"Youthquake or not, Britain’s youth still have a lot of work to do." Joe Perry explores the debate surrounding youth turnout.
A favourite trope of Donald Trump, this mythbuster tackles the idea that global warming doesn't exist.
Think geography no longer matters because of the internet? Think again...
Although much smaller than in other nations over which they reign, there is a republican movement here in Britain, hoping one day to see the end of our monarchy. However, some of what they say is nothing but myths. Below are some of the most common ones about the Royal Family.
1. The monarchy is expensive
Whilst the monarchy is not a cheap institution, compared to the presidencies of comparable republics, and the amount of revenue brought to the country by the British royal family, they are one of the cheapest heads of state in the world.
The British Monarchy cost the taxpayer 36.1 million pounds. In comparison, the French Presidency costs £154 million per year, and the American Presidency costs £917.3 million per year.
When this cost is broken down, the monarchy only costs each taxpayer between 58p and 1 pound 26 per year.
2. The Queen doesn't pay taxes
This is another very common myth, that when examined, is false.
Prior to it being legally required (1992), Her Majesty volunteered to pay income tax and capital gains tax. Since 1993 her personal income has been taxable as it has been for any other taxpayer. Her Majesty has always been required to pay Value Added Tax and pays local rates voluntarily.
3. Monarchy is undemocratic
Many believe that because people outside the Royal Family can not be Head of State, then the Monarchy must be undemocratic. This is incorrect, in fact, constitutional monarchies can work to support democracy.
In the Democracy Index 2015, 7 of the top 10 most democratic nations on earth, were constitutional monarchies.
4. The Monarchy is unpopular
The monarchy is believed/contended by many republicans to be unpopular. However, the monarchy is dramatically more popular than a republic.
In 2015 YouGov found that 68 percent of people believed that the monarchy was good for Britain, compared to just 9 percent who believed it wasn't.
5. Support for a republican is growing
Closely linked to the previous point, is the argument that support for a republic is growing. However, this is also incorrect.
In 2015, YouGov found that more people supported the monarchy (68%) than they did in 2012 (67%), while in contrast, the republican movement has experienced no growth.
It is clear that many arguments presented by republicans are not entirely true, and many are myths. The myths above are just five of the many that are out there. The monarchy remains very popular, experiencing a steady increase in support, making clear that as far as the British people are concerned - the monarchy is here to stay!
Brexit is a divisive topic and both sides bent the truth, to say the least. Ahead of Article 50 being triggered by Parliament, we've busted ten myths you might have heard during the referendum campaigns so you know what to expect when we do leave the EU. So without further ado...
5 Remain Myths, Busted
When Britain leaves the EU, the cost of imports (from the EU) will increase by £11 billion:
This myth was and has been widely propelled by pro-EU campaigners, both before and after the Brexit vote. However, key figures on both sides have refuted this claim. Lord Rose, who headed the pro-EU campaign stated that exit would not result in an end to free trade, and Lord Kerr of Kinlochard (Britain’s former ambassador to Brussels) firmly stated that “There is no doubt that the UK could secure a free trade agreement with the EU.”
Leaving the EU would cause 3 million job losses:
Whilst it is true that Britain will lose 3 million jobs in the year after Brexit, this is because Britain loses 3 million jobs every year. However, the belief that this will be affected by Britain’s departure from the European Union, is a misconception. Many base this belief on fears over free trade, however, as addressed in number 1, this is not a concern that will be realised.
Britain’s rejection of the EU was based on isolationism:
Although many believe that Britain will become more isolationist in the wake of Brexit, and indeed many believe that isolationism contributed largely to Brexit’s success. However, Britain will remain a nation more involved in the international community than many other developed nations. The UK remains totally committed to NATO and is already actively seeking to become more involved in the wider Commonwealth, Europe, and indeed, the world.
Brexit is bad for business:
Many business leaders have feared that Brexit will cause their business some (or a lot) of distress. However, many of these concerns are not entirely justified, especially for some industries. For example, the weaker pound makes Britain an even more attractive destination for international holiday goers, benefiting hospitality, and travel-based businesses; such as hotels, restaurants, airlines etc. Conversely, however, the prospect, and eventuality, of a weaker pound caused concern for finance leaders. However, they soon found that what many had forecast (a major recession, and economic doomsday) did not occur, and instead there was a stock market gain after the initial shock of Brexit.
