The EU Referendum: Why a vote to remain will protect our human rights | The Friday Article

Earlier this week, the House of Commons debated our involvement with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) following Theresa May’s comments about Britain leaving the convention.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post detailing my decision to vote for us to remain in the European Union. Since publishing that article, I’ll admit that I do agree with what some of the ‘leave’ campaigners had to say in the comments, but I have yet to have someone explain how a vote to leave would benefit human rights. It is both this and this week’s debate which has prompted me to ask: even if all the reasons to stay in the EU are flawed, should we remain in the European Union to protect our human rights?

European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights. Photo: barnyz on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

This question comes down to the fact that all EU member countries must sign up to the ECHR. If we vote to leave the European Union in June, we sever ties with all aspects of the union including the European Convention on Human Rights. In turn, this paves the way for our government to work on a British Bill of Rights – which is something a single government shouldn’t be allowed to deal with.

I mean, each political party is biased towards different social classes, social topics and so forth. With that in mind, could any government or party come up with a British Bill of Rights which is fair for everyone? At the moment, the outcry towards changes to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) could lead some to believe that the Conservatives may not be the best people to trust with our human rights – myself included.

Of course, our country does have separated powers, which mean the judiciary and judges are separate from the executive (government) and legislature (parliament). However, even if these new British rights were to be created by lawyers (like the convention was after WW2), what’s not to say that there won’t be any government influence over these new rights?

Whilst ‘leave’ voters are right to argue that the EU taking some of our sovereignty impacts our independence, it also adds more accountability to our governments. In her speech this week, Theresa May said the ECHR “binds the hands of parliament” – but isn’t that down to the accountabilty the ECHR (and indeed the ECJ) provides? If we don’t like what a government is doing, or if we need another level to appeal to in law, then both the ECJ and ECHR can help UK citizens. Why should these be removed? Does this imply that the Tories dislike accountability?

Despite this, I do appreciate the difficulty the UK had with the ECHR over the deportation of radical preachers, but that is a matter for reform, not withdrawal from the convention – reform and a possible withdrawal being something the Attorney General touched on in this week’s debate on the matter.

Very much like the EU, the ECHR has a lot of close ties with Britain that would simply cause problems if these are cut. For example, Joanna Cherry from the SNP said that because the Scotland Act is strongly bound to the ECHR, leaving the convention would cause a constitutional crisis – something all governments should avoid.

But as well as the ties to Scotland, an excellent and hilarious comedy sketch from the Guardian points out some of the flaws in the argument for us to leave the ECHR, and what the convention has done for us:

Lastly, a vote to remain would secure our ties to the ECHR. If we stay in the EU but choose to leave the convention, it’s unlikely the European Union would allow us to withdraw. It would be problematic in terms of the British Bill of Rights, but good news for those who think the government shouldn’t have control over our rights.

What do you think? How will you be voting in June’s EU referendum? Do you think we should leave the ECHR or seek reform? Comment below!

Liam

Advertisements

Top hacks to survive this summer’s music festivals | Sponsored Post

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of music festivals. I went to Glastonbury last year and have been to V Festival for the past two years as well. It’s fair to say that I love my music and my festivals, so when Maximise contacted me about writing a post sharing my top festival tips, I had to get involved. So, without further ado, here are my top tips for surviving a music festival.

Festival
Photo source: Richard Turner on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

1. Ponchos can not only protect you from rain, but also from mysterious brown liquids…  

We all hope for sun and blue skies when we go to festivals, but we all know that there’s always rain at Glastonbury at least. Therefore, a poncho is always useful to protect us from the rain, but also from those at the front that like to throw their drink – or urine – up in the air. Always keep a poncho to hand if you can, otherwise, invest in a good quality hat. In my case, a straw hat helps shield me from water and the sun, whilst also making me look like a Paolo Nutini wannabe.

2. Invest in a one-pole tent and expedition rucksack

Basically, imagine that you’re an ambitious student about to climb Ben Nevis for their Duke of Edinburgh expedition. In my case, I’ve kept on to my one-pole tent and expedition rucksack, and it’s amazing how convenient they both are. Of course, it may just be a five-day festival, but still…

3. Cling film, trolleys and wheelbarrows

This is something I learnt after being to a few festivals, and that is to bring clingfilm and either a trolley or a wheelbarrow. The last thing you want on a hot day, when you’re dashing to bag a place to pitch your tent, is to have to dash back to your car to grab more stuff.

So grab a wheelbarrow or trolley, dump all your bags, drinks and tents in it, secure them with cling film and then carry it to where you intend to stay. It’s much better than carrying it all on your back, that’s for sure.

