Follow at FACT Liverpool Feat. Shia LaBeouf

“LeBeouf, Ronkko and Turner. Can you touch my soul?’

As dinner hours go, standing a mere two feet away from Hollywood superstar Shia LeBeouf, with him taking calls in a make shift call centre, certainly beats the normal routine of agonising over which Tesco meal deal to purchase.

Shia

The lads

The Transformers actor hasn’t opted for a career change into the world of customer services; he’s set up camp at ordering Misoprostol online FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), with his collective as part of the arts centre’s latest exhibition, Follow. Open to the general public for three days from tomorrow, LeBeouf, Ronkko and Turner will be manning the lines and accepting calls from across the world; asking those ringing in “Can you touch my soul?” So, if you watched Nymphomaniac and always fancied making Shia’s hotline bling, now’s your chance.

To be in with a shot to chat with Shia about his soul (as if it’s 6am and you’re sat in someone’s kitchen after a night out; talking about the universe and that time you thought you saw a UFO), all you have to do is ring 0151 8080771 between the hours of 11am and 6pm GMT. Gutted if you finally get through and Shia isn’t the one who picks up (No offence, Ronkko and Turner).

Channel 4 have spotted the semantic issues regarding the hotline’s script.

In a world where we use Instagram and Twitter ‘likes’ to assess who and what is important, FACT’s latest commission asks what impact the internet is really having on our concept of ‘reality’, and how we think about ourselves, our idols and those around us.

No irony was lost on us as we creepily stalked pottered around LaBeouf with our smart phones barely leaving our hands; making our Snapchat stories obnoxiously long, filtering his socks-tucked-into-trackies look for Instagram and basically live streaming the whole experience.

“Send him that picture, add it to the stream” one of the curators suggested to me as I showed her my Snapchat homage to Shia’s ‘I Am Not Famous Anymore’ outfit. Within seconds, LaBeouf was howling* with laughter at my ‘art’, and I was all ‘RIP me – this is the greatest thing to ever happen to me.’

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*Okay, okay – maybe I’m exaggerating his hearty chuckle a little bit. Let me have this. 

Although the main attraction for visiting FACT’s latest exhibition will undoubtably be that you’re able to stand in the same room as an A list celebrity, for free, it’s worth remembering that other great commissions are running alongside #TouchMySoul.  With work from Cecile B. Evans, Joe Orr, Ant Hamlyn and Aram Bartholl, a whole host of installations, videos and concepts fill the gallery; exploring the idea of self-branding, identity sharing and micro-celebrity within online lives. My personal favourite is Debora Delmar’s Branded for Life. Inspired by Cara Delevingne and Jordan Dunn’s matching ‘Double D’ tattoos, Delmar’s corner of the gallery is filled with Instagram profiles, videos and branded body suits; all looking at how in which commodity culture structures our everyday life and the idea of self-branding and marketing the ‘aspirational lifestyle’. The best bit though? The free temporary tattoos available! I will never have Cara’s figure, or Jordan’s stunning looks, but damn it, I can now have their iconic twin tatts on me for a short while.

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Even when trying to channel my inner art hoe, i can’t resist a good freebie.

The world’s media has been focused on our own little arts centre on Wood St today and it’s the perfect time to reflect on how lucky Liverpool is to have such a fantastic organisation like FACT that we can can call our own. If you want to put some money where you mouth is and give FACT a helping hand, take a look at their kickstarter here and help them continue to bring more world famous artists to the city.

go site Follow exhibition runs at FACT Liverpool, 11 December 2015 – 21 February 2016

See also: If Britney Can Make It Through 2007

GRAZIA: Welcome to my Heartbreak Hotel

I’ve only gone and got myself a feature in this week’s Grazia magazine, a cover story no less, and I’m really, really psyched about it. If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed my excessive retweeting of all my loved ones and their copies of the magazine. If you don’t, than lucky you – you’ve been spared my spam.

It’s out to buy in shops until Tuesday but if you don’t love me enough to spend 2 quid to read it, here’s the PDF version!

(But you should buy it, even if you hate me – it includes a voucher for 25% off River Island!)

Little anecdote: When I excitedly lashed a picture of the article on my Snapchat story the first person to view it was my ex boyfriend who inspired the article which I thought would be the most awkward person to view it but I was wrong. A few hours later one of the Icelandic boys we met in Brussels (read the story about them here) had a look at my story. The one whose face is plastered all over the magazine. I hadn’t mentioned he would be in a UK magazine. Jen had also told him I was 20, not 26 like it says in bold in print. He had no idea we were on some heartbreak bender.

I wonder if he managed to get a copy in Iceland?

Grazia_Page_1

 

Grazia_Page_2

Film Review: Straight Outta Compton

Originally published for FACT.

For some millennials, with limited knowledge of hip hop history, Dr Dre will always spring to mind as Eminem’s mentor, first and foremost; the ‘good guy’ sidekick – reigning Marshall Mathers in and moulding him into the global rapper who dominated the noughties.

But long before he was “locked in Em’s basement”, Dre was a founding member of the N.W.A – the late eighties/early nighties collective; credited with popularising West Coast hip hop and sub-genres.Taking its title from NWA’s seminal 1988 debut album, this biographical drama charts the legendary rap group’s meteoric rise and acrimonious fall. In the mid-1980s the streets of Compton were considered some of the most deprived in the USA. Five young men sprang from them to give angry voice to a voiceless part of society, igniting a musical revolution as they shot to global hip-hop domination. Straight Outta Compton, in theatres now, chronicles the group’s rise to fame, their subsequent troubles, and the character development of the group’s three most prominent artists; Dr Dre (played by Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E (Paul Giamatti) and Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson, Jr – Ice Cube’s son).

