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Time to move on: grammar schools and the stale debate

When Tony Blair banned the opening of new grammar schools in 1998, the debate was far from over. Now, in the wake of Theresa May’s announcement that the Conservatives intend to lift the ban, the conversation on grammar schools has picked up where it left off. But why do we discuss this potential lift as though it were still 1950? There are various implementation methods on the table for the Conservatives, and debate must resume as such, instead of regurgitating long-held vendettas. Grammar schools are an updated concept with positive implications for the British education system and society as a whole.

The principal benefit of grammar schools must be social mobility which was not fully pursued when grammar schools first came into being. However, with entry assessments changing, this will be a huge advantage. The 11+ must not be the only entry assessment, rather, children across comprehensives should be monitored throughout their academic careers in order to detect signs of academic promise. As such, there are supplementary opportunities to climb the ladder, and to move across to an environment in which to flourish. We’ll see greater numbers of young people from different social and economic backgrounds integrating which must be considered fundamental to the overall benefit of social mobility.

Furthermore, the twenty first century grammar school must be established in the most deprived areas of UK. The benefits are obvious; the young people most disadvantaged will be targeted. When we evaluate the underlying causes behind much of the poverty in UK, we come across a self-perpetuating cycle. In other words, if you’re born into a disadvantaged area, it’s difficult to lift yourself out especially surrounded by a culture of poverty, in worst cases crime. Through placing grammar schools in the most disadvantaged areas we have an opportunity to provide a way out for young people, a leg up the ladder towards the opportunities traditionally reserved for public schools. While, simultaneously the issue of supposedly middle class families manipulating the system through moving to catchment areas will be largely overcome.

And yet, there’s still opposition from the parties which claim to stand up for the most vulnerable in society. The suggestion that grammar schools provide a two stream education system of the middle class and comprehensives is no longer a credible argument, the social benefits of this system are clearer and more attainable than they were nearly seventy years ago. But then again solutions revolving around hard work, independence and responsibility have never been popular with the state-centric left wing. And in opposing grammar schools on the grounds that some children will remain in comprehensives, the argument is essentially ‘if not everybody can benefit in the same way, I’d rather nobody did’, not unlike Blair’s pursuit of abstract equality which led to the ban in the first place. Not every child is the same, and not every child will be suited to the academic focus of grammar schools.

Let’s pursue an education system which sees every child as independent, both in their abilities, and also from their backgrounds. An education system which is blind to income, and instead prioritizes hard work and merit. The left cannot cling to the same arguments as they did sixty years ago forever: it’s time to move on the debate.

We need to address Momentum, and soon

The Labour Party conference last week shed light on one of the most significant phenomena to emerge from Corbyn’s re-election as Labour leader: Momentum.

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Set up by Jon Lansman in 2015 to build support for Jeremy Corbyn, Momentum is dominated by the young and ideological. According to their website, the principle aim of their 100,000 membership is to create ‘a mass movement for real transformative change’. Despite this vague description, Momentum is in fact a far-left grassroots movement whose political, social and economic objectives include virtually eradicating the role of the British Army, restoring Clause IV, increasing public ownership, and campaigning for nuclear disarmament.

While their aims appear somewhat generic, their existence during the Labour Party conference has exposed the latent culture beneath the beaming smile which declares they just want to ‘make a difference’. From criticising Holocaust Memorial Day, to suggesting that questioning Corbyn’s electability should be a ‘forbidden and punishable offence’, Momentum are divisive and undemocratic.[1] It’s time to expose the reality behind ‘we just want to change the world for the better’.

The merchandise on sale at the Labour Conference is symbolic of the dangerous organisation they are. Stalls around the conference are draped in t-shirts and mugs imprinted with the famous mass-murderer and racist Che Guevara in support of his Marxist philosophy. Other merchandise on sale includes ‘Tories are lower than vermin’ posters, truly embracing the ‘kinder, gentler’ politics Corbyn promised and somewhat disconcerting since Momentum believes 80% of Labour MPs are ‘red Tories’.

However, the great double standard they frequently exercise lies in their hypocritical stance on war, indeed prior to his leadership of Leader Corbyn was perhaps best known for his activism. Similarly, Momentum opposes the British Army’s expansion, funding, or engagement abroad; frequently found marching in ‘Stop the War’ protests. At the Labour Party conference, British Army ‘Make Stuff Dead’ mugs and a book mocking ‘free prosthetic limbs’ scattered the tables.

