My blog posts are usually about my travels or experiences, but I feel the time has come to really point out my frustration at the government and a large proportion of the citizens of the United Kingdom. Studying and living abroad in Germany, it’s tragic to see your own country literally fall apart and lose all its values right in front of your eyes.
[A government that] seeks power entirely for its own sake. It is not interested in the good of others; it is interested solely in power." - George Orwell, 1984
Ever since the Brexit vote and the unelected appointment of Theresa May, every news article released has had some negative attribute associated with it, the only good thing to happen to the UK in 2016 was coming second at the Rio Olympics. To keep it straightforward, I will separate the sectors and explain my frustration in each area.
The passing of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 or commonly known as the Snooper’s Charter is one of the biggest issues as it sets a precedent for all future laws to be enacted regardless of the public’s disapproval. Sure, everyone knew they were under surveillance from the likes of GCHQ, MI6 and MI5, but now its official and they have to power to use it to prosecute; what truly makes this law ridiculous is the list of other unrelated government institutions who also have access to all of your browsing history and digital records without a warrant.
What is worse is those who are aware of what the future holds from simply studying history or through their awareness of technology are going unheard and the majority of the public seem to simply not care, if the issue is raised with them then they simply reply; ‘well I’ve got nothing to hide because I’m not doing anything illegal’. To these people, I simply demand they immediately hand their phone over to me and allow me to scroll through all of their messages and photos to which they refuse because it’s a different scenario as I know them. Then I ask them if they would hand it over to a random person on the street and allow them to look through their phone to which they would reply that it is an invasion of privacy, but the government is doing it for security so its ok. Finally, I would inform them that a government that has so much faith in their own laws would not exclude themselves from it; which is exactly what has happened: MPs have included an additional clause so their own digital records cannot not be obtained without a warrant and only for national security purposes.
Now if I were to apply for a high-ranking job with lots of responsibility, then experience in that field would obviously be a prerequisite, yet somehow, we have Jeremy Hunt as our Health Secretary who has no previous experience in the medical industry. Instead he is a management consultant and now he attempts to manage the NHS like a business with the aim of turning a profit, but there is no such concept of profit in a state-owned institution. This is the same man who wrote a book about his admiration for the USA’s healthcare system and aims to make the NHS more efficient buy selling it off to private firms.
We keep hearing how our hospitals are struggling to cope with patient numbers, A&E waiting times are through the roof, and care of our elderly is thinning away. The first problem is the cutting of preventive measures such as education of symptoms and denying early treatment. There were proposals a few months ago to charge £10 per appointment with a GP which is refunded, which would only help to prevent people from seeing a doctor until the illness is more serious and the treatment is more expensive. The NHS should play the long-term game and invest in making the future generation of adults healthier rather than making short term decisions which only show less expenditure for today’s balance sheets and cause disastrous problems in the future.
Then on the business side of things, NHS hospitals are forced to use a private distributor for all its supplies from milk, to hand sanitiser, and bedding; these are basic products any business needs and is easily available from any distributor. If the government was serious about making the NHS more efficient then they wouldn’t allow one company to have a monopoly a whole sector and hold it hostage with extortionate prices.
If there is one British institution that is admired by every UK citizen, then it is the NHS without a doubt and we should do everything in our power to preserve this national treasure before the government ruins it beyond recognition. I received braces for free, my younger brother was denied braces, my sister no longer receives child benefit and my mum who has Type 2 diabetes will probably soon be denied treatment and tests. Let’s not even dwell into the matter of Junior Doctors salaries who are being completely taken advantage of, an action that we’ll only see the effects of ten years down the line.
First, we had Michael Gove who was clueless about education and now we have Justine Greening who is a business graduate. There is much debate about whether Free Schools are a good or bad thing depending who you talk to,I personally believe that the syllabus should be outlined by the government and local school governors should only have minor control over the syllabus.
I myself intended to become a physics secondary school teacher, in fact there were many attractive offers of scholarships and bursaries for physics teachers, but these we just a facade, the salary can hardly be labelled competitive at around £23,000 around London. They are expected to arrive at school at 8am, remain after school until 6pm marking books and then plan tomorrows lesson once you get home. Naturally the quality of education will decrease with such pressures and the retention rate of teachers is slowly falling after many teachers realise it is simply not a sustainable work/life balance. My own sister is a primary school teacher so I have witnessed this first hand; the simple notion that many outsiders throw at teachers is that they receive summer holidays off is simply not true, they have many training days and summer school commitments. Furthermore, their travels abroad are limited to school holidays where travel companies raise the prices. Add to this the increasing amount of bureaucracy added to a teacher’s tasks from senior management means there is less time to focus on the needs of students and to make good quality lessons.
