The Sassy Vision

BUCF has grown so much in the past year and has become as The Young Conservative described it ‘one of CF’s brightest stars’. This has not least been due to my dashing predecessors hard work and commitment. I can assure you that my engagement with BUCF was, for the most part, thanks to Mr O’Doherty’s ‘outgoing’ policy. What is more, Britain has not needed Conservatism as much as it needs it today! This country is suffering at the hands of a government that has lost touch and knows little about the needs of the individuals that make this nation. So on both of these notes, I feel honoured to be given the role of leading a society that has the potential of making concrete impact at student level, locally and even nationally!

So what do I have planned for BUCF? My vision rests on 3 key objectives:

1) To engage members because you are the most important aspect of the society. Without you, the society will have lost its purpose. 

2) To make a positive impact locally (so by supporting our candidates and the local conservatives), as well as at student level (to promote conservative principles on campus). Again, membership engagement is crucial to this objective. 

3) Ultimately, all of this will raise the profile of BUCF further.

I would like to give my thanks to all those who have been supportive, enthusiastic and eager about my leading this society. I look forward to working with all of you and I can assure you that the committee, and I, will do our utmost to fulfill our aims!

To the future

...and the plotting begins!

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****************4th May 2009***************

bucf-electionsAt long last we’ve come to the end of a remarkable year for the society under President Dan O’Doherty. Today at the prestigious Hotel Du Vin in central Birmingham, BUCF members and supporters will elect a new committee to serve the academic year 2009/10. We’re expecting a record turnout which is a testament to a record year. All BUCF members and supporters are welcome to come and join us at the Hotel Du Vin and for those that wish to come the itinerary is as follows:

5pm – 5.30pm > Drinks in the Hotel Bar

5.30pm – 7pm > AGM

7pm – late> Margaret Thatcher 30th Anniversary Drinks

The Margaret Thatcher 30th Anniversary Drinks which will follow the AGM will be held in the Cellar Bar of the Hotel Du Vin. So if you can’t make it along to the AGM do come along to that. Hope to see you there!

The Heath ‘Failure’ and Thatcherism

Edward Heath was once asked if it was true that on Margaret Thatcher’s resignation he shouted “rejoice, rejoice!” Heath responded, “No, of course not. I said it three times, rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.” Mrs Thatcher was equally dismissive of Edward Heath. But there was more to this difficult working relationship than a clash of personalities. 

To Thatcher and her acolytes the Heath Government was a complete failure. The Thatcherite interpretation of the Heath years goes something like this: They started out with good ‘proto-Thatcherite’ intentions. However in 1971 economic growth faltered and unemployment exceeded One Million. The Heath Government ‘panicked’ and began spending money. However the ‘Dash for Growth’ resulted in inflation which soared from 6.4% in 1970 to over 25% in 1975. Shortly after growth plummeted and unemployment rose sharply. Meanwhile the Government’s huge Industrial Relations Act provoked hostility from the trade unions thereby scuppering both the Act as well as attempts to hold inflation by negotiating with the unions over wages. Industrial conflict ensued and Heath lost the February 1974 General Election.

At the time Thatcher confided that she’d “had no end of a lesson.” Indeed to an extent Thatcherism can be viewed as a reaction to this particular version of events. It is a version often repeated by Thatcherites in their memoirs and recollections of the 1970s. There is much to suggest that they perceived the 1980s as a re-run of the early 1970s – what Heath should have done. 

In 1981 against a backdrop of recession of rising unemployment Thatcher famously told her audience, “The Lady’s Not for Turning”. It was a direct message to those in her cabinet who wanted her to spend money to reflate the economy. At a pivital Cabinet meeting Geoffrey Howe, Chancellor of the Exhcequer, announced even tigher spending plans to reduce inflation. The Cabinet threw their hands in the air with one shouting ‘No More!”. Thatcher with ice-cold dertermination purged her cabinet of ‘Wets’ and refused point-blank to reflate the economy. Inflation was the undoing of Heath and history was not about to repeat itself. 

Working on a number of fronts Thatcher’s approach to the trade unions was cautious but comprehensive. Heath had wined and dined the leaders of the Trade Union Congress at Number 10, their support tirelessly sought. However with the burden of controlling inflation now falling on public expenditure, wage controls were banished and the unions were debunked from their privilaged position in economic policy making. Rising inflation in the 1970s had been a powerful recruiting agent for the unions as workers demanded (understandably) above-inflation wage settlements. Falling inflation in the 1980s removed the primary reason why people joined trade unions in such numbers during the previous decade. On the legislative front eleven small Industrial Relations Bills were introduced between 1979 and 1993 which slowly did the work of Heath’s ill-fated Industrial Relations Act. For the Thatcherites, the set-piece battle against the Miners in 1984 was a re-run of Heath’s humiliating defeat at the hands of the Miner’s Union back in 1972. 

The Heath Government had pledged in 1970 to free the economy from State intervention or ‘Disengagement’. The Thatcherites had been disappointed with Heath’s progress here and his increasing reliance on Keyenesian demand-management techniques to stimulate growth. In reaction the Thatcher government placed ‘supply-side reform’ at the centre of its economic strategy. In a way there was no choice. Tight fiscal policy to keep inflation and wages under firm control, meant that ‘old-fasioned’ demand-induced expansion was out of the question. The result was wide-ranging financial services deregulation, extensive privatization, and a shift in the tax burden from earnings to consumption. 

This in a nut-shell is Thatcherite political economy and a comprehension of the Heath Government is vital in terms of  understanding it. Indeed the election of Margaret Thatcher herself as Conservative leader in 1975 can only be understood in the context of the Heath years. As far as the Thatcherites were concerned, Heath was naive and un-Conservative. As far as the Heathites were concerned, the Thatcherites were dogmatic Monetarists, brutal and uncaring. The divide between these two titans of Conservatism was formative for the Conservative party, dividing it into ‘Wets’ and ‘Dries’ for a generation.

The Lady Behind The Legend

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Mrs Thatcher loved to promote a steely image, indeed she relied upon it, but much of it was a mirage. Her kindness, courtesy and sheer humanity is legendary to those who choose look beyond the tough talking exterior and attempt to understand the lady behind the legend. On the anniversary of her election to power I am delighted that this side to Mrs Thatcher, a side that often gets ignored, is being remembered. Charities such as ‘ChildLine’ have issued statements saying they “owe Margaret Thatcher a great deal.” They go on to say that soon after Childline launched “she held a reception for us in Number 10, and made sure that every relevant politician was there – secretaries of state and ministers responsible for child protection, as well as philanthropists who could help us in our work. One of our speakers, a survivor of child abuse, broke down while explaining the impact of the abuse upon her life. I finished her speech for her and later found her being comforted by Mrs Thatcher in her private study. Mrs T was saying: ‘You can stay here as long as you like, no one will disturb you – it’s far better to express your feelings than try to bottle them up.’ This was not the Iron Lady. She was empathetic and compassionate. On a subsequent visit to ChildLine, she quietly pulled a personal cheque made out to the charity from her famous handbag. No other politician or visiting celebrity has ever done so.”

