Emmanuel Macron, after being elected in 2017
to bring about change in France, has since implemented his unemotional and
self-described Jupiterian style through a long list of reforms. Recent examples
include changes in pay for Air France employees, higher taxes on pensions, and
changes in university applications allowing universities to select students on
academic grounds. Yet none of these wide-ranging and provocative reforms have
created half the reaction that reforms to SNCF have stirred up. In aiming to
tackle the huge debt and excessive benefits of SNCF (the French train network),
Macron provoked a three month long strike which has interrupted (so far) 20
days of travel. On the 50th anniversary of the infamous May 1968 protests, how
can Macron justify such a controversial reform and how will he pull it off?
Even in Macron’s campaign title “En Marche!”,
he reflected his goals for his entire presidency, ending France’s stagnation
with a new party and drastic change.His
long list of reforms has only gone to reinforce this with edits of the beloved
Code du Travail and cuts to public sector spending, amongst other policies. A
more SNCF-specific goal, however, is to reduce the company’s debt - totalling
at around 46 billion euros at the latest count. Increasing productivity,
reducing factor costs (for instance, through cutting the benefits for employees
of SNCF), and pushing for an efficient use of funds will all create a more
competitive and efficient company, something that is crucial for its viability
in the future. The reforms proposed by Macron aim to fulfill all these goals by
limiting benefits for new employees and privatising the company in the
not-so-far future. Opening up the train network to other companies will create
a need for a more efficient use of funds and capital to keep up with a growing
market - hopefully avoiding failures such as ordering 2,000 new trains that
were too large for station platforms in 2014. Competition will also push the
market price of train tickets down, creating a better outcome for the public.
With SNCF reforms, it could be argued that Macron is following Lewin’s Model of
Change. Despite being an organisational model, its base argument holds when
applied to an economy. Small changes often fail as it is too easy to revert back
to the old system. Using this model to unfreeze the status quo, change what is
necessary, then freeze the organisation or society into the new status quo
allows change to be cemented in place. Macron here has unfrozen society with
his entire “En Marche!” campaign, gained his mandate for change, and is
attempting to cement it in law. Although complete change will not be fully
secured until the last of the current cohort of SNCF workers are out of the
company (as this reform is gradual, applying only to new employees), the shift
in policy will be signed into law and will hold until the next radical change.
Every TV show’s worst nightmare. On the one hand, a show’s cancellation could
mean it’s a good thing; if it gets the chance to wrap up its storylines, give a
final farewell to its characters and go out on its own terms, chances are it’ll
be remembered fondly as a show that didn’t outstay its welcome, droving on
endlessly like an undead zombie (Season 30 of The Simpsons coming this September!). However, in other
circumstances, a show may end up cancelled too soon, potentially ending with a
tantalising cliffhanger and untied ends that end up leaving many a fans
frustrated until the end of their life. In light of the many recent
cancellations of various shows, most notably police procedural sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine getting cancelled by
Fox and shortly afterward revived by NBC all within less than 36 hours, I’ve
decided to investigate and find out the fastest a show has been cancelled.
cancellation, there are many a shows that instantly come to mind, and some of
which were also revived. Cult sitcom Arrested
Development had a great tale, cancelled after three seasons and then seven
years later revived by streaming service Netflix (Season 5 premiering May 29!).
Sci-Fi western Firefly, despite
inheriting a massive cult fandom, was cancelled after one season of fourteen
episodes, most of which were aired out of order, until briefly returning with a
one-off theatrical film Serenity.
