Stand Aside, Let the Refugees In!

It’s a disgrace! Thousands and thousands of migrants are trying to get in to our country illegally, and Mr. Cameron and the British government are doing absolutely nothing about it. Thousands of them, climbing aboard Lorries and whatnot, just so they can come and make our county their refuge – the situation’s absolutely appalling. If you’re reading this, bobbing your head a long thinking that these migrants have no right to swarm in to our nation and there should be a stern, brutal response to halt them, then shake your head some more – you’re the disgraces I’m talking about.

It’s far too easy for Britons to sit on a plinth of privilege and cast a casual eye of disdain at those trying to force entry in to the country. It’s easy for us to assume they are all benefit tourists, if such a thing even exists, and disregard what are clearly very desperate people willing to do very dangerous things to change their lives, as nothing more but unwelcome economic lepers.

Focal point… Migrants have attempted to enter the UK via the channel tunnel

But, the thing is, the migrants in Calais are not a gigantic welfare absorbing conspiracy intent on snatching jobs, damaging infrastructure and compelling Nigel Farage to feel awkward on his train commutes. These people, like I have said, are completely bereft of hope. Let’s apply some logic here, do you really think people would try and cling to the underside of HGVs for twenty-six miles just so they can claim a modicum of welfare from the British taxpayer? No, of course not.

The fact this foul pandemic of anti-immigrationism has now led to a point where many are completely stripping any human attachment to these migrants is distressing and harks back to an era we cannot return to. Even glancing through social media, I have seen the disgusting responses from users when reports of migrants trying to come to Britain are tweeted. Nearly all suggest “flooding the tunnel”, “shooting them” among other things. In fact, when one migrant died last week, there were even brazen boasts of having “one less to worry about.”

These are desperate people, how have we again reached a height of xenophobia, where people are happy to laud over those trying to escape unimaginable barbarism and squalor purely on the basis of the accident of their own birth in a place where no such scenario is worth contemplating? We are the privileged and we need to remember that. People talk a lot about ‘British values’, a virtually vacuous term aimed to install a bit of pride in the nation’s people. One value often assimilated with this fixed ‘Britishness’ is compassion, but we are so deficient of it for these poor people based on the work of Rupert Murdoch, The Daily Mail and UKIP’s purple mist of hate.

Leader… Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has called for the UK to adopt the migrant quota

This crisis need not be a crisis if we actually practiced what we arrogantly attest to be our nature, and let the migrants fleeing genuine tyranny in. Why has David Cameron and his Conservative government deferred any sort of decision on this gargantuan issue so his party can launch fronts of genocide against badgers, foxes and bees instead? What are a few extra pounds spent on helping those in genuine need? What’s cutting out one caramel latte a week, what difference is that compared to the difference a safe haven would make for those fleeing the wickedest of regimes? These are not just statistics for The Daily Express to manipulate for electoral gain – we are talking about real human lives, and real human suffering. We need to sign up to the EU migrant quota and take in our fair share of refugees, we cannot stand idly by while this humanitarian emergency occurs.

Of course, there are practical concerns whenever migrants come in to an already densely populated nation but let’s not misplace our aggravation here. Admittedly, 60,000 migrants will put a tiny strain on the nation, but we need to look at the bigger picture and realise that saving the lives of those brave enough to attempt an escape is worth slightly loosening the purse strings. If you don’t understand that this is not about a swarm of opportunistic vultures sponging off the electorate, and you cannot fathom why people are appalled at the sight of thousands disregarding the tragic deaths of those in the channel tunnel as a victory for the convenience of this privileged nation, then you at least need to understand that that’s because you are lucky, if you were on the other side of that tunnel, you would have a different view entirely.

Find Your Backbone, Labour

Labour are up a creek without a paddle, following yet another General Election defeat. As the party faces internal turmoil, they host a fascinating leadership debate that will see the party go one of two ways. Yes, two, not four.

There are so many reasons why Labour have become increasingly unpalatable to much of the electorate, and in fact, did they not possess the secure Northern, working class, and young anti-Tory vote, they would probably be in much worse shape than they already are. But, ironically, this is still one of the biggest problems, are Labour actually the anti-Tories?

Slam…UKIP have snatched working class support from Labour

Labour have been steadily lurching right on economic issues, offering only a milder form of Tory austerity and have too become increasingly authoritarian on social issues. That’s the real issue with this Labour party, and it’s one that’s been brewing for years – they’re not principled, they just follow the scent of popular opinion wherever it lands, like a drooling dog chasing a line of sausages. It’s conceivable, had Labour not benefited from a hard to budge position as one of the nation’s two largest parties and archaic typecasting resulting in misplaced allegiance to their party, they may have been done for a long while ago.

And, I think people are starting to see this; the Liberal Democrats argue their case from a point of liberalism, the Tories, whilst total bastards they may be, consistently argue a conservative ideology but what of Labour? The Labour movement of the late 19th and early 20th century is in far less demand now, to the point of it being nearly irrelevant. Labour are purportedly social democrats or democratic socialists but they have done very little to convey any such ideology in recent years, perhaps best illustrated by their refusal to oppose savage cuts to the welfare state that they so boastfully claim they invented.

