As Labour and the Tories reach the edges of the political spectrum, the Lib Dems will rise | The Friday Article

Jeremy Corbyn will win the Labour leadership election, whilst Theresa May’s government will move to the right as it tries to deal with all the political baggage from Brexit. The EU referendum has accelerated the main parties’ move towards the far ends of the political spectrum. At a time where hatred against the establishment is brewing, the Conservatives will carefully enforce more right-wing policies. Meanwhile, Labour’s ‘unelectable’ position under Corbyn won’t appeal to the electorate. With that in mind, the Liberal Democrats will continue to rise as voters long for a middle ground.

May's cabinet will move to the right as they deal with Brexit, whilst Corbyn's Labour party will try to move to the far-left. The electorate will long for some middle ground. Licensed under Creative Commons - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode.
May’s cabinet will move to the right as they deal with Brexit, whilst Corbyn’s Labour party will try to move to the far-left. The electorate will long for some middle ground. Photo: Liberal Democrats on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode.

The Liberal Democrats have been blessed with a stress-free rebirth, free from the scrutiny of the right-wing press. Most people have presumed that the party is extinct, wiped out after the 2015 General Election, but under the fresh leadership of Tim Farron, the Lib Dems are making a comeback. Whilst young voters may resent their broken promise on tuition fees, those longing for a party to fulfil the need for left-wing policies may be tempted by the party which aims to “balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”.

I’ve already talked about how the Liberal Democrats should have been at the forefront of the fight against tuition fees, and that would have been the best way for the party to heal the open wound left by Nick Clegg. Whilst that is something Lib Dems still continue to address, the Tories are still recovering from the internal war caused by Brexit, and Labour is trying to deal with the remaining issues of the Iraq War and the conflict within the Parliamentary Labour Party. When you look at it like this, the Liberal Democrats have less of a remnant to get rid of.

Whilst Tuesday’s poll puts the Conservatives at a 16-point lead ahead of Labour (with the Liberal Democrats on 8% of the vote), we must remember the times when the polls get it wrong, and the fact that May’s government will slowly start to introduce far-right policies which will feel out-of-place in a post-Brexit society.

Theresa May’s election as Prime Minister may have brought some temporary stability, but uncertainty still lingers amongst the general public. In-fights will only frustrate the electorate more. Now is the time for a united party, and the Liberal Democrats may be the party which fits the bill.

Liam

Longing for a musical transition

Music is a huge part of my life. Since I was around nine years old, I’ve been playing the drums and I even passed my Grade 8 exam in June last year. However, now I am a student at university and I’ve achieved the highest grade possible, drumming has become a hobby – something I can do when I’m home for the summer holidays. Admittedly, my love for music has grown as a listener, but my desire to play a musical instrument has dwindled since I’ve been away from the drum kit for so long.

Photo: Jesse Kruger. Licensed under Creative Commons - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode.
Photo: Jesse Kruger. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode.

So what now? Well, I’ve heard that it’s easy for drummers to transition from the drum kit to the piano or keyboard. Although I do have a keyboard, I don’t have time for piano lessons at the moment, and have struggled to find a way to teach myself how to play it. Hopefully, after university, I can get round to learning how to play it. I’ve wanted to perform in a band for a long time and whilst a drummer isn’t always required (and certainly doesn’t work as a solo act), playing the guitar or the piano is something I can do on my own.

Aside from playing music, writing songs is something which has always been suggested to me by family members. To be honest, I’ve always wanted to try my hand as a DJ, but lack the technical skills or the equipment. Yet, when it comes to writing an ordinary song, I don’t know where to start.

Granted, as a budding poet I could probably come up with the lyrics, but creating a melody would be the biggest problem. I’ve often heard about songwriters being guitarists and pianists, and so I do wonder whether that is the issue.

I’ve always been a creative person, and whilst my aim to write and publish a fiction book is still ongoing, coming up with my own song may be another avenue I could explore. After years of listening to music and playing the drums, I long for a musical transition.

Do you have any tips for songwriting? Or perhaps you self-taught yourself an instrument? I would love your tips – comment them below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Dancing on Glass’ by St. Lucia

Admittedly, I was stuck for a song to review for this week. I was torn between asking on Twitter for new songs to listen to, writing about my rediscovery of Keane’s music, and reviewing this track from St. Lucia. In the end, with the UK being in the middle of a decent summer, I thought I would review Dancing on Glass.