Known for their hatred of a corrupt US police system, the N.W.A were never far from controversy (frequently banned from mainstream radio) and their biopic follows suit. Recent weeks has seen many question just why Dr Dre, one of the film’s producers, decided to omit his history of violence towards women from Straight Outta Compton. “Twenty-five years ago I was a young man drinking too much and in my over head with no real structure in my life,” he stated in his apology regarding his omission. While Dre may have deemed his abusive past irrelevant to the film’s narrative, knowing his victims have very different memories of his early years of fame, it plays at the back of the viewer’s mind whilst watching – you can never be fully convinced by Hawkin’s portrayal of an airbrushed young Dre. Perhaps including the rapper’s beatings of a female journalist and former lovers would have disrupted the flow of the film; after all, the focus isn’t just on Dre’s story but on Eazy-E and Ice Cube’s tale too. Maybe. We’ll never know. But you can’t help feeling confused that the only scene involving Dre, violence and women is one in which he is the victim; being struck across the face by his mother early on in the film.

NWA Straight Outta Compton

While Straight Outta Compton may have glossed over certain aspects of Dre’s personal history, it’s a brutally honest portrayal of the race tension of America throughout the late eighties. Twenty-five years on in England, where the loudest cries of ‘Fuck The Police’ can be heard from middle class white kids in suburban nightclubs, it’s sobering to be reminded just what inspired the N.W.A’s hits filled with such hatred towards the police force. Throughout the picture, the characters suffer police brutality and harassment for simply existing, and the most harrowing part of viewing those scenes is realising that little has changed since in America regarding law enforcement and people of colour; if anything, things have gotten worse.

Removing the external issues surrounding the biopic, and judging it solely as a film, Straight Outta Compton is a fast paced, at times humorous, tale of three talented kids, coming from nothing, to become world changing millionaires. Each protagonist has their own personal battle on their hands; Dre is conflicted on how to do what’s best for himself and his family, Ice Cube fights for creative credit and the financial rewards, and Eazy-E struggles with greed, and later, his losing battle with Aids.

The presence of Eazy-E’s widow, Ice Cube and Dr Dre’s involvement in production is evident throughout the film; with all three characters coasting through with few unredeemable flaws to their name; the blame for any dark scenarios being firmly placed on Suge Knight or the group’s manager, Jerry. As a film, Straight Outta Compton is an enjoyable and simple biopic, but you can’t help but wonder that it may not be the most honest retelling of the N.W.A’s formative years.

Straight Outta Compton is out now.

See also: Preview: Trainwreck

National Ride Your Bike to Work Day

3rd September: National Ride Your Bike to Work Day

My experience with cycling as an adult has been very limited; so limited in fact, that one of my most recent experiences with two wheels had involved me vomiting out of a moving car and catching an angry cyclist riding past.*

However, given that I can’t drive, and quite prone to travel sickness, I decided it was time to jump aboard the Bicycle Bandwagon and see what all the fuss was about. I got myself a vintage looking model (complete with bell and basket), ignored my dad’s ‘hilarious’ comments about me needing stabilisers, and hit the road. One week later and I’m hooked – hooked and smug. So smug in fact, I’m on a one woman mission to get you all to rip up your bus passes and strap on a helmet. Here are just 5 reasons why you should get on your bike:

*If this was you one Sunday, by Old Swan, I truly apologise. You may not have heard my original apology; as I was yelling it whilst continuing to throw up the previous night’s tequila.

buy Tastylia online without prescription 1. It’s great exercise

Cycling at a decent speed can burn just under 500 calories in an hour. Swerve those simulation exercise bikes at the gym and get on the actual road – you can’t jack it in after 10 minutes and hit the vending machine so you’ve actually got shot at a decent workout.

2. You can channel your inner fashion blogger

Once you’ve took the plunge and got yourself the perfect push-bike, you have an excuse to trawl ASOS and add cute trainers, backpacks & quirky bells into your shopping basket.

Speaking of baskets; that vintage hamper at the front of the bike is there for one reason only – the be filled with flowers and newspaper supplements purchased on your Smug Sunday bike ride. Bonus points if you manage to get a picture on the docks – hellooooo double figure Instagram likes. Just remember, if you want to live the Smug Sunday life, you need to say goodbye to your Saturday nights of shots and shame – I do not endorse cycling hungover. Not one little bit.

3. Money saver

5 quid taxi journeys become 15 minute bike rides, and you quickly forget what it was like to be a ‘Bus Wanker’ now you’re swanning round town like Anne Hathaway in One Day.*

Anne Hathaway cycling

* Before she got knocked over by a bus, obviously.

4. Smug satisfaction

“Did you bike into work? That’s so healthy. Everyday, too – how do you do it?”

One week of cycling to work and your colleagues will start to think of you as the office Mylenne Klass. Nothing says ‘Having your shit together’ better than wearing matching underwear, but, seeing as you can’t flash your colleagues, swapping four wheels for two has the same effect (Plus, you don’t get summoned to HR this way).

