The Political X Factor

It is the general view that the UK is a democratic country, whose government is built upon electorate representation and the response to popular grievances. This is why we have referendums, we vote for our MP and are able to express dissatisfaction with policy through protests and petitions. This may be so, but there are conventions in Parliament taint any aspect of democracy.


The fundamental example of this is seen in the use of parliamentary Whips in the Commons. Whips are a name given to ministers whom ensure MPs’ align their votes on legislation with the party’s guidelines, known as ‘toeing the party line’. These Whips essentially circulate their party’s MPs before votes on major pieces of legislation, and observe the voting doors to pressurise MPs into voting as advised. It can be argued that this ensures cohesion of politicians within a political party and creates unity on key issues debated in Parliament. The Chief Whip, currently Julian Smith, has official residence at 12 Downing Street, showing the close knit relationship between party leaders and the Whip’s office. Ensuring MPs are abiding by the hypothesis of the current party manifesto would make sense if the representation of the electorate did not hang in the balance.

Surely disregarding constituents and voting on vital, life changing legislation purely to appease one’s party is inherently undemocratic and extinguishes all attempts at representation our political system seeks to implement. It is no use voting for an MP to address your grievances in Parliament if they do not use their position in the Commons to be the voice of their constituency. After questioning my local MP, Steve Baker, he commented how all MPs are torn between ‘their conscience, their constituents and their country’. To me, there is no contest. Why bother having 650 MPs for all constituencies in the UK if they are not all going to be mechanisms for representative democracy? MPs who do not obey Whips are labelled as ‘rebels’ in Parliament. The negative connotations to this reference are unfit. It should not be seen as rebellious to listen to popular grievances and vote on legislation according to what your constituents desire, whom elected you in the first place.

Clearly, politics is no longer a selfless career; the advancement of a party and achieving a large majority in general elections is the main objective of modern political parties. Surely having the best manifesto to suit the public at that particular time is the most significant aspect of democracy. Responding to the public is what Parliament appear to have at the top of their agenda, but the competitive drive behind politicians is something that cannot be overlooked any longer. It should not be a matter of choice between two polar opposite parties, constituents should feel they can relate to their elected MP and the policies they seek to implement in their particular region, which will inevitably differ from others.

It is clear that true democracy cannot be achieved whilst party Whips are still in operation in our parliament. This fashions a dictator-like government which alienates the electorate from the decision making process. A so-called ‘political X factor’ is seen in the workings of Parliament, making the main objective of the political parties a competition-like triumph, rather than democratic representation of the people.

Angel Witney


Feminist Fakes

Feminism has endured a lot of stigmatism in recent years, being misunderstood for an ideology about the superiority of women, instead of the true premise of gender equality. Despite women anachronistically experiencing more discrimination than men, it is clear that archaic gender stereotypes are the root cause of gender inequality, not just female disadvantage. By seeing all genders as the same species, free from architypes and traditional roles, true equality will be achievable.

Rose McGowan, acclaimed actress and author, whipped feminists into a frenzy after her shocking and somewhat uncalled for response to a transgender woman criticising McGowan’s lack of support for transgender victims of sexual assault. Asking her “what have you done for women?” and saying “I don’t come from your planet” unveiled a side of McGowan that was far from the compassionate feminist campaigner. This factionalism within the community of women exacerbates the fragility of the feminist movement and inhibits commendable progress with the absence of cohesion and support from all genders. Both considering themselves feminists, Rose McGowan and the lady who criticised her actions, exemplify the issues with the feminist movement and how a universal agenda has been lost amongst internal conflicts. The same applies to men; everybody has to be on board for gender equality for it to be achieved, especially due to the male dominance in Parliament.

rose mcgowan

In terms of male equality, concepts like paternity leave and child custody disadvantage men severely. 88% of men who apply to court to have contact with their children are granted visitation rights, with most of these scenarios being an every other weekend arrangement. Although we like to think our justice system has evolved with society and has overcome gender stereotyping, it is clear that women are still viewed as the rightful parent, and has advantages when it comes to custody. Surely by allowing men the ability to take on roles that are traditionally for the women, this breaks gender stereotyping on all levels, and allows women to break free from the Victorian ‘Angel in the home’ label that still lingers in modern day society. Implemented from above, these laws and conventions are a significant setback in the advancement of feminism, and will continue to be until enough influence is exerted from below.

