Join the #DebateDrinkingGame!

Watching the #LeadersDebate tonight? Join in with the Free Speech (responsible) drinking game.

RULES

  1. Choose a team – Blair, Putin, Obama or Merkel
  2. Watch the #LeadersDebate on ITV
  3. If something happens on your list, tweet your drink photo and get a point!
  4. You may also have a responsible sip of another liquid if you wish
  5. Most points wins!

For example:

cameron

upanddown

Here are the cards – use these or make your own!

blair merkelobamaputin

Ten stray observations from last night’s Battle For Number 10

The best thing about last night’s Battle For Number 10? Why, Twitter of course…

1. The table between Cameron and Paxman was BIGGER THAN WALES!
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via @Ant_Le

2. The audience: respectfully reserved, terminally bored or life size cardboard cut outs? You decide…
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3. WHY wasn’t this question asked? We demand to know!
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(Via @TechnicallyRon)

4. We had to cancel our eagerly awaited ‘What are they wearing?’ section of the evening… they both turned up in the same flamin’ outfit!
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5. Nigel Farage apparently watched from his local pub/working men’s club… #OnBrand
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(via @Leeroydalvin)

6. Miliband got SASSY! POW POW!
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via (Ant_Le)

7. Not sassy enough for our liking! We were hoping for a diva finger snap…

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8. Katie Hopkins gives Labour a boost…
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(@KTHopkins)

9. Britain responds…
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10. Although some noticed something wasn’t quite right about this debate… 😉
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(@MissEmerKenny)
Follow us on Twitter @BBCFreeSpeech and on www.Facebook.com/BBCFreeSpeech

13 things that have been banned by UK universities

Spiked-Online recently had a look at freedom of speech at Universities all over the country. Using a traffic light system of ranking, they concluded that over two thirds of our higher education centres have some sort of restrictions on free speech. But then Free Speech always has limits.

Blurred Lines
University of London, Edinburgh, Leeds, Kingston, Derby, Chester, Brighton and many more

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A sexy slice of R&B funkaliciousness, or a devastatingly misogynistic slab of lyrical and visual hideousness? It seems most universities think the latter – it’s the most banned thing across university student unions in the UK! Anyone that can serve up the lyrics “I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two” whilst twerking with a 20-year-old has probably earned both the ban and every creepy uncle award going.

UKIP
Birkbeck University

Farage having a smoke It’s a Farage-free zone at Birkbeck. According to the student union, when discussing UKIP, the “homophobia, Islamophobia, disablism, xenophobia, misogyny, racism, fascism, and general discrimination is rife amongst its members, supporters, officials, and prospective candidates”. According to Spiked, the university is “an environment hostile to free speech”. NUS has a No Platform Policy of not providing a space for certain individuals/organisations to speak, and Birbeck follows this more rigidly than a clueless student follows the assembly instructions of an Ikea bookshelf. There’s also a restriction on ‘banter’. (Whey! Lad!)

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“Racist” Fancy Dress
University of Birmingham
The Dictator

(Paramount Pictures/The Mirror)

The guild that organised the fancy dress at Birmingham University in 2013 were taking no chances at their Halloween soiree. If you turned up in something they deemed racist, you were turned away. Those refused entry included “people dressed as Mexicans in sombrero hats, Native Indians and Sacha Baron Cohen’s character from the film The Dictator. If you’re a white man who’s thinking of blacking up as a soul diva, maybe best to leave your Diana Ross impersonation until after graduation.

The Sun and Daily Star
University of Birmingham, Cardiff University, University of Chester, University of Edinburgh, University of Essex and more

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(Image: News International)
Certainly not a fan of Page 3, sensationalist headlines or salacious gossip, these universities are clear that red tops are on the black list. Aberystwyth University have gone one further by including the Daily Express. But how will they find out all the latest Princess Diana news?