As many lament rightly such an inappropriate and hurtful exhibition to the families of servicemen and women who have died serving this country, such offensives have gone largely unreported by the mainstream media. The caring and compassionate clothing of socialism has allowed such disrespectful actions to go largely unnoticed.

But they’re not so aggravated by those whom the British Army has encountered on missions. Assad’s mass murderous, torturing, genocidal army nor ISIS’s army has provoked an outcry. No, their funding, energy and political activity has been thrown wholeheartedly behind opposing the British Army.[2]

Nonetheless, the disingenuous contempt Momentum holds for deceased and injured servicemen and women is only one of many reasons they must be confronted.

Their record on anti-Semitism is appalling. It’s undeniable that Labour is under increasing pressure with mounting claims of anti-Semitism within the Party, as Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth hired bodyguards for the conference itself, and a recent staggering 87% of a Jewish poll felt anti-Semitism was ignored in Labour (compared with 13% in the Conservative Party). One might safely assume this is a time for heightened sensitivity around the issue of anti-Semitism.

But not for Momentum.

Only a week ago Vice Chair of Momentum Jackie Walker, who claims Jews financed the slave trade, was seen criticising Holocaust Memorial Day, at an anti-Semitism training event. The very fact this subdivision of Labour even requires a training day to address anti-Semitism is shocking, let alone this woman’s timing in vocalising such criticism.

But why are we surprised? Their leader called Hamas a ‘friend’ (only a manner of speaking, of course) and attended the pro-Palestine events of a constituent who thought Jews caused 9/11.[3] Indeed, it was Chuka Umunna who suggested that “in order to deal with this anti-Semitism issue, do you not think it would be helpful for Momentum to be wound up and shut down?” but Corbyn accused him of veering ‘off topic’.

Corbyn’s grassroots fan club is fast becoming a racist and dangerous fragment within Labour, the extent of which was revealed during their Party conference. Hope for a unified and inclusive opposition to the Conservative Party disintegrates every time their voices are amplified within Labour. They must be confronted.

If not for the unity of the Party, for the unity of the population. It’s not about the context of your comments, it’s not about the phrasing of your sentences. When members of your Party feel compelled to hire bodyguards, feel powerless to involve themselves in political activism for fear of attack, it’s time you stood up and took action instead of regurgitating empty words.

We can’t rely on Shami Chakrabarti, whose investigation found anti-Semitism ‘wasn’t an issue’ in the Party promptly before receiving her peerage and a shadow cabinet position.

We have to rely on the Labour members committed to a unified and inclusive party to persevere and produce an opposition which can hold Theresa May and the Conservative Party to account.

[1] http://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/shelagh-fogarty/labours-warring-sides-do-battle-over-hackney/

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/26/momentum-jokes-about-injured-british-soldiers-reveal-the-corbyni/

[3] http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2016/07/momentum-anti-semitism-and-problem-labours-grassroots-activists

The Legacy of Lord Salisbury

By Joe Jones

London Stereoscopic Company

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Marquis of Salisbury (Credit: London Stereoscopic Company)

The EU referendum revealed something that all on the right should be worried about: a serious class divide. It’s hard to think when a vote could be so easily divided along the lines of wage inequality, job prospects and class. This should be a massive concern for those in the centre-right of our politics. A class divide must be something that we should always campaign against especially if we are to embrace the mantra of the ladder for meritocratic justice. The forgotten many found a voice rallying against what they viewed as an uncaring establishment. An establishment who no longer cared about increasing inequality, the worrying reduction of the middle class and collapse of social mobility in this country.

Of course inequality is not something I believe should be entirely eradicated, I am not about to call to arms and fight for equality (I sincerely apologise to the leftie luvvies) – it is a necessary spur to economic development. However, I do think there is a need to reduce it by increasing the ability to rise to the top. The quest of fixing the increasingly large cracks that divide our society should not belong uniquely under a socialist or liberal umbrella and we should be very careful not to fall into the trap of Andrew Bonar-Law who recoiled from social policy, believing it to be liberal party territory.

Instead, we should look to the inspiration of Lord Salisbury – an incredibly underrated Prime Minister. In 1883 he wrote in the National Review of the awful conditions that the working classes had to endure, both in the workplace and at home. He wrote of the need for Laissez Faire to be applied ‘both ways’, benefitting the worker and the consumers. Throughout his three premierships there was a raft of social legislation, covering housing, re-enforcing the right for compensation in the workplace and the establishment of the county councils and boroughs to which he devolved local powers and controls. The work was carried on by his successor, Arthur Balfour, who allowed businesses to tap into government loans to hire more staff and increased the number of schools (including a large boost for girl’s schools) as well as raising the school leaving age.

