The voice of young liberal democrats

Welfare Doesn’t Work by georgeinwashington
November 8, 2007, 5:21 am
Filed under: America | Tags: , , ,

Newsnight’s feature on the US welfare system painted a picture of society in the States that is completely unrecognizable to anyone living here and the suggestion that a similar system should be implemented in the UK, is quite frankly criminal.

In the states the federal minimum wage is $5.55. There are 40 million people without health insurance and 9 million of them are children. 24% of the US workforce earn less than poverty level wages. In Washington DC, where I live and the Nations capital, the murder rate is around 15 times higher than London and the infant mortality rate is double that of Cuba. One third of DC residents are functionally illiterate and 1 in 20 are infected with HIV.

Why anyone in their right minds could even advocate introducing a welfare system that has clearly failed is beyond me.


Liberal’s European Russian Roulette by georgeinwashington

I just can not find it within myself to understand the Liberal Democrat’s insane policy towards Europe. In supporting a referendum on membership of the Union we are risking the biggest policy disaster of a generation and playing into the hands of the lunatic elements of the far right. This policy is just stupid.

As a pro European party the leadership seem to be banking on the fact that they will win any election on EU membership. This vote will validate membership and silence the far right. In the end it will be a positive thing for Europe. The tactic is nothing more than a game of chicken, with the winner taking all and the loser crashing and burning. It is nothing less than irresponsible.

The latest eurobarometer polls show that 39% of people in Britain view EU membership as a good thing and 30% as a bad thing. This is shaky ground to hold a referendum on, notwithstanding the fact that with a media establishment strongly opposed to EU membership any referendum will be a tough battle and victory by no means certain. Yes, pro EU parties are overwhelmingly in the majority in parliament and UKIP is insignificant but that is because for voters Europe is a marginal issue. However this makes a referendum even more dangerous those who are anti EU tend to be much more vocal and motivated. By isolating a marginal issue for the majority of voters in this way a referendum on Europe risks being won by a narrow margin by a minority of hard core right wing activists getting out the vote.

The result of a lost referendum will be catastrophic. Leaving the EU would jeopardize security and police cooperation putting us at greater risk of a terrorist attack. We would put at risk millions of jobs and the health of the economy, through disintegrating our economy from our largest trading partners. In terms of foreign affairs, the UK will see itself quickly fading into irrelevance.

Some might criticize my argument as anti democratic, what can be more democratic than a referendum? What could be more democratic than a referendum after all? Well they would be wrong. Firstly it is not democratic to have a small elite in the media coupled with a small minority of hard core racists, mobilize against the best interests of the people.

Secondly, we have fallen into believing the tory propaganda that the EU is poses a serious constitutional change to the UK and so it needs to be validated by the public. The EU is an intergovernmental organization. A highly developed one indeed, but still, not a government or a nascent federation. This is important to understand because it means that all power still rests with our national elected officials. The greatest PR coup of the right was to convince the British people that every new expansion of EU cooperation was a hand over of power to Brussels.

Nothing can be father from the truth. Through the council of ministers our ministers have a veto on all matters of importance and an effective veto on all unimportant measures. Decisions made in Brussels are approved and passed by our elected officials, and if someone has a problem with a certain law, they should take it up with their government and not with Brussels.

Demands for a referendum are not present because the EU is expanding its power, they come from people who only think that it is. Fed by propaganda from a few who are following their own agenda. In fact the new Treaty introduces many additional checks on power.

If the EU did pose a fundamental shift in the structure and functioning of our democracy, I would support a referendum also. Indeed fundamental constitutional changes should only be made with the consent of the people, but on more minor matters there is a reason why we have representative democracy. In this case the Liberals are simply fighting the wrong fight.

Parliament Needs to Become More Pro-Active on Europe by georgeinwashington
November 6, 2007, 2:49 pm
Filed under: Britain and Europe | Tags: , , , ,

The problem over the democratic deficit in Brussels is as much to do with Parliament’s lack of scrutiny as it is with anything else. The public should understand that Parliament has the opportunity to scrutinize all EU legislation, something it simply isn’t doing right now.

Iran: No Evidence of Nuclear Weapons Program by georgeinwashington
November 5, 2007, 2:14 pm
Filed under: defence, Foreign Affairs, iran, nuclear weapons | Tags: , , ,

From the McClatchy group today. An article strongly contradicting the belligerent tone of the West recently. Experts seem to agree that there is no firm evidence of a nuclear program, only cause for suspicion. Read the full article by clicking on the link above. The McClatchy were the only news organisation that raised serious questions about Iraq’s WMDs before the war.

Chris Would Tear Up The NPT by georgeinwashington

A number of comments on my last post drew me also to the completely illogical policy of Huhne’s nuclear policy, and since I have been criticized already for attacking Clegg’s policies I hope this post will go some way to prove my independent spirit.

Chris says that the UK should scrap trident and decide whether we should decommission entirely or keep a smaller deterrent after the non proliferation talks in 2010. He also argues that we should be less dependent on the United States militarily.

The implications are clear, if we were to have a “smaller deterrent” Britain would have to develop an entirely new generation of nuclear weapons.

