Political Rants

I have never voted for Labour. Today, that changes.

Yes. My big 2017 snap election secret is out. It still feels very weird to say, but hear me out.

My polling history has been sketchy at best, I have got to admit. I have had a huge overhaul in ideals and priorities in the last 5 years, which has resulted in my political standpoint moving more and more towards the left hand side of the spectrum.

My original party of choice was the Conservatives. Yes, I know. Again, hear me out.

They were something different, in a world where my views were slowly developing and growing, a disillusioned teen viewing the end of the Labour years, the financial crash, and the beginning of the end of New Labour. I had witnessed war in Iraq, terror in London, and a significant amount of struggle from people facing the brunt of poorly regulated banking systems and poor investment.

David Cameron and his new form of Conservative Party was a breath of fresh air, or so it seemed at the time, and I, like many others, was caught up in it. The 2010 election, the Conservative-LibDem coalition.

Despite being too young to vote at the time, I supported the Conservative campaign, I was a blue, a Tory, to the utter despair of people I knew, die-hard Labour supporters, friends. I went along with it all, I supported austerity cuts, because we needed to cut the deficit, we needed to get the budget back on track and reduce spending. It all made sense, but it didn’t play out that way.

It is bizarre to consider that, if the Tories were successful in their austerity, and removed the deficit by the 2015 election, I, and many others, may have had a soft spot for the government – maybe even praising them. But that didn’t happen.

The deadline kept on extending, and extending, and extending, and now we have moved on from a 2015 goal to end the deficit to a 2025 goal to end the deficit.

With the goalposts constantly moving further and further away, it became less and less possible to justify the cuts that the Conservatives were, and still are, making. They have made serious and damaging cuts to the NHS, started the privatisation of Royal Mail, cut funding for poor students, and a significant amount of other cuts that hurt the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and the young. How can someone still have faith in a party that has done nothing but take, and provide tax relief for the rich? Give or take a universally approved marriage equality bill, of course.

With all of this in mind, I made my switch to the Liberal Democrats. I voted for them the first time in the general election in 2015. I had seen through the unfair press they were getting as the minority party in the coalition. They made hard decisions and restrained a much more vicious Tory party than what we were expecting. They provided balance and security, and paid the price for it, as the Tories blamed them for the poor results and took the positive ones for themselves, something that they still do now.

Since then, I have been a Liberal Democrat. To my knowledge, I am still a Liberal Democrat. I have been a member of the party for over 2 years now, and very much defend the party and its core values. It holds a very major part of my political identity, with key figures such as Nick Clegg, Norman Lamb, and, possibly controversially, Tim Farron all inspiring me to be more involved in politics and form my liberal identity.

However, the 2017 election is unlike anything we’ve witnessed before on a political front. Half of the country is still reeling from the Brexit result, and the concept of a Tory Hard Brexit seemed inevitable until the election was called. The snap election that was, in my opinion, just a tool to take advantage of a fractured opposition and gain more seats. The Copeland by-election, the constituency next to mine, most certainly played a major part in this election being called. The Tories took an old Labour stronghold, an ex-Shadow Cabinet’s constituency, almost out of nowhere. Theresa May is intending on having that trend stretch further into Labour’s turf, gaining an even stronger government to have full and comfortable control over the Commons.

This is where strategic voting comes into play.

My local constituency has been a Labour stronghold for years. Tony Cunningham was the MP for 14 years before Sue Hayman took over in 2015, and Dale Campbell-Savours held the seat for an incredible 22 years before that between 1979 and 2001. For the first time in decades, that seat is at its most vulnerable, with the Conservatives trying its hardest to extend its support in the North.

