Monday, 27 November 2017

This budget was a joke and offers nothing to young people






This budget offers nothing for the future of young people and it is infuriating. Austerity is implemented for the supposed sake of "of our children" but, after spending days poring over budget analysis I can safely say that children from ordinary homes can only look after to more austerity.

Austerity and no hope is what Tories have gifted "our children".

I didn't have vastly optimistic expectations for this budget anyway. However, the glaring absence of meaningful policy makes me even more pessimistic about our future. The only policies geared towards young people were tokenistic and ineffective

I cannot possible overexaggerate the effects of austerity on children, which this budget has only served to maintain. I am not talking about an inability to afford a home or to earn a living wage, although these are vital issues in themselves.


I am referring to the direct harm inflicted upon my generation by the Conservatives. The British Medical Journal estimated that 120,000 deaths can be directly attributed to austerity. I don't know what the breakdown is for children and adults but, even so, there must be a cumulative effect on family life. 

The negative effect on children's lives is especially evident when child poverty figures are analysed. There are currently 3.7 million children living in poverty in the UK of which 1.7 million of these children are living in severe poverty. Tory supporters can tout their usual lines about the need for austerity and hard work equating to financial stability but in the UK 63% of children living in poverty come from in-work families.  

It is not only the physical health of children that has suffered.  Child mental health care is receiving less than 1% of the budget. Even without these statistics the death or reduction of quality of life of children is not justifiable for economic gain. The absurdity and cruelty of this situation is only magnified further by the fact that austerity has not created national economic gain. 


The absence of measures to improve the situation of my generation in the budget was not the only component of the Tory's failing as the efforts made to appease young people were entirely laughable.

The extension of the age criteria for the railcard is indescribably unimportant. What kind of  30 year old would be excited about a slightly discounted railcard? The only answer is one under a Tory government. Andrew Neil's comment along the lines of 'young people won't be rushing on a train to vote Tory' sums up the situation.

The abolishment of stamp duty was another laughable effort. Many homes cost in excess of £300,000 and the move is predicted to fuel an increase in house prices. Young people are struggling to find well-paid jobs and can hardly afford to save. Home ownership is not even a distant dream

The Conservatives are utterly incapable of catering to young people's needs and this is because they spend all their time sucking up to older voters who are tax dodgers, appeasing Boris Johnson or tolerating Michael Gove. Consider the painful amount of money lost through tax dodging, Lewis Hamilton alone saved over £3 million through buying and leasing one private jet. The budget missed out on savings of over £700 million in failing to tackle tax dodging.

Think of how that money could have been spent on improving school budgets, improving children's mental health care, building homes for children in homeless situations and on youth centres.





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Sunday, 22 October 2017

Why I didn't apply to Oxbridge

Oxford and Cambridge are always viewed as the ideal English universities. Witness how every time someone mentions that they attended or have applied to study there inevitably the response is always a "wow".  I was in thrall too and had always wanted to go to Cambridge. That all changed a year ago.  
After attending an open day at Cambridge I was left with a distinct impression that it was just the epitome of white privilege and middle-class snobbery.  Every other university open day I had attended had focused on what the university could offer students with a list of reasons of why students ought to choose to study there.


Quite the opposite at Cambridge. The message was how hard it would be to get a place and the requirements were stringent and inflexible. There was no proper tour of the campus, only a talk on what I needed to do to increase my chances of securing a place and nearly everyone was white.


At the end of the open day talk, I was quite certain that I did not want to apply, let alone go there if offered a place. I was extremely worried about what my parents would say because, it seems as if any way, every parent wants their child to go to Oxbridge.  I had received all As and A*s in my GCSEs and was predicted the same at A-level and I knew that, because of this, it was automatically assumed by my parents and wider family that Cambridge would be the university I would try hardest to get into.  However, my mother who had accompanied me immediately agreed with my thoughts. As an Indian woman, she felt distinctly out of place. For me, that just confirmed my feelings about the day. 


Despite this, I did not want to make assumptions based off of one day and I went home to take a better look at the course that I wanted to apply to, which was history and politics. I found that the first year would consist of these modules: 

"In Year 1, all students take Evidence and Argument (a paper unique to this course that brings together key thinking from both disciplines); The Modern State and its Alternatives; and International Conflict, Order and Justice.
Your fourth paper is chosen from the following:
  • British Political History 1688-1886
  • British Political History Since 1880
  • European History 1715-1890
  • European History Since 1890" 
It could be argued that this is just building a foundational knowledge of the issues that affect history and politics in Britain but, to me, the Eurocentric focus of this course was just indicative of the elitist British culture that seems to entrench the culture of Oxbridge. I thought this was especially true when I compared it to the Law with History course that I was applying to at Queen Mary that included these modules: 
Race in the United States: Slavery To Civil Rights
  • Islam and the West in the Middle Ages
  • The World that Jane Austen Knew: Women, Gender and Culture in England 
Source 


I know that most people already know that Oxbridge and Cambridge are typically thought of as white-dominated elitist institutions but there seems to be an increasing view that the application process and entry into these universities is based solely on merit rather than other factors.

Here is an interesting comparative anecdote. Young people, I speak to generally tend to blame on themselves when they don't get into their university of choice. By contrast, I spoke to several Asian girls at open days and every single one of them had failed to secure a place at Oxbridge. 