5. The humble bike is immune to travel sickness and tube strikes

Ever vomited whilst riding a open top tour bus around Barcelona? Nope? Just me then. But I bet I’m not the only one who suffers from travel sickness. Once you get a bike, a weight leaves your shoulders the moment you realise you’ll never have to feel nauseous and faint on an Arriva again.

And for those of you in London (preaching to the converted, I know) – your bike will never be forced to go on strike, your bike will never punish you financially for forgetting to ‘tap out’, your bike will never leer at your across the carriage and make you feel uncomfortable late a night; your bike is your new best mate!

What are you waiting for? Get on your bike! It’s National Ride Your Bike to Work Day next Thursday, so you’ve got just enough time to hop on the bandwagon.

The bike I opted for is the Ladies Classic Speed in Raspberry (pictured below). For this model, and more, visit www.mangobikes.co.uk

Bike

 

See also: What’s In My Gym Bag?

The Independent: London, None of Us Care About the Tube Strike

Originally published for The Independent

Londoners, none of us outside your city care about the tube strike – so stop featuring it in national news
Endless coverage about how Dan from Shoreditch couldn’t get the bus to work seems to have eclipsed news like the mass water poisoning in Lancashire.

Keep Calm and Carry On: apparently no other city across the UK embodies this phrase better than London. A city that doesn’t sweat the small stuff; it just gets on with things – stiff upper lip and all that. So why, just why, when tube drivers (rightly) go on strike, does the place crumble and all the whiney cry-babies come sneaking out the woodwork, horrified that they’ve had to walk to work for 24 hours? Headlines capturing commuters’ ‘ordeals’, trending topics on Twitter, live blogs (yes, really) chronicling how people are coping – the rest of the country ends up knowing exactly what is happening in London, whether we want to or not.
Meanwhile, over in Lancashire, including my hometown, residents are now entering their fourth week of undrinkable water. Those living in Blackpool, Flyde, Chorley and Preston have been warned not to drink tap water due to traces of microscopic bug which can lead to stomach cramps and diarrhoea. You may have missed this news because, well, it didn’t really make the national news.

Perhaps the London-centric media are shocked that Lancashire had running water in the first place and this has all been too much to process and stopped them reporting on it. One can but assume that’s what it is. Whereas we endured 24 hour rolling coverage about how hard it was for Dan from Shoreditch to get a bus to his work (most likely a digital media agency; it’s always a digital media agency), the North West hasn’t been inundated with hordes of national reporters. Neither have our timelines been filled with ‘shocking’ pictures of various people brushing their teeth with a bottle of Evian.

Before unions rightfully stuck up for their working rights and went on strike, you couldn’t move for thought pieces from journalists about London was ‘over’ and they were leaving post-haste. Flicking through these pieces when you’re actually in the north makes for a very confusing time.

“Have these guys only just realised there’s a country outside London? They can’t have only just clocked that you can have a decent career without having to spend £700 a month to rent a cat litter box in a dodgy area?” we ask each other, scratching our heads in bemusement. “Moreover, how have they got themselves a national platform to chat about their discovery? Why would anyone outside of London be interested in this?” When I left Preston for Liverpool I updated my Facebook status with news of my relocation and even deemed that a bit self-indulgent. I would never expect a national publication to be interested in 500 words from me on why I had outgrown a town.

Look, I know when London ‘gave’ us the BBC back in 2012 we should have stopped our moaning about inequality up here. And yes, Tories have uttered the phrase ‘Northern Powerhouse’ enough times to ensure that the North / South divide is almost certainly to become a thing of the past within minutes. Granted, no one is quite sure what a Northern Powerhouse is, let alone whether we actually have one. To me, it sounds like the name of a wrestler performing at the back of a working men’s club in Bolton – but I’m assured it’s actually related to business and improving prosperity in the North. And I’m sure the politicians in their Westminster bubble really, really care about it, as if it were their mother in geographical form.

London is one of the world’s biggest cities, I’ll concede, what happens there is more likely be more newsworthy than a village fete in Burnley. But sometimes, just sometimes, can you keep some stories just for the Evening Standard? We don’t need to hear your precious moans about Transport for London when the rest of us are condemned to the vagaries of Northern Rail. How I wish those guys would go on strike and give me an excuse not to use them.

See also: In Defence of Living Up North

From Westeros to Hull: The Text Adventure Continues

Originally published for FACT online

Zoe Yvonne Delaney charts the text adventure unfolding from the fantasty genre into the real world, as the Networked Narrative project gains momentum in Burnley, Hull and Wigan.

FACT
When you think of Game of Thrones, the opening title credits to the fantasy series are the first thing that comes to mind. The award winning sequence is as iconic as the northern British accents; the swooping camera work across the three-dimensional map of the fictional world, sweeping the viewer along with it prepares you for the world you’re about to become enthralled in. Each focal point, be it location, building, or the clockwork mechanisms allowing other structures to emerge from the map, introduce the audience to the continents of Westeros and Essos and their inhabitants – and all in under two minutes.

While the Seven Kingdoms may be fictional, in the real cities of Hull, Wigan and Burnley, young people have set about creating their very own fantasy worlds, based on their hometowns.

With the help of Re-Dock, Network Narrative is aiming to re-capture the art of storytelling in text adventures and introduce them to libraries across England. This debut commission, an online text adventure game, has seen young creatives across Hull, Burnley and Wigan work alongside artists to create three narratives, within three genres (one per location). Each tale based on each of the locations; creating an alternative online world parallel to the real world.