Mugs… Labour are now rightly considered authoritarian

Is it any wonder people are disillusioned with Labour? Nobody knows which way they’re going to go next. In fact, a lot of the talk in the build up to this election hasn’t been about what good they can do for the country if they win another election, it has instead been about this ideologically impassioned need to hold the power. But, if Labour can’t even form their own sound ideology and principle base what can they expect to do in government? If they refuse to oppose brutal Tory cuts and want to borrow old Lib Dem catchphrases then why not just support either one of those current parties? Labour has become a corrupt machine obsessed with winning – not with doing.

It almost feels as if populism is Labour’s only plan, that’s what three quarters of the leadership candidates are offering anyway, much in line with the rhetoric Milliband used in the run up to this year’s general election. Let’s be clear here, anti-immigration mugs are in no way the mandate of a socially democratic party. Nor was the promise to slash tuition fees to £6,000 anything other than a deceptive economic policy concocted to take another stab at the former coalition of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, and win superficial support from warm words.

Labour will go to the ballot boxes soon, and they will have two choices, a repetition of the career-driven, lacklustre, centrist, populist, wet lettuce politics that strives only for power and not righteous change for the good of the electorate, or a man in line with the principles of what Labour was founded to represent. Now, I’m not a ‘leftie’ nor would I ever vote for Jeremy Corbyn in a general election, but that doesn’t mean his party shouldn’t. He is the only candidate able to give Labour an actual foundation of beliefs, otherwise this cycle of false politics will go on and on and on.

Principled… Whilst divisive, Corbyn would provide Labour with a base network of ideology

I won’t lie, I would be happy to see the Labour party crumble, I would. This isn’t to do with the voters or the members, the party is full of good people, but the people who are in charge have denied Britain any genuine social democratic option for decades now. The way I see it as an outsider is Labour have three choices; a) they dismantle and form a new party and hope they get it right this time, b) they dismantle and flock to the Lib Dems and the Greens as parties of ideological conviction and consistency or c) they find a backbone and promote their initial ideas and win from that position, they try, like all the other parties do, to promote what they believe and make the people believe it too.

What they cannot do, is carry on down this bleak road where they tell the people what they think they want to hear, try desperately above all else to win power, and then sit on their hands because they have absolutely no idea what they believe in.

Freedom To Donate

Today marks the official launch of a campaign I have helped somewhat to build, and one with a cause I’m extremely passionate about. That campaign is Freedom To Donate. The campaign demands a review in to the archaic, discriminatory and nonsensical prohibitions on MSM (men who have sex with men) from donating blood simply due to their sexual activity and not on an individual risk assessment. This out-of-touch ruling is destroying lives – and together we can progress equality and prevent so many unnecessary deaths.

It has been a pleasure to help lobby MPs to support this campaign and an upcoming bill to be debated in parliament. Whilst this has been a harmonious, successful, cross-party movement (yes, even some of the Tories), I am especially thankful to the Lib Dem MPs for all of their support. I have had meaningful conversations with them all and have only seen passionate and positive responses in return. I would especially like to thank leader Tim Farron for being an unwavering voice of justice and righteousness for the campaign and, along with Caroline Lucas of the Greens, placing it at the forefront of their parties’ agendas.

However, politicians aren’t the only ones who can help make this a reality. You can get involved and help save thousands and thousands of lives, and spare thousands and thousands unfair guilt and shame;

Follow Freedom To Donate on Twitter; https://twitter.com/freedomtodonate

Watch the campaign video; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FA8LPZIcQBU&feature=youtu.be

Join the thousands who have already signed the petition; https://www.change.org/p/uk-uk-government-apply-the-same-regulations-to-all-those-donating-blood-regardless-of-sexuality#petition-letter

Learn more about why this ban should be lifted; http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/chris-whiting/blood-donation_b_7556458.html

2015–16 Football League Predictions

Here are my pointless, largely unsubstantiated predictions for the other leagues;

Championship

Middlesbrough‘s signings will carry them to the league title complimented by the capable hands of Aitor Karanka. Derby County won’t possess quite enough to reach the top two, instead Wolves late flurry will roll in to the current term. Hull will be the best placed of the relegated sides, QPR will semi-capitulate and Brighton and Reading will join Rotherham in the bottom three.

Pos Team
1 Middlesbrough
2 Wolves
3 Derby
4 Brentford
5 Hull City
6 Ipswich
7 Cardiff
8 Burnley
9 Bristol City
10 Blackburn
11 Birmingham
12 Sheff Wed
13 Bolton
14 Fulham
15 QPR
16 Leeds
17 Nott’m Forest
18 Charlton
19 Preston
20 MK Dons
21 Huddersfield
22 Rotherham
23 Reading
24 Brighton

League One

Sheffield United will finally return to the second tier, pushed all the way by a Wigan side too good for League One. Burton and Shrewsbury will take League One by storm, with the other two promoted clubs also surviving. Colchester will finally go down to League Two.

