Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Thinking About Jobs

Recently I realised that my time at uni is swiftly drawing to a close and I will need to being looking and thinking about jobs right now. One thing I’ve been thinking about in the last few years is entering the Civil Service. The only trouble is that currently there is a recruitment freeze, with the only way to get in to the Civil Service being the Fast Track scheme for graduates. Looking at it a few days ago I was shocked to discover that the deadline for applying for next year is at the end of November. I began looking on the internet to see what it was all about and discovered that in 2008 there were 22,000 applications for the 500 places on the scheme. I’d dread to think what that number is now.

It’s also quite daunting to read about. As it’s a scheme for “future leaders of the civil service”, you are posted to several different departments over a number of years then thrown fairly quickly (by most standards, by govt standards especially) into management. Thinking about me, somebody who is just coming out of university, with no relevant experience, to be thrown headfirst into something like that is crazy. Not that I’d get onto it at this stage. The only thing working in my favour (well, in only one sense) is that the tests for the opportunity for an interview (which is basically what the initial online tests are) is based on competency rather than experience. I say in only one sense because I have no experience, but at the same time I don’t know if I’m going to be any good at the competency tests. If there are any that involve maths, I’m screwed.

Even if I do pass these online tests, I doubt I’d get any further. They’d take one look at me, a fresh-faced uni graduate with no experience, not even involvement in running a uni society on my CV, and say “next!”. So, I am thinking about doing some unpaid internship work with a local MP. Sure, it’s not exactly great work, in a constituency office (since I doubt there’s any chance of getting anywhere near Westminster) with no idea what work you’ll be trusted with, outside making tea and stuffing envelopes, but it’s a start.

Although, saying that (the not-getting-anywhere-near-Westminster bit), my mum’s friend’s son has said that he knows a Lord that is in need of an intern. I’ve said that I’m interested but would like to know what sort of work I’ll be doing. The thing is, I can’t imagine that Lords need many staff. Most of them only turn up a few times a year, vote on something, maybe debate a bit, then leave. They certainly don’t have constituencies, or being a minister (usually; there are one or two Lords that have govt jobs I believe) to worry about. He could be a Lord that sits on a Committee, which would need some extra work and so maybe a few staff, but surly those would be permanent staff, paid by the House? I can’t see Lords needing their own staff to do that work. Anyway, who knows. It might actually be interesting, useful. Certainly it would be nice to get a taste of the real Houses of Parliament, even if I would be dealing with Lords, the less interesting people (certainly compared to MPs).

Who knows what will happen. Certainly if nothing comes of these things I will have no idea what the hell I’m going to do for a job that would actually give me the sort of experience that might help me get into the Civil Service another year (the Fast Stream scheme not just being for graduates straight out of uni). Certainly if nothing comes of it then I will have no reason, I should think, to move to London  and have another shot with J-O…


Doing Something With My Life

Recently I started reading a Guardian column about a woman who started working as a Parliamentary intern, and it got me thinking about what I wanted to do after uni was over. That was a few weeks ago and I was still thinking about it, but then I saw the episode of Extras where Andy tells Maggie to sort her life out, and it really make me think. I’m beginning to think that, if I can, I’d like to get some sort of job working for an MP, in Parliament or a constituency office. Sure, it’s not exactly an easy job, to get in to or to work in, but it is an interesting one. It would be better than working in some office 9 to 5.

Yes, it may start off as voluntary / unpaid with expenses, but in the current climate I doubt I’ll get a proper job straight away, so it’s better to do something like this than nothing. But it does lead to so many different things in the future; a permanent, paid position working for an MP; eventually even becoming an MP myself. I am already a ‘Friend’ of the Conservative Party and I’m going to join the uni’s Conservative Future society this week, so that seems like a good way into getting a job in Parliament working for an MP.

What with J-O being at uni, not really wanting to see me, I feel like I need to do something worthwhile with what time I have left outside the ‘real’ world, where I don’t have to worry to much about money. I have the time to set myself up well for my future, and now is the best time. I just hope I can go for it truly, stick with it, and be good at it. If I can pull it off, I could have a very interesting career to look forward to when I get out of uni.

An Unfortunate Truth

Today I’ve decided to share with you one of the things I hate about J-O. Yes, you heard me, something I hate about her. It’s a strong feeling, to be sure, but once I’ve explained it you’ll understand why. You’ll also then understand why it’s something that doesn’t make me hate her, but rather makes me want to change it, and I believe I can change it.