Last Saturday’s workshop in Hull, led by artists Chris Rodenhurts and Neil Winterburn, saw the group set about assembling their maps of the alternative world they had been envisaging over the weeks. A previous balloon mapping meeting had seen a Go Pro go rogue, floating away into the sky, but this week’s workshop saw things stay closer to the ground; with the aim being to create a film narrated flyover of their map, Game of Thrones -style.

There were only four rules:
1. The year is 2065.
2. Robots are stronger and smarter than humans.
3. Bioengineering of plants and animals is common.
4. No aliens – only humans and cyborgs.

Everything else was left to the group’s imagination and the world they would create was entirely in their hands. A morning was spent brainstorming; establishing locations, characters and answering questions like ‘Where do the rich live?’ and ‘What is the main industry?’, before putting the visions to paper.

With huge aerial view maps of Hull to work with, the group brought together an exciting and richly imaginative blend of ideas. From mutated pets, football stadiums that act as Gladiator-esque robot fighting arenas and Tesco car parks transformed into torture camps, the new Hull had been given a rather dystopian aspect. Within a couple of hours the maps had been cut up and manipulated, ready for the Go Pros to soar over.

Hull may not evoke the exotic flavour of Westeros, but their young residents sure are leading us into a story just as interesting….

We’re still looking for participants in Burnley, Wigan and Hull to get involved with the project. If you want to be part of it and get creative find out more here.

See also: FOLLOW at FACT Feat. Shia LeBeouf

34 Things You Know to be True if You Grew Up in Preston

After this blog ended up going viral on Facebook, Blog Preston asked me to write a version for their site too which you can read here.

Preston is a proud city, but we know not everything is fantastic. So this takes a tongue-in-cheek look at everything born and bred Prestonians know to be true.

1. Any holiday abroad would involve trying to explain to people just exactly where Preston is in England; before eventually giving up and muttering “It’s near Manchester’. You would never mention it’s geographically close location to Blackpool in fear of annoying your PNE supporting dad.

2. You know what a Butter Pie is. Not only that, you regularly enjoyed the delicous onion and potato combo that was originally known as The Catholic Pie. It only seemed like a weird concept when you were trying to explain exactly what it is to people outside of Lancashire. If you move to Liverpool, like I did, you can dine out on the fact that your beloved Butter Pie was mentioned in the Paul McCartney song “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” which contains the lyric, “I had another look and I had a cup of tea and butter pie”.

ButterPie2

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it with brown sauce.

3. You won’t have attended any function put on by a Prestonian that didn’t serve a Hot Pot Buffet. 21st birthday parties, wakes, engagement parties, weddings – you couldn’t avoid that dish that Betty from the Rovers loved so much. You’d normally consume your serving, with red cabbage or beetroot, and listen to your nan tell you just how perfect Hotpot is for a function – “It’s cheap, it’s easy to make and everyone loves it. You can even freeze any left-overs”.

4. “Chippy tea, Chippy tea…”

“What on earth are The Lancashire Hotpots?” This is a question you’ll have to answer many times when your friends outside of Preston Google us.

5. If you think it’s hard explaining The Lancashire Hotpots, try telling someone about the fact whenever PNE are relegated, a funeral (or resurrection if we’re promoted) take place in Bamber Bridge – complete with a coffin (which holds a creepy Chuckie doll), a full procession and floats. People may mock it, but it’s the best piss up you will ever go on.

brig funeral

This is the kind of place I come from!

6. Preston may be the home of the parched pea but you’d always refuse your grandad’s offer to try them.

7. While we’re on the subject of food; it’s not a roll, a bread-cake, or even a muffin – it’s a BARM!

8. Up until a few years ago, Preston held the record for Europe’s Largest Bus Station and you like to make people aware of this fact; whilst quickly brushing past the fact the underpass was known as ‘Mugger’s Paradise’.

9. Preston is also home to the UK’s first ever KFC. You’ll have spent your university years telling boring anyone enjoying a hungover bucket of the Colonel’s finest chicken about this ‘achievement’.

10. If you ever went to a working men’s club as kid, when Phoenix Nights came out you could have sworn it could have been an actual documentary set in your local.

11. When people refer to Preston as a town, you automatically correct them that it is in fact a city; gaining the status as the 50th UK city during the Queen’s 50th year of reigning, dontcha know?

12. You know who petrol drinking petty criminal Toxic Terry is and more than likely saw him wandering around town while you were on a night out.

13. You could always rely on The Lancashire Evening Post’s headlines to capture and represent all that was happening in busy and bustling Preston:

LEP headline

And they say there’s nothing to see in Preston?

14. Although, some would have you proud of the animals of Preston…..

Dog Tory

It was actually me.

15. You remember the Chinese lady who would sell the LEP outside Primark in town; yelling ‘Evening Post’ all day long, come rain or shine.

16. That episode of Come Dine With Me is officially The Greatest Episode of All Time and you excitedly squealed when you recognised Bernard’s Carpet Shop.

17. Everyone can keep their Diesel and their Snakebite – you grew up on Sass.

It tastes nicer when you just accept it's called Sass

It tastes nicer when you just accept it’s called Sass

18. Radio One’s Big Weekend coming to Preston in 2007 was the best thing to happen to Preston since Spice Girls performed Avenham Park. Unless of course, you couldn’t get tickets and then you “weren’t even bothered anyway.”

19. It was all fun and games getting to go to Toys R Us on Deepdale Retail Park until it took 34,567 hours to get out of the car park.

