Tag Archives: UK

Electoral Reform in the UK NOW!

By Ralph Underhillelectoral-reform1

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Rail contract to keep the UK in the EU?

EU UK rail flagA lot has been reported in the media lately over the UK’s relationship with the EU. A UK referendum offering the public an in/out choice is likely to mean a sharp exit if current opinion polls are to be believed.

What Brits need to be convinced of is what Europe can do for them in terms of jobs and the economy and in ‘coincidental timing’ some German rail contracts have been given to the UK’s National Rail, a contract said to be worth £1.4bn.

Normally German rail contracts go to German companies, in particular the state owned Deutsche Bahn so this move could spark some to speculate that the move is politically motivated.

It is unclear at the moment how many jobs will be created and/or secured due to these contracts but surely it will be used by the ‘Yes to the EU’ camp in the run up to the referendum campaign.

One final thought…

Does Germany really want a UK company operating in their country? Germany famed for it’s punctuality, safety and performance whereas the UK is famed for ‘leaves on the track’, constant delays and in 2010 National Rail’s safety record came under heavy scrutiny after a whistleblower brought to light serious safety issues and faked reports.

UK Christmas & the economic crises

Christmas is coming up soon and students (Chinese and Turkish) used to ask me what Christmas was like/about in the UK.

Well, as the last couple of census’ have shown us religion (and in particular Christianity) in the UK is on the rapid decline, however this doesn’t/hasn’t effected how we in the UK celebrate Christmas.

For most of the UK (God believers or not) Christmas is now more about family time, a time of the year when families get together and exchanges a gift to show their love and appreciation for each other (as well as eat and drink far to much).

Economic crises

Since the economic crises hit, Christmas has been somewhat a time of panic, panic for the parents who can no longer afford the latest games console for their kids, panic for the high-street businesses who will shortly realise that they are about to go into administration which in turn follows the panic for the governments and the market.

Last month Comet went into administration, who will be next?

Future

Historically Christmas was a time when consumerism went crazy and businesses really cashed in but with the UK’s triple A rating under threat the continued outlook is still rather gloomy. People’s jobs are not safe enough to risk spending money they don’t have, businesses will suffer and more redundancies will follow.

England & Wales Census 2011; immigration

The 2011 England & Wales census findings continue to be released in dribs and drabs with todays (amongst others) on employment, immigration and religion.

The media have of course focused on immigration (maybe the national dislike of foreigners helps sell papers). This is turn has led to online posters winging out the immigration issue (or problem as they like to say).

A quick look at the figures…

The population of England and Wales has gone up by 4.1 million over the 10 year period since the last (2001) census.
The same number (4.1 million) is also the amount that those describing themselves as Christian has fallen (12%).

Most of the immigrants during the 10 year period came from Poland with India and Pakistan making up the top three.
1.15 million more people identify themselves an Muslims (up 2%).
14 million said they have no religion a huge increase of 6.4 million.

So while religion on the whole is falling (good news) Islam (due to immigration) is rising (bad news) with the biggest change being those of no religion rising sharply (great news).

The findings (for me at least) paint a generally positive picture but the main issue is the unsurprising online response from the public of England & Wales in regards to immigration.

It’s no secret how the British (I know the census is England & Wales but the online posters are from all over Britain) public feel about foreigners and it’s certainly not positively!

So I was thinking about foreigners, who are the good foreigners and who are the bad foreigners?

Has anyone ever complained about the Dutch or Swedish immigrants in the UK? Are white foreigners ok while non-whites are not ok? Maybe rich foreigners are fine as long as the poorer ones stay out?

Judging from the online posters I’d say that rich and white-skinned were much more preferable to poor and brown-skinned. Brown-skinned people seem to be perceived and not willing to adapt and integrate into British society bringing in with them their own religion and culture that doesn’t adhere to Britain’s own values.
No-one complained about the Russian oligarchs buying British football clubs and attracting the best players. Britain doesn’t like benefit scroungers (unless of course they are white British benefit scroungers then it’s certainly less of an issue).
Some may think I’m being too hard on my fellow Brits, unfortunately I’m not.

Similarly as I posted about European Identity Britain wants those who accept and adhere to its own set of values. Someone who pays their taxes, drinks real ale, supports the England national teams and speaks with an English accent (cor blimey guv’nor).

Personally my experiences of foreigners have been generally really good in Britain (mostly Europeans good) and Africans and Caribbeans a mixed bad (some really good while others awfully homophobic and rude).

The Leveson Report & the EU

After reading the Leveson inquiry in the news and nucleus.uk.net‘s Leveson write up I thought I would pass some comments.

For those who don’t know the Leveson report/inquiry looks into the ethics, culture and practice of the press in the UK. A summery can be found here.

The part I want to focus on in relation to a regulatory body is…

‘The body should consider encouraging the press to be as transparent as possible in relation to sources for its stories, if the information is in the public domain.’

Which leads me to the list of outrageous nonsense the British media have spouted over the years about the EU (found here) which has created an unprecedented amount of negativity towards the European Union and no doubt an irreversible amount of damage (so much so that a UK referendum on leaving the EU is on the cards).

These people in the media, the owners, the journalists and editors etc clearly have an agenda whether that is their own personal agenda or one being handed down by politicians is pretty much unimportant, the point is that facts must be shown to the public, then commentators can add their own opinions of the facts.

Freedom of the press is a must, however the truth should be a must too. Too many papers twist the truth, spin the truth or just outright lie.

This must be stopped and made illegal, it effects people and their opinions of people, parties and institutions.

Remember the EU bendy bananas nonsense? Yes because it’s all made-up!

Coffee – Starbucks & Culture

With Starbucks in the UK news recently in regards to leaching off society by not paying its fair share of tax I thought I would write an entry about one of my passions; coffee.

Some time ago I bought a book called ‘The connoisseur’s guide to coffee’ by Jon Thorn and Michael Segal. It’s an interesting book with information about coffee from around the world, from the history, growing, production to various consumption methods.

One thing I noticed about the book was how many times Starbucks was mentioned, it seems that in the US at least Starbucks is seen as top-end coffee (is this true?!?)

I like Starbucks coffee, I’d describe it as good coffee but that’s all, not great, not fantastic, just good.

It’s not that I want to go down the anti-capitalist route of corporate chains are awful and independent cafés are by far the best (at least in Turkey this is certainly not true). I care about what tastes good and what I am willing to pay for.

Since I now live in Turkey getting hold of coffee that isn’t in a sachet (like nescafe 2-in-1) or Turkish style (Turkish coffee is like a double espresso shot filled with sand) is extremely difficult, the choices are very limited. This originally had me in Starbucks at pretty much every opportunity however since I now have filter, grinder and espresso machines at home, honing my barista skills I find myself rarely going to Starbucks, quite frankly I can make better myself, pop it into a flask and I’m away.

Turkey just doesn’t have a coffee culture, probably like the US and to a lesser extent the UK.

If anyone from the US reads this I would really appreciate any feedback in regards to Starbucks’ coffee (in terms of coffee quality) and US coffee culture in general.