Laurence Fox’s New Political Party: “Reclaim”

Thoughts

Laurence Fox is known more for his acting in TV Shows like Lewis or Victoria or in films such as Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Becoming Jane than as a politician. He first politically came to the publics attention earlier this year, in January, after controversial interviews and debates on Good Morning Britain and Question Time over Sam Mendes’ 1917‘s choice to include Sikh soldiers in the WW1 film. He claimed that it was ‘forced diversity’ and continued to comment on Megan Markle’s treatment by the press and the ‘woke’ generation as well as saying that he would boycott the British supermarket chain ‘Sainsbury’s’ after it announced support of ‘Black History Month’.

Now he has announced that he is founding ‘The Reclaim Party’ due to his disappointment in the conservative party’s inability to ‘conserve’ and uphold British values. What these values are for Fox do not seem completely clear, although the main issue seems to be ‘respect’ and reclaiming Britains past – assuming a more nationalistic view perhaps. He also seems to be for diversity despite his appearance at previous interviews, urging for ‘progress’ rather than ‘stagnation’ which Fox claims is the case currently under Conservative government. The party already has its own Facebook and Twitter accounts and are using the slogan ‘Reason / Reform / Progress’.

Pitting this party against the conservatives seems like an interesting move for a former Conservative supporter. By potentially taking votes away from the conservatives they are increasing the chances of a labour majority. According to the party’s website though, they are calling themselves a movement perhaps suggesting that they want to bring about change by giving a platform for their ideas and opinions but maybe not for power.

The party are currently going through the electoral commission and Fox and his fellow party members have a few years yet to come up with a manifesto. What seems strange to me though is the lack of coverage of this story in the press. Originally the press were going to broadcast the party as in association with Nigel Farage (former leader of UKIP). Fox has said that they were forced to announce the Party sooner than they wanted to because they did not wish to be associated with this rumour. Perhaps this mix up is the reason for the lack of press coverage or, perhaps, it is because of the little information about it; there probably won’t be much given until the electoral commission has passed the name.

The party has already managed to raise £5 million for funding according to reports in The Telegraph suggesting that the party has already got much support. Additionally, Fox has said that many people contacted him after the controversial debates thanking him for giving them a voice that they were too frightened to use. Fox has put this down to the ‘Woke’ and cancel culture, saying that these movements are against freedom of speech.

On ‘Culture wars’ :

This term has been thrown about a lot recently with mixed opinions on how it should be used when talking about British society or, indeed, British politics. Many think of it as an American term, associating it with the extreme controversies and divides of religion, race and political stance (republican or democrat). Recently, it has been used in Britain to talk about the Brexit Polarisation and other increasing divisions. Many argue that although there is division in this country it has, on the whole, been less extreme. Others say that was, perhaps, until Brexit.

The main reason, Fox has said, for creating a party is to promote freedom of speech, taking a more individualistic approach and promoting unity rather than division in a statement on the party. Equally, Fox said that ‘I know we’ll be seen as a culture wars UKIP’ in an interview with The Telegraph1 .

On ‘Woke’ culture:

Originally this term meant ‘to be awake’ to injustice, especially racial as it was used throughout the 60’s. As ‘Woke’ has increased in usage, the word is becoming to cover more than that. Fox claims that being ‘woke’ means that too many people are finding injustices in everything. That does seem to be the case with increased protests and quick fire social media reactions to things shared that spark instant anger. For example, take the government advert about a ballerina with the slogan ‘her next job could be in Cyber but she doesn’t know it yet’. It was published before the pandemic and meant to encourage girls to work in Cyber. However, this image went viral on social media with people thinking the government was making an attack on the arts industry, claiming that this was clear proof that the government doesn’t value the arts. Perhaps the new rise goes hand in hand with fake news. However, it probably should not be put down to being ‘woke’, at its core it means that more people are caring and taking an interest in the world around them. Perhaps they just need to know how to find the truth, and sift through the rubbish. Fox’s take on what being ‘woke’ means to him remains unclear, as does his and the future Reclaim party’s thoughts on what should be done about it.

Recent controversy:

On top of accusations of racism from January, Fox has faced recent backlash for the use of the word ‘reclaim’ that has previously been used in charity organisations. For more visit The Guardian

What we need to know more about:

  • The people involved in the founding of the party. Fox as an actor with little political experience is unlikely to have set the party up on his own. What if others are using Fox’s controversial and famous profile for its use?
  • What specifically are the ‘British values’ that Fox thinks we should ‘reclaim’.
  • Policy – what will the party’s policies be? This is a question we won’t get the answers to anyway at least until the electoral commission has granted the name of the party.