20. Your gran would drag you round the Fish Market whilst shopping and the smell still haunts you

Fish Market

The smell never leaves you.

21. You’ll never find anywhere that does spuds as good as this place:

spuds

Image credit to Tony Worrall.

22. As a young teenager, you’d go to Tiggis for a meal in order to feel fancy. Bonus points if one of you would lie and say it was your birthday in order to get a free cake.

23. You could gauge how old someone was based on what they called this nightclub. If they referred to it as Tokes still, they were far too old to still be going in. And then your parents would telling you about how it was Clouds back in their Hey Day. You now feel old when you learn that Lava has evolved into Evoque.

If they still referred to it as Tokyo Joes, they were too old to be going in

If they still referred to it as Tokyo Joes, they were too old to be going in

24. You watched this viral video and realised exactly where it was within seconds; the home of your misspent under aged drinking youth. You may have even frequented the club after you turned 18, not that you’d admit to it.

25. When going through your ‘mosher’ or ‘I’ve stared reading the NME so now I’m indie as hell’ phase during college, you’d spend your Fridays at The Warehouse.

26. Thursday night student nights at Lava were a quid in and quid VKs. You didn’t care that the queue would be round the corner and you’d be barely clothed in the freezing cold, waiting – the cheap, sugary rip of WKD’s made up for it once you got in.

27. Chips, cheese and gravy from the chippy near Squires was a gift from the Gods after a night out. Why would anyone ever choose a kebab over this thing of beauty?

Why would a drunk person ever choose pizza over this thing of beauty?

It’s worth being fat for this.

28. You quickly learned Preston North End and play-off matches weren’t really a good combination. In fact, before we ended the curse this summer, we became record holding losers.

29. Freddie Flintoff’s boozing after The Ashes victory made you proud to be from Preston.

Flintoff

Like any true Prestoner, Freddie can booze.

30. You’re even prouder that one of England’s greatest ever footballers, Sir Tom Finney (aka the Preston Plumber) not only hailed from the same place of you, but loved it so much he was never tempted by big money offers to leave his beloved Preston.

31. Wallace and Gromit was even more enjoyable when Nick Park slipped in a reference to his hometown. PNE may not always conquer the play offs, but they were always winning according to Gromit’s paper’s headlines.

32. Preston rarely got a shout out in the national media so you had to take what you could get.

33. Wherever you have moved to now, the crime rate will never be as bad as it was in Preston during your youth.

poundland

34. If you don’t live there anymore, you may mock your place of birth now and again, but God forbid anyone else from outside your city does – unless they want a rant filled with fun facts about the home of the UK’s first KFC.

See also: Myths About Liverpool

Daily Mirror: Shopkeeper Attacked Online for ‘Tory Tax’

Originally published for The Daily Mirror online

A furious plant shop owner has vowed to take lighthearted revenge on locals who voted for the Conservatives – by adding a 10% ‘Tory tax’ to their purchases.

But the chalkboard sign outside Matt Woodruff’s shop in Lewes has sparked a backlash – leading to his business receiving online abuse from right-wingers.

torytaxmain

Matt Woodruff made a sign advertising a 10% “Tory tax” at his plant shop after learning his town had voted for a Conservative MP

The neatly written message asks Conservative voting customers at Woodruff’s Yard to make themselves known, so they can be subjected to an additional 10% tax on any purchases.

“I’m sure as someone who has opted to support a party of elitist, self-serving types, that you understand this is one of the many ‘tough’ decisions that I need to make to ‘balance the books’ under your preferred government,” the sign reads.

“The backlash has seen a complete lack of sense of humour from Tories,” Woodruff told Mirror online. “I’ve had online abuse and people hoping that my business goes under.”

“It’s very surprising as it’s only a blackboard and it’s no different to what the right-wing press do.

“It seems it’s fair game to vilify the left, but when some little chap makes a sign, using Tory language and policies, it seems to cause quite an upset.”

Woodruff is surprised his jokey sign has attracted such a backlash

Woodruff is surprised his jokey sign has attracted such a backlash

The East Sussex town of Lewes had previously been represented by a Lib Dem MP since 1997, but Thursday saw Conservative candidate Maria Caulifield gain the seat.

The sign urges shoppers not to be a “shy Tory”, but it seems it is largely being ignored. So far, only one Conservative voting customer has made themselves known to Woodruff.

“I’ve had endless online abuse via my website and local forums, with people using pseudonyms,” the shopkeeper told us. “Yet only one customer has admitted she voted Tory – albeit after she had bought her plants so the tax couldn’t be applied.”

Woodruff is surprised his jokey sign has attracted such a backlash
“Of course I have no intention of actually charging them extra – it’s simply a joke to cheer up the liberals across the town.

“We woke up on Friday disgusted and embarrassed at the news that Lewes had elected a Tory MP – there seemed to be an air of mourning.

“So on Saturday, off the cuff, I thought I’d make a little sign to poke some fun at the ‘Shy Tories’ and cheer people up.”

And what about the 5,427 Lewes residents who voted Ukip? Well, Woodruff’s message is simple: “Please shop elsewhere.”

