JellyBaby's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Politics

I’ve been able to vote for a few years now but I’ve never actually bothered to. I do actually feel guilty about this. After all, many suffragettes died to get us women the vote and I know I’m very lucky to live in a country where we actually get to choose our leaders. But the simple fact of the matter is that politics confuses and bores me. It seems to me that parties make all sorts of wonderful promises in the run up to an election which never become reality – and anyway, I’d much rather settle down and watch Neighbours rather than Question Time. It occured to me recently that the only knowledge I have about politics comes from reading the odd copy of The Sun and watching Mock The Week, which hasn’t exactly given me a very good education in the workings of the government.

Recently, however, I sat down with a cuppa and Company and read three very informative interviews, done by girls my age, with the leaders of the main parties here in Britain, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, and Nick Clegg. In amongst questions about where they buy their clothes and what movies they’ve recently watched were intelligent ones on their manifestos and in particular, how they’re going to help people like me if they come into power.

From getting on the housing ladder to tackling student finance, these interviews showed me that it’s essential for anyone who can to vote as politics affect us all. Just looking back over my blog I see that I’ve written about welsh language law, immigration, and global warming in amongst my ramblings about Glee and the X Factor. I always considered politics to be a load of old men in suits; thanks to Company and their excellent articles on how important it is to have an interest I see that politics plays a part in every aspect of my day to day life.

The price of petrol; public transport; wages; bank charges; education and more – all are affected by the government, therefore it is essential that we vote for whoever we believe will give us the best deal for the next four or five years.

I can’t say that I’m going to swap my tabloids for the Times, or American Idol for BBC Parliament, but on election day, I will be marking my ballot and feeling grateful that I have that chance. The opportunity to vote is more precious than we can imagine, so use it!


The assembly government has published a proposed new law on the Welsh government.

These new laws would place duties on certain firms to provide services in Welsh. Firms in areas such as gas, electricity and telecoms could face fines if they refuse to provide a Welsh language service.

The measure would also give Welsh official language status.

It’s about time too, I say. Non-Welsh speakers may not realise but a number of Welsh people just aren’t comfortable having to do all their business in English and surely it’s common sense that if you’re in Wales you should be able to do your business in Welsh if you want.

However there have been concerns that the new measures don’t cover the private sector. Shops, for example, won’t be required to provide a Welsh service. The assembly doesn’t have the power. It’s a shame because shops are a major part of our day to day lives and it would be nice to see the Welsh language become more mainstream.

Still, it’s progress and it’s good to see action being taken to ensure that whether you’re more comfortable speaking Welsh or English, at least you’re able to make that choice in more ways.

For some, it’s a symbol of segregation and inequality. For others, it’s a way of life. In France, it is banned in schools and could soon be banned on the streets, and here in the UK there are calls for it to be outlawed.

The burkha is a full length covering worn by Muslim women, which covers the entire body and face, leaving only the eyes visible. It was originally worn in desert times as a protective covering against sand, and also has a security aspect. During raids, women of child-bearing age would often be kidnapped, but behind a veil it was impossible to tell the age of the women, and the chances of being taken was substantially reduced.

The burkha was originally not meant as Islāmic dress, but is now synonymous with the religion. According to the Qur’an, both men and women should dress and behave modestly in public. For some Islāmic women, this means wearing a scarf, but for others, it means wearing a full length burkha to cover their entire body and face outside the home, something that is not specifically mentioned in the Qur’an. Like a number of requirements in all religions, it is open to interpretation.

The UK Independence Party has now said that they believe the burkha should be banned in Britain.

Neil Farage, the party’s former leader, said: “What we are saying is this is a symbol. It is a symbol of something that is used to oppress women. It is a symbol of an ­increasingly divided Britain, and the real worry – and it isn’t just about what people wear – is we are heading towards a ­situation where many of our cities are ­ghettoised and there is even talk of Sharia law becoming part of British culture.”

The party claim that the burkha shows a lack of integration into British culture, and is also a threat to security. Farage told the BBC politics show: “I can’t go into a bank with a motorcycle ­helmet on. I can’t wear a balaclava going round the District and Circle line.”

Perhaps surprisingly, a number of British women, including Saira Khan, a former contestant on The Apprentice, support a ban on the burkha. A Muslim herself, she despises the burkha, saying “it is an imported Saudi Arabian tradition, and the growing number of women veiling their faces in Britain is a sign of creeping radicalisation, which is not just regressive, it is oppressive and downright dangerous.”

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Despite these concerns, I feel uneasy about the idea of controlling what women can and can’t wear. Here in the UK we enjoy freedom, unlike many other countries. We are free to wear what we like, when we like. If it’s hot, I can go to the beach in a bikini or wear a mini-skirt and vest to the shops. I am allowed to choose between trousers or a dress; I could even strip off on a nudist beach if I wanted. Go out to any city at night and you will see clubbers dressed in miniscule outfits. Every morning, when I look in my wardrobe, my decision of what to wear is completely my own. I am not forced to wear something I don’t feel comfortable in. Surely this is a fundamental British right? By banning the burkha, the 200,000 British women who choose to wear it on a day-to-day basis, will be forbidden the chance to choose.

Of course, there is a dark side to the burkha, and that is that some women are forced into wearing a burkha. But is this reason enough to force those who have chosen to wear a burkha, to wear something they are not comfortable in?

Perhaps the history behind the burkha could be taught in schools to allow all children the chance to decide whether they want to wear it?

I will never get behind an argument for banning a burkha, as I believe every British person should have the right to wear exactly what they want. If the burkha was banned, what would be banned next? Cross necklaces? Saris? I wouldn’t want to live in a country where the government dictates what we can and and can’t wear. I agree with Schools Secretary Ed Balls when he said “I think that’s not British. It is not ­consistent with our traditions of liberty and freedom.”