MSc International Public Policy Graduation

I graduated (again) back in December 2018. Followers of this blog may be aware that I was reading a MSc in International Public Policy at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). I studied part-time so the masters was over two years. It actually felt pretty swift on my part, it seemed like only a year of study.

Graduation day was amazing. It felt more a culmination of both my BA and Masters combined, so it really made this graduation feel extra special.

I achieved a merit overall which I was happy with. However, I am very aware of the fact that I could have actually got a distinction if I really knuckled down in the first year.

The journey through my masters really awakened my interest in public administration, partly studies of the end stages (implementation and evaluation) and behavioral policy. I am certain that I would like to continue research in either public administration or some policy field. The reason I hold such ambiguity over this is because I have so many fields that I hold a passion for. My journey through this degree has really been responsible for this and I feel much richer for it.

My journey from here involves getting into a stable career and planning for the future. I have some plans but I do not think they should go public just yet.

A video of the entire graduation can be viewed below. Unfortunately, only a edited version is available:

I did mean to publish this earlier but had issues with getting the video online and I have been extremely busy, better late then never! ๐Ÿ™‚

30 today

I’m 30 today!

Today’s the day I hit the big 30. Wish me the best for the next 10 years ๐Ÿ™‚

Onwards and upwards to the big 40.. eeek.

Over the past few months, I have been busy completing my Masters with graduation on December 19th. I am really looking forward to my second graduation and the plans I have for the future.

Big love to all the loyal readers of my blog.

Why is being housed by the state perceived as a personal failure? Part 1

Social Housing debates are at centre of the political discourse right now, and they rightly should be following the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the ongoing UK housing crisis. We need to ask ourselves collectively some very important questions. It is time to move away from the strong doses of individualism we’ve shot ourselves up with and start thinking together as a collective society. No civilised country, can call itself civilised unless people have housing rights which includes having somewhere safe and secure to live, from the richest to the poorest.

I would like to turn attention in this blog post to the following. Listening to Leading Britain’s Conversation (LBC) earlier in the week, tackling the question of social housing. A caller rang in and stated “Why don’t people work to move out a council home. Why do people in this country think the state owes them everything? My parents came to this country in the 1960’s and they worked and they never relied on the state”. This sort of viewpoint in regards to council housing is unfortunately far too common in the UK. It’s rather elementary to put your experiences, or someone else’s, as indicative to what everyone being housed by the state should do, or be doing. The world is extremely complex, no two people are the same, no two groups of people are the same, no two parts of the country are the same, the environment, is the same etc.

The thrust of this blog post though isn’t why some hold such views (as crazy as they are). The caller stated his parents came to the UK in 1960’s and have never relied on the state, that may well be the case but when we read behind this we see the statement holds value judgements. Not everyone is like necessarily like yourself or immediate others. If you are not lucky enough to have come to the country in the 1960’s when jobs were more easy to come by, or are/were more reliant on the state in the sixties because you have less capital you fall into a category that this caller presumably (and we are assuming at this point, has). Statements such as these lead those living on a council estate to fear openly admitting that they do.

‘Social shame’ is present in UK society. This goes for all areas of state dependency, not just social housing.

Grenfell Tower Burning

The Grenfell Tower tragedy highlighted the many failings of UK society. Not just of local government, but by how people who live in social housing are viewed by those who do not or never have resided in social housing. By this I am referring to both citizens and politicians. Those that have never lived in social housing tend to hold positions of power, over those who do. This very imbalance is a danger to British democracy, at a local and national level.

The image of the blackened hull that is Grenfell Tower should wake us all up to the dangers of lack of empathy and understanding. It should also wake us up to the face that we need to think collectively in order to help others out. So we too may lead lives that are happy. The more people in our country that are happy and not living in terrible conditions the better it is for society collectively right?

