Guest Student Editorial – David Rank (Lower 6th Form)

In an unexpected turn of events, Ireland has rejected the controversial Lisbon Treaty. Following a nationwide referendum, the Irish rejection has placed the future of the Treaty into disarray.

 

However, President of the European Commission, Manuel Barroso has since declared the Treaty is ‘not dead’ despite the necessity for a unanimous vote in each of the twenty seven EU states. Barroso continued to state ‘we should not rush to conclusions’ causing many analysts to believe the choice of the Irish people could even be overridden by their political leaders. The Treaty was signed in December 2007 by the leaders of each state with the hope of it gradually coming into force from January 2009, however, the Irish rejection has placed its future into turmoil.

 

Under existing circumstances there are still options open for the Treaty but none of them can be implemented easily. Nine countries are yet to ratify the treaty causing many to believe by the time that process ends, a solution for the Irish “exception” mayt have been negotiated. For example, Ireland could be granted additional opt-outs and guarantees on sensitive issues such as abortion and national neutrality in order to ensure the Treaty has the backing of the Irish people.

 

Alternatively, The EU could scrap the Lisbon Treaty just as the proposals for the Constitution were repackaged following the Lisbon Treaty following French and Dutch ‘No’ votes in 2005. Key parts of Lisbon could be repackaged into a shorter, more comprehensible document to voters throughout Europe. Under this scenario, the ratification process starts again and Ireland holds another referendum. In 2001 Ireland rejected the Nice Treaty but then said ‘Yes’ to it just over a year later causing this process to appear a possibility. However, the process is already appearing indefinite while a further repackaging would just appear time consuming with no end in sight.

 

Perhaps most drastically a two tier system could be developed. Those nations keen on further EU integration could form an informal club within the EU creating dangerous internal tension. Both Ireland and the UK prefer a looser union which could threaten their position within the EU.

Irish Prime Minister, Brian Cowen, reflected Barroso’s statement: “Once again in Europe, a treaty supported by the leaders of all member states has unable to secure popular support in a ballot. We must not rush to conclusions.” He went on to explain the Irish government seeks to explain to EU officials that this does not mean Ireland are now anti-EU, making negotiations and compromise appear likely,

Foreign secretary David Miliband declared Britain would not pressurize Ireland on their future actions. He continued to state: “It’s right that we follow the view that each country must see the ratification process to a conclusion”,

The referendum is undoubtedly a historical event in Irish and European politics, with the continental project reaching a stumbling block by a country with a population of only four million people. With a low turnout of 40 per cent (the minimum necessary to make the referendum valid) and a narrow vote of 53.4% to 46.6% against the Treaty, some analysts have come to question the structure of the EU with such a small percentage of the overall population impeding the development of the Union.

The future of EU development appears to continue to be a highly divisive issue. Since the nature of the EU causes the backing of each state to be essential, future European integration remains without resolution.

 

David Rank – Portland Place School

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London Mayor’s Drinking Ban Comes Into Effect

What do you mean there\'s something on my shoe? One of Boris Johnson’s election promises was to ban the consumption of alcohol (and the carrying of open containers of alcohol) on London’s Tube and Bus network.  The ban came into effect at midnight last night.

Members of social networking sites including (but not limited to) Facebook have been linked to the organisation of Tube parties on the Central and Circle lines as a final ‘farewell’ to booze on the Tube, leading to some violence, line closures and 17 arrests.

I agree with the law.  Traveling on the transport network can be uncomfortable enough without having to sit across from somebody swaying with a can of cheap cider in their hand and waiting for them to vomit their kebab all over your ‘Sorry mate, can’t let you in with those on’ shoes.

Yes, this does punish those who consume alcohol sensibly on public transport which is unfortunate.  But, not unlike the new anti-smoking laws, it is something that is not difficult to adhere to.

There are, unfortunately, always people who will behave like idiots and there is no excuse for abusing Underground staff and police (yes, even bus drivers who see you at the door just as they’re closing and ignores your polite knocking) as happened last night.

The incidents from last night’s Tube party made the news as far away as Australia on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation website (www.abc.net.au).

Is it Boris Johnson’s fault that people carried on like fools last night?  Not directly.  The penalties have not been actively promoted as part of the awareness campaign about the ban which surprises me.  The introduction of the law seems rushed and could perhaps have been better handled by the Mayor’s office.

Have a read of the article from this link and leave a comment about what YOU think of the ban (you may have to copy and paste the link into your browser):

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4043853.ece

I’m surprised that it has taken this long to ban alcohol consumption and open alcohol containers from some parts of the transport network.  I’m interested to know what you think.

Mr. Mithen

News Flash: Tory Victory in By-election

PM Gordon Brown

The previously ‘safe’ New Labour seat of Crewe and Nantwich is now in the hands of the Conservatives in another sign from the electorate that Prime Minister Gordon Brown is in some deep, deep trouble.  He is, in effect, up that political creek without a mandate. 

The new MP is Edward Timpson who secured a swing of 17.6% to wrest the seat from Labour by a formidable margin of 7,860 votes (Source: bbc.co.uk/news). 

Tory candidate Edward Timpson won 7,860 more votes than his Labour rival – a 17.6% swing from the 2005 General Election. 