Pos Team
1 Sheff Utd
2 Wigan
3 Swindon
4 Millwall
5 Bradford
6 Burton Alb
7 Shrewsbury
8 Chesterfield
9 Peterborough
10 Gillingham
11 Bury
12 Fleetwood
13 Walsall
14 Coventry
15 Barnsley
16 Doncaster
17 Rochdale
18 Southend
19 Scunthorpe
20 Crewe
21 Colchester
22 Oldham
23 Blackpool
24 Port Vale

League Two

Notts County will lift the League Two crown  but will be pushed all the way by Oxford. Cambridge will be the season’s surprise package, whilst Bristol Rovers enjoy a happy return to the Football League and Portsmouth continue to underachieve. Hartlepool and Mansfield are the goners.

1 Notts Co
2 Oxford
3 Stevenage
4 Plymouth
5 Leyton O
6 Luton
7 Cambridge
8 Wycombe
9 Bristol R
10 Yeovil
11 Portsmouth
12 Crawley
13 Northampton
14 Exeter
15 Barnet
16 Morecambe
17 Dag & Red
18 Accrington
19 Carlisle
20 York
21 Newport
22 Wimbledon
23 Hartlepool
24 Mansfield

National League

It’s a bit of a cheat to include the National League but let’s go for it. Eastleigh’s spending power will put them on divisional parity with Pompey. Grimsby will come up frustratingly short yet again, whilst Wrexham, Chester and Lincoln improve. Tranmere will struggle to make an immediate return.

Pos Team
1 Eastleigh
2 Grimsby
3 Forest Green
4 Wrexham
5 Cheltenham
6 Woking
7 Tranmere
8 Chester
9 Lincoln
10 Dover
11 Macclesfield
12 Barrow
13 Torquay
14 Halifax
15 Gateshead
16 Braintree
17 Kidderminster
18 Bromley
19 Aldershot
20 Southport
21 Altrincham
22 Welling
23 Boreham Wood
24 Guiseley

2015-16 Premier League Predictions

Last year, my Premier League predictions weren’t that bad so I haven’t been discouraged through shame from reproducing another prediction post this time round. Here is basically my irrelevant, largely weak opinion on how it will all go.

Arsenal

Last season: 3rd
Bookies’ prediction: 3rd
Random prediction for season: Piers Morgan to call for Wenger’s sacking after a loss to Manchester United.

Contenders… Arsenal will challenge for silverware again.

It’s been a long while since Arsenal were considered genuine contenders for the Premier League title – but this could be the year they get that title back. When the Gunners are on their game, they are the best team to watch in the league, their silky fluid football is enough to beat any other side in the division, but I reiterate that’s when they’re on song. Arsene Wenger, despite popular Twitter consensus, is a very apt and capable manager and if he can iron out the creases in his side, the class of Ozil and Sanchez et al can set their sights on something more than just the FA Cup. 2nd.

Aston Villa

Last season: 17th
Bookies’ prediction: 16th
Random prediction for season: Villa to go at least four league games without scoring a goal.

Prepared…For the 2016-17 Championship season

With maybe the exception of Newcastle United, there was no worse side to visit the King Power Stadium last season than the Villans. In fact, I am genuinely perplexed as to how they managed to stay up last season and beat my team twice in the process. That being said, this Summer hasn’t been all too good for Villa, they’ve lost star men Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph and summoned up inadequate replacements as a result. Aston Villa will struggle even more than last year and I think this will finally be the season they bite the Premier League dust – which could turn out to be good news for Villa in the long run. 19th.

Bournemouth

Last season: 1st (Championship)
Bookies’ prediction: 18th
Random prediction for season: Bournemouth to beat one of the big seven at home on Monday Night Football.

Underdogs…Eddie Howe’s cherries can blossom

I hope Bompey learn the lessons of Leicester City last season and stick to their guns and play the Bournemouth way next season. The Premier League debutants may look out of sorts in the English top flight on the face of it but with one of the nation’s best young managers, a positive playing style and a contained stadium that will give the bigger clubs a scare, Bompey may be able to crawl over the dreaded dotted line of relegation – at least we all hope so. 17th.

Chelsea

Last season: 1st
Bookies’ prediction: 1st
Random prediction for season: Chelsea to pick up more away points from the big seven than any other club.

Incumbents…Chelsea can keep their trophy safe

Chelsea were by far and away the league’s best side last term and with the added fire power of Falcao, who I think will salvage his stalling career at Stamford Bridge, the Blues will retain their crown. I don’t expect it to be as easy as last term with the sides around them getting stronger, but Chelsea should have the efficiency and tactical astuteness to overcome their challengers. Let’s face it, they were the only side able to beat Leicester at the end of the season – and that’s an unbelievable feat. 1st.