‘Lads Mags’
Bournemouth University, University of Derby, Lancaster University and more
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(Image: Nuts)
There’ll be no Lucy Pinder, Helen Falangan or random former Hollyoaks actresses posing provocatively in lingerie at these student unions. Zoo, Nuts et al have been ripped from the top shelf and consigned to the sin bin, with many student unions describing them as “sexist”. Of course, you can still download hardcore porn on the dorm wifi.

Dapper Laughs
Cardiff University
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(Image: BBC Newsnight)

The Welsh capital’s university is certainly not a fan of Dapper’s controversial ‘humour‘, after students managed to get a performance by the comedian cancelled. Whether it’s the sexist jokes or dodgy turtle necks, Cardiff isn’t having a Laughs any time soon.

George Galloway
University of Chester
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(Image: Endemol)
George Galloway isn’t best known for being a demure wallflower, and a series of events – such as reportedly refusing to debate with a student based on his nationality and a poor choice of words when discussing Julian Assange’s rape allegations – was enough for Chester University to close the door on Gorgeous George. Gall… away!

A Satirical Jesus/Mohammed T-shirt
London School of Economics

The LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Student Society (catchy name, guys!) were outraged when they were forced to cover up T-shirts with depictions of Jesus and the prophet Mohammed. Student Union officials said no to the ‘Jesus and Mo’ cartoon and accompanying merch, and the student’s dream of a blasphemous new animated double act to rival Tom and Jerry was never realised. They did however, have professional religion-hater Richard Dawkins in their corner…

Payday Loan Adverts
University of Northampton, Newcastle University, Northumbria University

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(Image: Wonga)

Banning the Payday pedlars from flogging their eye-poppingly high-interest loans (with some heading to an interest rate of 1509%) may not actually be a bad idea. Cash strapped students at these universities will just have to find bit of work in the uni bar (65 hours a week should be enough to keep you debt free), sell their kidneys or find sugar daddies. Just like the Free Speech team did… Only joking, we never sold our kidneys…

Pub crawls
Aberystwyth University and others
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(Image: Wales Online)

The delightfully named No More Carnage rule is aimed at curbing binge-drinking group Carnage. This collective launches themselves upon the bars of an unsuspecting local high street and then does exactly what it says on the tin. Unruly behaviour, irresponsible drinking and girls wearing bunny ears ensues, while residents supposedly cower in fear. Aberystwyth even went as far as to instruct commercial bars not to serve the group, and say that Aberystwyth’s close proximity to the sea poses an even greater risk to drunk people.

Sunbed Advertisements
Northumbria University

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(Image: Daily Mail)
While everyone knows that sunbeds aren’t exactly the best thing for your skin, there must have been plenty of pasty white puddings at Northumbria Uni scowling at their student council banning sunbed adverts. On the plus side, fake tan sales must have soared, which is good for comedy, as well skin health.

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(Image: Warner Brothers/NBC)

Julie Bindel
University of Sheffield
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(Image: BBC)

Rent-a-gob Julie Bindel didn’t manage to find much of that friendly, northern hospitality at Sheffield Uni. Their LGBTQ policy meant doors were closed on the opinionated “feminist activist” after her not-so-girl-power scribblings on the transgender community. Arguing that “sex change surgery is the modern equivalent of aversion therapy treatment for homosexuals” and referring to a trans female as a “man in a dress”, amongst other controversial statements, more than ruffled a few feathers. Not exactly our cup of tea, but enough to refuse her the chance to speak? Oh well, at least you saved on the train fare, Julie.

A pineapple Mohammed
University of Reading

Whole Pineapple
Student from the Reading Atheist Society were thrown out of their freshers’ fair by union staff because they included a pineapple named “Mohammed” on their stall. Rather than risk a backlash, we’ve censored this image of a pineapple, meanwhile the pomegranate named Buddha refused to comment…

Registration… that’s what you need!

