Friday, 22 May 2015

Poem: Dragon

by Habina Seo


I've found a crimson wolf in the chrome fencing, 
His outlines were as sharp as his movements, and 
The power seemed to have dulled from exhaustion and battle.

The limbs were tense from scaling purple moors, 
His eyes marbled with agonising encounters.
Once a king, honoured for his wisdom.

A body pointed tightly, like an arrow,
Coupled with a red wine coat.
And yet the anger had softened it enough to a coral pink.

Violence lurched out to grasp me,
As if the ruined wires were always his home.

Standing tall to fight his writhing, venomous tongue, 
I headed back to my cave, catching a glance of the reflection of the blaze in his amber eyes.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Poem for Wednesday: A Victorian Living Room

by Nathaniel Charles



A Victorian Living Room




The room is embarrassed.
For it knows that privacy is wanted,
And so some space is made
For the young lovers.

First moves the chaise long,
Creeping on four short legs
Muffling its ears
With its own pincushions.

Then scuttle the chairs,
60s in design
But not in spirit...
For a blush is spreading through their upholstery.

Finally the curtains,
They slide closed,
Drapes ruffled suggestively
Like the fine lace negligée

Now scattered on the carpet,
Which cannot move.
So it lies there,

Averting its eyes and thinking of Queen Victoria.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Can I still listen to Chris Brown? Why We Should Question What We Consume.

by Fenella Johnson



Chris Brown in court
on domestic violence charges
"Hey kids, do you like violence?"asks Eminem at the beginning of "My Name Is”, eyes dilated, voice mechanical, mock-criticising the culture he is immersed in: that of violence and sex and drugs. It’s as if in 'Kim'(and pretty much the rest of his discography) he has hadn't spent three and a half minutes angrily and loudly describing what he would do to his ex wife if he could get away with it, in minute detail.

And yes, I get it, it’s art, it’s not real-Slim Shady isn't him, he’s a character-ask one of his fans, they will eagerly tell you. But even though this music is directed at adults or at the least teenagers, children hear it. Even though it's 'art' it's still verbalising and normalising violence-especially towards women. 

It’s saying to me when I'm listening to his music while running or the boy who pumps it on the stereo or even to those who listen half heartedly on the way to work, or, to anyone who buys his music that it's okay to treat women like this. In his 'art’, women are the objects, and even if it is 'art’, is it art we should be consuming, art we should be normalising? 

Switch it around-if it was Nicki Minaj, demanding as he does in "Kim" that her significant other bleeds there'd be uproar. And yet when Kanye West , her peer, does so in All Of The Lights(I hit my girl/she called the feds) it's met with a shrug. It’s a story, a song-and yet there are thousands of songs, thousands of stories-and they all start to normalise violence for us. It becomes something that just happens. A shrug, a so what?

Chris Brown, the man who attacked Rihanna ,so infamous and horrifically in 2008,still sells records. 

And he doesn't just sell them-his seven most successful albums have come after 2008 and during his latest, Brown was sentenced to an anger management rehabilitation centre for three months.

 A nice guy, clearly. Just the sort to meet the parents. Look again at his influence.

 And while it's not your or my forgiveness Brown needs-it's Rihanna's and arguably she's given it to him,-they made music together for her latest record which was slightly tasteless-can we really still buy his records? Can we still justify listening to him by saying it happened so long ago or it's not our place to comment, when half of Boston teens blame Rihanna for what happened and 52% said that she is partially to blame.

This is the message the media sends out:100% of the surveyed teenagers in Boston had heard of the case. But Brown has a celebrity pass-this violence is different, this violence is glamourised by the media and it’s mocked and commercialised by the media. It’s Rihanna's fault "She Made Him Snap'(The Star) and when you google  Rihanna and Chris Brown, the result Rihanna and Chris Brown memes is the fifth to appear. Jokes start off as "I bet them working together leads to big hits" and travel steadily downhill from there into a mire of tastelessness and innuendo.

Celebrities were unattainable and untouchable but through the Internet, we can all post our 140 character opinion in to that bottomless void and rarely if ever stop to think about the result. Hashtag abbreviated thoughts clouding and diluting the real issue and normalising it.

 Whenever something happens, such as Miley Cyrus 'dancing' with Robin Thicke, we rush to post those jokes (and sometimes, yes, it can be genuinely funny),to get that special sense of justification that comes from mocking someone who will probably never see it-or if they do won't care because they could probably buy your house with you in it-but what of the people who see those tweets and then it becomes normal for them? When Miley Cyrus was mocked I couldn't help but think what of Robin Thicke -the man twice her age, with children and a wife, gyrating onto her in that creepy pinstripe suit. How come Miley-the woman-is blamed for being a bad role model, for being sexually promiscuous, when Robin-the man-is overlooked, handed a free pass? It echoes back to Chris Brown-being handed a free pass, because he is a man and famous and it must have somehow been Rihanna's fault, she must have goaded him.

The realty is by normalising domestic violence towards women in the media and in music-not just rap, but in rock, in pop, in country-on  AV Club’s website who offer you the cheery named '30 Songs inspired by domestic violence (half of which are performed by women which is another issue in that it glorifies the abuse, which is troubling because young women often idolise and listen to  female celebrities in the way they don't men),in the way that media and music are so deeply connected to society- violence is encouraged.

But more than that, it just is. It’s just something that happens. Much like women who claim "I'm not a feminist because I personally don't need feminism" and forget about all those who do, we dismiss songs like "Kim" as art, as a story because domestic violence doesn't happen to most of us. When it does it's the woman's fault, she has it coming.

And yet now the boundaries between art and society are becoming blurred perhaps we need to challenge what we are consuming.

Monday, 18 May 2015

War - An Engine for Innovation

by Nicholas Graham



Many people say that war is not good for anything, and that the world would be a much better place if it had never existed. However the necessity of a way to defeat one’s enemy has been the cause of many new technologies which are still in use today, in both the military and civilian sectors. Here are a few examples, just to whet your appetite.