Crystal Palace

Last season: 10th
Bookies’ prediction: 12th
Random prediction for season: Palace to go the entire season without a managerial change

Supportive… Selhurst Park can be a happy hunting ground for the Eagles

It’s hard not to admire Crystal Palace since their return to the Premier League, their intensity and positivity has defied popular expert consensus two years running and seen the Eagles soar to 11th and 10th respectively. With Yohan Cabaye rejoining the Premier League after a two year absence and Palace’s ability to keep hold of their key players, there seems no obvious reason why Palace won’t carry on with their overachievements. Perhaps, the biggest hindrance to the club would be the ending of Alan Pardew’s honeymoon period – time will tell on that front. 12th.

Everton

Last season: 11th
Bookies’ prediction: 7th
Random prediction for season: Everton to lose at home to Crystal Palace yet again.

Sticky… The Toffees were in a sticky situation

Everything about Everton last season was lacklustre. This year they need a really injection of vitality and talent to counteract last season’s woes. I think this side is good enough to make amends for last season’s under-performance but it won’t come without hard work. And I’m just not sure a) that Roberto Martinez is as good a tactician as widely believed and b) that Tom Cleverley is the signing that will propel them back in to Europe. 8th.

Leicester City

Last season: 14th
Bookies’ prediction: 15th
Random prediction for season: Claudio Ranieri to be the favourite for the axe at any point this season

Fortress… City’s atmosphere can provide a boost in a difficult upcoming season

I’m not really sure what to make of my team, our true quality shone through at the end of last season and while I still think we’re too good a team to go down, even without Esteban Cambiasso, I don’t think we’ll progress either. Whilst, I’m prepared to give Ranieri every chance to deliver success to Filbert Way, I don’t see him being a long-term solution or getting the Foxes in to the top half like I would have optimistically wagered Pearson would next season. I cautiously predict/hope it will be more of the same this year. 13th. 

Liverpool

Last season: 6th
Bookies’ prediction: 5th
Random prediction for season: Liverpool to lose away at one of the three promoted clubs

Pressure… Coutinho must become Liverpool’s leading man

There’s something in the water of the River Mersey and it’s uninspiring mediocrity. With the exception of Firmino, who seems an intriguing purchase, Brendan Rogers has moved little to help steady his sinking Kopite ship. The Reds should a plethora of weaknesses at the end of last season and with Gerrard and Sterling gone and Benteke and Danny Ings now the stars of Anfield, another trophy-less season beckons. Of course, this is hyperbolic, they’re still Liverpool so they’ll be up around the top somehow… 7th.

Manchester City

Last season: 2nd
Bookies’ prediction: 2nd
Random prediction for season: Manchester City to rip Spurs apart at least once.

Understudies… Man City are not good enough to supplant Chelsea

Manchester City are on the decline, despite finishing as runner-ups to Chelsea last season, they hardly set the league alight. They often looked average and with others around them strengthening and their tired squad growing ever moreso, the arrival of Raheem Sterling will do little to boost waning energy or workrate levels. Manuel Pellegrini will probably face the axe at some point this season too. 2015-16 may not to be a period of adjustment and reflection for the Citizens so they can regain their lost title in the near future. 4th. 

Manchester United

Last season: 4th
Bookies’ prediction: 4th
Random prediction for season: Manchester United to lose 0-1 at home to at least one bottom half club.

Individuals… United’s keeper drama highlights the lack of synergy in the squad

Lazily assembling squads of world-renowned superstars is a tactic that often fails, and it will for United too. Whilst Louis Van Gaal’s frivolous spending on world-class midfielders will wet the appetites of Red Devils’ fans, it will do little to pave over the cracks of instability throughout the squad, and the gaping holes in a shockingly deficit in defensive talent. United will gradually continue on the way to being a genuine shout for the Premier League title, but this season will be just another stepping stone. 3rd.

Newcastle United

Last season: 15th
Bookies’ prediction: 13th
Random prediction for season: Newcastle United to do the double over Sunderland

Protestors… The Geordies will be slightly less irritable next season

Modest redemption is the trend I see sweeping up the River Tyne this Summer. With the best coach in the Premier League gone and brolly-carrying Schteve now in the dugout, the Geordies have somewhat upgraded, that coupled with the signing of Aleksandr Mitrovic, who I’m tipping to be a hit in the top-flight, Newcastle’s problems won’t be as bad as they seemed just two months ago. Of course, don’t fear Newcastle fans, you will still throw away both cup competitions so you’ll have that to complain about. 14th.

Norwich City

Last season: 3rd (Championship)
Bookies’ prediction: 19th
Random prediction for season: Norwich to play Liverpool on Super Sunday

Star turn… Redmond can lead the Canaries’ charge

Norwich already have a squad littered with Premier League quality having only experienced one year of top-flight exile. The Canaries will benefit from a bottom half of the table almost void of genuine quality and I think City can and will flourish again, perhaps the only question mark is Alex Neil’s ability to guide a football club through the more challenging rigours of the Premier League, that being said, I have faith in him being better than at least a few others at that. 15th. 