Brexit has demonstrated that class lines once against divide us, we should never stand back and allow this to continue. It is an awful fact that by Tuesday 5th January this year the top FTSE 100 chief executives earnt more than the ‘average workers’ (£27,645) entire yearly package. As Theresa May highlighted in her first Prime Ministerial address to the country: ‘If you’re born poor you will die on average nine years earlier than others If you’re black, you’re treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white. If you’re a white, working-class boy, you’re less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university. If you’re at a state school, you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately. If you’re a woman, you will earn less than a man. If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand. If you’re young, you’ll find it harder than ever before to own your own home.’

It is not ‘un-conservative’ to pay attention to these issues. It does not make you ‘a wet’, nor a socialist. What it adheres to is the oldest strand of the oldest and most successful political force in the world – the Conservative and Unionist Party. In a party broadcast, Rab Butler (the greatest education secretary) said that ‘we conservatives stand for the unity of the nation. Of all classes and all interests.’ This is what is at the heart of how conservatives should act. We should stand for all classes and interests, we should embrace the legacy of Salisbury and Balfour: invest in tackling inequality from the bottom up through affordable housing, security in your work, localism and education. It is not a quest to slay the great, beastly evil dragon of the FTSE 100, but more one to raise up those underneath it.

The rift exposed by the Brexit vote is one that needs to be healed, the country desperately needs unifying. Those forgotten many have made their voices heard, and we ignore it at our own peril. A class divided politics and society is not a healthy one, and conservatives should work against it, both in the political sphere and out of it. We should encourage security in work, a living wage paid voluntarily by employers, equal workplace treatment for all, greater autonomy and power for local councils and communities and, most importantly, a local revolution in schooling. Governments that put inequality first have too often been centrally bureaucratic, but as Salisbury and Balfour show, it is possible to enact from the centre and hand the baton of control to local areas and communities to fight inequality, poverty and push for a more meritocratic society.

Brexit will give British football the spark it needs

By Dan Simpson

Brexit Football

 

I love football. So when I tuned into the news the other day and found out that Project Fear had turned their gaze on to the beautiful game, I was rather disgusted. Britain Stronger in Europe were boldly claiming that a vote to leave would result in over 100 of our beloved Premier League players losing the right to play in the UK. Let’s get the facts straight.

We could give them work permits. Well that was a rather easy solution wasn’t it? Yes, I hear you say, the current system works based on how many games they have played for their national team. But there’s no reason why we’d have to keep that policy. After all we would be a free, independent, sovereign nation – free to make our own immigration policy. And there is absolutely no reason that the government wouldn’t want to give them that permit. European footballers bring so much to our game and our country. Not only do they bring millions of pounds in tax revenues for HMRC; they also bring so much diversity and talent that our home footballers benefit hugely from.

But even if EU countries post-Brexit are given the same rule as current non-EU countries; this couldn’t be better news for British football – especially for upcoming talent. The current rules give the most talented players an automatic visa to play in the UK, whilst restricting the ‘mediocre overseas players’ – as Sol Campbell so eloquently described it in the Mail on Sunday. At the moment, young British stars coming through academies in British clubs are being crowded out by many other youngsters from all across the EU without given a fair chance at their home club. The Premier League is one of the most prestigious names in global football. And I think it is obvious that an exit from the European Union could enable young British talent to prosper; meanwhile the biggest names and talents from all over the world are still able to show off their talents.

It goes further than this though. Another claim made by Karren Brady recently in the Guardian is that Britain’s membership of the EU means that British footie fans benefit from ’not having to pay for visas’ when they want to see away matches in Europe. But as British citizens we already have visa-free access to 175 countries across the world, 84% of which are not members of the European Union! So the claim that EU countries would start implementing visas to British nationals is absurd. And this isn’t even taking in consideration of all the benefits that the fans bring along. They boost the economies of the host countries with all the taxis they hire; hotels they stay in; pints they drink and pies they eat at the game.

It does worry me to think that Project Fear has hijacked this debate. After a quick Google search, the number of articles articulating Mrs Brady’s point of view overwhelmingly outweighs the few, like Sol Campbell, that are defending British football.

