POLL: Trident – renew it or scrap it?

It’s one of the most talked about topics in politics at the moment, but what is it all about? Here are some of the pros and cons of the nuclear deterrent programme based in Scotland. After this, there is also the opportunity to vote in my blog’s very first poll which will be interesting to see the results for

Pros

  • It stops other countries from attacking the UK
  • It would keep the country safe if war is ever declared
  • It creates many jobs for the people who work on the site

Cons

  • It costs a lot of money which could be spent elsewhere
  • It is unnecessary since it is never used
  • Nuclear weapons are morally wrong

Trident-nuclear-submarine-006

Interview with Tom Brake (Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrats)

Here’s my interview with the current Chief Whip and Foreign Affairs spokesman of the Liberal Democrats, Tom Brake:

  • How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?

“Very. Politics and politicians decide so many critical things; whether we go to war or how much is spent on hospitals.”

  • What do the Lib Dems need to do to be more successful in the future?

“Re-establish our liberal identity. Speak up for social justice.  Challenge the establishment parties.”

  • Following the recent devastating death of Charles Kennedy, was he someone who was respected right across the political spectrum and did he have an influence on yourself?

“Yes, his brand of easy-going almost apolitical politics is something I would like to try and emulate.”

  • Who did you think was the right candidate for the Liberal Democrats leadership?

“Supported Norman Lamb but confident Tim Farron is up to the job.”

  • Do you have any funny stories from your time in politics?

“Yes, the time I was ‘recognised’ at my local train station soon after I started campaigning to get elected as the MP for Carshalton and Wallington. As I was walking through the station, a young person said to me, ‘Are you …’ I was really chuffed because I thought I had been recognised as the candidate, but the sentence finished, ‘Are you, Jonathan from Brookside?’  Brookside was the big TV soap of the day.”

Tom Brake

Interview with Glenis Willmott: (Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party)

This is the first time I have interviewed an MEP (Member of the European Parliament) so I was intrigued to discover more about what the European Parliament is about. I was delighted to be able to ask questions to Labour’s European Parliamentary Leader, Glenis Willmott, and find out why she decided to become an MEP and hear her thoughts on whether Britain should leave the EU.

  • How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?

“I believe it is vital that young people take an interest, and hopefully an active role, in politics because we as politicians must represent people of all ages within our constituencies. Often, middle-aged and older residents are the most active in engaging with their politicians, for example by writing in, joining campaigns, requesting meetings, etc. If as many young people as possible took an interest in politics, then their voice would be heard loud and clear and politicians at all levels would have to debate their issues.”

  • Why did you decide to become an MEP rather than an MP?

“Before I became an MEP, I worked in the GMB trade union. During my time at the GMB, I saw how vital many of the protections for workers are and how many of them came directly from European legislation. The right to maternity leave, paid holiday, health and safety guidelines and many more of the workers’ rights we enjoy in Europe are down to the EU. For this reason, I wanted to stand for election as an MEP so that I could contribute to protecting those rights, strengthening them and bringing in new protections that are desperately needed.

I also believe that many of the problems facing us now and in the future, such as climate change, conservation terrorism and international crime, do not stop at national borders and it is therefore vital that we work together with our European neighbours to solve them. MEPs have a vital role to play in this too.”

  • What does your role as Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party involve?

“As the leader of the Labour Party’s 20 MEPs, I am responsible for representing their views and positions in negotiations within our parliamentary group, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (or S&D for short). Once a month, the leaders of each party’s MEPs, known as ‘heads of delegation’, come together to discuss what will soon be coming before the European Parliament. We try to work out a common position as well as any changes we want to make to proposed legislation. I then communicate with my group of Labour MEPs and we decide what stance we will be taking in light of these discussions.

Outside of the European Parliament, I also represent Labour’s MEPs in Westminster by attending Shadow Cabinet meetings. Here I can put across the views of our MEPs and how legislation and party policies could affect the EU as well as how EU legislation could affect the UK. I also deliver a speech at the Labour Party’s annual conference to outline what has been happening in the EU, how Labour MEPs are fighting for our values within the EU, and what is on the horizon such as the in/out referendum.”

Glenis-Willmott

  • Do you believe Britain should remain in the EU, and why?

“I strongly believe that the UK should stay in the EU and so I am campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum on our membership which will be held in 2016 or 2017. Apart from the benefits for workers’ rights that I outlined above, Britain also benefits enormously from being part of the world’s largest single market. The CBI recently estimated our membership to be worth around £3000 to each British household. We are undoubtedly more prosperous and open to trade by being in the EU.

Many British jobs are also dependent on our membership of the EU. There are international companies that invest in Britain because we are a gateway to the world’s largest single market. Some are already holding back investment as a result of the uncertainty caused by Cameron’s plans for a referendum. Pulling out the EU would risk hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of jobs which would be catastrophic for our economy and future prosperity.

