Cambridge must club together to stop the lights going out

There are very few moments in Cambridge politics – whether it be student, council, or parliamentary politics – when the stars seem to align. Thankfully, the issue of the council’s decision to switch of streetlights in several key areas of Cambridge is one of these. It can often be difficult to consider the effects of plans announced months in advance, but it is crucial that the switch-off planned for April 2016 is thoroughly and forcefully opposed.

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Printing in practice and the beauty of bias

One of the things we try to avoid in the high-octane, cut-throat world of student journalism is having a go at each other. We actually quite like each other. We even went for dinner once. I know. Radical.

Indeed, we read each other’s work – we’re all in the same game, heading for the same jobs, building the same networks, so it would make sense to keep an eye on each other, and The Tab’s Charlie Bell even sends us letters from time to time. Continue reading

The unfathomable happiness of a 2.ii.

We all know about our mental health problem. The first issue of this newspaper this term reported on the “unnecessary pressure” felt by a majority of students, in that the 2014 National Student Survey showed only 55% of Cambridge students find their workload is manageable. As Murray Edwards JCR’s Academic and Welfare Officer Charlotte Furniss-Roe commented, “trying to balance work,social life and sleep is difficult.”

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Election Briefing: Polls & Policy

With the widely reported milestone of ‘100 days until the election’ behind us, the election campaign proper has begun with all the fervour you’d expect.

Polls released this week by Lord Ashcroft, Tory peer and philanthropist, have shown that on a constituency level, the SNP surge is real, and it’s as big if not bigger than we thought. If repeated on polling day, Ashcroft’s results would see the SNP take as many as 56 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats, with Labour holding two, and the Liberal Democrats holding two.

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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