Even Netflix, revered for giving cancelled shows another chance, received a
mass fan outrage after cancelling Sci-Fi series Sense8 after only two seasons, until they were eventually compelled
by to bring the show back for a two-hour series finale.
investigations, I also encountered various obscure shows that were cancelled
after only airing one episode. Perhaps the most infamous one I found out was Heil Honey I’m Home!, a short-lived
sitcom revolving around Adolf Hitler and his wife Eva dealing with and getting
into many antics with their Jewish neighbours. The pilot episode involves
Hitler trying to keep his neighbours out of the way whilst Neville Chamberlain
comes to dinner. Suffice to say, eleven episodes were produced and only one was
aired (later episodes planned to include Joseph Stalin and Hermann Goring as
guest stars).However, in spite of all
this, I was still wondering, was there ever a show so bad, so horrible to
watch, it couldn’t even air the entirety of one episode, a show cancelled in
something of a state of limbo, incomplete and unfinished. The answer, bizarrely,
and to my eventual shock and horror, is yes.
the needs of today’s population without compromising the needs of future
would think it would be easier to do, or at least work towards, than ever
before. May that be through our technological advancements, encouragements and
creations of geographical leaders in areas from Agriculture to the facilitation
of active communities, our scope of involvement in the development of our world
has accelerated in our effort, execution and thus progress.
But we’ve hit an unusually
abstract stumbling block.
the emphasis upon “we”, because it seems not only as if this so-called
phenomenon has been able to impact a great number of people, it has been
provoked by us both intentionally and unintentionally also. Introducing, the
very selection of the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2016 as “post-truth”.
The selection identifies a surge in post-truth behaviour, such conduct. In
2016, the majority of the participating electorate in the United Kingdom made
the decision to leave the European Union, a union set up during the 1960s,
purposely for trade, emotionally for peace. What since has such a
promising-sounding Union become? Such digression is important to consider.
However, the focus is on how the decision made was influenced by a plethora of
accusations, evidence and information. From the outset, one would assume all
information provided is, as it always claims, factual and truthful. But the
political favouritism, desperation for victory, but more importantly, the
presence of opportunity to manipulate people more easily than ever before,
worked to shake this natural conception.
was manipulated in unseen manners in order to incite action and participation
for the respective “Remain” and “Leave” campaigns- resulting in a country
arguably more divided since the Troubles, political uncertainty during the
1970s or even in the wake of the Second World War. Such ‘post-truth’ behaviours
during the referendum have left the country reeling
this precise date. The analysis of content, may that be intentionally
manipulative or blatantly incorrect, wages on. We may never know why, or how,
some comments came to be
where they originated from, and to what extent they served an influential
The Bridge theatre which can be found overlooking the River
Thames and Tower Bridge, is the first commercial theatre to be built in central
London since 1973. It was set up by Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr, in October
2017 who wanted to open a large theatre that was not in the West End of London.
The theatre is very adaptable and it allows productions to be performed in ‘promenade
formats’, with reduced seating.
Over the Easter break I was lucky enough to go and see an
amazing contemporary production of ‘Julius Caesar’ at ‘the Bridge’ where David
Calder (Julius Caesar) David Morrissey (Mark Anthony) and Ben Whishaw (Marcus
Brutus) performed brilliantly.
The production was particularly special as the audience were
the crowd/mob in the play and we had to hold up posters, cheer loudly, lie on
the floor and also pass a huge sheet of red cloth over our heads when Julius
Caesar was arriving triumphantly at the Senate unaware that Brutus and his
conspirators were waiting to kill him. Although the production used
Shakespeare’s original script, Julius Caesar wore a red baseball cap and Mark
Anthony had a track-suit with his name on it which also made the characters mingle
with the crowd. Platforms were rising and falling all the time throughout the performance
so the crowd had to move as the platforms changed and simple props and clever
stage changes were also used so you really felt part of each scene. The
production was also very noisy as it had loud sound tracks and explosions
throughout; it lasted two hours (without an interval), although the time seemed
to pass quickly as the audience had to be so involved in it all.
week's edition of the British Medical Journal, the magazine celebrates 70 years
of the NHS, with an article entitled ‘Vote for the greatest achievement of the
NHS at 70’. The full list can be found here: https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2121
. However,in light of this, I would
like to highlight the three achievements I consider to be the most important,
and then contrast them with facts and statistics about the healthcare in the
United States. If this does not generate feelings of gratitude towards our
healthcare system, then nothing will.
first achievement is that of the the founding principle of the National Health
Service and the basis upon which it was raised; the idea that healthcare is
based on need and free at the point of delivery. It was born out of a long-held
ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth.