Sources & more information:

1The Telegraph Interview ‘Chopper’s Politics podcast’ & written interview by Christopher Hope (the video is free to watch but to read the article you have to be a Telegraph subscriber which I am not, I have taken the headline only due to this)

Peter Whittle Interview with Fox – The New Culture Forum Channel [Note: Whittle is a UKIP member]

Culture wars – The Economist

LSE recorded online event: Brexit and culture wars: is this the new normal? [This is a really interesting discussion about everything going on at the moment; from Brexit to Racial injustice to the pandemic, each speaker has their own views on ‘culture wars’ in this country compared to others.]

The conversation on ‘Woke’ origins and Marketing

The formation of a new Party, especially during these unprecedented times, is an interesting move made by Laurence Fox but does reveal what perhaps we already knew, that there are divisions and people feeling unrepresented. Whether these are the beginnings of a ‘culture war’ is uncertain but the platforms are forming to mix things up in Parliament – the shame is that party making is becoming the way to show unrest and want of change (or maybe going back into the past in Fox’s case?)

What do you think? Is Fox standing for division or Unity? How can we unite in these opposing times?

Do we & Should we have Freedom Of Speech?

accaliasmith.com, Thoughts

Scrolling through Twitter earlier this month I saw this tweet from Stig Abell which Comedian Ricky Gervais replied to, and after having seen the video of the ‘nazi’ comments being shouted at to one of our MP’s, It really got me thinking about freedom of speech. Gervais, in this scenario, seems to be an advocate for this freedom whereas Abell does not. And this situation with this MP certainly does add to the argument of the latter, as it is awful that someone can be bombarded with such insults on live TV or on Social media.

This is a topic which is widely debated, freedom of speech means that we are free to make any comments we like without there being any sort of punishment if we go against the consensus; in short, it allows us to openly share our opinions.

So do we have Freedom of Speech now?

I don’t think we do. Yes, we have this freedom to a certain extent, however, increasingly there are campaigns for certain topics or phrases to be banned. Such as talking about ‘Hitler’ as Abell mentioned or racist words, parts of history that we can reflect on and learn from the past.

Should we have freedom of Speech?

I think we should. Being able to express our own individual opinions is part of it and weather we think someones opinion is right or wrong it is completely subjective and so we can either have the freedom or not have the freedom. Personally, I cannot think of a world worse than one in which we cannot express what we think.

In my opinion, banning words and phrases – even if they have negative connotations should never be banned as otherwise we are banning certain aspects of history, it is a respect which we should be trying to cultivate so that this kind of bullying does not occur. For example with the Hitler comments, there will always be other ways to insult somebody – if talking about Hitler and Nazi regime is banned then there will only be another person that they will be compared to. In other words, it should not be freedom of speech which is restricted but freedom of individuality which needs to be accepted.

One of the campaigns I have seen recently is to get phrases like ‘Bringing home the bacon’ banned – a vegan perspective that meat should not be used in our language like this. But these kinds of phrases have been used for such a long time, they should not be simply banned with people needing to consciously remember which common phrases are not allowed to be used anymore. And this particular phrase is not hurting anybody. To me, when I hear of these kinds of campaigns, It makes me think of ‘Newspeak’ in Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-four’ which was used by ‘the party’ to constrict peoples thoughts by making it impossible for people to have the words to articulate their thoughts and feelings.

By banning parts of our language we are essentially restricting it, yes, many phrases are offensive to people – no matter who you are, we all often experience bullying, whether that is for your race, your gender, your hair colour or anything else, unless we are all identical bullying is likely to always exist – bullies pick the part of you that makes you unique and different and spin that quality on its head. Bullying is difficult to prevent, it has always been around and restricting our language will only make it worse.

People come up with new phrases all the time to express something they want to say, sometimes it’s a different meaning of a word, sometimes it’s a new word entirely – expanding language is an amazing thing, if Shakespeare never made up all those new words and phrases, imagine how different our world would be now, Restricting language is restricting our freedom.

What do you think? Should we have freedom of speech? Do you feel as though you have freedom of speech? Are the issues we are talking about with freedom of speech actually about bullying in general?

A Chat about Resolutions…

Thoughts

To make or not to make resolutions, that is the question!

