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


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


Artist of the Week: Ollie Weaver

“With my illustrative career, I’ve funnelled my work into two main categories, one being imprinted with music, skate culture and film.

Ollie Weaver is an illustrator from Poole, who presents his work through a graphic styling of colours and line work, or through the subject material, such as his collection of portraits on various musicians in all forms of genres.

More lately, Ollie has taken a different direction with my work, looking into the satirical form of illustration through Politics, or his project looking at mental illness in life and art, and the stigma attached to illnesses like Dementia and Schizophrenia.


“I have to also take into consideration the fact that I am colour-blind, and with that I have a very hard time both distinguishing colour and incorporating colour into my work, either choosing simple black and white or opting for a more abstract and less “life-like” style.”



This approach on the other hand has really aided Ollie during his first year of uni, learning about similar artists and the simple fact to embrace anything you are given, disability or not.



“When I was starting my FMP, I was certain on a children’s book as it became a real love after my two recent projects and I wanted my book to be unlike any other, a real stand out.”

Alongside the recent events of America involving trump that he was passionate about, Ollie decided to revolve him into a Childrens’ book, as something like that hadn’t have been done.

“As I got further with my progression, the story and themes got more humorous and an edge of satire and black humour began to bleed into the book, and my target audience was jolted to a universal target, but with the exterior designed for little children.”

Ollie Weaver is soon to be starting at Camberwell College of Arts in London, studying Illustration; after his recent Foundation Diploma at Arts University Bournemouth.


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


Why You’re Not Represented in Parliament

Every five years or so we vote for a constituency MP to represent our views, because we are a democracy, right? Not so much. Yes, the UK does run on democratic politics, but there are many things that occur behind the doors of the House of Commons that erode the electorate’s effectivity in influencing Parliament. These things are purposefully supressed to keep everyone satisfied, but when you dig a little deeper, there are many things wrong with our parliamentary system.

The first is Party Whips. The job of these is to effectively persuade party members to vote in favour of their leader’s views, by blackmailing a forced resignation or demotion if they do not. I asked Conservative MP, Steve Baker, about the extent of Party Whips’ threats to which he was quite vague (surprise surprise), but denied the rumoured use of a ‘burn book’ that is used to threaten MPs with their personal lives. Regardless of the threats themselves, it is highly undemocratic to force MPs to ignore their conscience and constituents and abide by their party leader, especially due to the common factions in parties today. This was apparent when Jermey Corbyn placed a 3 line whip on passing the Brexit bill in February of this year. I saw this as an utterly humiliating feat for Corbyn, especially due to the failing support he has as leader of the party. In forcing the vote for the Brexit bill, it eradicated the views of the 210 Labour MPs that voted remain in the EU referendum, and abolished their role in representing the public’s desires. Many constituencies did not have a majority ‘Leave’ vote in the referendum, like that of St Albans, South Cambridgeshire and many northern and Scottish constituencies. This means that MPs are not representing their constituents and therefore not doing their job adequately. It is clear that these Whips embellish dictatorial aspects within our democratic system, and must be abolished; MPs are elected to represent those in their constituency and should not be hindered by party leaders. It gives me hope that MPs are becoming increasingly mindful of the importance of conscience and constituents when voting against whips, much like the 52 Labour rebels of the second reading of the Brexit bill.

Electoral systems are one of those things people cannot be bothered to try and understand. This would be a lot different if it was more well known that our current electoral system for General Elections is one of the most undemocratic of all. First Past The Post is a plurality system whereby candidates must win at least one more vote than their nearest rival to win in their constituency and therefore, a seat in Parliament. Although this means there is a clear and indisputable winner, it is a lazy way to quickly get to a mandate that essentially ignores the views of the majority of the electorate. The Green Party are a perfect example of this flawed system. In the 2017 General Election the green Party gained just over half a million votes, whilst the Conservatives got 13.6 million votes. From this data it should be confirmed that the Tories have roughly 27 times more seats than the Greens, right? Not under First Past The Post. Green’s 1 seat versus the Conservative’s 318 is a vivid example of how First Past the Post wastes thousands of votes and fails to represent the public. This is basically down to the UK’s growing two party system where it’s extremely difficult for any party except Labour or Conservative to win a constituency’s seat in Parliament. Supporters of smaller parties or independent candidates are heavily underrepresented and essentially cast a wasted vote in General Elections. This ultimately means that anyone who votes for a candidate who does not win that constituency’s seat is not represented. The resolution to this major issue would be electoral reform to a system which uses more elements of proportional representation.

It is inevitable that a large majority of people’s views will not resonate with that of your MP’s, even if they represent the party you support. I can relate to the fact that having an MP who stands for the opposite party to you is frustrating and abolishes the hope that your views are being represented in Parliament at all. Living in the Beaconsfield constituency, that has been a Tory safe seat forever and produced a Conservative win in 2017 with 65% of the vote, is very unnerving and hard for me to believe my vote will be effective in the next election, where I will be eligible to vote. This being said, I still feel represented by Labour MPs from other constituencies that hold counter arguments to Tory policy. There are also many other things that confirm Parliament’s poor representative skills: the House of Lords can only block legislation for one year before the Commons can completely ignore them, showing that the lack of accountability of the executive is abysmal. Moreover, Select Committees that check governmental proceedings are a microcosm of Parliament, so are inevitably going to be bias. All these things accumulated produces the worrying reality that the UK is falling into dictatorial quicksand, and fails to represent the electorate in the democratic ways it makes everyone believe.

Angel Witney