1.      Jet engine. The concept of jet engines and jet propulsion has been around for over 2000 years, but not in the form that we would think of today. By 1 A.D. the aeolipile had been invented, which was a spherical device with two nozzles that channelled steam so that the sphere would spin. However as it produced no mechanical power it was not seen as important. The next people to use jet propulsion were the Chinese during the thirteenth century. This was through the use of gunpowder-propelled fireworks, which were later developed into rockets for military use. However due to the inefficiency of these rockets jet propulsion technology made no further progressions until the twentieth century. Several nations attempted to use jet engines in their military aircraft during World War II. In 1928 Frank Whittle came up with a design for a turbojet for military aircraft. The end of result of the work by Frank and others was the Gloucester Meteor, the first British fighter plane with a jet engine, which entered service with the RAF in 1944, but did not play a particularly large role in the aerial battlegrounds near the end of the war. However in Germany the Messerschmitt Me 262 was the world’s first jet engine fighter, arriving shortly before the Gloucester Meteor. Due to effective bombing of German factories and facilities by the Allies, production started too late to get enough in the air to make a difference. If Germany had mass-produced these fighters when the design was first completed, it could have given them an edge in the battles for air superiority against the RAF in 1944 and 1945, as the German fighter jets could outperform most British fighter planes, including the Hurricane and the Spitfire. Nowadays, there are many different types of jet engine, and the main use for these is still for aircraft, both public and military.

2.      Anatomy. In the ancient world, physicians and scholars would conduct medical examinations upon corpses of enemy soldiers after a battle. They were not allowed to dishonour their own dead people by cutting up and opening up their corpses, but enemy soldiers did not have this privilege. A lot about human anatomy was discovered by these ancient physicians. The Roman Empire in particular contributed a vast amount of knowledge about human anatomy and how the body worked. Improved understanding of anatomy continued throughout the Napoleonic, Crimean and two World Wars.

3.      Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). This the piece of technology that allows us to have such thin televisions and screens. However the original reason LCDs were invented was not to reduce the size of your TV set. Liquid Crystal Display technology was developed as a totally new way of producing pictures on screens. Many different people worked on the theories and science behind liquid crystals and displays using them, however it was a military organisation that helped to provide one of the key breakthroughs. Late in the 1960s, the UK's Royal Radar Establishment at Malvern undertook pioneering work on the technology and worked alongside George William Gray and a team from the University of Hull in order to discover the exact type of liquid crystals which had the right properties for use in LCDs. This technology was developed for computers and other systems during the Cold War, and the British military played an important role in its creation and progression.

4.      The Hovercraft. The theories behind this particular invention had been around for quite a while before the military actually took an interest in it, and several inventors had come up with designs that were never realised due to a lack of funding. Christopher Cockerell, a British mechanical engineer, would be the first one to have his concept and design turned into a full scale vehicle. During the 1950s he tried to get all three branches of the military to give him funding for building a proper size version of his successful small scale models, but no-one was interested, as they did not believe that it applied to them. However Cockerell did finally manage to convince the Naval Research Development Corporation to fund the development of the hovercraft in 1958. In 1959, the SR.N1 was completed, the world’s first actual hovercraft. It is still used today as a military vehicle by nations such as Russia and the United States of America, but it is also used around the world as a commercial transport and by organisations such as the RNLI and the coastguard’s of various nations. At the moment the service run by Hovertravel between the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth is the only public hovercraft service in the entire United Kingdom.

5.      Infrared detector. Infrared is a different part of the spectra to visible light, and this means that it can be used in ways that visible light cannot or to compensate for a lack of visible light. Nowadays, infrared detectors have many uses in many different areas of life. They are used as the sensor system in items such as burglar alarms and automatic doors, as well as for certain medical breathalysers. Their main use and original purpose however is that of night vision. There are two types of night vision, one where the existing light is massively amplified and one where you see the temperature of your surroundings. Infrared detectors are the technology behind this second type of night vision, sometimes referred to as heat vision. By the end of World War II, infrared technology was very much still in its infancy, although certain devices did exist such as the top-secret Type K Monocular “TABBY” Night Vision Device employed by the British special forces during the last years of the war. It was during the 1950s that the militaries of various nations took a serious interest in this type of technology and its possible applications. One of these applications was in guided (heat-seeking) missiles, such as the Sidewinder, which entered service in the US and UK military from the mid-1950s.

Recipe for Exam Season: Blueberry Brain Power Smoothie

by Lauren Robson-Skeete


Blueberry Brain Power Smoothie

This blend of energising ingredients is the perfect morning smoothie to boost the brain especially during the exam period!

INGREDIENTS:
·         1 cup blueberries
·         Half an avocado
·         1 cup Ice
·         1 Cup pomegranate juice
·         1 banana
·         1 Teaspoon coconut oil

METHOD:

Simply blend all the ingredients together and serve.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

An Absolute Scientific Nightmare: Why Science is Being Too Arrogant

by Nina Luckmann


If you’re a scientist, please don’t take offence: I am not commenting on you or any other individual personally, nor am I going to argue that scientists are stupid. In fact, I believe quite the opposite. Undeniably, great breakthroughs have been made in the name of science, ranging from the first successful cloning of a living organism, to the creation of the digital realm and the virtual cloud, to the increasing human presence in areas beyond this planet. Scientific knowledge is often considered to be the key to the universe. Our circumstance finds itself so driven and bound by this area of knowledge, that it has manifested itself as a superior intellect that transcends the ‘wishy washy’ nature of, say, the arts. No other subject can rival the sciences in their rigour and apparent certainty of knowledge. Again and again we are told: ‘science is progress’. 
Yet something that I often hear is that ‘science has proved that’ X or Y is the case - that, because it is ‘scientific’, it must be true with the certainty of mathematical deductions. It is an objective, absolute area of knowledge that transcends human subjectivity and bias. 
Natural sciences are the objective truth of the functioning of the universe that must not be confused with the scientific knowledge humans perceive themselves to have. Whilst the first is entirely independent of human capabilities, research methods and belief, and thus exists in objective terms, the latter is what human research ‘proves’ to be true at any given time (proof in this case relies on inductive reasoning, as the hypothesis and evidence complement one another and are therefore accepted as fact. It hence relies on research capabilities and the assumption that prior discoveries are also ‘true’. Many believe that the two are the same, leading to the general assumption that the scientific knowledge at the time of a person’s existence must be objectively correct.
Take the example of the sun and the earth. Several hundred years ago, people firmly believed that the earth was at the centre of our solar system. Humanity perceived this to be the absolute, objective truth, because that is what evidence at the time pointed towards. At the time, this was perceived to be the scientific ‘truth’ that we strived towards. Yet by contrast, the then inconceivable idea that the sun was in fact central, and that all other celestial bodies orbited around it, is considered to be scientific truth today. Scientific understanding has a history and has changed over time, thus we might wonder to what extent they do give us absolute certainty.  
The scientific method - the means to uncovering the objective truth behind the universe - entails five key steps:
  1. observation
  2. hypothesis
  3. experiment 
  4. law
  5. theory
The observation of relevant data enables patterns to be identified that enable the formulation of a hypothesis. Repeatability and reproducibility then confirm the aforementioned hypothesis, leading to a possible scientific law, something that is believed to be one of the objective laws that form the universe. It would seem as though humanity would be a step closer to this objective knowledge, therefore.

