EU in or out?

The daunting and inescapable referendum is looming. On the 23rd June 2016 the fate of Britain in the European Union will be decided. Not only will the results be divisive but the implication of the term referendum is not widespread knowledge. A referendum is where voters choose either “yes” or “no” but regardless of the individuals vote, it could potentially be irrelevant. The basis of a referendum ensure it is not legally binding, thus the government can essentially disregard the outcome.

 

The last referendum was in 1975 when the public voted to stay. Although, after the recent election and UKIP’s cry to leave the EU, the PM David Cameron made the referendum a serious proposition to the British public.

 

The EU is a political-economic union formed after the second world war that consists of 28 member states and has seemingly merged to become a “single market”. The theory intrinsic to the formation of the EU is that states who trade freely with one another are less likely to resort to violence. To aid economic cooperation the EU introduced the Euro, a currency that is shared between 19 of the states to simplify trade.

 

A prominent reason for many voting to leave is that the EU is held accountable for restraining Britain’s development. The union has imposed a multitude of legislation on businesses and the membership is costing Briton’s billions with little return. As with a democratic vote there are disagreements with a plethora of sufficient reasons. With the “out” vote comes the necessity for a profitable divorce. Campaigners are looking to follow the “Swiss Model” whereby Britain replicates Switzerland in the sense that it is not a member state but negotiates trade treaties or devises a free trade agreement which allows access to financial services and a respected influence over assigned rules. In terms of affecting the economy the most desirable outcome is a potential 1.6% growth of GDP a year assuming Britain is able to arrange deals that are profitable to the economy. The most intriguing reason for an exit is the subliminally racial drive towards a reduction in immigration. Obviously with an exit from the Union, Britain would regain full control of its borders but is that entirely beneficial?

 

The benefits for remaining in the EU far outweigh those for leaving. With the immigration example the “Office for Budget Responsibility” claims the economy, or at least the majority of it relies on migrant labour and taxes paid by immigrants to fund the public services we all access. Leaving the EU would strip Britain of its prominent influence in Brussels, Berlin and Paris, and though Britain would remain in NATO the theory of Britain becoming a maverick state is not so far fetched. However, the most detrimental side effect of departing from the EU is the likelihood of restricted travel. British citizens would have to pay for visas or permits to visit member states. In addition to this, current expats would be considered illegal immigrants and forced into integrative tasks to maintain their citizenship of a foreign state. Currently in excess of 1.2 million Britons live in other EU states and the mass migration back to the UK would cause extreme disruption and an array of socio-economic implications such as an increase in unemployment.

 

With the exit, a significant amount of migrants would leave the UK and as a result of companies losing cheap labour they would likely outsource the UK and establish HQ elsewhere causing unemployment in the millions, particularly in the financial services sector which relies heavily on EU legislation. Accompanying this would be an economic crash on a similar scale to the 2008/09 recession and a projected 6.3% to 9.5% reduction in GDP.
To conclude, the options for the referendum the vote to remain strongly overwhelms the exit. Not only would the exit cause a severe economical crash but it would devastate the welfare and wellbeing of Britain’s citizens. The delusion of a “better Britain” is a branch from a Trump-esque ideology and could potentially ruin Britain. Voting day is 23rd June so personally I ask you to consider your vote carefully.

Has the teenage mental health crisis been ignored by the government?

Depression is a controversial topic in both British politics and sociology and surrounding it is a hazy stigma that divides the interested and the ignorant.

Having personally battled depression for over a year now I acknowledge the broad spectrum that it develops on with the differing degrees of severity. The rates of teenage depression have sky rocketed to surpass 70% in the past 25 years (The Independent, 2016) and only recently has action been taken to prevent further growth.

The Health Secretary and various other leaders for the past few years have repeatedly basked in their own ignorance concerning mental health. Children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS, 2010) received a pathetic 0.6% of the total NHS budget before Cameron announced new funding a few months back. However this was revolutionary for the British government as on numerous occasions the government has failed mental health services, all the while the diagnoses of mental health grew exponentially, with suicide now being the biggest killer of men under the age of 50, also accounting for 1 in 4 deaths in men under the age of 35.

Recently the office for national statistics (ONS, 2015) released stats exposing a shocking gender gap in British suicides that concludes men are 3 times more likely to kill themselves than women. The mental health crisis with men is still a very real threat with the majority of men self medicating rather than seeking professional help. Whether this is due to the stereotypical image of a strong-willed British “man” or down to the stigma the media push onto us that mental illness is a sign of weakness is unknown. A charity that undertakes a lot of work in mental health awareness is “Time to Change” who annually organise a day throughout the UK to try to eradicate the stigma that surrounds male mental health.

The government has failed mental health services on a multitude of occasions. In early 2016 it was discovered that the number of nurses working in mental health had fallen by 10% since 2010 (The Independent, 2016). A significant reduction from 41,320 to 36,870 causes an array of problems when you consider the increase in the number of diagnoses nationally, and the growing incapability to cope with the crisis. In 2014 Professor Sue Bailey described the services available as a “car crash” (BBC, 2014). She highlighted the shrinking of services available to the growing demand and lay claim that due to the reduction of beds, patients would have to travel significant distances to access suitable care.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is renowned for not taking mental health seriously as well as only possessing a basic understanding of the issues and is yet to consider the crisis a priority. According to a Freedom of Information Act (BBC, 2014) it was revealed that Hunt had only visited the NHS front-line on a few occasions in a period spanning longer than 21 months. He has been frequently ridiculed for his nonsensical responses to questions relating to mental health and his inability to empathize with the afflicted.

