Crippling Budget

Over the election David Cameron tried to convince the electorate that the conservatives were the party for the working people. Well, if five years of a Tory coalition government hadn’t shown us what a load of rubbish that statement was, George Osborne’s new budget certainly does. Cutting tax credits, removing housing benefits for 18-21 year olds, cutting the university maintenance grant and lowering the benefits cap violently contradicts Cameron’s claim of a Tory party which is sympathetic to working class people. These cuts, coupled with raising the thresholds for the 40p tax and the inheritance tax seems to back up the traditional idea that the Tories look out for their “own”, the middle/upper classes. 
Cutting housing benefit for young people and capping benefits will make life increasingly difficult for poorer, low income families. Preventing young people from being able to move out but further reducing the income of a household will not amount to Osborne’s mantra of a “low tax, low welfare, high income” country; it will result in a rising population living in poverty, struggling to make ends meet. The scapegoat portrayal of those supported by benefits are that they are “scroungers” bringing images of Victorians and the deserving and undeserving poor. In reality, working people on low wages need the support of benefits just as much as people who are unemployed due to such low wages. 
Moreover, cutting the maintenance grant for students will make going on to university’s been more of a dilemma. If the plans to raise fees to £11,500 was not off putting enough, taking away the maintenance could make working class students even more reluctant to go on to uni. I have had friends say to me that they can’t move from their house to become even more poverty stricken as a result of this. If this attitude is widespread, the Tories have limited our future resources by deterring brilliant people from going on to university by making it more and more expensive.
These cuts are appalling, they are enabling wealthy people to hold on to more and more of their wealth and taking away the life line for those living in poverty and depend on the welfare state to survive.

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Serena and Gone Girl, feminist works

I have recently read Serena by Ron Rash and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. These two books can be hailed as feminist works by portraying strong yet psychopathic female characters. There are now finally characters edging away from the stereotypical female characters of being either virginal and nurturing or a “slut”. Of course women can be any number of characters, but even female roles in books and films are generally pointed towards these two character basis someway or another. 

Maybe I have only recently been aware of this portayal of women in books and films so I have only recently started picking up on the typical character prototypes. However, there don’t seem to be many books or films showing women where care, nurturing and sex are not the main issues in the motivations of their character.  

If you know of any other books with strong female roles, then please send them my way in the comments.

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This Girl Does It

This week, Sport England released the advert campaign “This Girl Can”. An advert showing women of colour, with ages ranging between 14 and 51 and of varying body types. However, this advert has been deemed by some as sexist for reasons I cannot understand. This advert is set to the Missy Elliott track “Get Your Freak On” with unedited or strategically lit shots of normal women doing exercise.

I really like this advert, it is a really fun, effective piece of marketing. As much as women like Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and Nicola Addams have done for improving the attitudes of women in sport; it can be difficult for women who are not necessarily athletic to engage with sport through their adverts. “This Girl Can” shows women of different shapes and sizes enjoying themselves while doing sport.

Although I appreciate that the term “girl” may not be welcome to some older women, I don’t feel that this is enough to claim sexism. Should the issue being focussed on be why women, and especially teenage girls, are so reluctant to exercise? As a teenage girl myself I can only really speak from personal experience, but a lot of girls I know are reluctant to do sport because they are worried about being perceived as less feminine. The worry of building up “too much” (?!) muscle and looking more masculine seems to come from the media’s depiction of what is attractive and appropriate for women’s appearance. Although countless female celebrities are photographed going to the gym, they are criticised for looking “bad’ (they’re going to sweat for God sake!). Maybe what those who are crying sexism at this advert, as well as everyone else, should be more active in the media’s idea on beauty and its effect on women and their health.

http://youtu.be/aN7lt0CYwHg

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A Guide To Surviving Awards Evenings:

As a fully fledged veteran of numerous awards evenings, I feel it is my duty to to pass on my knowledge in a short guide on how to survive these awards evenings.

1) Don’t Bother Arriving on Time:
If you have ever been to an awards evening, you know that it will inevitably start late. If the invitation says doors open at 5:30, get there for 6 at the earliest. The crush of people waiting to get in will be eventually subdued by large security guards and let in at 5:45. However, most people also anticipate a late start so turn up later resulting in a frantic rush. Never turn up early. This is a rookie mistake. You will undoubtedly spend a considerable amount of if time standing outside the venue, potentially in the rain, wind and cold (this is Britain after all)

2) Don’t Expect to Leave on Time:
It is almost an accepted fact of life that no one can accurately time a speech. People ramble on, speak much slower than anticipated or may be heckled (I have seen this at an awards evening; there were some very proud, excited parents present.) No matter what happens, know that you will leave at least 45 minutes after the invite said the evening would end. Therefore, you should never, ever, make plans for after the event that must adhere to the concept of timing and punctuality.