Poem for Sunday: Untitled

by Nathaniel Charles


It hangs,
Cold light searching, seeking.
And its light finds earth,
Intricate and voiceless in the void.

Chaos fractures rock at its core,
And it breaks.
Its denizens appear to pass away.
But one or two remain,
Light drifting coolly across them
As it waits for complexity.
It waits a while,

Hanging there
While complexity is built,
Cell
By
Cell
Yet amounts to nothing.

For staring up
The hollow complexity
Sees nothing,
Not the light.

And so,
It hangs,
Searching for another complexity.


Dying Languages

by Lottie Perry-Evans


Marie Wilcox
English, French, Spanish, German and Italian are all languages we are very familiar with. However, if I said that there are almost 7,000 languages spoken throughout the world, how would you react? 

Every year we lose around 25 mother tongues and by the year 2100 it is more than likely that we will have lost over half of the world’s languages; this is a thought which makes me quite sad. The majority of the languages we will lose, hold so much history and can tell us so much about the culture of the small native tribes which speak them. There are 576 critically endangered languages throughout the world and 231 already extinct.

One woman, Marie Wilcox (aged 81), has recognised the danger that native languages are in and is doing her best to try and save one of those languages. Marie is one of the remaining 200 members of the Wukchumni tribe and is the last fluent speaker of their language. Fortunately she is doing all she can to preserve her tribe’s language. Marie learned how to use a computer in order to create a Wukchumni dictionary, so that in many years her language will live on. Marie has worked on this dictionary, night and day for seven years and has also begun to teach her grandson the basics of the language. Marie Wilcox also teaches weekly classes with her daughter however, it seems that there are few devoted to learning this language. Thanks to the dedication of this hardworking woman, in the year 2100 when nearly half of the world’s languages have been lost, we will still have the Wukchumni language. Here is a link to a video about  Marie: http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/380457/saving-wukchumni/

The languages we are likely to lose in the next century are not just those rare, almost unheard of languages spoken by Native American tribes but they also include languages far closer to home. I was shocked to discover that 90% of European languages are critically endangered. Irish, Welsh and Cornish have all been classified as vulnerable or endangered languages, very few people speak these languages fluently, however, they are now being taught in schools in an attempt to revitalise them. Cornish is a language which only 574 people speak fluently. However, although this number may be small, this language was once classified as extinct but has recently undergone a marked revival and is finding expression once again through literature, art, music and film.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Interviews – The Other Side of the Table

by Eloise Peabody-Rolf



Earlier in the year, I helped in the interview process for the new Community Court members, and I found it really interesting to experience what it’s like to be on the other side of the table.
As you know from my previous blogs, I have been involved with the Community Court for about a year now, and went through this interview process myself.  As the Community Court is focused on being peer led, it seemed an ideal way to get the peers involved in another aspect of the process right from the start.  So a peer was invited to join each interview panel , along with two Hampshire Constabulary representatives.
I hope having someone closer to their age in the room with them, who they know have gone through the process already, certainly seemed to relax some of the interviewees.  It also enabled the applicants to ask me any questions about what it is like to volunteer for the Community Court, and if I enjoy it.
But how did it help me?  Looking at the interviews from the other side gave me a huge appreciation of what both the interviewers and interviewees go through.  It was interesting to see how different applicants were affected by the pressure of the interview process and the coping strategies they used.  Also to hear the questions the other interviewers used to better understand the applicant, and be part of the post interview discussions and assessments.
It was a great opportunity - many people my age have gone through interviews themselves, but very few have been the interviewer.   It will also be nice for the successful Community Court applicants, as they will know at least one person already, which will hopefully encourage them.
Some of you may have interviews coming up for jobs, work experience, apprenticeships  or universities, so here are some tips and websites which may be useful:

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

When Fear Defeats Hope

by Will Wallace (OP)


The date is Thursday 7th May. People up and down the country are heading to the polls to answer one fundamental question: am I better off now than I was five years ago?

At his home in Doncaster, Ed Miliband, who announced his exit from Parliament just three years earlier, is watching the ITV coverage of the 2020 election. Dimbleby (who moved to the channel following the recent privatisation and subsequent demise of the BBC) led the coverage with the question of whether the next government would be able to address the myriad of new problems facing the nation.

Since his departure from front-line politics in 2015, Ed had spent the time mulling over the reason behind the shock election result that had ushered David Cameron back into Downing Street – along with his right-wing, nutty backbenchers pressing a gun to his back.

Many commentators at the time had pointed out his perceived weaknesses – the shadow of New Labour and the economy – as possible reasons. Letting out a deep sigh, Ed recalls the anticipation he’d felt five years to the day: the opinion polls had made it seem all too likely that he’d be Prime Minister of a minority Labour government.

All that had come crashing down. His initial shock came as the sudden realisation that he’d failed to turf the Tories out of office; the ensuing anguish had been for the millions of people he knew would truly suffer. The £12 billion cuts to social security, the continuation of the bedroom tax, further increases made to tuition fees, the selling-off of NHS services to private contractors, resulting in the fragmentation of health and social care, had all added to the burden on the most vulnerable in society.