In light of this, the stigma attached to sexual assault allegations also inhibits the advancement of feminist ideals. I recently heard a true story of a man being pressured into having sex with a woman, after repeatedly declining her advancements. Although the man was not raped, the uncomfortable, trapped feeling he described was clearly the same as any female’s endurance of sexual assault. Where this differs comes from his following comment: “imagine if it was the other way round”. The dismissal of male victims of sexual misconduct emphasises the gender dichotomy in modern society, inadvertently disallowing the progression of all genders as equal. It is factually clear that women are more frequently the victims of sexual assault, with 82% of all juvenile victims and 90% of adult rape victims being female, however it is important not to ignore the minorities in light of true gender equality.

Therefore, it is clear the true way forward for feminism is a cohesive vision with all genders, in order to tackle gender inequality from all angles. This method abstains from factionalism within feminist ideals and breaks down stereotypes from the male perspective also. Where this gets difficult, is when feminists focus on solely the female perspective instead of seeing gender inequality through all lenses, making a feminist vision more powerful and achievable. For example, ending the gender pay gap will only make women equal to their male counterparts; no one is hurt and everyone propers under gender equality.

Angel Witney


Toff for PM?

Georgia Toffolo, most commonly known as ‘Toff’ is the 23 year old blonde bombshell, who is most well-known for winning the most recent series of ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’. As well as being a white, privileged, socialite, Toff has recently utilised her platform to advocate her political support for the Conservatives, appearing on multiple reality shows and interviews expressing her passion and support for the party. Despite all of the Tory bashing appearing on my twitter feed, it is clear that Toff should not be condemned for her political persuasion, but the reality that her ideology is fundamentally flawed and misunderstood.


The clip of Toff on ‘Celebs go Dating’ circulated social media extensively, receiving so much criticism that E4 deleted the video entitled ‘Toff for PM?’; the video angered me, not due to my own self-proclaimed title of ‘Lord Left Wing’, but the hypocritical and contradictory statements Toff made. Conservatism is based on the belief in hierarchy. The idea that the working class are born into a rightful place, compared to the middle and upper class deserving their privilege, is engrained in Conservatism, provoking her claim that the party believes in prosperity to be ultimately deceiving. Being born into wealth has blinded Toff of the Cycle of Deprivation and that the working class are genuinely hindered by society’s favour of the middle class. Although Toff stated that she couldn’t understand how someone who is ‘young and wanted to do well’ could have a socialist ideology, this is merely applicable to the already privileged classes.

Toff also advocated her support of fox hunting as a ‘great British tradition’, showing her narrow-minded beliefs are motivated by her background (even though she did go to a grammar school for an entire month). The disregard for the working class’ disassociation with fox hunting as a tradition rather than merely the barbaric murder of animals, shows her closed-mindedness and lack of respect for those not from a privileged background, whom construct the majority of Britain’s population. Thus, Toff’s candidacy for PM is fundamentally flawed through her lack of empathy in terms of the working class. Her claim that the Tories have failed to utilise social media as a platform for youth support was criticised by her interviewer saying ‘but they need to have something to say’. This was a prime exemplification of the young socialite being absorbed in her own societal advantages, and a lack of respect for other walks of life.

Some may say that is what politics is; believing in policies that are primarily motivated by one’s upbringing and background. I disagree. In my eyes, a political ideology should be based on a view of a future society. In light of this, Toff’s attacks on socialism are nonsensical, as she seems to view socialism as a hindrance to prosperity, whereas it is based on equality in terms of aiding the working class. Her failure to understand life without privilege has consequentially altered her view of the Conservative party’s real goals; yes, they believe in prosperity for the higher classes, but not universally, with Conservatism being primarily based on obtaining the natural hierarchy. Toff for PM? I bloody hope not.

