The New Levellers

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Let down, battered and bruised. That seems to be the general feeling amongst swathes of the younger British population when you question the current political climate. One built on fallacies, point scoring and a lack of cooperation. More generally, many people seem to feel alienated and excluded by British politics.

To a large degree, these feelings have been exacerbated, catalysed and felt more deeply in the run up to, and result of, the EU referendum. For many this was a protest vote, many they didn’t vote because they felt a disconnect of mistruths and a lack of belief in the politicians.

Whether you were an “innie” or an “outie” this campain demonstrated the deeper lying issues that run through British politics, particularly for the younger generation – a lack of care, a lack of voice and a lack of representation.

The New Levellers seeks to put an end to all this and offer a voice. A voice of hope, of reason and most importantly of cooperation.

At The New Levellers we believe in solutions, not problems. We want to see an engaged youth which will lead the next generation of this country. The two founders of this project, Nick Treloar and Sam Edgar are recent graduates in politics and international relations from Lancaster university and both 21 years old.

We don’t claim to know everything about politics and have the magic cure, far from it. Neither do we claim to be the next leaders of the country. What we want and we believe in is a fresh start and a renewed voice of passion, strength and togetherness, particularly for the younger generation.

Aims and Projects

This project aims to incentivise and encourage participation. We want as many people as possible to engage with us, write to us or for us, to contact us with their ideas and solutions and together we can come together and begin to change the current landscape.

We also want to harness the potential that is already there. It is no secret that there are thousands of politically active people online, who post and share their thoughts regularly. What we need to do is translate this into articles and action.

In the long run, with enough support we hope to influence government policy and put our voice back on the map. As such, we want to engage will all parties, groups, institutions, no matter the beliefs.

The first stage in our process is to ask as many of you as possible to fill out our questionnaire so that we can begin to build a consensus on feeling. The next step will to be to put the findings into action, developing research and building a voice for the issues that we collectively see as under represented and often neglected.

We hope to see as many faces as possible and are excited for the next generation to come through.

Get involved

Website

Questionnaire

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Demystifying the Brexit fear campaigns

© European Union 2013 – European Parliament – Pietro Naj-Oleari:

The campaign for ‘IN’ or ‘OUT’ has been a long drawn out process, one which has captivated the nation for all the wrong reasons. Seemingly, the new way to win a political campaign is to scare everybody with any given excuse. As a soon to be Politics graduate, I find this a sad and sorry state of affairs.

In this two part series I shall seek to demonstrate what these political campaigns have failed to do, provide fair debate and factual statements.

Admittedly, I am a supporter of the European Union and I will be voting to remain. However, I will not seek to scare you, I simply intend upon feeding you the truths that I believe to hold firm through my own research. As such, I implore you to read on, what I say next may well change your minds, for the right reasons.

In this first part I will cover three main topics, the environment, the NHS, and the economy and sovereignty.

The climate

Even if you dislike some of the EU ‘red tape’ the media perpetually talks about, it is hard to argue with arguments surrounding the environment.

Climate change and the environment more generally will without a shadow of a doubt be the challenge of our generation. It shall not be – as some might have you believe – terrorism, Corbyn becoming prime minister or about any of us finding a job.

If you decide to vote to stay in the EU even if it’s just for the one reason, I would encourage you to make it a climate reason.

The EU climate and energy package was adopted in 2009 to implement the 20-20-20 targets endorsed by EU leaders in 2007 – by 2020 there should be a 20% reduction of Green House Gas emissions compared with 1990, a 20% share of renewables in EU energy consumption, and energy improvement by 20%.

It has also implemented a single EU-wide cap on emission allowances from 2013 onwards, with a linear annual reduction until 2020 and beyond.

To deal with climate change we need transnational organisations. Climate change is not confined to borders, it is worldwide and to fight it, prevent it and save ourselves we must be part of bodies such as the European Union.

The NHS

The next topic for scrutiny is the much talked about NHS issue, perhaps the best and most incredible British institution. Much is being made about staying in the EU costing our NHS because of ‘uncontrolled immigration’ and the money spent on the EU which could be better spent ‘elsewhere’.

For starters, the money we get from being part of the EU to fund research and development is huge. Furthermore, the EU promotes joint action for cancer research and control where member states work together. There is also a large body of evidence suggesting that the NHS is also critically reliant upon the U.K. economy, which as we know would suffer no end if we ‘Brexited’.
Much of the furore surrounding the NHS regards the issue about TTIP, which many people are worried about. The NHS is currently being negotiated out of a deal for this transatlantic trade agreement and would therefore not affect the workings of the NHS.

Equally, the main advocates for leaving the EU, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage have all spoken about their desire to privatise the NHS, so when they claim they want to give it more funding or whatever else they may say, you may want to challenge that.

EU migration also makes up around 10% of NHS doctors and 4% of nurses.

The economy and sovereignty 

Both campaigns have also fed the general public questionable figures. Ipsos Mori have carried out a non biased research analysis into the EU, the following were some of the central findings.