For many in Britain, football is a large part of their life. British football has been struggling recently, with many England fans being incredibly disappointed in performances in the World Cup and European Championships. We need that spark, and I think that Brexit will give us just what’s needed. So I sincerely hope that the designated leave campaign is able to articulate a vision of hope and prosperity for post-Brexit football in Britain.

Democracy is Better off Out

– Joe Jones

 

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I know there is an avalanche of articles on the European referendum descending on us in ever-greater volumes and it’s certainly not going to slow down anytime soon. However, I’d regret it if I didn’t add my voice to the debate, so here I go…

England is the cradle of Parliamentary democracy, a legacy that Britain, Canada, India, America, Australia and New Zealand (just to name a few) carry on into the modern day. This legacy is why I identify as a Tory democrat; I believe in preserving the old and the good of our nation and entrusting it into the control of the people.  It is why I find it so upsetting that we seem to be content to see that legacy being scurried away in the offices of the Berlaymont by bureaucrats, shuffling down the pale corridors of European power. There is an astonishingly, un-European, democratic deficit within the EU. It is a betrayal of Athenian democracy; there exists a system of institutions that have effectively removed the people, the demos, but kept the power, the kratos.

The European Commission exists as an excellent demonstration of an undemocratic institution. The only elected member is the President of the Commission, being elected by the European Parliament – so it usually comes down to whichever party is the largest: currently the European Peoples Party (EPP) which doesn’t have a single representative elected from Britain. The rest of the commissioners are appointed and the irony that many of them have lost an election (or two in the case of Neil Kinnock) before appointment shouldn’t be lost on anyone.

These commissioners hold a monopoly of power on the European system and if you think I’m talking rubbish, then look at what happened when the French, the Dutch and the Irish all voted against The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (basically just the Lisbon Treaty), they were asked to take time for a ‘period of reflection’, then were asked to try voting again and again to produce an answer better suited to the Commission.

But what of the European Parliament? Don’t we elect our own members to send to the Espace Léopold and the Louise Weiss to hold the European executive to account? Well yes, if you count a turnout that had never risen above 38% in the UK, and never above 50% across Europe, as a whopping mandate. Moreover the European Parliament is not a properly functioning legislative house: it does not have the power, de jure or de facto, to construct legislation. Only the European Commission has the authority to construct legislation and regulation; the European Parliament can only accept or reject bills put before them. I cannot accept that this is a healthy way to conduct a democratic institution. It cannot be correct that the representatives of the European people cannot construct and pass legislation on the people’s behalf

Should we care? Surely this must be just a proxy government that really holds no sway in the UK: The House of Commons library puts the laws imposed on the UK from Brussels at 13% (not the 7% Nick Clegg liked to quote). This doesn’t actually seem to be that much, although personally I do think even that is too high a proportion anyway. Sadly, that number is wrong; as the independent think-tank, Business for Britain, (founded to help reform our relationship with the EU) reported in 2014, that figure does not count regulations that are imposed on the UK on a pan-European level. When these two are combined we find that that actually 65% of UK laws and regulations are imposed from Brussels, with 52% never having to be passed through our Parliament, hence why they are not counted in the House of Commons library. It undermines both the sovereignty of our Parliament and the credibility of our national elections.

In an ideal world, I would love to see massive reform in the EU in an attempt to deal with the democratic deficit. I accept that within the Eurozone there is evidently a need for more integration of central European institutions; this is clear from the euro disaster and the need for a unified economic policy across the Eurozone. I also accept that the European Parliament must be strengthened and the representatives of the people should be allowed to legislate on the people’s behalf and not be entirely dominated by the Commission. However, for those outside of the Eurozone it should be set into stone that the sovereignty of their own parliaments should always come first. There is no need for them to be dominated by the Commission or European Parliament; they are not tied into one currency. Yet, given the way the EU is developing I realise how unrealistic this plan is and it isn’t even in the current renegotiation plans – and the ‘red card’ system is a far cry from anything near substantial change.

In this referendum campaign, economic and immigration scare stories will be thrown around from both sides, but we cannot lose sight of the crucial debate: who governs Britain? As a Tory democrat I know that I want the answer to be our House of Commons, elected by and serving the people of the United Kingdom.

I know that I’ve made up my mind in this referendum: Democracy is better off out.