See also: How Not to Fund a Tory Business

Why Voting Should Matter to Young People in 2015 with Rick Edwards

Originally published in OPEN Magazine (April/May 2015 Issue)

Labour MP for Tooting, Sadiq Kahn once admitted that if a politician has a spare hour during a campaign, a visit to a retirement home will win over calling in at a sixth form. It may seem odd to care more about voters who may not even make the next election, but when you learn that only half of 18 – 25 year olds voted in 2010 (compared to three quarters of those aged 65 plus) it’s not hard to work out why pensions get plumper and tuition fees treble.

This ‘generation gap’ is a seemingly recent development; in 1992 the difference was only 12% between the age groups. Something isn’t right. Are Britain’s youths simply not arsed about political matters? Not according to T4 presenter turned political buff, Rick Edwards.

“The view that young people are lazy and apathetic is, excuse my language, absolute bollocks. I just won’t have it.”

“I so rarely come across anyone that’s like “No, I have no interest in politics at all” –  it’s really rare. So something is going wrong. Is it in school? Is it a lack of political education?

 

rick

 

Whatever the cause may be, the BBC Free Speech presenter is on a mission to change things. The None of the Above author wants the under 25s to get to the polling station on May 7th – even if you want to spoil your ballot with an artistically drawn cock and balls.

The 2015 election is shaping up to be a historic one; with more minor parties rising up than ever before. However, it still seems like it’s going to be between two men to be our next leader – current Prime Minister, David Cameron and Labour’s Ed Miliband. While Dave may be reluctant to debate Red Ed one on one, there’s nothing stopping us putting them head to head. We waded through their manifestos to give you a simple, slightly biased, summary of what their parties have to offer.

The Conservative Party

“A Brighter, More Secure Future”

In 2010, the NHS had it’s highest ever public approval ratings. Five years on, it’s the number one election issue. David Cameron may have previously declared it a disgrace that ONE single mother had taken a food parcel off the Salvation Army under a Labour government but since then, he’s come into power and the number of food banks has increased by 700%. The Chancellor’s budget in March claimed that we’re better off than ever, yet almost half of those in poverty live in working households. So you’ve really got to admire the Prime Minister – it takes some confidence to declare you’re still the right man for the job when 5 years of your leadership has plunged millions into poverty.

What have the Tories got up their sleeve then? What are they promising us in exchange for our vote? Let’s have a look.

  • Remember when Cameron and Co decided that paying three grand a year simply wasn’t enough to go to University and watch poorly designed PowerPoint presentations? Well they still stand by their decision to treble tuition fees, pricing working class kids out of further education, but they will ensure that you won’t have to pay back any of that humongous student debt until you’re earning at least £21,000.
  • According to statistics, half of those living on the streets became homeless before the age of 21. So what do the Conservatives propose to do in order to stop this cycle? Axe housing benefit for those aged 18 – 21. The Prime Minister has stated that welfare should no longer be a ‘lifestyle choice’ but hasn’t really addressed the issue of just where do you go if you’re under 21 and don’t have the happy family home he assumes everyone has? Not all are blessed with a mummy and daddy there to loan them a deposit to get on the property ladder, or even help them out with their rent. Rather than taking away free TV licences and bus travel from richer pensioners, yet again working class young people will be the ones to suffer at the hands of a Tory government.
  • They’re a proven failure but a Conservative government promise to open at least 500 more free schools.
  • The ban of Fox Hunting will be repelled. Because of course, reinstating a cruel ‘sport’ to make posh people happy should be at the top of any to do list when tackling the issues facing this country.
  • Tax will only begin once you earn at least £12,400. However, 37.5 hours a week at National Minimum Wage (something David Cameron once voted against) brings you in £12,675 a year so this doesn’t mean much to anyone working full-time.
  • Back in the 80’s, Thatcher seemed to think selling off all the social housing on the cheap was a good idea. She believed that a nation of home owners was key to a successful country. 35 years on and a third of ex council homes are now owned by rich landlords and we’re in the midst of a severe housing crisis. However, this isn’t stopping Thatcherite David Cameron pledging an unabashed extension of the right to buy scheme for 1.3m families in housing association properties. What about the 9m renting in the private sector? Nothing for them. Tough luck.
  • “We will rebalance our economy and build a Northern Powerhouse.” Does anyone actually know what a Northern Powerhouse is? It sounds like how an Apprentice candidate from Blackburn would describe themselves. Whatever it is, the Conservatives are doing their best to try and convince us that they actually care about anywhere North of Birmingham; with promises of better representation across the country – including a Mayor of Manchester.

The Tories may be keen to tell you that we’re better off under them but we’re actually down £1,100 a year since they came into power. By the looks of their manifesto, things can only get worse.

The Labour Party

“Britain only succeeds when working people succeed. This is a plan to reward hard work, share prosperity and build a better Britain.”

Whereas The Conservative manifesto basically acts as an 84 page ‘F**k you’ to anyone under the age of 30, Ed Miliband’s Labour actually seem interested in future generations; even if we don’t vote. You can argue that Red Ed doesn’t seem tough enough to lead the country, but your alternative is a man who is scared to debate a supposedly weak man. The Labour leader may not look attractive while scoffing a bacon butty (who does?) but let’s look at some of his policies and promises, rather than fall for The S*n’s smear campaign:

  • As it stands, you’re more than welcome to start paying tax at the age of 16 but you haven’t got the right to vote on which government gets to spend it. If Labour gets back into power they pledge to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 years of age by 2016.
  • Iain Duncan Smith wants to rebrand brand evil, exploitive zero hour contracts. Fine – Ed Miliband will ban them. And the minimum wage will rise to £8 an hour by October 2019. Still not enough, but much better than the Tories’ insulting 20p hike in this year’s budget.
  • Unpaid internships favour kids from middle class backgrounds. Sure, working for free for six months will probably help you break into the industry but you usually need to make sure your parents are rich enough to have you live at home rent free while you complete it. By banning them, Labour will even the playing field up a little bit.
  • “The Bedroom Tax is cruel and we will abolish it.” *solidarity fist emoji*
  • Our parents all seemed to have bought houses for the price of a Freddo. Those days are over – we’re Generation Rent. That housing crisis I mentioned earlier, well Labour are looking at building more homes, tackling exploitive private landlords and help give renters more protection and rights.
  • Fairer tax rules under Labour. The Tories may think you should be financially rewarded for making your friend and family sit through a wedding, but Ed promises to scrap the date Marriage Tax Allowance. Getting rid of the insulting tax break for wedded couples (nothing for single parent households or widows etc) will make way for the introduction of a lower 10p starting rate of tax. They’ll also abolish Non Dom status – an old-fashioned rule that helps multi-millionaires dodge paying their share of income tax.
  • While David Cameron says dated, sexist stuff like “calm down, dear” when a woman dares to speak, Labour seem to have cottoned on to the fact that females actually make up quite a lot of the electoral and should probably be treated like equal citizens. They want to give more money to refuges and Rape Crisis Centres, create better access for women to get legal aid in cases of domestic violence and ‘appoint a commissioner to set minimum standards to tackle domestic and sexual violence.’

And there we have it. People may want to argue that there is no difference between the two main parties, that they’re all as bad as each other, but as you can probably now tell, when it comes to what they pledge to do for young people, there really is. Just remember, the smallest differences tend to be the ones that make the biggest impact on the vulnerable.

VOTE.

To keep up to date with Election Day, search #ElectionDay on Twitter.

See also: A Biased Guide to the UK Parties & Who to Vote For

A Biased Guide to the UK Parties & Who to Vote For

A longer, online version of the article published in OPEN Magazine.

The Conservative Party

In 2010, the NHS had it’s highest ever public approval ratings – five years on and it’s the number one election issue. Back in 2005, David Cameron declared it a disgrace that ONE single mother had taken a food parcel off the Salvation Army under a Labour government. I can’t give you an up to date figure of how many rely on food banks today, due to the number increasing by the day, but we can all agree that the Prime Minister probably regrets that claim 10 years ago. The Chancellor’s budget in March claimed we’re better off than ever, yet almost half of those in poverty live in working households. So you’ve really got to admire the Prime Minister – it takes some confidence to declare you’re still the right man for the job after 5 years of your leadership has plunged millions into poverty.

David Cameron - a man in touch with the working classes.

David Cameron – a man in touch with the working classes.

What have the Tories got up their sleeve then? What are they promising us in exchange for our vote? Let’s have a look. I’ve waded through their manifesto and cut out the waffle.

Remember when Cameron and Co decided that paying 3 grand a year simply wasn’t enough to go to University & watch poorly designed PowerPoint presentations? Well they stand by their decision to treble tuition fees, pricing working class kids out of further education, but they will ensure that you won’t have to pay back any of that humongous student debt until you’re earning at least £21,000.

According to statistics, half of those living on the streets became homeless before the age of 21. So what has the Conservative’s decided is the best solution to help stop this cycle? To axe benefit for those aged 18 – 21 years old. The Prime Minister has stated that welfare should no longer be a ‘lifestyle choice’ but hasn’t really addressed the issue of just where do you go if you’re under 21 and don’t have the happy family home he assumes everyone has? Not all are blessed with a mummy and daddy there to loan them a deposit to get on the property ladder, or even help them with their rent in a grotty bed sit. Rather than taking away free TV licences and bus travel from richer pensioners, yet again working class young people will be the ones to suffer at the hands of a Tory government.

They’re a proven failure but a Conservative government promise to open at least 500 more free schools.

The ban of Fox Hunting will be repelled. Because of course, reinstating a cruel ‘sport’ to make posh people happy should be at the top of any to do list when tackling the issues facing this country.

Tax will only begin once you earn at least £12,400. However, 37.5 hours a week at National Minimum Wage (something David Cameron once voted against) currently brings you in £12,675 a year so this doesn’t mean much to anyone working full-time.

Back in the 80’s, Thatcher seemed to think selling off all the social housing on the cheap was a good idea. She believed that a nation of home owners was key to a successful country. 35 years on and a third of ex council homes are now owned by rich landlords and we’re in the midst of a severe housing crisis. However, this isn’t stopping Thatcherite David Cameron pledging an unabashed extension of the right to buy scheme for 1.3m families in housing association properties. What about the 9m renting in the private sector? Nothing for them. Tough luck.

“We will rebalance our economy and build a Northern Powerhouse” Does anyone actually know what this Northern Powerhouse is that Cameron keeps banging on about? It sounds like how an Apprentice candidate from Blackburn would describe themselves. Whatever it is, the Conservatives are doing their best to try and convince us that they actually care about anywhere North of Birmingham; with promises of better representation across the country – including a Mayor of Manchester.

 The Labour Party

Whereas The Conservative manifesto basically acts at an 84 page ‘F**k you’ to anyone under the age of 30, Ed Miliband’s Labour actually seem interested in future generations; even if we don’t vote. You can argue that Red Ed doesn’t seem tough enough to lead the country, but your alternative is a man who is scared to debate a supposedly weak man. The Labour leader may not look attractive while scoffing a bacon butty (who does?) but let’s look at some policies and promises rather than fall for The S*n’s smear campaign.

