Monday, 28 September 2015

If Lord Ashcroft published “Call me Dave” as a diatribe to try and ruin David Cameron's career, then he has not succeeded.

If Lord Ashcroft published “Call me Dave” as a diatribe to try and ruin David Cameron's career, then he has not succeeded.


Why are the public so shocked when a politician has a “scandal” in their personal life? Politicians are elected to represent the citizens and I can guarantee that none of us are perfect - everyone has skeletons in their closet.


Bill Clinton was almost impeached for having an affair when it is estimated the amount of married men who have extramarital affairs is between 25% and 75%, and I would guess at the higher end of the spectrum. I personally think 95% of men would have an affair if they think they could get away with it and to think otherwise is naive. A politician is still a human being and we have to expect them to make mistakes and sometimes do bad things also.


Recently “Piggate” hit the headlines as details of David Cameron's personal life have been released through a biography written by one of his rivals. It has been suggested that the prime minister has smoked marijuana, been at a party where cocaine was present and during a drunken initiation ceremony did something inappropriate with a dead pig's head.


I saw on Facebook a petition to make the prime minister stand down as prime minister as a result which was no surprise shared by “lefties”.  I found this very ironic because I can see from their Facebook that they also like to “party” and probably have done some silly things in their lives. I do not see how putting your sexual organs on a dead pig's head is immoral or unethical? The pig was dead! It was a prank done at university. I don’t see people having respect for pigs when they eat a bacon buddy.


Hearing about it has made me laugh and make me like the prime minister more - he appears to be human and thus representing the people of the UK more. Young people complain about being alienated by politicians and when something that is revealed about them being fun and mischievous they are then criticized - they cannot win!


In regards to drug taking, I would far rather a politician be open and honest about their social lives than try to cover it up. David Cameron has always responded when asked about drugs that “he had a typical university life.” This is far better than for example the Iris Robinson scandal who appeared to have a pristine Christian image and famously stated that homosexuality was an abomination and then was revealed to be having an affair with a teenage boy (this is what happens when you allow women to watch “Desperate Housewives”.)!


He has never admitted to taking cocaine, but if he is going to be at party it is more than likely someone is going to be taking cocaine and it wouldn’t surprise me if he occasionally took part.  Cocaine the drug associated with wealth and glamour has almost become normalized among the middle class and I don’t personally see how if a politician occasionally having a line would have much of an affect on them being a parent or carrying out their job?

Would I rather have a fake politician represent me who pretends to be masonic then get’s caught having affairs with teenage boys, or have an honest, authentic politician who admits to doing silly things? I know which I would prefer. This is why I am trusting of our prime minister, he seems human ' he had a normal university life, he forgot about his child once when enjoying himself at a pub, he has a social life - he seems authentic. “Call me Dave” will not see David Cameron impeached,  in fact I believe his popularity will grow because it shows he is a human being just like the rest of us, the people who he is elected to represent.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

My second published article: Sinn Féin’s opposition to austerity measures is misguided From: The Irish News 23/09/15

My second published article:
Sinn Féin’s opposition to austerity measures is misguided
From: The Irish News 23/09/15
Sinn Féin has been endlessly protesting against welfare cuts and other austere measures being imposed in Northern Ireland in recent months. As a result, the assembly has been in gridlock, unable to decide on a budget. The irony of this is that, as a result of austerity, the economy of the Republic has seen a resurgence of what some economists see as a return of the ‘Celtic Tiger’. 
The Times reported that Ireland is on track to achieve a 6 per cent economic expansion this year. Ireland’s economy was shattered by a property crash in 2008 which resulted in it requiring a €67.5 billion bailout, first by the European Union and then, two years later, by the International Monetary Fund. 
As a result, between the first austerity budget in 2008 and last year’s budget, Ireland had to make gargantuan spending cuts, €35 billion to be exact, equivalent to 20 per cent GDP, along with imposing tax increases. However, austerity appears to have worked for Ireland; in 2014 Ireland’s economy was the fastest-growing economy of the 28 EU member states and is predicted to top the charts again this year. 
Austerity also appears to have been beneficial in the rest of the UK.  Unemployment has reached a seven-year low; the UK is the fastest growing major economy in 2015. On top of this the European Central Bank has stated that austerity does work, pointing at Ireland and Spain as examples of the benefits of the austere measures imposed. 
The citizens of the Republic set a good example in how to deal with austerity; there were no violent protests. The Irish, since their economic conundrum, have accepted austerity relatively peacefully with no major protests against the budgets at the time - unlike the tumultuous response seen in Belfast, London and other major European cities. This is partly because the Irish public acknowledge that they were partly to blame for the recession in Ireland. They remember that when they point the finger at the government, banks and corporations, three fingers point back at them.
The Irish understand that they cannot have their cake and eat it and that austerity was not a nefarious weapon to punish the country but a necessary penance to get the economy back on its feet. 
It seems illogical that Sinn Féin would want to stop the British government implying austere measures in Northern Ireland as austerity is evidenced to work, not only in the rest of the United Kingdom, but also in the Republic. Since Sinn Féin are nationalists and want a united Ireland, why would they not want to employ measures in the north which have benefited its southern counterpart?


My first published article: Music Unite. The Unexpected Journey Loyalist Flute Band and Muslim Community Creating Harmony Through Music. From: Culture Hub Magazine, Issue 4.

My first published article:
Music Unite.
The Unexpected Journey
Loyalist Flute Band and Muslim Community Creating Harmony Through Music.
From: Culture Hub Magazine, Issue 4.

Loyalist flute bands and the Muslim community are two groups that may appear not to sit well together. However, there is one thing that they both have in common: due to negative stereotyping they both receive a great deal of hostility.

