Political

Make Britain Tolerant: Leicester Is British

What exactly is British? Winston Churchill? Cups of tea? Rain?

‘British’ means anything you want it to. I had hoped that too would be the message of Channel 4’s Make Leicester British documentary which aired on Monday night – yet it wasn’t to be.

From the introductory seconds, the programme started on with the anti-immigration attitude I quietly dreaded. Several clips positioned at the front of the documentary insinuated that Leicester had been conquered by settlers, that ‘British’ identity was being vanquished in the city and that Britons, white, black and Asian alike were all amalgamated in their derision of the new economic and crime scapegoats; the Eastern Europeans.

It appeared that the documentary was loaded from the start, with the ostensibly biased casting including an unemployed Somalian Muslim on benefits, a Polish woman whose very slight toil with the English language was opportunistically latched upon by the sensationalist eagles at Channel 4, and of course, two sympathetic White Britons who were not once publicised in a damaging light, unlike the other six participants. The programme went on to explore how these people could co-exist together, continually emphasising Leicester’s afflicted obligation to verify that multiculturalism is a feasible reality in modern Britain. The viewer was afforded a few moments of modest redemption in which the participants from diverse cultures were able to enrich the lives of the others with their alternative lifestyle. However, those peeps in to multiculturalism at work were habitually misplace in between the near single-mindedness on division, in which the documentary was even left on the note of two women of differing religions re-entering in to an irreconcilable conflict.

The researchers led the spectator to believe that Leicester is a city of tribal conflict, that citizens from every sub-culture were left fighting a silent war of acrimony on the city’s very streets. However, the real experiences of the people of Leicester generally rejected that opinion. In a small poll I ran on my social media page, 78% felt the show misrepresented the city and only 29% of Leicesterians felt there was any sort of ethnic tensions in the city whatsoever. In truth, growing up and living in Leicester is for many people a very heartening experience. It’s a city where Christmas and Diwali hold similar status in the eyes of the council and the locals alike. Growing up in the city’s suburbs, I was educated on the city’s varied population and given the opportunity to visit Gurdwaras, Hindu Temples, Churches, Synagogues and Mosques, all of which were hospitable, enlightening and crucially, integrated.

Regrettably, the tone of the piece is very much indicative of the climate of xenophobia that has spread across the country. As mentioned, the documentary was profoundly dependent on migrant typecasts such as immigrants being benefit thieves when in fact research shows the contrary. Immigrants are 45% less likely to claim benefits and recent settlers have made a net contribution of £25bn to the national tax fund; £8.8bn more than they withdrew, 26% of NHS doctors are foreign-born. The programme demonstrated an impassioned row with plenty of xenophobic rhetoric was – it seems the recipe for media viewership at the minute is to villainise and segregate the ‘other’. Yes, experiences within the city will fluctuate but any difficulties are few and far between.  The programme’s subservience to the far-right tabloid agenda was incredibly disheartening and particularly insulting to the wonderfully harmonious city that I call home.

It is thoroughly inappropriate for Channel 4 to stir the pot of neophobia with loaded titles that intimate a city is not authentically ‘British’. ‘British’ to me means tolerance, respect, diversity and equality. In those terms, Leicester is as prototypically ‘British’ as you can get. The same cannot be said for the British media, works like Make Leicester British continue to fail and insult the British public.

It always puzzles me as to what people’s issues are with immigrants. I want to close this post with what’s hopefully a sobering thought; your hometown, no matter where you live, is full of strangers. Why does it matter what ethnicity those strangers are?

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The Death Penalty Should Stay Dead

One of the more arduous, repetitive and indeed controversial political debates currently is that of the death penalty’s restoration. Having not seen an execution for fifty years, recent high-profile crimes such as the murder of Lee Rigby have sparked some support for reintroduction of capital punishment. In fact, Ukip MEP Louise Bours stoked the discussions last week by hinting that Ukip may be in support of the re-introduction.

With an issue like this, there are always strong feelings on either side. Those in favour of reintroduction say it will mean the worst of criminals pay the ultimate price, the families of the victims will get ‘closure’ and it will stop tax-payers funding criminals’ prison life.