I believe that it is good to set goals and why not make new ones each year? You can set out your calendar for the new year and plan how you are going to achieve the goals you want to accomplish and how you can better yourself. I don’t, however, believe in the saying New Year, New You. I used to because I used to think it was useful to think of each year like turning over a new leaf, a fresh start but now I have realised that you are the same you – just like when your grandma asked you how it felt to be a new age, there was no immediate difference, no change but as the year began to go on and you got tasked with new responsibilities you began to feel older. That is how I think of the New Year, setting goals and plans in place to better myself because I am still ‘me’ even though the year has changed. I also believe reflection of the past year is good, the end of a year makes sense to use as a way to judge your own personal success on how much you have worked on being the ‘you’ you want to become.

So what are my ‘resolutions’?

  • To learn how to cook (I kinda know the basics but if I am going to university next year, I think I need to live on more than tomato pasta or beans on toast alone)
  • To be more consistent with my blogging – I love that I have got the opportunity to post my opinions on this platform and I would love to make the time to fit writing into my schedule.
  • To revise! I have got A levels this year and I really would love to get the best grades I can to get into the university of my choice.

As a student, and no ‘real’ career plan I’m really just basing my goals on my studies and doing what I love and hoping that that might bring me to where I want to be. I also have my yearly ‘reading goals’ to read more books outside of my lessons.

My top tips when making your goals / resolutions (whatever we are calling them!)

  1. Make a plan of how you are going to stick to it. If you are thinking of giving up smoking, begin by saying, ‘I’ll have 1 cigarette a day for a week’ then the week after that by saying, ‘i’ll have one every other day’, then ‘one a week’ etc. If you make a plan you are more likely to achieve your goal.
  2. Be realistic about what you can achieve in that year – if you have never really read for pleasure before and set yourself the goal of reading 20 books you are unlikely to achieve it (but set long term, so called ‘unrealistic’, plans too as Walt Disney once said, ‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough!’)
  3. Reward yourself. Every time you reach a milestone, no matter how small, be proud of yourself and give yourself a reward – perhaps your favourite food, or a break somewhere.

I asked some friends and family about what they thought about resolutions…

They consensus was that it is stupid to think that that a new year is the only time that you can change things in your life, if you can’t achieve them any other time of the year why will you now? Many feel fed up of making resolutions only to give them all up mid January.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you have an amazing new year and that you achieve all your goals! Spend New Year’s Eve happy about what you have achieved thus far, be proud of yourself!

See you for my 2018 review and what I am looking forward to next year up at midnight tonight!

 

10 Gift Ideas For Any Occasion

Beauty, Fashion, Favourites

With Christmas just around the corner you’re probably thinking about what to get for the special people in your life. It can be difficult buying presents for people for any occasion particularly if you are under a tight budget. Here are a couple of my favourite unique finds…

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For the Tavel lover – Scratch Map

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They can scratch off the places they’ve been on the map and plan trips they hope to go to. The idea is that they will try to scratch off as many places as they can. I have one of these my self and I love it.

If they are a student there are loads of gap year and bucket list books by lonely planet that you can get on amazon or any good book store.

For the book worm – Book cover locket

I think these are so unique, they do a variety of book covers so you could find their favourite classic novel to put on to the locket.

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For the film lover – popcorn machine and bags

I mean it is their own cinema at home!

or for the person who wants to get into movies… a scratch off 100 bucket list movies poster 

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(photo from amazons website linked above) 

For the music lover – (if they have vinyls) a vinyl frame, new earphones or portable speaker. For the person who I into hearing all the classics there is also a scratch off 100 albums bucket list poster.

For anyone – books

I don’t think anyone can go wrong with a book, it can be about anything they are interested in from gardening to traveling. There are loads of thoughtful books on Urban outfitters if you need some ideas.

 For the fashion aficionado – The new fashion rules by Victoria Magrath

I have followed Victoria’s blog for a long time now and she has the most amazing style and knowledge of fashion – definitely something a fashion lover would love to delve into.

For the Make up addict – Makeup storage or a set from their favourite brand. ASOS do some great ones by a variety of brands or if you want to go more upmarket SpaceNK do some beautiful sets as well from bath and body to lipstick and eyeshadows.

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For the foodie – something for the kitchen or you can get books of the best places to eat in different cities.

For the sentimental – A photo book

I recommend Snapfish as I have used them before – the quality is really good and they are the cheapest company I can find that do them. I did one for my Dad documenting all the places we had travelled to and adventures we had been on. You can customise the pages yourself, adding text, changing the layout of the pictures and the background.

