For Heaven’s Sake Remoaners, Hush!

Ronan Pandit | Thursday 3 November 2016 | GMT 16:00 | ronan.pandit@hotmail.co.uk | @RonanPandit

I think it’s fair to say that the dust has somewhat settled after the explosive Brexit vote on June 23rd. The millions who took to social media to express their outrage at the very idea that democracy could still be used in Britain today have quietly gone back to their normal lives. The self-entitled children who thought it necessary to not only attack the older generation for voting to leave the European Union, but also to spread the acrimonious lie that all Brexit supporters are racist, xenophobic bigots, have largely gone into hiding. The government has begun planning how the nation should exit the bureaucratic organisation known as the European Union, and Mrs May has expressed clearly, again and again, that “Brexit means Brexit”.

Of course, the Prime Minister’s words have brought relief to many Brexiteers, but as expected, the childish idea of a second referendum is still on the mind of key figures in the UK. I had previously discussed on this journal the sheer immaturity of the Liberal Democrats and their leader, Tim Farron, who said that they would continue in their campaign to keep Britain in the EU. However, the weak attempt to gather support for this lost cause has been seen most recently through the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

In an interview with Radio 4’s Today, Tony Blair argued that:

If it becomes clear that this is either a deal that doesn’t make it worth our while leaving, or alternatively a deal that’s going to be so serious in its implications people may decide they don’t want to go, there’s got to be some way, either through Parliament, or an election, or possibly through another referendum, in which people express their view.”

Like all so-called ‘Remoaners’ (as everyone likes to call them), Mr Blair hid his true intentions behind this wishy-washy idea that ‘oh, we don’t know what will happen, and we should seriously consider whether there is an alternative’ (I am not actually quoting him). If you did not realise this before, you should be wary of this now. This is a tool used by bitter Remain supporters to hide their underlying purpose: to collect more support for the ridiculous notion of a second referendum.

I say that we should be wary of this for a very good reason. This is a dangerous phenomenon where many have called for the undermining of democracy in Great Britain, just because they do not like what our democracy has brought. These people wish to make you think that a second referendum is justified and fair, and that it is okay to completely disregard the will of the people.

It is time that this shameful attitude is put to bed – for if it is not now, then it will continue to exist in other votes to come. We cannot allow such an assault on democracy, for doing so will set a precedent where we accept the juvenile behaviour that we have witnessed since the Brexit vote. In a democracy, we do not always get what we want (and I think most Remain voters will agree with this), but that does not justify politicians and other key figures from trying to undermine our democratic processes. Brexit means Brexit, and do not let others think otherwise. For heaven’s sake Remoaners, hush!

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The Case for Rational Optimism

Edward Plaut | Wednesday 2 November 2016 | GMT 16:00 | plautemc@outlook.com

As the days draw in and the leaves begin to fall, it is perhaps no surprise we fall to a rather pessimistic outlook around this time of year – especially considering the turbulent political landscape that leaves a lot to be desired from any perspective. It often seems that we, as a human race, are not achieving anything. Politicians from every party can be found complaining about how “the system” has failed them. However, I think it’s time to remember that the free market and the liberties we take for granted have, and still are, improving the lives of billions around the world in a manner that no system before ever has.

Firstly, world poverty has fallen beneath 10% of the global population for the first time in history according to the World Bank. People are living better lives in better conditions in greater numbers than ever before. Far from being something to be attacked, the free market is allowing people across the world to become more prosperous. A good illustration of the success that the free market has brought us in bringing us prosperity is the tale of a man who tried to make a chicken sandwich from scratch in six months without any collaboration, division of labour or trading, the tenets of free market economics, which eventually cost him $1,500. By comparison, one can buy a far better sandwich in any supermarket for a few dollars.

It’s not just in raw dollar terms that life is getting better and more prosperous for the world. The world is less malnourished than it has ever been in recent times in terms of a percentage of total global population – a development that is closely linked to that detailed above. Whereas 953 million were classed as malnourished in 1992, 2015 only saw 685 million being classed as the same, despite an increase of the global population by over a billion during that time. Occupational injuries are decreasing massively year on year (according to International Labour Organisation stats).