I also have a personal memories of my own that clearly show her sheer kindness and grace. At the Bruges dinner last October myself and a friend travelled to London’s Grosvenor House Hotel to mark 20 years since her infamous Bruges speech. As she stepped out of her government jag, visibly frail, one could have forgiven her for wanting to get to her table, have her dinner and then go as quickly as possible… but not Lady Thatcher. We were one of the lucky few who greeted her as she arrived and spoke to her before she entered the ballroom for the dinner. As we assembled for personal photographs with an icon of the age, my friend (who was taking the photo) became flustered by the fact such a momentous figure was stood mere feet away from him. He was so overawed at this encounter he pushed the off button on the camera rather than ‘capture’. Getting even more flustered now, believing her to be understandibly in a rush, he apologised and said it had failed to take. She tapped him on the arm, in a very maternal way, and said “Don’t worry dear. Try again”. Her sheer calmness, patience and kindness amazed everyone and we managed to get the photos we will treasure for a lifetime.

Once he’d calmed himself down (with the help of a double gin and tonic!), still in awe of this exceptional womans patience, we all followed her in to the main ballroom. The assembled guests when they caught a glimpse of her completely erupted in to raptuous applause. There were cheers and tears as the figure of the fragile Iron Lady being supported by her ever loyal bodyguards came clearer in to view. As we were stood just behind her we could quite easily catch her conversation; the organiser of the event suggested she should take the nearest door which was just to our left so she could get to the top table quicker. She refused and for a brief moment a flicker of the passion and power that characterised the ‘legend’ of the Iron Lady came back, however fleetingly. She was determined to greet those that had patiently waited to see her and noone was going to stop her. They were her people and without a thought for herself or her own health she and her entourage made their way straight through the adoring crowds, most of whom were visibly moved at the gesture.

So why did she present this hardline image? Well the truth is Margaret Thatcher didn’t have the luxury of being ‘kind’ in politics. From her first speech in politics to her last she was always aware that there were many who did not want her there. Even when she should have been amongst friends she had learnt to watch her back. She had to present a tough image to show she was capable of dealing with the formidable circumstances that faced her and face of any potential threats. Perhaps the most suprising source of ‘praise’ came from Ken Livingston who said: “After years of waffle and drift from Callaghan and Wilson, I respected Thatcher for her firm beliefs and determination with which she pursued them, even though I disagreed with her. The post-war consensus had run out of ideas and Britain needed root-and-branch reform”. With her Iron image she was able to deliver that reform but the Iron image wasn’t the real Margaret Thatcher. The kindness and compassion that is at the core of the Iron Lady did not come across in public because had it done so she would have been ejected from Downing Street far sooner.

Britain needed reform. It was going to happen anyway and she had the balls to deliver it. But behind closed doors she was a different woman. As a Fleet Street photographer observed “When she gave her leaving speech, she was as solid as a rock, without a quiver in her voice. As the car started to pull away, she leant forward to have one last little look at 10 Downing Street and saw the girls in the press office weeping at the window. That was the moment I photographed her, with her face covered in tears. You couldn’t help but admire her.”” The women in the press office weeped for a woman that quite simply they adored and for good reason. They saw for 11 and a half years the Prime Minister ‘off stage’ which showed her full of caring, courtesy and compassion qualities that were never allowed to be displayed publicly.

The stories documented here are ones of many and reflect the real Mrs Thatcher. No soundbites or teleprompters. No prepared speeches or cue cards. No images to project. What these stories show are not Margaret Thatcher the Icon, but Margaret Thatcher the woman, the mother, the grandmother. People often wonder why I am so devoted to Mrs Thatcher and her legacy and my answer is always the same: until you meet her you can never really know why. You can never understand just how special she can make people feel with just a kind word or a show of courtesy reminiscent of a bygone age. 30 years on I salute this most exceptional woman and thank her for everythig she has done for this nation and this world. Maybe one day the left can look beyond the passions of the time (a time which most can’t even remember) and see the true greatness of her work and the lady behind the legend.

The Lady Still Lords It

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As we approach the 30th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s rise to power there is a huge swell in the National Press about her legacy which will delight many Conservatives across the country. A new poll published by YouGov has yielded some suprising results which I thought I’d share with you. A crude analysis would argue that this poll confirms that which we already suspected: Margaret Thatcher remains Britains most influential but divisive post war Prime Minister.

What suprises me however is the fact that this enduring division over Thatcher’s legacy does not neccessarily translate into unpopularity. Indeed Lady T is still regarded as Britains most popular post war Prime Minister trumping every contemporary politician. Even now in the face of the recession (bearing in mind the Tory record in regard to boom and bust is hardly squeaky clean) Mrs Thatcher is still the choice of the public as 47% of voters would prefer her to lead us through the crash as opposed to 37% for Brown.

Interestingly however Baroness Thatcher dominates when it comes to the ‘Tory popularity stakes’ as 49 per cent prefer her to David Cameron, compared to only 24 per cent backing the current Tory leader. So what does this poll tell us? Well it continues a trend that has been going on for years; Mrs Thatcher remains unsuprisingly by far our most divisive Prime Minister yet interestingly she is also our most respected. There is also continued consensus that no-one who has followed her holds a candle to her and given the choice a clear majority of those polled would prefer her as Prime Minister today than Brown or indeed Cameron. Therefore in terms of public approval the Lady still lords it…

Hollie Jones: A Response

I was going to resist saying anything about ‘smeargate’ everyones had their two penneth. However, this post from Hollie Jones (who is a good friend of mine and who I genuinely old in high esteem within the Labour Party).However as a member of BULS and Vice President of the Guild for Welfare (Yes Welfare, ‘smeargate’ revolved around spreading viscous rumours about peoples welfare) I just simply could not resist ‘fisking’ it. Hollie fundamentally misunderstands where and why the Labour Party is failing on the internet . . .

My response to the BBC News twitterfeed was less than polite this afternoon- BORING! Can we hear something new please? Do you mean boring or embarrassing?

But my real issue is the way we have handled the issue as a Party. The focus should be on the PM not ‘the party’. McBride was employed by the taxpayer.

 Collectivism, an ideal that supposedly forms the foundation of our politics is in severe question, with Labour loyalty nowhere to be seen. I am sorry, what do you imply by this? McBride should have stayed. Or the fact that former Cabinet Ministers should be gagged and not allowed to speak out. I really hope it is the second.

 Our strength lies behind the vacuous Tory Party manifesto, which provides no basis or legitimacy to attack Labour policy. YAWNNN. If our policies are so weak why do you steal them?

 “Smeargate” has given the Conservatives a much sought after gift- grounds on which to lawfully critique our Party. Incorrect. We barely mentioned it until Monday.

Well if “smeargate” was a gift then the Tories must think that Christmas has come early! Yes I am sure George Osborne’s face looked like a kid at Christmas when he heard the government were trying to spread lies about his wifes mental stability.

Party members proudly jumping at the opportunity to say their piece. So all party members should be gagged as well!!! This is exactly why you will not succeed on the internet. The beauty of the internet is that it can allow a medium for an expression of diverse opinions you need to open up and stop trying to be so controlling of your members and the whole party.

Feeding the monster that is the media and playing into the hands of our opponents, ensuring that one foolish mistake is worthy of the front page day after day after day. No this was not as a result of party members or Cabinet Ministers it was because your Prime Minister would not say’sorry’ for hiring someone to spread viscous personal rumours about the MPs families.

Well today is day 5- and I have had enough! Let’s hope there are not anymore revelations out there . . .