A man however who has stood by the defense of mental health provisions and services is former Liberal Democrat care minister Norman Lamb. In late 2015 he announced the initiation of a cross-party campaign for improved funding for mental health services which to a degree may have been responsible for Cameron’s pledge of £1bn to help prevent the growing mental health crisis.

To conclude, the government for such a prolonged time have been ignorant as to the seriousness of the issues at hand but seem to be approaching them with a more open mind and the determination to help the sercives with sufficient equality for the first time.

The Tattooed Truth – Sam Muir

The etymology of a “tattoo”is derived from its Polynesian roots “tatau” meaning “correct” and later “irezumi” meaning “insertion of ink” in Japanese (PBS, 2003). With significant coverage myself, I follow the industry closely and am more than familiar with the subjective controversies surrounding the art.

Popular among the media and various news sources, the ridicule of a tattooed person is never far away. The derogatory outlook on tattoos are often associated with outlaws and criminals. Take for instance Russian prison tattoos which often became regulatory and uniform to forge some degree of hierarchy among inmates (Guardian, 2014)  it is difficult to comprehend the stereotypes that Western countries convey, indicating we are not as sophisticated and equality-driven as we like to portray as a nation.

In 2015 the Daily Telegraph published an article entitled “Ugly and utterly pointless: Tattoos prove that the human race is going backwards.” (Daily Telegraph, 2015) The article is biased in its entirety and written from a time-locked and completely subjective view. The journalist focuses on poorly executed tattoos or art with spelling mistakes, which artists and clients alike know is a rarity in the industry. He refuses to acknowledge that the widely accepted art form has developed in more recent years, accompanied by advances in: equipment available, artists’ talents and higher quality inks. Similarly, the writer subliminally generalizes tattooed people as “intoxicated at the time”, which is completely void of any reasonable justification as it merely relates to the minority.  Rewind a year, and The Daily Mail, another of Britain’s leading papers published an article outlining a study which supposedly showed higher traits of anger in tattooed individuals. The study immediately becomes discredited due to the fact i) the Daily Mail does not cite and reference any sources, and ii) that regardless of the existence of the study it only studied 97 people and so the study itself has no practical applications or validity in relation to the global population (Daily Mail, 2014).

What these subjective articles deny is that tattoos are a form of self expression to the individual. They help display the individuality of a person without necessarily offending others’ beliefs vocally. If executed well a tattoo builds on the foundation of a persons characteristics and makes them apparent in a more artistic nature. Not only this but commonly forgotten are the medical benefits of tattoos. In the instance of severe alopecia an individual can have said hair that was lost replaced by a talented tattoo artist with the end result having high levels of realism. Furthermore patients, particularly those who donate blood or diabetics can have their “condition” tattooed on a visible body part to aid the efficiency of emergency services (Kluger, 2013).

In addition to this a study (Swami, 2016) was conducted in 2016 and investigated the hypothesis that tattooed individuals are more willing to engage in risks. Researchers studied 551 women and 455 men (a far larger sample) using a 7 point scale to represent a degree of willingness to certain scenarios. The study was undertaken using a parallel-blind technique. The results clearly showed that the non tattooed individuals were far more prone to take financial risks. Undoubtedly this is an undesirable trait to posses and thus indicates the higher rationality of tattooed individuals, reinforced by the results showing tattooed individuals also having higher external stimulation.

To conclude this article the negativity that surrounds tattoos is purely based on subjective perspectives and uneducated stereotypes and with the advancement of techniques the number of tattooed individuals grows exponentially, as do the potential benefits of tattoos. The media attempts to belittle those with artwork but when studying something that affects a large population it is important to withhold subjectivity and remain open-minded.

Depression Short Story

The moment was a fleeting one. A brief glimpse into love and sanity, an all
too familiar abyss of pain and suffering. Yet in this perfect moment, time
froze. He could taste the innocence on her lips; her breath was as fresh as
she was naive. Her eyes longing for the idealistic love that only books could
deliver.

The skyline looked picturesque, the atmosphere; peaceful. Regardless of the
bustling city below him, not a sound could be heard. He recognized the hurt and
was unsure if the silence was the result of brilliant irony, that in his darkest
moment his demons were sleeping.

He was used to this, but the pain was growing, everything was so unclear.
Why had she left him? What had he done wrong? Would no one fight his battles
beside him. Again, and again these questions replayed through his head.
His silence was just another word for his pain and questioning his own sanity
he clenched his head with white knuckles, one hand over each ear and
screamed. Tears followed. It was his only release, only then, and then alone
could his demons bask in the torment. He hoped they would cease combat, perhaps
let him taste tranquility for just the briefest moments. He glanced down, twenty
storeys up, his feet teetering on the edge. He looked confident but inside he
was hesitant and broken, he was terrified.

He was seconds away from ending it all, finally seeking solace, after what felt
like eternity. He effortlessly wiped away his tears with the backs of his hands
and levered his arms into an eagle spread manner. He accepted what had to be
done but the last detail was too ambiguous. Was this fate? Predestination? Or
merely the self inflicted injustice caused by years of internal torment. He
wasn’t colourblind he knew the world was black and white but ignoring the final,
fatal questions, he closed his eyes, let out a stifled scream. He extended a
foot and leant forward. In a strange way he had fallen in love with his
depression and would keep it on the inside for it’s the safest place to hide.
After all is suicide not just for angels who want to go home? He was no longer
living he was merely surviving. His head was clear, his vision went black…