University fees continue to increase at alarming rates, meaning people from lower socio-economic backgrounds start at the career ladder with an immediate disadvantage to their peers. It almost seems medieval to make the poor poorer and the rich richer. The idea of socialism was to abolish this vicious cycle, not to actively enforce it. It Is sad that my older sister paid £1000/year for university, I paid £3200/year and my brother is paying £9000/year. Who knows how much my nephew will be forced to pay when he enters university in 17 years’ time. I will have to explain to him a time when I was free to travel Europe and study abroad, in fact, I was given Erasmus grants to study abroad, and he will not be able to do any of those things.
The privatisation of the railway system has been the most damaging act to commuters in the last 30 years. Year after year we see prices increase, service quality decrease, and rail company profits remain steady. How on earth can the government claim this move has benefited commuters is beyond me. To add salt to the wound, the government has just announced that repair works will be handed over from National Rail to individual operators. When these firms’ main agenda is profit and not safety then naturally we will see an increase in accidents. The one example which still retains its integrity is Transport for London (TfL) which is embedded in London’s history and culture, I hope that TfL remains state owned for everyone’s sake.
Having lived and studied in Netherlands for 6 months, I witnessed the wonders of cycling and how it can transform a city, it reduces pollution & congestion, and encourages everyone to be more active: I would see elderly couples riding together with their dog running along; new mothers with their babies cycling, woman in burkas cycling, friends giving each other lifts on the back of their bikes, pizza delivery on bikes, and everyone carrying anything on their bikes, it was a beautiful and wonderful phenomena to witness.
With the current situation in the Middle East it is all too apparent that the interest of the Syrian or Arab people is not at heart, but instead the interest of defence companies. While our government plays its pollical games around the world, millions of innocent civilians suffer as a result. We continue to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia who use them to bomb cities in Yemen, we dismiss investigations into our ministers for war crimes and block allegations into human’s rights atrocities. Our government is a disgrace to the human species.
There tends to be this notion of British soft and hard power from the colonial age of the British Empire and in order to maintain this image we must interfere with world affairs, which is simply not true; it brings very little benefit to the everyday common citizen.
I also find it disheartening how the poppy’s symbolism has been hijacked over the last decade due to the UK’s participation in wars. Naturally as WW1 and WW2 veterans begin to dwindle we are left without a real perspective of the true horrors of war, the unnecessary suffering of soldiers, their families and civilians caught in the crossfire. The poppy has now become synonymous with the charity Help for Heroes who do excellent work in supporting current veterans. Unfortunately, now any criticism of UK military operations abroad such as the Iraq war etc.… is seen as criticising the military itself which is seen as ‘not supporting the troops’ and being branded a traitor. The poppy has gone from remembering the loss of countless lives in the historic world wars to glorifying the current military; a sense of pride has arisen. Where is the valour in going to a foreign land to fight an enemy in a war claiming to bring peace, yet there is only evidence of destruction, destabilisation and endless suffering.
As someone from a Bengali background I have a limited insight into what children from other backgrounds growing up in England might have experienced. Nonetheless, I was fortunate enough to grow up in South West London in Surrey where I didn’t face any racism other than the one off kid at school every now and then. For a long time, I loved how multicultural London was, just walking down the streets you would hear many languages, see people from all over the world wearing all types of clothing and none of this was ever a problem, everyone seemed to coexist just fine.
Since Brexit, minorities have been forced to choose a single identity, you’re either that of your parents’ home country or you’re British and the two are incompatible. First, we had immigrants from the Indian sub-continent, then from East Asia, followed by a large influx of Eastern Europeans after they joined the EU, and most recently from the Middle East due to ISIS. First generations will never fully integrate, their childhood memories are from their own country, they think and dream in their own language, they came to the UK to provide a better future for their children. The second generation of immigrants however do integrate, English is their first language, their friends are from everywhere and they don’t really feel a connection to their parents ‘homeland’ as their parents did. It takes time, but despite this, minorities have faced attacks, racism, xenophobia and alienation from a large proportion of society.
I believe peace and unity come about as a result of common suffering through war or torment; it is only once people have been through hell that they are willing to sacrifice a bit for the greater common good and help their neighbours to their feet. Despite having the internet, this emotional connection that one generation has does not pass onto the next generation, thus, they begin to question the very existence of their laws which aim to protect everyone, but unless it is advantageous to themselves then they will not support it. This only creates an opportunity for the ones in power to create hatred and anger, and use it to pass through their own agendas.
We have now entered a new period of governing where people vote irrationally and as a result we have a government that, as George Orwell describes in 1984, “…seeks power entirely for its own sake. It is not interested in the good of others; it is interested solely in power."
Graduated with a BSc in Physics at the University of Surrey and an MSc in Applied Geophysics at the IDEA League.