Joe Jones is a third year History student at Warwick and Deputy Chairman (Political) of UWCA

Stigma: Market Mechanisms and the Third Sector

– Alexandra Bevis

 

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I must confess, I was one of the many who – after the Free and Fair Foundation published a review of charitable spending in December 2015 – was somewhat outraged that major UK charities spent such little proportions of their income on charitable activities. Had I conducted a little more research, I would have realised that these figures were somewhat misleading. The metric conflates revenues originating from goods sold and from donations. Why is this a problem? If a charity were to rely entirely upon revenue from goods sold in their shops, it would have a low charitable spending to revenue ratio – since overheads from running shops are rather high. If a charity were to rely entirely upon donations, they would have a much higher ratio – since, assuming it was effectively run, its administrative costs would be much lower than the overheads of its shop-running counterpart.

In the latter case, the metric quoted by the report would be a good one; you can see how much of each pound you donate goes towards actually making an impact. However, the list of those named and shamed includes the likes of Cancer Research UK, which – like many other charities – uses a mixture of both techniques to raise funds. My issue with the metric is thus twofold. Firstly, by combining the revenue streams, it does not accurately reflect the proportion of each donation that is spent upon a particular cause. Secondly, individuals regularly use this metric when deciding which charities to invest in. How do I know this? It is the metric that the government use to inform citizens about charities. With the website being built around what individuals want to know about charities before making a contribution, it is little wonder that this statistic is the most outstanding within the page.

I’m rather ashamed to admit that it took me until quite recently to ascertain that we are quantifying the wrong thing. In fact, it was only really after speaking to Thomas Muirhead – the Managing Director of Child.org – at the Warwick International Development Summit about his organisation’s utilisation of market mechanisms for fundraising. Evidence would suggest we have become so debased in our charitable pursuits that we are motivated more by extreme frugality than by helping a worthy cause. The median citizen, it seems, does not measure the success of a charitable organisation in the number of new medicines developed or how many children are provided with free school meals, but the proportion of their income that is ‘wasted’ on administrative costs.

I am not saying that we should not want our money to be spent efficiently. Of course, in making a charitable contribution, we want our donation to have the maximum impact. What I am saying is that it is a fallacy to conflate the proportion of an organisation’s income spent on a given cause with having the greatest impact. Are we so short sighted to not distinguish between these income streams? One builds upon the other; the income received from goods sold is income charitable organisations would not have otherwise received from donations. However, metrics like that utilised by The Free and Fair Foundation imply – based on their inherent construction – that we shouldn’t donate to companies with greater propensity to use market mechanisms for fundraising. Should this be the case? I think not. The Third sector would be the poorer for it.

Alexandra is a second year PPE student at the University of Warwick and an active member or UWCA.

Quick, decisive action in Syria does not mean success in the long run

– Max Rodgers

 

Looking at the plethora of barbaric terrorist attacks committed by IS over the past two years, it is clear that they cannot be defeated without military means. The only concerns of IS are to convert as many to their cause as possible and to wage a campaign of terror to eradicate those who do not fall into line with their beliefs. As a result, this extreme fundamentalist approach means negotiation for a ceasefire with them is impossible, as they are not obligated to preserve internal interests as nation states are, nor do they wish to achieve a particular political objective, their only goal is chaos.

However, with that said, I am of the belief that the decision by various governments following the Paris attacks to commit to a bombing campaign against IS in Syria is the wrong one. The events in Paris showed us that now more than ever it is vital that all peoples who believe in the values of freedom, harmony and equality must stand against the vicious, deadly ideology of IS that proposes to extinguish all of these principles. Indeed, the renewed sense of purpose for action against IS following the attacks will no doubt be comforting to many who are concerned for their security in an age where terrorist attacks happen on an almost daily basis all over the world.

The problem with this renewed sense of purpose for action is that it has been applied to the wrong strategy, namely airstrikes by either unmanned drones or manned fighter jets over IS controlled northern Syria. In the past, airstrikes have had prior success in combating IS, notably through their usage by the RAF in Iraq with a 0% civilian casualty rate, but in this the crucial distinction must be made between the differing tactical theatres of Iraq and Syria. The majority of IS forces in Syria are embedded within the city of Raqqa, occupying civilian buildings to use the civilian population as human shields. This presents a distinctly tougher challenge for military forces combating IS as the chances for successful strikes against terrorists without incurring civilian casualties are incredibly lower than in Iraq. Of course, this is still possible, as the assassination of Jihadi John showed us, but with incredible intelligence resources and military calculations applied to targeting this one man for an airstrike, it is evident that to do this for an entire army of IS terrorists would prove incredibly difficult and taxing upon resources.