With the general election looming, and the European elections on our doorsteps now is not the time for naval gazing and petty infighting is not an option. We need to build a bridge and get over it, stand shoulder to shoulder once again and only by doing this will we secure a historic fourth term. Very Obamaesque . . . however, it is going to need a lot more that party discipline to get you anywhere near a fourth term.

Hollie, I think you do not understand the severity of what has happened. Imagine if in Guild elections, an opposition member set out to spread viscous personal lies about other candidates health. Shocking no? And imagine then if they decided to do this to their families as well? Terrible.

It seems ridiculous doesn’t it!? And yet it has happened at the very top of the government!!

Finally, if you think that you just require party discipline you are living in a dream world. Yes that is important but the party needs something (or someone) to unite behind. You have nothing and I just dont think you understand the anger at the government.

Take students for example, you have brought in top up fees and now left the average student crippling under the weight of £20’000 odd worth of debt and the worst graduate prospects since the World War Two. And if we ever get rid of that debt the chance of getting on the housing ladder before 30 is almost zero.  Why would an average student consider voting Labour based on what your government has done??

Jimmy McLoughlin is the Regional Co-ordinater for the West Midlands.

5 Minute Q&A

The Regional Co-ordinater for the West Midlands and BUCF member, Jimmy McLoughlin has just taken part in the Conservative Future 5 Minute Q&A.

In interview, Jimmy comes up with an interesting argument that the General Election could be held in Autumn 2010 . . .

You can read the rest here.

Why I now agree with the smoking ban…

I once opposed the smoking ban. But now I realise why it was largely unopposed and why the new law settled in rather well.

If the Government had tried to ban smoking in the 1970s there would have been uproar. Society was not informed to the extent it is today about the health consequences of smoking and passive smoking. 

From the 1970s attitudes changed rapidly. Pubs, restaurants and hotels were already starting to respond. JD Wetherspoon is a big example of a company that independently decided to ban smoking in its premises. Many more places at least had no smoking areas. Long before the legislation was passed there was a significant attitude that viewed smoking in public spaces as dirty, unhealthy and inconsiderate. 

It was only after this shift in attitudes that legislation was acceptable to society and thus practical. Libertarian opponents complained that it was an affront to individual liberty, however their stance was not reinforced by social attitudes whereas Parliament’s ban was. 

There are many other cases such as compulsory seat-belts and anti-discrimination laws, where legislation mirrors changing attitudes and is therefore reinforced by society.

It is a slow process, in fact a very Conservative process, whereby the law reflects and is reinforced by social and cultural evolution. This is the only way that law can be made. An attempt to impose a law that is completely unsubstantiated by wider attitudes, such as Prohibition in the United States, will ultimately fail.

It will be interesting to see which social norms today become abnormal tomorrow and eventually outlawed.

The New BUCF web-site!

 

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This week BUCF launches its new all-singing, all-dancing interactive web-site. The above photo was taken at the official launch earlier this week. BUCF supremo Dan O.D was strapped to the rocket.

Just some of the features on the new site include an interactive page with direct links to the BUCF Facebook page, Twitter account and live blog. There is also a membership application page, and featured Birmingham attractions. 

Of course, the site will be perfected over the next few weeks. Do comment with any suggestions, likes and dislikes.

BUCF

Men with a plan

Daniel Cowdrill

These two men are the most important Conservatives of our generation. They have transformed our party’s fortunes and look set to head the first Conservative government for 13 years (on the basis that the next election is held in May 2010)

Beyond skillful presentation, team Cameron are building a coherent scheme of ideas that offer the country a fresh alternative and a narrative for government. As a Conservative  I think there’s a lot to be enthusiastic about. 

I was impressed by last year’s Michael Oakeshott Lecture delivered by David Willetts at the LSE. The Times described it as “an audacious attempt by the Conservative Party’s leading intellectual to relate a new Tory narrative”.  I think it really spells out the essence of modern Conservatism based on man’s self-interest in stable co-operation through social arrangements and formal institutions that encourage our biological reciprocal altruism. 

It’s a fascinating read which includes interesting applications of Evolutionary Biology and Game Theory. It is an early insight into the future of Conservatism. 

You can read it here.

Or, listen to the podcast.

If you think our Guild is bad, have a look at Nottingham

Guild Elections kick off once again today as another bunch of student hopefuls look to try and getting elected to a sabbatical or non sabbatical position.

Que my media lecture this morning, ‘oh none of them make a bloody difference anyway’ says an individual who had just given a presentation arguing that people should take more interest in voting (!) (This follows such wonderful claims in this lecture in previous weeks that ‘there are no left-wing newspapers in Britain’ and ‘we should live in a communist state as this would provide free speech instead of Murdoch dictating it all. One word-worrying)

I digress, for what it’s worth the Guild try to do a lot of good and like politicians most of them are in it for the right reasons. The problem is they have an horrific perception problem, no-one thinks they care and are just in it for themselves. This is the same at almost every Guild/Union in the country.

Nottingham University SU President exmeplifies this problem, Mr. Edung has taken the biscuit this time. He went to China to establish ‘cultural ties’. However, he has written on a friends facebook wall and said he is having, “totally inappropriate time”.

There we are as mere students, facing the highest debts in history for graduates combined with the worst graduate job prospects since the second world war, and Mr. Edung is taking this matter on by aiming to “check out some house parties, ruin diplomatic relations and spend a night in a Chinese cell.” 

I am sure no-one at Birmingham would ever participate in such activities.

ToryBear has the full details.

 

BUCF Meet George Osborne

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Today BUCF had the pleasure of attending an event with Shadow Chancellor George Osborne at a prestigious central Birmingham location. George was addressing business leaders and members of the Chamber of Commerce in a speech outlining what they could expect from a Conservative government. It was wonderful to see such a smashing turnout from members of BUCF which totalled well over 20. We also had the pleasure of meeting 2 members from Leicester University CF who came along to show their support. As always with events of this magnitude (which is becoming rather regular with BUCF!) it was very hard to muster everyone for the photo but we did manage to get a few members in a photo with the Sahdow Chancellor. All in all it was a smashing event which recieved rave reviews from all who attended… apart from the poor President who had to duck out 10 minutes in to the speech with a bad case of food poisioning!

For full photo’s see the Past Events page.

Back to the 1970s? Not quite.

Daniel Cowdrill, former BUCF committee member, today argues in the Bow Group magazine that despite the financial crisis we’re not quite back to the 1970s. Britain remains in a much better state and no one wants to return to the politics of the 70s. Those who argue for nationalisation, intervention and higher tax, will lose. 

Read this month’s XBow magazine here.

Hysteria over Sir Fred’s pension

Today our hysterical political class has taken to threatening Sir Fred Goodwin with legislation unless he waives his pension. 

Vince Cable, who now appears to speak for the nation, claimed that “nobody disputes that Sir Fred should be deprived of his pension.” This is a severe case of Liberal ‘me-too-ing’ and pandering to what it believes to be popular opinion. Vince Cables’ recent stature on economic affairs has evidentally gone to his head.

However, even this headline-grabbing junky stops short of Harriet Harmon’s desperate attempt to prop up her lame government with the threat of legislation. She added, “it might be enforceable in a court of law, this contract, but it is not enforceable in the court of public opinion and that is where the government steps in.”

What a disgraceful, feeble comment. I’m sorry, but since when has the government ‘stepped in’ to supersede decisions made by private companies on the pension arrangements of employees?