Angel Witney


Industrialised Education

My secondary school has recently instilled a crackdown on the uniform policy, provoking a lot of unrest amongst the students throughout the year groups. As someone who takes pride in individuality, believing that allowing young people to express themselves is a core ingredient to a better quality of life, the clone-like, oppressive and unnecessary enforcement of such uniform rules has really hit home. In conjunction with this, it is clear that the UK’s approach to education is invariably industrialised and archaic, instilling hierarchy and authority, with the absence of creativity and individuality.

Our current education system was designed during the industrial revolution, ignoring the concept of uniqueness. Uniform is a form of oppression. It is enforced to differentiate between those obeying and those to be obeyed. Therefore, a strict uniform policy that is currently being forced upon students in my school, is inadvertently instilling the extreme right wing notion of permanent hierarchy. The senior staff at my school retaliated saying that uniform ‘promotes equality’, which made me chuckle. Yes, there is physical quality between students through looking the same, but what about spiritual equality? Surely giving students the equal ability to express themselves and portray themselves in a way which they are most content with, promotes freedom. Moreover, I can speak on behalf of many, that by being able to express myself and feel unique, I am a more effective learner, more willing to obey authority that allows me the freedom to be myself and instils a generally more accepting and diverse atmosphere. The argument to suggest that uniform creates an absence of bullying based on materialistic wealth is frankly hypocritical. Through a normalisation of clone-like synchronisation, it is creating a more divisive attitude towards various faiths, styles, cultures and interests, due to the absence of familiarisation and acceptance. This is inherently industrialized. Schools are fizzling out every aspect of individuality of our students, diminishing the creativity and imagination essential to success.


Industrialistion endeavours to specifically produce obedient workers; the training to obey authority and follow instructions is deeply engrained in schools today. Linking to Illich’s de-schooling theory, the monotonous structure of examinations, lecturing and a consensus level of progress to follow is designed to determine success through one vehicle, making anyone who does not suit this style of testing, a failure. The industrial age of factory workers based success on the ability to follow instructions, however, in today’s society, success quintessentially derives from the ability to be creative and different. The memory-based inauthenticity of the education process is superfluous, examining students on their ability to retain information, which is inevitably forgotten imminently after the exam is finished. The skills of creativity and innovation are barely associated with one’s ability to memorise the equation of momentum of a moving object (or whatever useless information I had to engrain into my brain during Physics GCSE), meaning students are being stressed and tested on things that literally do not matter to their desired career path.

The lack of autonomy advocated by schools is failing to prepare our students for adulthood. Every aspect of a student’s life is controlled by the school. In the real world, people need to effectively manage their own time to suit individual needs, which inevitably differ between all individuals. The generalisation of a year group as a whole fails to suit all students, which is why a class can contain a huge variety of academic progress and achievement. Being in year 13, my school allows us to have Wednesdays off school. However, for some students this privilege has been taken away, due to an ‘inadequacy’ of grades and progress. It is extremely oppressive and unjust to give certain students this advantage and not others, purely based on academic success, when it is the school system itself that disables certain students to progress as quickly as others. This meritocratic approach to scholastic achievement is extremely harmful to students’ self-esteem, as well as disabling a true representation of the adult world. By instilling the idea that success comes from following orders and not from critical thinking or imagination, our archaic education system is failing us.

To conclude, it is clear that the only way our education system can be saved is through intensive reform, ensuring creativity is measured and valued as much as academic achievement. The infrastructure of our schools is built on industrialisation and meritocratic order-taking that merely hinders the independency of our students.

Angel Witney


Gordon Brown: A Life in Politics

Gordon Brown’s A Life in Politics lecture at the LSE was as compelling as it was insightful, as the charismatic ex-Prime Minister took attendees on a journey of his political career. His talk opened with a humorous anecdote unveiling his first experience of the LSE was having £50 stolen from his jacket in the university library, following an overview of issues he encountered during his time in politics, whilst also offering his view of current affairs.

