Monday, 18 March 2013

Inde-WHUT!?


Candlemakers Row, Edinburgh
What is capable of mobilizing our generation in this day and age? It appears that beyond ‘LadBible’ and nose piercings, not much. The status of Scotland as a nation has been hauled into the limelight and it depresses me to see that the majority of people my age want nothing to do with it. The knowledge that the next 18 months holds an onslaught of cringe-worthy nationalistic campaigning is perhaps part of it, maybe the multiple chins of Salmond shame young Scots into submission, who knows. What bothers me is that something exciting and potentially game changing is occurring in the form of a referendum that, I admit, I didn’t initially give a shit about.

I get the feeling that to many people ‘referendum’ or ‘independence’ are shameful words. Knee jerk reaction seems to be ‘no’. But it feels to me like we’re blurting out an answer without even fully understanding what the question is. Fair enough Scottish independence wasn’t number one on my priorities before the referendum came round. But the SNP have got their way and its now on the agenda and more importantly it’s us who’ve got to provide an answer. And to be honest I don’t think that our knee jerk reaction is good enough, or an accurate reflection of what most Scots want to happen in British politics. Here’s an opportunity to actually change Britain. Fair enough, don’t give a fuck if nothing you do or say is going to make a difference, but this time it actually is and its us who Westminster is listening to and what we say WILL happen. I think we should be saying yes to an independent Scotland…. Here’s why……. (please don't hate me)

Scottish HAIM (so much love)
Okay, first of all I think some common assumptions need to be dispelled before we go any further otherwise this could be construed as some type of mad skinhead nationalistic prick with haggis in his teeth’s account of the referendum. Firstly, being pro-independence is not synonymous with hating England or being a massive cunt. You can vote yes and love England and not be in some way equated to a hermit from Auchtermuchty.  Also, voting yes doesn’t make you Salmond’s bitch. Yes he’s the guy who’s been nagging for independence on behalf of the SNP but voting yes doesn’t mean he’ll become King of Scotland. Anyway, SNP have a majority in the Scottish Parliament and Salmond’s already first minister so if that’s a worry for you, voting yes won’t make much difference anyway… And Cameron’s the alternative (lol). A vote for independence is not a vote for the SNP, or for severing all ties with the ‘bastard’ English. It’s a vote for greater democracy.

Nobody has to be an expert in politics to know that something is grotesquely wrong when there are more fucking pandas than Conservative MP’s in Scotland, YET we are led by the joy that is David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party. How the fuck did that happen in what is meant to be a representative democracy? Scotland is not accurately represented. The system is not working. We didn’t vote Conservative yet they’re at the helm of the ship and we are being towed along behind.  Literally 99% of Scotland did not want what we have today. I am willing to say yes to change and yes to something that works better for Scotland. As eloquently put by Frankie Boyle: 'Scotland can vote for Indy or spend the rest of its existence twitching on the end of a gigantic, malevolent Tory cock.' Joking aside, to me his point is more resonant than those advocating doing nothing, or in other words voting no.

The referendum, whether we realised it previously or not, has provided us with the chance the gain so much more from politics. I often wonder why I feel a great sense of political apathy and disengagement amongst people I know and grew up with in Scotland. I think it’s because people feel removed from what goes on and as though they have no say and no ability to make any impact. The referendum provides a platform for politics to become something that matters to people again. I believe bringing power closer to Scotland will not only make government distinctly more representative for people in Scotland but make it much more interesting, palpable and exciting. Devolution is scary and there are a shitload of unknowns, of course, but it’s got the point where it is actually necessary to uphold a genuine democracy for Scotland. Bringing power closer to home is a good thing. As well as becoming more representative, greater transparency and accountability are by-products of smaller governance. The multitude of scandals and abuses of power that occur within the clandestine and bureaucratic processes of governing are what give politics a bad reputation. Although inescapable, these occurrences can be minimized and remedied by having a more direct and devolved form of governance in Scotland. The referendum and its legacy provide us with something to actually give a shit about. It gives us the power to make a decision that could impact on politics in Scotland for the better well after the referendum is over – politics shouldn’t be bullshit, it should be something that everyone wants to be involved in and that can represent our views and serve our needs. Voting yes in the referendum is the only way we can make this happen.