This has remained consistent since 1948, with the exception of some charge,
such a prescriptions, optical services and dental services. This means that the
64.6 million people living in the United Kingdom have access to a healthcare
system whatever their economic or social background. In contrast, the average
American spends $10,500 a year on healthcare, with that figure looking to reach
$15,000 by 2023. A study in 2013 indicated that, despite spending well in
excess of any other countries looked at, the United States achieved worse
outcomes in rates of chronic conditions, obesity and infant mortality. The
countries studied were Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the
Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
only was the U.S Government spending around double per person on healthcare in
the US compared to the UK, that money was only for Medicare and Medicaid
benefits for disadvantaged and aged people. In almost all aspects, the United
States charged more for tests and procedures. There is a discrepancy in that
this study was undertaken before the invention of Obamacare. Obamacare may have
been a catalyst for improvement in the United States healthcare system, however
what was one the the first actions of Donald Trump on achieving office?
A week ago, at the time of
writing this, the Arctic Monkeys released their 6th album. Having not released
an album since 2013, it is clear to say that the hype and anticipation for the Sheffielders
latest work was very high. But did the album actually deliver? For me, yes. I
reckon Alex Turner and the gang did a pretty good job.
Upon initial listening to
the album, I was sceptical as to whether I would like it. This is mainly due to
the whole atmosphere of the album being significantly different to the Arctic
Monkeys I am used to. The whole album is much slower than your average and, as
the title would suggest, tranquill than their previous albums. This grew much
criticism from the broader public, simply due to it is not what they expected.
However, upon re listening to the album later, I warmed to this new style. For
me, if they had simply released an album that was similar to AM or Whatever
People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, there would have been just as much
complaint. Possible complaint may have come from the fact that they were not
willing to try new things. However, this change in tone and atmosphere is a
positive thing. It shows that they are willing to try new things, regardless of
what the public reception may be. To be honest, that sums up Alex Turner’s
approach to many things.
The title of the album
refers to what Neil Armstrong said upon landing on the moon. In July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became
the first humans to set foot on the moon. The journey had started four days
earlier in Florida, and culminated with the two astronauts landing at a
prearranged site Armstrong named ‘Tranquility Base’. And this moon setting is
present in some of the songs in their album, notably the title song Tranquility
Base Hotel & Casino, as well as my personal favourite Four Out Of
Five. The former of these songs explores the idea of having a hotel and
casino on the moon. The latter explores the idea that there has been an exodus
from Earth, and that people have started to gentrify Clavius, which is a crater
on the moon. Basically this means that people have departed Earth and started
to renovate and improve Clavius. This whole idea of Tuner writing about leaving
the Earth to colonise the moon is an interesting thinking point, which he makes
seem like a good idea through the songs.
by Sudeep Ghosh As one of the most surprising and thrilling UEFA Champions League competitions nears its end, only two teams remain. Liverpool FC and Real Madrid FC will battle for the coveted trophy that determines the best team in Europe on 26th May 2018, in Kiev. Real Madrid FC are the current reigning champions, winning in 2017, as well as 2016, and are now aiming for an incredible three successive trophies. Los Blancos are the most successful team in the history of the competition with an unprecedented 12 wins. Liverpool are the most successful English team in the competition, and third overall, with 5 wins.
Bookmarkers currently have the somewhat struggling Real Madrid side as favourites against a recently developed and inexperienced Liverpool team. However, the Reds should not be written off just yet. Liverpool have scored the most goals in this year’s competition with 40 goals - 10 a piece for feared threesome, Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, meaning that the trio currently occupy the joint-second spot for most individual goals this year. First place, of course, is being held by the greatest goalscorer in Champions League history, Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 15 goals this year. Many fans are excited to see the battle between Cristiano Ronaldo and Mo Salah - both of whom are favourites to take home the Ballon d’Or, a trophy awarded to best football player of the season.