His talk began with a focus on leadership and what it means to be an effective leader. He solidifies this by saying the most important factor of leadership is a “clear and hopeful vision of the future, compelling enough to persuade people.” He then went on to apply this to the South-African anti-apartheid revolutionary, Nelson Mandela; his equal treatment of everyone, including his greeting to the Queen during one phone call as “hello, Elizabeth”, gave him a cohesive vision that enabled his political career to be so successful. When applying Brown’s own theory of leadership to his role as Labour Prime Minister, it is questionable that his governance serves as highly as his sense of humour. It is hard to ignore the illegitimacy of Brown’s role, as he inherited his position from Blair in 2007 and opinion polls for the Labour Party plummeted during the 2008 recession. Moreover, it is hard to decipher what Brown’s “clear and hopeful vision of the future” actually was. Although the ex- Prime Minister supported a range of legislation, he is not known for any iconic implementation or movement during his leadership; in conjunction with this, one can argue that Brown’s time as chancellor was more successful for him than his time as Prime Minister. However, his dealing with the recession meant that Brown was so consumed with domestic economic policy that it was difficult to produce revolutionary legislation. Leadership also goes hand in hand with public image; Brown was never known for his charisma, despite this shining through in his talk at the LSE. Opinion polls of Brown were generally negative throughout his governance, not to mention his faux pas with Gillian Duffy calling her ‘bigoted’. Following such a popular figurehead as Tony Blair was always going to be a challenge, but it is clear that Brown’s leadership skills do not adhere to his definition.

During his time as chancellor, Brown played a key role in some of Labour’s most praised pieces of legislation, including the minimum wage. The 2008 financial crisis also flaunted Brown’s ability to deal with economic decline, organising the G20 meetings in 2009, as well as naming tax havens and a 5% target for ‘go for growth’ inflation. However, Brown admits he “failed to convince the people to run a deficit”, provoking the highest rate of unemployment in 2011 after his leadership. Through this, we can see Brown’s prime focus in his career was economic policy, largely as a consequence of the recession.

The socialist ideological tenet of cooperation proved dear to Brown’s heart as he applied it to many political concepts. As well as his stress of popular sovereignty, Brown proposes the need for “global solutions to global problems” as “national prosperity relies on international cooperation.” In so many words, the ex-Prime Minister associates the failure to tackle issues like pollution and inequality as a lack of cohesion on an international scale. The compelling example of Trump’s economic policies was utilised by Brown to suggest that the slashing of imports in order to obtain a more nationalist approach to US politics, consequentially diminishes exports due to a lack of international cooperation. This is evidence that cooperation is the prime resource to economic success on a national scale, proving why Brexit is ultimately more pain than its worth. The critique of neo-liberalism also shined through as Brown claimed “autonomy is impossible in an interdependent world”, and that Labour is “swimming against the tide of a neo-liberal government”, whom wrongly puts inflation before unemployment.

The finality of Browns visit to the LSE ceased with an anecdote about the novelist Anthony Burgess. After meeting the author at Edinburgh festival, Burgess told Brown of a 21st chapter in his phenomenal book ‘A Clockwork Orange’ whereby the protagonist, Alex DeLarge, repents for his sins and embellishes the author’s Catholic background. However, this chapter was erased by publishers and Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation. Brown brings this narrative back with a claim that “we need a chapter 21”. The government need to iron out all issues like Brexit, Priti Patel’s secret Israeli meetings and the surge of sexual misconduct allegations circling the Commons, in order to redeem themselves.

Angel Witney


It’s Not Just Left-Wing

Many people generalise the political spectrum as a mere Left and Right, and give themselves a political diagnosis based on equally generalised archetypes of the two. In reality, it is a lot more complex than that; even political theorists sharing a Left-Wing vision have disputes. Knowledge of these denominations help one understand their political agenda in far better detail.


On the extreme left of the spectrum we have Communism, the basis of which is the oppression of the proletariat from the bourgeoisie. Karl Marx and his ‘Communist Manifesto’ is the general image of radical left politics, with his belief in a possibly violent revolution in order to overthrow a Capitalist system.  The intolerance of Capitalism is the shared idea of far left theorists. Marx also endeavoured to achieve utter democracy through complete nationalisation of industry and the eventual abolition of money. This essentially depicts the far left’s agenda as absolute rule of the people in a socio-economic setting, ridding society of the toxic nature of exploitation from the Bourgeoisie.