We also need to focus on power, who has power. Why do they have it? How? We need to forever question what government is doing, and be critical. At both national and local level, here it seems in Kensington and Chelsea local government were/are able to do as they please without very little oversight from anyone with power. The residents were disempowered and nobody was listening. This HAS to change but can only be done by mobilisation of the people on mass. The Grenfell Silent March which begins at Kensington Town hall and ends at the Lancaster West Estate is one way of doing this, as well as remembering the 72 victims of the tragedy. Now with Brexit and many other issues on the central agenda it is critical that this does not fall off the political agenda. The people of North Kensington need our support not just for a brief moment, but a lifetime.

Only if the citizens of the UK mobilise can we rid ourselves of the class system that has plagued the UK for centuries, and finally tackle rising inequality. We cannot go on creating areas where there are shops implicitly stating to one section of society this is not intended for you and just (2 minuteโ€™s walk in North Kensington) short drive away there are shops targeting a different class of person. It is clear that this will take time, primarily as the upper classes/elites who actually most likely prefer the status quo are more than likely to be in positions of power.

To make matters worse the new leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council (appears she is not so new). Has NEVER set foot in Grenfell Tower or any other tower block at all. I wonder if you can guess which part of Kensington she is living in? ๐Ÿ˜•

There is a massive disconnect between those in power, and classes. Nowhere is this more poignant then in North Kensington, with similar cases up and down the country.

Clearly, as someone senior in the council she should have visited the tower, without question. This involves conversing with residents, and investigating the many complaints. If she had actually visited the tower in the many years in which residents were complaining, she would may herself have acted. Her position in my opinion is surely is also untenable.

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A clear problem is representation, if someone is unable to take the time to step foot in any tower block in a borough they have a deputy leadership role in, how are they supposed to represent all the people in that borough? Especially if this said person is middle/upper class, visibly. Everyone needs to connect with the people they should be working on behalf of, and that means everyone a borough. Nobody in this council appears (or actually cares) about representation of the poor, traditional working classes or service class. I am aware by simply mentioning the class system in this way, I am partly responsible for upholding it.

And finally, Grenfell Tower has clearly changed how these country sees social housing. Has it truly touched all corners of society? Probably not. For too long social housing tenants have been held in contempt by councils and housing associations. From my own personal experience of living in 1970’s tower block (featured image on the right) reporting issues to Enfield Council and them not being acted upon, often with that familiar response that KCTMO residents had, stating that nobody else has reported the issue and issues often taking long to resolve.

To conclude. Why is Social Housing considered a failure?

Being housed by the state is considered a failure by some in society because of the increasing lack of empathy, the overuse of value judgements, lack of care, lack of oversight by us collectively towards those less fortunate. The over focus on owning property and gaining wealth through property has led to a destruction of society as we know it. This over focus on purchasing property is partly fuelled by the fact that the rental market is poorly, regulated with poor securities.

We have allowed society UK society has become more individualistic, more about “keeping up with the Jones”. The idea that people live in council homes out of choice rather than need as the LBC caller suggests is another reason. It is clear not everyone is the same, and tarring everyone with the same brush is a problem that a majority of UK society appears to have.

Too little oversight at local government level has allowed for conflict of interest, corruption, or just general disinterest all of which seem to be rarely picked up in any official statistics (which is equally worrying!).

This is a tragedy that we are all responsible for. Lacklustre politicians and indifferent citizens. We are all responsible.

(In a few weeks in the top menu, I will add a link with videos of various events recorded post Grenfell for viewers. For those wishing to understand more about the problems residents faced in Grenfell Tower and the Lancaster West Estate the Grenfell Action Blog is a good place to start.)

UK General Election 2017

The political landscape has been shaken up as Theresa May u-turned on yet another promise. The conservatives are very far ahead in the polls now and Mrs May announced that she chaired a meeting of the cabinet where they agreed the government should hold a general election on the 8th June.

In the recent local council elections, Labour was trounced. This election holds importance in the type of Brexit the UK faces will largely be decided come June 8th. Most policies enacted by government aren’t as wide sweeping, and certainly aren’t as destructive over the long-run as leaving the European Union will be.