However, it isn’t that simple. How are we supposed to teach lessons to criminals if we kill them for their crimes? They won’t suffer, they’re dead. Is it not the ultimate hypocrisy of the justice system to punish killing by killing? Should we not deter society from killing by never using it to solve problems? It’s also short-sighted to assume that victims’ families want the death penalty reintroduced too, with many speaking out against the penalty.

The death penalty is not even a sufficient deterrent of crime. The UK’s homicide rate is 18 times lower than the United States, where they do utilise execution. It’s not even cost-effective to kill violent criminals either, a common misconception is that the death penalty is cheaper than keeping criminals in prison for life – but it isn’t. In the United States, those sentenced to death can end up costing the tax-payer four times as much as those given lifetime incarceration. Those on death row often appeal and can end up waiting for execution for up to twenty years, which hardly solves the prison overpopulation problem either.

And just what are we to do if a jury reaches an incorrect verdict and innocent man or woman is charged with murder and subsequently put to death? Do we then send the executioner to death for what would be the killing of an innocent person? Do we kill the jury too? These cases, although rare do happen – it only takes one instance for this potential law to be thrown in to disrepute.

As far as Ukip goes, Louise Bours support for this motion’s reintroduction reeks of right-wing populism. She’s probably just testing the waters to see if they can ram this in to their manifesto for later this year. Either that, or they hate the EU that much that they simply cannot stand that the organisation opposes the death penalty too. In reality, the death penalty is expensive, labourious, hypocritical and barbaric. Journeying back to a bygone era where brutality was an acceptable resolution is not the answer, as is shown by the USA’s higher crime rate. I don’t think it’s wrong to feel vengeful in situations like these. Of course, those supporting the death penalty have a point – these people don’t deserve to live whilst their victims don’t. Financially, the death penalty isn’t beneficial – let the criminals suffer in prison, their life can be taken away from them without death.

Let’s Get One Thing Straight: Why “Heterosexual Pride” Marches Don’t Happen

This weekend, thousands rejoiced and celebrated gay pride events held in the cosmopolitan cities of London and New York. LGBT pride events as they’re perhaps more appropriately named take place across many cities every year, and in turn they produce the painfully offensive and irritating question from many; “why isn’t there a ‘straight pride’?”

On the surface, it almost seems an equitable question. We have gay or LGBT pride movements so why not a heterosexual one? After all, those movements’ sole aim is to establish equality for all regardless of sexual orientation. But when you spend more than half a second considering why no such events take place it becomes glaringly obvious why the question itself is just a little bit stupid.

Quite simply put, there isn’t ‘straight pride’ because nobody has ever tried to quash the mass pride of heterosexuals. The LGBT community has suffered and still suffers discrimination and persecution from all walks of life for the sole reason of being a part of that community.A straight female holding hands with her partner as she walks down the street would be unlikely to draw any attention. A lesbian woman doing the same with her girlfriend is far more likely to be met with negativity or abuse. Heterosexuality is outlawed in a total of zero countries, homosexuality is still illegal in 81. And even now is punishable by death in seven of them.

Death.

People are still legally killed for being gay in 2014.

Shameful… The countries in red show where homosexuality is a crime.

Of course, things aren’t as barbaric and oppressive here. In most parts of the UK and indeed many parts of the US, homosexuality is legal and the right to change legal gender is allowed too, but these changes only came in to place as recently as 30 years ago, and same-sex marriage was only approbated last year. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that homophobia is a myth in the Western world. Let’s not forget that two of the three highest polling political parties in the UK possess a significant proportion of members who still oppose the strive for sexual orientation equality.

LGBT youth are still prone to discrimination in the UK, some will be ostracised by their friends and family for the simple crime of being who they are; the same can thankfully not be said for straight people. This year, a BBC Newsbeat survey found that 42% of LGBT though have sought help for depression and anxiety and 52% have reported self-harm at some point in their lives, considerably higher rates than found in heterosexual youths. Stonewall found that in 2012, 55% of LGBT workers experienced bullying in the workplace and 99% ceaselessly heard homophobic phrases. In fact, in the last week alone, nohomophobes.com have tallied 290,754 tweets referencing such homophobic phrases as ‘faggot’, ‘dyke’ and ‘so gay’ – this is just on Twitter, just of English speakers and just one week’s worth of data.

