Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Max Anderson
Editor in Chief, Chief Liberal political editor

I am currently in my second year of reading Politics at the University of Exeter. My first interaction with politics was at the tender age of four years old. I wrote to Prime Minister Tony Blair, asking him to investigate the strange noises coming from my parents’ room at night, suspecting them of being aliens – the truth however, I fear was much worse…

With age, I found myself centring to the middle of British politics, due to a number of influential figures in my life. These names include; the aforementioned Tony Blair, former President of the United States, Barack Obama and most recently, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

These figures have passed onto me some important lessons. I believe Parliament should strive for a strong economy, thus truly supporting vital parts of the UK welfare system, such as the NHS. The NHS itself needs a massive ground up re-structure, necessitating a bi-partisan long term plan. Education also needs to be reviewed, not only because it is woefully under-achieving, but due to the massive long-term impact it has on the public.

Where I truly categorise myself as a Liberal is not only my belief in a progressive world, but also a united one, in which we promote free-trade, free-movement and intergovernmental organisations.

In case you hadn’t noticed – yes, I am a remainer.

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Jack Kane
Chief Conservative political editor

Hello, my name is Jack Kane and I am third year undergraduate at the University of Exeter. I am a studying Politics and will graduate Exeter in the summer of 2020. I have been interested and engaged in Politics since a very young age. My earliest and clearest memory of politics is being read the newspaper at prep school with our class, and being tested each week on current affairs. This was always my strongest and favourite subject at school and it is no surprise that my love of current affairs has helped push me into studying politics at university.

When it comes to where I stand on the political spectrum I am centre right. I support the Conservative party and would have voted remain in the EU referendum had I been old enough to vote at the time. It is a crazy time for politics and It doesn't take a genius to know that political events, such as Brexit, has seen a tectonic shift to the right for my party. Yet even with all of this and my views being of centre right persuasion, the Conservative party truly is the only party with a clear plan on Brexit and is the only party that is capable of leading the United Kingdom forward in a post-Brexit world.

Though I believe in this new Conservative party I also believe that the Conservative party can be one of compassion. I felt truly manifested in these values and our party must not forget these ideals. I admired former Prime Minister David Cameron for striving the idea to make the Conservative party one of true compassion and a party that does care for the whole population. It is this idea I aim for in politics. I am sure some of my fellow colleagues may not look back on David Cameron’s days in Number 10 as fondly as I do however, I believe these were the best days conservatism has seen in Britain. Reserved, structured, and strong. This is where I stand politically and I am very excited to share my opinions and articles with you.

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Isabella Jewell
Chief Labour political editor

I have just finished my second year at The University of Manchester studying French and Italian and am about to leave the Northern Powerhouse for a year abroad. If that sentence doesn’t scream ‘leftie remainer’ enough, then I shall delve into the Nick-Robinson-style psychoanalysis of my political thinking. My first interaction with politics was in 2011. It was the week before the AV referendum, and I was INCENSED at the prospect of being unable to vote. Taking the country’s fate in my own hands, I sought out indecisive sixth formers who I managed to convince to vote for me; clearly Jezza would have done better hiring me to run Labour’s remain campaign… Ever since this moment, I have not been afraid to put my labour views out there, standing as Miliband in a mock general election (Milibabe and proud), and later joining the Oxford Young Labour party.

After the move up north I got involved with student journalism, becoming Arts Editor for the The Mancunion. In this role, I have developed strong opinions on several political areas such as; homelessness, the migrant crisis, and the Israel-Palestine conflict. The latter subject area I explored on a journalism trip to the Middle East where I interviewed politicians and activists on all sides of the debate. As such I have formulated a rather more nuanced opinion than the staunch Corbynite perspective, backing a dialogue-centred 2 state solution. My views on homelessness and immigration, however, are slightly more radical. I am appalled at the government’s lack of action on human suffering, supporting instead far greater welfare measures to combat this modern disaster. Regarding immigration and refugees, I am a believer in fluid borders, as someone who identifies as a European citizen; we are far greater together than apart. We must recognise our mutual humanity. Overall, I fall somewhere between the centre-left and the radical corbynites.

