Tag Archive | "politics"

Joe Doyle

Who deserves your vote?

The general election is just days away.

With this in mind, here at Notre Dame we’ve decided to hold our very own general election! So, who exactly are the aspiring Ed Milibands and Natalie Bennetts of Notre Dame?

Well, we’ve compiled a handy list of all the candidates, so you can decide for yourself just who is worthy of your vote!

Labour Candidate, Annie Maloney, poses for a photo with Ed Miliband on a campaign day in April 2015.

Firstly, we have Annie Maloney, who is standing as The Labour Party’s candidate.  So, just what exactly does the Labour party mean to her?

“A handshake. Two hands.  That’s what the Labour party means to me. I support you, you support me, whoever you are, wherever you come from. Shoulder to shoulder, hand to hand.”

The focus of Labour’s college campaign will be based around the idea of creating “A country where the next generation can do better than the last.”  However she was reluctant to reveal any policy details, stating that “We’re saving the key details for our leaflets.”

In her spare time, she enjoys canvassing for the local Labour party, in support of Veronica King, the candidate for Elmet and Rothwell. She’s also a huge fan of vintage clothing, tea, and the hit TV show ‘The Walking Dead’, and is particularly proud of her ‘Miliselfie’.

Next up is Joe Doyle, who is standing for The UK Independence Party. In Joe’s words; why should you vote for him? “I will campaign for the withdrawal of The UK from Europe, because I believe that although we have an interest in Europe, we are not part of Europe.”  In terms of policy, UKIP will be focusing on abolishing the bedroom tax, and blocking the construction of HS2.  Inheritance tax is also an important issue, with Joe arguing that “The bequeathal of property to a loved one is not a form of income and the government has no right to interfere.”

In his spare time, he plays several musical instruments and is also ‘partial to fine dining’.

Now say hello to George Walker, The Green Party candidate!

So why did George join the Green party? “After starting to study Politics at Notre Dame I decided I wanted to get more involved in politics and joined the Green Party in October 2013. I joined the Green Party as they are the only left-wing party standing up for the values I believe in.”  The Green Party’s campaign will centre on their 3 key policies of abolishing university tuition fees, fighting the creeping privatisation of The NHS and reducing inequality by ensuring that all employers pay at least a living wage of£10.

George Walker is supported by Notre Dame’s Green campaign team.

Outside of politics, he loves music, sport and travel. He said: “I enjoy going to gigs and festivals and watching and a variety of sports such as football, baseball and the NFL.”

Any finally, Marilyne Ebu has made a last-minute decision to stand as The Conservative candidate.

Some of the Conservative policies which Marilyne champions are; ensuring that those on the minimum wage don’t pay tax, supporting working parents by giving parents £5,000 of free

Conservative candidate Marilyne Ebu urges Notre Dame students to “Vote Conservative!”

childcare, and protecting the triple lock on pensions. Marilyne is particularly proud of The Conservative’s record in government, particularly the 2.2 million extra apprenticeships which have been created.  In her spare time, she enjoys listening to K-Pop, dancing, and being involved with her local church and community.

Want to put your questions to the candiates? Come along to the hustings on Friday, at 1:00pm in the lecture theatre and give them a grilling!

Voting will take place on Thursday 7th May, from 10:00am to 2:00pm in the main hall.  Put a cross in the box and make sure that your voice is heard!

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Philip Davies twitter row

Philip Davies: The Controversial Conservative

There are many adjectives which you can use to describe Philip Davies.

Boring is not one of them.

He is infamous for currently being the most rebellious serving Conservative MP, having voted against his party’s Whip 120 times. He is also well known for using the tactic of filibustering to kill off legislation he dislikes. A quick google search will also bring up allegations of a spurious involvement in the gambling industry and a controversial chain of correspondence to the Equality and Human Rights Committee, in which he reportedly asked ‘whether it was racist for a policeman to refer to a BMW as ‘black man’s wheels’.

Mr Davies answers students’ questions. Photograph: Kevin Warnes

On his visit to Notre Dame on Friday 6th February 2015, he initiated an hour long Q&A session with students in the lecture theatre. It began with a question on the subject of surveillance; a topic which has recently been in the news because of the high profile terrorist attacks in Paris. Mr Davies defended his authoritarian stance on surveillance, by arguing that it does not infringe upon our day-to-liberties. He said “It’s a question of when we suffer another terrorist attack in this country, not if.”