Since the beginning of this year the Shankill Road Defenders Flute Band (SRD) has been working with Beyond Skin, an organisation that aims to unite different cultures through music and the arts. On 11th May the SRD played alongside artists from a variety of cultures, including Muslims, in “Night to Unite”.

John Higgins, the SRD conductor, noted that the majority of the members unhesitatingly wished to take part, seeing the occasion  as a great opportunity to change negative perceptions of Loyalist flute bands. The event symbolized the progress Northern Ireland has made in terms of welcoming diversity. On Culture Night Belfast (15/09/15), Beyond Skin and the Centre for Democracy and Peacemaking will be working again with the SRD to present “Music Unite” – a performance by the SRD and international musicians.

As part of Community Relations Week, a touring presentation has been developed between the SRD and a Kurdish (Muslim) musician. The event will showcase and explore the insight the SRD has gained from working with musicians from various cultural backgrounds. The event will also include a discussion about the empathy shared between the SRD and the Kurdish musician as they have both experienced animosity with regard to their cultures. The presentation will show how, through working together. they have gained a positive insight into each other’s culture.

The event could not be more timely given the current world conflict. The Syrian Crisis has seen an unprecedented rise in the number of Muslim Refugees and could possibly fuel the on-going controversy surrounding migration. In our own country the failure of some members of Loyalist Flute Bands to respect the rules and regulations set out by the Parades Commission has given rise to tension; the negative stereotyping of the bands has arguably increased as a result. Both groups are thus on the receiving end of a great deal of negativity from the public and the media and this event is a step towards changing public perception of the two groups. 



Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Rita Ora criticized X factor contestant Shianne Phillips for choosing a Whitney Houston song because she thought she was "cooler". Yet Calvin Harris aimed to make her Number One “I will Never Let you Down” to sound like Whitney? Is Rita Ora a talented vocalist or just a “cool” pop-star?

Rita Ora criticized X factor contestant Shianne Phillips for choosing a Whitney Houston song because she thought she was "cooler". Yet Calvin Harris aimed to make her Number One “I will Never Let you Down” to sound like Whitney? Is Rita Ora a talented vocalist or just a “cool” pop-star?



Rita Ora seemed to appear out of nowhere in 2012. She featured on DJ Fresh's “Hot Right Now” then had a solo number one with “RIP” and all of a sudden she was everywhere! If she wasn’t on the radio she was in the magazines partying with Rihanna and Cara Delevingne  and if she wasn’t in the magazines you could watch her on TV as a mentor on “The Voice”. Now Ora has become part of the judging panel of the most popular UK talent show “The X Factor”.
(Rita Ora Performing at Wireless Festival)


Similar to a lot of people, I had no intention of watching the X factor this year. But... it was Sunday afternoon,  I was fairly hungover and I couldn’t deal with watching anything too serious on television. So a light entertainment programe did the job and I began to watch the X factor, AGAIN!



(Shianne Phillips performing Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing")

Whilst watching it one individual seemed to constantly irritate me - yes -Rita Ora. Why?: Firstly because of her strange choice of ensembles - her stylist should be shot unless her aim is to look like something out of bad magic mushrooms trip. Secondly because of her choice of language. She is always trying to sound really “cool” and “hip” . Her “ghetto” attitude appears to me to be about as authentic as Lilly Allen's and similarly Rita Ora is not actually from a Ghetto - she is upper-middle class as her mum is a psychiatrist and her dad an economist and pub owner.  Thirdly because of her over-confidence! She talks on this show as if she has been in the music industry for decades and can sing like Whitney Houston, yet has only been around for a short period of time and I wonder if she would of been as successful without the publicity from being a judge on “The Voice” and now “The X factor”.


The pinnacle moment of my annoyance of Ora’s was when X factor hopeful Shianne Phillips performed  Whitney Houston’s “I have Nothing” (a song which has had particular popularity on talent shows. Since 2003 the song has been performed a total of six times on the American Idol finals.).  Phillips  performance was by no means perfect but she did a good job of the challenging vocal and it seemed obvious to me that she was one of the most vocally talented auditionees. However Ora decided not to put the contestant through and her criticism was that she thought she was “cooler than that song”?


(Whitney performing her song at the 1993 Billboard Awards)

This screamed pf hypocrisy to me since one of Ora’s biggest hits  “I will never let you down” was aimed by it’s produced (Calvin Harris) to sound like Whitney Houston. Ora stated : "'I Will Never Let You Down' is obviously a very important song to me because it's a love song, but it reminds you of Whitney, and that was the vibe we were on. We just wanted to feel good. You know that feeling of 'How Will I Know' with the synth? It just makes you feel happy ... that's what I wanted to create." I researched this at the time since I wondered why I liked this song so much.

(The Whitney Houston sounding "I will never let you down" sealed Ora's Fourth UK number 1)




This leads me to think that Ora was perhaps jealous of Phillips and saw her as a rival if she became famous. Is Ora just a “cool” popstar or an actual talented vocalist? She did attend the infamous Sylvia Young Theatre school. However none of her hits have yet shown her possible great vocal talents. Sofar her hits have been upbeat catchy songs, that she performs wearing next-to-nothing. She is yet to have her signature power-ballad like Beyonce's “Listen” and Christina Aguilera's “Beautiful”  which gave credence to these pop stars as it showed they were also fantastic vocalists.

(Calvin Harris was influenced by Whitney's 80s Pop Hits when producing for Ora)

I thus challenge Ora to perform one of Whitney Houston's power-ballads on the X factor. She has been a mentor on “The Voice” but can she sing like the The Voice herself? Will she prove that she is more than just a pop-tart or that she has a talent that could've rivaled Houston’s?  Will her vocals be hot right now or will she let us down?