Sunday 24 February 2013

Italian politics is no joke!

I had to laugh last week after the results of the Italian elections.

Former television comedian Beppe Grillo won 26% of the vote as leader of the Five Star Movement and now holds the balance of power as no party won an overall majority.

Seeing as Grillo doesn't want to form a coalition with the centre-left Democratic Party which won the most votes, it looks like Italy will be having another election in the next few months.

It's easy to laugh but is Grillo anymore a comedian than Silvio Berlusconi? His behaviour has made Italy a laughing stock for years. Perhaps last week's results show just how serious Italians take their politics.

The results raise some important questions for Europe's leaders. A number of Italian voters have rejected the political mainstream and made it clear they don't support the austerity measures introduced by Prime Minister Mario Monti.

It's another example of the crisis in politics across much of Europe and in Britain, where people are losing faith and have no confidence in mainstream politicians.

Governments have racked up huge debts in borrowing over the last decade and now ordinary people are having to suffer through policies of austerity demanded by European Leaders in Brussels.

It's no wonder the likes of Grillo appeal to voters, when he attacks the corruption of Italy's political class and calls for an end to austerity.

You can argue that voting for mavericks and independents like Grillo are wasted votes but I don't see it that way.

I don't think Grillo wants to be in government and he's probably not qualified enough. But in voting for him, Italians are making their feelings known about how broken the country's political system really is.

You can't say their voices aren't being heard. Political leaders in Italy and Europe might not like it but it's called democracy.

Many Italians feel politicians in Italy are a joke so what better way to express that feeling than voting for a comedian.

Saturday 16 February 2013

When did working for nothing become acceptable?

I was glad to hear this week that university graduate Cait Reilly was successful in her legal claim against the government's back-to-work scheme.

This is the scheme where job seekers are required to undertake some forms of unpaid work in order to continue receiving benefits.

Reilly claimed she was forced to work for free at Poundland as part of the scheme. This prevented her from continuing with the voluntary work she was already doing at a museum.

Unsurprisingly the Geology student thought her Poundland placement was a waste of time that did not help her find a full time job.

The Court of Appeal found that the government scheme was unlawful and now people who lost out on benefits because they didn't take part in the scheme could be entitled to a rebate.

What's interested me about this story is the government's response and the argument that unemployed people should be made to work for free in order to help them gain relevant work skills and experiences to help them longterm.

It's another example of the growing belief, that if you want to gain relevant skills and experience you have do it for free.

When did this become an acceptable employment model?

You only have to look at the rise of internships which I hate. Many of the creative and media industries subscribe to the internship model.

I wouldn't have a problem if internships lasted a few weeks. Many of them don't and go on for months. Unless 'bank of Mommy and Daddy' are there to bail their kids out - how are young people meant to survive?

This working for free idea needs to be stopped. we need to start paying people to do work that's available.

I'm so glad I'm not in my early 20s. As a 30 something I appreciate how lucky I am/was.

Your 20 something has been told to study hard, go to university; get a good job, graduate with thousands of pounds worth of debt. When they finish they discover there's no jobs out there and if they want experience they have to work for free!

For me it's exploitative and devalues the nature of work. If there's work that needs doing than at least pay people to do it.

Thursday 7 February 2013

Gay Marriage: A country at ease with the idea?

After this week's Commons vote on Gay marriage, my immediate thought was on just how comfortable the country now seems with the idea of gay marriage.

Ok, there was the predictable no vote from a number of Conservative MPs, but I don't get the feeling that many people around the country are outraged about Gay couples being able to marry.

Lets be honest, Gay marriage isn't an issue that's going to have any great significance on the outcome of the next general election.

It's an important victory for David Cameron in terms of re-branding the image of the Conservative Party, although I'm not sure how successful that will be when you look at the number of Conservatives who voted against the Bill.

Personally Gay marriage isn't a subject of great significance to me. I admit that if you asked me 10 or 15 years ago, whether Gay couples could be married. I would have thought: 'don't be silly marriage is for straight people'

Now I just think why shouldn't they be able to marry? What difference does it make? I don't see it being detrimental to society, I just feel we've moved on and it's no longer an issue for a lot of people.

Friday 1 February 2013

What I'm listening to: Toro Y Moi

I don't know if it's because I'm getting old but I don't seem to listen to as much music as I used to.

Where do you find time to discover new artists and genres? When I was teenager or in my early 20s it seemed so easy to hear new music and artists. Today in my mid 30s it feels so much harder.

In saying this I'm still passionate about music and I still love that feeling when you discover a new artist for the first time that you love.

This is how I felt when I discovered the American singer and producer Toro Y Moi. I've been hearing him a lot listening to Gilles Peterson on BBC 6 Music.

Say That by Toro Y Moi

I decided to download his album last week and I've been listening to it everyday on my way to work.

I've always loved dance and electronic music and the album fits in perfectly with what I've always been into. If you asked me to describe his sound, I'd say it's reminds me a lot of Daft Punk, the Garage Producer Todd Edwards, and the Neptunes style Hip Hop Production of Pharrell.