4. How to get rid of those annoying wristbands

We’ve all been there – by trying to yank the annoying wristbands off our arms they turn into sandpaper and start scratching at our wrists? So how do we get the blasted things off our wrists without having to reach for the scissors? Well, there is a way for you to remove them whilst also keeping them intact as a souvenir.

However, it depends on whether you can adjust your wristband in the first place. If a member of staff has to place them on you, then you’re in a spot of bother. The best way to do it is to adjust it so that there’s enough space for you to fit your thumb in-between the wristband if you wanted to.

It’s a lot of work, but you then have you shuffle the wristband up to the bottom of your hand, and tuck your thumb in. At that point, your hand should become a ‘runway’ for you to slide the wristband off. Then, voila – both your hand and wristband are intact and you can keep it as another free souvenir.

5. Apps are where it’s at!

If it’s not the messaging apps which you can use to ask your mate for a burger, then it’s the official festival apps, which have really upped their game over the past few years. Whilst it’s a shame that V Festival’s app no longer exists, Glastonbury’s official app comes with a map and planner – so you can plan which acts to see way in advance!

6. If all else fails, return to your tent or get help from staff

It’s highly unlikely that your battery pack will run out and your phone will die suddenly, but if you can’t make that last-minute emergency call or text to your friends or family (and let’s be honest, the reception in the middle of the countryside isn’t the best), then just continue to rock out.

When my phone died at V Festival in 2014, going to the predetermined meeting point worked. If not that, the perfect ‘meeting point’ is your tent. If not that, then an obvious choice is to contact a member of staff.

 

So these are just a selection of my top festival tips, but if you have any, Maximise want to hear from you! Tweet your hacks with the hashtag, #UltimateFestHacks to get involved and share your festival survival advice.

What festivals have you been to? Comment below!

Liam

P.S. Thanks to Maximise for sponsoring this post. Whilst this post is sponsored, the opinions expressed here are solely mine.

Musical Discovery: ‘I’m in Love’ by Kygo feat. James Vincent McMorrow

It’s not long now before tropical house DJ Kygo releases his debut album, Cloud Nine, on May 13. However, before that fans have been treated to three singles taken from the upcoming album. First it was Fragile, then it was Raging, and now I’m in Love is this week’s Musical Discovery.

The main thing I’ve grasped from these three single releases is that Cloud Nine seems to be an album where Kygo can demonstrate his various talents within his genre before assigning himself to something more concrete. For instance, Fragile was the tropical house ballad and Raging challenged the usual slow-tempo format of his previous hits. In terms of I’m in Love, this is a track which allows to Kygo to explore his talents with vocal distortion.

In my opinion, Kygo succeeded on that front – turning James Vincent McMorrow’s vocals into a more high-pitched feminine tone worked throughout most of the song. However, one thing that didn’t quite work was the whining ‘I’m in love’ which is repeated at the start of the song. It’s not the greatest introduction to a tropical house single, where the listener can only hear the vocals without any backing instruments. The opening is simplistic and bland, which is disappointing and dampens the track in some respects.

Despite this, the chorus is where I’m in Love really succeeds – a complex, off-beat drum rhythm combines with traditional, bouncy synth to make what would otherwise be a rather mellow song more colourful.

I must admit that I’m not a fan of this diversity in the album, but I’m still intrigued to hear Cloud Nine in full. In fact, I first said that I wasn’t a fan of Raging, however it is now growing on me. Plus, with Shazam revealing that Kygo has collaborated with Tom Odell, Jason Derulo, John Legend and Foxes and many more on his debut album, it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.

What do you think of I’m in Love? Is it better than the last two singles? Are you looking forward to Cloud Nine? Comment below!

Liam

Opening the windows of opportunity…

Sorry for the rather poetic and ambiguous title, but once again, this week was full of incredible opportunities which still excite me as I write about them now.

First of all, more and more events are popping up during the summer holidays, which is something I’m really looking forward to.

Next up, I said in a recent blog post that I had been nominated for an award as part of the Midlands Student Media Awards 2016. In particular, my review of Channel 4’s Humans made the list and I was invited to an awards ceremony in Birmingham on Friday.

At the end of the night, I found out I hadn’t won, but I had been highly commended. I was thrilled and shocked because I seriously didn’t think I would do well anyway. Let’s be honest, who’d be interested in a 1,000 word blog post about artificial intelligence? All entries in the category were amazing so congratulations to all the other finalists too.

Finally, I received a tweet from a friend on Wednesday with some exciting news. In particular, The Independent reported on the National Union of Students cracking down on anonymous social media apps like Yik Yak, and mentioned my article I wrote for the University of Lincoln’s student newspaper, The Linc. So, essentially, I am on The Independent’s website – how cool is that?!

Missed this week’s Brunchtime? Catch up on all previous shows here:

So that was my week – how was yours? What have you been up to in the last seven days? Comment below!