You sent us questions on registering to vote and we’re here to answer them! Let’s go…

You may have seen our ever-so-slightly complex infographic on t’internet. Lookit. So pretty…

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This should answer everything you need to know. But if it doesn’t, have a butchers at this lot…

“Oh, NO! politics and elections just bore the pants off me!”
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Vote? Don’t vote? It’s up to you! But it still pays to be registered so that you have the option come election day. Especially as one of our politicians may charm your pants off by the time the election rolls around, and you’ll be kicking yourself if you’re not able to take part.

“I work and pay taxes but I have no fixed abode.” giphy-2

Sofa surfing/travelling etc shouldn’t stand in the way of you voting. You can visit your local electoral office and complete a ‘Declaration of Local Connection’ form to register. Or you can download it here: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/about-the-city/how-we-work/elections-and-wards/Documents/Declaration%20of%20local%20connection.pdf

“Schlep down to my Electoral Registration Office? I’m too lazy!”tumblr_inline_mtmra6tCAx1rz3hc2

You can do most things online, but some people may need to head to their local office in person. Once there, they can also tell you where to send your register to vote form, and where to send your postal vote or proxy vote application form. Plus, they might make you a nice cup of tea if you smile… no, they really won’t, sorry. They’re quite busy.

“Hang on, I like my privacy. I don’t want to be on the open register!”
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Don’t want anyone finding out information about you? No problem. You can contact your local Electoral Registration Office to opt in or out of the ‘open register’ – the version of the electoral register that’s available to anyone who wants to buy a copy.

“I’m in/will be in the armed forces. Can you still do a postal vote?”
Thatll Learn Ya Gif - Thatll Learn Ya!

We salute you, sir/madam. You can follow this helpful link here which explains all you need to do:
https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote-armed-forces

Your graphic says the queen can’t vote, but she can.”tumblr_md4er4FSyo1r7e7seo2_500

It’s technically not illegal for the queen, or members of her family, to vote, but they don’t because in practice it would be considered unconstitutional. She can’t chop your head off anymore FYI.

Check out the BBC’s ‘who can vote’ page: http://news.bbc.co.uk/news/vote2001/hi/english/voting_system/newsid_1171000/1171908.stm

“I’m an EU citizen who lives in the UK. Can I vote?”
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Well, bonjour! Guten tag! Ciao, even… But non. You can vote in the local and European elections, but when it comes to general elections, unfortunately not. You have to be a British citizen, a qualifying Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland who’s not subject to any legal incapacity to vote

“I vote for revolution!”
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Afraid they don’t currently have an option for that on the government website. Even if you don’t agree with the current system or the choices we have available, right now, this is the best way to change how things are run.

“My vote won’t make any difference? Why should I bother?”
You may think your vote won’t count, but if everyone had voted in the 2010 election, the outcome could have been very different.

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(Image courtesy of ampp3d) Take a look at their fantastic ‘No Vote, No Voice’ article for more. 

Ready to register yet? Head to http://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote – it only takes five minutes. And you’re all done. Now you’ve just got to choose who to vote for, but let’s talk about that later! Yeah, we know how you feel…head-desk-bartlett-2

5 things we read this week…

Busy week? Haven’t had a chance to do more than skim the headlines? Heard that. We don’t always get a chance to share all the interesting things we read in the week. So, here’s a round-up of some stories you may have missed…

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Nigerian Islamic Officials Arrest 12 People in Raid of Alleged Gay Wedding Ceremony – via Vice Magazine
Islamic officials stormed a resort in a north Nigerian town on Monday, arresting 12 young men for allegedly planning a gay wedding.

READ: (Via Vice Magazine) http://news.vice.com/article/nigerian-islamic-officials-arrest-12-people-in-raid-of-alleged-gay-wedding-ceremony

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My battle with depression and the two things it taught me by Ben Locker
“I’ve spent a decade slipping in and out of depression, but thanks to the right medicine and loving people, I’m back to being me again.”

READ: (Via Guardian Comment is Free) http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/30/battle-depression-taught-me-medicine-love

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Thousands gather in London to protest against lack of affordable housing
The March for Homes brings together campaigners, tenants and trade unionists to demand building of council homes and curbing of private rents

READ: (Via The Guardian) http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/31/hundreds-gather-london-march-for-homes-protest-city-hall-affordable-housing

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A point of view: Does technology make people touch each other less?
The sensation of human touch is disappearing in a computer age, and with it part of human nature, says the novelist Will Self.