Just as he had warned whilst Opposition Leader, all this was coupled with a further reward for millionaires, as the top rate of income tax was further lowered to 40%; Osborne’s announcement, which came on “Margaret Thatcher Day” in 2017, had been met with restrained demonstrations, as a new change to labour law made it increasingly difficult for trade unionists to call strike action, with the turnout requirement of 50% forcing workers into silence. This had been quickly followed by a slashing of business regulations and a consequent spike in the number of private sector workers exploited by zero-hour contracts.

As he leans back in his armchair, his wide-eyed gaze turns to the ceiling. “Ed Balls”, he mutters.

He had concluded that his Shadow Chancellor’s speech to the Fabian Society in 2012, in which Balls accepted the Coalition’s spending cuts and public sector pay freeze, had been the very undoing of his leadership. To offer little alternative to deeply unpopular austerity measures not only left many Labour activists dissatisfied, but also caused votes to be haemorrhaged to the SNP. The SNP’s explosion in popularity was entirely at Labour’s expense, and had been the final nail in the coffin, with fears of a coalition between himself and Nicola Sturgeon leading English voters to re-elect the Tories.

What if the he and Balls had held their pro-growth, pro-investment course? If they had, perhaps he wouldn’t be sitting at home, in Doncaster, but would instead be campaigning for a second term as Prime Minister?

His focus turns to the coffee table, where today’s copy of the Daily Mail stares back at him. “LET’S GO FOR A HAT-TRICK!” is the headline. He remembers the day it had declared, “THE MAN WHO HATED BRITAIN”. The right-wing print media had made many personal, vindictive attacks against him and his family, but Lord Rothermere’s paper had produced some of the most vile articles, all of which had affected the public’s perception of him, creating an image of incompetence, ultimately leading voters to fear the prospects of him walking into Downing Street.

Do We Have More Advantages than our Parents Did?

by Loren Dean


In a world where technology is rapidly advancing at an incredible rate, it is easy to say that our generation is extremely advantaged. However, this is proved not to be the case.

We are in Generation Z, born between 1995-2009, and a generation that has never experienced the pre-internet world. In my opinion I think this is very bad. We see it all the time, children glued to their phone screens-this overexposure to technology at a young age has had a negative effect on our childhood-causing teenagers in this generation to grow up too quickly and therefore loose parts of their childhood with the virtual world consuming their everyday lives. Most of us are spending more than 50% of our time on screens thus not going outside leading to more child obesity.

Of course, along with modern day conveniences and luxuries that technology and the internet bring, come more issues to be dealt with, which have never been experienced before by older generations. Cyber bullying has become a great concern among today's younger generations. This form of harassment is a real threat to children today, and it makes becoming a victim of such harassment so much easier than it did for face to face bullying of years gone by. In fact, bullying which takes place over the Internet can become such a threat to the intended victim, it is a leading cause for suicide among today's British children and teens.

In addition to this, we were born into a crisis period in world history- with terrorism and the awful state of national economies worldwide always seeming to be headlining the news. As the up and coming generation, we are expected to provide the answers for the future. With pressure such as this, it is little wonder that 1 in 4 of us will experience depressive like symptoms during this year. Excess pressure such as exam stresses or simply just the phrasing that older generations use like: well in my day this or tell me that are all contributing factors to why the younger generation is disadvantaged.

Furthermore, with all the information anyone can ever need just a click away, this in turn hinders our curiosity and increases our laziness and stop us trying to find out answers for ourselves by using the library and books thus leading to shorter attention spans. With schools spoon-feeding students the answers, rigorous testing since nursery has just become a pointless chore meaning pupils expect immediate feedback which is unrealistic for the working world.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Election 2015: Why It Pays to Be An Independent, Not an Insurgent

Pacts over coalitions: why it might pay to be independent rather than an insurgent in England – Some perspectives on the 2015 General Election

by Simon Lemieux

The big questions and topics from the 2015 general election are already spawning out in both the printed and virtual media. These include the big questions such as: How did Cameron manage it? Why were the Lib Dems routed? Why were the polls so wrong in predicting the respective Labour and Conservative vote shares? How do we explain the SNP surge? I’ll leave those very pertinent questions to others, and instead dwell on a couple of ‘side shows’ in the election which can easily be overlooked, namely electoral pacts and the role of independent candidates.

So let’s look firstly at electoral pacts. Much was (rightly) made of the damage and defeat inflicted on Clegg’s cronies by the Lib Dem participation in the Coalition Government – they apparently took all of the blame for the unpopular bits and gained none of the glory. Like the Liberals post 1918, coalition government impacted very badly on the junior partner; Angela Merkel was right; whither now the Free Democrats in Germany or indeed our own Lib Dems! But look across the Irish Sea and co-operation between parties in a different sense, an electoral pact, worked very well. In essence, in the tribal and frankly rather depressing world of Northern Ireland politics, the two main Unionist parties (the DUP and UUP) learnt that putting candidates up against each other in seats where there was not an overwhelming unionist predominance, could let other parties in (both nationalist and non-sectarian). This time round they did a pre-election deal in such seats. Result, two net unionist gains from a total of 18 seats- one for the DUP and one for the UUP, in the constituencies of Fermanagh and South Tyrone, and East Belfast. The link below explains it all rather well, and do watch Tom Elliott’s speech for a good bit of unionist rhetoric.


Moral – don’t split the vote and let the real bogeyman in. So, would it have been more effective and interesting to have seen in some constituencies a Green/Labour electoral pact, and a UKIP/Conservative electoral pact? A progressive alliance versus a reactionary one? I think there could have been considerable electoral logic in that at least for Labour this time round though in many constituencies they failed to win or lost, the UKIP candidate came second……..  Perhaps it would have worked better for the Tories/UKIP and enabled a centre-right government to have had an even more comfortable majority.  Had the Tories stood aside in Great Grimsby for example, UKIP might well have taken it. Of course, I don’t think such pre-election deals are very likely over here on the mainland, and also they might affect voting behaviour in any case (would ex Labour UKIP voters, rally behind a Tory, probably not). In England, the insurgent parties are in (large) part the new receptacle for protest votes, which makes the scenario different from that in Ulster. Still, it is an interesting observation that pacts trump coalitions.