Another bone of contention was the minimum wage. Mr Davies notably said in 2011 that “the minimum wage can be more of a hindrance than a help.” In the case of some disabled jobseekers.  He continues to stand by his position on this, despite the storm of controversy which it created.  During this session, he re-affirmed his position on the issue, stating that he “disagrees with the minimum wage on principle.” And that “what somebody is paid is a matter between the employer and the employee.”  His argument was that disabled people are facing poor employment prospects, and should be allowed to work for less than the minimum wage to make them more attractive to employers.

I wonder how Mr Davies would respond to his government’s closure of the UK’s remaining Remploy factories?

Former Remploy workers protest in April 2012. Photograph: Getty Images

Sheltered factories have long been a contentious issue amongst disability rights campaigners; however they undoubtedly provided vital employment to those with disabilities. Remploy opened it’s first factory in Brigend, Wales in 1946. At their peak, in the late 1980s, Remploy factories employed more than 10,000 people at 94 sites, with employees performing a wide range of invaluable tasks, including bookbinding, monitoring CCTV images and carpentry.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4′s ‘Face The Facts’ programme, Simon Huntington, a former Remploy employee from Durham explained the personal impact of the factory closures. “My whole life at the moment is thanks to Remploy – and now that’s gone, my life is gone. I’m so proud that I worked for Remploy and I will continue saying that. Remploy was a lifesaver. Remploy was my life.”

Now, most of the work that Remploy undertakes focuses on delivering careers advice to disabled people, aiming to encourage them into mainstream employment through disability friendly employers such as Marks and Spencers.   Despite this, the Department of Work and Pensions is aware of less then a third of ex-Remploy employees who have managed to find new jobs. PIC CREDIT: Former Remploy workers protest in April 2012. Photograph: Getty Images

Disability employment is a complex issue, and the DWP faces many difficult decisions in the future. However if one thing is clear, it is that abolishing the minimum wage is not the answer.

Perhaps the most controversial issue was the topic of equality.  Mr Davies voted strongly against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act of 2013, saying that “You are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land if you believe it promotes equality.”  He argued that the act is ‘fundamentally flawed’ due to it’s provisions for divorce.

Due to a series of historical rulings which form a body of complex case law, a homosexual couple cannot cite either adultery or non-consummation as the reason for divorce. Instead, they can use the umbrella term of ‘unreasonable behaviour’, which is currently cited by 98% of heterosexual couples as the reason for divorce and covers adultery and non-consumation. One lower 6th student Lucy Timmins passionately replied “the only one living in Cloud Cuckoo Land is Philip Davies!”

Once the Q&A session had finished, the debate continued to rage on through social media. One Lower 6thstudent, Evie Appleson was shocked to find that Mr Davies had replied to her tweet, calling her an ‘intolerant small minded socialist’.

Mr Davies is known for his outspoken views. Screenshot: Twitter/ Evie Appleson

So what was the overall verdict?

Politics teacher, Dr Warnes, (who will be standing against Mr Davies as the Green Party candidate in Shipley on 7th May) said that “We were very pleased to welcome  back Shipley MP Philip Davies. He is one of the more colourful members of parliament, a politician who speaks his mind on the issues he cares about.  It was a really enjoyable session, and we are very grateful to Philip for finding the time to drop in.”

Allan Clifford, Head of Politics, agrees, saying that: “Philip Davies is a Conservative who is not afraid to court controversy across a range of British political issues. A real treat for all concerned!”

And finally, Lower 6th student, Amelia Webb said that “It was interesting to hear political perspectives very different from my own!” 

By Fran Talbot

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2015: The Year Ahead



Ahhh, January. The start of a new year! Already snowdrops are beginning to poke through the frosted earth and Facebook has been deluged with selfies of people burning off their Christmas calories. So, once you’ve quite finished munching on yet another turkey sandwich, it’s time to take a look at the year ahead.

In political terms, 2015 is going to be an interesting year.  It’s Barack Obama’s penultimate year as the President of the USA, Lithuania is joining the Eurozone…and of course, there’s the pant-wetting excitement of the upcoming general election.

The general election is scheduled to be held on 7th May owing to the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act of 2011; and so far, it’s shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable elections in living memory. Currently, the poll average shows Labour to be in first place, the Conservatives a close second, followed by UKIP, The Liberal-Democrats, and finally, the Green Party.