Other theorists who adopted Marx’s ideas include Lenin, Stalin and Mao. These figures followed the revolutionary aspects of Marx’s teaching with slight alterations. Lenin adopted Marx’s ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ idea (whereby the working class seize the means of production and re-educate the Capitalists) and implemented Vanguardism into his ideology. This essentially discusses how in order for Communism to be achieved, someone needs to lead the working class revolution, acting as a Vanguard to spur it on. However, it can be argued that Leninism is slightly less radical that Marxism, due to his ‘New Economic Policy’ whereby some industries are privatised after a successful revolution. Similarly, Mao agreed with Marx on the majority of his policies, whilst also believing that a Communist revolution could be achieved in a feudal society, and that the overthrow of Capitalism was not a necessary factor. Stalinism provides an alternative far left idea, with the complete belief in a violent revolution and a specific focus on a centralized economy. Therefore, whilst all share a far left basis, it is clear that this is split between various means of achieving similar ends.

This idea of split ideologies is also present in central-left views. Democratic Socialism is the predominant ideology in Venezuelan politics, exercised through the rule of Chavez and Muduro. Although Democratic Socialists do not endeavour to achieve a communist society, the shared implementation of large scale nationalisation deems Democratic Socialism the middle of the left spectrum. Where they differ from Communist ideas is through the belief in social welfare instead of simply a stateless, classless society, and also the idea of gradualism whereby society permeates socialist ideas to eventually reform, rather than a revolution. This is in support of Socialism’s ‘equality of outcome’, meaning aid is given to those poorer in society, in order to achieve an equal product of wealth distribution. Economists argue that Democratic Socialism is only achievable in an economically strong country, due to the immense government funding required to finance nationalised industries and social welfare. This produces a valid explanation why Venezuela still experiences mass poverty today; it is not a fault in the ideology but an inadequate economic structure.


Despite its stupidly similar name, Social Democrats provide an alternative centre-left ideology. It is argued that every Western country has a Social Democrat party, the UK’s being Labour, due to their more centralist ideas compared to other Left Wing factions. Social Democrats advocate a mixed economy, with some main industries nationalised and governmentally owned, whilst others are privatised to invoke competition. This resolves the argument regarding the poor quality of goods and services from nationalised industries, as companies feel obliged to obtain customers and avoid them reverting to competitors. However, Social Democrats share ideas with other Left Wing thinkers; a belief in social justice and an extensive welfare state proves their prime focus on aiding the working class, a trait shared across the scale of Left Wing ideas. Similar to Marxism, Social Democrats believe in the inevitability of Capitalism’s failure, and it being the root cause to unemployment.

blairThe most centralist, and frequently argued Right Wing influenced ideas of Tony Blair and the Third Way can be seen to stray away from Socialism’s tenets more than any other ideology. Whilst Communism is built on the idea that there is a natural conflict between the Proletariat and Bourgeoisie, Blair offers a consensus class view. A knowledge economy replaces the belief in nationalisation, advocating knowledge as the prime resource, consequently increasing competition. Despite the Third Way straying far from Socialist ideals, it is technically still Left Wing, despite Blair not being a socialist- but that’s a whole other article.

I have in no way touched upon the broad scope of ideologies within the Left Wing spectrum, but offer a flavour of the variants, from radical to tempered. It is important to know where you stand specifically in terms of your views, and not to generalise the scale as a mere Left or Right process.