This clearly does not bode well for the Brown government; indeed Conservative Leader David Cameron hailed the result as the end of New Labour.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that a General Election will be an uphill battle for a government that will be close to 13 years in office. 

One need only compare this to the staleness apparent at the end of the Howard government in Australia after four terms in office totalling 11 years.  The parallels are evident in many ways.  Prior to Howard’s 2007 election defeat Australians had become reinvigorated by an Opposition Party that only a few short years ago was ‘un-electable’.  John Howard blew what was (at one point described as) a ‘teflon’ Premiership with negative campaining, targeted financial hand-outs designed to soften up ‘middle-Australia (who gladly took the money with one hand, while at the same time crying foul about fiscal mismanagement) and back bench pressure for a series of ill-advised legislative moves such as Work Choices. 

Sound at all familiar?  Brown has blown the initial good-will he had obtained after taking over from Tony Blair with the failure to call a General Election soon after his ascension to the top job, a series of poor policy decisions and ‘backflips’ (10p Tax Threshold) and subsequent rumblings from his back bench. 

First the London Mayoral and Local Elections on 1 May and now a ‘crushing’ by-election defeat.  Keep an eye on how Brown manouvers in an attempt to regain support for his ailing government.  It is certainly not game over for Brown, provided he can plug the policy gaps and re-assert his authority with the back bench and seize the public agenda for all the right reasons. 

Thanks to the ABC for the picture (www.abc.net.au)

Mr Mithen

London Mayoral and Local Elections

All is well for a photo opportunity, but it\'ll be a different story come Thursday\'s poll.Thursday May 1 is the day.  Polling booths are open from 7am-10pm.  The three ‘major party’ Mayoral candidates include the Labour incumbent (current Mayor) Ken Livingstone, Conservative challenger Boris ‘The Hair’ Johnson, and Liberal Democrat (and former Police Chief) Brian Paddick. 

Ever heard of any of them?  Want to know where they (and all the other candidates) stand on issues such as crime, public transport and ‘green’ issues?  The team at the BBC website has created a handy little guide that allows you to compare and contarst the different candidates’ positions. 

Here’s the link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/bsp/hi/elections/london/08/issues/html/issues.stm

Some people are claiming this election to be a referendum on the troubled national Labour government of Gordon Brown, while others can separate local and national issues and vote accordingly. 

Unlike Australian elections, it is not compulsory to vote in the United Kingdom (UK) so it will be interesting to see the voter turn out and the make up of Whitehall come next week.  Will the Age of Livingstone continue, or has Boris got his measure?  Of course, there is a chance that an independent candidate or a Lib Dem could clench the (semi-)top job. 

Mr. Mithen

Lay the Smack-Down on the US Primaries!

Way to go, or a new low?Who said that you can’t mix politics with wrestling (or ‘sports entertainment’ if you follow the WWE)?  Well, I’m not even sure if anybody has said that, but it’s certainly not true.  The only question is, how effective can it be? 

For a number of years now, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) – formerly the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) have been running ‘Smack Down Your Vote’ – a campaign to encourage it’s key demographic (15-39 year olds) of the issues, policies and personalities of the candidates putting themselves up for election.  The minimum legal age to vote in the USA is 18 years old. 

By-and-large the WWE’s programme has been non-partisan.  Top WWE personalities have lent their names to the campaign including Rey Mysterio Jr and Shelton Benjamin.  Here is a link to the official site: http://vote.wwe.com/

Last Monday night, candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties recorded messages for the audience of WWE’s flagship programme, Monday Night RAW.  The excerpts that I have seem are coup-worthy for the WWE and border on cringe-worthy for the candidates.  Each candidate involked various catchphrases of famous wrestlers past and present in order to connect with the estimated 5 million viewers (according to WWE).  Unfortunately, the link that I was using to view the excerpts no longer carries the clips and has now been removed from this post.   

What do you think?  Clever ploy or cheesy stunt?  How effective do you think such appeals can be?  How might such an effort be received between Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg at, say, an England international at Wembley?  Let me know your thoughts! 

Keep an eye on the competitions page – more to come shortly! 

Mr Mithen

Thanks to www.king5.com for the picture.  This is a third-party site. Politics Club blog takes no responsibility for its content. 

Look-a-Like Competition Now Closed!

HMV LogoThank-you to all who entered the Look-a-Like Competition on this blog!  The competition is now closed and each response has been published.  A winner will be announced on Monday 10th March on this blog.  In the event that the answer deemed to be the best has been submitted by a number of different entrants, each entrant’s name will be put into a hat and one name drawn out at random to recieve the prize of a £10 HMV Voucher! 

Thanks again, and keep your eye out for more competitions from the Politics Club at Portland Place School! 

Editor.

Look-a-Like Competition Update!

david-cameron.jpgSo far the response to the Politics Club Look-a-like competition has been great and there’s still time to win that 10 Pound HMV Voucher!  All you have to do is reply to this post with your answer to this question: ‘Which Portland Place School staff member do YOU think looks the most like Conservative Opposition Leader David Cameron?’ (See the picture above).  It is that simple!

For the terms and conditions see the competitions page link and click on the original Look-a-Like competition link.  The competition closes on Friday March 14th 2008 and the winner will be announced on the Politics Club blog on Monday 17th March 2008.  You may only enter this competition once.

Good luck!

Editor.