READ: (via BBC Magazine) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-31026410

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How Britain’s wealthy keep it in the family
Children of today’s super rich will still be wealthy in 300 years time. Modern-day descendants just as rich as Victorian ancestors, study found

Read more (Via Daily Mail): http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2934888/Keep-family-Children-today-s-super-rich-wealthy-300-years-time-study-reveals.html#ixzz3QWqMCB36 

Upping the Anti

The left-leaning, anti-establishment Syriza party made political waves across Europe by winning power in Greece in the country’s recent general election, despite scraping just 4% of the vote a decade ago. With alternative political parties gaining popularity all over Europe, we take a look at the ones who are gradually luring voters away from the more established parties.

Podemos (Spain)
http://podemos.info/

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Politics: Left wing

Who are they?
Podemos (which means simply “we can”) say they’re “a tool for citizen empowerment” and aim to “transform popular outrage into political change; reclaiming institutions and putting them at the service of the citizens”.

Tell me more…
Leader Pablo Iglasias doesn’t just sound like a 90s pop star, but he has the enthusiastic public following to match. His party came out of nowhere to win 1.2 million votes in the 2014 European elections, despite the party only being four months old at the time. They’re also tearing up the established rulebook with their “Citizens Assembly”, a lengthy, complex process that allows draft resolutions and principals to be discussed online (“digital democracy”). Policy decisions/positions within the party are then made/taken by the people within it.

Policies:

  • Nationalisation of all public services and banking sector
  • A “Citizens Audit” allowing people’s personal debt to be written off if deemed too unaffordable.
  • “Basic income” for everyone (guaranteed money paid to each citizen regardless of need).
  • Leave Nato
  • Free access to abortion
  • Free access to euthenasia euthanasia

Success/Polls:
With Spanish national elections later this year, Podemos is polling around 30% – as high as the governing People’s Party. It became the third largest party in Spain within the first 20 days it allowed membership, with 100,000 signing up in that period and currently has more than 300,000 members.

Next elections: Late 2015

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Five Star Movement (Italy)
http://www.movimentocinquestelle.it/

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Politics: Populist

Who are they?
The Five Star Movement say they are a “party of the people rather than the establishment” and argue that they shouldn’t be defined using the traditional left/right paradigm. They say they offer “simplicity, transparency and the modest exercise of power”, and in a nation more used to the sleazy uncle-shaped sex scandals and wheeler dealing from (Carry On) Berlusconi, this approach seems to be gaining them a lot of support.

Tell me more…
Party leader Bebe Grillo is a former comedian, seemingly the Italian love child of Billy Connelly and Russell Brand. In 1980 he was convicted of manslaughter when he accidentally killed three people when driving, but that hasn’t stopped him striking a chord with many voters. Some critics call the party ‘extremists’, while expelled members have complained of a lack of internal democracy. These guys aren’t just all talk and no action either. After demonstrating in the Italian parliament against a law approved by the government, a brawl erupted between them and opposing parties. Hey, hey, calm down!

Policies

  • Support a 20 hour working week
  • A referendum on the Euro
  • Public consultation on policy via online outlets/”digital democracy”
  • Support renewable energy, the creation of “green jobs” and reject polluting and expensive industries
  • Support of same-sex marriage

Success/Polls: Came 2nd in EU elections gaining 17 MEPs and regularly poll around 20% of national vote.

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Alternative for Germany (AfD) (Germany)
http://www.alternativefuer.de/

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Politics: Right wing (ish. Sometimes. Kinda. But mostly. We think.)

Who are they?
AfD is a young party and still seems to be finding its identity, changing political colours more often than a chameleon. The labels the party has been given in the media include conservative, liberal, nationalist, isolationist and Eurosceptic, or even all at once.