In light of this, I decided to ask the good people of Notre Dame to gaze into their crystal balls and share their political forecasts for 2015. Obviously, the most common theme was the general election, and we had predictions ranging from a continuation of the current Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, to an out-and-out Labour majority. There were also predictions on the state of the parties’ leadership and the likelihood of another financial crash.


Lower 6th Student, Kyle McGee:

“My political predictions for 2015 are that the Labour party will win the election, but have to form a coalition government with the SNP. I also think that Boris Johnson will take over as leader of the Conservative Party.”  

Lower 6th student, Lucy Timmins:

“My political predictions for 2015 are that in the general election the Labour party will win with a small majority, and if this doesn’t happen, Ed Miliband will have to resign as leader of the Labour party. I also think that UKIP and The Green Party will win a lot more seats in Parliament.”

Upper 6th student, William Holmes:

“I think that the Labour party will get the largest number of seats but won’t have enough to form a majority; they’ll either go into coalition with the Green Party or rule with no majority. Because of this, I think that Nick Clegg will no longer be leader of the Liberal Democrats, and will either be kicked out or resign. I also think that UKIP won’t get the support expected and vanish from the media until the next European Parliamentary election.”

Upper 6th student, Audrey Murumbi:

“In my opinion, UKIP are going to form a coalition. I also think that the Liberal Democrats are not going to win as many seats as expected. However, things might stay as they are, with the Conservatives in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.”

Upper 6th student, Moin Shah:

“First of all, I think that the Labour party are going to win by a small majority. My second prediction is that the upcoming general election will signal the last majority government, owing to the rise of smaller parties, like UKIP and The Green Party; perhaps leading to electoral reform. I also think that there will be a big shake-up in the EU, relating to the current turmoil in Cyprus and Greece. People aren’t too happy there at the moment. Although we won’t leave the EU, there will definitely be a significant change. The people at the head of the EU aren’t elected, which worries me.”

Upper 6th student, Abdulla Beirakji:

“I predict that there will be a coalition between the Conservatives and another smaller party. I think that the Labour party will probably have a new leader, as Ed Miliband isn’t popular at the moment.  I also think that UKIP won’t be as strong as people currently think they are, because at the European elections, the turnout was very low, whereas at the general election it will be higher, so more people will turn out and show their disapproval.” 

Lower 6th student, Annie Maloney:

“My political predictions are that the general election will result in a clear Labour majority.  I also think that in my own constituency of Elmet and Rothwell, the Labour candidate, Veronica King, will win and replace Alec Shelbrooke.”

Politics teacher and Green Party Councillor Dr Kevin Warnes:

“I think that It’s incredibly close to call…I’m going to go for a hung Parliament. Currently, It’s 6:1 against either of the main parties winning a majority. Overall, I think Labour will be slightly ahead of the Tories, although I think that they’re going to struggle to form a stable coalition. Perhaps there will be a coalition of several parties, or possibly even a minority Labour led government. A likely scenario is that Labour will try to cobble something together.  It might include a role for The Green party, it might not. The Greens will hold Brighton Pavillion, although I don’t think they will win any more seats, and overall they will gain somewhere between 5 and 10 % of the vote. I think that this will provoke a debate about the electoral system. Thirdly, I think that because of the fall out from the general election, there’s going to be a massive constitutional ruckus, owing to the SNP’s success in Scotland. Ultimately, whichever party they end up dealing with in Westminster, they’ll hold their feet to the fire. One outcome of this may be another Scottish referendum, guaranteed in the next 5 years, held towards the end of the Parliament. Finally, I think that the big climate change summit in Paris will result in the world’s major industrialised economies, once again, failing miserably to finalise a global deal on climate.”

Head of Government and Politics, Allan Clifford:

“I think that Labour will get a small majority and form the next government. I also think that will mean that David Cameron will be replaced as leader of the Conservative party by Theresa May. In my opinion, there will be another major economic crash which will turn out to be a real game changer.  I’m also inclined to think that UKIP won’t do as well as some have predicted. They’ll only have 3, at the most, 4 MPs after the election.”


And my predictions?

At the moment, Labour have a modest poll lead, however I fear that as the general election draws closer, it will significantly decrease. Ed Miliband is the main factor in all of this. His leadership style is poles apart from Tony Blair’s. Whereas Tony Blair was polished, deft and efficient; ‘The master of Spin’, Ed Miliband can’t even eat a bacon sandwich properly and is increasingly gaffe prone.  All it takes is another ‘bigoted woman’ moment and his Prime Ministerial hopes will be lying in a heap of smouldering ashes.