Of course, any path of action we take will be difficult and taxing upon resources, but I’d rather utilise this on a course of action that will have a greater chance of success against IS than sole reliance upon airstrikes. This includes ensuring Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States stop the millions of dollars of funding that flood into the Syrian oil market which is propping up IS in order to financially neuter them; it means ensuring there is a well thought out humanitarian plan for a post-conflict Syria with appropriate assistance from the UN and other bodies which doesn’t leave the Syrian people to fend for themselves in a post-IS world; it also means a plan to get around the problem of Assad and finally it also means military tactics that stand a far greater chance of breaking IS’s stronghold over northern Syria, which in my view means guerilla warfare and counterinsurgency tactics. With an enemy embedded in a dense urban area who operate as guerillas, the usage of such counterinsurgency tactics as those deployed by the US in Vietnam to great success between 1955 and Diem’s removal in 1963 would be far preferable as a strategy to defeat IS than airstrikes.

In summary, it is clear that the UK must stand with our allies in combating IS militarily as we have no other option but to engage them, given their fanatical desire for chaos and terror. The problem with the action taken by various governments since the Paris attacks is that airstrikes have been seen and argued for as a blanket solution to solve the problem of IS, and quite simply they will not provide such a solution. To paraphrase what David Davis said in the House of Commons debate last week, we should help France but we must do it properly and not just symbolically. Airstrikes have proven successful against IS in the past, but with the tactical and political situation in northern Syria, and whilst symbolise political support for France in the wake of the Paris attacks; they are not the best solution in the long run.

Rather, must take military action against IS via the means of intelligence agencies supporting moderate rebels fighting against IS alongside Special Forces troops and intelligence officers from coalition countries employing counterinsurgency tactics to eliminate IS terrorists from civilian areas; we must ensure humanitarian and aid plans are in place to support the Syrian people throughout this crisis and in a post IS world; we must ensure a strategy is in place to solve the problem of Assad, and a further one to ensure other nations in the Middle East cut their ties to the oil market which is currently allowing IS to fund their reign of terror.  I feel that it is with these solutions, encompassing plans to deal with both short and long term concerns, that would be far more effective in driving IS from Syria than the solution of airstrikes.

Max is an active member of UWCA and studies politics and international studies in his third year.

Why Parliament was right to support airstrikes against ISIL

– Sam Fry

 

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon supporting Operation Inherent Resolve receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker, Dec. 16, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Chelsea Browning)

Last Wednesday evening, the House of Commons voted 397 to 223 in favour of airstrikes on ISIL targets in Syria. It was a long and passionate debate, with strong feelings on both sides. The issue is immensely complex, with even many experts unsure on how the West should respond. Everyone agrees that the ethnic and cultural cleansing, beheadings and human trafficking are an affront to humanity and should be stopped; the question is what we should do about it. On balance, I believe that Parliament was right to support airstrikes.

Military interventions have a decidedly mixed track record; some have certainly been more successful than others. One could look to Sierra Leone, Kosovo or even World War II as examples of where intervention has succeeded, and there is much conventional wisdom that states the West should have intervened to stop the 1994 Rwandan genocide. On the other hand, the Iraq War is widely considered to be a total disaster and the intervention in Libya led to a yet another weak state and contributed to the migrant crisis over the Mediterranean. Many of the West’s interventions in the ‘third world’ during the Cold War were pretty destabalising. There is of course an awful lot that could be said about any one of these examples. Suffice to say, statements such as “history clearly shows us this” are almost always a gross oversimplication at best.

For me, the crucial issue to consider is the nation state. Political communities matter and so a stable nation state is the best way of organising a society. Political institutions are necessary to prevent anarchy and a state is needed to provide good quality infrastructure, health and education that is essential for a good standard of living. Ultimately, property rights and the rule of law – both enforced by the state – are a prerequisite for a dynamic economy. When states do not fulfil the basic conditions of a sovereign government – the so called ‘failed states’ – it creates an opportunity for terrorist groups to expand so it is in the UK’s interests to prevent failed states and promote stable nation states and good governance.

ISIL is not a state; it occupies an area in the failed states of Iraq and Syria so, rather than being a state, ISIL is a threat to nation states. This means that weakening ISIL is the correct thing to do in order to promote stability and act in the UK’s interests. I don’t like Bashar al-Assad. He has committed crimes against humanity, including gassing his own people, and his poor governance has led to the growth of ISIL. However ISIL must be the priority since force against Assad could weaken further what is already a very weak Syrian state, plus there is the complying factor of Russia’s support for Assad. Convincing Assad to step down peacefully should be a medium term objective to stabilise Syria and weakening the terrorist threat, but weakening ISIL should be the first step.