82% of the world’s population has now been basically educated as of 2010 compared to 36% a century ago. There were over 1.1bn tourist trips in 2014, compared to 541m (less than half that number) in 1995 – proving that people have more leisure time and more disposable income as they can now afford to take the time and expense of a trip abroad. 45 out of 100 people globally now have access to the internet and thus a wealth of information and news, which offers them more ways than ever before to be connected, learn and entertain themselves. Life expectancy has even increased by 5 years on average since 2000.

There’s never been a better time to be alive. We’ll live longer in a wealthier, more connected world, than any previous generation. So, I urge the reader to look around them. We live in a beautiful world, surrounded by extremely creative people, who are on the whole well-meaning, loving and caring. As a race, we have achieved the dreams of our forefathers through collaboration, capitalism and the liberty to believe, innovate and buy as we want. We are blessed indeed – but let us not forget what has led to these blessings.

Black History – What Does it Mean to You?

This video needs no introduction. After going viral on Twitter, this video demonstrates to all – young and old – the realities of Black History Month. But before you watch, ask yourself: what does Black History Month mean to me?

Video Courtesy of Lewis Richmond (@lrichmond98)

To find the video on Twitter, please have a look below:

Charity Week 2016

Raising Money for Charity

Hamza Wahid, The Box’s Senior Economics Editor, is currently raising money in collaboration with Islamic Relief UK for orphans and disadvantaged children living in Syria and Gaza whose lives have been affected by conflict.

As a young person growing up in the UK, Hamza appreciates the challenges he has faced. However, none can be compared to the suffering of those in conflict zones. That is why he has taken it upon himself to raise awareness concerning these issues, because it’s time to pay attention to the most vulnerable in our society.

At The Box, we feel deeply affected by the issues at hand and that’s why we’re supporting Hamza in his fundraiser. If you make a donation, and in your donor message you indicate that you were motivated by this message and paste the URL link of this article within that message, we promise to match your donation. We’re ready to help the children of Syria and Gaza. Will you?

To donate, please click here. For more information concerning Charity Week 2016, please click here. And even if you are unable to donate at this time, spreading the word is just as important.

Thank you for your generosity and kindness!

Why the Left-Right Political Spectrum is Dead

Edward Plaut | Wednesday 21 September 2016 | GMT 16:00 | plautemc@outlook.com

The furore over the seeming polarisation of the political spectrum that we hear so much about seems to have a major flaw. We’re always being told of how political debates and contests such as the Trump vs Clinton presidential election are more polarised than anything before. However, I believe a close analysis of the recent political trends in fact prove that the labels like “far left” or “far right” are dead.

Instead, I believe the political world is divided between two fundamental and easily distinguishable polarities: those who support smaller government (libertarians) and those who support bigger government (authoritarians). Although not perfect, such a division is simple and easy to apply, and helps to outline the issues with the current spectrum, especially in terms of political and economic problems where there is a clear alternative to government (i.e. the market, the private sector etc.).

Firstly, despite all the outrage at Mr Trump’s policies, a comparison between his policies and Mrs Clinton’s is worth considering in proving their similarities and thus the redundancy of the left-right political spectrum.

Both want to expand the military and keep the American military powerful and both want to continue to infringe the civil liberties of Americans through the hellish mass surveillance and bulk data collection that the CIA and NSA were revealed to be carrying out by Snowden and others. Clinton last December called for an “intelligence surge” that would no doubt increase the powers of the NSA, with Reuters recording that “she [Hillary] said she wants technology companies to be more cooperative to government requests for help in countering online propaganda, tracking patterns in social media and intercepting communications”. Trump is no different, stating, “I support legislation which allows the NSA to hold the bulk metadata”, and saying that he’d vote to renew the PATRIOT Act in an interview in December 2015 with Hugh Hewitt.

Both want to increase the government’s role in the economy by raising protectionist tariffs against foreign goods. As PRI record, “Donald Trump opposes the TPP as well. Trump also says he’ll amend or rip up NAFTA”, the former being a pending free trade deal across the Pacific region and the latter being the trilateral free trade bloc between America, Mexico and Canada. Mrs Clinton is the same, recorded by On the Issues as stating “the Trans Pacific Partnership, which includes the US and 11 other nations, is the largest regional trade agreement in history. But as of today, I am not in favor” and “that NAFTA and the way it’s been implemented has hurt a lot of American workers”.