Liam

Confusing politics and why the ‘remain’ campaign has an advantage | The Friday Article

News and politics are boring – that is, until it can be related to people. It’s why Ebola only became a UK problem when nurse Pauline Cafferkey contracted the virus last year. In terms of politics, Nick Clegg’s apology for raising tuition fees prompted more young people to get involved with voting. As a result, the Liberal Democrats’ seats in parliament were slashed from 57 to 8. Now, with the EU Referendum approaching, people want to know how exactly the EU affects them – and that’s where Britain Stronger In Europe may have the upper hand.

Politics surrounding the UK and the EU has always been confusing - this is where the 'remain' campaign has the advantage. Photo: Michael Sauers on Flickr.
Politics surrounding the UK and the EU has always been confusing – this is where the ‘remain’ campaign has the advantage. Photo: Michael Sauers on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

With any election or referendum, vast amounts of political information is thrown at us in order to make an informed decision on who or what to vote for. In my case, it fuelled my interest in politics further ahead of last year’s general election. With the question of whether we should leave the European Union, we once again expect this barrage of detail. However, I get the impression that the UK’s business with the EU remains fairly secretive and hidden in the media. So, for a lot of us, we may have to learn about the numerous aspects of the European Union before we cast our vote. But, we would most likely turn to the ‘remain’ campaign for the positives before looking at Vote Leave’s scrutiny of these benefits.

This comes from something within our human nature: we like to criticise from time to time. On most occasions, we learn about a topic, see the positives and then criticise the idea with opposing views. It’s a technique which has helped comedians and of course, politicians.

If you don’t know much about the EU, turning to the leave campaign may not work. It’s hard for us to understand the criticism when we don’t know what it is that’s being criticised. As a result, many will turn to ‘remain’ for the facts first, before looking at ‘leave’ for the opposing views – some people will choose to adopt the views of ‘remain’, others may decide to back leaving the EU. Either way, the ‘remain’ campaign has that ‘first impression’ which puts them at a slight advantage.

The effect is purely psychological, but it may have unintended benefits for those campaigning for us to remain in a reformed European Union.

Are you interested in politics? Do you think this is a strategy that the ‘remain’ camp are using? Comment below!

Liam

Review: ‘Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All’ by Jonas Jonasson

Jonas Jonasson, author of The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is back with his winning formula.

 

In Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All – out today – three unlikely companions are once again placed in a bizarre scenario with a peculiar problem to deal with. In this case, a moaning receptionist named Per Person (a slight dig at the author’s own name) and an unreligious priest cross paths with an alcoholic hitman. What’s more, is that they are soon in a spot of bother after Hitman Anders decides he doesn’t want to kill anymore, and a criminal mob start coming after them.

It’s this wacky scenario, the occasional fourth-wall break and light-hearted writing style which makes this book a successful third novel from Jonas Jonasson. Very much like how The One Hundred Year Old Man… taught us a little about world politics, Jonasson has another underlying message in this book about love and compassion.

That being said, I couldn’t help but feel like the humour was toned down in this book. Whether this was because it’s difficult to make jokes about philosophical matters, or because my sense of humour needs working on, I am not sure. Despite this, Hitman Anders is another weird and wonderful tale from Jonas Jonasson.

Have you read The One Hundred Year Old Man or The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden? Do you think this is a book that you’ll enjoy? Comment below!

Liam

Please note: an advanced reader’s copy (ARC) was sent to me by the publisher for free, for me to review. Many thanks to 4th Estate Books for sending me a copy!

Musical Discovery: ‘No Money’ by Galantis

Galantis has always been teasing me with their music style. Runaway (U & I) had progressive and soulful vocals, but I was then put off by the distorted vocals in the chorus. Meanwhile, Revolution sounded far too similar to Swedish House Mafia’s classic Don’t You Worry Child. But now, Galantis’ new track – No Money – really does stand out in the dance genre and is this week’s Musical Discovery.

Admittedly, No Money also adopts the same style of ‘whiny’ vocal distortion seen in Runaway (U & I), but it is more fitting. Unlike the hard, hazy synth chorus in Runaway, this single has soft, fluttering synth stabs which is always key to a good song in my opinion.

Very much like Peanut Butter Jelly, this song suggests contains repetitive and simplistic lyrics. Whilst it would be nice to see some creativity from a lyrical perspective in this song, it’s not completely essential. In fact, this energy is instead placed into the chorus, where piano stabs combine with a bubbly synth melody and the occasional special effects. If anything, the repeated vocals adds to the idea of this song being a chant or anthem. When you look at the chorus and the lyrics together, there’s certainly a possibility that this song is set to be a summer anthem.

What do you think of No Money? Is it as good as Runaway (U & I) and Peanut Butter Jelly? Could it be a summer anthem? Comment below!

Liam