Tell me more…
They hate the Euro and want it dissolved but insist they love the EU. They are sceptical of free trade and free movement of people, wanting national immigration quotas. They’re also want the poorer southern European countries to leave the EU. The party hierarchy openly support the controversial TTIP proposals (the proposed free trade agreement between the EU and the USA), but the party voted to reject it. Their views on same sex marriage appear to change depending on who in the party you ask. There have also been inter-party tensions over various political alliances, too. Senior members of the party have a more moderate stance and make it clear they don’t want to appeal or align with the extreme right wing, but there are sections of the party have openly shown support for movements such as Anti-Islamasiation group PEGIDA.  A true mess or a true reflection of today’s increasingly hazy, mixed up world?

Policies:

  • Tighter immigration rules
  • Tax breaks for families
  • Return powers from EU and abolish the Euro.

Success/Polls:
10-12% in the polls, expected to gain its first national seats in 2017 German election.

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Jobbik (Hungary)
http://www.jobbik.com/

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Politics: Accused of being neo-Nazis. Right wing, but they care about trees, too.

Who are they?
The party describes itself as “a principled, conservative and radically patriotic Christian party”, whose “fundamental purpose is the protection of Hungarian values and interests.” Other people outside of the party have described them as “facists”, “neo-facists”, “neo-Nazi”, “extremist”, “racist”, “anti-Semitic”, “anti-Roma” and “homophobic”.

Tell me more…
Jobbik have threatened legal action to media outlets who describe them as “far-right” and prefer the term “radical right wing”. (Obviously completely different.) Jobbik are against Jewish investment in Hungary, believe “Roma deviants” should be put in camps and argue that Jews are a national security risk. A few years ago, four Jobbik deputies were removed from parliamentary committees dealing with national security, defence and law enforcement, after failing strict security vetting procedures. Their 2009 election slogan was “Hungary belongs to the Hungarians”. Maybe they just need a hug?

Policies:

  • Rejects the influence of foreign investment in Hungary
  • Advocate of state control to protect Hungarian farming and business
  • Anti-EU
  • The defence and protection of the environment

Success/Polls:
Not the most cuddly of the alternative Europe bunch, it still hasn’t stopped them becoming the third largest party in the country. Increasing its share in recent polls, currently around 15% (20%) in national polls coming second in 2014 EU elections.

Next election: 2018

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UKIP (UK)
Ukip.org

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Politics: Right wing, flatcaps and rollies

Who are they?
Unless you’ve been vacationing in your holiday home on the planet Jupiter, you’ve probably noticed that pint quaffing “man-of-the-people”, Nigel Farage has been in the news once or twice recently.

Tell me more…
Ukip, formed in 1993 with the primary objective of getting the UK the hell out of Europe. In terms of success, the ‘People’s Army’ has seen big gains since the last election as it spotted the issue of immigration and rode it like a cowgirl. When Cameron became leader of the Conservatives he initially pushed the party to the centre, venting frustration at those in his party who kept “banging on” about Europe and heading off to council estates and the Artic to hug huskies and hoodies. This, along with the decline of the BNP, left a gap on the right-flank of British politics which Ukip has stepped into it with their message of anti-EU and low tax message. But increasingly it’s not just former Conservative voters but Labour voters too who have decided to support the party, helping UKIP win the 2014 European elections.

For the mainstream media, Ukip presented a strangely intoxicating mix of a charismatic and controversial leader and the odd bigoted loon that has sent them into an orgasmic trance from which they’re still enjoying a post-coital cigarette.

Policies:

  • Leave the EU
  • Tighten immigration rules
  • Lower tax
  • Boost NHS funding
  • Remove minimum wage workers from income tax.

Success/Polls:
Won the 2014 EU elections, won 2 by-elections and polling 15-20% nationally.

Next election: May 2015

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Front National (France)
www.frontnational.com/

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Politics: Right wing

Who are they?
The words ‘national’ and ‘front’ together can often conjure images of skinheads spouting racism on the streets of 1970s Britain. But when it comes to the french Front National, they describe themselves as “socially conservative protectionists”.