For anyone – Candles or bath things

Everyone likes gifts that they can use to relax. My favourite bath oils are from Aromatherapy – they can be a bit pricy but smell amazing.

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I hope this little guide helps! Do you have any go to or unique gift ideas that you love? Tell me in the comments 🙂

Thank you so much for reading!

Sustainable Fashion

Fashion, Style

Sustainable fashion is a concept that I have recently been intrigued to find out more about, with the environment and what we can do to help being in the news so heavily in the past few years. I recently read an article by Marnie Woodmeade for Huff post In which she discusses how far the fashion industry has come in terms of sustainability, in which she claims ‘Is on the rise’ but ‘Is not enough’.

Wikipedias definition of sustainable fashion:

“Sustainable fashion, also called Eco fashion, is a part of the growing design philosophy and trend of sustainability the goal of which is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility. It can be seen as an alternative trend against fast fashion.”

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Plastic and how we can reduce its use has been in the news a lot in the recent months, with the plastic bag tax and the reduction of plastic straws. However, another way in which we can reduce our carbon footprint is by reducing the amount of clothes we throw away. With shops opening that sell cheap quality clothes, we have become a throw away society – we buy things that are ‘In trend’ and throw them away after only a couple of uses due to the bad quality.

I hadn’t realised how much waste the fashion industry produces until doing a bit of research on it – according to Edge (used by Huff post) ‘the clothing and textile industry is the largest polluter in the world’. Apparently ‘Last year alone, 12.8 million tons of textiles were discarded’.

Reducing Waste

Vivienne Westwood was one of the first designers to be an advocate for reducing waste in the fashion industry and she recommends that consumers “Buy less. Choose well.” and to “Make it last. Quality, not quantity.” And she mentions that “Everybody’s buying far too many clothes.” Her recommendation is to buy good quality clothes that suit your own individual personal style, to buy items that you will still love in years to come and will last that time. Westwood has also been a pioneer and activist to climate change, openly talking about her concerns – she says to the guardian ‘I’m just hoping that people will realise that climate change is on our doorstep.’

These ‘good quality’ clothes don’t need to be expensive, there are many reasonable priced shops that do some great quality, unique clothing too. My personal favourite is Zara, sometimes little rips can form in the clothes but I have not brought anything yet that I couldn’t sew back together easily.

If you do have items you no longer want, why not make a bit of money by selling them online. My favourite is depop, its easy to use and is mostly used by people who want to sell and/or buy clothes but there are many others out there too such as eBay or shpok, Or you can give the items to a charity shop – one mans trash is another mans treasure.

For some other ways to think about how to shop more ethically heres a great article by ‘ELLE’ titled the lazy girls guide to sustainable fashion.

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Brands That Focus On Sustainable Fashion

There are also certain brands who are making an effort to be more conscious of where they’re sourcing the materials to make clothes, who is making them and the chemicals that are being used to make the materials, here is an article by the independent highlighting some of last autumns best sustainable fashion brands. And here is another by Marie Claire. I found these really interesting because some of these brands are ones that I’ve never heard of before and I will certainly consider shopping in some of these in the future.

These aren’t all high end brands, many high street stores now are making an effort to keep the environment in mind, for example, H&M came out with a collection a couple of years ago called H&M conscious that focuses on ethically sourced materials.

Being conscious of your clothing choices and reducing waste of clothing is only a small step but it will certainly make a huge difference to the environment.

Fact Or Fiction

Thoughts

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‘Fake news’. I by no means mean to quote Trump here, but certainly much of the ‘truth’ has been contorted by journalists and social media in recent years.

We have, now, got most information at our finger tips. With thanks to the internet we can find out the breaking news and the height of your favourite celebrity; any kind of information that will satisfy your curiosity and allow you to figure out how to build that Ikea coffee table. The internet has been an incredible invention that I doubt many of us can imagine life without. However, as with all things, it has its downsides. We can get brand new information quicker then ever before which means journalists are biting at the bit to get out the next news story; this often means that much of the information has not been backed up and that it could, in fact, be just a rumour. And it’s not just the information we are given, it’s the information that news broadcasters can choose not to give us. After all, as Sir Francis Bacon once said ‘ipsa scientia potestas est’ – Knowledge itself is power.

I recently read an article from a couple of years ago by Katherine Viner (editor in chief at The Guardian) entitled ‘how technology disrupted the truth’ it was a fascinating read and really got me thinking about the society we live in now and our dependance on technology.