Southampton

Last season: 7th
Bookies’ prediction: 8th
Random prediction for season: Southampton to lose away at Bournemouth

Marching in… Saints will sustain their form

I really rate this Southampton side. Their performance last season was extraordinary given the turmoil they faced at the training ground and in the media. Ronald Koeman has proven to be the perfect fit for the Saints, an astute operator in the transfer market, he has consistently built on the strong base of Southampton Youth players to found a strong top-half of the table team. Even with departures this year like last, the Saints look no weaker and have only gained financial clout from it. Their Achilles heel will be managing their Europa League schedule. 8th.

Stoke City

Last season: 9th
Bookies’ prediction: 9th
Random prediction for season: Stoke to lose at home on a cold Tuesday night

Undone…Stoke’s Britannia home is no longer the fortress it once was

Stoke City will remain a quality outfit next season, they have a decent enough squad to not even be entertained as possible relegation candidates next campaign, but there isn’t a lot to suggest they’re capable of anything better than 9th place. Bojan will be the Potters’ star player next term but they need more than one tricky Spaniard in the middle of the park to lodge themselves in the top seven. 10th.

Sunderland

Last season: 16th
Bookies’ prediction: 17th
Random prediction for season: Sunderland to score fewer goals than any other side.

Doomed… I can see no escape for Sun’lun’

Sunderland’s team reeks of tedium and impending demise. The Black Cats have done well to basically replicate the exact same season for however many years running but their nine lives are up this term. There is little to suggest that the diminutive Defoe possesses the attacking impetus to fire Sunderland away from the relegation they’ve been flirting with for years. There will be no great escape this year, their biggest challenge will be to keep in touch with safety for as long as possible. 20th. 

Swansea City

Last season: 8th
Bookies’ prediction: 10th
Random prediction for season: Swansea’s away ticket initiative to be endlessly praised on social media.

Excelling.. Swansea’s rocket ship to the moon shows no sign of return

The Swans very quietly had a barnstorming season last term. Everyone was talking about Southampton, and West Ham before they went off the boil but they failed to notice just how close Swansea were to matching the Saints pound for pound. Garry Monk has done well to maintain the club’s attractive philosophy and has done even better in the transfer market, the signings of Eder and Ayew place Swansea at the top of the transfer market Premier League, and as a result, I tip them to be this year’s surprise package. 6th. 

Tottenham Hotspur

Last season: 5th
Bookies’ prediction: 6th
Random prediction for season: Spurs to crash out of the Europa League with a whimper

Meh… Spurs are Spurs.

Spurs are sort of where they are by default, I imagine Harry Kane’s form will cool off next term but given the disarray they’ve found themselves in, they should be able to keep their main challengers Liverpool at bay for another season. There’s really not a lot to comment on on the White Hart Lane front, they will do exactly what they always do, sort of achieve domestically, fail embarrassingly continentally. 5th.

Watford

Last season: 2nd (Championship)
Bookies’ prediction: 20th
Random prediction for season: The Hornets to win at least one game 4-3.

Buzzing…Watford will give survival a good stab

Watford’s unstable approach is what concerns me most. They’ve signed some real quality to compliment the existing talent in their side but they are likely to go gung-ho and do seem to employ the belief that big names equals achievement and as we’ve seen it doesn’t always. Watford will certainly be entertaining and expansive, of that I’m confident but I just don’t see them as anything other than a better Queens Park Rangers. 18th.

West Bromwich Albion

Last season: 13th
Bookies’ prediction: 14th
Random prediction for season: West Brom to avoid the bottom three all season

Hot property… Berahino and co will be in the mix for the top half

Again, there isn’t too much to say here, West Brom looked doomed for the Championship this time last year but Tony Pulis has been instrumental in gifting the club with some sturdier stuff. Albion fans shouldn’t be fearful of finishing anywhere below 15th because they are simply better than a lot of the sides at the bottom. In fact, I think there is leg room for the Baggies to climb the league ladder, but they must start beating struggling sides at home. 11th.

West Ham United

Last season: 12th
Bookies’ prediction: 12th
Random prediction for season: West Ham to win their last match at Upton Park

Upheaval… The Hammers have a lot to deal with this term

It’s all change at Upton Park this season; a flashy new stadium, a flashy new manager, and a flashy new European competition. The Hammers though good enough to avoid the drop will need to be wary of succumbing to their end of season form, and early Europa League forays don’t look promising. The danger for United this year will be that they spread themselves too thin, if they don’t manage all of their competitions competently, they could rue the day they binned Big Sam. 16th. 

The Future’s Bright. The Future’s Orange.

My party wrapped up its leadership election today appointing Tim Farron as the party’s new leader. Our ‘irrelevant’ selves clearly don’t know when we’re beaten, now reduced to a handful of MPs and a just pinch of the popular vote, the Liberal Democrats are a political species under threat, but there are plenty of reasons to believe Tim Farron possesses the antidote that will save British liberalism.