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Olivia Margaroli
Liberal political editor

I am second year student reading Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Exeter. Next year I hope to study abroad in Washington DC, a dream for any political student.

My interest in politics mainly came from a place of both admiration and dissatisfaction (quite often I have those feeling for the same individuals!). I have never ceased to admire the confidence that exudes from many successful politicians, both confidence in what they are saying and confidence in their (or more often, their parties) ability to ‘pull this offer’. My dissatisfaction has grown from that same seed. This confidence seemingly doesn’t translate into action, or at least not action in the ways they promised to do so.

The second, and probably deeper part of my dissatisfaction comes from the policies which are put forward by parties. More often than not, policies are manifested to please the polity in the short run, and retain, or boost votes. Nonetheless, these short run gains are short-lived, and what benefits the policies create now will lead to major shortcomings in the future. That is why I place myself in the liberal free-marketeer political domain. It is an area I feel is not truly represented in the current political situation, but one which I hope to see regaining strength.

Politics as a career was an area I was interested in, but it wasn’t until I was around 17 that I thought it may be an area which I could see myself thriving and achieving my life’s goal, which, forgive the Liberal cliché, is that I want to ‘change the world’. For a long time I could not see how this goal could be achieved. After all, whatever part of the political spectrum you are on, we can all agree that a lot in the world could be changed to make it better. So I found myself in a period of existential crisis, what part of this shall I try and fix. To the shock of everyone around me, from the tender age of 16 I have been hooked on everything drug policy. An article I read in The Economist presented a very simple, yet, for me, life changing argument for the legalisation of cannabis. In case it wasn’t already clear, I support a complete reform on drug policies. I strongly believe that this is an area of politics we will look back on and think ‘how could we ever have thought that was a good idea’. Prohibition is truly one of the most globally damaging policies that exists, and one which I hope in our life time we will at least start to see being reversed.

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Eleanor Roberts
Conservative political editor

Hello! I am currently in my second year of studying International Relations at the University of Exeter.  I have always been fascinated by debating topics such as human trafficking, death penalty and nuclear war, and am excited to be part of this platform, giving my unfiltered opinion on the variety of topics featured on POI.

In my degree of International Relations, I examine the role of states, international alliances, and multinational companies in an increasingly globalised world. During my studies I have found myself gravitating more towards American politics as opposed to British, as I find it significantly more interesting than Boris and Brexit!

Politically I would describe myself as an liberal conservative.  However, since the increasing polarisation within political ideology, society would likely consider me more conservative than liberal. Visiting America during the 2016 election, I witnessed first-hand the hostility between the two parties. This political landscape is now being replicated around the world, causing tension, especially within elections. Although these seem like scary times, I believe this period of political disruption is inevitable, as well as really exciting to write about!

Despite the controversial presidency of Trump, I am fascinated by his global political impact and  lack of diplomacy. I have come to the conclusion that the governments who achieve the most for their countries are almost always unpopular within society and the media. I believe we need leaders who are less concerned with approval and image, and more concerned with actual economic progress and security.

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Daniel Orchard
Labour political editor

My journey into politics is pretty different to what most people have. I can’t claim to have watched PMQ’s obsessively since a young age nor did I pour over the broadsheets for every political factoid I could muster. Rather I spent my formative years in the U.A.E, a constitutional monarchy, one of the old-fashioned sorts, where no one votes and a few families rule all aspects of life. Major political events like the Coalition and Scottish referendum were barely even a blip on my radar. And I would probably have continued down this blissfully unaware path had life not hurled me back to my home in Croydon, into my local grammar school and due to my lack of vision in life and A level choices, into a politics class. I didn’t stand a chance.

Unfortunately for me I did what many people do when they haven’t a clue what’s going on in politics,  copy my peers. My hazy perception of some assorted schoolboy political views was probably not a good starting point. Without any real ideological coherence, I was talking about things I hadn’t the foggiest about. I didn’t think austerity was that bad, probably due to not being affected by it in the slightest, and I thought billionaires had earnt all their wealth. Mostly, I disliked that Jezza fella without ever really asking myself why?