She is racist. When I was chatting to her over Skype I got a few hints of it, but not anything to make me overly concerned. Yes, she asked if there “many black people” in Southampton, but I shrugged off the question and thought little of it afterwards. Yet both times we have met in real life, she has made racist remarks about how there are “too many black people” living in London, and at one point soon after I mentioned the tan I got while on holiday, she kissed my skin and said it was “nice and white”.

I did not say anything about it at the time, and for that I am ashamed, for to not condemn something bad is to condone it. Or, as Churchill said, “all that requires for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”. However, in the future, when the subject comes up, I will make a stand.

To me, and to many others, racism is wrong. It has no scientific basis, despite what some might claim; it has no sociological basis either. It is unfounded fear of the unknown, no more. I also view it as part of the British national psyche. Yes, Britain has had it’s racist elements, it’s racist periods. Yes, many of the officers and officials of the British Empire were motivated by racial thinking. But equally, Britain has made many notable achievements in this field: it was the first to outlaw slavery in 1807 and in the British Empire (except India) in 1833, it did not have any immigration control until 1905. Although visiting US soldiers during WWII were allowed to import segregation in their bases, it was not the case elsewhere. Indeed, outside US bases, when US soldiers attempted to assert segregation, British people fought in support of the black soldiers. Furthermore, all Commonwealth citizens have, since 1945, had the right to live in the UK, and most British people are very tolerant of minorities (see the recent, and very relevant, backlash against Bulgarian fans’ racist chanting in the recent England vs Bulgaria football, or soccar, match).

Many may argue that I should not even be with her for this reason, but I don’t agree. I disagree not because she is the only girl I think will ever like me. I disagree because it is a racism that is not angry, not deeply embedded. It is something that has been impressed upon her by her society, both officially by the state and socially by relatives, friends and notable community figures. As in many countries, it is something borne from many centuries of being part of an empire, in this case the Ottoman. From this view, it is understandable how J-O thinks this way. But it can be changed, because it is something that is derived from society, it is benign, and benign views derived from society can be changed when people are still this young, when confronted with the reality, the truth, the facts.

I believe I can instigate that change. I believe that I must, and must succeed.

Random Skype Messages

Okay, what I’m about to tell you will probably make you worried, I know. The other day somebody randomly contacted me on Skype, and we started talking. I know, it’s the cardinal rule of internet safety not to talk to strangers who message you, but I did reply. I should have probably blocked her straight away, I know, but I thought I’d at least check if this was a genuine person. I didn’t do it with my guard down – I was ready to block her the moment she looked like a spambot, e.g posting links, asking for money, personal details e.t.c. But I did still want to check if it was a real person reaching out to me, for whatever reason. The first part of the conversation went as follows, and as you can see, I have questioned her about why she contacted me and have retained scepticism of her motives:
me: who is this?
her: my name is ()
are u there
me: what do you want?
her: are you from Southampton ?
me: yes
her: i am going to study in the Southampton Solent Uni
me: oh right
her: you know
and i just would like to spek with someone who lives there to get to know
some new information something like that
(she lives in Bulgaria)
me: oh right
how did u get my skype, out of interest?
her: i just was looking for anyone from there
nothing special
me: oh right
her: 🙂
So, to my mind, she seems genuine – she even added me on Facebook and it seems to be a proper profile, and we have talked several times on Skype since. However, I am not yet entirely convinced – I’m not stupid (one of my friends has advised me to stay away, saying she might be a honey-trap). If she does turn out to be trying to get something from me, I will block her. I’ve been using the internet since I was about 13, so I’m not going to be hoodwinked.
But she does seem genuine, so, for the moment, I’m going to keep in contact with her. She seems like a nice person, and seems genuinely interested in what Southampton is like, as well as generally talking about stuff. However, she has once or twice used the ‘kiss’ emoticon when talking to me, which would support my friends honey-trap theory. When she did that, I just put ‘lol’ – even if she is being genuinely nice, or likes me or whatever, I’m not used to it and am certainly not returning the gestures.
So what do you guys think – am I right or wrong to keep talking to her? Has the fact this is a girl, willing talking to me, clouded my judgement on this one? Or am I just too nice?

