And this side of the Pond….

The student vote
An interesting article from the Guardian regarding the role several universities will play in a number of the UK’s marginal seats. In the last election a number of labour MP’s lost seats by only a few hundred votes, several in districts with universities in them. Such seats often went to the lib dems (or Tories) who had made promises on tuition fees, which of course they’ve since reneged on. As a result it could be revenge time for students, as some stand a good chance of unseating a number of Tories and lib dem MP’s in the upcoming election, given how tight the margin’s in some seats are.

Indeed even Nick Clegg himself could be vulnerable. Now while normally a majority of 15,000+ votes would seem to be comfortable. But in Sheffield, where his constituency is based, there are two universities. Its entirely conceivable that if enough students, their cash strapped parents and staff voted against the backstabber lib dem leader, then its very easy to see that majority quickly wiped out. While personally I reckon he’d still get in, quite a few of his party members are due a close shave.

The Greens also have a fighting chance of winning a second seat in the University town of Bristol as well as Norwich South, home of the UEA.

The world’s local tax-dodgers
Am I surprised by the latest allegations regarding HSBC?, Am I shocked by the degree to which the UK’s wealthy, including several donors to the major parties are dodging tax? No not in the least! non-news as far as I’m concerned. In fact these allegations are pretty mild compared to prior dealings HSBC have been embroiled, such as money laundering for drug dealers and terrorists.

What I am surprised by is the “shock horror” from the media and politicians. I mean, the way the law works at the moment, the worst that can happen to them is they’ll get caught and pay a small fine, while the balance of probability is they’ll get away with it and win big.

To draw an analogy, let us suppose we change the law on burglars, bank robbers and car thieves to follow similar rules. We rely on these ne’er-do-wells to simply hand themselves in if they break the law, let them keep the money they steal and guarantee no prison sentences, just a small slap on the wrist fine. Do you think the number of robberies would go up or down?

Until we start seeing tax dodgers and greedy inept bankers being led into court in handcuffs, given massive fines (enough to wipe out even the richest of them) and lengthy prison sentences, scandal after scandal will continue to occur.

Warnings from history
UKIP, who are currently smarting from them mistaking Westminster Cathedral for a Mosque (okay I know UKIP’s anti-Catholic but that’s a bit much!). But now they may actually have something to complain about. A head teacher in Derby compared UKIP in a school assembly to the nazi party of Germany.

Of course on the one hand, this school principal has a point. As I’ve pointed out before, UKIP are not the free-market right wing party they like to imagine themselves as, but they are in fact very much a party of neo-nationalist big government. If one were to ask which party has policies closest to the third reich, you would have to say UKIP. And their own membership being caught saying nice things about Hitler or Farage paling around with known neo-nazi’s hardly helps.

Okay, UKIP aren’t advocating death camps…..(yet!). But the fact is that they much of their xenophobic rhetoric is fairly dangerous talk that could easily lead to all sorts of things, one of them being a breakdown of the UK’s multicultural society if not a breakup of the UK itself.

Perhaps another point to be made is about politics and education. Its somewhat dangerous to mix the two, as no matter what you say, bring up politics in a school and you’ll always upset someone. So regardless of the rights and wrongs of what was said, this head teacher was skating on thin ice. I see nothing wrong with teaching evolution, global warming or telling kids about the importance of vaccinations. But this is teaching them science not politics, as its the choice of certain people on the right to politicise what should be a politically neutral matter.

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