Meanwhile the former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott revealed his position: “I believe basically take it off him and let him sue in the courts.” These are bully-boy tactics from a typical socialist thug designed to deflect from the major policy errors of his government. And I’m glad he said it, as it does no credit to his case. 

Slightly aside. This is indicative of why this Government is ten points behind in the opinion polls and almost certain to lose its majority when it finally calls an election. This is knee-jerk politics at its best, or worst, depending on how you look at it.

In defense of Sir Fred Goodwin

 

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, today proclaimed to the nation that he would pursue every legal means possible to claw back the £16 million pension awarded to the former Chairman of failing bank RBS, Sir Fred Goodwin. 

This is a prodigious waste of time. If the Government are successful in pursuing this man’s pension through the courts, which is highly unlikely, it will take years and will probably cost a considerable amount more in legal fees. 

But aside from the practicalities, I refuse to accept the moral argument that the Prime Minister and others have made. Vince Cable has said that Goodwin ‘obviously has no sense of shame’. 

This is nonsense. No shame for what exactly?

At the time that Goodwin’s £16 million pension deal was struck, the Government was not a share holder in the Royal Bank. While it is true that the board of directors were not contractually obliged to award Goodwin the full amount they did, they were under no obligation to pay him the ‘minimum’ legal amount which the Treasury have since claimed they assumed had been paid to the former Chairman. 

The Royal Bank was a private enterprise, and you cannot go around demanding money that was paid to its former employees. 

Not that this worries the gutter press who scent blood, or the politicians who clamor to join in on the hunt. Gordon Brown, of course, is desperate to deflect from the fact that he either failed to notice or ignored the vulnerability of British banks, despite IMF warnings. 

In 1930 W.B Yates wrote on the fall of civilisation that “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

This is true now, with envious commentators baying for a scape-goat and tired Ministers lacking the conviction to hold them back.

Condolences

It is incomprehensible for us as students to imagine the impact of losing a child of our own. The loss of life is the most traumatic experience a family has to endure, never more so than when the vitality and promise of youth is cruelly diminished. 

Our sincere condolences go to David Cameron and his family today, and hope they find the spiritual strength during this sad period to regain purpose and happiness.

PRIME MINISTER FINALLY APOLOGISES …

The BBC has the exclusive the news that the Prime Minister has finally apologised for something??

Destroying our pensions system? … NO

Destruction of Civil Liberties? … NO

10p tax? … NO

‘Sorry’ has indeed been the hardest word for Mr. Brown to say since well coming into power.

He has finally apologised for Woolworths going bust.

Maybe it will have a London bus effect . . . gold reserves? top up fees? Iraq war?

The possibilities are truly endless …

YBF trip to America

The Young Briton’s Foundation is once again travelling to the United States this summer, and they have now begun to open up applications.

They travel to Washington to the Leadership Institue where you receive the very best in political training, including more media training!

Moreover, they spend some time in California at the Reagan Ranch. I attended the Washington D.C. section of the trip last year, and I have to say I found it incredibly enjoyable. I am hoping to be able to attend the whole trip this time, as a post graduation, pre job reward!

Email Christian@ybf.org.uk to apply or with any questions you may have.

Michael Gove vist TODAY!

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Michael Gove, the Shadow Secretary of State for schools and children, is visting BUCF today at 4pm.

It will be held in the Arts Building, LR2, (The building to the right of the library if you are facing it. Dan or Jimmy will be outside to meet you)

Michael’s nickname amongst Shadow Cabinet colleagues is the ‘one man think tank’, as many people believe him to be the intellectual prowess behind Cameron.

He has risen to be very influential within the Conservative Party within a short space of time having only been elected in 2005. He was announced as the 4th most influential man in the parliamentary party coming behind Cameron, Osborne and Hague: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/conservative/3088666/Top-100-right-wingers-25-1.html

Michael is a fascinating man with a background in journalism, it is bound to be a very interesting discussion, so please come along.

Are you a feminist?

 Feminism, like most ideologies, is a broad school of thought. From Radical Feminism to Liberal Feminism, there are different approaches to gender-related issues and it has a different meaning for different people.

What does feminism mean to you? What is its purpose? Do you find it does any good? Is it a fascist ideology? Do we need it to ensure the fair and equal treatment of women? So tell me, are YOU a feminist?

Shaping Birmingham’s Transport

Gregory Yates, Sahar Rezazadeh, Pav Dhande and Mohammad Bilal. Members of the steering group.

From top left: Gregory Yates, Sahar Rezazadeh, Pav Dhande and Mohammad Bilal. Members of the steering group. Photography by David Warren.

Young people use public transport most frequently which means that they rely on the city’s transport system on a daily basis, either to get to school, university or even work. ‘Shaping Birmingham’s Transport’ is a project that aims to get the voices of young people in the city heard by decision-makers and heads of transport. In doing so, we hope to improve public transport services in our city particularly so that they better cater for young people. Initiated in February 2008 by Pav Dhande and Mohammad Bilal, students and local activists, our motivation to improve one of the most important structures of a city has only escalated. Our personal concerns for our world class city and its transport system led us to become deeply encouraged to lead on this with support from Birmingham City Council.

This month, I formally launched the project’s competition which aims to engage other young people from across the city in the project as well as gather ideas and inspiration from them for the future of Birmingham. So I’d like to encourage you all to take part in this competition and have your voice heard about the future of transport in your city by important decision-makers! The Winning Entry will win free bus passes and bicycles for each member of the group!!!

As well as the opportunity to get involved with our project through the competition, you can also join us this April at the Council House where you will have the chance to speak to those in charge of Birmingham’s transport system. The summit promises to be a fantastic day for us to make our mark and have our voices heard. There will be some BIG decision makers present including Councilors most notably Cllr Len Gregory (Cabinet Member for Transportation, Birmingham City Council) , Stephen Rhodes (Director of Bus and Highways, CENTRO) and Martin Hancock (Commercial Director – Bus and Coach, National Express).

So what do the steering group have to say?

“The project really has been a superb experience so far; in our group alone, we have: someone who relies on trains daily to get to school; both on-road and off-road cyclists; someone who categorically refuses to use public transport and someone who was completely oblivious to Birmingham’s Metro system! These are just six individuals though, serving as just a snapshot of how Birmingham’s transport network is utilised.”– Pav Dhande.

“If we want to compete in the tourism industry we must ensure that our transport system is top notch and that means that image is as important as efficiency. Our public transport needs to be appealing too so cleanliness, design, safety should all be on the agenda.”– Sahar Rezazadeh.

Thankfully, it’s not just our views that matter, yours do too so we want to hear from you!

For more information I urge you to visit our website and you can join our Facebook group too.

My Two Cents

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Today marks a big change for America, and for the world, as George W Bush leaves office and Barack Obama becomes the 44th President of the USA. 

It’s been no secret that over the last 6 months I have been one of the few, and one of the most vocal members of the BUCF committee that supported Obama over McCain during the presidential race. I might be a member of the Conservative party, but I am not, and never have been, a Republican and found McCain-Palin’s policies on domestic, social and foreign issues to be at conflict to what I believe. 
So as D O’D said recently, today I must be jumping for joy.

And yes, I suppose I am. I am overjoyed at the end of some of the worst years America has seen. One of the most unpopular Presidents and indeed administrations that the US has seen in its history has come to an end, and in has swept a charismatic young President who promises the hope and change that most of America (who, we shouldn’t forget, lie far more left than the two parties who represent them do) has been craving.