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Viner talked about how “In the digital age, it is easier than ever to publish false information, which is quickly shared and taken to be true”. Not only does this mean that some of the information is censored but that rumours can be quickly spread just like in high school movies. She is referring to the use of social media. It is easy for anyone to read a post and share it to let everyone they know about this information, or for anyone to make up information and share it without any evidence. And with our busy lives we tend not to have the time to check the facts, we just assume and trust that the information we are provided with is true.

Social media is not only a place to spread information but according to many articles the companies can censor what information we are presented with online. So unless we are actively searching for a piece of information, it won’t be shown on our social media feeds. Viner writes about how “Algorithms such as the one that powers Facebook’s news feed are designed to give us more of what they think we want – which means that the version of the world we encounter every day in our own personal stream has been invisibly curated to reinforce our pre-existing beliefs.” This can be particularly an issue in Politics. If we are given information about a campaign or about someone running for prime minister then that information may sway our decisions about what or who we vote for, if after the decisions have been made and we find out that that information was in fact false then we may look back on our vote and regret it – then we have the issue of whether there needs to be a revote. (Just like we are having now on the Brexit ‘vote leave’ allegations.)

Facebook has pledged to begin to do something about this ‘filter bubble’ (as Eli Pariser, the co-founder of Upworthy, coins it). Although some think even this is ‘Fake news’ too. (Facebook ‘fake news’ article here)

Many people now rely on social media to gain information on current affairs and to help construct opinions but how can we do that if that information may just be a rumour? We are unlikely to check these ‘facts’ and just regard them as the truth without any further investigation, after all the news should be something we can trust in.

Many writers in the past have talked about issues with misinformation, the most famous of all being George Orwell in his novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. The phrase Orwell uses to sum this up is “Freedom is the freedom to say 2 plus 2 equals four” in other words, freedom only exists if all the information we are given is actually true. He comments on how easy it is for those in power or those we trust to say that “two plus two equals 5”. The sales of his best selling novel he wrote in 1948 shot up when Trump ran for president, with people making links between society now and the dystopian world Orwell presents for us.

Also in Margaret Atwood’s ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’ she writes that ‘there are 2 kinds of freedom, Freedom to and freedom from’.

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Im not saying that all the information we are told is false only that perhaps we need to be wary of what allegations being made by the media are true. This can only be done by checking on the sources and by reading around – To ask ourselves if the information we are being provided with is Fact or Fiction?

Who Run The World?

Thoughts

Happy International Women’s Day! A day for us to recognise incredible women from the past and inspiring women now. Life for women has changed so much in the last century, women now having the opportunity to vote, be independent and, in the words of Beyonce, run the world.

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There are so many influential women out there from Malala and other advocates to all the leaders in the UK; the Prime minister, the head of Met police, the Queen etc to talented actresses to inspiring artists. All reminding us, that as women now, we can achieve anything.  But this isn’t the case for many places around the world. I feel so lucky to live in a part of the world where we are almost at gender equality, and its awful to think that in so many places women are still being discriminated against and abused. There are many charities dealing with this issue such as the Malala fund, and I think it is so important that on this day we think about those that are worse off than us and you can donate, to help all these women who are deprived of educations and prejudiced, on their website.

Something closer to home though that we can all do, Is to empower each other! I think it is awful when there are still so many people tearing each other down when we should be raising each other up. Encourage everyone to be the best person they can be and achieve their aspirations. I bet all those women throughout history had some close friends helping them achieve what they thought would be the impossible. Just think about the suffragettes, they all worked together to get the medias attention to be allowed to vote. That wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t empowered each other.

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There are many movies about some incredible women, here are my favourites if you fancy watching something with some seriously strong female leads on this international women day …

  1. The suffragette
  2. Wonder woman
  3. Hidden figures
  4. The iron lady
  5. Sex and the city
  6. Brave
  7. Sense and sensibility
  8. Alice in wonderland
  9. The Devil wears Prada

Or if reading is more you’re thing here are some equally inspiring books…

  1. Jane eyre
  2. Hidden figures
  3. I am Malala
  4. The diary of Anne Frank
  5. The colour Purple
  6. Yes please

I’d love to know your favourite books, movies or even songs that are about strong women in the comments! Go out and empower each other this Women’s day, you’ve got this.

Thank you so much for reading and thank you to all my girl friends and family who constantly inspire and encourage me, you know who you are! ❤

Who are the women in your life who inspire you? xxx