Britain will be “at the back of the queue” for trade deals:
Despite the derogatory comments made by the former leader of the United States, Barack Obama, Britain has not found itself at the back of the queue with regard to trade deals, in fact, many nations; such as, Australia, Canada, and America have made their intention to strike a favourable trade deal with the UK very clear. Many other nations are also likely to join the flurry of interest in bilateral trade arrangements, as a Britain free of the EU, is not hindered by the same level of red tape, and the extensive bureaucracy present in the European Union.
5 Leave Myths, Busted
EU membership costs the UK over £350 million every week, nearly £20 billion a year:
This is one of the most well-known Leave campaign claims, in fact, it was so prominent that it was even painted across the side of the Leave campaign bus. However, it is not correct. Britain does receive some, although infinitesimal when compared to membership dues, rebates. These rebates reduce the total net cost of EU membership to Britain. The true cost in £250 million a week, roughly £13 billion pounds a year.
Britain is consistently outvoted in the EU:
Whilst it is certainly true that the UK has been outvoted many times on the EU stage (57 times), Britain has been in the majority for 2,474 acts, and abstained on 70 occasions.
Britain was at risk of losing its veto in EU treaties:
Before an EU treaty comes into force, it must be agreed to by ALL member states. Therefore, Britain was never at risk of losing its veto.
Leaving EU would save the NHS:
This one is slightly more open to interpretation, however, I will try to clarify it as best I can. Without doubt, it is true that leaving the EU could save our NHS, however, that is not a guarantee. It comes down to how the EU savings are spent, and what government policy states. If the government legislates the privatisation of the NHS; Brexit will not stop that, and if the government chooses to spend saving elsewhere, Brexit will not stop that either. However, if a portion of the money saved from leaving the EU is spent wisely, on and around, the NHS, then it could certainly be the difference between a public NHS and private NHS.
Britain will have to contribute to bailouts within the EU:
The notion that Britain would have to contribute to bailouts within the EU is not correct. Within the deal struck by David Cameron in February 2016, Britain’s special status as a non-Eurozone country guarantees that the UK will not have to contribute to any EU bailouts.
Former Prime Minister Lady Thatcher was a controversial figure who transformed Britain. Her critics would say for the worse, which is a different question. Her critics may also say one of the six myths below...
- Lady Thatcher hated grammar schools: Although Lady Thatcher closed more grammar schools than any other Education Secretary, the belief that she hated them is totally fallacious. In fact, she stated in 1966 that “[The Conservatives] believe that grammar schools should continue to be a vital part of education” later reinforcing her support in 1977 by stating - “People from my sort of background needed grammar schools to compete with children from privileged homes like Shirley Williams and Anthony Wedgwood Benn.” Her decision to close them, came down to public opinion, as she noted that at the time of major closures, grammar schools were “wildly unpopular”.
- Lady Thatcher destroyed British manufacturing: It’s hard to even imagine how this myth started, given it is just so ridiculous! Whilst it is true that as a portion of the economy manufacturing did decline, manufacturing output was 7.5 percent higher when Lady Thatcher left office. It’s proportional decline was the result of an explosion in finance and services.
- Lady Thatcher destroyed the steel industry: Many people believe that the privatisation of the UK steel industry in 1988 signalled Lady Thatchers destruction of the steel industry. This is incorrect, Lady Thatcher was a great champion of the British steel industry, resisting privatisation for as long as possible. So much so, that in 1980 she gave state aid of £450 million to the industry.
- Lady Thatcher destroyed the coal mining industry: This is one of the most interesting myths to bust. Vastly more miners lost their jobs through the 1960’s under Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, than under the Prime Ministership of Lady Thatcher. Between 1960 and 1970, roughly 316,000 coal miners lost their jobs, compared to 173,200 under Lady Thatcher. Productivity also increased under Lady Thatcher with roughly 1,477 tonnes of coal being extracted per coal miner, per year, when she left office, compared with just 524 tonnes per coal miner, per year, before she became Prime Minister.
- Lady Thatcher’s policies hurt the poor: This myth is one of the most prevalent, but is again based on a false premise. When Lady Thatcher left office the consumption levels of the poorest Britons were about 25 percent above their 1979 level. Not only this, but home ownership amongst Britons resident in council housing increased by 1,000,000 during Lady Thatcher’s premiership, thanks to her ‘Right to Buy’ scheme.
