Wednesday, 16 September 2015
The three articles below are based on the "Bridging Unit" work written by new Year 12 Politics students, and it's encouraging that they are already taking an interest in some of the issues which will dominate the political agenda this year. We hope to encourage new bloggers to join us so that they can add their opinions to Nonsuch HP!
PS: The bridge in the picture is the Nanpu Bridge in Shanghai, from this article on "The most beautiful bridges in the world"....
When we say immigrant many words come into mind and over the summer it seemed to be a never ending news item. Immigrants are travelling across the globe in order to make it into the UK. Recently we have seen the chaos that has been provoked at Calais and how we have tried to stop them. As well as this, the recent evaluation of the migrants and refugees has made some interesting progress. We have now proposed to take in up to 20,000 refugees. Refugees are people who need to get away from their own country due to the fear of their lives being at risk. This switch in terminology has twisted the public viewpoint and since put pressure on the Government. However, we need to do much more as a continent in order to improve the situation as a whole.
First of all I wish to look at the source of the problem – the wars and poverty across the globe that have caused people to flee. Most of the immigrants want to get away from war and so try to make it to the UK. Most of the immigrants that are currently living in Calais are mainly from Syria and Afghanistan and have made the journey across the Mediterranean or through the land border at Turkey. From the media and politicians there is plenty of stigma and negativity surrounding the immigrants. Especially as Cameron called them a “swarm” and Katie Hopkins called them “cockroaches”. Neither of which is finding a solution to the overwhelming problem. One issue in the press that struck me the most was an article in the Daily Express which told of an illegal immigrant aged 13 being arrested. The dehumanisation of this piece astonished me and just shows the lack of sympathy the press has for children who have run away from their homes to be safer in the UK.
What we in Britain need to truly consider is the fact that the illegal immigrants are trying to make their way across because of our country’s actions. We started the war in Afghanistan along with the US so the immigrants are fleeing because of what we created and the destructive bombing that continues. As for Syria, the war that rages on and the air strikes that we place on it leads to thousands of civilians travelling to Europe to save their lives. Although we have done our best in supplying aid in Syria it isn’t nearly enough and the war has driven its people away. Whilst the UK has also managed to take in refugees of war there are plenty more looking for a safe home and for every refugee we take in, Germany takes in 24. What seems to be the underlying tone in most of the press is that they want to keep all immigrants out at all costs. This hardly seems fair as they are just human beings like you or I who wish to strive for a better life, one in which they have food and shelter.
However, as we do seem to be battling the current crisis with ‘the asset’ and police officers it seems way too focused and complicated than it really needs to be. First of all we are all aware that immigrants are trying again and again to get through the Channel Tunnel and across on the ferry now with more violence than ever before. This poses danger to the lorry drivers as well as the immigrants. It has also caused roads in the UK to be blocked by hundreds of lorries which are waiting to go to France. The solution to me seems quite simple but does require the cooperation of the French. All of the immigrants are based in Calais and most around France so the question is why are they allowed to stay in France? This is mainly because the French seem to be happy with letting the immigrants there as they know that they will soon move across to the UK. In order to stop the crisis we first need to try and remove the community that has been built around the port at Calais. Secondly we need the cooperation of the Gendarmerie and our own police force to remove any illegal immigrants from France and send them back either to the first European country that they came into contact with, (that mostly being Italy or Turkey as laid out by the Dublin Regulation) or back to their own country. Finally in the case of the hundreds of trucks that are being delayed hasn’t it occurred to them that there are plenty of other ports across the country which can get them to France such as Newhaven and Southampton.
All of this seems a bit harsh considering that we are sending them to their deaths. The immigrants are risking their lives to get to the UK every day. First by making the crossing across the Mediterranean to Italy on boats that are squashed and which pose so much danger. As we keep hearing, migrants are dying because the boat sank or they are being abandoned by those who claimed they could aid them. Then they try to make it past police and onto the trains by climbing over fences and holding onto Lorries. Then we send them back to their war stricken countries where they will try to repeat the process again. There is no real solution to this problem just that with so many wars across the globe that the problem has been heightened. If we want real change then we as a country need to stop creating wars and stop killing innocent people in air strikes day after day.
The financial crisis in Greece that began in 2009 shortly after the Global Financial Crisis is a disaster that is still going on today and has created quite a substantial mess of the country’s economy.