The other interesting feature largely unremarked by commentators is the very gradual emergence of genuine independents. By this I don’t mean the genuinely wacky, minor parties or those forced out of their own parties who are making the political equivalent of ‘revenge porn’ – can anyone think of  possible example near to home? No, I mean well-regarded local candidates often serving councillors (Independents) or prominent campaigners. True, their numbers are few (no doubt a £500 deposit deters many) and current chances of success fairly slim (though remember Dr Richard Taylor, MP for Wyre forest who was elected twice on a health care issue programme) but some did fare remarkably well in 2015. The most impressive result I have come across in 2015 was in the safe Conservative seat of East Devon where the independent candidate, Claire Wright, managed an impressive 24% share of the poll easily outpolling the Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP candidates. See her campaign website here: www.claire-wright.org

People versus Pollsters: The Unpredictability of Human Beings.

by David Danso-Amoako




The top 10 pollsters of the 2015 UK election all predicted that we would have a hung parliament. For a long time, David Cameron and Ed Miliband went over and under each other at the top of the opinion polls. Ipsos-Mori, Survation and YouGov among others showed us how tight the race to Number 10 was and the certainty of a Hung Parliament. This is summarized in the graph above. 

I for one believed them because of the complex formulae they use in predicting the results. But after the exit poll I began to seriously doubt them and I am sure David Cameron’s smile would have widened just as the gap widened. 

After the election took place an exit poll was produced to show a good representation of the seats. The exit poll asked people how they voted as they came out of the polling station. Their results were the closest to the final result of the election. When the 2015 exit poll was revealed at 10:00pm, indicating the Conservatives would be the largest party but would not have an overall majority, there was blue excitement in the air. The results were told to Theresa May MP Home Secretary. On hearing the result, she May said that she would be “very cautious about the results”. She was right, if political history is anything to go by.
In 1992, Labour was winning by 20 percentage points ahead of the Conservatives in opinion polls and the  country was entering recession. The increasingly unpopular Margaret Thatcher had been replaced by John Major as the Conservative leader. The polls suggested that Labour would be the largest party but without a majority; but the election results contradicted the pollsters like this election. The Conservatives won with a (small) majority.
  
In this election what the pollsters were not expecting was a record-breaking night for the parties. The Conservatives would go on to make a majority government with 331 seats whilst Labour party would go on to get their worst result since 1987 with 232 seats, losing some of their most prominent figures. After sleeping with the Tories, the Lib Dems may not have expected a nightmare result, losing 51 of their 58 seats making the party end up in shambles. The SNP got 56 out of a possible 59 in Scotland. UKIP kept one of their two seats after Conservatives gained Rochester and Stroud from Mark Reckless, a former Conservative who defected to UKIP. The results left the losing parties without leaders and pollsters mind-boggled.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Election 2015: What Just Happened and What Happens Next?

Year 12 pupils share in-depth analysis of the General Election results, offering reactions to what happened yesterday and predictions about what will happen during the life of the new Parliament, including speculation about Scotland and the EU. 




Wednesday, 6 May 2015

General Election: Possible Outcomes

by Barney Wostenholme

The best election summary I have read is this from Anthony Wells of UK Polling Report: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/9377  which considers the four main types of seats which could change hands:
  1. Conservative vs Labour Battleground
  2. The SNP Landslide
  3. Liberal Democrat Defence
  4. UKIP Targets
He writes very well (far better than me) and I would recommend that you read it for a sound, practical analysis. I don’t know whether this is the closest fought election in a generation because I’m not old enough to remember any other elections except for 2010. It seemed clear to me that pretty well everyone thought the Conservatives would be the largest party and David Cameron the Prime Minister, the known unknown was whether he’d have a governing majority or have to rule in coalition. This time around it seems clear that pretty well everyone expects there to be a hung parliament, the known unknown is who will be able to form a government out of it. That is a pretty big known unknown and it is why all of the pundits are busy cooking up predictions and ‘build your own coalition’ games. The way I see it there are three possibilities:
  1. Labour minority government: If the polls are right, I think this is the most likely outcome. Labour would form  a government made up of exclusively Labour ministers. This government would be based on Labour tabling left wing budgets and Queen’s speeches and challenging the other left wing parties (SNP, Plaid Cymru, Greens, SDLP, and even Lib Dems) to vote for them. This may sound an unstable arrangement, but as long as Labour play their cards right it could work for a limited time. It would be very hard, for example, for most left wing parties to vote against legislation to raise the minimum wage (even if it results in jobs being lost) or legislation to raise the 45% tax rate to 50% (even if it results in revenue being lost). This arrangement would almost certainly not be able to last for five years, which given the Fixed Term Parliaments Act could be a problem. I don’t think this will be a problem, because when all of the unambiguously leftie-friendly policies have gone through it would be in almost every party’s interests to table a vote of no confidence and see Labour lose it. I predict in this instance the government would last for two years.
  2. Labour/Lib Dem coalition: Labour would probably need at least 290 seats for this to work (not what the polls are suggesting, but not impossible with 30 gains from Con and 10 from Lib). This would mean Liberal Democrat ministers in government again which would cause some short-term constitutional confusions but would probably end up quite stable and last for a full five-year term. If this is possible, I’m sure Labour would prefer the stability of this option to the uncertainty of option 1.
  3. Conservative/Lib Dem coalition: This seems, at the moment, the only way the Conservatives will continue in government. If this happens I imagine both parties will grin and bear it and last a full five-year term. It could even be better for the Conservatives to lose seats in Con/Lib marginals because (bear with me on this) Liberal Democrat seats do not make it significantly less likely that there will be a Conservative-led government after the election, but they will make it significantly more likely that Labour will have to rule as a minority (option 1) than in coalition with the Lib Dems (option 2).
NB option 2 or option 3 might also have to involve a DUP presence in government. This would probably be quite easy in either circumstance and could involve a DUP Defence Secretary and a commitment to 2% of GDP to be spent on defence, as the DUP seems to be suggesting this is the most important condition for their support. I hope it is clear that there is really no overlap between these possibilities. That is to say, as soon as the votes are counted, I reckon there will only be one possibility. If the Conservatives + the Lib Dems (+ the DUP) can form a government, they will. If Labour + the Lib Dems (+ the DUP) can form a government, they will. If neither of these can, the only hope of getting legislation passed is Labour relying on other left wing parties. To put it in terms of numbers, we’ll assume 50 SNP seats, 30 Lib Dem seats, 8 DUP seats, 12 ‘Others’ seats, and the remaining 550 are either Labour or Conservative. L = ‘Number of Labour seats’, C = ‘Number of Conservative seats’. L + C = 550. If L > 290, Labour forms coalition government with Lib Dems and possibly DUP. (option 2) If C > 290, Conservatives form coaltion government with the Lib Dems and possibly DUP. (option 3) If 260 < L < 290, Labour forms minority government. (option 1)
This means that if the country votes in a more left wing way (more Labour gains from Conservatives) there is more likely to be a less left wing government, because Labour would have enough seats to form a coalition which the Lib Dems would make significantly less left wing that a Labour minority government would have to be.