Angel Witney


A Populist Façade: “Make America Great Again”

As stated by Wikipedia, Populism is a mode of political communication that appeals to the “common man,” often contrasted with the enemy of the “privileged elite.”‘ In other words, populism is a style or strategy used by politicians to appeal to the majority of the population, by addressing significant grievances in society and broadening their demographic. An accessible example is UKIP; by utilising the concern of immigration throughout the UK, the party were able to advocate the Vote Leave campaign and succeed in the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. There is growing debate as to whether US President Donald Trump is a Populist: with his inclusive attitude to a common goal to “make America great again” juxtaposed with his extreme anti- immigration, low taxation and deregulation, it blurs the lines between Trump’s populist and elitist essence.

trump 2The famous line “make America great again” gave the common voter a buzz. Fuelled by the significant patriotism in the USA, this tagline resonated heavily with the common man and essentially won Trump the election. In my opinion, this phrase is one of the greatest examples of populist propaganda in recent years. Through the vague language, the approach to making America great is malleable and morphs to suit each voter accordingly, without actually unveiling Trump’s approach to the endeavour. Greatness differs from person to person, but manages to blur the lines between each minority group and create a society with an inclusive façade. I am sure that when just under 30% of Hispanic voters voted for Trump, they did not anticipate the President to attempt to build a wall between the US and Mexico. That’s just the genius of it; no one actually knew how Trump would make America great again, but still believed he would.

At a glance, Trump seems to favour the social elite with significant tax cuts and deregulation policies. This being said, other groups in society have been addressed amongst Trump’s policies through the protection for entitlements for the elderly and a claimed promise of a free- market system to universal healthcare in response to repealing Obamacare. Instead of taking a traditional populist approach by being a centrist solution to popular grievances, Trump has taken extreme pledges to appeal to a broad range of societal groups, to once again give a populist façade. The reality is that it is near impossible to appease both the working class and elite simultaneously and completely, especially with harshly Conservative policies the Republican Party present

trump 1

Moreover, it cannot be ignored that Trump did not actually gain the popular vote in the 2016 Presidential Election. This arouses the debate whether Trump attempted populism and abandoned it when he did not obtain support from the majority, or whether he never had the intention of appealing to the “common man” in the first place.

To conclude: Trump is not a populist and he never was. The endorsement of hatred from celebrities, demonstrations throughout the world against his Presidency, it seems to me he has more enemies than friends. Furthermore, it is one thing making claims and advocating the interests of the working class, but has the President actually done anything to help? With his tactical “make America great again”, Trump has injected the West with an elitist hunger, far from populism.

Angel Witney


Why Grammar Schools are the Worst Thing Ever

As you may know, Theresa May loves Grammar schools and wants to introduce more as part of her 2017 manifesto pledge. I myself go to a Grammar School and live in a constituency where the 11+ is a huge make or break in a young person’s life (or it is perceived to be that way). Some may say it is hypocritical of me to attend a Grammar school whilst I’m sat here ready to bash them, but it is for that very essence that they are detrimental; by being the ‘better option’, Grammar schools are essentially destroying kids’ social mobility and chances to a great education.

Firstly, it is an extreme amount of pressure to put on children as young as 10 years old. I have been helping my little brother with tuition in preparation for his 11+ test this year, whereby he has gotten so upset and frustrated over the possibility of failing, due to the immense superiority Grammar schools appear to have over comprehensives. Similar to the SATs uproar earlier this year, it is unbelievably unfair to engrain the idea that if you do not pass the 11+ you have ‘failed’. This perception gives young children a negative view of education, making them less likely to reach their full potential. In conjunction with the SATs debate, children flourish at different rates, and it is hasty to section children off as ‘smart enough’ to attend Grammar schools and promotes a sense of educational elitism from a young age.

This essence of educational elitism withstands as you inspect pupils of Grammar Schools. Being a Grammar school student for the past 6 years, it must be said that remarks regarding local Comprehensive students as more poorly educated have circulated. The worst part about this is that it is true (which I will come to later), but the fact that students visually recognise this and in some cases, gives them a sense of self- aggrandisement, is inhibiting our young peoples’ tolerance.


