Political Promise

Is this Politics or Hollywood?

In Rich Maher on October 15, 2010 at 11:22 am

In his second Diary of a Politics Student, Rich Maher tells us what he makes of Clegg, Cameron and Miliband.

It seems that finally the euphoria of the Labour elections has calmed down and politics is creeping back into what it regards as the normality of its hectic world. As my mind had just entered politics and I was still exploring the basic aspects of it, I was rather taken aback by the soap opera of a ‘brother vs. brother’ battle. After being, what now seems harshly, informed that modern-day politics was descending into a dull subject, I found the election to be a fantastic story.

As if written like a cheap, Hollywood movie, the younger brother, underdog and arguably uglier of the two, Ed Miliband rose above his older sibling, David, to gain the leadership of the Labour party to the soundtrack of ‘Kings of Leon’. Even the fake sincerity on the face of David during their envious embrace was reminiscent of a top American actor. What also astounded me was the fickle nature of the public. The day after Ed was granted the captaincy of his party, Labour became more popular than the Conservative party for the first time since 2007. It’s laughable that these, supposedly educated people could change their ideologies to jump on the bandwagon of the ‘cool, new kid in town’.

Later, true signs of David’s envy were broadcasted as his disgruntled glances around a room of accepting, illogical party members dizzily clapping at any breath resembling a pause prompted him to confront Harriet Harman, who was sitting next to him during the speech, intensely, requesting to know; “you voted for it. Why are you clapping?” with relation to Ed’s views that the Iraq war was wrong.

David Miliband quickly escaped from frontline politics, much to the regret of Labour members, of whom many valued his ability above that of his brothers. Of course reviewing policies over a Sunday Roast would’ve been awkward and their whole time working together would’ve built up to the fatal moment where a family quarrel occurred and Ed finally asserted his authority over his sibling by graciously “letting him go”, whilst smiling wickedly when mum isn’t looking. But it’s doubtful this is the end of David Miliband. At only 45 years-old, relatively young for a politician of his stature, a potential job on the EU could be on the horizon, which he previously rejected in favour of running for Labour leader, which could see the two come face to face once more. Looks like a Hollywood sequel. Watch this space.

It’s fair to say, without knowing an extensive amount; I was swaying to the right in terms of my political views. Labour appeared to be a shambles and Ed Miliband’s speech didn’t persuade me. His constant use of the term ‘change’ was pitiful and the fact it’s one that’s been used so often in almost every political speech since Martin Luther King as if it is a fresh, new catchphrase is becoming repetitive and annoying. Modest Conservative beliefs were also appealing to me and it’s fair to say I agreed with the child benefit cuts to some extent. We have to be realistic about cutting the infamous debt we’re in and I probably would’ve agreed to a larger extent if child benefits were subject to being phased out completely. It’s an unnecessary expense which encourages low-earners to have children as a source of sustainable income, and it will continue to be so if we leave them on benefits and punish the higher earners, who probably use it more efficiently in terms of its actual purpose. But the cuts in university have set me back to square one.

As a student myself, I’ve finally come face to face with cuts which directly affect me and it’s safe to say; I don’t like it. To do a medical degree is going to cost up to £100,000 at a top university. Students such as me, from a middle-class background, are scared off by this price and, quite frankly, the prospect of university has lost its excitement and become a risky burden of debt which will weigh upon my shoulders for years to come. On occasions I’ve been part of trips to universities such as Cambridge, aiming to encourage an increase in the number of those from a lesser background, than that of David Cameron’s, to attend a university of such respect. Unfortunately, even the idea of a cheeky application to one of Oxford or Cambridge has rocketed out the window as, before I hit 18, I will already be juggling my bank balance until the time I’m a middle-aged man.

Nick Clegg is also rapidly losing my respect in this area. While his Liberal Democrats should be fighting my case for a right to an affordable route into higher education, it appears he’s allowing David Cameron to escape with this policy without a substantial challenge. If the prime minister can get away with university charges of up to £12,000 a year, the Liberal Democrats place in the coalition government will be written off as an absolute joke and their position will mean they’re nothing more than a pushover who were used to get Cameron into power, and are now being bullied out of the gang.

Clearly it has been an eventful period in politics, and as it goes on I’m getting more and more engrossed in it. Shamefully I’ve begun to check the front page before the back, I now read the Times instead of the Sun, and instead of Simon Cowell as my TV priority, David Cameron is now fighting his way onto my screen. I’m left waiting eagerly to see whether the world of politics can maintain the pace.

  1. I’m not sure the poll leads did happen specifically because of Ed’s election – a falling Conservative lead was a general post-election trend this year, which you can see here on UK Polling Report. http://bit.ly/11Rlja If anything’s it’s surprising Labour’s lead wasn’t somewhat bigger, given that both new leaders and conferences tend to provide instant boosts. The party still gained support, but not at a much greater rate than it was already.

    I think to be frank, your view of child benefit is distorted. I grew up with a single mum on benefits and a weekly budget was £70 a week in the nineties – the media like to suggest that benefit claimants of all kinds have the life of riley (there might be a blog post of my own in this) but if it’s really that luxurious, why not go live on benefits themselves? Same goes for the ‘Prison isn’t punishment’ argument.

    Of course there are going to be people who have kids and do other fraudulent things to gain money, but it seems to me axing the benefits system will punish the fair majority who do want to get out – it would be blaming the system for the people who exploit it, like criticising the NHS because of hypochondriacs. More to the point, would the getting-pregnant-for-housing problem be solved by homeless children? To me that’s a solution worse than the problem.

    (On the top universities front, I can tell you as an Oxford student that we have more bursaries and financial help for students than any other British uni – similar situation at Cambridge, probably. http://bit.ly/cieX7i Both unis have enough money that they could actually become private universities and charge lower fees the way things are going, so we may end up being some of the best ones to attend.)

    Just a few thoughts.

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