What is happening?
Prime Minister David Cameron is to deliver a speech on the UK’s future in the European Union on Friday in the Netherlands.
Why the big deal if it’s just a speech?
Mr Cameron has been facing mounting pressure from within the Eurosceptic ranks of his own Conservative Party, and the UK Independence Party, who are unhappy with the current relationship between the UK and the European Union. There have been calls for a referendum to be held, and his own MPs want to see action on the Conservative election pledge to “bring back” powers to Westminster from Brussels. For months now, the promise has been that these questions will all be answered in a big speech. And this Friday, we get that speech.
What do we think Cameron will say?
Based on a BBC radio interview this week, we can expect Mr Cameron to say that he plans to renegotiate parts of the UK’s relations with Europe and, if and when that is achieved, promise to put that changed membership package to the British people after the next general election. So that referendum, obviously, also depends on the Conservatives winning a majority in 2015.
What is the plebgate scandal?
In the UK, Plebgate is a scandal that arose in September 2012 after the ex-Conservative Chief Whip (someone who ensures their party votes and does how their party desires) Andrew Mitchell swore at the police and called them ‘plebs’ – a pejorative term for someone of low social class – after being refused to go through a gate into Downing Street. Although he apologised for swearing he denied that he called the police ‘plebs’, but he later resigned as Chief Whip. However, there is an investigation underway due to recent evidence and CCTV footage calling into evidence the reports of the incidence.
The Doubts Of The Police Evidence
In December 2012 the CCTV footage was released which Mitchell stated supported his view of how the events unfolded. An email was sent from a police offer which stated that “there were several members of the public” present during the incident involving Mitchell and the police and that they appeared “visibly shocked”. However, the CCTV footage shows no members of the public – later the policeman who supposedly sent the message claimed that the email was fake and he had not been present during the incident.
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has been facing considerable pressure to hold a referendum on the UK’s position in Europe. He has stated the Conservatives would offer “real change” and “real choice” on this issue. Cameron told the nation that he wants to remain part of Europe but there is a strong need to redefine their relationship – especially with recent moves towards further integration by countries using the single currency (the Euro).
However, the Obama administration has expressed a lot of concern about the potential impacts of holding this referendum and the UK’s future relationship with the EU. This stance was supported by a senior official in the US Senate Department, Philip Gordon, who declared that a “strong British voice within the EU” is in the interest of the American people. He went on to say that he “welcomes an outward-looking EU with Britain in it.” with fear that a referendum would turn the UK “inwards”
There is strong concern that internal debate and referendums within the EU will create a disunited union. A disunited union could ultimately create a political mess, both for the UK and the USA.
What are your thoughts on the subject?
Thanks for reading,
The Health and Social Care Act 2012, as clarified by parliament.uk, states that it involves the following:
The reforms have been the most significant reforms to the NHS ever with a purpose to abolish NHS primary care trusts and Strategic Health Authorities. A primary care trust is a service which commission primary, community and secondary care from providers. The Strategic Health Authorities are responsible for enacting the directives and implementing fiscal policy as dictated by the Department of Health at a regional level. The reforms were introduced by the ex-secretary of state for health, Andrew Lansley.
The Act was very controversial due to a lot of the proposals not being mentioned in the Conservative manifesto of 2010, but brought up at a later date. But 2 months later a white paper was published outlining the proposal of Health an Social Care reform. White papers are documents which outline future policy as proposed by Government.
The controversial nature of this change in policy can be highlighted by the high level of scrutiny it received – with over 1000 amendments before it could be passed, receiving royal assent on 27th March 2012. Pressure group activity was high with groups such as the British Medical Association lobbying governmental committees to reach an agreement – that was to set up an NHS Forum before the act had passed. Other groups vehemently opposed the reforms, such as ’38Degrees’, ‘NHS Direct Action’ and ‘Keep our NHS public’. Protests had also been frequent with the group ‘UK Uncut’ leading a protest on Westminster Bridge and ’38 Degrees’ rectifying a plethora of billboards across London.
What are your views on the Health and Social Care Act 2012? I would be particularly interested in hearing from Americans who have recently had the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (‘Obamacare’) come into law…
Thanks for reading,
HS2 is a planned high-speed railway proposed to offer alternative destinations including Lille, Brussels, Paris, London and potentially the central belt of Scotland. In January last year the plan was given the go ahead by government with an additional £500 million extra to spent on tunnels as to appease those protesting the project. The project is expected to cost £32 billion and be ready in 2026.
On the one hand, people are saying that HS2 is perfect for the 21st century significantly increasing capacity, strengthening connectivity between our city regions and boosting the economy long-term. Steve Hayter, chairman of the institute of civil engineers, commented that “a robust and effective high-speed railway that achieves environmental and economic aims must have the very strongest commitment and support, both politically and financially”.
For centuries in Northern Ireland there has been conflicts, mainly as a result of religious and political tension. More recently, dispute and conflict has occurred as a result of disagreement over the nature of Northern Ireland’s relationship with the UK and whether they should remain part of it. The Protestant Unionist community feel it should remain part of it whilst other, mainly being the National Catholic community want to leave the UK and become part of the Republic of Ireland.
In 1969 there was a lot of unrest and violence as a result of Catholic civil rights marches and counter-protests by Protestant loyalists – loyalists meaning those being ‘loyal’ to the british crown and the UK. This conflict meant that help was needed, so British troops were sent over to Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, these troops soon came into conflict with the Provisional IRA (Irish Republican Army). As the situation worsened, Northern Ireland’s parliament was suspended and direct rule imposed from London.
In the previous post we talked about what democracy is and the extent to which America is democratic. In this post, we shall talk about the extent to which the UK is Democratic.
The UK strives to achieve the Trustee Model of Representation as established by Edmund Burke in the 18th Century. Representation is a key element of a democratic society and the UK truly does work to be representative: the Members of Parliament represent our interests, the House of Commons represents the national interest and pressure groups represent different sections of society.
However, although there are many access points for representation there is a severe issue with the true extent of representation and democracy. In the 1992 election, the turnout was 77.7%, but in 2010 the turnout had decreased to 65.1%. Furthermore, in the 2011 referendum, the turnout was a meagre 44.4%. This makes us ask the question: Are the views of the public truly being represented? If turnout is less than 50% then less than half the population are giving the government consent and a mandate to make decisions. If the people aren’t getting involved then the country cannot be that democratic… BUT, are they getting involved?
What is community cohesion?
Community cohesion refers to the aspect of togetherness and bonding exhibited by members of a community, the “glue” that holds a community together. This might include features such as a sense of common belonging or cultural similarity.
About Community Cohesion
Not too long ago in the UK the concept of community cohesion literally meant having one or two minorities in your neighbourhood. Nowadays, there has been a greater emphasis on creating a society where many different people can interact from many different backgrounds. Today, in 2013, the importance is still ever growing.
A week ago, on Boxing Day, saw hundreds of hunts throughout the UK which sparked the fox hunting debate yet again!
The 2004 Act outlawed hunting wild animals with dogs in England and Wales,making last week’s activities illegal. The Countryside Alliance is a pressure group who wish for the ban to be repealed as they state that the law is “hard to interpret and enforce, illiberal, bad for animal welfare and a waste of police resources”. This outsider, promotional pressure group has worked hard against animal welfare groups so they can hunt again!