3) Dietary Requirements Inquires Are Just a Formality:
Asking if you have a dietary requirement is obviously very quickly ignored. As someone who has a sever fish allergy and has vegetarian/vegan/halal friends, these needs are frequently overlooked. Recently I went to an awards evening where not only was there no veggie option bar some lettuce, “salad”. The fish option was not marked in any way resulting in me eating it. Now my fish allergy causes sever projectile vomiting. I felt I should leave the event, lest I projectile vomit over “our glorious mayor” of Tower Hamlets. I suppose this analogy shows that the caterers aren’t that concerned unless it’s a major thing, but then you probably have an epi pen anyway….

4) Dress Code: Who Bloody Knows?!
“Smart dress code”. This can range from nice trousers and a top to full blown hair, make up, heels, dress suit and tie. Who bloody well knows what you’re supposed to wear to these things, and to be perfectly honest, who really cares? The host and award winners really should just be glad that they won the award, not what kind of shoes and clothes I’m wearing. I would love it if the next awards evening any one goes to, you go in your pjs or, in trakies. Just could we do that, for the good of humanity and my happiness?

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The Council Website and the Chamber of Secrets

Who knew local council service websites are so useless? After spending a day and a half in the Policy office at the National Landlords Association I could happily testify in a court of law to this fact.

I was asked to do temp work for two days to complete spreadsheets in Regions office for Housing in Multiple Occupies (HMO) licensing fee in local councils. This was essentially googling every council in England’s mandatory licensing fee and putting it into the spreadsheet. Sounds pretty straight forward, no? However, at least a third of the 300 plus council websites I had to look at did not have the licensing fee at all, or it was deeply entrenched into the site and listed with all other council fees. Now I’d like to think I’m not particularly stupid, and as a 16 year old I have grown up with the internet and generally can find my way around websites relatively easily. But after the 5th council website I got to where I could not find any relevant information in HMO fees, I began to despair for those who were even less technically minded than me, who didn’t know specifically what they were looking for and would be forever ensnared in their local council’s website.

So after my adventures online with the council websites, I resorted to phoning the councils themselves to get the HMO license fee. This managed to take just as long searching through the websites. Some councils seem to do as much of an extraordinary job at hiding their contact details as they do with hiding other important information. Once you find the number, the normal call queue wait to be spoken to by a real person ensues. Apparently, very few general inquiry workers have actually heard of HMOs, and even fewer know which department to put me through to when I explain it. The average call was about six minutes, transferred through various departments and explaining again each time what a HMO was.

Why on earth would councils have such impossible websites?! It would be in everyone’s best interest for information to be listed clearly on the website. Thank you to England’s councils who show how vital good communications departments are. As for the council phone call void, I don’t have a solution, merely a request in no pan flute music on holding lines any more.

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Period 7, We’re Exhausted

To raise exam standards in school, Senior Management Team (SMT), decided to introduce mandatory 7th lessons at least twice a week. This sounds great right? Extra maths and English mentoring for those who need it and for everyone, else extra lessons in other subjects? Well in theory it should be ace. But of course, the system is flawed.

The set lists for subjects have become law. God forbid you want to go to revision in a different subject! Last half term I had to do German speaking controlled assessment but finished it in the first extra period. So for the next 4 weeks on a Thursday I did nothing. We were not allowed to go to a different lesson, revise in the library or go home. The lessons were unproductive to day the least.

Period 7 has also left us exhausted. For those doing English/maths mentoring they have to do an extra hour of school everyday and come in on Saturday 9-12. The rest of us have to come in on Saturdays for various subjects and most lunch times for work. We are all, including the members of staff, exhausted! Expected to do normal school 9-3-15 and then more lessons 3:15-4:15 (with a 30 minute combined break throughout the day) and then do another two hours of work when you get home. We aren’t robots!

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Ridiculous Uniform – Part 2

And on the eleventh month it froze. It is now November, and freezing, so of course we have to wear winter coats. The school rules state only that the coat must be black. However, I have been told that the inch of fur on my black jacket is in breech of these rules and will be confiscated tomorrow during a school wide coat check. What?! In near freezing conditions, you are prepared to confiscate a coat for an inch of fur that isn’t black?

I have basically been asked to buy another brand new jacket, roughly £50, because of this. I understand the need for uniform rules and regulations, but if the school insists on enforcing unwritten rules do they really expect parents in the country’s poorest borough to fork out £50 for this? The demand to get a new jacket by tomorrow is unreasonable and illogical. How can I get a new coat by then? It’s Wednesday, the middle of the week, both my parents work until 5 every night. They cannot drop everything because the school doesn’t like the inch if non black fur on my coat.

I have been told flat out that had the fur on my coat been black I would not have a problem. Looks like my solutions are to a) buy another brand new jacket or b) paint the fur black. Looks like I’m going to have paint stains on my hand for a while…

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