Prime Minister’s Poodle or Puppeteer? Nick Clegg’s Highs and Lows

by Oliver Wratten




A wobbling jelly of indecision and vacillation- Boris Johnson

(Young) people are disinterested in politics and disillusioned in power structures preciselyperhaps more because of Nick Clegg than anybody else- Russell Brand  

"He's there to serve a very important ceremonial function as David Cameron's lapdog-cum-prophylactic protection device for all the difficult things that David Cameron has to do. - Boris Johnson (again)

It would be fair to say that Nick Clegg hasnt exactly had it easy since moving in next to Number 10. Neither would it be unfair to say that he and his party have plummeted from a dream election to a nightmare reversal. Despite achieving 23% of the total vote in the 2010 election and 57 seats, polls now imply that they are less popular than UKIP, standing at a relatively dismal 8% (BBC poll of polls).

Its easy to forget that Nick Clegg was the spearhead for what seemed to be an exciting yellow revolution. Personal highlights for the Liberal leader include his 53.4% share of the vote in Sheffield Hallam and, notably, the Guardian ICM poll showing that 51% of people felt he won the TV debates of the last election. David Cameron and Gordon I agree with NickBrown found themselves struggling to compete with what was, at the time, Cleggmania. But Cleggmania is no more. The stark contrast between past and present is underpinned by the Lib Dem flash mob in Trafalgar square five years ago:



Compared to the scenes at their poster launch last month


The list of Cleggs personal blunders combined with Liberal Democrat failures is a long one, to the extent where it is farcical. Highlights include his humbling defeat to Nigel Farage in the famed EU: in vs out debate, in which he polled at a mere 31% to Farages 69%. Clegg was also engaged in a satirical battle of oneupmanship with Boris Johnson throughout the last parliament, as some of the quotations above may suggestthe choice metaphor depicting him as David Camerons condom was hardly an image booster. However, debates and condoms aside, the greatest catastrophe for Clegg and his party was undoubtedly tuition fees. He made a cast iron promise that tuition fees would not rise if the Lib Dems were in government - a broken promise that will leave a permanent stain on his political career. Students, parents and third parties alike perceive this as an unforgivable sin: a sin so severe that a portion of the old Lib Dem faithful will be lost indefinitely. In fact, the emphasis on this particular lack of achievement often provides a distraction from other, near equally cringeworthy failures to deliver pledges. Take VAT for example: the Liberal Democrats posted billboards to advertise the horrors of a Tory VAT bombshell, yet supported George Osbournes budget less than two months later. Party failures also include cuts to the police force, reform to the House of Lords and the introduction of political specialist advisors on the government pay roll, twenty of them adhering to Nick Clegg himself. 

Personally, I don't mind poor old Cleggers. To tell the truth, I think he is one of the best Westminster politicians. Even though it is my generation that bears the burden of his primary broken promise, he is one of the few who makes an active effort to connect to ordinary people. Quips and jibes aside, Nick Clegg obviously had to handle a great deal of responsibility as deputy PM and leader of the Lib Dems. He also has a multitude of commitments, whether they be in the form of quad meetings, the Houses of Parliament or campaigns. Despite all of this, Clegg tries his best to have a conversation with his critics and supporters alike. He hosts a weekly radio show (Call Clegg) on LBC, involves himself in interviews and debates at every opportunity, made an appearance on The Last Leg  three months ago and boldly issued a public apology for his incompetence with regard to tuition fees. The latter was, incidentally, remixed with autotune and went viral on youtube, adding insult to injury for the already wounded Clegg. However, he showed no sign of complaint, taking the parody in his stride and displaying a good sense of humour. Not only does Clegg care about connecting domestically; he speaks French, Spanish, Dutch and German in addition to his native English tongue, often using his linguistic ability to hold meetings with foreign ambassadors and to hold TV interviews across Europe. It is apparent that Clegg really cares about the people he attempts to represent. Therefore, his vilification and nosedive on the personal ratings scale seem at least slightly unjust.

Let us consider Boris Johnsons final analogy. Albeit crude, it is actually surprisingly accurate. Whilst the PM endured a sizeable share of public disapproval, the proportion of censure inflicted upon Clegg makes Cameron seem like a divinity subject to widespread worship. Even with 15x more people relying on food banks than at the start of the parliament, a broken Tory promise not to raise VAT, net immigration at around 300,000 (promised to be in the 10,000s) and stagnated economic growth, it is the smaller party in coalition that suffered the most.

Photography Club: Jumping

by Nadia Vloemans




Discussing The Gap Between Men’s And Women’s Football And How To Fix It

by Sam Kent



I was discussing, with my friends today, football in general, and one topic that can never escape discussion when on the subject of football is the sheer amount of money that is seemingly chucked around by people and organisations that have too much to know what to sensibly do with it all. This then brought us to the capital gulf between men’s football, with which the previous description is paired, and women’s football, which usually slips under the radar in the footballing world. This is, of course, due to the lack of funding in the women’s game, the source of which lies at the bottom of a pile of factors that are hard to take, but just illustrate the extent to which ‘money talks’ in the modern world.