Tell me more…
Founded in 1972, the Front National serves up euroscepticism with a side dish of anti-immigration, and a referendum on the death penalty for desert.  Commentators are split on how to see the Front National of 2015. Some see them as the new force for centre-right politics, others see them as “outright fascists”.
Whatever they are, the approach is clearly working, gaining a significant share of the vote at the last election. Yet due to the French electoral system, the party’s representation in public office has been limited. Leader Marine Le Pen took over from her father as party leader in 2011 and still spends a fair chunk of her time publicly clashing with her Dad’s far right rhetoric.

Policies:

  • End bailouts to poorer EU states and allow them to leave the Eurozone
  • Dissolving the Euro
  • A ban on automatic immigration rights to join a spouse or family member residing legally in France and tighter immigration rules overall.
  • Protection for businesses and agriculture
  • The creation of 40,000 new prison places

Success/Polls
Largest French party at 2014 EU elections with 24.9% of the French vote.

Presidential elections 2017

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Greens (UK)
www.greenparty.org.uk

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Politics: Left wing

Who are they?
Beginning as the People’s Party in the 1970s, the 1990s saw the Greens gaining ground in European elections, but still largely unsuccessfuly in local and general elections. Thought of as the ‘windmills and sandals party’ by some, they’ve worked hard to broaden their policies and expand their appeal.

Tell me more…
The surprise win of Caroline Lucas in Brighton in 2010 was a huge boost to the party and made some in Britain’s somewhat weary, post-Labour givernment left sit up and take notice. As the Lib Dems have declined Greens have seen gains, coming third in the 2012 London mayoral elections and finishing higher in the in 2014 European elections than Nick Clegg’s party.

Whilst reviews of their tenure in charge of Brighton have been mixed, 2015 has seen media chatterings of the ‘Green surge’, and their website recently crashed after getting too many membership applications.

Whether David Cameron’s insistence on them being included in the televised debates is because he genuinely thinks they’ve earned a platform, or a cynical political move, is yet to be seen. Maybe he just wants some advice on the Downing St vegetable patch.

Policies:

  • Introduce a Citizens Income (a payment of at least £72 per week) to everyone, regardless of wealth
  • Nationalise rail services
  • A move to cleaner energy and away from dependence on fossil fuels
  • Want EU referendum
  • Don’t want UK to join Euro

Success/Polls:
Won its first MP in 2010. Some polls have put them above the Lib Dems and 4th in UK. On 15 January 2015, combined membership in the UK stood at 44,713; greater than UKIP (at 41,943) and the Lib Dems (at 44,576).

Next election:  May 2015

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Freedom Party (Austria)
http://www.fpoe.at/

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Politics: Right wing, they have been called ‘far right’

Who are they?
The FPO can trace its history all the way back to the Habsburg Austrian Empire revolutions of 1848, but evolved into its current form after merging with the Freedom Party in 1955. Initially established as a moderate, centrist liberal party, from the 1980s, the party gradually shifted to the right as the political landscape also changed around it.

Tell me more…
By the early 2000s, the party begun to champion more conservative values. Its leader Heinz Christian Strache may sound like a strange mix of children’s storywriter and a can of baked beans to British ears, but interviews reveal an even stranger fellow. He thoroughly denies being a Nazi, and the photo in where he is shown holding up three fingers does not depict a Neo Nazi gesture, he insists. He doesn’t appear to be a big fan of anyone who isn’t Austrian and spends his spare time trawling nightclubs, handing out cans of Red Bull and copies of his latest hip-hop CD to the yoof. (No, really!) Farage, eat your heart out.

Policies:

  • Tighter immigration rules
  • Low taxes
  • Committed to market economy
  • Against EU weakening the identity of member states.

Success/Polls:
Came 3rd in 2014 EU election with 20% of the vote.