John Snow (A personal hero)
My initial response to the prospect of Scottish Independence was ‘eugh – no’, but I can see my opinion was based on an instinctual fear of change. Change is a nerve-wracking prospect for anyone, especially on as grand a scale as this. The ‘risks’ of independence seem to be the dominant reason against voting yes, but what needs to be highlighted is the gargantuan potential offered by independence. Where a no vote defends the shitty status-quo that everyone complains about, a yes vote paves the way not only to a more representative and just Scotland, but one that has the potential, and more importantly, the ability to be the liberal and progressive nation it should be. A nuclear weapons free nation is just one example of the innovative and modernising force Scotland could become. I refuse to be represented by a parliament that justifies spending up to £100 billion on renewing weapons that could murder entire populations. Fuck that. Whether you agree with that or not, moving beyond the drudgery and stagnation of Westminster based rule creates opportunity and potential that is simply unattainable through any other means other than Scottish independence.

Neither the yes or no camp can predict exactly what will happen if Scotland becomes independent. Not knowing what will happen is not an excuse to turn away from an opportunity like this.  Fear of change is not a valid excuse for voting against independence in my opinion, and to me, the Better Together campaign cultivates this fear of the unknown to its advantage. I don’t know what will happen, but its obvious to me that if things stay the way they are nothing is going to improve. For me, the risks of doing nothing outweigh the risks of becoming independent. I have tried to touch upon some of the ways I think independence could benefit Scotland in the long run. The referendum and the prospect of independence have brought the chance for Scotland to rise above the bullshit of Westminster and create something new and better. To be honest, whether independence occurs or not, I hope the referendum at least inspires people to imagine something better than the state of politics today over the next 18 months.  

Friday, 15 February 2013

one love one heart?

Okay, so after the hilarious endeavour to learn more about women in the media I have deviated back to the very slightly above par life of an unengaged student.

All for one small exception in the form of the singular society I have joined in my quest to become a devastatingly employable student. This society is probably the smallest and least politically mobilised, but I overlook these small details as I am already formulating the sensational paragraph I will dedicate to my participation in this society on my CV.

heheheh
The society is called ONE (Leeds), from the organisation set up by Bono (never fails to amuse). It's aims include the eradication of poverty, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa through advocacy/campaigning etc. This cause seems unquestionably great, especially when it feels like these issues have grown out of fashion (remember those plastic bracelets everyone used to don circa 2005?). However, it seems to me after a receiving a series of passive-agressive comments on this article, in which I was called a 'tory' for trying to defend the agenda of ending world hunger, that people do not care about this. I felt compelled enough to painstakingly set up an account which enabled me to leave a comment due to my recent participation in the ONE society. And also just because I'm sick of wankers just giving their shitty opinions and nobody else even rising to challenge them. If you read the comment thread, I, under the enigmatic alias 'groo', attempt to contribute something to the commentary which seemed to be weirdly focused on issues that weren't even remotely touched upon in the article. In fact the responses to the article actually seemed to basically ignore the whole point, which was about world hunger.


Sometimes it seems like everything I read deepens my already borderline-maniac cynicism with life/politics. The impression I got from the comments on an article about world hunger and helping to end the grossly unjust system that perpetuates starvation across the world, is that people just do not care if it's not on their doorstep. This week in my lectures we've been looking at John Rawls, and this whole online debacle has actually enabled me to apply one of his thought experiments to something I have witnessed in the wide world of the web.

Rawls developed a hypothetical situation in which people deciding what 'justice' entails, are placed behind a 'veil of ignorance'. Rawls asks you to imagine that you have no idea who you are (sex, background, intelligence, skills, culture, sexuality), where you are from, or what type of life you will lead (job, prospects, income, wealth, aspirations).  This lack of knowledge would allow you to be able to fairly assess and decide upon what is fair and just in an impartial way/without your own interests shrouding your decisions.