Airstrikes are an effective way of weakening ISIL. Airstrikes can take out key ISIL personnel and destroy strategically important sites, such as the oil fields that were attacked on Wednesday evening. Airstrikes have held back ISIL in Iraq so it is logical that they would be applied to ISIL in Syria. It is right that the RAF stand alongside the French and Americans in the UN-backed attempt to weaken ISIL.

Many have argued that airstrikes will inevitably kill innocent civilians. Clearly this is a major concern since, as well as being morally abhorrent, killing civilians would radicalise more people. However this concern can be met by the improvements in military technology. When some people think of airstrikes, images are often conjured up of the Blitz or of the napalming of Vietnam, which were essentially indiscriminate. This is unhelpful. Laser-guided bombs have improved substantially even compared with just a decade ago and are now extremely precise. The only problem is identifying which targets to hit. I believe this removes the main moral objection to airstrikes on ISIL.

In the long-term, you can’t bomb an ideology and so the airstrikes need to be seen as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. In the long run, the key to defeating terrorism is good governance and, above all, sustained economic growth. It follows that if people have a decent standard of living and good job opportunities then they are less likely to be attracted to terrorism. The ultimate objective has to be creating stable Syrian and Iraqi states that can facilitate this economic growth. The airstrikes again ISIL are the start of this.

Sam Fry is a PhD student studying Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick and an active Conservative.

It’s time to remember why we need the Lords

– Joe Jones

 

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So the tax credit cuts got delayed in the Lords. I shan’t beat around the bush about this, I’m happy about that. I didn’t agree with the way that the cuts would have been pushed through and would have, to use Baroness Meacher’s words, been ‘pulling the rug’ out from 3 million people’s feet (according to the IFS).

But I think there is something more important that arose from this, and that is the role of the House of Lords. This chamber is too often forgotten or overlooked as an odd quirk of history and that this strange chamber we conceived is simply something that we keep through sentimental value. It’s seen almost like the scratchy old scarf your grandparent gave you one Christmas.

Certainly it appears that some members of the current Conservative Government believe it is so. I can understand a measure of anger at the Lords delaying what the government is determined to do; it is a long a difficult task to turn this country around. But by attempting to start a constitutional debate, by claiming that the Lords are overstepping, I believe, is a mistake.

The Lords should exist to be a restraint on the excesses of the elected body of our Parliament. It should exist to house the greatest minds of our ages: from the best of business, to community and charity leaders, to old cabinet ministers, to peers and professors and to old Prime Ministers. A House, of the experts. It is in having this that the Lords would best fulfil their duty: to scrutinise legislation from their experience and curb the excesses of the House of Commons when needs be. The problem with large majority governments (like Tony Blair’s first two) is that it gives the Prime Minister almost unchecked power in passing laws and there needs to be checks in place to halt excessive and naïve policies from passing.

The Lords has a unique ability to rise above party politics, the longevity that is rewarded to the Lords with the lack of elections allows them to take the long view; a view that doesn’t have to consistently tow the party line. Am I being too idealistic? Lord Lawson seems to point otherwise in his stance against the government’s tax credits cuts. Not only do the party members act on their own consciences, the Lords also have the greatest well of independents in the crossbenchers.  These individuals have the ability to swing the vote and help to move it against the petty party interests and in favour of good governance.

It is this that is so crucial about the Lords.

All of this is why I am concerned about the review that David Cameron has launched into the role of the Lords after the governments defeat over tax credit cuts. This reaction, that was tantamount to throwing the toys out of the pram, threatens to remove the role of the Lords as the check on the Commons and move the British Parliament away from having a balanced check system and away from good governance.

Of course I am not saying that the Lords is perfect. One of the real issues that we have with the Lords is the ability of the Prime Minister and party leaders to propose members for the Lords. It is my belief that a different body, an independent one, along with the Privy Council perhaps should have say over who is admitted to the upper chamber. I think the removal of the party leaders, as a deciding body in themselves, from the decision over the honours lists would move the decision back to one focused on creating a chamber of experts to help govern in the long term interests of the United Kingdom.