Let’s not get just put my decision down to strategic voting, either. Sue Hayman is a pretty great local representative for the constituency. She has fantastic values, has fought hard for local concerns in the Commons, and has worked tirelessly throughout the entire election campaign. I know, I subscribed to her email updates and her schedule has been airtight at times. She even took time to go door to door, and spoke with my grandparents, sending them correspondence with an update on their concerns afterwards, too. It’s a fantastic work ethic and shows off a person who cares deeply for her party and the people in her Workington constituency, whilst my local LibDem candidate has been mostly mute, with most of the LibDems in the area’s concern being on Farron’s seat in Westmorland and Lonsdale. I just don’t feel obliged to vote for my party’s candidate if there is a better one available that would keep the Tories out of the area at the same time.

I must admit, too, that it goes beyond my local MP. The Labour manifesto very much speaks to me, and appeals to me in a lot of ways, sharing my views with a significant amount of their policies. I like Jeremy Corbyn, I think he is a breath of fresh air in modern politics, a man who has stuck to his guns through hardship and prosperity. I am not scared of him, far from it. He is not a man deserving of fear, unless your ideals are against a progressive, liberal movement, he is a man who has not let public opinions define him. He has done the dirty work when he has needed to, negotiating with the IRA to try and resolve the issues going on at the time. Having a discussion with terrorists doesn’t make him a terrorist sympathiser, it makes him better than the terrorists, he hasn’t resorted to violence to achieve a goal. This is the exact type of man who should be in charge of international conflict, whether political or military.

I do not have entire faith in the Labour manifesto, however. I do not think all the aims are achievable in one term, or at least not fully. Restructuring funding for the NHS, buying back the Royal Mail, and setting up a public energy company to drive down prices would take a hell of a lot of effort alone, never mind entirely scrapping tuition fees and reorganising them to a structure that works.

However, I’d very much rather a Labour manifesto that meets most of its goals, as opposed to a Tory government that is allowed to enact their manifesto in its entirety.

I feel like that is enough from me right now. I will be posting as the election day continues. But I feel like I have said enough for now.

If you are registered, go out and vote. I’d rather you didn’t go for a Tory option, but regardless of who you would vote for, exercise your right to vote. It’s important.

Happy Election Day, everyone.

Corey x

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The Introduction of the National Living Wage.

In 2015, George Osborne announced in his budget that the UK were going to make sure that, by 2020, we would be on £9 an hour, well deserving of the title “the National Living Wage”.

However, despite the fact that inflation by 2020 would arguably make £9 an hour less impressive (seeing that the Living wage rose by 40p in November), there is also a catch. At the moment, the only changes are going to be for people aged 25 and over.

The justification of this by the government is that it will allow young people to “secure work and gain experience” as well as to “maximise the opportunities” available to them.

Now, this seems fine and well, apart from the fact that this is pretty much going to screw over young people AND people over 25.

Just think about it. At this moment in time, the national minimum wage is £6.70 an hour. This applies (currently) to anyone over the age of 21, with the minimum wage for 18-20 year old workers being £5.30 an hour, and a staggeringly low £3.87 for people under 18. This means that, BEFORE the changes, people over 21 are earning £2.83 an hour more than under 18s (and £1.40 more for people aged 18-20) for just being older. Say what you want about ‘gaining experience’, they are doing exactly the same work as someone who is 21+, and it’s not that fair.

From April 2016, the situation is going to be even more clouded. This is due to the government’s 2020 “living wage” plan making its first progress, boosting the wage from £6.70 an hour to £7.20 an hour for people aged 25 and over. This means that, especially people who are working in shops and other customer service industries (as well as other employment that works on a minimum wage payment), the wage gap between 17 year olds and 25 year olds is going to be an incredible £3.33 an hour. Simply for being older, 25 year olds are going to be paid almost DOUBLE the wage of someone under 18.

You might, however, argue that 16-18 year olds “don’t need the money as much as 25 year olds”, because they spend it on unimportant things like university funding, or even a car or driving lessons. Whatever arguments you say about teenage spending, there are adults that spend their wage on pretty much similar things, whether it be video games, alcohol, or trying to avoid getting £50,000+ in debt to study at university. It doesn’t mean that their work is less valuable, or that they put in less effort.