Looking at that article it seems the people who have left their highly irritating comments have no capacity to imagine themselves in the position of one of the  868 million people who are hungry today or one of the 7.6 million children who will die of hunger or malnutrition this year. It seems nowadays many people simply aren't interested in the global issues that continue to cause immense suffering for millions of people. Perhaps this is my own naivety being dispelled. Maybe part of becoming an adult is accepting that the majority of other adults couldn't give a fuck. Many, clearly, would much rather descend into bickering about domestic issues at the first mention of any topic that doesn't relate directly to them or affect their immediate wellbeing in any way.

But to me it seems that this is definitely not the case. I think this just demonstrates the sneaking suspicion I have that it is the most ignorant that speak the loudest. Newsbot9 is perhaps the manifestation of this.

Friday, 8 February 2013

don't save me!

Okay, first blog post, lets get this done...

I have started this blog with the intention of embodying my plight for life direction/angsty angsty woes/cynical observations/mood swings.

However I think the first embodiment I've listed there is probably the most important one. I'm halfway through my second year at University doing politics. I'm a crap student and my tragic failure to be a really active enthusiastic member of multiple societies has culminated in the form of this blog. Or perhaps this is merely a demonstration of my capacity to deviate. 

All I know is that last night I got a drink poured on my head by some guy named Finchey: I have realised I cannot become the fourth HAIM sister. 

Here I will record all my attempts to infiltrate the world in which all engaged students seem to live and thrive. 

So on Wednesday I forced myself back onto campus for a 5pm 'Give it a Go' session by a society called 'Her Campus' called 'Women in the Media'. This sounds like it could be the first step into my new life pursuing a dramatic and hard fought career to be a woman in the media. I try to ignore my irrational personal anxiety and creeping suspicion that this could be a waste of time, but it seems my cynicism is actually legitimate on this occasion. I enter the room to a small gaggle of girls who immediately look at me as though I have just entered the room dressed in rags. Why the fuck are people at uni so unfriendly? I was under the impression people came to uni to meet new people but it seems university is as drenched in nepotism and personal networks as the Chinese communist party. This is a fucking give it a go session. 

Anyhow, I sit down and take the opportunity to observe these girls who may actually hold the answers to all my life's career questions. For starters they all look great in jeans. Mental note to self - look good in jeans. At least I have really long hair to compensate. An iPad camera lens is being flung dramatically in the direction of anyone being loud enough, for some type of 'fashion' article. One particularly irritating girl is disclosing the sources of her extremely mediocre outfit. My cynicism climaxes as I hear her listing River Island and Topshop amongst other equally banal shops. Who knew being a massive bitch could be so satisfying. Maybe these girls are normal and I am the proverbial mean girl. I don't actually care, I prefer being the bitch sitting by herself in her mum's orange anorak. But obviously I cant put that on my CV so I must bow to the system; immediately leaving whilst giving everyone in the room the finger is not an option. 


An image of the scene 

I endure the event and thankfully some of the women in the media who come to speak do offer a good insight into the PR and media industry. Although, for me, Cathy Newman is the ultimate dream, I don't know if I will fit in the media industry. I speak to one of the speakers at the end of the session who seemed to be the most 'normal' and down to earth and when I tell her that I am considering media, but don't participate in the LSTV or LS Radio yet. She delivers a home truth unto me: in the industry everyone knows everyone. I realise if I actually want to do this, I really need to get to grips with being surrounded by people I don't know and being severely uncomfortable. I will probably have to learn to reserve judgement too - damn it. 

Here is a link to one of the extremely disturbing and quite frankly odd articles written by this society... fucking weird article by hercampus leeds

And so my search for deliverance from university apathy and career ambiguity continues. Next on the list is breaking into one of the media societies.