48% of the UK’s total international investment comes from the EU and 44% of our total exports are sold to EU countries – china only accounts for 1% of investment and 5% of exports respectively.

23% of those intending to vote leave don’t think that MEP’s are elected. Much of the general public as well as the media also peddle the sovereignty argument regarding Britain not having control over its own laws and regulation.

Instead of persistently looking at the negative portrayal of the EU, why not take a positive stance and view what regulations and laws the EU has brought into place which have benefited us all; trade agreements to reduce tariffs and agree increased trade between EU countries, a cap on the amount of hours an employee can make an employer work for, price caps on mobile roaming charges, ban on tobacco advertising, a minimum of 4 weeks holiday per year and a cap on banker’s bonuses.


Ultimately, in a globalised world of interconnectedness, one which we ourselves pushed and furthered, it makes no sense whatsoever to now become isolationist. Yes, certain aspects of the EU need reform but the wider, transnational issues at hand need to be dealt with collectively. You go and look back at history and tell me how successful and peaceful the Europe and the world more widely has been a) when it has been split up into individual bodies and b) when it has been held together by multi-nation bodies. The proof is pretty clear.

The great immigration game

European Union 2013 - European Parliament ---------------------------------------- Pietro Naj-Oleari: European Parliament, Information General Directoratem, Web Communication Unit, Picture Editor. Phone: +32479721559/+32.2.28 40 633 E-mail: pietro.naj-oleari@europarl.europa.eu

© European Union 2013 – European Parliament
—————————————-
Pietro Naj-Oleari:

Here in part two of my Despatch Box mini-series I aim to demystify the scaremongering and ludicrous claims surrounding EU immigration.

It’s as if everyone has developed Tourettes syndrome and immigration is used as an excuse for just about everything. ‘I have no money’; ‘its the immigrants’. ‘I don’t have a job’; ‘its the immigrants’. ‘There is traffic on the motorway’; ‘its the immigrants’. So let’s get a few things straight on immigration and the current debate in which it is engulfed.

For part one, which explores the EU and the NHS, the environment, the economy and sovereignty, please click here.


First and foremost, a study entitled ‘the Fiscal Impact of Immigration to the UK‘ found that, ‘European migrants made a net contribution of £20bn to UK public finances between 2000 and 2011’.

We can also see that EU migrants claim far less in benefits than UK nationals, ‘In 2014, 4.9 million (92.6%) working age benefit claimants were British while only 131,000 (2.5%) were EU nationals’. Similarly, a study carried out by UCL said immigrants ‘were less likely to claim benefits and live in social housing than people born in Britain’.

Immigrants who arrived after 1999 were 45% less likely to receive state benefits or tax credits than UK natives. They were also 3% less likely to live in social housing. Those from the European Economic Area (EEA – the EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) had made a particularly positive contribution in the decade up to 2011, contributing 34% more in taxes than they received in benefits.

Immigrants from outside the EEA contributed 2% more in taxes than they received in the same period, the report showed. Over the same period, British people paid 11% less in tax than they received.

The report also showed that in 2011, 32% of recent EEA immigrants and 43% of non-EEA immigrants had university degrees, compared with 21% of the British adult population.

Last but not least, within the NHS 10% of doctors and 4% of nurses are from the EU and many more from outside the EU. From personal experience of both my mum and dad being treated by the NHS I know just how important this immigration is to keeping it functioning.

Why the immigration fury?

Well, the public and much of the media seems to have conflated and misunderstood the whole idea behind the ‘free movement of people’.

This applies to the 28 EU member states, in other words, you have to be a part of the European Union to gain the free access of movement. Therefore, people living outside those 28 states cannot just freely move to the UK as they please – evidenced by the UK government’s decision to turn away the 3,000 unaccompanied children who were alone in Europe without a home.

This is where the confusion seems to lie and the positioning of blame is very wrong. The current ‘migrant crisis’ we see is not to do with EU migrants putting a ‘drain’ on our services or the ‘Romanians coming over here and taking our jobs’. It has much more to do with the mass devastation that we see spread across the world, particularly the Middle East, by war.

People are fleeing the crisis in search of a better life, not because they want to kill us or take our jobs or ruin our ‘nationality’. The ‘security threat’ of ‘uncontrolled migration’ which ‘increases the threat of terrorism’ is also an absolute Houdini act from the media and Leave campaign.

The inter-service security networks we receive from being part of the EU are second to none, more noteworthy is the fact that recent terrorist attacks in the EU have been carried out by naturalised European citizens and not immigrants, citizens who feel alienated and left out by many policies.


If we are truly interested in reducing immigration figures then we must deal with the crux of the issue, instead of pinning the blame on the ‘undemocratic EU’ and the ‘bureaucracy of Brussels’.

It is far too easy to place the blame elsewhere and play the blame game. However, the issues we currently face in the EU have a huge amount to do with the financial crash of 2008 and ineffective foreign policies in the Middle East.

The financial crisis was perpetuated by an unregulated and irresponsible capitalist world and much of the unrest and displacement in the Middle East has to do with Western meddling in the area.