Tim Farron is probably unknown to most outside of the Liberal Democrat bubble, and in perhaps the least surprising yet  comically ingenious trend of the year, his election today has been passively and mockingly met with forced apathy and feigned obliviousness from rival members of Labour and the Tories. But I strongly suspect they won’t be able to fake this for much longer.

The new leader of the Liberal Democrats is a dose of revitalisation, having opposed some of the most unpopular of compromises by the Lib Dems in government such as the Bedroom Tax and the tuition fee increase. Farron’s ability to mobilise voters in to campaigning is his greatest asset. It’s no secret we’ve been battered by the electorate since 2011 like the Tories have battered the young and the poor in their recent Summer budget. We accrued just 8% of the vote in May’s election, do you know in which constituency we had our only majority? Westmorland & Lonsdale, the seat Tim Farron transformed from Tory blue to Liberal gold, it was also the only constituency in 2014 where the Liberal Democrats were the highest polling party for the European parliament elections, another vote in which we were nationally humbled.

Magnetic… Farron’s positive bombast is a devastating weapon

The electoral defiance of Farron and his team injects new hope in to the party that Liberalism in Britain can make yet another unthinkable comeback. I have to say, with apologies to our new leader, that I wasn’t always his greatest fan. It wasn’t that I didn’t agree with him on key issues or his vision for the country but I found him easy to ignore, then I watched his speech at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference last year and it invigorated the Liberal in me even more than Cleggmania did in 2010. Tim prides himself on his ‘get you in the gut’ politics and that’s exactly what he does. I, for one, was planning to waste tonight away eating chocolate biscuits and drinking coffee but instead I was inspired by his speech at Thursday’s Lib Dem leadership rally to spread the word of his new electrifying cause.

In fact, as I write this, the speech is barely an hour old, was only streamed on the Lib Dem website and on Sky News’ rolling feed yet it has still had the influence to get dozens of people tweeting of their intention to sign up and join this momentous fightback. I would encourage every person I know to watch Tim Farron in action, this is a very liberal nation, our liberal ideas are far greater than the opinion polls would suggest and the mission is to make liberals up and down the British isles assimilate their political morality with our party and get old Libby back in full flight – Tim is the man to achieve this.

Resurgence… 17,000+ people have joined the Lib Dems since May

No one is suggesting, myself included, that a Liberal Democrat recovery is easy nor even inevitable. In fact, it will be anything but extremely bloody difficult but there is still a great cause for hope; a sympathetic electorate satisfied with our punishment for colluding with our arch-rivals are now seeing what a blessing we were to government in the last five years, there are disillusioned progressives in the Labour party unsure whether they can continue to support a party intent on attaining power through any means of populism possible, there are around 20,000 new party members since May when we suffered the biggest setbacks in our history, and there is a rich heritage of liberalism convalescing against the odds on these shores. Our weakness will not be the content of our message but the volume of it, if people listen to us, we will win again – I am confident of that. We finally have an orating magician in British politics that stands for decency, progressivism and liberty, an anti-Farage, a man that can sweep up the ever escalating swathes of disillusioned voters and give them not unsolicited fear but hope of a fairer, stronger, liberal society with the Liberal Democrats as the beating orange heart of it.

The Fight For Equality is Far From Over

And breathe… put those rainbow flags down, roll up those pro-equality banners and get back to your everyday lives, because the quest for LGBT+ equality is done now…right?

It was heartening to see my Facebook and Twitter feeds full to the brim with rainbow adorned profile pictures last week in the wake of the Supreme Court of the United State’s ruling that bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. This follows a same-sex marriage legalisation in Ireland a few weeks ago, both of which seemed oddly more celebrated than when the Lib Dems delivered the same ruling for Britain but the point remains, these heart-warming victories for marriage equality don’t end the procession of LGBT+ rights and they certainly shouldn’t serve as a reason for the Tory government to rest on its laurels.

Historic… Same-sex marriage was recently legalised across the USA

There is still so much to do before parity between cisgender heterosexuals and the rest of society will be a reality. Whilst marriage equality has long been the centrefold issue of LGBT+ activism, we must now turn our focus to other areas. For instance, the MSM (men who have sex with men) blood donation ban, which stops those who have had intercourse with another man within the last year from donating blood even if its perfectly healthy – a review of this could not only legislate for greater equality but save thousands and thousands of lives. Whilst we’re at it, let’s actually achieve marriage equality, let’s push same-sex marriage in to Northern Ireland and end the abhorrent spousal veto which requires a spouse’s permission for a person to legally change their gender. We need to put external pressure on nations in the EU and the Commonwealth to raise their game when it comes to LGBT+ rights.

We need to protect mental health services from ideological Tory cuts to help one third of LGBT+ youths that will suffer from anxiety or depression. We need to take a proactive approach to drastically reducing the disproportionate homelessness among LGBT+ youth, which is eight times higher than for young straight people. On top of this, despite protestations from the right that it’s inappropriate, we need to provide age appropriate sex and relationship education in schools for not only gay, lesbian and bisexual students but for asexual students too. During my years at school the concept of any of these types of relationships was never discussed in the classroom, it was treated like an invisible taboo which could cause so much mental damage to a young person.