It has to be mentioned that the majority of Grammar School students are middle class, due to their ability to afford tuition in order for them to pass the 11+. This in itself separates those with and without money, and then brings in social elitism and class as an issue of Grammar Schools. The physical separation between classes promotes a lack of social mobility as working class and middle class pupils are less able to mix and are less likely to respect each other. Not only this but it literally puts a price on a better education; the fact is that families with money are more likely to have a child pass the 11+ than a family without money, with a child of the same ability. Is it me, or is that a bit fucked up? Having free schools seems all great on the surface but once again, nothing comes for free in good old Britain. This kind of thing stays with kids for the rest of their lives and will encourage a less cooperative and equality- driven nation. It has to be said that not all Grammar school students are middle class but it usually is the majority.

Now, to touch upon what I mentioned earlier; Grammar Schools do provide a better education, and this is what makes them the worst thing ever. Teachers are more attracted to work at schools with pupils who want to learn and would be easier to teach, which is the general case with Grammar School pupils. This means that better teaching staff are usually employed by Grammar Schools, and Comprehensives have the left overs. Bit shit isn’t it? So first of all these students ‘fail’ the 11+ and have a downgraded view of education and then they get the crappier teachers who hardly motivate them to find a love for learning. It is like the education system sets up anyone not in the top 10% (when they were 10 years old may I reiterate) for a poor education.

My sister who is 16, goes to a Comprehensive school and has virtually no student support system when it comes to her studies. I compared her school to mine in this aspect, whereby the Grammar school I attend offers subject drop-in sessions at lunch, revision workshops for exams and practically spoon-feeds how to get into university. My sister’s Comprehensive has none of this. I am not bashing Grammar Schools to sound ungrateful, believe me, my school has provided me with a great education, but I cannot ignore the fact that it is extremely unfair for this level of support for students to only be available to the ‘top 10%’, when there are so many pupils prevented from fulfilling their potential due to the UK’s schooling.

Now, I don’t want to make Grammar School kids look like the villain here, because they too suffer the side effects of our poisoned education system. The immense pressure put on students at my school is horrific; it is not even enforced in order to motivate students, it is purely for statistics. This year my school disabled all students who did not get a D grade in their AS exams to carry on the subject to A2. A levels are fucking hard so this rule affected around 20% of pupils. This meant that some girls had to retake the year at another school or only do 1 or 2 A levels, corrupting the future plans of many. This doesn’t sound too drastic but it is more the fact that the school only did this to obtain a high ranking and favourable grade statistics. Despite the fact my school has an immense support system in terms of academia, this is blatantly motivated by the idea of better results. This said pressure has resulted in mental health issues across the ages, mostly regarding stress and anxieties revolving around exams, soothed by the unhelpful voice of a single school councillor who simply reiterates to “take time to yourself”.

My solution: scrap them. Every single school should have the resources Grammar schools provide, and this should not be inhibited by class, money or a stupid exam that measures a 10 year old child’s intellect. Why enforce an ideology of educational elitism when it hinders both sides from flourishing, when equality is obviously a better solution.

Angel Witney








Corbyn’s Impressionable Kids?

‘@JeremyCorbyn it’s clear you alluded to student refunds to get votes from young impressionable people. You are a cheat and should resign’ business tycoon Alan Sugar tweeted at 20:50 from the Mediterranean coast of Italy, perhaps from a yacht, or more likely a multi-million pound mansion.

Thanks for the opportunity, Sir Alan’ replied Jeremy as he clambered into a black cab. ‘Thank you Karen, thank you Nick.’

Fortunately for the left, this scenario did not happen. The tweet, however, did. And the tweet pissed me off in a variety of ways:

Firstly, Alan’s proclamation that the entirety of the young electorate are ‘impressionable’ numbskulls who think that electing our new leader is akin to selecting our Love Island winner is, in my opinion false – albeit a popular image of youth adopted by many whose faces are so engulfed by wrinkles they cannot see the world clearly. This overused stereotype of this generation is, from what I have seen, wildly inaccurate. Yes, of course their were people who voted, who were not entirely informed, but that can be said for the entire electorate, not solely young left-wingers, as the right-wing media try to assert. There is evidently vast numbers of well informed young voters – just because they subscribe to a left-wing political persuasion does not make them immediately naïve and impressionable. Take a 5 minute scrawl through my twitter feed and you will see a large quantity of both Labour and Tory voters who are aged 18-24 and extremely well educated on issues, perhaps more so than other generations. To take myself as an example, I grew up with conservative parents, with the Telegraph the only available newspaper in my house, with papers like the Sun, Telegraph and Daily Mail being the only newspapers on the Snapchat featured section and the mainstream media lacking in coverage of Corbyn’s successes. If I was so impressionable, then surely I should be a conservative voter. Furthermore, as an 18 year old who is politically aware, I am clearly not alone. Vast numbers of young people who I came into contact with throughout the general election period, were able to name policies for both sides and were clearly educated on the political climate, albeit limited in certain case. In my opinion, young voters are no more ‘impressionable’ than people who have been voting for decades. So this image of the young as impressionable is, in my opinion, invalid.