So we don’t have to worry about Roe vs. Wade being overturned any time soon. We can look forward to the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, a war which has been unpopular and unjustified since it’s beginning. And we can wait with bated breath for the liberalisation of certain social issues and perhaps a change in stance from America towards the atrocities currently going on in Gaza.

But I firmly believe while we can hope these things, we have to be cautious and realistic. Yes, Obama will be a far better and more popular president for America than McCain would, and most of the world is waiting with bated breath to see what an Obama administration will bring. (hence Israel ticking things off their ‘fuck it’ list in the last dying days of the Bush administration by throwing all they’ve got at Gaza while Bush turns a blind eye..) But we must be prepared for things to not be as rosy as we hope. 

Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel is a good indicator. He has expressed support of Bush’s position on Iraq. At a 2003 pro-Israel rally, Emanual told marchers that ‘Israel was ready for peace but would not get there until Palestinians turn away from the path of terror’.

Obama’s appointment of Hilary Clinton as his Secretary of State, who has stated she is “an emphatic, unwavering supporter of Israel’s safety and security” is another indication as to how an Obama administration will view International issues. She also voted in favour of the Iraq War Resolution in 2002 to give George Bush authority to invade Iraq. 

Though we can welcome Obama’s Presidency with open arms, with Proposition 8 being passed on the same day as his election victory and being one of the most ridiculous and disgusting pieces of legislature that has been passed in a long time in my opinion, and his choice of administration staff (who’s controversy is not limited to just the two I’ve mentioned here), we can hope for change but we should do so with open eyes.

Will They Ever Learn?

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It will be hard for you to have missed the events that have been going on in the Middle East for the last few weeks, and it came to now surprise to me that Israelis and Palestinians are at loggerheads again. And despite a huge International call for peace, things just don’t seem to get any better, but that is no surprise either, they simply will not so long as things remain the way they are.

Officially, Israel has no problem with the Palestinian people; its focus of this conflict is against Hamas and terrorists who make the repeated attacks on Israeli targets. Understandably, this would annoy the Israeli Government but what they don’t understand that it’s their own behaviour that has let this problem get out of control. The Palestinians have been reduced to the level of second class citizens within their own country, and are in many ways being persecuted by the Israeli Government’s blatant discrimination. Examples of this are the re-housing of Palestinians, the numerous checkpoints and the construction of walls which, in essence, segregate the Palestinians. Ironically, you would have thought that the Israelis would be the last to behaviour in this manner, but unfortunately not. Palestinians are in many ways prisoners in their own country, and Israel’s attitude to them is paramount to ethnic cleansing. And this attitude is not limited to the Government, but many Israelis hold them too, echoing claims that it is their country and that the Palestinians shouldn’t be there.

 

Much of this was brought to light by various Channel 4 programmes, but many still turn a blind eye to this. Israel’s behaviour to Lebanon is very similar, and the lack of consideration is explicit in this conflict too, in both cases Red Cross and UN buildings have been destroyed by Israel. Yet this bullying attitude of Israel continues with only mild criticism, and ineffective UN action is due to, in my view anyway, Israel being an ally of the US. The ‘model’ democracy is utterly hypocritical when it enforces democracy on the people of Iraq, yet refuses to acknowledge the Palestinian’s choice to support Hamas. The fact they do is because of their treatment by Israel. The moderate voices are being drowned out because the only party that seems to be of any help to the Palestinians is Hamas.

 

Israel’s actions in Gaza will be doing nothing to change that either. Even if Hamas was wiped out, the Palestinians would just turn to another: Hezbollah or Al-Qaeda, for example. What is significant is that the Palestinian people, or at least some of them, believe that violence is the only way to change their situation. If Israel or even the rest of the world wants peace in the Middle East then its treatment of the Palestinians has to change, and for the better. Persecution is only making things worse. It is driving young men to violence, to Hamas, just as the War on Terror is pushing young Muslims to extremism. Things will not change until Israel realises this, until then more will die as the rest of the world simply just watches. Will they ever learn?

CF Branch Of The Month

It gives me great pleasure to announce that BUCF has been chosen as the ‘CF Branch of the Month’! What a fantabulous start to the New Year. I hope that we can, together, continue to do some great work throughout 2009 that will be of benefit to our communities regardless of political affiliations. Additionally, this blog has been a great success and has only grown since it was created, I hope that 2009 will be a year of discussions, understanding and informed judgements thanks to this blog!  

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Thatcher back in Downing Street

 Daniel Cowdrill

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Yesterday Dan O’Doherty sent me a link to this contemporary piece by Richard Stone of Margaret Thatcher. Impeccable, upright, and with a glare that conceals the pent-up rage of middle England. This is Thatcher after her defeat of General Galtieri, in her Gloriana Imperatrix days.

Thatcher was a creature of the Tory right. For her and many others in the Conservative party, the post-war ‘settlement’ was never properly settled. Mounting concerns about trade unionism, inflation and nationalisation, had been steadily provoking Conservative society. The Right looked back with nostalgia to the otherwise much maligned 1930s, before Macmillan, before Atlee and before the devastation of Churchill’s 1945 defeat.

With the end of the post-war boom in the early 1970s, the failure of the Philips Curve, and levels of strike activity not seen since the General Strike, the Right broke ranks. Keith Joseph was the first senior politician to go over the top, publicly repudiating Conservative policy. Margaret Thatcher challenged Edward Heath and in Powell’s words, “didn’t funk it.” 

When the new Prime Minister quoted St.Francis of Assisi on the steps of downing street, it was only partly a last-minute PR stunt. It was also a perfect evocation of what Thatcherism was about. To Thatcher and her acolytes, agencies of society were failing to function normally. Trade unions were interfering in the political sphere with undemocratic and unjust consequences. Nationalisation was interfering in business decisions to the detriment of competition and productivity. And the State was interfering in the market with damaging consequences for work incentives. Collectivist ideology was destroying conservative society, and Thatcher’s task was to reinstate societal order and harmony.

As such, Milton Freidman was off the mark when he said that Thatcher was not a Tory. On the contrary, Thatcherism was a profound expression of Conservatism. Sharp, erudite, female, and Conservative, Thatcher was the left’s worst enemy. 

It is ironic to say the least that Gordon Brown, a Labour Prime Minister, should pay homage to the Tory right by hanging a personally commissioned portrait of Thatcher in Downing Street. What kind of man, who owes his career to the Labour movement, choses to commission a painting of Margaret Thatcher instead of Harold Wilson or Clement Atlee?

It was the Labour party that paid for Brown’s subscription, Labour activists who campaigned for him, Labour voters who elected him, and the Labour Party that promoted him to public office. Now he poses for the cameras with Margaret Thatcher. 

Thatcher was indeed a ‘conviction politician’. Brown should learn from her example.

Sir Alan Walters Dies

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Sir Alan Walters the man credited as being one of the driving forces behind ‘Thatcherism’ has died. A spokesman for Lady Thatcher announced earlier today that he died peacefully at home on Saturday aged 82. For his foresight and formidable mind this party, this country and indeed this world owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.

