Why Tim Farron should lead the fight against the Conservatives’ plans for tuition fees | The Friday Article

Past mistakes are affecting parties on the political spectrum. Labour are worrying about the upcoming report from the Chilcot enquiry, whilst a flawed mayoral campaign by the Conservatives exposed hatred and racism in the party. Now, the Tories’ plans to further increase university tuition fees have reminded us all of a ghost which still haunts the Liberal Democrats Party, but this may be the chance for them to finally move on.

Tim Farron
Tim Farron should fight against the Tories’ plans for tuition fees, and rid the party of the mistrust caused by Nick Clegg. Photo: Liberal Democrats on Flickr.

After all, it was something the Lib Dems hoped would go with Nick Clegg following his resignation as leader of the party. For previous leaders involved in government, their broken promises and radical policies have always been assigned to them more than the political group they represent – take Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher, for example. However, this didn’t happen for The Liberal Democrats. They lost 49 seats in last year’s general election, mistrust still lingers around them and the media – presuming the party is ‘non-existent’ – has focussed on Labour and the Conservatives’ internal affairs instead.

Granted, the Liberal Democrats talking about tuition fees would only be seen as prying open a wound which was doing its best to heal. Yet, that is precisely the point. The mistrust generated comes from broken promises on tuition fees, so why not start the process of winning the trust back by fighting against that exact policy?

At the moment, Labour’s petition has had over 195,000 signatures, but as the party who introduced university tuition fees in 1998, their impact with the petition could crumble should the Conservatives decide to bring up that fact. Meanwhile, the issue with the Liberal Democrats is slightly different and more understandable. Unlike Labour’s conscious decision to implement the fees, Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats had to accept David Cameron’s plans to raise tuition fees, despite it not being their intention. It’s a small contrast, but it’s something the general public are accepting, slowly and reluctantly.

With Tim Farron as their new leader and success in this year’s local elections, the Liberal Democrats are on the rise with renewed passion and motivation, but they still have a way to go in winning back the public’s trust. Whilst the controversy over tuition fees has always somewhat restrained the Lib Dems since 2010, now, it may in fact set them free.

Liam

Review: ‘TED Talks’ by Chris Anderson

Ideas fascinate everyone. For me, thought-provoking talks and television programmes create this new sense of excitement. An initial notion shared with so many others can have unlimited potential – it can spark a chain reaction of new ideas, creativity and inspiration. It’s a fascinating and mesmerising idea, and is one explored in-depth in Chris Anderson’s guide to public speaking, TED Talks.


Everyone finds at least one concept of public speaking terrifying, whether it’s remembering the whole talk, or this sense of judgement that comes from talking to a large audience. Thankfully, Chris’ experience with many TED talks has helped him to understand what works in a talk, and what doesn’t. Written in a clear path from preparation to the talk itself, the book breaks down the complex idea of public speaking into something everyone can understand. Funnily enough, accessible ideas is something mentioned towards the end of the book, and something which can only inspire a reader to share their knowledge with others.

I was only halfway through the book when I was asked to do a talk in Leeds (which I mentioned here). Whilst I hadn’t read all of TED Talks, Anderson’s passion and conversational tone in the book definitely helped when it came to the presentation itself. As well as sharing skills and advice, it’s the book’s focus on ideas which is really exciting.

In particular, the fact that we regularly share opinions and ideas with others also goes to show that this book isn’t just beneficial from a public speaking perspective (a point which is raised by Adam Grant on the back of the hardback edition). If you love sharing perspectives – be it offstage or onstage – then TED Talks is the book which can excite you, inspire you and give you the confidence to do so.

Rating: 5/5

What are your thoughts on public speaking? Have you ever seen a TED Talk? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Cry’ by Sigma feat. Take That

It’s a collaboration which has had some people scratching their heads. For Take That, These Days was the last single to slightly tap into the dance genre. Now, the band have joined forces with drum-and-bass duo Sigma for this track, Cry.

Despite the genre shift for Take That, Sigma always preserve the guest vocals and the link to their original style. In this case, beginning the track with Gary Barlow and a piano is a familiar sound for fans of the pop trio.

Even the chorus covers ground Take That fans will recognise, with harmonised vocals placed over synth stabs and a driving drum beat. All this, combined with catchy and memorable lyrics create a euphoric track worth putting on your summer playlist.

What do you think of Cry? Is it a good collaboration between Sigma and Take That? Comment below!

Liam

With thanks to TED: Public Speaking in Leeds

I’ve never had any problems when it comes to talking about myself or hobbies to other people, but for a lot of people – including me – public speaking is still a mighty beast to conquer.

A few weeks back, I was asked by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) to speak to their Youth Advisory Board about deafness, being a deaf radio presenter and being on the YAB last year (read more about that here).

I was delighted, and conveniently, I had bought a public speaking book off Amazon a few days before. In reference to the title, this book is Chris Anderson’s Ted Talks, which certainly helped give me some tips and confidence when it came to my presentation.

Aside from feeling slightly nervous, it went really well. Thanks so much to NDCS and to the YAB for having me and asking interesting questions!

Have you done public speaking before? What are your techniques? Comment below!

Liam

An iTunes lover moves to Spotify…

What if I told you that I’ve mostly listened to music on iTunes for the past few years, with the occasional voucher funding new songs in my library? You’d be right to say that I’ve made quite an expensive mistake – especially when my collection of music on Apple is over 300 albums strong.

Spotify Logo
It’s been a while, but I’ve finally made the switch to Spotify. Photo source: Scott Beale on Flickr.

