Labour rejects “falsehood, fear and smear” in election strategy pledge

The Labour Party has revealed that David Cameron will not feature on any of the party’s posters during this year’s General Election campaign.

The party’s supposed focus on “issues not personalities” in their poster campaigns comes just days after leader Ed Miliband told a dinner of political correspondents that his “only request is that you do your bit too to try and make this election about the issues, choices and beliefs that matter to the country as well.

He went on to say that “one of the biggest enemies of politics is cynicism, the belief that we are all in it for base motives. Agree with us or disagree with us, but report us for what we believe. This is all we can ask for.” Continue reading

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Election HUB: Editor’s Welcome

Welcome to the Backbench Election HUB! At the time of writing, there are 96 days, 9 hours, 48 minutes, and 41 (40…, 39…., 38…) seconds until polls open on 7 May 2015, for the 55th General Election since the co-option the members of parliament of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801.

In more recent history, technological advancements, constitutional shifts, and post-crisis fallouts have revolutionised the political landscape. Involvement in politics is easier, more accessible, and more instant than ever before – anyone with a Twitter account can be plugged into politics of all kinds at all levels. In spite of these developments, the political doors can still seem shut to many.

Only 23% of MPs are female, versus 51% of the general population. There are only 27 MPs of BME origin, whereas to be representative there would need to be 55-60 BME MPs. Continue reading

Spiderman vs freedom of speech

As a great man once said, “with great power comes great responsibility”. As our front page story shows, the issues of platforming, freedom of speech, freedom of expression and the free press have come up time and time again: the abortion debate in Oxford, the atrocities against Charlie Hebdo in Paris and Germaine Greer’s invitation to the Cambridge Union.

It’s not my job as an editor, or our job as a student newspaper, to wade into these subjects and come out as being on one side or another, and to do so would be pretty inappropriate and verge on being naïve. It is our job, though, to use our platform responsibly. Continue reading

The importance of being happy

Today I was lumped with Lent Term’s first load of work. In the next week, I’ll be expected to grasp the political background of the French revolution, delve into the depths of paratextual criticism with reference to early Romantic poetry and attempt to understand the cultural significance of the newspaper’s rise to prominence in the eighteenth century.

Somehow I got into this University, and somehow I’m still here in spite of dangerous indifference to Tripos, but it’s safe to say I wasn’t cut out for this. Continue reading

There’s no such thing as freedom of apathy

This year’s Which? University Student Survey revealed, amongst other titbits, that Cambridge is one of the most politically engaged universities in the country. From a bystander’s point of view, this news came as a surprise. If you ever make it along to a protest in Cambridge, you’ll find that attendance is usually shoddy. Indeed, most of us will walk past blithely, too engaged in our own very incredibly important business to think about what’s going on.

In many ways, this is understandable. The story on the front page shows how challenging student life in Cambridge can be, and sure, it gets tough. Tyrannical supervisors must be endured, books must be taken out of libraries, and, contrary to our most desperate hopes and dreams, that dissertation won’t write itself. But that’s not good enough. Continue reading

Why Being Gay Is the Best Choice I Never Made

It’s an implication we’ve heard thrown around by so many, so often – that being gay is a “choice”, to which the response from so many is “why would I choose this?” 

“If you had the choice”, they say, “would you choose a life of oppression, discrimination, harassment, inequality, abandonment, and vastly increased risk of developing mental health issues, over a comfortable picture-perfect life of opening car doors on cringe-and-swoon first dates, big white weddings and gorgeous biological children?”

Don’t get me wrong – this is a great way to kick back at all the nasties of the world, but it is a completely negative rhetoric, and one we need to ditch. Continue reading

ChatPolitics Column: Mortarboards at last?

Finally, it’s here. The most hotly anticipated election year in decades has finally arrived, and yet things aren’t quite as they should be. There should be the momentum, the power and life behind a party set to take an election by landslide, as Labour did in 1997 under Blair. Or, there should be a fierce campaign; exciting, intense, and intimate between two leaders fighting neck-and-neck to clinch a majority by only a few seats.

Instead, we have a strangely placid race, thus far, for such an interesting election. In the defence of all those involved, formal campaigning only began on December 19th, but the tone is strange. Continue reading

10 most dubious New Years Honours

The New Year always brings, amongst other things, the New Years Honours List. Most of these are great – amazing figures in local communities doing amazing things, or long-suffering civil servants and high-flying diplomats being rewarded for something about ‘British interests’.

But inevitably, Christmas ends, and that bit of gravy left in the fridge for a week begins to look more and more shifty. Which is weirdly like the New Years Honours List. As such, we rounded up ten of the most dubious offerings from Her Majesty at this time of year. Here goes.

Continue reading

“Silliness and ridiculousness”: My dad, the Footlights President

It’s that time of year. The Christmas lights are on (with the notable exception of that one on Trinity Street), the mince pies are on offer, and the scarves are out in full-force. As such, it feels like the perfect time to sit down with Tom Fraser, President of the Cambridge Footlights, in a generously heated room with a cup of tea, to talk comedy and the pantomime. This year’s pantomime, The Emperor’s New Clothes started on Wednesday and seemed like a good place to start.

“I haven’t seen the script, but from what I’ve heard from rehearsals, from all perspectives – production team, creative team, the cast, it is a funny script, and it’s been a very funny and industrious and productive rehearsal process. Continue reading

Sixteen Days in Cambridge: A fresh face for activism?

Activism runs rampant in Cambridge. A week at The Cambridge Student brings reports of protests pouring in, reporters sent running to catch a photograph before they dissipate and Opinion articles lined up to discuss the issue itself. Much of the time, it can seem endless, and almost meaningless. It’s refreshing, therefore, to hear of someone taking a completely different approach, and coming up with an idea that tackles a key issue, without becoming just the next wave of trendily-dressed students with whiteboards on King’s Parade.

Sixteen Days in Cambridge is a project to raise awareness about gender violence in this city, and I’m lucky enough to get a chance to speak to the project’s founder, who has chosen to remain anonymous. “It’s designed to be a platform to allow people [to share their] thoughts and experiences about the issues that gender violence raises, expose the many different forms it take, as well as our preconceptions, and highlight that it has affected everybody in some way. The idea is that people can contribute in whatever form they wish.” Continue reading