The Dreaded Valentines Day

Yes, it’s Valentines Day everyone. That day that, if you’re single, reminds you of that, and rubs everyone else’s successful relationships in your face. I try to ignore it, but when you’re talking about an almost exclusively commercial tradition like Valentines Day, where every single shops reminds you of the impending day for weeks before, it is hard to do this. You might argue that I’m just jealous – and you’re probably right. But can you blame me?

There are other issues I have about Valentines Day, besides being incredibly depressing for single people. It’s to do with the principle of the day, which is supposedly about love. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a noble idea, but it’s still silly and pointless. You see, the way I see it is that if you truly loved somebody, you shouldn’t need a special day to show it, but would show it everyday, give them surprised presents e.t.c every so often anyway, to keep the relationship exciting and different.

What a fantastic day. Not.

Bloody U.S Extreme Right Nut-Cases

A comment by what was clearly one of the American right-wing nut-jobs on a Times article really made me just so-bloody-frustrated! Look for someone called Fred Netz on these two articles: get so bloody frustrated with their dogmatic view of the world. Here is my argument.

  • “The Left” – apparently, anyone who isn’t extremely right-wing is a leftie. Take Barack Obama. Right-wingers view him as a ‘socialist’ set out to ‘ruin America’. However, if he was up for election in any sensible country, most people would see that he is actually right-wing – as almost all U.S politicians are (if you’re using a sensible left – right spectrum). According to right-wingers, all people on ‘the left’ are ‘Communists’ in the style of Karl Marx. This is simply not true. Take Obama’s healthcare plan – he is actually doing it out of a right-wing agenda to save money by making the unnecessarily complicated current system simpler and so cheaper, not to some ‘mad’ plan to create an NHS-style system (even though the NHS works very well – the UK is 22nd for life expectancy while the U.S is 38th: Having an NHS-type system, I suspect, would save even more money.
  • “Socialism” – apparently, ‘socialist’ actually means ‘Marxist’ – to right-wingers, at least. Socialism is merely the idea that the state should help the poor if they need it. Almost all socialist parties have subscribed to this, not some Marxist idea of nationalisation of industry e.t.c In fact, these right-wingers should like this, as does not the Bible say that you should help the poor and unfortunate? Some even say that socialism’s routes can be traced back to Jesus and Christianity.
  • “Left-wing media” – apparently, every news channel that doesn’t do what Fox News does, is left-wing. Anybody who dislikes the Republican Party or even likes it but still criticises is a socialist and should be shot as a traitor. Or something. On a side note, Fox News isn’t a news channel – it’s the propaganda arm of the Republican Party. If it was broadcast anywhere else it would be told that it shouldn’t present itself as a news channel because it would be considered grossly misleading to viewers. But that’s by-the-by.”Liberals” – according to right-wingers, like ‘lefties’ and ‘socialism’, ‘liberals’ and ‘liberalism’ is the same as Marxism, and is fundamentally un-American. Yet somehow, the Founding Fathers, some of the greatest liberals ever, are not described in this way. Isn’t that ironic? If the Founding Fathers were around today they’d be criticised for being Marxist traitors, since, to right-wingers, the idea that “all men should be equal” is a Marxist idea. They’d have it that the constitution read “All men were created unequal, and if you don’t like that you are not an American and should be deported immediately”.
  • “The state”. According to right-wingers, we shouldn’t have a state at all, so we can all be slaves to the big industrialists, who’d pay people practically nothing. Of course, this would quickly collapse when people find they don’t have enough money to buy food, and all starve to death, or die of horrible diseases because there is no state to help them. We need the state, otherwise the world would fall into anarchy.

Rant over.

Uni: Now I’m Officially Screwed

Today at university I did (amongst other things) go to the Freshers Fayre, where I hoped I could join some societies and then start to actually, finally, make some friends at uni. Alas, I was wrong. It turned out all societies met on days when I am at work back in Southampton. When I realised this I completely capitulated emotionally. With me staying in Southampton, and my job being there too, there is simply no way I can go to the societies and make friends, and because I’m not in halls but living at home I cannot make friends in halls like everyone else does. I could give up my job, but with little chance of finding a weekend job with the current financial situation, that is simply not possible.

Thanks a lot Labour, you’ve really screwed me over on this one! It’s going to be your fault that I’m going to be without friends at university and also have no prospect of getting a girlfriend there either! I’m going to be a 21 year old virgin by the time I come out of university, and I bet I still won’t have even kissing a girl for the first time in that time either. Thanks a f**king bunch, stupid world!

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