I am not saying that immigration does not need to be controlled but to leave the EU will solve none of our issues, it will simply mean that we brush them under the carpet and turn a blind eye.

The vicious cycle of Western foreign policy

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Flickr/Alisdare Hickson

The British government has voted in favour of joining the fight against Daesh in Syria and begin bombing alongside its allies. This has occurred in large part as a result of the attacks in Paris in November – this course of action seems all too familiar to 11th September 2001.

After a horrific terrorist attack on American soil the US government reacted by announcing a War on Terror. One which has cost trillions of dollars, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives and fanned the flames of the threat it so keenly set out to defeat – extremism.

In the Middle East suicide bombings have gone through the roof, destruction has exponentially grown and fundamentalist groups such as Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra have experienced an almost constant swell in members. The reason for this is often seen as a complex and nuanced one, yet the principle explanation is due to the consequences of Western military intervention.

Military intervention has perpetuated, particularly since the announcement of the War on Terror, an unforeseeable and unprecedented level of collateral damage within Middle Eastern societies. Invasions, drone strikes, imprisonment without trial, Guantanamo bay, Abu Ghraib, the propping up of Western backed leaders – have all resulted in breakdown of natural society in the Middle East.

Many have come to see the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the War on Terror itself, as a huge failure from the Western world to curb the rise of terrorism. Instead it has increased extremism by quite some distance. Yet on the 1st December 2015, eleven years after the announcement of the War on Terror, the UK along with the rest of the Western world stand on the precipice of the same fundamental mistakes.

The voices of dissonance towards Daesh are strong from all sides, the condemnation of this “vile cancer” and “poisonous ideology” that Daesh peddles is criticised by the world over.  But, subsequent actions of Western governments are still knee-jerk, profoundly confused and insufficient for tackling this “so-called Islamic State”.

David Cameron and the majority of his Conservative MPs make the case that bombing the problem “over there” will by default keep us safe “over here”. This neglects and glosses over the glaring explanation as to why the Paris terror attacks even occurred – as Daesh has stated themselves they are a direct response to the French bombing campaign in Syria.

Despite this obvious explanation, the British government is also ignoring prior evidence that military intervention in the Middle East does not solve the issue of fundamentalism. The US, Russia, France, Turkey and other major Arab powerhouses are already bombing Daesh in both Iraq and Syria – the UK has also been bombing Iraq since last year. Does the government really believe their extra bombs will be the nail in the coffin to defeating Daesh?

The confusion explained

It is this incoherent, international meddling by the West which leads to an escalation in violence and terrorism. World superpowers seek to cling on to geo-political power in the region, by supporting whichever group has the most power at that specific time. There has even been discussion of Britain backing President Assad, who has been responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent Syrian’s for years. And Cameron continues to peddles misleading figures about pro-western “boots on the ground”, such as 70,000 free fighters who wish to support us in defeating Deash.

Once again this brings back an eerie déjà vu to the 1980s, when Western powers funded and armed Al-Qaeda to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan. Can we really be sure that those we are currently arming in Syria to help us defeat Daesh won’t become the next Al-Qeada in 10 years’ time?

Western foreign policy towards the Middle East is first class short termism; we bomb extremists and invade states, arm rebels and claim to have defeated the problem. Then, in a cycle that is repeated again and again a new extremist group, which holds grievances against the West from the previous bombing campaign or invasion, springs up and poses a new threat.

The passing of this vote, has once again demonstrated Western short termism and our hot-headed style of foreign policy. Bombs may well kill the terrorists but they will not destroy the ideology. The West will once again bomb in the Middle East, it will claim victory against Daesh and then realise that it has no exit strategy and no long term viable solution to rebuild the region. It will cause more collateral damage and again grow more extremism.

What can be done?

To resolve the never ending cycle of extremism and violence in the Middle East there needs to be a well thought out, creative and diplomatic solution. In a first instance we must give control back to the Middle Eastern states; we can no longer be the puppeteers to their future whilst simultaneously cutting off the strings. We must ensure that it is them and not us who control their future.

But we can support these countries in this effort, after all when Europe defeated the Nazis it helped to rebuild Germany to be one of the best economies in the world. We must help resolve the Syrian crisis, ensuring peace in both Iraq and Syria, whilst principally understanding that we can no longer be the driving force in achieving this.

The Western world must be involved in an open debate. It must listen to all sides, make compromises and shut down the growth of the current Islamophobic foreign policy narrative put forward by some. We must understand why young men and women feel disaffected within society, with their only and most appealing option being to join Daesh.

If we cannot understand the reasons for radicalisation, we will never be able to find the solutions.

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and again and expecting different results. The UK government’s decision to bomb Syria is the next round to a vicious cycle which began after 9/11, are they really expecting a new outcome this time? I for one believe it is time for change; Western powers need to wake up to the reality that their interventionist foreign policy no longer works. As Jimmy Carter once said: “We’ve fought fire with fire, never thinking that fire is sometimes best quenched with water.”