As I stated in my response to your second question, there are many issues which we all face across the EU that can be dealt with much more effectively through co-operation. This extends to some of the legislation I have worked on in the European Parliament such as new rules for clinical trials which will mean results from trials, whether they are successful or not, will be shared across the EU. This will reduce the likelihood of duplicate studies, increase opportunities for cross-border research and offer better safeguards for patient safety; something that would simply not be possible if the countries of Europe worked alone.

The EU also offers hard-won and vital protections for British consumers; for example, compensation can be claimed for delays when travelling by train, plane, bus or ship in the EU. There are also protections when buying goods and services from overseas, including a 14 day ‘cooling off’ period. The elimination of roaming charges next year is another victory for consumers over an unregulated market which is down to action at the EU level.

The EU also offers many benefits to our young people, such as the ERASMUS programme which allows British students to complete a year abroad without paying extra tuition fees. With shockingly high levels of youth unemployment in many EU countries such as Spain and Greece, the EU also offers nation governments extra funding for schemes to reduce this, known as a Youth Guarantee; unfortunately our government has consistently refused to implement one of these vital schemes.

In a globalised world with rapidly developing countries such as China, Russia, India and Brazil, Britain has a much stronger voice on the international stage as part of the EU. Many world leaders, such as President Obama, have stated that they hope Britain remains an EU member state.”

The European Parliament, Brussels
The European Parliament, Brussels

My Thoughts: Jeremy Corbyn – The First Few Days

It has been an eventful first few days for Jeremy Corbyn, just four days after being announced as the new leader of The Labour Party. Here are some of my thoughts on the different things that have happened so far.

A 50/50 Shadow Cabinet

Mr Corbyn has raised a few eyebrows after naming his shadow cabinet since none of the “top jobs” were given to women (although women were given the roles of Shadow Health Secretary and Shadow Business Secretary.) The reality is that half of Mr Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet are women- the first time this has happened in British political history. The Daily Telegraph was one of the first newspapers to criticise Mr Corbyn for this, despite their top 14 most senior positions being filled by men.

Telegraph- male

Andy Burnham

Despite Yvette Cooper doing an excellent job as Shadow Home Secretary for nearly five years, I am delighted that Corbyn has given the role to Andy Burnham this time round. I had backed Andy for leader but I am pleased that he has a major role in the new Shadow Cabinet. I am also proud that he was the only leadership candidate who agreed to serve, with Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper declining the offer. I am sure he will do a great job opposing Theresa May. You can see my interview with Andy Burnham by clicking here.

Andy Burnham2

Avoiding the Press

Jeremy Corbyn reportedly received a phone call from a reporter from The Sun. Mr Corbyn apparently immediately said “goodbye” and hung up the phone. This is exactly what the leader of The Labour Party should be doing- standing up to the right-wing press who never have anything good to say about the party. This didn’t happen in the many years B.C (Before Corbyn.) Check out this quote from the new Shadow Chancellor, Mr John McDonnell:

John McDonnell Quote

Tories Cut Tax Credits

The front cover of almost every newspaper displays this photo. Yesterday, the Conservatives announced cuts to tax credits, leaving tens of thousands of families worse-off. Did that make the front page? No? Didn’t think so.

Morning papers

God Save The Troops

To summarise, Mr Corbyn is actually a republican and this song has no relevance to him or his beliefs, like many others in the UK. In reality, Mr Corbyn decided to pay his respects by remaining silent and remembering those who have died fighting for our country, rather than singing. Mr Corbyn’s parents had both been part of the war. I believe that people should be far more offended by the evil cuts to people’s tax credits rather than this ‘non-news’ item. For those people who find this disrespectful, should remember when David Cameron was caught laughing and taking a selfie at Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

mandela funeral

Prime Minister’s Questions

Jeremy Corbyn sent out an email to thousands of members asking for their question suggestions to ask the Prime Minister. He received 40,000 replies. Mr Corbyn wanted to change how Prime Minister’s Questions and ensure that the politicians involved would “behave like adults.” I think that Mr Corbyn’s first PMQ as leader of the opposition was successful and finally gave ordinary people the chance to put their questions forward to the Prime Minister (who seemed much calmer than usual.) My personal highlight was when Jeremy said “I am now going to ask a question from Angela..” and Angela Eagle, who was sat next to him, appeared to be mouthing “Not me! Not me…”

PMQs

ABBA Tribute Act

Finally, in his first speech as leader, Mr Corbyn did say that he would form an ABBA tribute act with Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper. So here it is!

ABBA

My Thoughts: Labour Leadership Results

So finally the result of the Labour Leadership Election has been announced and it has been a very long four months.  As well as the new leader, Labour also announced their new Deputy Leader and Mayor of London candidate.