Transphobic… Calls for greater gender neutrality are overdue

For too long we have been complacent on biphobia, we need to tackle the myth that a person cannot be attracted to people from more than one gender. As well as this, we must stand up for the rights of transgender people too and drag them up to parity with LGB equality. There needs to be a review on how transphobic hate crimes is documented to ensure those callous offences aren’t going undetected, as well as this redrafts of legal documents like passports must be made to include an ‘x-gender’ option to those who fell they’re neither male nor female.

The whole point of this endless ramble of LGBT+ issues is that there’s still a lot of work to be done. Truthfully, I have barely scratched the surface on the social and legislative inequalities still faced by LGBT+ people in Britain and abroad. Unfortunately, whilst there was good work done by the Liberal Democrats over the last five years, we are now left with a Conservative government. A party who voted en masse in opposition to same-sex marriage. As we saw with UKIP and their embarrassingly disrespectful parade invasion at London Pride, the right only ever want to be seen to help LGBT+ people – they never actually do it. That is why it is more crucial than ever for a progressive alliance to topple this Tory government and ensure we don’t lose ground on the race for equality.

Labour are too busy fashioning false cocksure banners and the SNP are still flogging a dead-horse with the defeated one issue they care about. Instead, the rest of Britain’s progressives must align and challenge the Tories when they profess to be LGBT+ rights champions – they’re not. Nicky Morgan may be the Equalities Minister, but she famously voted against same-sex marriage too. The prevailing point of this article is that LGBT+ issues are as important now as ever, maybe even more so, a marriage certificate is a great step forwards but it’s still not enough – we’ve managed to get our foot in the door, let’s work together and push that door wide open.

America Is Plagued With Social Illness

The United States of America commands the attention of the globe, the world’s largest superpower and a behemoth for embedded national pride. The US calls itself the ‘beautiful’ and the ‘land of the free and home of the brave’, but whilst the United States has been busy monitoring other nation’s on-goings it’s forgotten to keep its own house in order.

The latest shooting in Charleston, North Carolina highlighted two major issues plaguing the United States; gun violence and racism. Starting with gun violence, citizens of the US are protected by the second amendment to possess firearms, it’s considered their second most important right. While the founding fathers were open to renegotiating the constitution as society progressed, many Americans want to keep the original document intact at the great cost of human safety.

All statistics show that gun control results in fewer violent gun crimes, the United States homicide rate is thirty times higher than other developed countries where there is significant control. Every year, around 10,000 Americans are killed by gunfire but yet the right to have a firearm is more important. In recent years, we’ve seen instances of people easily slaughtered by one mad man with a gun, sometimes even children, and the response is always the same; a spike in gun sales and tacit rhetoric from politicians. There have been over 150 school shootings in the United States since Dunblane led to the UK outlawing handguns in the late 1990s, in the same time there have only been two spree shootings in Britain of any kind.

The issue of racism is also depressingly prevalent across the pond. Anybody, purporting that this latest shooting had nothing to do with race is kidding themselves, black people in the United States are getting a disgustingly rough deal.  If recent occurrences in Charleston and Ferguson don’t perfectly illustrate the extent of the issue then perhaps these frightening facts will;

  • Black Americans only possess 2.8% of the nation’s wealth, despite making up 13% of the nation’s population.
  • The recession hit black Americans three times harder than white Americans.
  • Schools of 90% non-white students are $700+ underfunded per pupil.
  • White Americans use more drugs than black Americans but black people are arrested for drug possession three times as much.
  • Black men receive 19.5% longer prison sentences for similar crimes committed by white men.
  • Employers are 30% less likely to call a candidate back for an interview if their name sounds ‘African-American’.
  • 73% of white people are homeowners, compared to 44% of black people.
  • The gap between median income for white and black people has tripled in the US in the last 25 years.
  • Black people are shot and killed by police officers, almost twice as often as any other ethnic group.
  • 88% of black people believe there is anti-black discrimination in the US, 57% of white people agree.

This sort of social and institutional racism is disgusting. And unfortunately combined with the US’s ridiculous gun legislation, it contributed to the recent events in Charleston.

No change… Black inequality has grown even worse under Obama’s tenure

It might seem odd that a developed nation, the ‘land of the free’ and the ‘home of the brave’ could ever possess this sort of social illness in 2015 but it all comes back to attitude. The United States thrives off of patriotism and theism, these two doctrines are reinforced at every single step of the way and can lead to some very socially right thinking. The latter is not really an issue in the development of heinous gun laws and societal racism but the extreme patriotism of the United States’ citizens has been hindering them for years.