I know that the Lords has not acted over financial matters for many years now (I’ve seen it disputed between 300 to 100 years), but it is right that they have. They moved to govern, not for party politics and I, for one, am glad that the Lords are reclaiming their ground to check governments and keep Parliament grounded in the experiences of the outside world and the knowledge passed on down by its members. As Conservatives I think it is time we remembered why we need the Lords, and why we should stand behind it.

Joe is Warwick Conservatives’ Deputy Chairman (Political) and is in his third year studying history and politics.

The Free Market: The Best Way to End Poverty

– Ricaurte Batista III

 

money

 

In a free market economic goods and services are freely exchanged between individuals on a voluntary basis under the rule of law and a private property rights system. Although it is not a perfect system, it is the best system we have had to improve the standards of living and reduce poverty. Before the 1800s an average person made the modern equivalent of $3 a day (£2 a day) in income, throughout that century the process of improvement in people’s income and quality of life started to boom, merchants were now socially honoured in the cities and ideas of economic liberty started to rule over the great nations of the time, these two aspects made an ideal environment for innovation.

When people are free to use their energy, time, and talents, they’re able to produce great things, everything from tiny cameras to skyscrapers and complex vaccines to cure diseases. Under a free market system incentives are created to reward those who are productive, those who work a lot of hours and have good skills and brilliant ideas. This system of free exchange and incentives created a group of people known as entrepreneurs who devote themselves to think on how to make people’s lives better by focusing on satisfying their needs and desires. These entrepreneurs act by pursuing their own interest, they seek a better life and to make more money, but at the same time they benefit society as a whole with new products, great gadgets and smart solutions for the problems of daily life. It is important to bear in mind that entrepreneurs depend on people’s needs to reach a prosperous level of business, so a strictly selfish entrepreneur who puts his or her own interests before that of the consumer will certainly fail and lose a lot of money, however an entrepreneur who better serves the needs of their customers will have a much more successful outcome.

In order to attract more customers, businesses would want to have the best quality products possible at a very competitive prices; the best way for that to happen is within a vigorous environment of competition between businesses. However for some businesses competition is quite hard, because it requires a lot of work, time and money, so in order to safeguard the future and success of the company; they start to lobby in order to get laws, restrictions and regulations enacted against anyone who tries to compete with them. These actions clearly benefit businesses and not consumers. This action damages competition and summons a great deal of difficulties and terrible situations for the society. For that reason we can say that the freer competition is the more benefits consumers will enjoy.

It is a very basic principle of law that every human being should be equally protected before the law and no exception should be made for any business or any person, for that reason corporate cronyism or any kind of cronyism within the government is a terribly deadly cell that disloyally kills competition inciting a process of destroying the incentives to wealth creation; this process ends innovation, harms customer satisfaction and reduces prosperity for everyone. For this reason Adam Smith believed that government must be limited. The core functions of governments should be maintaining defence, keeping order through a justice system under the rule of law, promoting quality education and coordinating the building of public infrastructure. The best way a government can help to reduce poverty is by avoiding any intervention that may distort the operation of a free and open market. John F. Kennedy said: “Every dollar released from taxation that is spared or invested will help create a new job and a new salary.”

Free trade not only provides people with cheaper products, and the chance for countries all over the globe to export and import with one another goods that can only be produced in their part of the world; Free trade also contributes to the preservation of peace in the world, the best possible example would be Europe. After centuries of battles, dominations and wars between the nations of Europe, a new model emerged from the ashes of the Second World War, a model based on the principles of freedom. The very essence of the European Union was tear down the barriers between nations in order to establish the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people. This idea has successfully guaranteed peace in Europe. But like any other matter whenever centralized power and bureaucracy grow, freedom and prosperity most likely decrease, without a doubt the centralized monopolies of big power and the terrifying regime disguised of a “republic”, might be some of the fundamental reasons why many African and Latin American countries have had difficulties to grow and be prosperous nations.

Every free society should have an independent and efficient judicial system, stable property right and small government in the service of the people who pay for them to exist. Education is also a key feature in the development of a free market economy and furthermore in achievement of prosperity for nations. Milton Friedman once said that – the equality of opportunities to develop capacities and skills, independently of race, religion, and social class; is not contrary to the concept of freedom, it reinforces it. – Let us remember that poverty is not caused by things people do, but by things they fail to do.

Ricaurte is a law student at the Universidad Catolica Santa Maria La Antigua in Panama City. He is a classical liberal and active member of the Panamenista Party.