Real Madrid have been nowhere near their best this year. They are a shadow of the team that won La Liga and the Champions League last season. With that being said, they have had the more competitive opponents compared to Liverpool on their way to the final, which has included some nail-biting finishes. They quickly dispatched high-spending and dangerous Paris Saint-Germain, 5-2 on aggregate. They then beat 2017 finalists, Juventus FC in an exhilarating and controversial match, which ended with a 97th minute penalty after the scores were level. Real Madrid also struggled in the semi-final against 2013 winners, Bayern Munich FC. The German side had more shots, more passes and more possession over the two legs. Somehow, the result ended 4-3 in Madrid’s favour.
Liverpool, in comparison, have faced less competitive opponents. Their first real challenge came during the quarter-finals when they faced one of the favourites to win the competition, Manchester City. The deadly trio of Firmino, Salah, and Mane came to Liverpool’s aid, as they were all able to get their names on the scoresheet to topple the English champions in a huge upset victory. Their most recent fixture, against Roma FC in the semi-final, ended in a goalscoring galore with 13 goals scored over the two legs. A ridiculous end to the match saw Liverpool’s lead of 7-3, become 7-6, with Roma looking more dangerous by the minute. The Merseyside club were able to hang on, and set up the unexpected final against Real Madrid in Kiev.
by Grace Acklam In the midst of one of England’s rare heatwaves, it seems only right that the mutual hatred and love of the sun should be addressed. We seem entirely unequipped for any temperature above 15 degrees, and the majority of us frazzle within minutes of stepping out the shade. It can also be duly noted that when the weather forecast predicts sun for an entire day, without light showers or some cloud, the flip flops, sundresses and hairy topless chests make an appearance. We as a country do not know how to react to the heat, other than continually complaining to our friends that were “sweating like pigs.” Yet every year, there is a heat wave, and history repeats itself, so it poses the question, if the same thing happens every year, why is British summer time our biggest battle? As a country, we spend two thirds of the year in hibernation, with our heating on, and hiding under piles of blankets. The weather during this time ranges from single figures to minus figures, and there is no margin beyond or below that. The winter sun begins in September and only ceases in April, half way through the supposed “Spring”. It seems as if the Winter will never end. When Winter does end, however, for the four golden months, we receive heat wave after heat wave, and when they disappear and are replaced by rain for one weekend each month, we all sigh and ask what more we could expect from rainy old England. This is not entirely accurate though, because it is not just a heatwave, it is Summer. When this realisation finally does sink in, we all take it upon ourselves to throw on the the dodgy sun hats and barely there shorts, and spend every day lounging around in every possible place, ignoring the many mosquito bites, and despite complaining about the mere 18 degree heat, escape to exotic places and bathe in 35 degree heat for a week. Not only that, but we then complain profusely about the burn we brought upon ourselves by wearing only SPF10 and tanning oil, in order to “make the most out of the seldom sun” that we saved all year for. Whilst short and not at all like the long hot summers they experience in places like America, it cannot be argued that we don’t make the most out of the limited heat that we are gifted with, because if anything, we take it for granted. We wish it away, start asking for the rain and the cold, both of which are soon handed back to us.
“Mr. Stark, you've become part of a bigger universe. You just don't know it yet- I'm here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative.” That line applies to both the characters in the movie and the makers of the film itself: ten years ago, Samuel L Jackson’s appearance in the post credit scene of Iron Man sowed the seeds for a movie franchise (in the words of Dr Strange) “hitherto undreamed of”. Over the last decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had 19 movies with varying levels of greatness but a consistent sense of fun and quality throughout all 40 hours of movie runtime. Taking characters most people had never heard of and transforming them into fan favourite cultural phenomena, Marvel Studios has truly thrived under Kevin Feige and Disney. A number of movies up until this point have featured the teaming up of multiple Avengers starting with Joss Whedon’s 2012 film The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble depending on who you ask). It was one of the biggest movies of its time and saw the union of all established Superheroes of that universe.
Avengers: Infinity War, however, makes this film seem comparatively a lot smaller. Possibly the cinematic event of this century, it features the coming together of what seems like every character who has ever featured in every Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy or solo superhero movie. The number 23 has been thrown around a lot in regard to how many heroes there are and to juggle this many characters in one two hour film seems like an impossible task for a filmmaker to attempt. Despite the fact the whole world has seen it and had their say by now, I will be reviewing the film and seeing how successful they were. They were successful. In just about every aspect, the Russo Brothers succeeded. This film does the impossible and juggles 10 years worth of hype and characters to bring a film that is shocking and emotional and funny and exhilarating. It is obvious that finding a balance between all of the 24 super-characters was a difficult task but Marvel have done a wonderful job. Talking about the film technically is difficult-especially as it is really part one of the story (anything that may be considered a plot hole may be easily fixed in the next part) but the film manages to maintain a consistent tone throughout that lets the audience laugh and smile through the funny moments without taking away from any of the emotional or shocking moments.
The score, while occasionally a tad overdramatic, is probably Marvel’s best one yet. So often do these movies rely on forgettable themes that never get used again but Alan Silvestri perfectly utilises his now iconic Avengers theme from 2012 and introduces a number of new memorable themes into the soundtrack- he also makes use of the different styles of music for different characters such as Black Panther’s more tribal African style and Doctor Strange’s mystical strings. My favourite few moments in the movie are amplified and often made 100% more effective by the presence of the loud orchestral soundtrack. The CGI is almost flawless and adds a sense of realism to the stunning cinematography. Motion Capture characters like Thanos and Ebony Maw look absolutely incredible as well. In Captain America: Civil War, there was a strange CGI issue with whenever Iron Man was in his suit without his helmet. I’m delighted to say that this issue has been fixed... but is now present with whenever War Machine has his helmet off. However, this is very minor and probably unnoticeable to people who don’t pay close attention to Don Cheadle’s face. However, the film looks absolutely beautiful both out in space and on Earth.
The plot of this film is surprisingly simple- Thanos wants to solve overpopulation by killing 50% of all life in the universe. In order to do this, he needs to acquire the 6 Infinity Stones that have been scattered across all the other films in this universe. The Avengers and The Guardians, aren’t too thrilled about this so they try and stop him. As that brief and vague synopsis would suggest, the true protagonist in the film is Thanos himself. The film really follows him and his journey, so it was necessary to develop a character that deserved the spotlight. Thanos definitely deserves it. Josh Brolin’s charismatic performance as the Mad Titan Who seems to be haunted by his actions is one of my favourite things about this movie. He is without a doubt the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is worthy of all the hype he has received since his first cameo in 2012. His henchman Ebony Maw was in danger of becoming a generic forgettable side villain but through the fantastic performance of Tom Vaughan Lawlor and the excellent motion capture, he somehow became more memorable than most MCU main villains.
Willy Russell’s Blood
Brothers tells the story of two twins secretly parted at birth and is one of
the most loved musicals of all time. Having seen it four times, and not
planning to stop here, it has long been my most favourite production I have
ever seen on stage. What is it all about and why is it so successful?
During the show, we
follow Mrs Johnstone who gives away one of her twins at birth to the richer Mrs
Lyons. We see Mickey Johnstone and Edward Lyons grow up as friends unaware of
being brothers. Mrs Lyons battles against Mrs Johnstone throughout, who regrets
giving up her child and fights to see him every day. The question of Nature vs
Nurture is challenged during this show, but we are never provided with a final
answer. This is all shadowed, up until the day they die, by the Narrator who
guides the characters through their lives and almost leads them to their bad
decisions. I would describe it as a realistic exploration into the irrational
behaviour of the human race. However, it hasn’t had a particularly simple time
becoming the huge success it is.
Blood Brothers had its
debut in a secondary school near Liverpool in 1982. It originally had no music
and was performed with very minimal props. The play then began to tour around
schools before Willy Russel decided to add to the idea that had been in the
back of his mind for so long. This led Russel onto transforming this play into the
musical and taking the step towards what we see today. Soon after its success
at Liverpool’s Everyman Playhouse in 1983 it had backing from West End
Producers which meant it was destined to play on one of the most major stages
of the world.
During the same year
as the premier in Liverpool, Blood Brothers opened in London on the 11th April 1983 and closed on the 22nd October 1983. Barbara Dickson
played the part of Mrs Johnstone and Andrew Schofield played alongside her as
the sinister Narrator.It had a fairly
short original run in comparison with some of the bigger musicals that are
known worldwide such as Phantom of The Opera and Chicago. This minimal success led
to the musical embarking on a national tour in 1984. Luckily, this wasn’t the
end of the musicals career as Bill Kenwright picked it up and it has since gone
on to wow audiences in all parts of the world. Kenwright led another tour in
1987 which ended in the second West End run. This second chance that the
musical was given gave it the momentum it required to become the much loved
musical of today.
I believe that recent economic events have helped vindicate many of Marx’s theories. As Tom has said, many of Marx’s theories have simply become outdated. Yet, in the 2008 recession - an event which was largely unexpected, with the prime minister of the time, Gordon Brown, previously declaring the “Boom and Bust” cycle of an economy as no more - shows evidence of Marx’s Crisis Theory in action two centuries after he first developed this theory. Furthermore, while not so threatening as a few years ago, economic problems in Greece, Spain and Italy, came close to collapsing the Euro and could have resulted in an even greater economic crisis than the one faced in 2008.
For years “efficient market hypothesis” has been followed, presuming that, in a free market, supply and demand would automatically even out. This was quite contrary to Marx’s beliefs. The question therefore remains: how does a capitalist economy achieve this ironing out of supply and demand? This is where I believe Marx’s Crisis Theory could be correct in modern day terms. Supply and demand even out due to the ability of capitalism to adapt to instability, perhaps to a degree underestimated by Marx; hence the doubts in Marxist economic theory that Tom mentioned in his article and therefore, perhaps, 150 years and no overthrowing of the status quo in Western, capitalist societies. This applies to Marx’s Crisis Theory in how these adaptations leave burdens elsewhere, which is usually down to two reasons: externalizing costs (where costs are reduced by placing the cost of production on something else, for example, the environment) and incurring debt in order to shift the cost of capitalism into the future. Both somewhat rely on acting now and thinking later, again using the example of pollution and how the consequences of it are only catching up to us now. The point is, the consequences of capitalism come in the form of the 2008 recession, where capitalism has pushed its consequences so far into the future that it stretches too thin and snaps.
To mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx, Tom Coyle and James Oldham debate his legacy. Here, Tom Coyle argues that Marx has been proven wrong.
Karl Marx was a man of his time.
Unfortunately, his theories haven’t stood the test of time
Saturday 5th May marked the 200th birthday of the socialist economist and philosopher Karl Marx, who famously wrote The Communist Manifesto (recently published as a graphic novel). To mark his 200th birthday I am going to look back at some of the economic theory he produced and highlight the shortcomings of his ideas.
The Labour theory of value was one of the cornerstones of Marxian economics and it states that the value of products isn’t determined on how much pleasure the owner gets out of the product but by the the average time it takes to produce a good. Marx believed that capitalists who owned the means of production were able to extract “surplus value” from the workers and so were exploiting the workers as they weren’t paying them for the value they created. However in modern life you can throw out the labor theory of value because, in the post-industrial era there is less and less actual labour happening. The real source of value now comes from intellect and thought instead of manual labour. Thought and reasoning is what gives something value now when buying an iphone for example; the value isn’t from the production line but from the engineers who designed it.
The PGS Senior School Library Comic Club has been working throughout the year in preparation for the Portsmouth Comic Con, which hosted well over 3,000 visitors during the past weekend. The Comic Club launched their first ever comic zine, entitled Supreme Artists 2018, at the convention on Saturday. If you aren’t hip to the lingo, a “zine” (short for “magazine”) is traditionally a collection of images, articles or comics published outside of the mainstream and intended as a way for creators to disseminate their ideas and work into the hands of their audience quickly and cheaply. Supreme Artists features the work of Theo Roseblade, Jesal Patel, Sam Lewis, Eddie Banham, Joe Houlberg and Diarmuid Bailey. The comic garnered a lot of interest, selling over half of the first print run during the two day event and inspiring many other young artists to make their own. Comics included feature superheroes, evil cats, archery, sea stories and anthropomorphic fast food. You can pick up your own copy from the Main Library or during the upcoming sale for 20p.
In addition to inspiring others with their work, the Supreme Artists will be donating all proceeds from their first zine to the Little Heroes Comics charity which delivers comic-making kits to children throughout the U.K. with long-term illnesses.
The House of Lords have now passed ten
amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill, which means the Bill must return to the
Commons to be voted on by MPs.While it
is likely that most of these amendments will be voted down, it raises the
fundamental question of whether or not it is appropriate for an unelected body
to interfere in such matters.
There has long been uneasiness over the role
of the Lords, with modest reforms being made in 1997 to abolish most hereditary
peers, so that the majority of Lords must earn their peerships, even if they do
not need to be popularly elected.Whenever the House of Lords dissents from the Commons, opponents
vociferously lament the fact that an unelected body can interfere in the
workings of the elected legislature, though there is never truly a prospect of
further constitutional reform.However,
now that the Lords have attempted to amend legislation which has the backing of
not only the majority of MPs but the majority of the electorate in the EU
Referendum, there could be trouble.During the constitutional crisis of 1911 over the People’s Budget, Lloyd
George asked ‘should 500 men...override the judgement...of millions of
people?’Is the situation any different
in 2018 than in 1911?
The counter-argument to this point is that the
issue of Britain’s exit from the European Union is simply too important for the
Lords to take a back seat.Many peers
are experts in specialist areas, having worked in politics, business or other
areas for many years before retiring to a seat in the House of Lords.Surely amendments backed by such illustrious
names as Andrew Adonis should at least be considered by the government.Adonis rose as an adviser to Tony Blair and
held government positions under both Blair and Gordon Brown, so surely has enough
political experience to have a valid voice in the matter.It would be foolish for MPs to vote down the
Lords’ amendments without serious consideration as big names from both parties
and many different sectors have backed the changes.Ex-Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine
and ex-ministers David Willetts, Douglas Hogg and Ros Altmann all rebelled
against the Conservative Party in the Lords to support an amendment committing
the government to acting within the limits of the Good Friday Agreement over
Northern Ireland.Is it sensible to hold
the views of the average voter above those of such experienced members of the
House of Lords?
Although it was annoyingly released right in the
middle of my exams, a couple of days ago I was finally able watch the
long-anticipated Avengers: Infinity War, the latest, and probably biggest,
addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After 10 years and 18 films of
build-up, a staggering budget of $300 million and a completely decked out all-star
cast, I had to ask myself, did this movie live up to its long-sustained hype?
The short answer is: God yes.
The film itself revolves around the galactic conqueror
Thanos,subtly introduced previous
films, and his destructive quest to obtain the six Infinity Stones. If Thanos
gets his hand on all six Stones, he will become the most powerful being in the
universe, wiping out half the life in the universe. As a result, the Avengers,
Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, are forced to assemble and unite with various other
superheroes, from Doctor Strange to Black Panther to the Guardians of the
Galaxy, to protect the universe from Thanos’ oncoming onslaught.
Firstly, it’s worth noting how well Infinity War
handles its mass cast of characters. At least 40 characters are prominently
featured in this movie, and to its credit, each character is given their due.
Admittedly, if a newtime viewer were to watch this film without any prior understanding
of these characters, chances are they’ll probably end up slightly confused. But
as a culmination of everything the MCU has constructed, this movie easily
shines, especially for any avid watchers of Marvel movies. Seeing this vast
array of characters fighting side by side, from Iron Man and Doctor Strange’s
bickering to Thor’s initial befuddlement with the Guardians to seeing Thanos
finally battling the Avengers is every bit as satisfying as you’d imagine it to
Easily the highlight of this movie was Thanos
himself. Proving the MCU has finally solved their weak villain problem, it
seems likely that Thanos will go down in cinematic history as one of the
greatest villains ever put on screen, along the likes of Darth Vader and
Voldemort. The first 10 minutes alone instantly proves his vast threat,
massacring many Asgardians, killing fan favourite Loki and easily overpowering
the Hulk with nonchalance, setting him up as a force to be reckoned with and
also justifying why these heroes are forced to band together to defeat him. His
motivations are especially fleshed out, with his genuine intentions to free the
universe from the threat of overpopulation, not to mention his fascinating
interactions with his adoptive daughter Gamora, whom he sincerely loves and his
vast reluctance at having to sacrifice her for seemingly the greater good,
making him a vastly complex and overall very effective villain. The CGI and motion capture performance also does a
fantastic job at bringing this character to life, especially with displaying
his vast range of emotions.
Despair. Destruction. Death. Within a moment your world can be completely turned on its axis – spiralling into a lonely, and sometimes deadly oblivion; desperately searching for an anchor, something to steady or slow your descent into the abyss.
Mental illness is defined as a condition which causes serious disorder in a person’s behaviour or thinking. Anxiety disorders (such as phobias, panic disorder, social anxiety) and depression are among the most prevalent, with an estimated ten percent of young people suffering from these alone. In fact, ChildTrends.org estimate that approximately one in five adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder. An average secondary school class, in the UK, has twenty-six pupils. Five of your childhood friends, students and children could be suffering in silence. In the twenty first century why do these people still slip unnoticed?
In the last ten years the amount of documented mental health cases has increased by 68% and, alongside it, so has our use of social media. Could there be a correlation? Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram – only a handful of the countless amounts of social media platforms. Every day we are greeted by new and harder standards of beauty that society condemns us to aspire to. Is it not to be expected that as our idea of a perfect body is warped by photoshopped models and celebrities that people will become more self-conscious, less confident and so develop a mental health disorder?
How can we be comfortable outside when we are constantly judged and compared to beauty standards that nobody can achieve naturally? Social media is a conduit for communication; twenty-four hours, seven days a week we can be online and connected to people worldwide. Whilst this brings huge advantages for commerce and social interactions this immediate and constant access has resulted in bullies being able to target their victims in what was traditionally their safe place: their home. Videos, messages, photos – the capacity for bullying has escalated and the pressure to conform to ‘be cool’ has undoubtedly assisted in the rise of mental health issues.
On Friday the 20th of April a handful of music
pupils in years 10-12 were lucky enough to go and watch the Bournemouth
Symphony Orchestra performing a programme titled ‘Bohemian Fire!’
Conducted by the very talented Kirill
Karabits, who has held the position of Chief Conductor since 2008. He has
worked with many leading ensembles from Europe, Asia and North America. Playing
the Violin was the phenomenal Alexandra Soumm whose passion was clearly visible
from all parts of the concert hall as she embraced the enormous challenges of
Tchaikovsky’s famous concerto. The beauty of the violin was displayed with such
talent it really was a joy to watch and listen to.
Rachmaninov’s Symphony no.1 was passionately
performed by this fantastic orchestra. The four movements are timelessly linked
by a single beautiful motif, which recurs in several of his most important
later works. The entire score is strong and highly individual - obviously the
work of a young talent overflowing with ideas.
Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto bounced onto the
stage next. Its dazzling melodies and iconic motifs brought a series of
emotions and enjoyment to the audience. This piece was not, however, always as
popular as it is today; it was not played for some time after its composition
in 1878. But the pioneering violinist Adolf Brodsky fell in love with the work
and championedits performance, and now it has become established as a concert
favourite due to its appealing melodies and dazzling showmanship.
Then followed another work of Rachmaninov’s, Caprice Bohémien, which was the
composer’s second serious instrumental work after graduation. It contains many
of the same massive instruments effects as we had heard in his Symphony, but
also contains many moments of sheer beauty tinged with melancholy. A simple
song is transformed into a joyful dance, which grows more and more frenzied,
until the work ends with an explosive Presto
for full orchestra.