BUCF Social Action Update- The Christmas Hamper Project

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Since my appointment to the BUCF committee as the Social Action Officer I have been immediately very keen to get the ball rolling and engage in social work for our community. This festive season BUCF re-introduced the Christmas Hamper Project. Last year it was launched for the first time and led my Jimmy McLoughlin whereby the hampers were donated to The Salvation Army. However, this year I took the decision to donate the hampers to St Basils, a Birmingham-based charity that works with homeless young people. I’ve worked with this charity before and also took part in the sleep-out last year. Below is a film about St Basil’s and the important work that they do for Birmingham:

Although there are still some donations pending, I was able to raise funds through generous contributions from fellow Conservatives, family and friendship circles as well as through a carol singing evening. I then got in contact with St Basil’s to find out what the young people would benefit from this season and drew up a shopping list including toiletries for males and females as well as baby necessities. There were three types of hampers for the mothers and their babies, for the young boys and for the young girls. I spent an evening putting the hampers together and with a bit of creativity making them look festive.

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On Christmas Eve, I felt like Father Christmas without the white beard as I went delivering the hampers to 4 different hostels spread across the city. Meeting with the staff and young people of this charity was a great opportunity to hear more about their work and the experiences of the young people.

Dominic Fisher and I at the Gillott Road hostel delivering their hampers.

Dominic Fisher and I at the Gillott Road hostel delivering their hamper to staff.

Mother and baby with hamper.

Mother and baby with hamper.

Young boys at Milner Court receive their hamper!

Young boys at Milner Court receive their hampers!

Alex, Bernadette and myself holding the hampers for the young people that Bernadette manages.

From left: Alex, Bernadette and myself holding the hampers for the young people that Bernadette manages.

Giving is a core element of this festive season and I’m glad that BUCF have fulfilled this obligation but, for my part, charitable contributions are not just for Christmas so I thoroughly look forward to working with St Basils and other charities in the New Year 2009! 

Have a Happy New Year All and Best Wishes for 2009!


“Might see something you’re not used to, welcome too . . .”

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Sean Kingston, singing about Jamaica, finishes that sentence with “the slums.”

I welcome you dear reader, to my mind, which in the early hours of this cold Albertan morning is thinking about the M.Phil research of Daniel Cowdrill. He aims to show that political ‘Parties have always had to adapt to changing circumstances.’ I agree, and what is more, with this article I will offer for consideration a theory that profound change and transformation (i.e. the rise of Thatcher) often happens under the influence of an external force. No man is an Island.

The rapper Sean Kingston’s comparison of “paradise” (Western owned tourist resorts) with the “slums” (economically deprived, predominantly Black ‘shanty’ neighborhoods) brings me neatly to the profound disparities between Europe and the Middle East as described by Edward Said in his 1978 work Orientalism. Not to the rough and tumble of his arguments, but to the deeper undercurrent discussed in this work and others; the ‘asymmetrical relationship between self and other’ (Jorn Rusen, Western Historical Thinking; an intercultural debate, 2002, Pg. 2). A litany of “them” and “us” related phrases springs to mind. However I wrote this with more than platitudes and rap lyrics in my head.

Martin Bernal in his monumental 1987 work Black Athena provides a flood of evidence, analysis and arguments in support of the ‘Revised Ancient Model.’ An intellectual framework to be used in the assessment of evidence which furthers our understanding of Ancient Greece. He argues in volume I that European academia since the 1700’s worked to erode any connection between Ancient Greece, Egypt and Phoenicia. Europe, whilst undergoing economic, cultural, military and political expansion required a sturdy, a ‘pure’ intellectual framework which would justify the colonisation of North Africa and the Middle East, as well as other regions of the world. The Egyptians and Phoenicians were already wealthy, powerful and prominent when Ancient Greece was in its infancy. Bernal uses archaeology, carbon dating, mythology, etymology, linguistics, religious studies, and documentary evidence (Herodotus and Homer made no secret of the Egyptian origins of much of Greek culture) to demonstrate the ‘diffusionism’ between Africa, the Middle East and Greece.

Ancient Greece was therefore not an innocent child of Europe, but the innovative and attentive student of its older Near Eastern tutors. Herakles (son of Zeus), for example, can actually trace his lineage to the image of the ‘great hunter’ as far back as 20,000 BP (before present); the legend of Gilgamesh at Uruk; several Twelfth Dynasty Pharaohs of Egypt (known for their irrigation projects); and various interconnected cults and gods of Thebes, on the Nile.  That is a summary of just one of hundreds of examples.

After reading Fernand Braudel’s famous work The Mediterranean, the theory of Ancient ‘diffusionism’ seems more obvious than shocking. It would be like Canada denying the U.S, British and French influences on its culture, political systems and economy. I believe similar arguments can be used with just as much ease with regards to Europe’s influence on America, and vica-versa.

The works of Braudel and Bernal may seem elementary or revolutionary, depending on your point of view. A larger more established force, within easy reach of a smaller weaker force, should easily be able to exert political, economic and cultural influences on said force. The ‘Ancient Model’ which explained the effects of the larger cultures (Egypt, etc.) upon the smaller (Greece) was also  elementary, until European scholars turned it on its head.

There are times when the more obvious solution should not be disregarded due to the virtue of its simplicity. I propose this applies equally to the study of Thatcher, and the Conservative party in general, as much as it does to Ancient Greek studies. This should be applied in academia and politics more often.

By Dominic Tarn.

Brown Tory Shock…

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Anyone who takes any interest in politics will be aware that for years Tony Blair was accused of being a closet Tory. The fact that his father was a Conservative, he had a very privellaged upbringing, his point blank refusal to deny his admiration for Lady Thatcher and his savaging of Labours precious Clause IV upon becoming leader all added to the ‘Tory Blair’ tag.

However what may suprises readers to know is that Gordon Brown, a man seen as ‘more Labour’ than Blair, is in fact from Tory stock too. Gordon Brown’s godmother and relative has revealed that  she is a committed Tory, just like virtually everyone else on Gordon Brown’s beloved mother’s side of the family. In fact they have been staunch Tories for generations.

Indeed, Brown’s late uncle, Gordon Souter, was chairman of the local Conservative association and provost (mayor) of the 1,600-population village for 10 years. He ran the family building and general goods business – John Souter Ltd – which was founded by his father in 1898 and employed up to 70 people, the biggest employer in the village. And with delicious irony, Gordon Brown was even named after him.

As Mrs Riddel, daughter of Gordon Souter and for many years a working director of the family firm, says: “My father was a staunch Tory – oh my goodness yes, a really staunch Tory. We were all brought up to be Tory and we still are – my husband’s family is also Tory. Jessie [Gordon Brown’s mother] was a Tory too.”

Therefore perhaps Gordon Browns political Tory traits are not all that suprising….

In Support of Social Action.

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I am no stranger to ‘social action,’ or volunteering, as I normally call it, and would like to offer here some thoughts with regards to Anastasia Beaumont-Bott’s article on the CF National Executive Blog (executive.cfbranch.com/2008/12/18/social-action-and-conservative-future/). In April 2007 The Independent (26/ 4/ 07, Education, Pg. 8) described volunteering as suddenly being ‘cool,’ because of its new prominence in politics and education. In Britain and the U.S. the voluntary or Third sector has seen enormous growth in the last decade.