Some great ideas can come from the ‘Notes’ app on your iPhone. For me, it’s often full of sections from uncompleted novels and things my friends have said at a time when a pen and some paper weren’t to hand. After looking through them a few weeks ago, I noticed what seemed to be song titles in one file, so I opened it, searched for the songs online and this was one of them.

If the powerful, driving instrumental at the beginning of the track, doesn’t intrigue you, then the vibrant vocals of Jean-Philip Grobler makes Dancing on Glass a catchy anthem worth listening to. For me, the main synth melody running throughout the song is the most distinctive and memorable part. That being said, the lyrics in the loud chorus sound almost chant-like and adds to this sense of euphoria created by St. Lucia.

As someone who has fallen in love with alternative music lately, here’s hoping that St. Lucia (along with The Magic Gang and Two Door Cinema Club) are not the last musical discoveries I make in this genre.

Liam

Like my Musical Discovery posts? I compiled a massive Spotify playlist full of all the tracks I’ve reviewed over the past four years including songs by Jess Glynne, Muse, Two Door Cinema Club and Madeon. Follow and listen to my playlist by clicking here or searching ‘Liam’s Ultimate Musical Discoveries’.

The confusion of a nostalgic limbo

Tonight, one of my favourite TV shows as a child is making a comeback. Robot Wars – a 90’s gameshow where homemade robots attack each other – along with The Crystal Maze, were the two main shows which excited me back then. As a 19-year-old, of course I feel nostalgic, but the feeling is a little bit different to me now.

Photo: Yu Tong on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.
Photo: Yu Tong on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

Last night, I realised I was in a confusing state of nostalgia – almost like I was in limbo. For me, reminiscence will always be at its most emotional when our childhood and teenage years are but a distant memory. Whilst I can look back and smile at what I was like as a kid, I still have another few months of being a teenager. It’s hard for me to reflect on a period of my life which is still underway. This is what I mean by my rather poetic title: the confusion of a nostalgic limbo.

Childhood and the seven years as a teenager are what I’d call ‘the nostalgic years’. Beyond that, out strongest memories are our ‘firsts’: your first house, your first child, your first full-time job and so forth.

If I have just under one nostalgic year left before life becomes all about these ‘firsts’, then I should probably make the most of it.

Liam

Twitter’s blue tick is no longer the badge of honour it used to be | The Friday Article

“A stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended – worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know.” This is Twitter, according to the comedian, writer and national treasure that is Stephen Fry, who decided to leave the social networking site earlier this year.

You can now join Twitter's elite, and this 'us and them' dynamic is worryingly close to real life. Photo source: https://about.twitter.com/company/brand-assets
You can now join Twitter’s elite, and this ‘us and them’ dynamic is worryingly close to real life. Photo source: https://about.twitter.com/company/brand-assets

Twitter has become a dangerous reflection of real-life sociology. The social media website is  a weird mixture of individualism and collective action. We can boost our ego and self-worth by glancing at our follow count, and we can lose ourselves amongst Twitter hashtags, where most of us just adopt the group think within that community. Much like real life, we are individuals but we can lose ourselves in subcultures and groups. There is the elite and there is the masses. The 99% and the 1%. In both worlds, offline and online, there is the desire for the majority to experience the life of the privileged few. Now, with the social network creating a form to apply for ‘blue tick’ validation, the doors to Twitter’s elite have now been flung open.

Compared to other sites such as Facebook, Twitter is one of the main social networks which captures the human desire for recognition and social progression. Mark Zuckerberg’s website has always been about friendship, with the main focus being on the connection between two people, as opposed to Twitter, which has since become a game about followers, where everyone longs to get to the top – whatever that means.

In the real world, class and wealth establish the ‘us and them’ rhetoric which creates division in our society. Of course, we’ve also longed for our opinions to be recognised in person, but that’s when Twitter comes in. Opinions and content drive the hegemony online. It’s a factor which leaves users desperate to find the opinions and content which appeals to such a wide audience. Of course, at the top of Twitter’s ‘blue tick elite’ are accounts such as Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, but their accounts are more than just places to promote their latest content, they also use it as a platform for their own opinions. For the 99%, it’s not the content or music we are envious of, it’s having our views and opinions respected by strangers – over 90 million in Katy Perry’s case – which every person in society longs for. Twitter is a soapbox, and that’s what made it successful.