Politicians lie and u-turn. That is a fact of politics that only a fool would see as a shock. Of course, it should not be this way, but it is. In some instances a change of policy is not always wrong, in the case of student debts, I’d rather an acceptance that it is not going to happen, rather than Labour to simply lie to us and tell us it definitely will, whilst knowing it won’t. Also, if Theresa May had to resign every time she lied to the electorate/u-turned, the entire Tory front bench would have had a bash at being leader by now. Tory U-Turns have been near constant during May’s tumultuous reign: the General Election itself; National Insurance Increase; Foreign Worker Quotas; Social Care, European Convention of Human Rights; Energy Price Caps; Dementia Tax – to name only a small number. In the last three elections the Conservatives have promised a reduction of immigration to the 10,000s, which has just not happened. Yet apparently they are the more trustable party. My point is, anyone that takes a political manifesto as an exact representation of what is going to happen over the next 5 years, is an idealist. A manifesto, in my mind, represents more of an overview of the political direction of a political party. Of course, this should not be the case, but again, it is, and the conservative party are perhaps one of the largest instigators of these political fibs. My point is, the call for Corbyn to resign as a result of a single u-turn is like asking Theresa May to not run through fields of wheat. It’s bad when it happens but it is, unfortunately, inevitable.

The main reason why this tweet was so frustrating to me was it’s use of a recurring argument that I’ve seen used by so many anti-Corbyn commentators, such as those in the Telegraph; that is that young people who voted for Labour only did so for their own benefit AKA no students fees/pay off of student loans. I do not set myself out to be a spokesperson of the young Labour electorate so feel free to disagree with me. However, I personally did not vote for Labour because they offered me nice, fluffy things, such as no tuition fees, no student debt etc. I voted for Labour because I
believe that socialism and left wing politics can and will work in today’s society. I see a Britain with unjust poverty, a huge class divide and an elite, Etonian government that seeks to line their own pockets and help their mates, rather than provide a stable welfare system that actually works and an NHS that works for those who need it. My core belief is equality in the sense that everyone is entitled to the aid in order to achieve whatever they want regardless of class, income or race. Honestly, I would rather not enter my adult life £30,000+ in debt, but there is other people in this country who are far worse off and the state are doing less and less to support them. Corbyn is the first political leader in my lifetime who recognises this and is pushing forward socialist ideas in order to settle the economic gap within this country. He is an MP who believes that working class people are worth more to our country than we give them credit. He is an MP who has been on the right side of history his entire career. He is an MP who, as far as I can tell, has genuine conviction in the policies that he sets forward which aim to help the most vulnerable in our society. The idea that I voted in my own self interest is bullshit. Socialism is based on empathy and sharing. Socialism can and will work when everyone in society stops caring only for their own self and stop taking a care for others.

It strikes me that this view of voting for your own self interest regardless of what anybody else needs is a largely right-wing, Conservative way of voting. It is seemingly beyond the comprehension of Tory commentators that young people could vote on behalf of everybody rather than their own self-interest. If you want to vote with only your own life in mind then that’s your selfish prerogative. But, without sounding wanky, the youth is the future. And I’m proud to say that my generation is perhaps the most genuinely compassionate and tolerant generation this country has every seen. And for me, the future looks extremely bright, not just for me, but for the world as a whole.

But what do I know? I’m just an impressionable young person.

Alexander Northwood