The Labour Government has run some successful initiatives (Millennium Volunteers Award, V20 Initiative), thrown some money at it, and set up the Office of the Third Sector in order to assist volunteers and charities. Companies of all sizes now encourage their employers to take part in voluntary work, as do schools, colleges, and Universities all across the country. For example, University College London set up the Voluntary Services Unit in 2005 under Vice Provost  (Education) Michael Worton, in coordination with UCL Union, and since then their members have gone no where but up, their staff and budget has increased year on year, and their success has been trumpeted far beyond Gordon Street. Just recently two UCL students and the UCLU Debating Society received Higher Education Volunteering Awards. I notice that Birmingham University Guild has also dedicated some of its resources to voluntary initiatives.

The fact that the Conservative Future Social Action Network (CFSAN: cfsan.blogspot.com/) is an initiative by this very vibrant section of this party is neither here nor there, in my opinion. In no uncertain terms is what I have just said some sort of objection to either the establishment of CFSAN, or even to Anastasia’s article, but I am simply echoing words of mine published on uclunion.org in 2007. (I wish CFSAN every success). In my opinion, voluntary work is not something to be turned into a political football for either party to score brownie points with (which is what I think Anastasia meant with:  ‘Social Action is more than just words on a political election leaflet’).

The Conservative Party has been involved in social action for a lot longer and much more extensively than Labour because this party (or older embodiments with similar ideologies, from which it takes its lineage) is much older, and many of its current and former patrons are wealthier, generally speaking. This party has long held true to the values of individual rather than State responsibilities, which fits in nicely with the thinking behind Philanthropy and voluntary work. Hence this parties natural support of such policies under David Cameron MP.

In short I am saying that ideological and political support (backed up by the necessary organisation and finances) is a wonderful thing, and such support is not to be discouraged, but wherever it is coming from and whoever is giving it does not matter nearly as much as what is accomplished. The work, and its results, benefit both yourself and the people (or environment) you set out to assist. I can testify how truly satisfying it can be to chop down a tree, cut through some undergrowth, or see a finished boardwalk (raised path, often over water) after a long day of laboring for an Environmental Charity. The more people who volunteer in our society, the better the supportive infrastructure, the more the UK (and the planet) can gain from charitable work. So lets forget about the political merits and just go out there and get our hands dirty.

By Dominic Tarn.

Image courtesy of The Independent, 26/ 4/ 07, Education, Pg. 8; and UCL Union VSU.

ACADEMIES : The Future of Education?

bristol_schoolThat seems to the the consensus. For the last century at least every government has attempted to improve our nations education system in some way. Prior to that it was up to private enterprise, the Church, and endowments from wealthy patrons. Now the Academy model produces schools which are a hybrid of those two methods of providing education, and they are working. Our current government got the ball rolling, and according a Conservative Policy Green Paper (No. 1) this party admires the way ‘they [Academies] succeed in areas of real disadvantage.’

The Conservatives plan to ‘radically build on existing academy legislation,’ with the hope of (through the Building for Schools Fund [BSF]) creating 220,000 more school places (Pg. 40, Policy Paper Np. 1). That would be a smart move. The London Borough of Hackney has risen from 16th to 5th in the Value Added Rankings in London, in part thanks to an Academy School. PWC reports commissioned annually by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) since 2003 confirm a noticeable ‘Academy “effect”‘ on pupils performance, behavior, and aspirations. PWC also notes ‘the rate of improvement in academies is . . . often significantly greater, than the corresponding improvements in similar schools’ (Pg. 82, July 2007 report). The BBC reports that by January 2009 there will be 134 academies open across the UK.

Education Minister, Ed Balls wants schools “fit for the future,” and announced recently that approximately 45 universities are to sponsor academies. Liverpool University opened one in 2006, and so did the University of West England (along with Bristol City FC) in Bristol. So why is UCL’s planned academy in Camden, a deprived Borough of London, causing such a controversy, and is it warranted?

Opposition is coming from several sources and is strong enough to have sent UCL (represented by Vice Provost Michael Worton) to Court. Those UCL students so inclined submitted a motion to UCL Union’s AGM, which won some support. The National Union of Teachers has raised some concerns. The Diocese of London submitted a petition backed up with 1,900 signatures expressing interest in running the proposed academy. The Church operates 147 schools in London. The most vocal comes from within the left of the Labour Party (when Camden Council was Labour it rebuffed UCL’s advances), and from the Camden branch of the Campaign for State Education, who’s Vice Chair is Fiona Millar, a former UCL student and partner of Alastair Campbell.

Regardless of UCL being ranked in the top 10 universities in the world, their promise that it ‘will NOT be a selective school’ and that it will ‘follow Camdens’ guidelines . . . as closely as possible,’ everyone still seems upset. The same happened in Bristol and Liverpool, but the opposition melted once those academies were opened.

The same could happen in this case, given the immense academic and organisational support UCL will be able to give to the Academy, and the ways in which that will help the students. The real concern the opponents to this have is that there was no open competition. UCL is in a strong position to get what it wants in Camden; it is the largest employer and tax payer, and in terms of academic strength (in London) it is only rivaled by Imperial College, Kings, and the LSE. None of them are in Camden, and UCL’s success in its partnership with City and Islington College demonstrates how effectively it can diffuse its style of education and ethos to other academic establishments. In Sydney, Australia, UCL is opening another division of itself. Islington, Australia, and now Camden.

It is in its own backyard where opposition is the loudest. This definitely seems illogical. I support competition, but in this instance, where there really is no one else who can do (in this Borough) what UCL can do, a competition really would be a wasteful and prolonged exercise to either generate the same – or a worse – result.   That certainly would not benefit pupils in the area. I simply wish that the High Court sees the logic in this view as well. Academies are the way forward, even in Camden.

By Dominic Tarn.

Guild Council: A Review

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Last night myself and Dan went to the Guild of Students to try to defend the society and halt any de-recognition procedures. A week ago Dan was informed that BUCF faced de-recognition again. As you will understand we were furious about this as we had little if any indication from the Guild that derecognition procedures were imminent. We were therefore determined to put our case forward and defend the society from being booted out of the Guild.

Despite Dan’s personal beliefs regarding Guild Politics he delivered a passionate defence of the societys role within the Guild and defended what he termed ‘its natural right’ to be a part of the Guild. His speech was incredibly well recieved prompting a prolonged, spontanious round of applause. However the real task he had to face down occured when he agreed to take questions from the floor. The questions were harsh, direct and often unjust reminding us all too clearly that there is a great deal of hostility to the Tories within Guild Council.

Reagrdless Dan kept his cool and for every question that was thrown at him he responded clearly and confidently. He empahsised his commitment to the society playing an active role in the Guild in coming months and appealed to their better nature by explaining just what  a difficult task he has had since becoming President in trying to turn the society around from its long slope in to terminal decline. This was again warmly recieved.

Finally it was time for the vote and after the attempted mauling he had recieved during the questions from the floor part of the debate it is fair to say he was not confident of victory. However when the results came forward, 66%-34%, it showed clear support for the society and the President who again recieved a round of applause.

I know I speak for Dan and the whole committee when I say we are delighted that this potentially lethal situation for the society has been dealt with so efficiently. I also want to thank, on behalf of the whole committee, the Labour society for the support that they have shown in recent days and their efforts to ensure BUCF remain a part of the Guild.

Relations between the two socieites are stronger than they have been in many years.  Although there remains vast ideological gaps between the two, gaps which will encourage healthy debate, we are confident that both chairs, both committees and both socieites as a whole are determined to ensure these cordial relations continue. We will be updating you all regarding our ‘joint events’ which will occur in the New Year. All of which promise to be exciting. 

