Tag Archives: Politics

Vote Obama

When Barack Obama was elected as the President of the United States four years ago it signified the beginning of a new era for American politics: an era of change and of progress.

In the last four years, alone, Obama and the Democrat party have achieved much. They overcame the Republicans’ united opposition to pass an economic stimulus programme, overhauled the US healthcare system, lay down new rules to Wall Street and the banking industry and prevented the US auto industry from collapse. Furthermore, the Democrats overturned a two-decade-old law banning openly gay Americans from serving in the US military.  He also despatched a team of commandos to kill Osama Bin Laden, brought the US war in Iraq to a close and struck a new nuclear arms treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medveder.

But, you may ask, what is he planning for the future? Why is he a better candidate than Mitt Romney?

There are three central issues, in which Obama has proved himself above Romney: foreign policy, the environment and healthcare.

Firstly, he has made it clear that he seeks peaceful negotiations over conflicts. He opposes the near term military strikes on Iran and will only use it as a last resort. He seeks international pressure against Syria rather than repeat the Libyan air power commitment for Syrian opposition. However, Romney appears to have a far more aggressive foreign policy than Obama. He presents a clearer US threat to Iran and has spoken in more permissive terms about Israel’s right to act against Iran’s nuclear facilities, without explicitly approving of such a step. Whilst Obama seeks to avoid conflict as much as possible, Romney is not so inclined as evident by his plan to increase military spending.

The environment has recently become a far more prevalent issue due to Hurricane Sandy. Obama remains the only candidate with any viable environmental policies having already made much progress in that area. He has already achieved the first- ever regulations on heat –trapping gases blamed for Global Warming and on toxic mercury pollution from power plants. He has spent heavily on green energy, as he has recognised that this is a pressing issue. Meanwhile, Romney, in his ignorance, claims green power is yet to become viable and that the causes of climate change are unknown.

Lastly is the issue of healthcare. Obama achieved a landmark overhaul finally putting the USA on a path to universal coverage. Under the new law, insurers will be banned from denying coverage to people with pre-existing illness, tax credits will subsidise premiums, people without work-based insurance will have access to new markets, small businesses will get help for offering insurance and Medicaid will expand. Obama has promised to continue on this path to universal healthcare as long as he is in power. However, Romney has promised to do his utmost to work for the repeal of the law. He would destroy the incredible progress that has been made for healthcare in America.

Romney with his aggressive foreign policy, ignorance of environmental issues and his lack of support for universal healthcare is seeking to drag the USA back to the past, to eliminate the progress that has been made in the last four years. Obama, on the other hand, is looking to continue with the work he and the Democrats have been doing. He looks to solve the international issues by peaceful means rather than the use of force, he is looking for an active solution to the issues of the environment and he wants to benefit the entire nation by creating a universal healthcare system. Obama is looking to the future whilst Romney is stubbornly set in the past. Obama is, therefore, not simply the best, but the only candidate for the job.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Chris Coleman (https://www.flickr.com/photos/iceman9294/)

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We Believe in Independence

It has now been over 300 years since Scotland was absorbed into the United Kingdom, over ten years since Scotland was once again allowed its own parliament and just over a couple of weeks since Alex Salmond reiterated that there would be a referendum taking place, before the elections of 2016, asking the Scottish people to vote for or against independence for Scotland.

But why the need for Scottish independence?

Isn’t the Union fine the way it is?

The simple answer is no. In the last general election Scotland only voted in one Conservative Member of Parliament, yet Conservative are now the most powerful party in Westminster. Not only does this result in a serious lack of representation for Scotland in Westminster but it also conveys the lack of Scottish power within the Union.

Some may counter this apparent lack of Scottish influence by pointing to the devolution process of the last decade or so. Scotland has now been awarded its own parliament and possibly holds the most power it has had as a nation in the last 300 years. However, this merely strengthens the case for independence. For Scotland may be more democratic but is still severely restricted in its powers. For example, it is still Westminster which collects the Scottish taxpayers’ money and then recycles some of it back to the Scottish parliament to be spent on services in Scotland.

Devolution was a step in the right direction but it is not independence. It was merely a way for Westminster to avoid the issue at the time and to quell Scottish discontent. It is, however, not enough.

Westminster further has the power to dissolve the Scottish parliament at any time. This means we are at constant risk of losing what little progress we have managed to make in the last three centuries. Therefore, independence is not only a way to increase our power as a nation but also a way to fully protect what we have already worked so hard to obtain.

A bigger question than the why is the how of independence. Does Scotland really have the resources to sustain itself as an independent nation?

An argument that is always leapt to is that of Scotland’s oil. However, it is an effective one. The McCrone Report of 1974 declared that Scotland’s revenue of oil would have given it one of the strongest currencies in Europe if it was ever to gain independence. This was kept quiet by the Labour government and the details were not released until the SNP obtained it in 2005 under the Freedom of Information Act of 2000.

Now, it is doubtful that the oil could support the nation alone. However, it is a start. And were Scotland given the chance to develop its natural resources and other industries, such as renewable energy, it could stand a very good chance as a small, independent nation.

The fact is Scotland deserves the chance to take control of its politics and economy; the chance to prove itself as an independent country; the chance to be recognised as a separate nation in Europe and the rest of the world.

It is no longer an issue of blood stained kilts and saltires, nor of tyrant English kings taking away our freedom. It is now a case of what is best for our nation now and in the future. This journalist puts forward that independence would give Scotland the opportunity to control its own economy and resources, and allow Scottish people to be represented properly in government.

The SNP, the party that the Scottish people voted into the Scottish parliament this year, have promised that they will be fully campaigning for independence at the future referendum. And with the opinion polls showing an increase in support for independence from the public, who knows where Scotland will be five years from now. Perhaps for the first time in many centuries, Scotland will be in control of its own destiny.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Tom Parnell (https://www.flickr.com/photos/itmpa/)