‘Cash for Cameron’, and the prospects for changing how parties are financed

‘Cash for Cameron’, and the prospects for changing how parties are financed

Recently the Papers have been all over the ‘Cash for Cameron’ scandal. As I’m sure many of you have heard, Peter Cruddas (co-treasurer of the Conservative party) was caught on camera offering access to David Cameron and opportunities to influence policy in exchange for sums of £250,000 and more. Since then, following considerable political heat and media frenzy, Cameron has admitted that a total of £23m has been raised through hosting private lunches and dinners at Number 10 since the general election. To some extent rich people will always be more likely to mix with the political elite because they all hang out at the same clubs, restaurants and resorts. However, on this occasion, I believe that this is more than a quick natter in the prep-school playground and highlights the need for reform of party funding in this country. It’s true that controversy over funding has affected all parties at some point, they rely too heavily on large donations; The Tories from wealthy individuals, and Labour from the Unions. One thing most seem to agree on is that reform of the funding system is needed but what is less clear is how. The most visible solution is to make politics state funded, in the same way as some European countries, where the taxpayer provides the majority of parties’ funding. State funding can materialize in many different forms according to each country’s political system, unfortunately state funded politics can also come with a host of new problems, and on second thoughts it is difficult to see this as the answer. The fact is that state funding wouldn’t necessarily make...

New Internship at 99% Campaign: apply now

The 99% Campaign is run by Independent Academic Research Studies (IARS), a leading think tank with a  mission to give everyone a chance to forge a safer, fairer and more inclusive society. We do this by producing evidence-based solutions to current social problems, sharing best practice, and by supporting young people to shape decision making. IARS is currently recruiting for a 99% Campaign intern along with other positions, which you can find on our website. What makes the IARS team special is commitment, drive, flexibility and teamwork and we are looking for someone with the same qualities. As a small organisation with a diverse portfolio of work, you can expect no two days to be the same and to be constantly challenged. Internship description: You will support the youth-led 99% Campaign acheive it’s aims of challenging negative stereotypes of young people by: helping support the organisation of the 99% Campaign Board, which consists of high profile individuals; promote the Campaign through the use of social media  and keep track of trends in London press. You can find out more about the 99% Campaign by visiting the 99% Campaign Blog. Requirements: Position would suit a graduate/postgraduate with an interest in journalism and campaigning; Empathy with the aims and objects of IARS; Good IT skills and ability to administer a blog using a content management system; Work well independently; Good written, oral communication skills; A keen eye for spotting errors. Start date: ASAP Days/hours to volunteer: 1 – 2 days per week Duration: For 3 months with possibility for renewal (up to six months) Expenses: Up to £12 a day Benefits: Training...

Should it be illegal to swear at a police officer?

**Article originally published in The Huffington Post UK. The relationship between young people and the police in London has once again been in the spotlight this weekend. It has been reported that a policeman was captured on tape allegedly assaulting a young black teenager just hours after a colleague of his was recorded abusing another man with a serious racial slur. This comes on the back of the release of the final report of the Riots Communities and Victims Panel last week, which concluded that stop and search and perceived heavy-handed policing was identified as a major source of discontent with the police and cited as a motivating factor in the riots and a reason for some of the attacks on the police. Take for instance the ruling last November that found 19 year old Denzel Harvey had been wrongly convicted of a public order offence for swearing at a police officer during a stop and search. Currently under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, it is possible to be arrested for “conduct likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress” to those present, even if no one present claims to have actually suffered any distress. The police have argued in the past that those who swear at them during street encounters are likely to cause them alarm and distress, thereby allowing them to use their powers of arrest in situations where stop and searches like Harvey’s lead to verbal abuse. While this practice may please some who would like to see the police forcibly ‘respected’, the above ruling by Mr Justice Bean is a step away from...

Britain: a post-racial society?

Trayvon Martin was just a child when he was brutally murdered in what was a racially motivated attack. What is even more distressing is the inability of the legal system to provide his family with the justice they deserve. Thus this case is making it apparent to the International community that institutional racism is still prevalent throughout America. As we mustn’t forget that Trayvon Martin is just one of the countless black people who have been killed by both police and “upstanding” members of society, from Oscar Grant to Sean Bell, the list is endless. Though we cannot sit from a third party perspective and assume the extremities in America do not exist in England, as it does, and I fear it is on the rise. The Stop and Search was introduced in 1984 and allows police to stop individuals based on “suspicious” behaviour. According to new analysis racial profiling has dramatically increased, black people are now 30 times more likely to be stopped and searched than a white person. When we allow the people who are meant to protect us terrorise a certain section of society based on their racist ideas, we are not only alienating, disenfranchising and increasing resentment we are failing them.  Being a young black female myself to think that myself or my siblings are targeted based on the colour of our skin sickens me, to be quite frank. To add, frequent reports of treatment during stop and searches are “intrusive”, “inconsiderate” and “disrespectful” to put it politely, indicate that police brutality has gone too far. Mark Duggan’s murder made him the fourth black male to...

The criminalization of peaceful protest: on both sides of the atlantic

In April of last year, 12 AIDS activists were arrested in Washington DC and charged with unlawful conduct. The protesters had decided to gather outside House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office in order to protest against republican cuts to HIV/AIDS funding and ban on syringe exchange funding. Their protest, organized by four advocacy groups, including youth organizations such as Students Global AIDS campaign, was totally peaceful, as they sat on the floor, chanting ‘Budget Cuts Kill! Fight Global AIDS!’. What was the result of this peaceful protest? The US Capitol Police arrested the activists, forced them to go through drug testing and referred many of them to trial.  But what is even more striking is the realization that, while the HIV activists were arrested the same day as Mayor Gray and Council Chairman Brown-who were also protesting against the same Republican Budget Cuts-, Gray and Brown were released on a $50 fine and the activists-who were part of the same protest- were threatened with 6 months in jail and a criminal record. But, unfortunately, the story does not end here. Among the HIV activists who were arrested, there was one young man, named Antonio Davis, who was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 2002 and who currently suffers from an additional painful joint disease. Davis was using medical marijuana, prescribed by his doctor, in order to boost his appetite and to counteract the painful side effects caused by his heavy HIV/AIDS medication. Despite the fact that Davis presented medical evidence to the authorities, which was certifying that drug use was necessary for his health condition, he remained obliged to go through...