Well, after much persuasion, I’ve done something I should have done long ago and moved to Spotify. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’d have seen my Musical Problems post, where I talk about songs which I’m a fan of, but I don’t feel compelled to buy. Now that I have Spotify, I’m free to listen to all of these songs for 99p for three months, thanks to quite a nice deal they have running lately.

I only just bought Spotify last night, but aside from that benefit, there’s also the fact that songs I couldn’t find on iTunes such as Disappointed by Chlöe Howl are available on Spotify. Granted, Taylor Swift still has things to sort out with the service, but I’ve never been that big of a fan of her. Anyway, there’s also the playlist functions, which I am very much looking forward to messing around with.

So what could this mean for Musical Discoveries and the blog in general? I hope that I can start sharing more public playlists with you, and it also means that I can start to look at album reviews now there’s not much of a cost element involved now. Some albums I have been looking at include Galantis’ PharmacyTourist History by Two Door Cinema Club and Caracal by Disclosure. It should also mean that new Musical Discovery posts shouldn’t be a problem, thanks to Spotify’s many playlists – including New Music Friday.

What do you think? Should I do more album reviews and playlists on the blog? Do you use iTunes, Apple Music or Spotify? Comment below!

Liam

Review: ‘The Psychopath Test’ by Jon Ronson

There’s always something fascinating about psychopaths. Whether it’s the flamboyant portrayals on TV and film or the general mystery around the condition, we seem to take comfort in observing and classifying the insane.
In The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson explores psychopathy, psychiatry and flaws in diagnosis. Over time, the media has picked up on the ‘good’ psychopaths, where confidence and a dedicated mindset has benefitted business and the economy. In Ronson’s book, we see Jon – armed with Bob Hare’s checklist for psychopathy – rooting out examples of such people at the top of society.

Aside from these case studies, the book seems to pick at the wider question of labels in our society. Of course, we already see this with social class and different beliefs, but there’s something concerning about labels when it comes to insanity.

Throughout the story, we hear about a man – given the name Tony – who is imprisoned in Broadmoor after faking insanity. Throughout his time in the facility, we hear about his struggle to prove his sanity when others think he is insane.

In Tony’s case, any signs of sanity would seem faked according to psychiatrists in Broadmoor, suggesting that Tony was being manipulative. It’s almost like any positive characteristics outside the condition are swept aside, and society continues to bound individuals to their condition.

Of course, nowadays with any mental health condition, we hear about people achieving remarkable things despite having Tourette’s or autism, for example. Whilst individuals can choose whether or not to let their mental health define them, society still favours labels because it aids marginalisation.

Much like when I read So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Ronson does leave some questions unanswered. In this case, why is society fascinated by mental health conditions and why is it so keen to limit individuals to this?

But then again, I think I’ve already answered this question. As we watch TV psychopaths, we relish in the dichotomy created between ‘us’ and ‘them’. These binary oppositions fuel society just as much as these apparent ‘good’ psychopaths do.

Rating: 4/5

Have you read The Psychopath Test? What do you think of it? Comment below!

Liam 

Kygo’s ‘Cloud Nine’: A euphoric debut album which explores new ground

It was around eight o’clock on a busy train to London that I had time to listen to Kygo’s eagerly anticipated debut album, Cloud Nine. I was one of those people to pre-order on iTunes months ahead of the release, hoping that the track list would live up to my expectations and see Kygo develop his unique style of tropical house. Whilst most of the album tracks stay true to the DJ’s unique and mellow musical style, some songs see him move away from the more quiet and mellow hits like Firestone and Nothing Left.

Photo source: Kygo on Facebook.
Photo source: Kygo on Facebook.

In 2014, Deadmau5 criticised Kygo’s house style, saying he “can’t wait to hear this in the elevator“. It’s an unnecessary comment, as tropical house remains both at the forefront and in the background of today’s music industry – Kygo has brought it into the spotlight, and artists such as Justin Bieber have used it on a more discreet level (particularly in his track Sorry). Deadmau5 may not like it, but this year, the dance anthems are adopting a more laid-back and chilled tone, as opposed to 2014’s Summer by Calvin Harris, for example.

That being said, tracks such as Fragile (feat. Labrinth) and Not Alone (feat. RHODES) stand out on Cloud Nine as songs which drift away from soft vocals and ‘plucky’ synths – although most of the album does stick to Kygo’s typical style. Whilst that does run the risk of being repetitive, the Scandinavian DJ still manages to add a touch of originality to all 15 tracks.

One of my favourite songs from the album has to be Fiction (feat. Tom Odell), where the tune in the chorus is nostalgic and reminds me of the plucky piano used at fairgrounds on the carousel and arcades. What Kygo’s debut album does well is that it offers a listeners a choice – they can either dance along or listen to the album as something to relax to. With a name like Cloud Nine, there’s no surprise that it the tracks are euphoric, uplifting and vibrant.

The only slight slip-up on the track list is I’m in Love (feat. James Vincent McMorrow). I’ve mentioned this in a previous review, but whilst Kygo does a good job of avoiding repetition when it comes to synth melodies and song structure, the whining ‘I’m in Love’ which continues throughout the song

Cloud Nine is a colourful, creative and chilled album destined to succeed this summer at a time where we’re getting fed up of loud, hardcore dance tracks. It may very well be the type of music to play in the background, but it sets a positive mood – and that’s all you could ever want from an album, right?

Rating: 4/5

What do you think of Cloud Nine? What is your favourite single from the album? Comment below!

Liam