#atozchallenge: Winner Takes All

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When Cameron and the Conservative Party became the majority in the 2015 elections, there was an uproar. How did an unpopular Prime Minister keep his place? Blame was meted out: Ed Miliband was a milquetoast leader with no teeth; the Scottish National Party dominated; the Labour Party had no good ideas. The Conservative Party took 330 seats, an absolute majority.

But then, the numbers came out, and things became curiouser and curiouser. The Conservative Party had actually only won 36.8% of the vote, whilst Labour got 30.5%. And here is where first past the post voting breaks apart: No matter how slim your majority, when you win, you win everything.

If this were a two-party system, this would make sense. But the United Kingdom has multiple parties, with different stakes in the system.  In the United States, we are stuck with two parties because that is how it has always been. (I hope that changes, I honestly do.)

In the UK, one might be better served by the Single Transferable Vote system, whilst the United States might be better served by the Alternative Vote (also called the Instant Run-Off). If we are stuck with the systems we have now, we will see two parties that are dissimilar enough to anger the constituency, but never enough to change. – SDM

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If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s challenge, check them out here.

Photo by Harry Lustig

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#atozchallenge: State of the (European) Union

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The goals of the European Union have morphed. From being the cure to extreme nationalism to a powerhouse economy, the European Union has shifted its targets. Whilst I am a proud European, I also understand the travails of bringing together 28 extremely proud countries with their own cultures, values and beliefs. But there are cracks appearing in the surface, and perhaps they have always been there.

The United Kingdom will vote on its Brexit the 23 of June. I shall be watching this, mostly scared. I called the UK home for many years, and if they remain in the EU, I will call it home again. Many of the arguments in the Leave and Remain camps focus on the economic salvation and-or disaster that might occur, depending on how Britain votes.

Perhaps the United Kingdom and the rest of the European Union would do well to recall their original reasons for becoming a Union. Now, more than ever, Europe needs a strong front against the growing nationalist trends in the UK, France and even Germany. Europe is stronger together, and Britain’s grumbling about leaving is shaking the entire Union.

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If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s challenge, check them out here.

Photo by moerschy

#atozchallenge: Question Time with the Prime Minister

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When I finished high school, I had a whole summer before university, and I had a very hard time going to bed at any good time, or I would get up too early because my body was used to waking up to get ready for school. So when I woke up, I would switch on the television and flip through the channels. I usually just settled on something quiet that wouldn’t wake up the rest of the house. That channel was usually C-SPAN.

One particular Wednesday, I came upon C-SPAN whilst it was broadcasting the House of Common’s Question Time. For those of you who are unaware, the Prime Minister of England sets aside half an hour or so each Wednesday to take pre-approved questions from the House of Commons. It is a fascinating study in political drama.

When I was in high school, Tony Blair was the Prime Minister and was called, derisively, the poodle of George W Bush because of his decisions with regard to the current Iraq War. And if I recall correctly, the “proof” that had been offered up by MI5 and MI6 had been shown to be, if not wholly fabricated, at least incredibly misleading. So the Question Time was fairly difficult.

It goes without saying that I was hooked! I woke up early every Wednesday to watch it, and when I lived in England, I made sure that I was either home or around a television so I could watch it. Nowadays, UK Parliament is on YouTube, and I watch Question Time when I have the chance, and I have shown one or two to my students here in America, who are fascinated. I suspect it’s mostly the accents.

It is a wonderful piece of political history and theatre, so if you are so inclined, please do check it out. You won’t be disappointed. – SDM

 

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If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s A to Z challenge, check them out here.

Photo by the author

#weekendcoffeeshare: Brexit for Breakfast

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I’m drinking a Masala chai from the Curiosity Shop. My week has been wildly busy and my Saturday is full as well. But now I am drinking my tea and contemplating existence. There’s a lot to contemplate. It’s a beautiful sunny day here, and only 5°C!

I’m going to be a bit personal, so if we were having coffee today, I would tell you how anxious I am about the Brexit. I want to live in Britain, but their leaving would make it exceptionally difficult to get a visa. I am wondering what arguments the British people are hearing, and how much of them feel threatened by the EU. I would also be questioning the fact that, though the EU was supposed to create opportunities for everyone living in its borders, it has just become an economic bloc, and a messy one at that.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am also waiting to hear back about my Master’s application. I have applied to Uppsala University to get my Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies. I would be telling you about how I don’t feel qualified or clever enough, and that I’m worried I did the application wrong.

I’d also tell you I’m worried about Super Tuesday, next week, where Donald Trump will perhaps gain even more delegates. I would be wondering aloud how we got to this place. Is America so bad? Are people so jingoistic and ignorant? Americans who constantly say ‘no foreigners’ are quite blind and wilfully dumb: unless we are Native American, we are just as much foreign as the people arriving to our borders today.

This is a heavy chat I’m having today. I would have chocolate for you, to ease the conversation. I hope you are doing well. Until next week, then? – SDM

NB: Check out the other posts here!

Photo by condesign