The bottom line is that under either as President, the government will grow. The point I’m making here is that Clinton and Trump, despite being starkly juxtaposed on the traditional left-right spectrum, actually share a great deal of policies, and have the same answer to America’s problems: the government. This is where the right-left spectrum fails, as both sides have turned to greater government to solve issues. So by describing Mr Trump as “right-wing” or even “far-right” as many commentators have, they are really implying that he’s anything different to Mrs Clinton, the “centre-left” or “centrist” candidate who supports the vital core of Mr Trump’s policies – that the government and coercion are more effective than freedom and the markets.

The situation in France serves to further underline the redundancy of the left-right paradigm through which we view politics. The “left-wing” Socialist party and the “far-right” Front National both support increasing the role of government in the economy, with the Socialists calling for “the creation of 300,000 subsidised jobs…60,000 new public service teaching posts”, and the FN calling for “huge investment in re-industrialisation of France”. This extends to protectionist tariffs, which the Socialists support on non-EU goods, being opposed as it is to TTIP and to tariff reform in the EU, and the FN believe should be levied on all non-French goods in their ideal scenario of a French exit from the EU.

In the justice sphere, the Socialists want to give “the police and justice system…another 1,000 state sector jobs per year”, and the FN reflecting their shared love of big government by pledging that “the justice department is to be given a 25% increase in funding” and “the creation of 40,000 new prison places.” The FN and the Socialists also both support the increase of surveillance and phone-tapping to boot. Here, we can again see how describing the parties as polar on the left-right spectrum neglects the massive similarities in policy between them in this area. Instead, it’s time for the political world to realise that the left-right spectrum is broken, and to reflect that we may need an authoritarian/libertarian scale to better identify our political positions.

“You’ve forgotten immigration policy!” I hear the reader ask, worried of being tarnished with the same brush as their sworn opponents. It is true that in both of the examples used the immigration policies of the respective parties are very different, with Mr Trump and the FN favouring a restrictive policy, and the Socialists and Mrs Clinton supporting a more open policy. However, I believe that this doesn’t seek to undermine my argument. Perhaps the only place where the right-left spectrum still works is in the realm of immigration, which seeks to highlight the issues of its simplicity.

As we’ve seen, many of the major parties across the political spectrum have very similar economic and political policies, as it tends to be a broadly binary choice in these areas between ‘more’ government or ‘less’ government. Any party concerned with immigration and limiting numbers of migrants is classed as “right-wing” in the media as it is seen as a classic, common tenet of being “right-wing” (whatever that is). This is where the old grouping of right-left makes sense.

However, just because it makes sense on immigration doesn’t make it the right choice for the broader context. For example, the FN and UKIP are often both mistakenly seen as counterparts in the media as “right-wing”, just because they share concerns about immigration (admittedly, FN’s policies are a lot more radical on immigration). However, this is where the similarity ends between the two – the FN want a protectionist, statist, government-run economy, whereas UKIP “seek to establish free trade agreements across the globe” and to cut taxes. This shows that placing parties in the same boat on basis of immigration policy, which is what the current spectrum often does, is greatly flawed. The best way of combatting this would be on an authoritarian/libertarian scale.

Even social issues such as gay marriage, LGBT rights and indefinite detention fit on an authoritarian/libertarian scale a lot better than a spectrum, because again the question is – to what extent is this the government’s problem to regulate? Or has the government no right to legislate on personal issues? “Right” or “left” are too complex and confusing to try and put all issues on, and we find the meaning of “right” or “left” changing and mutating so often (hard-left, centre-left, post-left etc.) that surely it’s time for a binary system.

The fundamental question in world politics is, and I believe has always been: is the government better at solving problems than the people? The answer to that question is one for another article. But for now, it’s time for the political vocabulary to reflect a change in polarities and for us to reject the broken “right-left” spectrum.