Next legislative (parliamentary) elections: 2018

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Finns Party (Previously, True Finns) (Finland)
http://www.perussuomalaiset.fi/

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Politics: Populist: Described as ‘fiscally centre-left, socially conservative’ (earlier)

Who are they?
Gleefully skipping around Finland singing their signature song of centrist ideals, the Finns Party spend their time luring in disenchanted people from the left and the right. They boast a clutch bag of policies collected from across the political spectrum.
Tell me more…
Initially set up as a rural party, the Finns expanded from their core base of farmers in the 1990s and now appeal to Finland’s more well-heeled citizens.

The Finns propose “a more progressive tax system”, including raising capital gains tax and the re-institution of the wealth tax. They may well share the wealth, but not the love… The party “supports the traditional family model”, opposing same-sex marriage/adoption and also IVF for same-sex couples and single women. They approve of teaching “healthy national pride” in schools and support cultural activities that “promote Finnish identity”. Work-based immigration is welcomed, as long as they pay their taxes and subscribe to Finnish ways of life. Charismatic leader Timo Soini is a die-hard supporter of English football club Millwall.

Policies:

  • Strong support for welfare state
  • Anti-EU
  • Tighter immigration rules
  • Opposes same-sex marriage
  • Wants to raise capital gains tax and re-introduce a wealth tax.

Success/Polls:

  • Largest opposition party in Finnish parliament.

Next election: April 2015

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George Galloway asked Twitter for questions. Here’s some of what he got #AskGalloway

6 people and things that could replace David Cameron in the leaders’ debates…

Last week, David Cameron caused numerous jaws to drop when he announced his refusal to take part in televised leaders debates unless the Green Party were involved. A debate about the debates started to rage online, but we thought, if David Cameron wasn’t there to fight for re-election, who could take his place on the empty podium? Don’t phone in, it’s just for fun…

1. Myleene Klass  
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Yes, she who blasted Ed Miliband over Mansion Tax and stuck up for grannies, whether they liked it or not. While not exactly Joanna Lumley championing the Gurkas, she’s already taken on Miliband on live TV. How immense would it be to watch Clegg, Farage et al crumble like dry cake as she wins every argument simply by loudly caterwauling ‘Pure and Simple’?

2. Alex Salmond
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The poor dear’s stepped down as First Minister so he’s got time on his hands to jump in the PM’s shoes. He’s already got experience of running a country, and if the criteria is doing a similar job whilst the nation watches, it can’t be much different to when Alexandra Burke filled in for Kelly Rowland on X Factor, surely?  And look how happy Miliband is!

See…

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3. 2Pac
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Yes, he may have passed in the 90s, but the legendary west coast rapper has managed to release more singles posthumously than during his relatively short but epic career. His inclusion in the TV debate would not only be a political game changer, but a PR shocker that would make even Max Clifford’s eyes water. Let’s be real, even a hologram of a guy who’s been dead twenty years could still speak to the country’s yute dem far better than any party leader we currently have. Again, Miliband approves.

4. Ron Burgundy
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Well, that escalated quickly… the 1970s local news anchor may be a ridiculously crafted fictional character, but you could argue that so are all the other people on that stage. With terrible fashion sense, questionable statements, buckets of narcissism and eye-roll inducing catchphrases, Burgundy would fit right in with our political leaders.

5. Al Murray
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Honestly, you wait years for a beer-drinkin’ loudmouth with quirky ideas that upset the establishment but appeal to the everyman, then two come along at once. Watch with glee as a respectable but tedious affair becomes an all-out East End pub brawl, ideally chaired by Barbara Windsor in full Peggy Mitchell wig and attire. Unfortunately, the never-ending, oral-based hot air will remain intact in both of these scenarios.

6. A big blue cock…

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Ahem… If we can’t find anyone to take the PM’s place, what about turning it into a space for public art? It worked wonders for the 4th plinth at Trafalgar Square, and while everyone else is squawking on about why they’ll make the next five years slightly less unbearable than their opponents, we all get something pretty to look at.  Win win.

Oi, Brown, who let you back in here?