Sadiq Khan – Labour’s Mayor of London Candidate

Yesterday Labour announced that Sadiq Khan, the former Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, had been chosen as their candidate for Mayor of London. I feel that Londoners have voted for the right person as I know that Sadiq is the best candidate to help Labour win in 2016. Sadiq has many modern, new ideas and I know that he will be a great Mayor of London if elected. He wants to make housing in London more affordable and tackle the issues of inequality in the area. Sadiq has been the MP for Tooting since 2005. I know that everyone in the Labour Party will be supporting Sadiq with his campaign.

Sadiq Khan is Labour's candidate for the Mayor of London election next year
Sadiq Khan is Labour’s candidate for the Mayor of London election next year

Tom Watson – Labour’s New Deputy Leader

I gave Tom my 3rd Preference in my vote for Deputy Leader. As voting went to the third round, I am proud to have contributed towards his win. I think Tom will be a great deputy leader for The Labour Party. He seems passionate and is not afraid to stand up and speak out for what he believes in. Tom has been the MP for West Bromwich East since 2001 and was the Deputy Chair of The Labour Party between 2011 and 2013. I know that Tom will provide serious strong opposition to the Tory government and I wish him all the best of luck.

Tom Watson is announced as the new Deputy Leader of The Labour Party
Tom Watson is announced as the new deputy leader of The Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn – Labour’s New Leader

I had backed Andy Burnham for Labour Leadership but Jeremy Corbyn has my full support. Jeremy has been an MP for 32 years but never held a cabinet position. I know that Jeremy will want to unite the party in the hope of gaining power again in 2020. Today sees the end of New Labour and the party return to its Socialist roots. However I think it is disappointing that many high profile Labour MPs have refused to serve in his Shadow Cabinet as it shows lack of unity within the party. Corbyn gained 59.5% of the vote, winning by a landslide, and MPs must respect who the majority of Labour supporters voted for. Mr Corbyn gave a very passionate speech after being elected which undoubtedly gave me hope for the future of the party, and the country. Mr Corbyn’s first act as Labour leader will be in attending a ‘Refugees Welcome’ event, urging the government to do more about the crisis.

Jeremy Corbyn gives a speech after being announced as the new leader of The Labour Party
Jeremy Corbyn gives a speech after being announced as the new leader of The Labour Party

Overall thoughts

I would like to wish Mr Corbyn all the best of luck and wish him every success in his time as leader of the party. I’d also like to thank and congratulate Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall on running fair and positive campaigns. Some of the abuse aimed at them during the campaign has been totally unacceptable and has no place in politics. I am sure we will see Andy in a senior position in the party once again, either as Shadow Chancellor or Shadow Health Secretary again. I would like to see Yvette Cooper return to her position as Shadow Home Secretary, something which she does very well, and I’m in no doubt that Jeremy Corbyn will offer her the role once again. Despite Liz Kendall refusing to serve in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, I would like to see her as Shadow Business Secretary. If we are going to unite the party, we need to see a variety of MPs working in Mr Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet so we can be a strong force in opposition. I look forward to watching Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday and seeing how Mr Corbyn and his party perform!

Group Hug
The leadership candidates share a group hug after the result is announced

Interview with Jess Phillips (Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley)

At the General Election 2015, Jess Phillips became the newly elected MP for Birmingham Yardley- winning the seat from the Lib Dems. I was able to ask her some questions including becoming one of the youngest MPs and her opinion on the Labour leadership election.

  • How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?

“Very important, involvement in politics gives you power. If we look at all the policy assaults against people aged 18-25 such as housing benefit changes, lower wages, cuts in FE and university fees. It is clear that the government do not fear young people’s views. If more MPs, voters and activists were young I am sure it wouldn’t happen.”

  • How did it feel to become one of the youngest MPs aged 33?

“Delighted. I don’t feel that young compared to some of my colleagues, also as I had my children when I was young I forget I am quite young sometimes. I think the young people in Parliament make it much more representative and offer a different and needed perspective.”

  • How did it feel to gain your seat from the Lib Dems?

“Really pleased. I think that a combination of a good campaign and a disgust in a party who seemed to give up their principles for power meant I was successful. I don’t buy in to the fact that they made the Tories better, especially my opponent.”

  • Who are you backing for Labour leadership and why?

“Yvette Cooper. I think she has the strength and experience to win. She also has a real track record of changing things for people. I benefitted from policies she was in charge of, like Sure Start Centres when my kids were born. I think thinking things is all well and good, but it is action that changes things.”

  • Do you have any funny stories from your time in politics?

“It’s hardly a laugh a minute, although the campaign trail throws up some good anecdotes. I knocked on a door once, a man answered naked and told me what he was in the middle of doing. Why oh why did he answer the door?”

Jess Phillips