Therefore, it’s not only critical that everyone gets out to the ballot box. It’s also crucial the public make an informed choice on the type of Brexit (as well as type of governance) they want. Already we have felt the sting of food price rises due to a weakened pound. As prices continue to rise and real wages stagnate over several years this will only compound those at the lower end of society. The social cost is high, as will be the political cost of any government who commits to Brexit in the long-run.

Public opinion can change and political parties would do well to remember that. The public should too. The reality is only starting to just starting to bite, when the Brexit pain really starts to dig in it will be interesting who the new bogeyman will become. Will discourse simply deepen its focus on the other? With people saying we didn’t go far enough about rejecting immigration. Will it just continue to be the EU? The conservative, right-wing dominated media controls information in the UK at the moment so we can make a prediction based on that.

These are all pitfalls that will beset any new government, and could make them unelectable at the next election in 2022.

With all this in mind, choosing the next government is not a decision that any voter should take lightly. This is the most important election of the 21st century so far.

Tim Farron, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn

Main party leaders: Tim Farron, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn

Appleton’s election tip:

Think wisely about the main issue that affects you. Whether that’s the environment (clean air), the NHS (which certainly is from what I’ve experienced recently at breaking point), Brexit (will affect this, and future generations including tie up government resources and development for years to come), immigration (because a sizeable chunk of the population perceive this to be the issue of our times), disability (major cuts over the past 7 years) or if it’s something I missed. Have look at party manifestos see what party best stands up to fix the issues you face. I’d recommend this approach, and not basing it on personality, a leader is an important part of a political party no doubt but the people behind it and the values/issues they wish to tackle are as important.

This marks my first post since December 2016. I want to continue on a little more but I have just come out of a two night stay at Barnet Hospital due to severe glandular fever. I was not able to swallow at all, only spit and was on the verge of throwing up, my tonsils were killing and almost touching.

Hope all readers are well. I’ll be back posting soon. Even more so as I’ve finished and passed my masters for this year. Just one year left ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s been a great 2016, now to 2017

Happy New Year!

2016, WOW. What a year.
No, I’m not just talking about Brexit or Trump here (equally big, but on a negative level). But personally!

This was the year of the graduation. The completion of my degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE). The beginning of a MSc in International Public Policy at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and a couple of interesting study trips.

The end of the year also marks the reshaping of this blog. It’s no longer going to be known as it once was. Some readers may already have noticed this but it going to taking on a more professional, politically inspired form.

I hope everyone has a great remainder of 2016, and a very happy new year ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care!

Degree complete, Masters to begin!

I’ve neglected my blog this summer. I’ve been immensely busy as usual but I’ve got a degree. I finally feel that achieved something finally (see below) ๐Ÿ™‚

My delight

My delight! A 2.1!

I should have posted this ages ago but I’ve been busy planning and doing things. My graduation is booked up for Friday 16th September (next week).
At the beginning of the month my grandad in Jamaica passed away. Whilst my other one is quite ill himself. So, it’s been a bit sad on that part.

A lot has happened now. I’m kinda in the hunt for a new job part-time/full-time that gives me useful experience. I had an interview with BP as a duty manager that I ended up not attending due to sheer distance, it was simply too far to work.

I recently applied for a Masters degree in International Public Policy at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). I got accepted on 1st September, and I’ve decided to commit and go for it ๐Ÿ™‚

The full course (MSc International Public Policy) will be part-time and taught at a distance. However, I will be making heavy use of my university campus facilities due. The campus for the school of Politics and International relations is quite close, just on the London Overground line.

Having completed pre-enrolment. I’ve now just registered my modules for this year (semester 1 & 2). Currently waiting for my degree certificate and a few final bits to fully enrol.

I’m getting ready to study again. Buying folders, switching from Dropbox to Google Drive, and getting prepared mentally.

Anyone who is starting a Masters anywhere this year contact me ๐Ÿ™‚

Images from the past few months (will be posted here)

I’ll be blogging soon friends!