell (left) replaces Jonathan Hill (right) as Leader of the House of Lords

 

Jeremy Wright is the new Attorney General, replacing Dominic Grieve who’s departure shocked many. Grieve also writes for the Guardian.

Jeremy Wright (right) replaces Dominic Grieve as  Attorney General

Jeremy Wright (right) replaces Dominic Grieve as Attorney General

 

Another minister attempting to do it for the girls (at least that’s what we’re being made to think) is Esther Mcvey who takes the position as Employment Minister.

Esther McVey is the new Employment minister

 

Last of the newbies is new Business minister Matthew Hancock who is also minister for Portsmouth.

Matthew Hancock replaces Michael Fallon as new Business minister

 

Meanwhile these lot can take a breath, they’re safe. Phew!

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne

Home Secretary, Theresa May

Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith

Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling

Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt

International Development Secretary, Justine Greening

Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin

Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid

Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers

Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude

Cabinet Office Minister, Oliver Letwin

Senior Minister of State, Baroness Warsi

Tory Chair, Grant Shapps

 

Want to find out more about the cabinet? Click here