Look at 18-20 year olds, if you want another side of the argument (I’ll be getting on to my current age bracket, 21-24, soon). They are getting paid £1.90 less despite being legally classed as an adult. At that age, finding work isn’t about getting some extra pocket money, it’s either finding work to complement further education or as a full time job, and, therefore, trying to save up to move out and become independent (seeing that they legally have to pay council tax anyway).

This becomes even muddier when it comes to the 21-24 year old workers. This is pretty much consisting of graduates and the independent adults from the 18-20 section, with some mature students thrown into the mix. This group has all the responsibilities as people 25+. If you have a person working in a shop that’s full time (I’ve classed this as 40 hours, but some companies differ) and 24, and another person that’s full time and 25, there shouldn’t be a £20 per week difference in their wage. The only reason they are being paid £20 more a week is because of their age. When you are doing something like retail, having 1 year more experience or being 1 year older doesn’t make a fucking difference. Being 24 as opposed to 25 doesn’t make your bills, your council tax, or your mortgage repayments (okay, with this government, this example is stretching it a bit far) any cheaper. It’s exactly the same financial responsibility as an 18 year old would have, so why do people 25 and older get placed on a minimum-wage significantly higher than people that have the same responsibilities financially? £2o may not seem like much per week, but it adds up to an extra £1,020 a year just for being a year older, which is just simply ridiculous. If you were working 40 hours a week at 18 years old, someone aged 25 and over would be earning £3,952 more a year from April. The exact same job, the exact same responsibilities, but your age (and the concept of experience, we mustn’t forget about that) means you earn nearly four grand less a year, because fuck you, 18-20 year olds – lots of love, George Osborne.

The Living wage issue doesn’t just affect people under 25, though. Seeing that 1 in 20 (or 5% of the population, roughly 3,250,000 people) are on minimum wage at the moment, and the suggestion of it increasing to 1 in 9 by 2020, people over 25 will more than likely find themselves too valuable for businesses to employ them. Significant amounts of high street companies hire 16-20 year olds already because of their lower wage cost, but increasing 25 y/o+ workers’ wages by 50p an hour (and steadily rising in the future) will just make the cheaper, more affordable teenagers even more worthwhile. Sure, they will earning more, but they will most certainly see doors close in the future because of their extra expense.

The living wage is being heralded as a “masterstroke“, but without other increases to the minimum wage for younger people, it’s quite simply adding another tier to the minimum wage and rebranding it as “living”. All it is doing is making a clear statement that people 25 and over apparently work harder than people under 25, and that they deserve to be paid more because of it. I’m sorry, George Osborne, but as someone that has suffered through the minimum wage tiers and austerity cuts, and not had a rich family to bail me out whenever I needed it, I know when I’m being served shit despite being told that it’s champagne.

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BBC Radio Leicester Interview

Just a short update… Earlier today Claire and I were interviewed by Monica Winfield on BBC Radio Leicester as part of the Saturday breakfast show!

It was really fun (despite the early start), and we were talking about UniSlam, the writing community in Leicester, and spoken word nights. I’ll be posting a link later on so people can have a listen!

In regards to UniSlam, it’s being held at the University of Leicester tomorrow, people can come down to the preliminary rounds and semi finals for free, but the grand finals cost £5 on the door. I’m the coach for the team, so I won’t be performing, but the amount of talent in the team is actually incredible. For now, though, all we can do is practice and get ready for the big day tomorrow.

I’ll be posting updates on my twitter handle @thefakecoreyb and maybe on here too, so keep posted!

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Happy New Year! 2016 Resolutions and saying goodbye to 2015.

The end of the year is finally upon us. 2015 has been a mixed year for the world, with terrorist attacks, Donald Trump, and a majority Conservative government putting a significant dampener on the whole thing.

For myself, it’s been pretty fun. I’ve graduated university with a 2:1 grade, had a load of fun adventures with people, and trying to settle into adult life for the first time. It’s been a good build-up, but I think there’s a long way to go, and that’s why I’m going to have some New Years resolutions, just to keep me in line and for something to work towards. These are in no particular order, but they shall be a list with explanations.