The next four years can be described as a lurch leftwards. I passed by the centre of our political spectrum with the wind in my face and ended up somewhere a few paces right of Corbyn, my old enemy. My list of views are too long to list here but I now, somewhat more coherently, believe in a strong state with public services well-funded by some level of redistribution, an anti-imperialist foreign policy and a domestic culture of work that doesn’t tie your very existence and value to it. The latter I think is crucially important; automation is coming for us all and if we do not plan accordingly, social strife will come with it.

I am a second year Politics and International Relations (BSc) student at the University of Exeter

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Charlie Papamichael
Liberal political editor
I am a second year student currently reading International Relations and Modern Languages at the University of Exeter.
 
Being a British migrant living in Switzerland, the political scene was not as important to me until high school. European politics has a significant impact on my life, due to my nationality and where I live.
 
The role of the European Union and its freedom of movement has allowed me to explore the continent with little interference, however I believe that is likely to change. With the complications and lack of understanding of Brexit, I am interested in uncovering its effect on people in my situation.
 
During my time at university, I have been able to experience a variety of political positions on various topics, and I am always open to listen to counter arguments. I believe that Brexit will create more problems that it supposedly will solve.
 
This is why I believed that the Liberal Democrats had the right idea in trying to reverse Brexit. This is potentially biased, and it will make my own life more difficult. However, I do believe that greater freedom of movement of goods and people allows for an expansive economy and society.
 
I do lack experience in British politics, but I believe that this blog will help both myself and the readers to understand the various perspectives on pressing issues that the United Kingdom, and the world, are facing.
 
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Fletcher Kipps
Conservative political editor

I am a second year undergraduate currently studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Exeter. I have had a passion for Politics since I can remember. This can be through PMQs or staying up through the night to watch every election result.

Though I am a strong believer in that you make your own luck most of the time, I have been fortunate in terms of the opportunities that I have been given in Politics. Brief but an insightful work experience with Amber Rudd, home secretary and my constituency MP at the time, really brought my enthusiasm to life and encouraged me to consider a career in politics as I grow older.

Unlike most of my fellow students and POI editors, I am a Brexiteer. This was my position at the time of the referendum, in which I was too young to vote, and this position has only hardened since. I believe above everything that the key to our society is a strong democracy and without it there is little left in terms of good debate within our country.

Being a Conservative was something I came to discover as I dived deeper into politics. However, to be brutally honest is not the easiest position to take as a young person, especially online. This is the main reason that I have decided to become an editor with POI, is to have a reasoned debate in order to inform others. I would like this to give me an outlet to express my views, something that I feel I have never previously had.

In terms of the political spectrum I see myself as towards the centre right of the Conservative party, however the country must come before personal politics. Therefore, I do in every case consider the current political climate before making a judgement on issues. Although I am filled with excitement as to what the future holds under a Johnson government, I hope that he will lean towards being a more one-nation Tory prime minister in order to reunite a broken country.

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Evan Saunders
Labour political editor

I’m a third year University of Manchester student, currently studying in Lyon on my Erasmus year (by sheer coincidence I’m writing this hours after parliament has voted to end British involvement in the 30 year programme, so just to be on the safe side I promise not to use the NHS/European Declaration of Human Rights/anything at all anytime soon).

Learning about other’s journeys into politics has really put mine into perspective. I realised there was absolutely nothing concrete that propelled me in this direction – no letter to a Prime Minister, no chance encounter with a personal hero, nothing. Instead, my interest and involvement in politics has been something of a slow and winding road. I gradually found myself immersed deeper and deeper into different activities like a desperate seven year old trying to get their next Kellogg’s Swimming Badge.

This immersion has brought clarity and confusion in equal measure. It’s much harder to see the world in the same black and white way I did when I was younger, but also with the benefit of a little experience much easier to pinpoint exactly what does excite me, enrage me and ultimately enthral me about this area of all our lives.