"Oh great, The Sun still dining out on that bacon butty picture - that's not boring at all."

“Oh great, The Sun still dining out on that bacon butty picture – that’s not boring at all.”

As it stands, you’re more than welcome to start paying tax at the age of 16, but you haven’t got the right to vote on which government gets to spend your money. If Labour return to power they pledge to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 years of age by 2016.

Iain Duncan Smith wants to rebrand brand evil, exploitive zero hour contracts. Fine – Ed Miliband will ban them. No more paying to travel to a minimum wage job to be told you’re not needed and get sent home with no pay. And the minimum wage will raise to £8 an hour by October 2019. Still not enough but much better than the Tories insulting 20p hike in this year’s budget.

Unpaid internships favour kids from middle class backgrounds. Sure, working for free for six months will probably secure you a job in your dream industry, but you better make sure your parents are rich enough to have you live at home rent free while you complete it. By banning them, Labour will even the playing field up a little bit.

“The Bedroom Tax is cruel and we will abolish it” *solidarity fist emoji*

While our parents seemed to get on the property ladder for the price of a packet of crisps, those days are well and truly over – we’re Generation Rent. How are Labour planning to tackle that housing crisis I mentioned earlier? They’re looking at building more homes, tackling exploitive private landlords and help give renters more protection and rights.

Fairer tax rules under Labour. The Tories may think you should be financially rewarded for making your friends and family sit through a wedding but Ed promises to scrap the date Marriage Tax Allowance. The insulting tax break for married couples (giving nothing for single parent households & widows etc) going will make way for the introduction of a lower 10p starting rate of tax. They will also abolish Non Dom status – an old-fashioned rule that helps multi-millionaires dodge paying their share of income tax.

David Cameron may say dated, sexist stuff like “Calm down, dear’ when a woman dares to speak, but Labour seem to have cottoned on to the fact that females actually make up quite a lot of the electoral and should probably be treated like equal citizens. Labour want to give more money to refuges and Rape Crisis Centre, create better access for women to get legal aid in cases of domestic violence and ‘appoint a commissioner to set minimum standards to tackle domestic and sexual violence.’

Liberal Democrats

Bless Nick Clegg, I don’t know why he’s bothered the past few months. Who’s actually going to vote for him? Just in case anyone is still a Lib Dem, he and his party have also wrote a manifesto.

Oh Nick, mate....

Oh Nick, mate….

Just like Labour, they want to lower the voting age to 16.

They want to establish a review of higher education and ‘ensure the UK is an attractive destination for overseas students.’ Brave move even mentioning universities to be honest, lads – I’d have just steered cleared of the topic after the whole ‘trebling fees rather than abolishing them’ thing. Brave.

Lib Dems want to focus on mental health and wellbeing and have an ‘interim target of getting 25% of people suffering into treatment.” While that may not seem a huge target, help and services for those with mental health issues in this country are woeful so this is admirable pledge.

They want to encourage businesses to ensure at least one board member is filled by a BAME candidate and support ‘name blank recruitment’ – a technique that stops middle class white boys being favoured over someone with a name that Katie Hopkins would mock.

UKIP

I don’t really know why I bothered to read the UKIP manifesto – Nigel Farage and his party want to leave the EU and take back control of our borders, and that’s about it really. They’re really into the idea of an Australian-style points system for skilled workers; which makes a lot of sense as Nigel Farage looks exactly like the kind of bloke who says things like “Them Ozzies have the right idea – they don’t just let any bugger in.”

Self proclaimed ordinary man of the people Nigel Farage - at a fox hunt....

Self proclaimed ordinary man of the people Nigel Farage – at a fox hunt….

Some of their proposals are great; like ending ATOS assessments and increasing Carers’ Allowance, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Their manifesto is jam-packed with all the reasons why immigrants and the EU are to blame for everything wrong in Britain, and then random promises; like making it a criminal offence to cold call someone in respect of pension arrangements.

It goes without saying; they want to make St George’s Day a national holiday (it honestly reads like a parody manifesto at times), and pledge to end the use of multi-lingual formatting on official documents. Have you ever got a form and been really mad if it was also available in an alternative language or braille etc? No, of course you haven’t as no right thinking person gets pissed off by this.

 The Green Party

 No longer passed off as a ‘hippy’ party, The Green Party has emerged as a serious rival to Labour for the left-wing vote. They’re also the only party that put any effort into the design of their manifesto; a simple layout, easy to read, and there’s even a mini version if you’re too lazy to tackle the full one. However, they are getting marked down for having titles featuring hashtags – #notcoolguys

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett

It can be easy to get excited flicking through, reading about the absolute liberal utopia the Greens would create if they had the chance to implement any of their promise, but I’m going to be a bitch and pick holes. They don’t really have the right idea about how to tackle the housing crisis, and with aims like ‘ensure through planning that everyone lives within five minutes’ walk of a green open space’ some of their pledges can seem a bit whimsical considering the issues at hand. Then again, they are The Green Party so it would be a bit odd if they didn’t have these kind of goals.

 I’ve clearly not been unbiased in this piece but then again, neither have any of the right-wing publications this week – VOTE LABOUR this Thursday.

See also: Who to Vote For (Feat. Rick Edwards)