Still wondering when ‘straight pride’ day is? It’s every day. It’s being able to kiss your partner in public without fear of being heckled, segregated or vilified. What would a ‘straight pride’ event even consist of? Shared memories of that time when everyone of the like was free to love who they wanted? Or maybe a fond reflection on the hard-work heterosexuals have put in to win the basic rights they were never traditionally afforded? Maybe, it’s that ‘pride’ is the wrong word – or perhaps the concept itself is misinterpreted. LGBT pride is not about boasting about sexuality, it’s not about showing off or self worship. It is to commemorate the progress made towards triumphing over the legal and societal oppression of the minority, a time to celebrate and feel safe in an all-encompassing environment (including heterosexuals) to be your whole self, for just one or two days a year.

It doesn’t make you homophobic to have ever wondered why ‘straight pride’ doesn’t exist. But when you look at why LGBT pride events are held and indeed needed, it should answer the question. It’s not about revoking the equal right of straight people to celebrate their sexuality. In truth, heterosexuals should be thankful that ‘straight pride’ isn’t required. After all, LGBT pride events are not state-run initiatives, so if you still think an event to bask in the adversity-free existence of the majority as some oddly coveted equivalent to the celebration of a minority’s push for victory over injustice should occur, then organise it yourself.

Political Ramblings of an 18-year-old

I’m not going to profess to being a political expert. There are plenty of issues and protocol that evades me but here is my take on the political situation in Britain.

Influence… Britain’s rag are able to sway many voters.

If you frequent Twitter or any other forum across the country, you will find discontented adults moaning about the political landscape. They usually brand the party or parties in charge as ‘useless’. So how do the electorate punish those who have let them down? They vote in the other party who failed them the term before. This country has got in to an unbreakable cycle of electing Conservatives and then Labour only to be let down by both. Weirdly, people haven’t seemed to catch on. They’re more than happy voting for these two dead horses. In fairness, many people are misinformed or swept up in media hype over political issues. It’s no secret that newspapers and a person’s parents have a huge part to play in the development of a person’s political views.

In fact, before the 1920s, the Liberal party were the second party to the Conservatives, a feat that their phoenix organisation, the Liberal Democrats have failed to recapture. In fact, many people today in the UK, still support the views and policies of the Lib Dems but given a political system that favours just two parties, many consider a vote for the Lib Dems, a wasted one. Many people are unaware that popular policies such as the NHS, Keynesian economics and marriage equality were pioneered by the Liberals but still Labour and Conservatives top the British political hierarchy.

Frozen out… The electoral system does not accommodate for three parties.

As you’ve probably guessed, I’m a Lib Dem supporter. But this post isn’t necessarily aimed to get you to support them. I’m more about campaigning for people to adopt greater political awareness. Misinformation has played a key role in the popularisation of the right-wing UKIP. Many have concerns about the UK’s EU membership. Whether that be right or wrong, few seem to realise that UKIP do not promote patriotism but instead nationalism, a superiority over others due to nationality. A similar political ideal to the Nazi party of 1930s Germany. I’m not saying UKIP are nazis but they are a party that stands for bigotry, an intolerance of equality for sexual minorities, represented by members of a racist disposition.

This lack of understanding leads to the wrong people ruling the country. In my opinion, talk of extending the vote to 16-year-olds is wasted when most 18-year-olds don’t even care enough to voice their opinion. Why? Schools do not focus enough on promoting political sentience, so kids end up voting how the newspapers or their family tell them to, if they even bother in the first place.

I doubt you’ll find many 18-year-olds like me that want to encourage young people to take an interest. How can we complain when we’re voting for people we don’t even support? To be frank, schools should be in charge of developing political ideals in youths, after all that’s why subjects like PDP, PHSE and Citizenship were invented. So now, I challenge everybody reading this to answer the very short quizzes below and make an informed decision in 2015.

http://www.whoshouldyouvotefor.com/england.php (includes UKIP and Green party)

http://www.whodoivotefor.co.uk/ (includes Green party)