The first reason that women’s football is poorly funded compared to that of men’s is, due simply to human biology, the gulf in quality between the two. A woman, due to the course that evolution has taken (especially during the Palaeolithic Age), will generally have less strong muscles in the arms and legs than a man, due to the latter’s habit of hunting and fighting to survive. Natural selection then steps in to explain why it is evolutionarily favourable for a man to have larger muscles in these areas and thus why men have proceeded to evolve in this way.

Back to football, and this biological difference between the two sexes explains why the men’s game is usually of a higher quality: due to their ability to kick the ball with more force and to tackle harder, and run faster across the pitch. This, I predict, is when sceptics of football will make comments regarding the surprising ease with which a male footballer will go to ground after a tackle – and yes, I have nothing to counter this; it is a part of football that I, as a lover of the game, hate, and I wish for its riddance.

This fact in turn explains why there is more money in men’s football than in women’s: people will pay a higher price (or, more importantly, companies with the power will charge a higher price) to watch a higher standard of football. It is the same as with any product: the higher the quality, the higher the price. The unfortunate aspect of this rampant capitalism’s effect on football as a whole is that this starts a domino effect: men’s football clubs receive more money, they invest in grassroots football (the lowest level of football: children’s and teenagers’ football) as well as better facilities for current players; the quality of men’s football grows as a result of this investment; broadcasting companies charge more for the privilege of watching this football; the cycle begins again. The constant repeat of this cycle is due to the price inelasticity of demand that football as a commercial product has: football fans (as with any other sport) are very devoted and money is little concern when it comes to watching their team, or perhaps just watching the best teams around. 

As a result of this, the gulf between men’s and women’s football becomes larger and larger until the women’s game is mostly forgotten about by the general public. I must admit, it was only around four or five years ago, long after I had grown to love football, that I was aware of a professional women’s football league and national team.

I do not, however, wish to undermine the achievements of women’s football; in particular our very own women’s England football team. After the men’s World Cup in the summer of 2014, in which England did very poorly and were knocked out after having played only three games (winning zero), they returned to play at Wembley Stadium (the home of both sexes’ national teams) to a crowd of 40,000 against Norway – 50,000 lower than capacity. This was, of course, due to the public relations between the England team and their fans, which were in tatters after the World Cup. Two months later, however, more of Wembley’s seats were to be filled as the England Women’s team played their first ever match at the home of English football. They played to a crowd of almost 46,000 against Germany Women’s, which, although is still around half capacity, was around 12,000 more than the FA (the chief governing body of English football) expected and, of course, topped the attendance of the aforementioned England men’s fixture.

Why You Should Vote Labour

by Ross Watkins


We cannot afford to have David Cameron in 10 Downing Street for any longer. We need sustainable growth. We need economic stability. However, we need a fair society. The Tory election campaign, headed by Lynton Crosby, has pushed a strong growing economy. What good is the fastest economic growth in the Western World if it only works for the privileged few? 

As a nation we need an economy which works for every working person. In the last five years, since the coalition entered parliament, the number of people using food banks has increased from 25,899 to 1,084,604, a 4088% increase. This is criminal in the fifth richest country in the world. In the same time frame every millionaire in the country was given a £42,295 tax cut. It is very clear that the Conservatives are working for the few. They are working for their donors, multimillionaires, who shape policy to satisfy personal interest.

We cannot have this sort of country.

Labour is the party of the everyday person. We will create a fair society where work does pay but not at the expense of someone else. We will have a society where everybody pays there tax; where having money should not exempt you from contributing to society. We listen to the people and we have changed out policies to reflect that. We will control immigration, control spending and reduce student costs. We need policies for the collective, we are all in this together and in the 21st century we need to put the people first.

I urge you stand up for equality. I urge you to vote to have change. Most crucially, I urge you to realise the suffering of the vulnerable in our society. Think what has happened in the last five years with Liberal Democrat moderation. Despair over what could happen in the next.

Photography Club: Swing

by Edward Gregory



Why You Should Vote UKIP

by William Bates



You have a choice: you can vote for the tired establishment, who have lied to you again and again and failed in government or you can back me and vote for change. 

The Conservatives claim that they have a 'long term economic plan' and yet under this Conservative-led government the debt has doubled. You may think that Labour is on your side as they want to cut tuition fees but in reality they want to increase taxes on private schools by up to 700 million pounds and destroyed our economy last time they were in government. The Lib Dems can't be trusted after they betrayed you on tuition fees and have not even made clear if they would work with the Tories or Ed Miliband after the election or said what their 'red lines' would be. Some people see the Green Party as the change that they need- I say that these people are wrong. The Greens want to abolish our armed forces, which would be terrible for Portsmouth, massively increase taxes on private schools, abolish the monarchy and remove all border controls.  

A vote for me is a vote for real change. 

It is a vote to invest an extra £12 billion into the NHS and fund 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs and 3,000 more midwives. A vote for me is a vote to crack down on benefit fraud and welfare tourism, while recognising that the coalition has been too harsh with policies such as the bedroom tax, which forces people out of their homes even if the 'spare room' is vacant because their son or daughter is serving in our armed forces. 

Year 10 French Exchange

by Katie Green


During the first week of the Easter holidays, a group of year 10 pupils, including myself, took part in a French exchange, with the school of Institution Sainte-Marie, in Antony, which is near Paris. We had each been assigned a partner, and had been corresponding with them for some time before we arrived, so we also had a basis of familiarity on which to build.

During our stay, we visited many iconic monuments, like the l’arc du triumph; we also visited the louvre, amongst many others. The only noteworthy attraction that we did not see was the Eiffel Tower, but fortunately, many in our number were lucky enough to visit it with their host families. These excursions were fascinating and helped us understand the new culture that we were experiencing, by having some knowledge of where it originated. In between these organised events, we were also given some time to roam around, going shopping or getting a drink. These were some of my favourite times, as you got to see Paris, not just from a tourists point of view, but also the city itself. It was, moreover, a chance to relish the new freedom that we had been granted, due to our advanced age and maturity. It was wonderful to know that our teachers trusted us be sensible, and to also know that they believed that we would not abuse that trust.