  1. Become vegetarian.
    This year, I’ve been gradually working towards vegetarianism, cutting meat out of my diet and either finding alternatives to replace it or having meals without any meat replacements. I’ve not cut it out completely yet, but by December 31st, 2016, I would like to be a full vegetarian. It’s because of a few reasons, mainly moral, but I won’t go into it.
  2. Move back to Leicester.
    Of course this had to make it, it’s my home from home, nearby a large portion of my friends, and the city I have spent the last three years, of which I love.
  3. Get a career-based job in a field I want to work in or begin a Masters degree in journalism.
    This is a bit vague and indecisive simply to be realistic. I would rather save up some money and get work in an English-based field before going back into education, just to get some professional experience on top of work experience and my education.
  4. Build up my journalism portfolio.
    Already under way with The Mixed Tape, but I am going to be getting heavily involved with Vulture Hound now that my hours are cut down again at work. I want to really get my journalist portfolio full of articles and getting my name out there.
  5. Travel to at least one different country.
    Seeing that I’ve not left the UK since 2011, I think it’s about time I visit somewhere different. It doesn’t matter where, as long as I travel to a different country, I’m happy.
  6. Lose some weight.
    This has been a constant one for the last few years, to little success. But I am wanting to get some weight lost purely for my health, and just feel a bit fitter and better about myself again.
  7. Improve my mental health.
    This is something new that I’ve not often spoken about before. For roughly 6-7 years, I’ve suffered from depression. For the first time in my life I’ve went beyond the basic counselling session and I’m currently going through CBT, or cognitive behavioural therapy, to help directly target my depression and help my brain function differently. I’m also taking anti-depressants alongside therapy, hoping that they will aid me too. Here’s to a (hopefully) happier 2016!
  8. Get some creative writing published.
    I’d absolutely love to get some poetry or a short story published in the near future. I’m sure I’ll be keeping you informed on here!
  9. Get some significant work on my novel done.
    The plan is there, and I’m a few thousand words in, but I’ve not been able to write as much, recently. I’m planning to get at least half of my novel written this year. This is here to make sure I do…
  10. Read more books.
    This is an important one. The ratio of books I own to books I’ve read is shockingly disproportionate. If there’s anything I need to do, it’s to get a lot of them into my “Read” pile, and out of my monstrous “To Be Read” pile.

So, that’s my 10. What resolutions do you have in mind? Feel free to comment them on my post! I hope you all have a Happy New Year!

– Corey

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Writing projects in Cumbria, and the Borderlines Festival, Carlisle.

The books I bought at Borderlines Festival, Carlisle.

The books I bought at Borderlines Festival, Carlisle.

It’s been a while since my last blog post, my utmost apologies. I’ve been going through the motions of getting settled in Cumbria and joining the working world, so my blog posts have taken more of a hit than first expected.

In regards to writing, I am now writing for an online music journalism website called The Mixed Tape, which is very exciting! I’ve already reviewed a couple of things on there, so feel free to have a look to try and find me!

My creative writing projects have mainly been writing little bits when I can, but nothing huge. I’ve made a bit of progress with a novel idea thanks to a train journey last week, but other than that it’s mainly been poetry or small chunks of prose. It’s a habit I’m going to have to get back into, which is something I didn’t really want to do as a writer.

One fun thing I’ve done this month, however, was visit Carlisle for the Borderlines Festival on the 5th of September! I started the day at a Poetry Breakfast hosted by Malcolm Carson and John Lucas. It was a nice start to the day, sipping a cup of coffee surrounded by fellow poets. I even performed a couple of poems myself! It wasn’t the best place for it, however, because the Tullie House cafe had Museum guests enjoying a breakfast and having light conversation in the same room as the event. It would have been better in a smaller coffee shop that could let your voice carry a bit better, and even possibly have a microphone and speakers. It was still fun and I left with (another) poetry book for my book collection by John Lucas.