- Lady Thatcher was unpopular: Many people, especially opponents of Lady Thatcher believe that she was unpopular, this however, could not be further from the truth. When first elected as Prime Minister in 1979, Lady Thatcher won 43.9 percent of the vote, 42.4 percent in 1983, and 42.2 percent in 1987. These are all substantial victories, and in comparison, the 2015 election resulted in David Cameron winning just 36.1 percent. She still remains popular, with Lady Thatcher being voted the Number 1 UK Prime Minister in History.
As you can see, there have been many myths about Lady Thatcher over the years, but they are totally unfounded, with no truth behind them.
Throughout Jeremy Corbyn’s political career, and particularly since becoming the leader of the Labour party in 2015, he has come under severe scrutiny in relation to his position on the political spectrum and his viewpoint on key political debates over his time in office. Following the victory in his second Labour leadership election, there is a widespread fear from many Labour MP’s, members of the party and political spectators that a Labour party under his leadership cannot supply a strong opposition to the Conservative government and is an impossible one to elect to office in the near future. But is the man as left wing and as damaging to the party’s image and strength as he is made out to be? In this article I will examine some of the many myths that surround the image of the Labour Leader and tackle the legitimacy of these.
‘Jeremy Corbyn is Unelectable’
This is perhaps Corbyn’s largest criticism. It is believed by many of the Labour leader’s critics that he quite simply is unelectable due to his divisive view on many matters and his opposition believe that he simply cannot unite a nation behind him and gain electoral success. However, his current track record seems to disprove this theory to some extent. From his very election as Labour leader he has shown this electoral success. In the process of winning his initial leadership election, he gained the largest mandate from party members that any other leader, of any party has ever won- receiving 59% of the vote in a 4 horse race. On top of this, since his election, the Labour party has had far from the suggested catastrophic time of it in elections, at all levels of government. Labour has won 4 by elections (Oldham West, Sheffield Brightside, Ogmore and Tooting) since he became leader, gaining increased majorities in 3 of these. Whilst in May 2016, the Labour Party, despite many polls predicting heavy losses, performed relatively well in comparison. Not many new seats were won however they held firm and kept hold of a large amount of their council seats. Also in May 2016, Labour won the London Mayor race with Sadiq Khan. These electoral successes highlight the overdramatised view that Corbyn is completely unelectable. However, during his time in leadership, the Conservatives have overtaken Labour as the second party in Scotland. With this previously being a Labour stronghold critics see this as a worrying statistic.
‘Jeremy Corbyn is too Left Wing’
It is a widespread view shared by many political spectators and Corbyn critics that the Labour leader is too Left wing to be successful in modern day British politics, with many of his views not being relevant to 21st century governance. Corbyn supporters would argue that this claim is severely over exaggerated, with Corbyn merely being a traditional social democrat who believes certain services, such as the NHS, the railways and the police, should be ran by non-profit institutions. These are policies that are popular within the British electorate, with 84% of people polled believing that the NHS should be ran as a non-profit organisation, whilst 66% of the electorate said that they would support his policy of renationalising the railways. This highlights that there is a widespread support for some of Corbyn’s policy and perhaps suggests that the electorate of Britain is still accepting of left wing policies and Corbyn is perhaps not as outdated/out of favour as many would have you believe.
‘Jeremy Corbyn is Incompetent’
Many critics of Corbyn believe that he is incompetent as a leader, and not only is he unable to unite a nation to form a Labour government but he is equally unable to unite his own party and lead it with any success. This is shown through many members of his shadow cabinet defecting from it and effectively giving him a vote of no confidence in doing so. However, this can be argued against with the fact that since his leadership regime began Labour membership has literally doubled. These members have largely come from two demographics which are crucial to the Labour Party’s success: young, educated and highly skilled individuals, and Left wing supporters of the party, returning after years of disillusionment. Corbyn supporters argue that this shows the complete opposite of incompetence in a leader. Corbyn was also criticised by many for keeping quiet during the European Referendum and a lot of the blame for the vote for Brexit was pinned on his shoulders for not galvanising the Labour support in this campaign. However, it is shown through polls since this referendum that 63% of Labour voters voted to Remain in the UK, again suggesting that his competence as a leader and as a vote winner is perhaps underplayed.