“Guilty until proven Innocent” – The Struggle for Anonymity in Criminal Cases

Ronan Pandit | Thursday 15 September 2016 | GMT 16:00 | ronan.pandit@hotmail.co.uk | @RonanPandit

In our current system of justice, ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is no longer the mantra that we as a society abide by when following legal proceedings. Rather, we have turned around this historical saying and now sing from the hymn of ‘Guilty until proven innocent’. The accused are now becoming victims of the Law. This issue most notably applies to victims of false rape allegations.

Those falsely accused of rape continue to carry a stigma that exists within the media and within their community – even after acquittal. And while the accuser remains anonymous and is perceived as the “victim”, the suspect has to deal with the damaging perception that is placed upon them by society. Labour peer Lord Corbett told the Evening Standard in 2002 that:

“Rape is a uniquely serious offence and acquittal is not enough to clear a man in the eyes of his family, community or workplace. He is left with this indelible stain on his reputation.”

This concern is one that affects many men, and can be so damaging to the extent that the accused struggle to escape the condemnation from their friends and family. So true was this the case for Jay Cheshire who took his own life in July 2015 after struggling to cope with false rape accusations. Despite the fact that justice was clearly served through the acquittal of Jay Cheshire, can the lack of his anonymity serve as evidence of a legal system that is fair?

This highlights a key failure of the judicial system: while being successful in the result, the system fails significantly in protecting the victim from false allegations – which could be easily fixed with reforms that would preserve the anonymity of the accused until proven guilty and charged. Not only would this uphold the integrity of the legal system, but also more importantly, it would mean that the fate of the accused would be dealt with by professional judges and not by ordinary people who have a disposition to see defendants as guilty.

However, although I am not suggesting that anonymity of the victim is not essential (because it is), it is evident that there is a need to protect both the victim and accused, whether or not the accused is guilty. Protection of the victim (when the victim is a child) is clearly expressed through the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. Section 39 of the 1933 Act provides that:

(1) “In relation to any proceedings in any court . . . the court may direct that—

(a) No newspaper report of the proceedings shall reveal the name, address or school, or include any particulars calculated to lead to the identification, of any child or young person concerned in the proceedings, either as being the person or in respect of whom the proceedings are taken, or as being a witness therein:

(b) No picture shall be published in any newspaper as being or including a picture of any child or young person so concerned in the proceedings as aforesaid;

Except in so far (if at all) as may be permitted by the direction of the court.”

Despite this, the identity of the defendant is not legally protected, and has been the source of important battles between the media and the courts on whether it is possible to report the identity of the suspect. This is a problem that affects not only the victims of miscarriages of justice, but also victims of genuine rape offences, as the publication of information of the suspects has the potential to reveal the identity of the victim.

In a case in the Court of Appeal of Gazette Media Company Ltd v Teesside Crown Court, where the Court had to rule on the legitimacy of Section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, the Court of Appeal believed that the naming of the defendant is fundamental, as the context in which the charges are conveyed can lead to the publication of the identity of the victim. The Court reasoned as such:

“If the offender is named and the victim is described as ‘an 11 year-old schoolgirl’ in circumstances in which the offender has an 11 year-old daughter, it is at least arguable that the composite picture presented embraces ‘particulars calculated to lead to the identification’ of the victim.”

So, if the press revealed that the defendant had conspired to rape and was found with indecent photos of children, and revealed that they had an 11 year-old daughter (as was the context of this case), surely this could have led to the identification of the victim? The simplest and most useful conclusion to this would be to ensure the anonymity of both victim and defendant, so that both victims of false allegations, and victims of legitimate rape cases are adequately protected from future victimisation, and so that the judicial system remains fair to all those involved in it.

The lack of anonymity of the defendant embodies all that is inadequate in our system of justice – a system that treats its suspects as unequal, and labels them as guilty, even before a judgement is made. While I recognise the importance of encouraging genuine rape victims to come forward, I do not consider the release of defendants’ names in the press as a legitimate way of improving this problem. As a society, we have an obligation to treat and protect everyone under the law equally, and we need to uphold this value so that the English legal system continues to be seen as fair.

A Time for Change at the Emirates?