The next event was a lot more concerned with providing a guide for writers, as Marian Veevers (whose pen name is Anna Dean), where we looked at using local record offices for inspirations to crime novels. It was a lot of fun (after a few tech issues!) and the tasks were really interesting and insightful. Definitely something for me to consider when novel writing!

After lunch, I sat down to a talk by Tom Harper and Simon Toyne, who were talking about their latest novels (Black River and Solomon Creed, respectively) and how to write thrillers (without becoming Dan Brown). It was definitely my favourite event of the day, as they discussed fun stories, how to edit with fellow writers, the idea of using a location vs creating a location, and much more. I, again, left the event with a book. A signed first edition of Solomon Creed with some really lovely black trimmed pages. Definitely something I’m looking forward to reading!

The last event was listening to a book reading and talk by Katherine Norbury, who has recently released The Fish Ladder, which is part travelogue, part memoir, and was an interesting change in content from the other events.

The only problem, now, is that I have to wait until next year for the Borderlines festival to come back around (unless I go off on adventures to other reading and literary festivals in the future), but as a Borderlines Festival virgin, I was very much impressed.

I’ll be posting some updates about my writing in the near future, as well as typical rants and comment pieces more than likely working themselves onto here, too.

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De Montfort University, I am disappointed.

I’m sure most of you are aware of the news hitting social media recently, but in case you haven’t, De Montfort University, my alma mater, has controversially made David Cameron a Companion of the University, the highest award that they could bestow upon the Prime Minister, for his involvement in legalising same-sex marriage. Given the Conservative Party’s very poor history with this generation of voters, among other reasons, you can understand why quite a lot of people were, for lack of a better phrase, ridiculously pissed off.

In all honesty, I’m not enraged or frothing at the mouth from the situation, I’m just disappointed. The behaviour shown by the university does not reflect its support of the LGBTQA+ community, nor the voice of its students, but reflects the Executive Board’s and, most importantly, Vice-Chancellor Dominic Shellard’s delusions of grandeur.

The notion that David Cameron ‘went against’ his party to pass the marriage equality act is a complete farce. The party, as well as Mr Cameron himself, didn’t have any intention of introducing same-sex marriage during the 2010 election, and was actually the Under Secretary for Equalities, Ex-Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone, who put forward the discussion for marriage equality and was the first politician to support the Out4Marriage campaign. David Cameron may have voted for and supported same-sex marriage after it started to become a political movement, but his record of voting has been anything but supportive to the LGBTQA+ community. Including his previous support of Section 28, an act which stopped schools “promoting homosexuality” that was introduced by Margaret Thatcher in 1988, he also voted in favour of an act which would ban homosexual couples from adopting, and voted in favour of banning lesbian couples from having IVF treatment as recently as 2008. As well as this, there is also the fact that the Tory government has passed questionable things in regards to the LGBTQA+ community, including cutting the funding for LGBT+ charities and Mr Cameron’s appointment of Caroline Dinenage as Equalities Minister, someone who voted AGAINST the marriage equality act.

I think De Montfort University are hiding their main reasoning for giving him this award. It’s not because of their respect for David Cameron’s support of same-sex marriage (which only seemed to appear in 2011 after years of being a supporter of “traditional family values”), but more so the fact that they could go to 10 Downing Street, show off their “liberal” side, and get their names in the papers. Their lack of consultation with the student body (where both the LGBT+ Society’s Chairperson, Tim Deves, and the university’s LGBTQ+ representative, Daniel Murgatroyd, weren’t informed) shows this, as no LGBTQA+ supporting student in their right mind would deem Mr Cameron worthy of this award.

I have stuck up for De Montfort University since I first arrived at their campus; their constant support of equality and LGBTQA+ rights and listening to their students’ concerns were two of the reasons why I loved studying there. This time, however, they have been nothing short of a disappointment, putting their bragging rights and one-upmanship over the ideals of its students, and the very community in which they so heavily support.

A.N – Please read and sign the DMU LGBT+ society’s petition!

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