No matter what the outcome of the talks in 2010, it is inconceivable that they will not prohibit the entirely new development of new nuclear weapons systems. Therefore if Britain attempts to do this, it will tear up the regime from the moment of it’s conception. Secondly the development of an entirely new system would most probably require testing violating the comprehensive test ban treaty.
This claim that this new deterrent will cost less is just plain stupid. For now the UK is entirely dependent on the US for Trident, the missiles are built maintained and designed in the US. This would mean that the UK would have to pour literally billions of pounds into research and development, before we even started building the weapons.

Chris also seems under some delusion that the UK possesses some sort of massive nuclear arsenal, he talks in his policy on nukes that Trident was built to counter the Soviet Union’s potentially massive use of force. Currently the UK has 48 nuclear missiles and probably around 200 warheads. It also only has one submarine on patrol at any one time. It is difficult to see what the point would be of reducing this stockpile drastically as this already makes the UK one of the smaller nuclear powers. By contrast the US has some 7,500 missiles.

Both candidates, whilst committing to the NPT are publicly advocating positions that would undermine it. If they are committed to a goal of universal nuclear disarmament, they will have propose their ideas for a fundamentally system, or pay more attention to the current NPT. Most of all they should credit the public with a little more intelligence.

More Classic Stuff From Biden by georgeinwashington
November 2, 2007, 7:25 pm
Filed under: America, Uncategorized | Tags:

More absolutely classic stuff from Biden. I love the way he is eating a sandwich whilst doing this, it shouts disdain at crazy Rudy. I think this is clever stuff, all the Republicans are attacking Hilary and her response has been to ignore it, by hitting Rudy like this he is positioning himself as a fighter, someone who is giving it back to the Republicans.

The Rhetoric of Hate, The Immigration Debate by georgeinwashington
November 1, 2007, 4:00 pm
Filed under: immigration | Tags:

As I watch the daily procession of stories on immigration march across the front pages of the newspapers, I often wonder to myself whether politicians and public figures really understand the effect of their rhetoric on society. The academic veil of economic analysis that the government has attempted to place over the issue has done little to mask the aggressive tone and frequently bigoted character of the debate.

Politicians today believe that throwing in one sentence “immigration is of great economic benefit to the UK” can dispel any charge of prejudice. However that phrase in itself, essentially, what can they do for us when they come here, is in itself divisive and selfish, paying little regard to the immigrant themselves. We are told that we are in an immigration crisis, well crisis to me sounds like a bad thing. Immigration, said David Cameron today, needs to be brought under control. Does he mean to say that immigration today is out of control? that to me doesnt sound too good either. The front page of Migration Watch UK, the oft quoted “think tank” says that the problem is very serious indeed and we must act now to cut numbers.

This kind of negative rhetoric does nothing but promote a feeling of exclusion that immigrants are faced with, and will continue to divide society, delaying social integration. When people fear, they naturally tend to shy away from the object of these feelings. On the part of the immigrant they are less likely to interact with the same people attacking them. Imagine being told every day that you are a guest in your own home, sometimes the only home you have ever known. This is the reality that immigrants face in the UK, and I speak from experience.

I was born in Croatia to a Croatian mother and father from New Zealand, my father already having worked in Britain for a long time brought us to London when I was four months old. English was my first language. With my European complexion and without knowing my background, nobody would be able to tell that I was anything other than an Englishman. I have British citizenship but my birth certificate is still emblazoned with six burning torches and a red star. Despite being indistinguishable, I still feel excluded, because I know that when people fear immigrants changing society, taking jobs away from British people and overpopulating the country, they are talking about me.

Generations ago, the British too were immigrants, driving out the native populations of the counties they went to with violence and disease. The Aboriginal, Maori and Native American peoples have never recovered, the places that they now inhabit now some of the poorest places in the developed world. Is it not strange that one of the descendants of these invaders should feel unwelcome back in England? such is the hysteria surrounding immigration in Britain today.

For now, I am back in the former colonies, albeit a different one, the US. Of course there are huge political debates surrounding immigration here also, but once can easily sense the difference here. Despite explicitly being foreign, I only have to open my mouth for people to hear that I am not an American, I feel strangely more welcome here than the country I was brought up in.

Once again I firmly believe that the difference in attitude here comes down to politics. The Declaration of Independence proclaims that “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights”. The commitment to this, which still to a large extent exists, gives the immigrant the confidence that comes with knowing that they have the same rights as any American. Let us not forget the protests last year where illegal immigrants protested for the right of citizenship. I simply can not imagine this protest taking place in Trafalgar Square.

This has an effect on society too, many citizens in the US take an active role in helping the transition of an immigrant and many of my friends give up their spare time to teach English to immigrants. Our generation of middle class Brits on the other hand go to teach English abroad.

Immigration will only work if we make our residents feel included in society and work hard to integrate them. This means talking to our neighbors, helping them deal with administration and government services, inviting them round for tea and helping them to understand other British cultural practices. This exchange should not be seen as an effort as it can only enrich all who take part, greatly benefiting society. It is not something that the government can do, but it is something that the government can prevent. It will certainly not happen, if politicians continue to poison the political discourse and promote the politics of fear. This will only serve to divide society and prevent the types of social interaction that can make immigration work