In 2009, while Europe was still trying to recover from the global market crash, Greece announced that it had been understating its deficit figures for years which, rightly, panicked a lot of people and soon after Greece’s credit rating was downgraded by all three of the big credit rating agencies.
In 2010, on the verge of bankruptcy, the International Monetary Fund and the EU agreed to participate in bailing Greece out of its huge debt if the country complied with issuing a number of austerity packages, which it did in return for the first bailout package of €110bn over three years.
Over the next three years seven austerity packages were issued which caused riots and outrage among Greek citizens. Measures in these packages included:
- Increasing retirement age from 60 to 67
- 10% cuts on salaries about €1800
- Increasing working hours of teachers with no additional pay
- Public pensions cut on average between 5% and 15%
- Public salary wage cuts up to 30%
- Abolishing 15000 state jobs making it easier to fire civil servants
There have been violent protests all over Greece since the austerity packages were announced, with one man even committing suicide a short distance from Greece’s parliament in an act of protest which later became a symbol for anti-austerity groups and resulted in many violent clashes between protestors and police.
As of 2015 Greece has been leant around €240bn from the IMF and the EU and still has a whopping debt of €317bn. Whether Greece will ever recover from this crisis is difficult to predict. With a proper plan of action and constant guidance from the IMF and the World Bank, Greece could eventually one day settle its debt. However the government will need the full support of its citizens so introducing more riot-causing austerity packages is not the best idea. Although the EU and the IMF have attempted on a number of occasions to bail Greece out, the money has not been used efficiently. The money has been used to pay of international loans rather than rebooting Greece’s economy and actually allowing money to make its way back into the country through businesses. A proportion of the loans should have been used to rebuild the economy which would also provide more jobs in the country, which are essential now that the unemployment level has risen above 26% and youth unemployment is around 50%.
There is also the debate over whether Greece should remain in the EU. For now the answer is yes, Greece must stay, however difficult that may be. Leaving the EU would be far worse for the country as this would cause them to be shut out of the global capital markets meaning the economy would sink even lower. Trading would be off limits for Greece and the country would be in even bigger trouble as that time they wouldn’t have the EU to fall back on and be bailed out by. Furthermore if Greece left the EU they would have to change their currency back to the drachma which would only create further chaos and disruption as the drachma would lose value and most likely cause inflation.
Overall, there is a chance that Greece may eventually recover from this financial crisis but first it must rebuild its economy and begin to increase trading again whilst negotiating with the EU and the IMF about extensions on paying back outstanding debts.
As Summer bears to a close, the number of migrants wanting to enter the European Union from war stricken countries such as Syria and Afghanistan is rapidly increasing. Our Prime Minister David Cameron claims there is no room for them here in the United Kingdom, that we simply have room for ‘a few hundred’ when over 4 million are all fleeing the from the Afghanistan war since it broke out 4 years ago. But why has this sudden surge of migrants wanting to come into the EU appeared, and what are we doing to aid them? The answer is sadly, very little.
The Government have said that the number of refugees they will accept as a maximum 1,000. Germany has offered 30,000 and Switzerland, a country that is just 15,940 square miles, has offered more than 3,500 to refugees. The fact is that the UK on paper and in practice have dealt with the situation far more poorly that its fellow European countries have. It brings shame on a country that prides itself on being the second biggest contributor to aid funds for the war-torn country, yet when confronted with the issues at hand, when they are effectively at your doorstep, Britain is shamefully turning a blind eye.
Whilst the government are fully aware of the issues that the migration of refugees poses to its 64.1 million residents and the effect letting in more than 1,000 may pose for our economy, our jobs and our standard of living; it appears they have forgotten in the midst of the crisis that these are real people. These people have families that need feeding and educating for them to even have a glimpse of hope of a future. At the moment this hope appears to not be something that the UK can offer them; yet we still continue to believe that one of the values we hold dearest as a country is compassion. Where is the compassion in accepting 1,000 migrants out of 4 million?
Articles are continuing to make headlines, offering different perspective and ideas on an ever growing problem- “Is military force the solution?”, “Who are the people smugglers?” and “Five obstacles to an EU migrant deal”. Due to an increased presence of Islamic State in Syria, the civil war there appears to not be calming, and as a result of this more and more people are fleeing, desperate to come to the haven which is Europe- where they will be fed and clothed; even if it isn’t by the UK.