Clive Luketo | Football Editor | Wednesday 14 September 2016 | GMT 16:00 | clivekesumbu@gmail.com

What does the future entail for Arsenal FC? Arsenal’s transfer activity over the years has led to much dissatisfaction from Arsenal fans, as they often watch in distraught the successful signings of their title rivals with no display of their own. Currently, the most successful manager in the FA Cup is in the final year of his contract as he turns 67 in October. Could this season be the right time for Arsène Wenger to bid farewell? Could he mount one last hurrah by making a successful title challenge that has so far eluded Arsenal for the last twelve years? With much unrest around the Emirates Stadium, the demand for change amongst many fans has never been higher.

With ‘Wenger Out’ protests at the Emirates during the first game of the 2016/17 season, the dissatisfaction of Arsenal fans is evident to see. Since moving to the Emirates in 2006, they have failed to land a single Premier League title.  The only domestic success that they have endured has been winning consecutive FA Cup finals against relegation battlers Hull City and Aston Villa. I guess it’s just common practice now that Arsenal mounts a better challenge in the Emirates Cup than the Premier League.

Once remarked as ‘a specialist in failure’, it is difficult to discredit this statement about Wenger when it is plagued by Emirates’ trophy cabinet. Whilst it is important to remember that Wenger was the individual who helped transform Arsenal into a dominant force in the early years of his tenure, football is no longer a sport about stability. It’s about results. The sacking of Chelsea’s most successful manger, Jose Mourinho, is a clear indication of the instant need for success over stability. Therefore, Wenger’s inability to at least sustain a title challenge is more reason for him to consider stepping down, especially if he is unable to deliver this season.

The transfer activity conducted by Arsenal has been the most obvious criticism and has led to key players leaving over the years. The biggest one being Robin Van Persie, who rejected a new contract at Arsenal because of his disillusionment with the transfer policy. The following season he joined Manchester United and won the Premier League. Currently, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have two years left on their contract. Is there a possibility that they could reject a new contract and exit the club due to the transfer activity conducted?

Moreover, discontent is not only being seen from former players, but from football pundits and editors. Many pundits have highlighted over the years Arsenal’s lack of a world class striker since the departure of Van Persie. Only the signing of Oliver Giroud, injury-ridden Danny Welbeck and the most abysmal strategy of trying to turn the inconsistent Theo Walcott into a world class striker have been attempts by Wenger to plug that hole.

With that being said, the recent acquisition of Lucas Perez does bring a little optimism to the Arsenal faithful – the ‘Spanish Vardy’ does have some qualities to improve Arsenal’s attacking prowess. Arsène Wenger has constantly defended his transfer policy in ensuring that Arsenal keeps their pockets full. However, with the level of money involved in the game, it is clear that Arsenal fans are not willing to abide by him any longer. Especially as Arsenal sells one of the most expensive season tickets in the Premier League, fans expect huge returns on the pitch through their investment, and right now they simply are not getting it. Super-agent Jon Smith recently admitted that Arsenal’s transfer policy would only alter when Wenger leaves. For some, there has never been a greater reason for Wenger to step down.

However, a clear question that hovers over the potential exit of Arsène Wenger is his replacement. An individual that may be well suited to the Arsenal job is Thomas Tuchel. He has done a good job in reenergising Borussia Dortmund after their abysmal season under Jurgen Klopp last year. His mixture of possession and counter attacking play suits Arsenal well.

Nonetheless, it will be difficult for Arsenal to mount a successful title challenge after Wenger leaves. As seen at Manchester United, the exit of Sir Alex Ferguson led to a huge overhaul in the squad as well as huge investments in players, as evident this summer with the acquisition of Paul Pogba for a world record fee. Thus, the question remains whether Arsenal are ready to flex their muscle and help achieve the signings desired by Wenger’s successor or whether they will continue with Wenger’s transfer policy and further disillusion their fans.

Regardless of what the future entails for Wenger or Arsenal, what is evident is the necessity for change. If they are going to compete with Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, then they have to act quickly as something does need to change. As Wenger’s contract comes to an end, maybe the time has come for a change in management at the Emirates.