I’ll be writing from a left-wing socialist perspective and I’m really excited for you to join our debate – here’s hoping what I have to say will give you pause for thought. If only to ask why on earth that tiger was the mascot for a swimming badge – they could have at least chosen an aquatic animal? Fuming. This is the stuff that keeps me up at night.

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Joanna Wriglesworth
Chief Debates Editor

I have had an interest in politics for nearly a decade now. It has culminated with me studying the subject at the University of Exeter, along with Philosophy and Economics.

I was raised in a very politically engaged household – a conservative one at that. I remember clearly my first contact with politics as it was during the 2010 general election television debate. My brother pointed at the screen and asked my ten year old self who I would vote for. I pointed at David Cameron - he was wearing a blue tie (blue was my favourite colour) and I thought the one in red looked a bit odd. I was told it was a good choice.

Thankfully, I can say I know a little more now than I did then. I got over my affiliation with colour and looks, and dove deeper into economic and social policies, growing a fascination with how it can divide and manipulate populations. Now I believe my curiosity for politics is not stemmed out of conforming to those closest to me, but a natural urge to find out why and how our world is the way it is, and more importantly, what we can do to change it.

Presently, I would not say I align with any political party (much to my brother’s annoyance). There is the tendency for me to get quite opinionated in concern to equality, climate change and human rights, and I am an adamant defender of our NHS. However, in our existing leaders I do not hold association, or really any faith in them to achieve tangible progression.

Despite this, I hold the firm belief we should tackle every issue head on with active debate on both sides. With our current affairs it may seem easier to block out the political noise. Yet I hope many share my captivation with politics and see it is better to be a part of our changing world rather than an outsider looking in.

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Max Ingleby
POI Correspondent

A late bloomer when it comes to politics and current affairs, I first dipped my toes in the political pool at the tender age of sixteen with a bracing submersion into the AS politics syllabus, and I have been hooked ever since.

As a second year English Literature undergraduate, I find myself approaching issues from a subtly different perspective than my politically minded peers; the tragic-comic, backstabbing world of Westminster seems remarkably familiar to a fan of Shakespeare.

Growing up on the internet I quickly transitioned through many ideological incarnations, from a rabidly atheistic Dawkins devotee to an overzealous social justice warrior, but I seem to have eventually found a comfortable niche amongst the centre-left. My areas of political interest include fighting the debilitating policies of austerity, challenging the frightening rise of elitism and concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, and the need for further investment in infrastructure and neglected community resources.

Too many Britons are trapped in low paid, insecure jobs, and with the rise of the gig economy and the economic instability caused by Brexit, we need a government that is willing to focus and invest in those struggling at the fringes of society, not cut taxes for the wealthy.

So, as we wade into the raging waters of party politics, I hope you will join me in pursuing an optimistic and egalitarian vision of our country, and above all keep an open mind!

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Emer Kelly
Correspondent

I am currently in my second year at the University of Exeter studying Politics.

It was as a young child going to visit my family in Northern Ireland that I unknowingly had my first interactions with politics. One only has to glimpse at parts of Derry to observe countless murals, memorials and streets strewn with flags of the Republic of Ireland or Union Jacks to garner just how divided a society Northern Ireland is. From a young age I became fascinated with the history of the region and strove to understand how such a small corner of Europe is one of the most divided places on the continent and has such a turbulent history. For me, Northern Ireland embodies the visceral power of politics, proving the drastic effects decisions made by those in parliaments can have on communities.

When it comes to my political stance, I have always labelled myself as a Conservative with a small c. My stance as a Conservative was cemented by the Cameron leadership, who I feel exemplified the conservative principles I align myself with and pushed the party towards the centre through modernisation. Whilst I agree with the fundamentals of conservatism, I have been unable to conclusively affiliate myself with the party since the 2016 referendum. I tend to place my faith in leaders over parties themselves, thus recent decisions have left me hesitant to back the party. The current Johnson leadership furthers my scepticism, as under Johnson I feel the party is shifting further and further to the right which is something I am extremely wary of. I am also a staunch remainer.

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