The moment just after the results came in and the applause it recieved was caught on ‘candid camera’…

Carol singing for charity!

Holly, myself and our rosy cheeks and noses after our door-to-door carol singing fundraiser.

Myself and Holly Ferrari- a fellow BUCF member and student of European Studies- got back tonight from a carol singing evening to raise funds for our social action project this season. I want to thank Holly for joining me this evening in a fantastically interesting experience since both of us were new to door-to-door carol singing. Despite our sore throats, unwell feelings and the cold weather, I think we performed very well and raised great funds from generous Harborne residents as well as making our personal contribution too!

BREAKING NEWS

BUCF President Dan O’Doherty and Vice President John Hefford have attended Guild Council and defeated a motion which called for BUCF’s de-recognition. After a series of heated exchanges between council members and President DO’D the motion was defeated 66% – 33%. More to follow…

A Rumour flying around . . .

We have all seen the climate change protesters today at Stanstead. ToryBear has been following the story closely today as one could say he has more interest than most.

Apparently there is a rumour flying around that one of the protesters flew from Edinurgh to attend the protests, surely not true??

Recordbreakers . . . again

BUCF has once again smashed all records, a month which has seen the debt of the nation double, the arrest of an MP for trying to speak the truth and the US Presidential Election has also seen BUCF beat it’s previous record for amount of hits that we have hit.

From our lovely little image abaove, I am sure you can guess we have gone over 10’000, what an excellent example of the power of the New Media for my presentation tomorrow.

Jimmy McLoughlin is the area chair for Birmingham, Soilhul and Coventry

CFSAN Christmas Hamper Project!

cf-hampers2This season the Conservative Future Social Action Network has re-introduced the Christmas Hamper Project, which was successfully launched for the first time last year. The project looks closer to home and gives those people who are less fortunate a special Christmas. This is our way of making a charitable contribution to our local community as well as keeping the needy in our thoughts and prayers during this holy season. So how does it work? Well it’s simple yet highly effective, Anastasia Beaumont-Bott (the CFSAN National Coordinator) would like us to fill up hampers with all sorts of goodies and donate them either to the Salvation Army or to an organisation of our choice.

I want to bring the project to Birmingham again this year so that as well as showing our commitment to the community, we can begin to make long-lasting relationships with local charities who carry a great burden, especially during this festive season and the difficult economic times. Last year Jimmy McLoughlin led the project in Birmingham successfully and donated the hampers to the Salvation Army, as did the other CF branches, however this year we will personally donate the hampers to a local charity.

I’ve chosen to donate the hampers to St Basils, which is a local charity that works with young people who have been forced to leave home because of various pressures. These young people become homeless and in many ways lifeless. St Basils helps to give the young people hope in order to find their ways in life by taking them off the streets and changing their lives forever. It is so heart-rending that these young people have to face such hard times when they should be enjoying their childhood or teenage years and spending Christmas alongside their families. But we can be their families this Christmas by giving them a special gift and with it love and hope for the future ahead of them. For more information about St Basils I would urge you to visit their website on http://www.stbasils.org.uk.

There are a host of decisions that we need to make before we undergo this project but if we plan our time efficiently we can certainly get the project completed within a week. This means that I am asking for dedication and commitment from the BUCF members who will choose to be on the team.

So…now it is over to you! If you are keen to be involved in this project please contact me as soon as you can so that I can finalise names and numbers, and then we shall proceed. I am really looking forward to working on this project and I hope to hear from you soon!

Wikinominics – the future face of capitalism?

Last night I ventured up Oak Hill Tree Road, to listen to a Birmingham post graduate student, who along with studying the intricacies of Chemistry (couldn’t do it at GCSE let alone postgrad!) gives small seminars to tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.

The discussion was on Wikinomics, which is a book that was launched in 2006, it is based on four main ideas Openness, Peering, Sharing, and Acting Globally.

The word wiki originates from the Hawaiian word for fast (see learn some everything day don’t you!?)

Essentially the idea is the biggest latest companies share a huge amount of their information, we go to use their products to share our ideas.

Examples include; google, facebook, ebay, Amazon and well I guess even WordPress!!

It was stressed to us that this is the way to move forward, it seems like a bit of a fusion between capitalism and socialism. Everyone makes a profit type of ideal.

I think perhaps the wikipedia page on wikinomics sums the book up and the ideas best when it quotes Choice Magazine and says perhaps it presents an optimistic overview of successful collaborations and business ventures’ and ‘more consideration [to] the darker sides of human motivation’

It certainly was a very interesting talk and promoted quite a few ideas in my head. I will perhaps at a later date go into explaining the intricacies at a later date.

Thank you to the guys at BuildEnterprise for putting this on. It was there first event, the idea of the company is to try and get young entrepreneurs meeting from a young age. It definitely was a fascinating experience and one which has provoked a few thoughts!

Jimmy McLoughlin – Area Chairman of Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull.

Brown’s legacy, and why Keynes isn’t the answer…

Daniel Cowdrill

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While Gordon Brown focuses on the international causes of the recession and the international solutions, he shouldn’t be allowed off the hook at home. We were told, were we not, that there would be “no return to boom and bust”? Yet ‘boom and bust’ is exactly what the Government has presided over.

It was this Government that sat by and allowed Northern Rock to take out massive credit lines to US banks and offer 125% mortgages. Even as fifty US mortgage lenders filed for bankruptcy over 2006/2007, the Government here did nothing, despite the UK market’s exposure. 

Brown failed to take seriously a report published by the IMF in March 2007, which forewarned about the UK’s specific vulnerability. Crucially, the report warned about the mortgage sector’s dependence on the wholesale market, and concluded that “given growing cross-country linkages, global risks are particularly important to the UK financial system, more for their potential severity than for their likelihood of being realised.”

Meanwhile analysts were sounding the alarm bells. Christopher Wood, chief strategist at CLSA, warned that “Some institutions have been behaving like leveraged speculators rather than banks… The UK economy is heading for a sharp shock. It just remains to be seen how bad.”

Warnings unheeded, Northern Rock’s subsequent nationalisation increased the UK national debt to 43.4% of GDP, breaking the government’s own fiscal rules and almost taking us back to the level of debt in 1997. This year could also show the biggest annual government defecit since records began, in excess of the £51 billion racked up in 1993.

The UK banking crisis, precipitated by ineffective regulation and compounded by the collapse of Northern Rock, has resulted in a credit squeeze that is seriously effecting unemployment levels, now the highest since 1997 and rising. 

In response to the ‘bust’ that wasn’t supposed to happen but did, the Government may opt for a Keynesian spending spree. However the Conservatives are right to urge caution given the immense strain that the public finances are under.  

When one adds about £40-50 billion for the nationalisation of Bradford and Bingley, £50 billion in recapitalisation packages, plus the payment of compensation to Icelandic bank depositors, we come to a national debt in excess of £700 billion, or 50% of GDP. We have not seen a figure this big since the last Labour government was forced to borrow from the IMF in 1977.

Given this, we should perhaps avoid a large scale fiscal stimulus. Big cyclical tax cuts or spending increases now would undermine stability and growth later on. David Cameron’s short -term, targeted tax cuts are probably required, or maybe a temporary reduction in VAT to increase consumer demand. Other than this, the Bank of England’s sharp cut in interest rates will stimulate growth over the medium term. However, throwing cash all over the place is not what to do.