On Tuesday, it was announced that all Twitter users can apply for the verified blue tick, but it was a move which will only confuse people. As BBC’s Newsbeat puts it, the icon is seen to be “one of the ultimate compliments”, but it is also a sign that you’re part of a secret group, up there with other verified accounts in the entertainment industry. It’s drifted away from its original purpose of preventing fake accounts and providing authentication. Instead, it’s a badge given to those whose opinions can appeal to anyone. Twitter themselves say that they are for accounts in “the public interest”, and for an account on the site, that can only be determined by how many strangers a person or business’ opinions can appeal to.

By Twitter opening the doors to join its group of verified accounts, users everywhere are now seeing this as a way to prove to others that their opinions appeal to a large audience and are worth listening to. The desire to force a person’s opinions on others is rooted in society today, and if this isn’t done through the form of civilised debate or discussion, then it turns into arrogance – a trait nobody wants to admit to possessing.

A blue tick on Twitter is no longer a badge of honour. Instead, people take it to mean that the soapbox they’re standing on is respected. No one’s ego should be stroked to that extent.

Liam

Review: ‘The Establishment’ by Owen Jones

Our vote to leave the European Union was just the latest political event to stir up anti-establishment rhetoric in the UK. There is no doubt that some of the 52 per cent wanted to leave the EU to break free from a union which was becoming increasingly dictated by big businesses. Now, as this monumental vote shakes up UK politics and this country’s Establishment, it’s time we found out more about the mysterious 1% at the top of our society – and Owen Jones’ The Establishment is the perfect book which unmasks the elite.


With each chapter, Jones cleverly dissects each aspect of the Establishment which makes the bigger picture of our country’s elite. From the role of outriders, to the police, to the media, no stone is left unturned as the Guardian columnist uses in-depth analysis and recent current affairs to make his point.

Whilst I struggled to understand points made about economics and accountants, it was the chapters about the press and police which really interested me. It was clear that Owen’s experience in journalism influenced his piece on the media, and once again, recent news stories really did make the section on the police’s role in the Establishment an interesting read.

Although the book does not say who is a part of the elite, The Establishment does highlight the Conservative Party’s close ties to the views of the 1% and presents a clear socialist argument. As someone who’s leaned towards the left over the past few months, this is the book which finally won me over.

Aside from the book being insightful, persuasive and eye-opening, Owen Jones’ novel is phenomenal in the sense that it comes full circle at the end. At the start, it’s about how, at times where the Establishment is exposed, we don’t take action. Yet, Owen ends the novel with clear instructions as to how we can pay attention to these exact moments.

One month after Brexit, a small minority who want to be shielded from public scrutiny have been shoved into the spotlight. Now is the time to read this book, and to act.

What do you think of Owen Jones? Do you watch his videos on YouTube? Have you read The Establishment? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Living’ by Bakermat feat. Alex Clare

Facebook’s advertising has always been impressive when it comes to helping me find new music. Thanks to music videos frequently popping up on my News Feed, I have been able to find artists such as RAC in the past. Now, I’ve discovered Bakermat and his latest single, Living featuring Alex Clare.

For around two weeks, I’ve been waiting to hear Living in full. On June 22, Bakermat released a short teaser video of the single, and I was hooked. 

To start with, the track opens with a vibrant and upbeat guitar riff before we hear Alex Clare’s soulful vocals. After appearing on other dance and drum and bass releases such as Endorphins by Sub Focus and Rudimental’s Not Giving In, it’s great to see the singer featured on another dance track.

The other aspect of Living which intrigued me was the funky and jazzy saxophone solo in the chorus. At a time where most dance tracks are either tropical or laid-back, it’s refreshing to hear something a little bit different, which really does stand out.

On my first listen, the bridge did sound like the chorus itself. However, after listening to the track in full and more than once, the bridge actually does a good job of progressing into the chorus.

On the whole, Living is a refreshing dance-funk track complete with soulful vocals from Alex Clare. If a loud, fast-paced electronic anthem isn’t your thing, then this chilled single from Bakermat may be right up your street.

What do you think of Living? Are you a fan of Alex Clare or Bakermat? Comment below!
Liam