A Left Leaning Look

Month: December, 2013

Take the Power Back

Having studied British history for around five years, I have learnt how the everyday man and woman fought a constant battle against a powerful state in order to gain certain human rights. At first it was the right to vote, and then for unions and the right to protest. To struggle continued into the twentieth century, when eventually women got the right to vote and the working class seem to have gained enough rights to not be treated like tools.

Whilst studying this period, I often thought of how lucky we are to live in a nation that tolerates protests, and doesn’t crack down on people who oppose government policy. That was until recently, when I saw video footage of a Metropolitan Police officer punching a student in the face. The mainstream press say that this is an ‘alleged assault’, but the video taken by a freelance journalist clearly shows the officer using his fist to subdue what seems to be a student minding his own business.

What baffles me is that the Metropolitian Police Service are not investigating this incident because they have not received a complaint. So not only is there another thug on the streets that is apparently there to protect and serve, but the police seem to think that the kind of behavior displayed is acceptable unless a member of the public is brave enough to complain to one of the world’s largest police forces.

Of course, it would be normal in a civilised society if the mainstream press ran this story constantly in order to bring more light to case, and hopefully get the officer arrested for assault, but it seems the BBC and other media outlets would rather concentrate on abuses of power in other nations. It’s as if the government are saying “well yes, we are taking away your freedoms, but look how bad it is in Syria!”

Now that the University of London has banned protests for six months on the campus, it is practically impossible to show any discontent with the institution. What’s worrying is the speed at which this policy was brought forward, as it should not be that easy to ban protest in nation that hails itself as democratic (especially when we wage wars on nations specifically to install our beloved democracy).

But what can we do? Well we can report every single abuse of power that we see on our streets that are performed by the police and other civil servants. They are there to protect us, and the student that was beaten for no reason was causing no harm to that officer, or anyone near by. If we are to report everything, then police forces across the UK will be bombarded with so many complaints that they will have to do something about it.

It is wrong that with so many cuts to our public services, people like the officer mentioned still hold a well paid job.

Do not let this government take away from us the freedoms that our forefathers fought and died for, and do not let public servants (be it police officers or MP’s) abuse their powers, for it will lead to more discontent and violence.

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The Market is Not Working.

The front page of today’s BBC news website has an article stating that George Osborne’s policies are working, and that the U.K. economy is growing faster than any other major economy. Now, this may seem like good news, as a growing economy will mean everyone is better off surely? Well when I walk down the high-street, I still see the boarded up shops, and I still see the once honest businesses being replaced by legalised loan sharks, and pawn brokers. This is not what a country in recovery should look like.A country in recovery shouldn’t have its citizens’ using food banks to feed their children, nor should it’s poorer population have to make ends meet by taking out loans that have an APR at an astonishing 27000%, as was revealed in a recent BBC documentary.

Who will benefit from this so called recovery? Well recent statistics showed that 90% of the economic recovery in the U.S.A. went to the top 5% of the population, so don’t believe for a second that Tory policies will benefit the ordinary man and woman, they never have done, and they never will.

When I see companies like Wonga taking advantage of the collapse of Capitalism, along with the 10% increases in energy bills from all the major energy suppliers, it baffles me when people still believe that the free market is the best economic system that we have, because if it is, then I have little faith in humanity. The only reason someone can charge 3000% is because no-one is stopping them, and it seems no-one in government has the courage to step up to the energy firms. The most shocking revelation is that the energy companies have all been making big profits (around three times more per household) throughout the recession, and instead of decreasing that profit to benefit their customers, they aim to increase it more and blame it on ‘Green Levies’ and the price of fossil fuels. No one should be making so much profit off such an essential service, when the working class man and woman are struggling to find the money to make ends meet.

The only solution is to take these energy firms back in to public ownership, where shareholders are not the main focus, but providing a good affordable service is. Margret Thatcher started the sell off of the utilities, claiming that competition would make better prices for the consumers, but with fossil fuels all stemming from the same place, how can one company charge less than another? Well they can’t, and that is why they all put their prices up at around the 10% mark, which means that even switching provider won’t help with the cost of living.

A combination of state investment in new, clean energies will mean that we can carry on living as normal, but with lower prices, and less pollution. Let’s take my home town of Swansea as an example. There is a plan to build a tidal lagoon there in order to provide enough energy to power 200,000 homes, and with Swansea (and the rest of the U.K.) having immense tidal ranges, we as a nation have the perfect opportunity to gain energy independence, and with it being owned by the people, we can all enjoy energy at an affordable price. What’s more, we would no longer have to tolerate Russia’s appalling human rights, which at present we have to ignore for fear that they will turn off the gas.

Although the government have said that they plan on capping the interest rates charged by payday loan companies, these policies won’t take in to effect until 2015, which means that millions of more people will fall in to spiraling debt, with no choice to borrow more to pay off other lenders.