Star-spangled banners fly from every other building in the US, phrases like ‘God bless America’ are national slogans and all of this has led to an arrogant complacency. A widespread belief that the US has got its house in order and its role is to now monitor and fight the issues faced by nations elsewhere in the world. Founded from a genocide of the continent’s indigenous people, the nation founded an historic right to bear arms, which has never been contested because of the fabled status afforded to the founding fathers. Subsequently this law is protected by a widespread sense of national pride and the fear that any move against their inaugural legislation would be considered a form of treason.

This deep-running national arrogance has led to a slip away from the monumental Civil Rights movement and allowed the march towards equal rights for ethnic minorities to stall and actually regress. The United States may be a world superpower, it may be an economic powerhouse but it’s duty is not to be the world’s police or the globe’s surveillance but to protect its people from unrestrained gun violence spawning from archaic laws and institutional and societal racism that robs 13% of US citizens of the ‘American dream’ we hear so much about it. Nationalist rhetoric is all well and good but the US government needs to put its nation back at the heart of its decision-making. It says a lot that these problems are getting bigger and bigger even in the seventh year of the presidency of America’s first non-white leader.

MSM Don’t Kill People, Stigma Does

Recent reports have revealed that intake of new blood donors in Britain is down by a massive 40%. While news outlets speculate that a year’s deferral for people with new tattoos and piercings is to blame, I’d contest that a bigger reason for the shortfall is the yearly ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men (MSM). There are two reasons why this archaic law is so detrimental; firstly, it can cost people their lives. By snubbing donations by MSM, we are simply sanctioning people to death. Just one single donation can be administered to as many as three people; a quarter of people will need a blood transfusion in their life time, making the demand for blood transfusions around 16 million in the UK alone. However, confronted with that demand, our government still thinks it’s sound policy to rule out an estimated five and a half million donors solely based on their non-heterosexual activity. The rather vapid rationalisation for not taking blood from MSM is that there is a higher risk of them carrying HIV or the Hepatitis B virus, as a matter of fact, the NHS revealed in 2012 that 4.7% of MSM’s are HIV-positive, but does that statistic really matter? There is surely no issue in accepting blood from MSM if they don’t carry HIV or any other harmful virus, meaning a blanket ban is unfair and damaging to all parties. So why is it that we deny up to five and a half million people the right to donate blood and save lives on the 1 in 20 chance that their blood might carry HIV or Hepatitis B virus, especially when it is actively tested for before donation anyway?

Hard-hitting… An ad-campaign against the MSM blood ban

That same NHS report also revealed that 3.7% of British people of Black African descent carried HIV. There would rightly be uproar if there was a blood donation ban on Black Africans on the 1 in 25 chance they too carry HIV or Hepatitis B. It’s stereotyping and it’s immoral. Another recent report on the continent shows that heterosexual women and lesbian women were experiencing the greatest rise in HIV contraction but yet again there is no imposition on either of those demographics. The truth of the matter is that this law is not in place to protect the health of those requiring a blood transfusion, but is in place on the back of an uncorrected stigma from thirty years ago. While it is fact that HIV is harmful, that Hepatitis B is incurable, and both are more likely to be carried by MSM, statistics show that more than 95% of MSM do not carry either virus and could help recover the shortfall in blood donations. This law proves, despite the right’s best protestations that the crusade for LGBT+ equality didn’t end last year when the Tories begrudgingly allowed the Lib Dems to pass marriage equality. It’s not only that this law is an unnecessary hindrance to saving lives; it’s also an infringement on the rights of LGBT+ people to give blood. In fact, perhaps the most confusing part of this legislation is its apparent assumption that men who sleep with women never have sex casually and if they do, always do so safely – yet there are more heterosexuals with HIV in the UK than there are non-heterosexuals. The law correctly reflects that MSM are higher risk than most demographics but also incorrectly assumes that those who partake in heterosexual activity are no risk – so surely it should either be deferral for all or open donations for all?

Ally… Prospective Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has pledged to place the ban at the heart of his tenure in opposition

The pressure needs to be dialled up until we reach a cross-party consensus to lift this ban and start to champion equality and more importantly save lives. The Labour party have finally joined the Liberal Democrats and the Greens in support of scrapping this law and the Tories’ heads are slowly being turned too. Those passionate about equality and health need to start pushing this issue higher in the political agenda, making it clear that lives count for more than stereotypes. We all want an NHS that puts our health at the heart of its decision making but we’re currently abiding by legislation where, for example, a 7-year-old girl would be refused a life-saving blood donation from her uncle because he had sex with his male partner of twenty years a few weeks ago and despite knowing his negative status. Does that seem right to you? It’s fairly clear that the one year deferral on blood donations for MSM is nonsensical; it is rupturing equality and literally killing more people than this law was enforced to protect. This ruling is largely based on an out-of-date stigma that has never been legislatively amended, we cannot, especially in a time of falling rates of blood donation and an under pressure health service, continue to champion this eugenic discrimination – stigma is never a reason to gamble with people’s lives. Apparently, to put a twist on an old adage, blood is thicker than water but it’s not thicker than homophobia.   Join the fight against the MSM blood ban. Join the Liberal Democrats and Freedom to Donate