Secondly, I think that the Liberal Democrats will be absolutely annihilated in the general election.  A party which keeps loosing their deposits is not a party of government. They can do as much campaigning as they want, but the majority of the electorate on May 7th will be voting with their gut-feeling, and people have not forgotten Nick Clegg’s massive betrayal over tuition fees. So ultimately, Nick Clegg will have to resign.  I bet Danny Alexander is salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs…

Finally, the general election. If you put a gun to my head, I’d be inclined to go for a minority Labour government propped up by the SNP, although the SNP may well push for another Scottish referendum.

We’ll see.


By Fran Talbot

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Notre Dame welcomes Hilary Benn

Notre Dame welcomes Hilary Benn

Hilary Benn poses for a photo with Notre Dame’s PolSoc students

Hilary Benn; another politician in the long line of the Benn Dynasty. He is most definitely his father’s son, although they are decidedly different in many ways. Whereas his Father was known as the firebrand of the Labour party, Hilary has been dubbed by critics as ‘the vicar of politics’ and has stated that he is most definitely “ A Benn, but not a Bennite.” He has been the MP for Notre Dame’s constituency Leeds Central since 1999 and is currently the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

On his visit to Notre Dame on Thursday 2nd October 2014, we found him to be warm, welcoming and eager to answer our questions. He faced a grilling from the students on a range of subjects; including foreign policy, nuclear weapons and the housing crisis. He became empassioned when speaking about the ‘barbaric nature’ of ISIS.

Politics teacher, Dr Warnes said that: “We appreciated the warm, considerate yet challenging way in which he engaged with our students.”. One Lower Sixth student, Isabella Taylor added that “Mr Benn spoke passionately on a wide range of issues.”

 Despite this, not everyone was impressed. One Upper Sixth student, Elijah Cockshaw, questioned Mr Benn’s decision to vote in favour of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Elijah thought that: “He was very good at avoiding questions, giving woolly answers  and answering questions that weren’t asked.” In spite of recent criticisms, Mr Benn still stands by his decision to support the Iraq war.

In the future Notre Dame will be more than happy to welcome Hilary back again!

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Syrian Conflict

The protests began in March 2011; the Syrians demanded President Bashar al-Assad to step down from power. Assad’s autocratic leadership was compared to the dictators in history such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. The request for freedom from the protesters was met by violence. The peaceful people were kicked, punched and shot. Brutal actions sparked rebellion which created armies of angry dissidents.


On August 21st 2013, there were reports of chemical gas attacks in the capital city of Damascus, it was alleged that the Syrian regime carried out the attacks. UN officials tested out the samples taken from the location and discovered that sarin gas was used. The youngest person treated because of the gas attack was 7 years old. The attacks were the reason for a worldwide debate.

Unexpectedly, the Assad regime has lasted longer than the predicted 18 months although it has had a few setbacks e.g. Rebels seizer of hundreds of tanks. The rebels are receiving help from Qatar and Saudi Arabia but it is not enough. The United Nations claim that Russia and Iran are ‘fuelling’ the civil war by blocking their attempts at resolving the situation and arming Assad supporters. Russian President, Vladimir Putin in particular does not want the US involved as he is not comfortable with the US influence on the world. America, Russia, Iran and the UK continue to debate about actions to stop the war but they cannot reach an agreement due to the differing opinions of all sides. There are fears that this war will turn into the seemingly never ending wars such is the case in Iraq and Afghanistan, if the US are involved.

While the great world powers debate, the war’s impact on the population and environment is truly distressing. Homes are being destroyed, Schools obliterated and Hospitals overpopulated. Men, women and children are forced to flee their homes because of the dire conditions. Orphaned children have to look for food, water and shelter as they have lost all their families and constant battles take place on the streets between the rebels and Assad’s army with no concern about the safety of others. Some Syrians have fled to bordering countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Efforts have been made by thousands of people to aid the victims of a senseless war; there have been many events to raise funds. The attempts to help the innocent are much appreciated however, this war seems like a fire that cannot be extinguished. The death toll has reached a deeply unsettling 110,000 and continues to rise as the conflict goes on however there may be the possibility of an agreement in the near future.


Hamad Haroon

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