However, perhaps the most crucial part was the time that was spent with our partners and their families. The hosts were uniformly welcoming and accommodating, and no one had a bad word to say about them. It was a fantastic opportunity to be involved with their day to day lives, and be able to note how it differed from our own. In particular, the packed lunches were very memorable. We had a feeling that they were a bit of a foreign concept to the French, as people were being given some truly odd concoctions. They were also receiving truly incredible quantities of food. On one day, someone had been given five satsumas. Another had three packets of crisps, six drinks, two sandwiches, a chocolate bar, crackers and a salad. One more area in which they seemed to struggle was my friend’s vegetarianism. They would try to find out what she liked, and then stick it all together in a box, which is how she ended up with an egg and tomato salad. More alarmingly, when in the stage of speaking online before having met, she was sent an acknowledgement that she was vegetarian, and then asked if she wanted chicken, bacon or pate in her sandwiches! Another subject of note was how much later they ate, usually eating dinner at about ten thirty in the evening.

Photography Club: Rope Swing

by Will Hall



Portsmouth South: The Candidates Debate!

by Alex McKirgan

Mr Lemieux kicked off the 2015 General Election hustings at PGS on Thursday evening.
Candidates from the 5 major parties were present as well Portsmouth South sitting MP Mike Hancock who is standing as an independent. The purpose of the event was to help inform the 
choice for registered voters and for Y12 pupils to listen and decide which candidate they might
support.
Information was given about the Portsmouth South constituency including the constituency
boundary and which areas are included. The constituency demographics revealed a relatively
high student ratio and growth in Asian and other ethnic minority voters. Compared to the rest of
the nation, the constituency is quite secular with 11% identifying themselves as Christian, which
is below the national average. There is quite a big variation in economic conditions across the
constituency.
Mr Lemieux concluded with election statistics from 2010. Mike Hancock, the former MP, won as
a Liberal Democrat with a 12% margin over the Conservatives and has held the seat since 1997.
Labour support has fallen slightly over recent elections, possibly due to tactical voting. Labour
voters may have voted Liberal Democrat to prevent the Conservatives winning the seat. Prior to
1983, the seat had been a safe Conservative seat for many years.
Mr Lemieux outlined some potential scenarios for current election. He explained that the Liberal
Democrats have lost support by being in the coalition government and with Mike Hancock now
standing as an Independent, this may split the Liberal Democrat vote. Some questions were
posed:
- Will Mike Hancock's personal vote hold up or will voters stick to party lines?
- What will happen to Labour voters? Will they still vote tactically or has Ed Milliband
made a difference?
- What will be the role of the insurgent parties (UKIP and Greens)? In an age when
many voters are disillusioned with old parties, how much support will they get?

Clearly this is going to be a very interesting election.

The candidates were then introduced, Starting with Steve Harris (UKIP). 

Mr Harris stated that UKIP had won the most recent National election (2014 elections to 
the European Parliament), have more MEPs than any other party and have numerous 
local councillors. He promised that UKIP were the only party that could be relied upon to 
force a Referendum on EU membership. Given that the polls are pointing to no one party 
having an overall majority, Mr Harris was not sure about the prospects of a UKIP-
Conservative coalition 

The Green Party were represented by their candidate for Gosport, Monica Cassidy. She 
talked a lot about Green Party Policy and less about local Portsmouth issues. She gave 
a brief history of the party and pointed out that the Green Party is not just about the 
environment. The party also focuses on social justice and equality issues as well but is 


Thursday, 30 April 2015 
less interested in profit for large companies. Despite this, she claimed the the Green 
Party is not anti-business but seeks to address issues like tax evasion and damage done 
to environment. 
less interested in profit for large companies. Despite this, she claimed the the Green 
Party is not anti-business but seeks to address issues like tax evasion and damage done 
to environment. 

The Liberal Democrats were represented by Gerald Vernon Jackson. Mr Jackson said he was 
proud of his party's achievements in the area. He felt Liberal Democrat parliamentary 
and council representatives had stopped the closure the Naval Dockyard and Naval 
Base, increased the number of council houses built and created more primary school 
places. He believed that the Liberal Democrats had helped pull other parties towards the 
centre. Despite this progress, he thought there was more work to do. He pointed out that 
life expectancy in Portsmouth is 10 years less than Drayton, which is 3 miles away. 

MIke Hancock is defending the seat as an Independent, having previously held the seat 
as a Liberal Democrat. He is a local boy and has been an MP for 21 years. He said that 
he wanted to be a strong voice for everyone in the constituency and felt he had played a 
part in the team that had transformed Portsmouth. He was not a part of the Tory 
coalition. He voted against it more than any other MP and believed that it had not been 
good for local people. He felt that housing and failing schools were the biggest local 
issues. He was prepared to make a difference by focussing on individuals rather than 
working through a big political party. 

The Conservatives were represented by Flick Drummond. She opened by saying that 
Portsmouth South was a key target seat for the Conservatives and talked about how the 
policies pursued by the government had turned around the economy. She talked about 
the need for a plan to boost jobs and investment. She spends a lot of time with small 
businesses and believes these companies can be an important provider of jobs if they 
get help. She highlighted the problem of not enough GPs in the city and how the 
Conservatives plan to address the issue. Finally, she wants Portsmouth to become the 
cycling capital of the UK. Portsmouth had too many cars and being a flat island, is very 
suitable for cycling. 

The Labour Party were represented by Sue Castillon. She explained how her family 
were Spanish Republicans who had fought against Franco. They came to the UK after 
Franco won the Spanish Civil War. She grew up in Derbyshire but has lived locally for 20 
years and works as a Community worker, working with inner city families. She talked 
about how many local families struggle to survive on 'zero hours' contracts and the 
importance of building support for future generations. Her focus is is on health and social 
care and supports devolving power to local MPs so they can resolve local issues. 

After the candidates had introduced themselves, Mr Lemieux asked for questions from 
the audience: