All Elections great and small…

So we’re a week on and the election furore has yet to fully die down. We now have a Minister for Equality who voted against same sex marriage, and a Disabilities Minister who voted for the Bedroom Tax and against protecting disabled children’s benefits… but hey it could be worse, at least UKIP lost a seat.

UEA is most well-known for its arts graduates, figures such as Matt Smith and Ian McEwan. However, it seems more fitting at the moment to discuss those graduates of UEA who have gone on to climb the political greasy pole.20141214_135104

Because there are a surprising number of UEA alumni who have served time in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords, I shall limit myself to those who are currently members of Parliament.

The longest serving UEA MP is Caroline Flint (Labour) who received a BA in American Literature and History combined with Film Studies, and was elected to Parliament in 1997.

Flint has held a variety of positions including Minister for Public Health (2005-2007), Minister for Employment (2007-2008), Minister for Housing and Planning (2008) and Minister for Europe (2008-2009). She is currently the Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Most famous for co-founding the parliamentary dance troupe, Division Belles, and for admitting that whilst Minister for Europe she didn’t read the Lisbon Treaty (the document which codifies the rules of the EU… *awkward*)

Then we have Karin Smyth and Rachael Maskell, both of whom did their BA’s at UEA and are now both new Labour MP’s as of last week – the very best of luck to them.

tumblr_nkyds8PzKC1qm67xwo1_1280

And then we have the man who might be termed UEA’s enfant terrible (although without any of the positive connotations), Douglas Carswell. UEA is generally considered a progressive left wing university, all the other current ex-UEA MP’s are Labour for example, and yet somehow we went terribly wrong with this one.

Carswell is currently the only UKIP MP in the UK, having defected from the Conservative party in 2014. He is a climate change sceptic, opposed to same sex marriage and laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, and dislikes the NHS. Carswell was also revealed to have claimed over £30,000 in expenses to cover the furnishing of his second home, so all in all, a bad egg.

On behalf of UEA, I apologise sincerely.

But in our defence we have also provided the world with the eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith), Greg James, and Charlie Higson, so we’re probably allowed one let down.

When you look at the list of UEA alumni there are many politicians, both in the UK and abroad. It does make you wonder if there’s currently anyone at UEA who will one day appear on the famous alumni list.

In other ‘election’ news, I have just been elected as the Drama Society’s Union and Equality Officer (maybe not as exciting as becoming an MP but still). It was a rather last minute decision to apply, but having now met the new committee I am excited to get started.

So fingers crossed that the Tories don’t muck up this country and that I don’t muck up my new position.

Advertisements

Student Elections and International Women’s Day

I walked into a class at eleven last week, with everything apparently as normal, and when I walked out… this had happened.

tumblr_nkyds8PzKC1qm67xwo1_1280 tumblr_nkydsjrKD81qm67xwo1_1280

In case you hadn’t guessed voting has opened for Student Union reps, and campus is currently flooded with manifestos and posters, people are handing out leaflets on the Street (a guy just walked past my window with a ‘Vote…’ banner on his back).

But even with all this propaganda in your face, it can be quite tempting to let it slide by. To be honest a lot of the manifestos sound the same, and whilst I’m sure that I do profit from the hard work of our union reps, it’s hard to put your finger on what effect they really have on your uni experience – a lot of them sound the same, so does it really matter to me who wins?

Well here’s the thing.

A lot like the General Election, if you want to know what’s going on you actually have to do some digging yourself. Take a ten minute break from Facebook and check out the Union website, find out what people are saying about their campaigns and you’ll find you get a lot more out of it. Many of the aims are generic, but some, like the fight to have gender neutral toilets, are more specific points that less candidates are focusing on.

Another way the Student Union election is like the General in May, is that it is meant to elect people to represent the population, and if you don’t bother voting then you are choosing to not be represented or to have your voice heard – which sounds like the choice of an imbecile if you ask me.

Check out what the candidates have to say at www.ueastudent.com/vote, or they can often be found hovering in Unio café, eager to answer potential voters questions.

tumblr_nkydhyxonc1qm67xwo1_1280

Other events happening on campus over the last few days include the Feminist Society’s celebration of International Women’s Day. Various speakers had a platform in the LCR, and in the evening the talented women of UEA performed music and poetry.

I got these cute pin badges from the FemSoc stall.

tumblr_nkydgpT5R91qm67xwo1_540

I’m not sure Taylor Swift qualifies as a feminist icon yet, but Malala Yousafzai and Laverne Cox definitely deserve celebration

That’s about all until next week, in the meantime, GET VOTING!

international_women_s_day