The fact that the issue of race and class being a factor in university places isn't made more of worried me until this article  on BBC news entitled "Oxford uncovered: More elitist than we thought":
"Nationally about 31% of people are in the top two social income groups. They are the doctors, the lawyers, the senior managers.The data reveals these top two social classes cleaned up in terms of places, with their share of offers rising from 79% to 81% between 2010 and 2015."
It isn't the fact that Oxbridge consists mainly of the top social classes that shocked me, that would be unsurprising to anyone, but that the dominance of these groups in these universities is actually growing.  This clear class divide in Oxbridge also obviously include a racial divide as class and race intersect, this is shown below. Our higher education is enhancing racial and class divides and entry into Oxbridge should no longer be held up as the greatest thing a young person can accomplish. 

Image result for oxbridge statistics
Photo from channel 4 shows the elitism of Cambridge 


Image result for oxbridge statistics
Photo from Times higher education shows that, unsurprisingly, this elitism encompasses race 

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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Things to do the night before results day

The last thing you do is sit around and mope tonight. I know what I am talking about. I have been through three results days; GCSEs, AS levels and A levels last week. Sitting around worrying the night before just makes matters worse and actually caused me to be physically ill last week.

These are my tips.

1. Decide what time you are going to go in tomorrow but don't delay it. On my results day I was tempted to go in later out of fear but it would have just delayed the inevitable. Finding out my results ASAP was actually a huge relief. Even if my results had been lower than i had hoped i would have preferred to have known and come to terms with it and figured out my next steps. At AS i got a grade that was much lower than I had hoped but going in early allowed me to discuss with my teachers whether to drop the subject or not for the A level exam.


2. Google the grade boundaries. When doing my A levels i found that Googling the grade boundaries actually made me feel better. I knew what i needed, 80% UMS for an A in some subjects, but found that the raw marks needed to obtain that UMS were a lot lower than i had originally thought. This was the best thing I could have done and made my goal grades seem much more realistic.

3.  Think realistically about the range of grades that you would be happy with. On my AS results day I was hoping for 4 As and convinced myself that this was the only positive outcome. I got 3 As and a B and was not happy with my results. I should have realised that this was a great result but because i was so fixed on the idea of 4 As it took my a while to accept this. If I had thought that i would be happy with a range of grades from 3 Bs and an A to 4 As I would have been a lot less anxious and happier with my results. 

4. Remember that whilst GCSE results are extremely important you still have time to develop academically. I only really began to understand and enjoy my school subjects in the second year of A levels because I was studying the subjects I really had a passion for. Revising for subjects like Maths and Chemistry at GCSEs was awful. As a result, of this I did a lot better in my A levels than in my GCSEs. 

Good luck to all the GCSE students tomorrow! Parents should remember to be understanding about results as the pressure on this generation is much greater as we face much higher levels of debt, linear A levels, a more competitive university application process, lesser job prospects and a dire political future with a Tory government, Brexit and Trump. 

Now that you have read the serious stuff just relax and get your mind off of results!
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Friday, 2 June 2017

Theresa May- not so strong and stable when it comes to Trump.

Drum roll please for Tim Farron who accurately called it right during the leaders’ debate when he said this:
“Amber Rudd is up next. She is not the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is not here she can’t be bothered so why should you. In fact Bake Off is on BBC2 next, why not make yourself a brew? You are not worth Theresa May’s time don’t give her yours,” he said.
I am sick of hearing people say they will vote Conservative for the sole reason that Theresa May is 'strong and stable' . Can you hear the whirr of the sound of Murdoch's propaganda machine pumping the robotic PM?

Theresa May gave one of the poorest performances that I have ever seen in politics in the leadership debate referred to as the ‘Battle for Number 10’. This woman is weak and inefficient and Tory politics are weak and don’t seem to be producing growth.
It astounds me why people are still willing to support a PM who continually lets them down. 
Theresa May's policies have been detrimental to women's rights. The Conservative's 38% cut to domestic violence services has seen a 72% rise in domestic violence in London. The cuts to legal aid have stopped women from seeking justice in the courts.
In a book called ‘The Despot’s Accomplice’, the author Brian Klaas argues that Western governments have been accomplices to authoritarianism; through sins of commission and admission. Cue Theresa May rushing off to see Donald Trump after he was sworn in, holding his hand, refusing to condemn his Muslim travel ban and, this is the straw that broke the Camel’s back, refusing to stand up to Trump NOW when it matters the most.

Today her reluctance to state unequivocally that she condemns Trump's climate change withdrawal once again reveals her as merely a passive recipient. 

May’s foreign policy direction is clear. Screw our EU neighbors. Kowtow to America who will not defend us in times of security problems or any problem for that matter, unless, maybe, if she lets him build a golf course in Hyde Park first.
Leadership is about relevancy and relative timing. All she’s done is travel up and down the country telling people that she is ‘strong and stable’. Theresa May may as well have stood on a soapbox in Hyde Park on a weekend yelling that slogan over and over again for the inane gesture politics that it is.

When it has mattered she hasn’t been there – not for the people who comprise the 99%, not for the disabled, not for the elderly, NOT for the young people and NOT for the people on low wages.

I strongly urge young people to get out on June 8 and vote this NOT strong and stable Government OUT to show them what we think of their tinkering with our futures


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